Saturday, November 26, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Curious Conversation Betwixt Theocrats

Lenny the Theocrat says:

"I've been an atheist everyday of my life, but I'm religious for the fascism of it. Of course religion is an easy conduit for political agitation; after all, humans are pathetic, scared herd animals. They want certitude. Politicians can assume that powerful mantle of certitude by envoking religion, and thereby command strong popular support. It's simple, really. The ultimate design of Modern American History IS indeed for the 2008 RNC to be held in a Megachurch/Cathedral/Rotary Lodge. That sort of shit commands. Hey, does my blog look good? Really. Are the posts too long? Too 'whiny?' Yeah, you say it's too whiny? Well fuck you."

Solve the riddle.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ajax Went Mad, or the Dawn Yang Craze in View of Past Technorati Bombs

It's a bit disappointing, for those hooked into the endless mediagraphic stream drip-fed to us hourly at Technorati. One misses the 'Impeach Bush' days.

Speaking of Bush, I hear he's up to a fifth of Jim Beam a day. Here and here.

As any seasoned hater could tell you if he or she were inclined or induced into such a discussion that the worst feeling of emptiness always sets in when it starts getting too easy to hate--though it was never that hard. Ah.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dysfunction

From my forthcoming editorial debut, Selections from the Diary of Salvadora Katz:

May 23, 1990
Another bout of thunderstorms brought in the mud rich with epsom salt and petroleum waste from the fertilizer factory uptown. I have a premonition that the turnips will be mutated this year. My father is still cold to me and my mother won't answer the phone for fear that he'll overhear her on the phone with me and break into fits. His health has been deteriorating, but I can't bring myself to care. I've been waiting years for Dan Berger's predictions for the 1990s, and he should be coming out with them any day now. Maybe then I can move on with my life, and try to be a good daughter. Maybe then I'll get out of bed before sunset and go for walks in the park with my Great Dane. Maybe.

October 7, 2003
Had another great day at the park today. Tomorrow I think I'll go to the park and sit on the grass with a book, and I may read three or four pages of that book. Nothing serious. I just want to chill. Have you ever noticed how useless the internet is? I mean, what can you do on it. Can you post your thoughts in an easy-to-read chronological format much like this diary, but for the general public? Can you initiate sophisticated discussions at a fast, 21st-century pace? Can you use the internet to get shit for free? To look at many different kinds of pornography? To order items online? I think not. The internet is a bunch of hot air.

November 13, 2003
Mended the fence in the morn and took the cattle to pasture. Ben Jonson owed 15 dollars. Lord, my life is meaningless. What the fuck do I do to stay alive? Anyway, diary, turns out I was wrong back on October [7th] of 1998 [sic]. They do have all of those things on the internet. Most interesting to me is a new format called the weblog. Will write on as developments occur.

November 13, 2005
Sorry I haven't written. Blogs have completely supplanted diaries and now people subsist on pure information instead of eating paper. Eating paper was always cost effective and good for my colon, which is, needless to say, dysfunctional. Pure information is lower in fiber, but higher in fun. Until recent times, we still voted in something called 'elections' and the blogging community, or 'blogodome' was completely dominated by three veritable Colossi--Tom "That's a" Lehman, Dan Berger, and his sister Rick Berger, all of the much-vaunted blog site DelinoDeshields.com, which rakes in tens of viewers and tens of thousands of page views a day.

But now there's something new: something which has come to occupy far too much of my time. I have contracted a sickness which I'd wish on no man, woman, or Arab. I wish I were crazy. I am not. I am perfectly sane.

The affliction of which I speak is my infernal addiction to the blogging of a disastrously obsessive-compulsive gay Korean male in his late thirties named Ho-Jin Park who posts on a makeshift blog in the outer reaches of the blogodome under the false identity of "lester', a young african-american male. Ho-Jin was just a convicted sex offender, but Lester is a literary genius. Lester is obsessed with something, and I'm ashamed to say it, but I'm obsessed with his obsession, and everytime I refresh my browser to see an un-updated Immortalized Stillicide stuck back on October 26th, I dig a paring knife nice and deep into my arm, making little criss-crosses like fishscales, and then I rub in a highly-salted and diluted guacamole to bring me back to truth. I always wished I had the scales of a fish because people used to throw needles at me as I sat outside during recess in elementary school. The needles would just bounce off of scales. I think I've lost a lot of blood and believe my left forearm is beginning to exhibit the classic signs of gangrene, but without more fuel for this pathetic vicarious obsession (or obsessive viCarion), I feel I have no light in my life. Without lester, blog is dead.

Subduction

I am not at all the first person to say this, but if the powers that be were to look at suicide bombing as a sociopsychological ill and simply act to alleviate that ill (instead of destroying the lives of even more civilians, in Palestine, Iraq, and the Middle East in general, who are indeed the primary victims of Islamic fundamentalism) in the populations that breed suicide bombers, they would be far more successful in wiping out the mentality of suicide bombing than they have been through the current policy of massive retribution & civilian misery, which in fact only propogates the pathology of suicide bombings & deepens the hopelessness and anger that directly feed terrorism. Retribution, shock-and-awe, and the use of force by any name only justifies past and future bombings to the very population whose individuals are being induced to choose, for whatever reason, to kill themselves. I don't even know why I'm on this track, this shit is obvious. People may say this is traditional neo-liberal &/or neo-marxist &/or naive & boneheaded, but I would volunteer that they don't know as much about the Middle East as I. So fuck the bastards.

Then what instead of force?

Jobs? Free speech? Boring.

A Day Amongst Giants

The air was fixed with the faint scent of cut grass and the sun bounced from the almost cherubic green leaves of floating elms. It was the finest day Meridian Park had ever seen, but it was not yet historic. Park enthusiast, lesbian, and 19th century railroad historian Sal Katz was lucky enough to witness it: things about to get historic up in there.

That very Sunday afternoon, the weekly drum circle began inauspiciously. It was to become a meeting of titans. Around 5PM, the Actual Rod, accompanied by some of his Actual relatives, arrived at the drum circle to observe the goings-on. The drum circle, sensing the presence of a prominent and widely-acclaimed blogger and rap artist, intensified their efforts to get a fat beat going. It was alright, and then an African Shaman came. That was cool too. But things had not yet fallen into place; as much as Actual Rod loved the attention of the drum circle as well as the provocative yet primal shimmies of Sal Katz, he still felt lonely, unfulfilled. His actual relatives had left and he was getting tired, or at least ready to go get a drink. As AR got up to leave, Sal shot him one last look of longing, for his radiance and machismo, which none could deny, had stirred up desire in even the butchest of female park-goers.

But his departure was not to be! Upon whom should the Actual Rod stumble but Mulatto Jesus, in the flesh!? He was followed by what AR surmised were disciples: they turned out to be one disciple, Octoroon Paul, and just some other friend, Saul.

Long story short, this group was soon joined by a small Filipino immigrant, with whom they dined upon ambrosia and feasted on the nectar of $1 drafts. AR ordered multiple Gin & Tonics at once and still drank all of them under the table and THEN beat the asses of entire worthless waiting staff. Many ideas were exchanged, and nachos, of course, played a vital role.

Friday, November 11, 2005

RESOLVED: Actual Rod Has the Smell of Death

This is meant to be an open thread to debate this issue and anything tangential.

Robert's Rules are suspended for the interim.

Special Guest: Francis Fukuyama.

Fix your tie, Francis.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Depressing

The 21st Century Pirate Ship. Is that a stick one of them is holding? Scary.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Old Gems

Two:

1) H. Murray. Wonderful guy. Reminds me of a younger Elijah Paster, a fellow who organized over at #149 in New London throughout the 70s and 80s. Funny thing about Elijah was that he never set foot outside of the Northeast, but he spoke 4 languages! English, Italian, Greek, his native language, and Ancient Syriac. I think he learned some Arabic too, because I remember he visited Saudi Arabia for weeks on end during the infamous Arab oil embargo of 1973, which really caused some hard times for the labor movement, and speeded its unfortunate but nonetheless orgiastic collapse (hint-hint--for anyone rolling in the dough, the shirt is #1 on my solstice wishlist, and the model is #2, though the option of both, if presented, would be highly appreciated). Turns out Elijah (who went to Penn State, if I'm not mistaken) is a distant and possibly unrelated cousin of the great nutritionist and maybe physician, Zorba Paster, whom of course you all know from NPR's exceedingly popular show On Your Health, in which Zorba is the ever-present guiding hand of wisdom to Tom Clark's zany, off-beat-but-pleasant approach. Liam, is Zorba Paster a physician? Lord knows how these things work these days. Those two radio guys are both gems in and of themselves. His cousin Elijah, well. . . .not so much. He got outed by a 20/20 special on sexual predators back in '89, and that totally ruined his life for awhile. I mean, they couldn't prosecute, because it was obviously entrapment, but they exposed him to the world as the gay kind of pederast, which is the most shocking, and he lost his job at #149 and all of his friends and his wife and kids. At one point in the early 90s he tried to commit suicide by swallowing a bottle of Drano, but it turns out that the convenience store owner from whom he'd bought the Drano had used the Drano and replaced it with expired Crystal Pepsi that no one ever had bought. It gave Elijah a vicious stomach ache, but he'd been homeless and subsisting on tweeds and knit woolens for awhile so he was used to that nonsense. When death didn't come, he knew he had been given a reason to live, and he smoked his last bit of PCP-dipped cigarette and ran out into the cold Hartford street and found the first mounted police officer he could and tore the horse's eyes out while the cop was still sitting on it. That was the last I heard from Elijah. Oh, I'm sorry, that's Myron Prachard, not Elijah Paster. Eli's still over at #149--in fact I'm having lunch with him at the dim sum place on Friday. Honey, do you want to come? I should probably make reservations.

Yeah, actually neither Myron nor Elijah are much like H. Murray. That man has the grace of Debs in him.

2) The original point of this post: going through my archives, I happened upon this old gem from the British election of May this year. A reporter was following around Tony Blair and his charming wife, Cherie. The following exchange ACTUALLY took place--'Snapper' is the journalist:

Cherie: "Oh come on Tony, strip off. Let's see that fit body we've been talking about."
Tony: "You can keep your hands to yourself, Cherie!"
Snapper: "So how fit are you Tony?"
Cherie: "Very!"
Snapper: "What, five times a night?"
Tony: "At least, I can do it more depending how I feel."
Snapper: "Are you up to it?"
Cherie: "He always is!"

Now let's have a look at this happy couple!

Let's get one thing straight here. . . .

People need to stop yelling about how 'you can't make historical comparisons'. Here is an example: Juan Non-Volokh contends that "[s]uch hyperbole deadens the sensitivity to moral distinctions in public discourse." Finnegan, for once I'm glad you're with me on this one.

Okay. Historical comparisons are bad for a host of reasons, and people still make them. It happens.

Is there a real moral question here? Is it criminal for us to say that the secret imprisonment, torture and miserable death of a handful of unconvicted Arabs is horrible in the same way as the secret imprisonment, torture and miserable death of millions of unconvicted Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, former POWs and veterans of World War II, and kulaks (a semi-imagined class of 'wealthy peasants') in the Soviet gulag?

You'll have to excuse me, but I sort of find the argument trivial. A gulag is a gulag is a gulag, as Tom "Lemon" Lehman's bubby always used to tell us. So this isn't AS bad as the Soviet gulag. That certainly does not make this good, unless a fascist like Mr. Non-Volokh actually does want to make a historical comparison and thereby totally blow his bullshit argument in a pathetic attempt to become an apologist for this horrendous policy. Torture is fucking torture, and if they were keeping it completely hidden then one only wonders how much worse than Abu Ghraib and Gitmo (of which we still don't know all the details, but should, by law, within a week) can the stories out of these recycled Soviet prison camps possibly be?

Pish posh, this just is the only way to conduct the war on terror. We have to confine and torture people to extract necessary information. This is standard operating procedure, and it's not as extensive as the Soviet gulag. Shouldn't we give Bush et al a Nobel and a big warm collective group hug for not being as bad as Stalin? It must be so hard for them.

What the hell, say it fast: LemonLehmanLemonLehmanLemonLehmanLemonLehmanLemonLehmanLemonLehmanLemonLehmanLehmanLehman etc. ad infinitum, until you die.

These Ones Have Zeros Too

Many of my loyal readers have remarked upon their surprise at my erraticism in posting on this blog. I assure all of you that I take this issue as seriously as anyone here.

If you don't believe me, listen in on this dialogue between the actual rod and his blog, I am justice. I call it a 'blogalogue'. Not funny at all!

actual rod: Jesus, blog, I really miss you, but. . .
blog: No buts, actual rod. Blog me. Blog me!
AR: No! It's not that simple, blog. Life is complicated these days. . .
B: Tell me about it. Tell me about it in a blog post.
AR: Listen, what does it matter? Same shit. Sure, interesting things are happening, and wry, often dashing wit is needed in the public discourse. But I can do without that. I can be unproductive with or without the infernal F# buzzing of my computer, a computer that buzzes and buzzes and buzzes and knows nothing of silence, like the wheeze of Persephone as her mindless husband wrenches out her vitals every autumn. It knows nothing of reality. I choose to be unproductive without the buzz.
B: Frankly, you're worthless without me and you're worthless with me. But at least with me, people pay attention to you and laugh at you like a clown, or a monkey, or a little clown monkey that eats all the peanuts you feed it and takes all the proddings your stupid friends could ever want to give it until it quietly dies in a corner of its cage without so much as saying goodbye or LETTING YOU APOLOGIZE FOR BEING A BAD PETOWNER.
AR: Can blogs own pets?
B: I'm not sure, actual rod, but I'm very afraid.
AR: How do you have an independent voice?
B:

Seriousness

in the blogosphere is getting to seem less and less enjoyable (as is that little title-to-opening sentence jump), but how fucked up is Iraq? We are witnessing the global disasters born from the vicious, unrelenting stupidity of the Bush Administration finally come to a head. Italian public media outlet RAI has revealed that the US armed forces seem to have used chemical weapons including white phosphorus and possibly MK-7777 napalm indiscriminately on civilian areas in the leveling of Fallujah, which I'm pretty sure is at least slightly illegal (the mini-documentary at the end of the above link is not for the faint of heart, and it also happens to be a truncated version of the full shit which I saw last night. Dan, do you know the address of that version?). Elsewhere in Bush's nightmare, the Washington Post also revealed last week that the CIA might be keeping a deliciously secret Gulag (a prison or prisons) in Eastern Europe (I mean, at least be original!?), the legality of which I highly doubt, once again. The number of casualties per day in Iraq is steadily rising. GWOT (Global War On Terror), in short, is no longer quite so HOTT (Having On-Target Tactics, a Hughes-Miersism). Not funny. Sorry (though I do think GWOT is kind of a funny word/acronym).

The significance of the US Army having used chemical weapons escapes me; sure, aside from the depressing irony involved since Saddam was removed largely for fear that he possessed chemical weapons (there is the slight issue that white phosphorus and the brand of highly-advanced napalm allegedly used in Fallujah aren't expressly banned by the Laws and Customs of War whereas Saddam was alleged to have banned weapons--he didn't have them anyway, but let's even forget the obvious fact that the war was based on lies, just for the sake of comity). Let's be realistic. What really does matter is the use of any weapons indiscriminately on areas known to be inhabited by civilians. You cannot do that without knowing that you will wipe out large numbers of civilians. The report from RAI beautifully illustrates that it was known from command on down to the rank-and-file that large numbers of civilians would die. By all accounts this sort of attitude was not limited to Fallujah; the Iraq II brand of war spectacle was always collateral-heavy, even if no one believes the Lancet medical journal's famous estimates of 100,000+ dead by late 2004. The effects of white phosphorus, as shown in the RAI segment, essentially vaporize the skin and lungs on contact, and thus it is quite possible that many killed by this method, in Fallujah and in Baghdad, will be forever uncounted.

Once again, I don't even think it's a big deal that these weapons are so savage--all large-scale weapons are savage by definition, and a 500-ton incendiary bomb dropped into a 'dangerous' neighborhood is just as savage and just as likely to vaporize the traces of its crime.

It is, however, a big deal when even the credibility of a war packaged in unquestioned lies and paid for by our own tax dollars is completely destroyed by indiscriminate targetting of civilians. No shame! I've heard the arguments that it's hard to know who's who when the insurgents look just as brown as the civilians, but the answer can't be to kill all of the civilians because they may be insurgents. It's happened in more places than just Fallujah, and it is fucking repulsive.

And napalm WAS used, and it IS 'banned'. --If you don't believe al-Jazeera, here's another Arab news source on the issue, which strangely isn't well-covered in the US media, though the Pentagon has out-and-out admitted it.

As to the torture methods of the newly-uncovered secret neocon gulag, we're still waiting on details. While we wait however, it's good to remember--as this fine Iranian points out--that torture doesn't even work (hat tip to Dan over at Delino Deshields who has a very flattering quotation up from yours truly), for the obvious reason alluded to by Jim Scott (and I'm paraphrasing):


"I love my family, but I've thought about this a lot and I know that the moment my torturers put on the thumbscrews, I'd tell them anything they want!"


Indeed. Since when did pain defer to truth?

So things are going very badly from a strategic standpoint in Iraq, and fundementalism has been given a foothold over secularism (I'm not defending Saddam; there are still many secular and non-Muslim Iraqis who stand to lose rights that they actually may want under a polarized theocracy or two). The war is a complete fiasco, and though the machinations have only begun, Iraq will probably not remain united in the long run and there will be much more violence before the region sees a resolution to this conflict. Just a prediction, but I'm willing to bet on it. The war has created a shitstorm in Iraq, the hollow cosmetic gesture of passing a constitution was finally made at the expense of many disenfranchised Iraqis, the very group for whom a real political process would make a difference (Sunnis have either a political outlet or a violent one right now and rushing elections at the expense of their voting rights seems politically idiotic unless one were to assume that the Shi'a and Kurdish leaderships themselves don't put much stock in the future of a united Iraq, a possibility indicated by many other gestures in the past year), and there is no light at the end of this tunnel. All of that devastating failure, and the neocons couldn't even maintain their humanity, though they probably never had any in the first place.

That Bush didn't foresee any of this is damning of him and his cabal, but we always knew they were dangerously ignorant. There is too much of a tendency on the part of neocons and most militarists/military historians in general to fantasize about grand arcs of history and comb historical events for 'parallels' while completely forgetting that history is a source of information about why we are where we are. History is not about grand sweeps or great men, or any arcane patterns. History is simply a study of ourselves, and of the constant change that forged our current realities.

Any rationally-functioning student of history would be able to tell you that a war on this scale without an active police force and well-formulated border policy, you would be inviting and asymmetric insurgency. Any rationally-functioning student of history would be able to tell you that the democracy and civil society of a modern nation-state do not develop under occupation. Any rationally-functioning student of history would be able to tell you that the invasion, occupation, internment & humiliation of a targetted segment of any population, Muslim or not, would breed resistance. Many neocons are students of history. There may be some question as to their abilities to function rationally, although I'm not the man for that sort of hullaballoo.

A sidenote: notions that Iraq is going well and that true fault lies with only insurgents and those who question the Will of Bush are bullshit. The pushers of these stale lies know their arguments are devoid of logical content, and they're still satisfied to call Iraq a democracy while its citizens languish in a state of perpetual uncertainty and chaos which feeds joblessness, hopelessness, and yet more disorder.

Also, I apologize for yet another post littered with parentheticals. I'm just an aside sort of guy.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bob Herbert on the LIVE LIVE LIVE West Wing Paris Riots

This is the truth.

John Roberts Toupee Bonanza!

Last summer in a dressing room of the Harrah's in Reno on the final jaunt of the World Blog Tour (WBT):

actual rod: I'M TELLING YOU JOHN ROBERTS HAS A TOUPEE!
ACTUAL God: I'm not really convinced.
AR: With pictures like this one?(Shows AG a picture)
AG: (Puts hand to chest) Oh gracious, that's John Roberts! (Fans self with photo) What a hottie!
AR: And this one? (Shows AG another picture) THIS ONE??? How grounded is that doormat? Have you let lust cloud your judgment, AG?
AG: (Dewy-eyed) I don't know what to believe anymore. (Clenching fists with determination) Though these pictures further convince me that it's not a toupee.

(Enter DAN, stage right, eating gigantic cotton candy strategically to shape it into the likeness of a poorly-tucked burrito, reminiscent of those served at the fabled Bulldog Burrito)

AR: HE WEARS A FUCKING TOUPEE! GET OVER IT!
Dan: Oh, is that like a theory? Are there any websites about that?
AR: I don't know, we should check.
AG: He definitely does not wear a toupee. It's just an absurd claim.
Dan: (dipping 'burrito' in AG's ever-present bowl of stale buffalo sauce) But check out this guy! Are those pants bunched up or what?
AG: Not funny.

It's getting old, but. . . (Exeunt).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Paris Riots, Lies, and Videotape (of Burning Greasemonkey David Brooks Pat Tillman)

Chaos in France? Race war. The Right will beat the dead horse of 'law and order' and they'll say the French program of integration failed, and further right they will say that Muslims can't integrate. Neither would look at the systemic problems with Chirac's tenure in office, under which community-level social spending has been drastically cut even in the face of chronically high unemployment.

But you & I, between us at least, know that all we really care about is land tenure. Over at Salam some months ago, Actual God asked (understandably) of the film Sense and Sensibility (I am not sure if italics are appropriate there. Are they now?):

Whose house is this? Whose horse is that? This field belongs to which estate?

Interesting question--I mean the last one.

Obviously, in England at that time of Austen's novel (the 19th century), the land enclosure movement had long shifted the prevailing norms of land-holding from shared common pastures and open land to strictly determined, delineated, and individually-managed private plots. If there is ambiguity as to the tenancy of given plots of land, then it is out of the idiocy of the filmmakers. The film is clearly misrepresenting the state of land tenure in Victorian England, and thereby doing violence to history and its occupants.

So the fields in Sense and Sensibility were the someone's property. But whose? We demand answers! Shit!