Saturday, December 31, 2005

Laughter

Today there was an article in the New York Times about some guy who looked through the transcripts of oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court to find out what the Justices laugh about.
My favorite quote:
"Sometimes the laughter that apparently filled the courtroom is hard to comprehend. Chief Justice Roberts, for instance, got a laugh for this observation: "The relationship between the states and the federal government has changed a little since Gibbons v. Ogden."

Friday, December 30, 2005

As A P.S. to My Last Post

The Congressional report on 9/11 concluded that a "lack of imagination" among government and intelligence agencies hindered pre-emptive response to the attacks.
Forty years ago the CIA plotted to kill Castro with poisoned cigars, exploding seashells and LSD. Now they can't imagine anyone hijacking a plan and crashing it. What happened?

KGB vs. CIA: Steel Cage Death Match!

During the Eisenhower administration the CIA created a project code named ZR/RIFLE that was responsible for "wet operations," i.e. assassinations of double agents and foreign leaders. The most famous of the ZR/RIFLE endeavors were the many intricate and absurd plots to kill Fidel Castro.

The success rate of ZR/RIFLE projects was pretty low, because the huge administrative task of covering the CIA's tracks diverted time and energy away from actually killing people. This is why the KGB was a much more successful intelligence organization. If the Soviets wanted someone dead they just killed him and then buried the evidence. Secret operations are much easier in a police state since the flow of information is strictly controlled anyway.

The CIA suffered from a schizoid personality. It's stated mission was to defend the American ideals of freedom and democracy and yet the very nature of it's work necessitated the most secretive and repressive measures. The KGB suffered no such conflicts of conscience, making it the far more formidable agency.

We can see now that the lack of foresight and self-critique that plagues the current CIA is nothing new, and is in fact an institutional dilemma - just as there is a shortage of Arabic-speaking agents today, the covert operators in Cold War Berlin and Cuba were startlingly deficient in Russian and Spanish. It is an American disorder. We seek to manipulate the world without bothering to take the time to understand it. I suspect your typical Islamic zealot suffers from a similar myopia. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Politics of Boredom

I'm walking through Brooklyn trying to find a place to sit and check my email. I also want something to eat and a cup of chamomile tea. A light rain is falling. I pass a tiny cafe down a side street that has piqued my interest before, but it's completely empty and only serves coffee. I want someplace empty but not that empty and I don't like coffee so I keep walking.

In this city you always feel like you should be doing something other than what you're doing. Searching for a cup of tea doesn't seem quite an exciting enough way to be spending this particular night of my youth. It's the nights where nothing's going on that I have the most problems with.

People walk by with purpose. I hear laughter from inside bars. I would like to drink but have told myself "no" tonight. I notice that even a light rain, given enough time, can produce quite a damp jacket. I settle on Ozzie's and buy a tea and collect a bag of free muffins. The pair of unattractive men next to me are discussing the sex scene in "Top Gun." I remove my brand new Macintosh toy from my bag and watch the little internet bars fill up. I suppose I am a member of the charmed class now.

Robbie Somerville, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, UK says

If I could modify my body in any way, I would glue monkeys to my hands and feet, then glue geckos on their hands and feet. Then I could climb up anything.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Mansion Has Many Rooms


James Jesus Angleton headed CIA's counter-intelligence "special investigations" unit from 1954 to 1974, outlasting several directors. Well into retirement, he was asked in an interview what went wrong with "the company" over the years. With no emotion in his voice, but with his hand trembling, Angleton replied:

“Fundamentally, the founding fathers of U.S. intelligence were liars. The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely you would be promoted. These people attracted and promoted each other. Outside of their duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire for absolute power. I did things that, in looking back on my life, I regret. But I was part of it and I loved being in it... Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Carmel Offie, and Frank Wisner were the grand masters. If you were in a room with them you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell.” Angleton slowly sipped his tea and then said, “I guess I will see them there soon.”

2006 Death Pool Redux

Death Watch for Aught Six:

1. Ashlee Simpson will finally quit dicking around and just off herself, realizing what the rest of us already knew: her existence is inconsequential, and the way she spells her name is stupid.

2. Kevin Federline. I might have to kill him myself, but he won't be here next year.

3. And finally, sadly, Bea Arthur's time will expire in this coming year of the Dog. We will be left with nothing but memories of flowing pants suits and comforting, psalm-like ruminations in baritone. Unfortunately, this will not be a peaceful passing. She will go down in a hail of Miami Dade county police-fire after a confusing incident involving Golden Girls DVDs, Preparation H, and Gary Coleman. She will bequeath her estate to Fordham University.

lined up to "shuffle off..." in '06

Brendan is Wrong
my prediction

Hulk Hogan (heart attack)
Stephen Hawking (duh!)
and Billy Joel (DUH! -Take that long island)

Alt.

Andy Dick (that one will be messy)
yes, Bea Arthur (2 strikes)
& (did you know Mr. Miagi died on NOV 24 this year?)
Harry Dean Stanton

Question my authority, I dare you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

2006 Death Pool

Top 3 Most Likely to Shed This Mortal Coil Next Year:

1) JD Salinger
2) Fidel Castro
3) Bea Arthur

Now you go.
(Bonus points for hilarious combinations)

Post-Holiday Gripefest


Phil sent this to me, but I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd share it with the community at large.

Would you want to run into that chick in a dark alley?

And the winner of the inaugural Inventive Christmas Fundraising award is my kid brother, who bought all his presents this year with the $600 he won at Internet poker.

Monday, December 26, 2005

63rd Street, 62nd Street, 61st Street,...

I was purchasing services and goods over the phone.
The saleswoman wanted to make sure that the identity I used was truly mine.
So, after I gave her my address (I live on 63rd Street) and credit card number, she tested my familiarity with the neighborhood I claimed to live in by asking:
"Can you name a street close to 63rd Street?"
"62nd Street", I replied.
She concluded the transaction with a professional: "Thanks, and have a good day."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Books: They help reduce child injuries...but at what cost?

Harry Potter strikes again. Doctors in Oxford found out that the number of childhood injuries were lower on the days that new Harry Potter books were released. They point out that reading could have a terrible side effect...bookwormism and obesity. Hmmm...could my years of reading be the cause of my extra pounds? I knew that I wasn't to blame. Books are the culprits.

The authors of the study suggested that encouraging more book reading might be a useful way to combat childhood accidents.

"It may.. be hypothesised that there is a place for a committee of safety conscious, talented writers who could produce high quality books for the purpose of injury prevention," they wrote in the British Medical Journal.

However they acknowledged there could be a downside to a strategy that seeks to turn active children into bookworms.

Potential problems could include "an unpredictable increase in childhood obesity, rickets and loss of cardiovascular fitness".

Remedial Calm

The streets were quiet and serene this morning. Or at least they will be until the final ferocious rush of holiday shopping - of which, I, ashamedly, will be a part - rears its head.

If there's one thing the strike reinforced it's that everything is about money. Now that's no great realization of course, but it's saddening to see so starkly how our existence has been reduced to the terminology of currency. Would it be so hard to forego the lamentations over the blow to Christmas retailers? The Christmas market is for useless frivolities anyway, cards and trinkets and blinking things made of plastic. Who cares?

What bitter irony that in the end the sticking point for the union was not exactly money at all, but rather the guarantee of affordable healthcare and a decent pension plan - security. Albeit security of a different sort than that which politicians so lustily pay homage to while tapping phones and flying people to secret prisons by cover of night.

We will leave our jobs tonight, travel to places we once called home, sit with the people who raised us and the people we grew up with, paying our own lip service to the idea that there is still something warm and compassionate and special about the time of year, that it is not just a mark on the calender, an excuse for indulgence, a dartboard for quarterly expectations.

And then sweep the floors, wrap up the lights and start all over again...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is This All There Is?

So that's that.
All that upset for three days of mild excitement and extreme inconvenience. And what was the end point? They still don't have a contract.
I feel so disillusioned.
I believed in something for three whole days. And for what?
Will the MTA become more transparent?
Will they stop "finding" piles of cash hidden under a Starbucks cup on the corner of their desks? Will Pataki ever develop an opinion?
Where was Eliot Spitzer during all this brouhaha?
He should have been kicking ass and taking names.
And most importantly, when's the next fare hike and how soon can we blame it on the TWU?

Man. This week sucked.

Finding the Spirit

Hey ya’ll, this is liz popping her blog cherry, and giving a shout out to all of ya’ll who entertain me on a daily basis. Ah-hem. During the most wonderful time of the year, I like to reflect on those small things that truly bring a tear and a flushed face of laughter to my cubicle life. A few Fridays ago, one of these hilarities was introduced into my life. It was a Friday that I had exhausted my usual web shuffle, and most of the office had already left for holiday vacation except for me—who was to remain for the one asshole who calls at 4:58. On this special Friday, I happened across a pro-ana site. These sites are filled with endless chatter between anorexic and bulimic girls offering support to their starving sisters in need. They give each other advice on how to beat the stomach acid of hunger, and what to swish your mouth with after you vomit so your teeth don’t completely rot, but mainly they just tally up what they’ve eaten or not eaten and call themselves “piggies”. There was this one girl, my absolute favorite, who wrote in about how she had gone to a Christmas party at her church and had wrapped up a couple of walnuts in a napkin to save and put on her father’s grave on Christmas day. She had loved going to the church party with her father and he had been particularly fond of the walnuts they set out each year. They were his favorite. So this girl takes the nuts home to save, all the while starving herself and feeling guilty for having eaten three bites of banana. She writes in all upset because late the night before she had major food cravings, and in a moment of weakness she ate the walnuts she had tucked away in a napkin for her dead dad. Only to write later on the blog that she doesn’t even like walnuts. Doesn’t even like them. Merry Christmas during this most blessed time of the year.

Ask E. Howard Hunt, He's Got A Name For All This

This is nothing new of course, but it still angers me. Just another example of using the blanket threat of terror to expand the power of those in charge. I'm not exactly sure what the Critical Mass bike riders have to do with terrorism, but if there's any organization that can be trusted it has to be the NYPD, right?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Presidential Blues

I think our president should be booted from office. Now, don't get me wrong- I'm no protest kid, I'm no damn commie, I don't think we should just simply walk out of Iraq and leave it as a battlefield for the Saudis, Syrians and Iranians with Iraqis as a side dish. But Bush, and his whole administration- they just have to go. He admitted that he is dumb enough to start a war based on faulty info. He does not deserve a second chance. Think of people at your jobs- all of you reading this- haven't you or people you've worked with from time to time been fired justly for a lot less? Tens of thousands of bodies- theirs and ours! I HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN OUR PRESIDENT. Look at his eyes when he speaks- they're the eyes of a man who doesn't comprehend the gravity of his own actions. That gravity is pulling men low- a war machine has been set up without due respect to the beast we've manifested.

Official Strike Correspondent Reporting In...

It's been fun hasn't it? Only a labor dispute could allow me to arrive 3 hours late to work and have my boss chuckle at my "good story."

I think tonight will require a trek across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's sort of romantic I think - cold air, city lights, the unity of the common man. Blah blah blah.

Good luck and stay warm everyone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In Limbo

I just watched a broadcast version of "Boogie Nights" while waiting for the transit strike to happen or not happen. Some movies can survive the editing necessary for broadcast cable. "Boogie Nights" is not one of them. What was once a 3-hour epic became a nonsensical 2-hour montage that made ludicrous jumps in time and atmosphere and seemed like some college video project run amok with a huge budget. In a half hour it went from Dirk Diggler's first audition to the scene where he's masturbating in some guy's pick-up truck for coke money. Bizarre.

Looks like this strike business is gonna go down. Serious.

Monday, December 19, 2005

MTA Strike Contingency Plan

From the Metropolitan Transit Authority website:

  • If at all possible, work from home or arrange an alternative work location.
  • LIRR trains will be crowded, so avoid travelling between the hours of 9 and 5 on weekdays.
  • All vehicles must have a minimum of 4 people each with an average annual income of $150,000, or alternately, 2 people both with an average annual income exceeding $1 million in order to be allowed access into Manhattan.
  • Roads, bridges and tunnels will be heavily congested. When at all possible, utilize helicopters, yachts or parasails to reach your destination.
  • If you must use your BMW SL-E 2006 All-Terrain Torpedo Car to burrow through the sediment dividing Westchester from Manhattan, please remember that you may only do so between the hours of 11 and 3.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

reports

In an effort to understand how reporting about "world affairs" on CNN (for example) differs from reporting on BBC (for example) I came to the conclusion that CNN creates a first person perspective that includes the reader, the U.S. government, the U.S. President, and the U.S. without attempting to differentiate. This entity is always acting, never reacting. It always acts alone and often in a context-free world. The acts are exclusively described with active, dominant verbs (killing, asking for, deciding, etc.). One day I'll sit down and quantify it, until then here are two examples from June last year:

on June 9 5:20pm
CNN: Bush urges stronger NATO role in Iraq
BBC: Chriac snubs Bush's NATO request

on June 26 1:35pm
CNN: Bush asks EU to support Iraq
BBC: US and EU pledge support to Iraq

Friday, December 16, 2005

Random Thoughts

The transit workers blew their chance. It's all or nothing with these sort of things and it looks like they half-assed it. No way they strike on Monday...

Ever notice how impending adulthood leads you to subconsciously disavow certain things that meant the world to you as a teenager? I refer specifically to music. When you reach your 20s the tendency is to shun your favorite teenage bands because your tastes are more high-brow, more cerebral - because now you're making the decision to like Band X. But in truth your teenage loves are much more honest, because they occurred before you had absorbed all the frameworks and bullshit that impede you from pure unself-conscious enjoyment....

Newest theory - Oswald was involved, and was shooting from the Book Depository, but he was not the only shooter and he was unware that there were other shooters. He was set up as the fall guy and it is the other assassins (Frank Sturgis? E. Howard Hunt?) who actually killed Kennedy...

I like alcohol...

What if memory is inherently senescent just like cells are and the reason each year seems to pass more quickly than the last is because we're getting closer to death and it's possible to detemrine mathematically how much time left you have to live based on the rate that your memory is decaying?

On that note - Happy Holidays!

(under the wire)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Transit Workers Strike

As a person with socialist leanings I absolutely respect the right of workers to strike. It's really the only hardball tactic available in a situation where the odds are greatly stacked against them. I also appreciate the larger importance of fighting for viable pension plans and lower retirement age when national trends are rapidly stripping these benefits away. Won't it be great when our generation works until age 70 without being guaranteed benefits and pensions comparable to what our parents will receive?

That being said, I'm a wage slave myself, and don't look forward to the prospect of missing a day's pay tomorrow or being reprimanded for not coming in. But I'm sure finding a cab at 8AM will be a nightmare and I'm sure as hell not walking across the Manhattan Bridge in 13 degree weather. I don't own a bicycle.

I like the idea of simply staying home, both for convenience and in some form of lily-livered solidarity. I'm unsure of the repercussions of this, as my company has been maddeningly mute on any contingency plans it may have up it's sleeve. It's been memo after memo stating nothing other than "look out for more memos."

I am not too familiar with the nuts and bolts of the negotiations, or what the transit workers are demanding, other than an 8% raise. Is it 8% each year for three years, or just 8% over three years? I hear their average salary (including overtime) is $55,000. Now that seems like a lot to me, but I imagine it's not much for, say, rasing a family in New York. And a retirement age of 60 after 30 years of service seems like a lot, especially considering that's 30 years spent largely underground. Not to mention the photos of the toilets at the MTA locker rooms. Plus, the MTA is the most repugnant city organization around.

I'm also dismayed by the apparent low-level hatred of workers shared by a large segment of the population. This extends beyond New York. I think it's a nation-wide affliction. We are the "I want it served to me and I want it now" culture, expecting all of our services delivered to us promptly without deigning to consider the human beings whose occupation it is to deliver them.

I'm sort of rambling here. I'd love to here everyone else's thoughts...

Booze Hounds, and the New Yorkers That Love Them

As some of you know, I gave up my old friend booze for Lent last year. I had been having trouble sleeping, and while a few drinks may cause you to drop into a dreamless stupor, it dramatically decreases the quality of your sleep. You sleep very lightly, and don't fall into the replenishing Stage 4 sleep as often. It was a Catch-22, I couldn't sleep until I had a couple drinks, but the little sleep I got was almost totally useless.

So, using Jesus' suffering as an excuse, I gave up alcohol for 40 days and 40 nights. Most of us are familiar with next-day hangovers, but I was surprised by the more long-term effects of my sobriety. Predictably, my sleep was fantastic. Deep and refreshing, every night. In addition, my metabolism rose dramatically, I had a lot more energy and was clearheaded all the time. This may sound obvious, but the degree to which I experienced these benefits was startling. I hadn't expected that the weekend Happy "Hours," or a cocktail here and there throughout the week, would affect me so wholly. I felt like a real adult.

Of course you may ask, What the chilis? If it was so great, why are you meeting me on the UWS after work for beer and wings tomorrow? The sad truth? My social life almost totally disappeared. I didn't mind going to hang out with people, but it made everyone else uncomfortable. Who wants to throw a few back and get loose when the tee-totaler in the corner is judging you? (For the record, I wasn't, but still....)

"Someone declaring they're not drinking prompts an imbalance, says North Carolina-based psychologist Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine, whose clients include athletes. It "changes the rules of social interaction, and there's an implicit tension there." The person who is drinking "begins to question, 'Is what I'm doing right? Do I need to change?' "

I was lucky because all of my friends knew what I was doing, so I wasn't faced with the constant questions, "why don't you just have one drink?" My situation would have much more difficult socially if I hadn't had a "purpose" or an end-point in sight. And the end was a relief. Because as good as I felt physically, I missed the social warmth that a few drinks with your best friends can bring.

In a city like New York, when everyone you know is in their mid-twenties, not drinking is akin to both being Amish and insulting your friends. And perhaps we are a skewed sample, but it makes little difference. In some respects, if judgement is necessary, I would rather be judged alongside my friends, than standing alone on my morally upright pedestal. Lesson learned: you should not drink to excess. You should also do as I say, not as I do.

Oh yeah, moderation is key and blah blah blah.

Full disclosure: The title links to an article I found through Gawker.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jackie and Tubs (Lola)


These cats used to live in my apartment. Now they live in North Carolina. They will not be forgotten.

Mischa Barton in Women's Wear Daily

"Pretty people aren't as accepted as other people. It comes with all these stigmas."

joke

okay so there are two muffins in an oven. one says, "damn it's hot in here." the other then says, "holy shit! a talking muffin!"

ABC, Showtime show interest in "Arrested Development"

"Fox Broadcasting Co. may be looking to unload its Emmy-winning comedy "Arrested Development," and other networks have shown interest. ABC and Showtime have had talks with show producer Twentieth Century Fox Television about making new episodes."

I can't give you any more info as I don't have subscriptions to The Hollywood Reporter or Variety, but good news none the less.

"Only those who want everything done for them are bored."

I am applying to an Accelerated BSN program, and my application is almost complete. Except for (dum dum dum) the dreaded personal essay.

I don't know where to start, I don't know what to say, and I'm bored just thinking about how boring it will be to plan this boring essay. Does anyone have any suggestions about how I can compose this page-length opus without:

A.) actually falling asleep whilst simultaneously scratching my own eyeballs out or
B.) causing the admissions counselors to do the same?
Any new angle would be appreciated!

Revisionists Of All Stripes

The Iranian president, who spent his youth taking hostages at foreign embassies, is of the opinion that the Holocaust is a myth. Imagine if an American politician came out and said that slavery wasn't so bad? Oh, wait.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

From Staring at the Sun, J. Barnes

"Ignorance, that was the first aspect of the engineers' modern form of death...Ignorance, but also certainty. As you fell thirty thousand feet...you knew that when you hit the ground, you would die: you would die, in fact, several hundred times over. Even before the nuclear bomb, the aeroplane had introduced the concept of overkill: as you struck the ground, the jolt from your seat belt would induce a fatal heart attack; then fire would burn you to death all over again; then an explosion would scatter you over some forlorn hillside; and then, as rescue teams searched ploddingly for you beneath a mocking sky, the million burnt, exploded, cardiac-arrested bits of you would die once more from exposure. This was normal; this was certain. Certainty ought to cancel out ignorance but it didn't; indeed, the areoplane had reversed the established relation between these two concepts...Now you were ignorant of the cause but certain of the outcome. This didn't strike Gregory as progress."

Expedition Panama: Searching for Panama's Pirate Past

Everyone knows about the greatest thing to come out of Panama: Me. But did you know that Pirates also roamed Panama's shores? It's true. Yahoo now has video from my homeland of the underwater archeologist Barry Clifford as he searches for lost booty. It's a plentiful portion of piracy and aliteration in one.

Panama's history is one of lost gold, piracy and pillage, all of which come together in the legend of the Viper Pit.

12.13.05 It Happens

Yesterday afternoon, I scuttled dutifully across 8th avenue to buy my afternoon fix at one of the dozen of Starbucks in my area.

Tossed my cigarette, pulled open the door, and found the place unusually deserted. This was likely because I was running slightly late, my addictions are normally clockwork, yesterday I was held up by one meeting or another. I stepped behind some elderly lady who was talking with the girl behind the counter.

From the behind the counter and over the pastry case an employee yelled, "What can I get for you today, sir!" My early morning buzz was still running strong and I'd had a light lunch so my stomach was feeling a bit tainted so "Just a small coffee, thanks!" instead of the regular medium (I refuse to revert to coffeespeak with its bizarrely inaccurate talls and grandes).

The elderly woman in front of me was buying coffee by the bag and was being well helped in the matter. (One of the reasons I frequent this particular branch is that the service is always pleasant). She got her bag and was offered the customary free coffee to go. "Is he having a coffee?" she asked, indicating me. "Yes" say the girls behind the counter. "Then give it to him." Without so much as a glimpse at me this woman was nice enough to offer her free drink to me. Granted, she wasn't paying for it, but given the money/caffeine grubbing state of this world/city. I was struck. "Thank you so much, that's very kind of you, have a nice day." Without a goony grimace or a stern look in the eye, she simply said "you too."

Now, the day before I was expounding for about fifteen minutes on how coffee IS the greatest thing in the world. The more I spoke the more convinced I became you can get it almost everywhere, enjoy it at anytime and it's ever more reliable than anything else in my own personal sphere of the universe, so YES I am biased. However, I know that some of you would agree with me, and would therefore have shared the sense of little elation for kindness and caffeine that I had as a floated back across 8th avenue.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Suicide Grasshoppers Brainwashed by Parasite Worms

Under this headline National Geographic News reported about a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B in August 2005. French biologists wondered why so many grasshoppers jump into swimming pools in southern France. They noticed that a parasitic worm swims away from each drowned grasshopper and soon they figured out that the worm makes the grasshopper jump into the water by releasing neuroactive substances. The worms find mates and reproduce in the water. They are members of a growing group of brainwashing parasites. The "brain worm" infests ants' brains and makes them sit at night on leafs of grass waiting to be eaten by sheep. Parasitic wasps can reprogram their spider-host into weaving a cocoon that protects the wasps' offspring. And toxoplasm makes mice unafraid of cats (because toxoplasm can't replicate in mice and therefore has to get into a cat somehow). I think everybody has one of these things and the purpose in life is to figure out what they want you to do. We just pass on the question to our brainwashing parasites and can live happily ever after.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fuel Will Make Fossils of Us All

I am watching a documentary on the Outdoor Life Network about oil drilling operations in the American plains states. The images of drill rigs and oil pumps scarring the formerly pristine landscapes of Wyoming and Montana are really sad. Now they have these weird Republican Congresswomen talking about reducing dependency on foreign oil. Why do women Republicans always look glassy-eyed and robotic? Now shots of antelope herds alongside oil drills.

I don't really think you can argue that opening up wildlife preserves to wanton drilling is a good idea. Maybe that's just the "liberal" in me, but it seems that if you have any appreciation for natural beauty or our inherent connection to the natural world then you wouldn't want to just destroy it willy nilly. And what does a Congressman sitting in an office in D.C have to say about it anyway? It's just fly-over country to them, whatever their bizzare appeal to Heartland Red Staters.

I'm reminded, though, of how the governorship of Montana went to a Democrat for like the first time ever last year - he succeeded by appealing to the conservationist impulse in big game hunters and fisherman. It's an ingenious move; these guys don't want to see wildlife disappear either, because then all their recreational hobbies would die out. I hope that enough common ground can be found between the big game hunters and the Sierra Club to form a potent political lobby to prevent to much drilling in the future. That's all it is too - a hope.

Now OLN is showing something called "Total Bull." How apropos.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

His Imperial Highness Prince Takamado

I know that it is morally suspect to fantasize about ways to die but I still want to share my favorite "If it has to happen then please like this" scenario.

Prince Takamado, a member of the Japanese Imperial Family, died on 21 November 2002 on a squash court in the basement of the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. He had a couple of drinks with the Canadian Ambassador early on this Thursday afternoon before their match. The Ambassador said afterwards: "He played really well. It was a close match." This seems like a tactless analysis of a match that killed his opponent but was presumably meant to illustrate that the highness' death came without prior warning signs (or suffering).

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Conspiracy Wrapped in an Enigma, Wrapped in a Riddle, Wrapped in a Vest

Once you get into the JFK assassination there's no getting out. It becomes a compulsion. It is beginning to seriously hinder my work. I spend probably 3-4 hours a day trawling the Internet, from conspiracists to debunkers and back again, across the whole wild, wooly spectrum of theories and anti-theories, left-wing plots, right-wing plots, internal coups and foreign acts of war, or the almost-plausible lone gunman scenario. To paraphrase Master Phil, it's like playing fantasy football with geopolitics.

The problem is there's no way to verify the credibility of anything within this twisted melange. Conspiracists often use pseudonyms and decry anyone who disagress with them as CIA stooges. The case-closed acolytes meanwhile, appear so detached and trusting of official explanations that they simply ignore glaring discrepancies. After all, there is a long and hideous history of CIA and extra-governmental acts of disruption, distortion, sabotage and murder. This is the government of Iran-Contra, Watergate and the Gulf of Tonkin. Is it so implausible to think that there are men capable of and comfortable with eliminating their own Commander in Chief?

I have noticed that the lone-gunman buffs always have the more sophisticated and organized web pages. Their sites neatly parallel their point of view: clean and clear, logically hermetic, wrapped up tight into a perfect little bundle. Scanning the JFK sites on the web offers a glimpse at the extreme psyche of the Internet. Conspiracy proponent's sites are chaotic hodgepodges of text and images, sprawling on and on with an endless barrage of names and dates, minor characters and shadowy spies, obssessively cataloging every last detail, from the mundane to the explosive, in a style befitting a high-schooler's HTML project from 1995.

Most of the conspiracists look crazy, just based on their designs. But there's something untrustworthy about the slickness of the debunkers. Their sites play like advertisements, aiming to persuade through a mix of production values and condescension (i.e. any idiot can see that Oswald acted alone and anyone who says otherwise is a nut or a moron - you're not a nut or a moron? are you??). I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where the phone company creates a second area code and makes a promotional video to convince the Springfieldianites the change is necessary: the talking rotary phone says the even monkeys can remember nine digits and asks, "You're not stupider than a monkey are you?" to which Chief Wiggum replies, "Well, how big of a monkey?"

The point is, I think there's something to be gleaned from the conspiracy debate about the way we choose to interpret history. There are parallel interpretations that have been racing each other since November 22, 1963 - one that looks at events and sees hidden machinations and shadow governments, and another that takes on faith the events as they appear to play out, or at least favors human egotism and error over premeditated conspiracy.

As for me, too many examples of shady goings-on have come to light the last thirty years to accept the no-conspiracy line of thought. The CIA in particular has reached an apex of visibility, with discussions about it's well-known "extraordinary rendition" policies and secret overseas prisons being discussed in full daylight. I do feel that there is little likelihood that "the truth" will ever be uncovered. What fascinates me are the little details, the human elements, that have been overlooked in favor of more grandiose readings of history.

For instance: Lee Harvey Oswald made 4 phone calls while in police custody, one the night of the assassination and three in quick succession the following afternoon. No police records were kept of the numbers dialed, so we'll never know who he called but don't you wish you could? Who would he call? What did he say?? How about the fact that the three acts Jack Ruby accomplished on the morning of November 24 consisted of wiring $25 to one of his show girls, walking his dog, and murdering Oswald?

The most fascinating thing about the JFK assassination is it's window into human history, and the way little people become part of huge historical events.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Argument Builds Character.

You know what I hate? Babies.
And kittens:


But mostly babies.
Discuss.

Romance & Ambition



















We are coming to the end of another year and I say it's time to move past cynicism and self-consciousness. Let's be sincere in our desires and bold in our failures. There is nothing to be afraid of.

Sleigh Bells, Noose and Blindfold!

Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus...

i have a secret

i love gossip. but more than i love it, i love to spread/share it.

postsecret.blogspot.com just isn't worthy of my dirt—it would take far too long to get out.

that said, i can't share this secret. not yet. in its stead, i pose/post a question:

got any dirt?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Is it that time again?

This season has me feeling less than festive. Thanksgiving came and went in one whirlwind day of traveling and anxiety. Even though I had my fair share of mashed potatoes, it hardly felt like the feast that we normally have. Since I didn't stay at my mother's house for more than 8 hours, I wasn't able to stuff myself for days with the tasty goodness of the season. I didn't even get seconds. And now THIS is supposed to be Christmas? I don't feel a smidgen of holiday cheer. I even want to boycott my drunken, dancing "work" party. That's a little unusual for me.

Following Thanksgiving, I was quite busy and did not keep up my quotient of normal television watching. I was able to catch up a bit this weekend and I realized that the TV commercials and shows, all featuring holiday decorations and themes, were making me feel slightly better. My theory is that the grandness and joy of Christmas is only perpetuated by the media and consumerism. If we didn't have them telling us to go out and shop, make cookies and decorate, or love some of those people that you hate, then Christmas would be a goner. All these years people complained that consumerism and entertainment were ruining Christmas, but NO! They keep it alive. Ha.

7th Avenue Freeze-Out

The Luna song Kalamazoo plays softly in the background as I look out across the tarred, antennaed roofs of Brooklyn brownstones and towards the Manhattan skyline, the slowly falling snow clustered like flies around the city lights. The scene recalls somehing in me, something more felt than thought, an inarticulable yearning coupled with a peculiar sense of belonging... we are particles in the atomic haze, specks in the electron cloud, lonely precipitation.

I look back and everyone is smiling. I cinch my scarf tighter, zip up my jacket and think, "Something is beginning to thaw."

Pulling for the Pulitzer

"The two-story apartment building where the alleged murder occurred was quiet during the day Sunday and a fresh dusting of snow covered three empty beer cans between it and Iannelli’s Ristorante. "

Beat a Drum

Saw King Kong last night. It was visually amazing. Not just your run of the mill bang'em up action flick, but a well planned out, meticulously edited, homage to old Hollywood. What hung with me after all the CGI effects and blockbuster scenery, was just the idea behind the relationship between Kong and the blonde. Simply put, he protects her, from everything from the dinosaurs, to the air force, to mincey little Adrian Brody, and he does so savagely.

Long story short, I was thinking about this afterwards and started to wonder, where has the primal nature of man gone? "Primal" meaning literally "first", instinctual, natural, animal. One might argue that the savage nature of mankind manifests itself in wars, oppression, global violence, etc, but I'm thinking that primal nature is more immediate, more eye-to-eye. I think also that what makes a primal instinct primal is that there is no debate about action, it's a singular instinct, basically on of extended survival. So where does the natural inclination for physical survival go when your food is brought to you killed, skinned and cooked, when your potential mates come from a computer screen, or through a complex and arbitrary courtship based on social mores and convenience, when your urge to strike the other guy down, to claim your territory is squelched by a system of laws and personal barriers? What happens to the beast within when we live by the law instead of the lay?
Just a question...not enough time to expound upon it now...but something to think about.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Artist = Crazy Slut

Link: http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051128/full/051128-5.html

The Toast of Batswana


This is the Toast of Batswana. It is a goat-sheep-hybrid that was born from the mating of a female goat with a male sheep. It belongs to Dr. Letshwenyo at the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture. It is a way cooler hybrid than all the ligers (lion and tiger) or mules (horse and donkey) because goats and sheep don't even belong to the same genus. It is a male and apparently a hybrid-sexual, mounting both goats and sheep even when they are not in heat. This behavior became such a nuisance that Dr. Letshwenyo castrated the Toast of Batswana. He doesn't belong to any species he could perpetuate anyhow.