Sucks. Really sucks. I felt this same way when Charles Schultz died. It's the way I'll feel when... Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson...
It makes me really sad because they're such good people. I really think people like Charles Schultz and Fred Rogers are undervalued. Yes, people love them, but... they're out there. They're not of this world. They're another calibre of person altogether. Schultz was a guy who could talk about angels and God and baby Jesus and make an atheist cry and even the most cynical person, for one brief moment, could see how it's not all Crusades and Falwell, that faith can be anything, it just depends on the person.
Rogers, well... what a gentle, kind person. Genuinely and fully and completely. Free from the grip of irony that pervades just about everything to the point of nausea. And he was a minister. It's not the faith, it's the person wielding it.
And that's why they're my heroes. They're genuine, through and through, and there's nothing more admirable. It's sad, they're a dying breed.
I recently saw: Five Easy Pieces, Easy Rider, and Nashville. All with Karen Black. Weird.
also- run out and see The Quiet American.
It's excellent, excellent, excellent. The politics are very subtle, but nonetheless it's a film people should see and support to illustrate we want those sort of films... as opposed to anything by Jerry Bruckheimer.
Introverts. We are a misunderstood breed. Basically when I meet people for the first time they immediately think I'm arrogant, aloof, an asshole, or a combo of all three. If I have the misfortune of working with these people, but not at all closely (you know, they're on another floor and I rarely see them), they usually end up sticking with that assumption because I never see them enough to convey any other sort of impression.
Me? I'm also blessed with:
not giving a rat's ass about any sport any normal person follows (nothing for small talk),
a natural facial expression that makes me look sort of vaguely angry all the time (I'm not, I just look that way),
the curse of being about twice as observant as the average person (sounds like a good thing, but when you're the only person among a group of people who knows something they do not know, or notices something they cannot or did not notice, and you've already got a reputation of being arrogant, well... let's just say I play dumb a lot),
and a very deadpan, deprecating, and absurdist sense of humor (I wouldn't have it any other way- but when you're assumed to be aloof, and people can't tell if you're joking or not, subtle, absurd witticisms rarely win the day).
The one thing that always drives me nuts is extroverts labeling me, and then not accepting my side of the story.
You're too serious.
You're not a happy person.
No... I just don't need to be the freakin' queen (king) bee, thank you very much.
But I do love to perform (comedy mostly). An extrovert would think that's a contradiction. It ain't.
There's a big discussion going on among several bloggers, Atrios,Calpundit,Nathan Newman,Kieran Healy, and Brad Delong, among others, regarding the question of intelligence. Basically, it's a racist's favorite tale to tell that blacks and mexicans and anyone with dark hair who isn't japanese are genetically inferior to whites when it comes to intelligence. The argument is as follows: a large part of intelligence is genetic, blacks and mexicans consistently score lower on tests, therefore they must be genetically inferior.
Basically Calpundit kicked this off suggesting that idea is something liberals need to confront, not to legitimize it but in order to do a "know thine enemy", sort of thing. (actually I've been skimming all the stuff they all wrote, so I could be off a little, I'll explain why I've been skimming in a mo)
He's right. There's a lot of things the left needs to confront that they don't want to confront because each leads down a slippery slope to repugnant waters with a sticky film you can't seem to wash off so you have to break out the comet. All of these sorts of issues, race being the most prominent, are very easily hijacked by assholes. Any slobbering, mouth-breathing racist can hijack a discussion of race- it's very, very easy to turn around anything and everything a liberal might say on the subject. I think that's the main reason why those sorts of touchy subjects are just usually handled with a firm dismissal. It's a defensive strategy: let the racist dig his own hole without ending up in it with him.
Me? I'm cool as a cucumber when it comes to the question of race and intelligence. I won't go into my genetics lesson for you (it's here if you wanna read it) because my input on this subject is going to be simple. I didn't read all the discussions going on because to me none of it matters. It's an important topic, but I've got it figured out, so I don't feel the need to read everyone's input. So, on the topic of "are blacks and mexicans genetically inferior because they score lower on tests and intelligence is largely determined by genetics, and is that an issue one should discuss and how do we go about it":
Have you ever talked on the phone with a white person from Arkansas?
Holy poo, that's some dumb crackers down there. Wait. Are crackers from Georgia? Either way, boy-howdee! Dumb folks down there, lemme tell you!
All right, I'm being Senior Funny-Guy, but I'm serious too. It's simply impossible to argue lower tests scores are thanks to genetics when you have some of the dumbest people on the planet living in the red states and they happen to be white. They're dumb because they're poor (they're poor because they've been taken advantage of) and their schools are shit-holes and there is a southern, back-woods culture that revolves around not being a smart person.
Smart people are derided and seen as traitors of sorts to micro-cultures that believe in creation and angels. Smart people are a product of secular teaching, smart people possess secular knowledge- that's why they're considered "smart". I mean, our president is beloved because he's not up on his book learnin' (believe me, I know a lot of people who admire the fact that he can barely speak). So, consequently, via culture and environment, you get dumb people.
(OK, the disclaimer... I do not think all people from the south are dumb, I do however recognize that the south is a screwed up place in many ways, and does not produce a huge output of scholars- the same way I know that blacks and mexicans tend to perform less on tests than whites. The point is, both "facts" are dependant upon history and culture, not race. I mean, two families, the Tyson's and the Walton's, own like everything in Arkansas, and they're not exactly building schools, they're building chicken-death plants that befoul the rivers so all those dumbasses can find work)
[OK, OK, disclaimer for the disclaimer- tone is everything online and I'm not always good about letting people know I'm being flippant. Hyperbole to me is funny, so when I'm saying something over-the-top, the topic may be serious but I'm just making a joke (and I hope there's a clear distinction between my serious-yet-harmless humor and the "jokes" of someone like, god I don't even want to type her name... the scrawny evil blond-bitch. Yeah, her). I'm a nice guy and basically am discussing important topics in a joking manner... cuz it's more fun to write]
White people, on average, have more wealth, live in better neighborhoods, and have a better-schooled family background than blacks and mexicans. This is historical, not genetic. If we had been living in a completely equitable society for the last 50 years- every neighborhood nice, every school good -and blacks and mexicans had been enjoying this utopia the whole time as equal partners, racism was no more and the following generation showed a marked difference in intelligence- then maybe the racist fucks who wrote The Bell Curve would have an argument.
But anyone who's got eyes and a brain (unless of course they're a "Freeper") and picks up a history book will know the blacks and the native Americans (both North, Central, and South) got a raw deal and got screwed up the ass so hard it's hard to believe it's not a fiction, and that kind of societal and cultural rape and oppression does not just go away.
The real question for "Bell Curvians" is: if whites are genetically superior, and have historically had more access to wealth and opportunity than blacks and mexicans , how do you explain the GOP?
Unless you're the sort who can't function without pretending everything is positive, and can't say anything negative about anyone (except for people who speak negatively), chances are you've experienced depression several times in the last couple years. It's understandable, there's a lot to be depressed about; too much in fact.
I almost can't deal with it. I've almost reached comprehension-of-evil overload, it just comes too much, too fast. I could blog 100 times a day on all the evil being perpetrated throughout the world and it still wouldn't cover half of it. Hell, 24/7 isn't even enough to just get through White House press releases.
Actually I couldn't be an Atrios. I got a job, after-all, and a cat, and a chicky, and a lot of unread books, and those screenplays I've ignored for 9 months, and still other things. But even if I could have a computer surgically installed into my sternum (which no doubt is Atrios' solution), it still wouldn't be enough, it would still seem nearly pointless, and I'd still get depressed.
Lately I haven't even been able to articulate my disgust for all the badness coming down the badness pipeline. I read about Bush's dream for nothing but consumption taxes and I'm just paralyzed. It's just so fucking awful, so terrible to comprehend, and so unbelievable that this is actually happening I... just... can't....
You get the idea.
It renders my input worthless- "What do I have to say about that issue? I... uh... bad... un-.... I..."
I think I often have a slightly different take on particular issues, and so don't feel entirely stupid when I decide to shout into the vacuum of cyberspace, but oh man...
What do you say to this besides, “that’s so fucking dumb”? That's real thought-provoking, huh?
With all the depressing news lately, US gonna start making new nukes, racists getting the OK to posse up, Powell sheds any semblance of maturity he may have had ("You're just chicken! Bawwk!"), you might be surprised to learn that what depresses me most is finding out TPM is now 34.
Only 4 years older than me and a freakin' scholar.
He doesn't lose the ability to thoughtfully critique when the evil is afoot.
I blame my parents.
Really, I left home knowing absolutely nothing about everything. I was a smart kid, did well in college, but not until- oh- about 26 or 27 did I finally have a grasp of what sorts of things a person could actually do in the world. I know, sounds dopey, but I was basically raised to end up working in some dead-end job my whole life. I was the only kid out of 3 that
didn't go into the military for lack of better ideas or an understanding of how to go to college. Actually, I wouldn't have gone to college at all had I not fell ass backward into a full scholarship for a community college.
The scope of my familial education was just so narrow, and the high school of 500 students I went to so small, it just took me a long time to figure out what it is you need to do to get where you would like to go. My horizons weren't expanded, they were defined and exceedingly narrow. I sort of feel like a late bloomer. 30 and I've only been "pursuing my dreams" for 3 years. Sigh.
[OK, for the record, I don't seriously blame my parents. I blame them for not exposing me to things I think they should have and could have exposed me to, but I don't blame them in a big "my psychiatrist sez it's all their fault" sort of way for anything]
I suspect I've got some sort of mental disorder that makes me, #1- psychologically unable to fit in and hard-wired to be a social misfit, #2- think I'm cooler and smarter than I really am, while #3- I constantly analyze myself in unrealistic terms therefore compounding upon the depression I feel from, oh, Bush just being a dick.
Boy, doesn't dick just describe him oh-so accurately and succinctly?
I caught a glimpse of some "human shields" in Iraq, and two observations:
#1- Those that I saw seem to have just come from The Bumbershoot or Folk-Life festival in Seattle,
#2 - I'm not so sure I'd mind if they got blow'd up.
OK, I'm joking. I don't want anyone to get blow'd up, blah, blah, blah...
I'm just so tired the face of peace being that of a dreadlocked, patchoulli-soaked, hippy wanna-be banging on a drum. There they were, in the middle of Bagdad, surrounded by bewildered Iraqis, a million miles from any semblance of the culture that bore them... in a drum circle banging on their damn drums.
Must they export the drum circle? That obnoxious refuge for the unwashed and talentless? That impotent expression of delusional depth of character? That fucking racket?
Go back to Wallingford, you damn, dirty punks!
In 1992 I went to Lollapalooza, 2nd year of the fest, best lineup it ever had- it was near Seattle. It was there that I first encountered something akin to a drum circle: it was a big metal cage with all kinds of crap hanging from it and people were encouraged to bang on it.
That's really, fucking annoying, I thought.
Flash forward, uh, two more years? Three more? When the hell did I move there? Let's say 1995.
1995! The year... uh... something happened! Me? After previously only living in a small hick-town in eastern Washington, and then Oahu for a short time, I fall in love with the "Big City". Ahh, so much to see! The expanse and grand scale of Downtown! The old culture of Pioneer square, Ballard, and Belltown! The pert displays of co-ed flesh in the U-District. Look! There's a bum! There's another! Look! It's a "homeless" kid asking for change! Look, another! And another! And another. And another. And... oh boy, there's like, a group of 20....
That big, neon grocery store sign in Wallingford that I can't remember the name of! All the gay people of Capital Hill! Hey! Someone's giving me "Attitude"! Cooooooool!!
And of course, the academic dignity of my alma mater, the University of Washington.
Yes, I loved that town, just to dine at one of the 1,000 Julia's restaurants was a sincere pleasure. The heady atmosphere of The Hurricane at 2 a.m. over eggs, or if eggs are your vice, the 100 powdered-egg omelet at Beth's, or if it's the booze you like, the street-cred of The Comet or Ernie's. They were all exquisite pleasures for me. Imagine, all this, just for living in in an emerald city that would be glorious without them.
Oh look! A big-ass troll!
And the parks. Lot's of parks. And, curiously, there's people banging on drums at nearly every one. Hmmmm.
Oh how I wanted to continue to love that town. For gosh-sakes I fed the squirrels at campus every day! There was that one who lived by the HUB, he had something wrong with his inner-ear or something because he ran lopsided and in an arc, I was his special pal! Who wouldn't love that?
Krack! Boom! The rain starts.
Actually it doesn't crack (or krack) or boom, it just starts, and never ends. It only took one winter in which it rained every day for 80 straight days for me to wise-up. Actually, I really didn't need to wise-up, I just needed to admit what I had known from the start-- this sucks!
Beth's sucks. The Hurricane sucks. Every Julia's has the worst freaking food ever and it wins "Best of " in the Seattle Weekly every year (note to the cooks at Julia's- throwing a handful of Pico de Gallo into some eggs does not make an omelett with salsa, and warmed-over, pre-undercooked potato chunks do not make "home fries").
There's 2 "homeless" kids per every 5 adults in the city and, dammit, few of them are actually homeless. Pioneer Square is full of three things- bad, overpriced food, homeless dudes, and asshole frat boys looking for a fight. Capital Hill has got three things, punks, posers trying to osmosis some atmosphere, and rude lesbians. Wallingford... Wallingford has got nothing now that the sign is gone. The U-District has got the aforementioned "homeless" kids, a couple good bookstores, and two good places to eat. Ballard has everything, but everyone has noticed so it's fast on the road to having nothing.
And everywhere, everywhere... those damn drums! Oh dear lord! It's the annoying banging of crap just like before! Why is it here? Didn't it move on with the festival?! Is that were the idea came from? Damn you Perry Farrell!!!!
You can't escape. Every damn event in Seattle is corrupted by drum circles. You wanna hear some cowboy music at the Folklife festival? Too bad! Cuz there's 10 assholes with drums 100 feet to your left, 7 more 80 feet to your right, and damn if you can't hear that group of 12 on the other side of the building. Wanna hang out at Golden Gardens? Better love barely rhythmic, amateur percussion! (actually it's sort of gang-land now, so...)
They resonate through walls. If you're anywhere within 200 yards of a drum circle you're screwed. And if there's any musical talent among any drum circlers, I'll eat my hat.
Alright, Seattle isn't so horrible. I'm exaggerating.
Julia's does suck beyond reason, but overall Seattle's not that bad. If it weren't for the rain I imagine I could stand to live there, even though it's nothing but white hipsters as far as the eye can see, it's geographically isolated from any other place worth mentioning, it's overrun with condos and upper-scale retail and restaurant chains, it's in the back pocket of Paul Allen and his many whims, the city council wants nothing more than to turn all of the city into one big, outdoor shopping mall, the influence of a huge asshole named Tim Eyman, and they won't build the damn monorail! Still, if it weren't for the rain...
But the drum circles, that's a deal breaker.
And now they're in Iraq. Good god. If there's one sure fire way to recruit terrorists it's make them think we're best represented by the Bush administration and dirty drum-circle hippies. I mean, what's not to bomb in that scenario?
So here's my plea to all those drum circlers out there:
Disband. For the good of the world, let it go. You're not an artist, no one outside of the circle appreciates what you're doing, in fact, everyone hates you.
Disband. Let it go. Take up poetry, it's far more artistic and makes you seem far more deep, but here's the beauty part: it's silent.
If it happens, people gonna' die, it's as simple as that. And the Bush administration no doubt already has an action list in case this happend. On this list would be things like:
Use attack as excuse to invade Iraq. If Iraq already invaded, pick another country.
Use attack as excuse to continue to ignore the Palestinian thing.
Use attack as excuse to levy taxes only against income and not investments.
Use attack to crown Bush "Our Holy Protector" for life.
I'm sick of it. Truly sick of it. We're living under the worst administration ever and it's almost too hard to fathom how they can be so terrible, but I know why, and I'd like to clue you in:
They're incapable of caring. It's a phenomenon of the late 20th and 21st centuries; vast numbers of citizens psychologically incapable of caring for anything outside their immediate self-interests. They can walk amongst us and love their kids, love their ma's and pa's, love a dog... but only because those things occupy their "self-interest sphere"- those things that are so close it makes the most sense to break the self-interest rule.
It's these kind of people who can kill and feel OK with it. It's these kind of poeple that find more warmth and security in hate than anything else. The Republican party (and the Reform, Libertarian, etc., parties) has become home to these people. It's the party of "protect what's mine", it's the party racists flock to, and old, dried-up, know-it-all hags (you know what I'm talking about); dumb, ignorant assholes, and just about everyone obsessed with money.
It's the party those hicks from the cafe scene in Easy Rider belong to. (if you haven't seen Easy Rider in a while, go RENT IT NOW YOU BASTARDS!!!)
Ah hell. God I wish I could get cheered up more often. The demonstrations... god. What does it matter if the assholes are in power?
I hope in 20 years I'll be able to look back at this time and understand it was just part of a cycle, and then look ahead and know that the worst is behind us.
We'll see. In the meantime- I finished my freaking movie!!!!! That's one thing to be happy about. And I bought What Liberal Media? That'll be good. Wait.... no that will depress me. I hate to read about pundits.
I had never seen Fox News before because I don't have cable. I'd seen O'Reilly clips and stuff, but never just a news broadcast.
Oh lord how I wish that were still true.
On broadcast TV this morning (up early to edit) I happened upon Fox News Sunday, and it appears to be the same players from cable.
No wonder a huge swath of this country is deluded and ignorant. No wonder people tape up their houses, and think it's perfectly fine the US is making a global mockery of democracy (hey! that rhymes!).
These people are scum. Brit Hume... great googley moogley, what a pompous, petty little jackass. Wassthe anchor's name? Wassatsay? Whoosit? Bill Kristol is on the panel!? Burn in hell!! Whoos the token black guy...? He's not so bad. Whoosat chick? Smack Hume upside th' heads, woman! Oh the UN is irrelevent Hume? You dick. Oh? Email from some sub-literate, midwestern viewer huh? (I'm sure those are hard to find) Gawd, you gotta intepret what she wrote it's so incoher'nt? She wants ya' to punish some democrat sen'ter for sayin' something true, but in a completly diff'rent context it ain't? So he's dishonest huh? Ah go to hell...
TONY SNOW! Thas yer name!? I got your number you bastard! I read your book you sonabitch!!
Wow. I appreciate folks like The Howler and Cursor and CNN Sucks more now than ever (I'll link 'em up soon). They actually watch this crap every day.
My only consolation is all these people will have a cozy box seat in hell.
Calpundit explains himself a little further, and was also kind enough to send me an email (very cool).
His argument is much more subtle than it first seemed, and in that context makes most of my fears irrelevant.
But I still think it's a situation more suited to abuse than for the benefit of mankind.
First of all, I don't think rich people are evil. Not at all. It's just that there are opportunities available to wealthy people that naturally lead to socially damaging results. Biggest example- finance.
When it comes to money the wealthy live in a completely different world than the rest of us. It's not just a matter of being able to buy things, or own several cars or houses, or travelling more, or having solid gold toilets in your solid gold, rocket-powered RV, no. It's about access to capital, the ability to create wealth out of nothing, and subsequent access to power.
If you have a lot of money, whether through your own labor or handed to you, you can make more, and more, and more by doing nothing at all. This money is made upon the economy, whether ours or another nation's or a regional, global market; it doesn't so much circulate through, or participate in, but rather symbiotically feed off of the economy.
It's mostly all legal. LP's, municipal bonds, insurance schemes, aggressive estate planning, etc., there's a world of ways for the wealthy to make money on the back of the economy, and it most definitely does not "trickle-down".
I find it all very unsavory, but at the same time, if you have millions, why not participate? Why not engage in practices that remove millions from circulation, cut off cheap capital to all but those who already have millions, and otherwise contribute to the ever widening disparity of wealth? It's all very normal so, why not?
What sort of genetic programming we're talking about is sort of irrelevant in my argument. I think the debate ought to start out at the worst-case scenario and that would be we can program a fetus like a computer. That is, you want a kid with blue eyes, bam!- he's got blue eyes. Want him good at math? Bam! math-whiz! Regardless of how those genes would be passed on (the same as any other gene), the issue is what will happen at the first level of manipulation.
If we could manipulate genes to create a kid with nearly unlimited potential for "intelligence", and it cost $50,000 to do so, why wouldn't a wealthy parent do it? It's the same as investing in a socially-responsible manner or not, the only reason one wouldn't participate is for ethical reasons.
I think genetic manipulation would be the default behavior for wealthy parents, just as investing in a socially harmful manner is. Also, I think it would have the same effects- whether intentions are benign or not, the end result would be bad for society.
What we would have is a class of people not only with all the advantages that come along with being wealthy, but also a distinct advantage of genetic potential. The money, of course, would give them the ability to capitalize completely upon that potential. And it would all be very normal. Anyone who would point out it's damaging to democracy would be a whiner. It's just one of the benefits that come from being successful. We'd probably have a government that wouldn't want to regulate it because, as we've all heard that would be "punishing success".
So, that's why I'm not down with it.
Now, quickly, on the more subtle genetics question. Regardless of what the latest findings indicate, for instance there's a gene for people who say "warsh" instead of "wash", if one thinks of genetic makeup as simply varying degrees of potential, it works well and avoids the nature vs. nurture argument.
Michael Jordan was born. He wasn't nearly superhuman just because he worked hard, he had to be born with the potential to be Michael Jordan in order to become Michael Jordan. Einstein wasn't born a genius, he was born with the potential for genius. Same with Mozart.
These potentials follow family trees, they can even follow ethnicity, though that's a touchy subject. No matter what potentials you possess, your environment will have to provide you with some opportunity for that potential. A Mozart could be born to the Inuit, and whatever musical tradition he took part in, he'd probably rock the igloo. However, given Inuit musical tradition doesn't have the breadth and scope of European musical tradition, most of that potential would not manifest itself.
Take a look at our president. Mediocre in every way, yet he's president. His potentials surely couldn't be that impressive, but his environment (and a stacked judiciary) was able to squeeze every ounce out of his sad, genetic makeup.
So when I say we're all born with more-or-less the same brains, (which Calpundit takes issue with) what I mean is on the average our potentials probably don't diverge too radically. Certainly they diverge, but Mozart's only come along once in a while. He is an example of a man with a hugely divergent potential for music, so much so the barest indulgence could bring it out. I doubt most musicians have such potential, though they certainly have more than I do, for instance.
If it became commonplace for one segment of the population to have access to potentials manipulation, coupled with the ability to capitalize upon these designer potentials (if you knew your kid had the potential for music, you wouldn't send him to math camp), I just think the natural outcome would harm our society, not benefit it.
Don't get me wrong: I'm all in favor of moving deliberately and carefully on this kind of thing. Dangers abound, and we should be cautious and honest in dealing with them.
But when we get past the technical hurdles and move on to the fundamental moral and societal issues, I just don't understand the objections. We are "all created equal"? Nature has already seen to it that this isn't true even today. Gene therapy will be initially available "only to the wealthy"? Maybe, but if the next Einstein or Shakespeare is born to wealthy parents, that's OK with me — we'll all benefit. It might be abused by some future Saddam Hussein to create an army of people who are "especially aggressive and warlike"? Sure, and airplanes can be flown into buildings.
First one has to ask, by what measure are we all born equal? Obviously, only as equal as our culture will allow. If a Spartan baby were born with "imperfections" it was left out in the elements to die, many cultures prefer one sex of child to the other, not so long ago here in the US black folks weren't even considered full people. Nothing genetic about that.
Most people in this country do not subscribe to the culture as framed in our current laws: equal opportunity independent of race, creed, color, and religion. Fundamentalists hate just about everyone that isn't like them and they believe it's their right, according to their religious beliefs, to discriminate and oppress as much as they see fit. Racism is rampant, ageism, etc., and we all know money can get you just about anywhere (the Hilton girls would be working C-grade porn without it). All of this cultural discrimination makes genetics somewhat secondary; there are plenty of successful ugly people, for instance.
The vast majority of people in the world are very, very similar genetically. Except for those with severe mental or physical deformities, nearly all of us have the same genetic potential as the next person. Brainpower is doled out equally, more or less. It is the extraordinarily exceptional person who gets more brains when God hands them out (your Mozart, Einstein…). The two main genetic factors that are widely seen and factor into our "equal-ness", sans culture, are our looks and physical prowess. Physical characteristics are still subject to cultural preferences but, for instance, big boobs only exist because men are wired to respond to them as indictors of sexual health. Genetics play a big role in what yanks our cranks, but otherwise, raised in a vacuum most everyone has the same genetic advantage as the next person.
Drum is right, we're not born equal- but it has more to do with culture than genetics.
But what would happen if people were genetically sculpted?
Take your money, which can buy you just about anything already, add physical perfection, which is always a plus, and then add a superior mind- the kind that only comes along one in one billion- what do you get? Me.
Ha, ha. Just kidding (you have no idea how much).
Seriously though, imagine if every neo-con in the country were physically perfect and genetically smarter. We already have most of our elected officials doing their best to maintain or make worse the enormous disparity of wealth in this country. They're working hard to dismantle any separation between church and state, they want to take away our right to address grievances via the courts, etc., etc.
Drum is a very smart guy, and more knowledgeable than myself, but I cannot understand why he would think this would be true:
if the next Einstein or Shakespeare is born to wealthy parents, that's OK with me — we'll all benefit.
What's to make him think a rich super-being would be a Shakespeare or Einstein? Why not super-Cheney, or super-Bush, or not-an-idiot-Coulter? (for the record, I find her very unattractive) What would make him think any family wealthy enough to have a super-baby would try to mold the kid to do good in the world? He sounds like a supply-side economist invoking Adam Smith. Smith understood laissez-faire capitalism would work best if everyone were working for the benefit of mankind. Why would someone assume genetic manipulation of some rich brat would ultimately benefit all of mankind?
Drum concedes bad could be done as well, but he's talking in comic-book terms. Good = Shakespeare, bad = Saddam Super-Soldiers. What about simply a bunch of rich people, similar to the crop we have now, just using their special gifts to further their own aims, the same aims they seek to further now? Why would that benefit anyone? In this second gilded-age, are the many benefiting from the few who are allowed to shape the rules? I may be paranoid, but given 5% of the population control 95% of the wealth, if benefiting fellow man were the goal of that 5%, we'd live in an utopia.
Drum seems to think a genetically superior mind would most likely produce a person with a heightened sense of empathy, compassion, love, etc. I don’t want to get into a nature vs. nurture thing but, that doesn't even come close to being a given. Sure, Michael Jordan was born more so than made, but if he were born in a shanty-town in South Africa no one could pimp in their non-existent Air-Jordans.
Yes, many wealthy people do worthy things, but how far down is "benefit fellow man" on their list of things to do? I'd like to think the smarter you get the more you realize acts of kindness and altruism benefit all, but that's purely wishful thinking. How many wealthy people faced with the ability to make a superior child would spend their time trying to instill it with values they themselves do not possess in quantity or at all? Given that neo-cons tend to think guilt (and by extension empathy) is the most horrible emotion one can give into, I wouldn't bank on the world getting any better with a bunch of rich, super-brainiacs running around.
Doesn't the prospect of super-intelligent Hilton girls frighten you?
In 1994 I went to Europe for the first time. At least I think it was '94, I can honestly never remember the year in which I did things. It was me and my girlfriend at the time, we landed in Amsterdam and went straight to Paris by train. The morning of our third day in Paris we got up early; we were going to get a locker at the train station for our stuff, mess around the city, and then catch the train to little St. Aix- something-or-other.
Walking to the station (Gare de Lyon, I believe) I noticed all the trash bins we passed had lids installed; flat metal plates screwed down on top so you couldn't use the bins. Odd, thought I, but hey, who knows what's up with those crazy French?
We got to the train station and there were no available lockers. They all had electronic locks, and every single one was out of service. We saw some sort of security guy and asked him if there were any lockers that worked. He said no, try another station. If I recall we did go to another station, Gare d'Austerlitz, and the situation was the same there. But there we were told there were no lockers in the whole city, and some sub-machinegun toting policemen told us to move along.
So we had to trudge around with our way over-stuffed packs till it was time for the train. We only later found out that all of this was in response to a bomb threat.
We walked around a pretty good chunk of the city that day and everywhere we went the trash bins were locked up tight. Apparently the whole city had been locked down in the same manner. There were police out and about, but not as if martial law had been declared. The crazy thing is, all of this took place in a matter of a few hours; the trash bins, the lockers, the police, it had all been mobilized that morning before we woke up. It was pretty impressive, actually.
Could you imagine Los Angeles or New York responding as well to a terrorist threat? OK, OK, Paris is smaller… can you imagine Seattle or San Francisco responding as rapidly and completely as Paris in 1994? Man, I was in Seattle during the WTO meltdown, in fact I witnessed the very first gas canister launch (and the cheering Woooooooo!! from the crowd begging for it). The memories don't instill me with confidence that city could respond as efficiently as Paris had . Sure, 9-11 "Changed Everything"™, but realistically, apart from cordoning off airports and changing the terror flag to magenta, what would you expect your city to be able to accomplish during a terror threat? This country has been living with the threat of terrorism for a much shorter period of time than much of Europe, and now we got the whole administration going out of their way to piss on the non-just-got-done-living-under-dictators parts of Europe.
Well, it's on my mind because I just caught a glimpse of some idiots across the country duct taping themselves inside their houses.
to further erode confidence…
The building I work in (in LA) has received two bomb threats since 9-11. Well actually, the building across the street has received one and it effected us, and then there was a suitcase kitty-corner from my building (a suspected bomb) and that effected us too. Here's what happened:
Suitcase- blocked off the street, took about 2 hours to get a robot to shoot open the suitcase. Meanwhile, you could actually walk up to within 10 feet due to the way the closed off the street.
Threat- cops came in our building and advised us to stay to the south side of the building and away from windows. Apparently some people were told they had to leave the building, others only to stay to the south side. During my lunch hour I wanted to go for a walk. Outside my building there were no cops. I walk down a few blocks and when I come back the street leading to my building is now blocked off. I try to go around but now three blocks are cordoned off. It's another hour or so before I can get back in the building.
I do not mind letting things follow their course, I'm actually really patient with that sort of thing. What disturbed me is how unorganized both situations seemed. More than an hour after the bomb threat I can go for a walk. A half hour later the path I took is gone. If there were a danger why would I have been allowed to go for a walk in the first place? There was more than an hour to decide what to block off, all it took was some tape and one cop per intersection.
I don't feel confident this city, or any city, would be able to respond appropriately and efficiently if there's some sort of attack. The main way the federal government has responded to all of this is to strip citizens of their civil liberties and to pass laws that would have done nothing to stop 9-11. What does suspending the FOIA have to do with terrorism? I have no confidence in the current government to be able to protect me from anything. In fact, I kind of have an "if it's my time..." sort of attitude toward the whole thing.
Hell, terrorism is violence against citizens, and every precaution or preparation the government has taken in response to terrorism is either a secret, a revocation of citizens' freedom, or public information-technology based... I'm supposed to trust the justice department is somehow thwarting attacks with it's new ability to deny public trial? Right.
So I say, if it's your time to go, it's your time to go, and there's not much you can do about it. In the meantime- don't duct tape all your windows because you'll suffocate, you moron!
[update] I've seen and read about some of the preparations taking place in New York... I dunno. I was just so impressed with what Paris did. A few freaking hours and the city didn't have a hole you could stuff a bomb into. A terrorist is mostly a criminal like any other; it's next to impossible to realize someone's a criminal until they commit a crime. A bank robber isn't a bank robber till he robs a bank. Once he does you can get to work finding him. A suicide chemical-bomber isn't a suicide chemical-bomber till he blows his wad (pardon the expression). Once he does you can get to work figuring out how all of it was able to take place. You know, you immediately create an independent commission with adequate funding and give them an all-access pass to information.... oh wait.
So it's raining here in LA, and thank Chac ( I assume it was his work, after-all, this is LA).
Things were getting pretty freaky- 80 degrees in the middle of January? What's up with that?
I love the rain, now. It happens, oh, thrice a year? We really needed it too, things were gettin' thirsty. When I lived in Seattle I hated the rain because that's all Seattle knew how to do.
It sucked. I would be filled with anxiety every time the sun came out because I knew if I didn't go out there and make the most of the day, carp per diem and all that, I wouldn't get another chance for 7 months. So simple decisions like, should I get really, really drunk tonight, were at the mercy of the weather (see, if it was going to be sunny the next day I couldn't be nursing a hangover), and that's not cool.
So I moved to the land of no rain and bad taste.
So of course it's wall-to-wall STORM WATCH! coverage on the local news.
Man, LA has got the have the worst medium to major-market local news in the nation. I've actually proven scientifically (though I lost the data, slowly, to termites) that watching local Los Angeles news actually removes pertinent information from your head. Yes, you start out knowing the crisis concerning Turkey's request for aid under article 4 of the NATO agreement is complex and will require delicate diplomacy, you end up aware that the ladies like to see tight bottoms!
Your average half-hour, local LA news broadcast follows this formula pretty closely:
Storm-Watch! or Terror-Watch! - intro, followed by,
who led police on a high-speed chase, followed by,
this is what the president said, followed by,
someone died somehow, and we're on the scene hours after the fact to show you the yellow tape, followed by,
is this starlet a whore?, followed by,
why this everyday, ordinary thing will kill you if you somehow statistically become 1 in 1 billion, followed by,
Storm-Watch or Terror-Watch! full story (3 minutes), followed by,
gettin' screwed by the mechanic, followed by,
why kulats are back in, followed by,
world news (30 seconds), followed by,
brave mexican girl needs medical attention, followed by,
sports (15 minutes, 8 of it Shaq), followed by,
kulats are out, now it's all about ass-shaping, even guys are doing it, followed by,
we do a story about girls who play men because there's some shitty movie coming out about that, followed by,
black men you should fear, followed by,
mexican men you should fear, followed by,
we fellate hollywood's new pretty-boy, followed by,
weather, followed by,
how to win in Vegas!, followed by,
unknown ethnic origin men you should fear, followed by,
you're just as likely to die from riding an escaltor as anything else in this world, followed by,
shitty reality show update, followed by,
we're live for no good reason, followed by,
we encourage some punks to drive recklessly and break the law because there's some shitty movie coming out about that, followed by,
another guy kills his wife, followed by,
why can't the government make the traffic go away?!, followed by,
we test-drive cars none of you can afford, followed by,
rich asshole complaints, followed by,
in-depth look at japanese eggplant, followed by,
we suck the cocks of SUV owners, followed by,
kitttens and puppys, followed by,
The shocking conclusion to The Bachelor!
So if you do the math, each segment is about 3 seconds long, which is about right.
I don't think it's a new idea, but definitely one we should move forward with: all wars must be fought with sporks.
Anyone can war at any time against anyone they want for any reason. The only thing is you can only use sporks.
No, you can't make a bomb out of sporks, or a plane; it's just hand to hand melee (or spork to spork) with a single, standard-format spork issued to every soldier.
No geneva conventions, no rules of war but one- only sporks and only people (can't even have jeeps, you gotta walk everywhere). There will be one super-surveillance center, equipped with laser-bearing satellite linkups that will allow the user to vaporize anyone who cheats (I volunteer to helm the controls for the first go at it).
You might think- well, then we'll all be overrun by China and India.
Do you understand how hard it is to kill someone with a spork? And how messy and utterly disgusting? Trust me, it's really, really gross, and it takes a long time. No one will be invading anyone after that first spork-war erupts somewhere and the pictures coming back from CNN make the whole world barf at once.
So, like I say, not a new idea, but let's get crackin'!
Powell's terrorist chemical weapons plant in Northern Iraq is somehow, someway, supposed to be evidence implicating Saddam.
Yet, as has been pointed out, it's in Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq, within the "no-fly" zone, where Saddam has no reach nor presence.
Yet somehow this camp is another reason why we should bomb Bhagdad.
So wassup with that, Powell? Couldn't we just take it out?
Well, there are lots of places that one could say why don't we just take out, but we examine all of these things. We are constantly reviewing what our military options are and we are constantly reflecting how a particular action might play in diplomatic terms as well. But we have taken none of our options off the table and we have been able to monitor these sites and these activities and form a pattern of behavior that is troubling. But we have considered various options over time, but I would not like to get into a discussion of any particular option or why we did or did not execute it.
Oh OK. So you're saying we just can't go in and bomb a place just because it might be a problem? That there's always diplomatic considerations and surveillence is important? And, if I'm hearing you correctly, that if there's no immediate threat we can take our time to figure out the best option? Hmm. Ok well-
The Kurds are aware of the site. There is tension up in that area. There is not complete control over the Kurds of the site and we do know that there are connections between Iraqi intelligence officers and the people who are responsible for that site. And we can see these connections and we can see material that comes out of that site and then gets into transit lanes that deliver such material into parts of Western Europe, and we have been rolling up the network.
There was no sign of chemicals, mixing vessels, running water or other things associated with the production of deadly substances. The only sharp odor at the compound came from rotting food overflowing from a trash container.
So let's say it was a terrorist, chemical-weapons training camp. We didn't take it out for dimplomatic reasons? We didn't take it out because we didn't think it was an immediate threat (presummably) and preferred to work with Kurds in the area and keep it under surveillance?
Do I need to draw a picture of the contrasts?
A chemical weapons plant in Northern Iraq is subject to delicate dimplomatic consideration and negotiation, but weapons inspections are derided, Bush calls the UN irrelevent, and Iraq just needs 3-400 cruise missiles launched at it for three straight days and everything will be cool?
And the worst part is- people buy it! No contradictions exist if you've got an agenda.
Not much to say right now. Well, plenty to say, no time to say it, like:
What's the deal with Christian rock? They can't appreciate music unless it's about Jesus or something?
Why I despise the administration (a continuing series).
If federal taxes are levied upon wages only then we'll be a couple decades away from a completely plutocratic society (see, rich people can make money from investments, regular people basically can't).
Cursor is a must read today. Lots of great stuff on Iraq.
So I've reviewed the Powell case some more and... I still say no war.
Allow me to be not-so-flippant for a moment. I've assumed from the very beginning that Saddam would try to get away with as much as possible.
Of course he would. It has nothing to do with how evil he is, that's simply what statesmen do. Statesmen lie, their motivations are cynical, their word is always suspect. Our president and vice president lie, all the time. The issues they put forward are put forward for cynical, calculated, political reasons. Saddam is no more honest than any other world leader; much more evil, but no more honest. Did anyone honestly believe he wouldn't be doing everything he can to circumvent disarmament?
Of course not, we expected this. Nothing has really changed from Powell's speech, the equation is exactly the same:
1- Given that war upon Iraq would cost, at the very least, thousands of Iraqi lives (100-300,000 total in the Gulf War) and most probably cause severe damage to the environment and civilian infrastructure, devastating a country that is still not fully recovered from the damage of 12 years ago:
2- Given that there are no guarantees whatsoever the US will be seen as liberators, or that a democracy can be established under US military rule:
3- Given that there is no telling what possible outcomes the war may have, that in fact an invasion may be the one exact catalyst needed to spark any sort of Iraqi aggression:
4- Given that Afghanistan is not a success by any measure, and that Iraq would be, by every measure, a much harder place to control and/or foster democracy within:
5- Given that regardless of what evidence exists for Iraq's non-compliance to disarmament, it is in no way a direct threat to the US, nor an immediate threat to its neighbors:
Given all of the above, how can war be justified? Action is certainly justified, but war means death to thousands, displacement of thousands or perhaps millions, ecological destruction, societal destruction…
New template. For some dumb reason I thought maybe my archives weren't working cuz of bad code in the tempate. Whatever. Anyway, I'm not exactly succinct all the time so the extra wideness of this template I likes.
I watched the bit where he described their "proof" of mobile weapons factories. He cited as proof the eye-witness account of three people he couldn't name. As far as I can tell besides some really inconclusive photos and intercepted, extremely vague transmissions, that's about it for the proof of mobile weapon labs. Oh yeah, they had an artist's rendition. Really convincing.
These three guys aren't important enough to extradite from where they are? He mentioned one guy was in another country and Saddam would kill him if he revealed himself. Dude, come on over. If you've got evidence I'm sure Cheney could put you up for a couple days.
What strikes me as so... pukeish (new word, you like it?), is that our latest "please let us go to war" speech, which is suposed to be the definitive one, is based largely upon the word of three guys' that can't be named.
We're going to kill thousands of people and occupy a country for years cuz what three guys say? Man if it's that easy me and two of my pals got a tip that Bush is a cyborg with a bomb in his belly.
If you haven't read this great, scary Salon piece on the CPAC convention, go there right now or I'll destroy you with my fists of power.
Also, go to Tom Paine and read about their journey to the underworld (make sure to read part 1 linked to the article too).
Speakers at CPAC were livid even at businesses that adopted green models out of self-interest. Nick Nichols, CEO of the crisis management group Nichols-Dezenhall, railed against British Petroleum's attempts to cast itself as environmentally friendly, calling it a "new and improved Neville Chamberlain." David Riggs, who runs the anti-environmentalist GreenWatch project at the Capitol Research Center, took the stage to the sound of jungle roars and declared that environmentalism "has nothing to do with bunnies and bambies. It's about destroying free enterprise and eliminating private property." Floyd Brown of the Young America's Foundation announced, "A lot of people who used to claim their color was red now claim their color is green."
Now, I guess I blog a lot on "why are neo-cons so nuts", but I don't think I'm categorically unfair or militant in my musings. My blog about what bugs me in the aftermath of the shuttle accident was admittedly a rant, but that's the worst I've ever flown off the handle. I'm not Talking Points Memo or Tapped, so I don't mind just flapping my yap and surely something will come out wrong… but good lord…
Those people are nuts! The CPAC is full of insane people with insane, paranoid delusions. For the love of god they don't think there's anything to global warming (a misnomer, but you do-gooder lefty's know that). Good god they think lack of Christian doctrine in the public sphere is oppression. Great googly-moogly they think Clinton was a liberal. But! But…. The CPAC is mainstream!
That's the difference; the huge, vast, seemingly bottomless difference between a guy like me and neo-cons of all sorts. Like I blogged on earlier (under "when", permalinks ain't working), there's no liberal version of this sort of thing. Liberals, for the most part, simply don't delude themselves that much, or get that paranoid. You have to go to liberal fringe elements for CPAC kind of wackiness, while for conservatives that's their bread and butter.
Every time I see something like this in a paper or on the tube:
Ever since she can remember, Melissa Doumitt got a $10,000 gift each year from her grandmother...
My jaw just hits the floor.
Every goddamn year?
This time it's from the Wall Street Journal (reg req'd), which is the source of a lot of these sorts of stories. Since you have to pay to play at the W-S-Jay I'll paste a goodly portion here:
Ever since she can remember, Melissa Doumitt got a $10,000 gift each year from her grandmother to pay for everything from rent to student loans. "She bails me out all the time," says the 27-year-old auction house assistant from New York.
But this year, Ms. Doumitt could be on her own. Her grandmother has already told Ms. Doumitt not to expect a handout this year.
After years of pampering during the bull market, a growing number of young adults are getting a rude awakening. Parents and grandparents who used to dole out big cash gifts every year are cutting back. That's partly because of the economy and the slumping stock market of course. But it's also a side effect of the continuing ambiguity over the fate of the estate tax, which has thrown a giant wrench into family inheritance planning.
In the past, parents had a huge incentive to be generous during their lifetime. Dying rich often meant that the government could take a big chunk of their estate. As a result, many affluent families tried to whittle down their estates by handing out checks as high as $22,000 to each child every year. (That's the amount federal law lets couples give away without a tax penalty.)
Chief among the victims of reduced cash gifts: thousands of heirs who, rather than getting a generous yearly allowance, suddenly face the prospect of waiting decades to see their inheritance. While most of these kids aren't exactly facing eviction as a result, this can be a delicate issue for families where cash gifts are as much of a ritual as Thanksgiving dinner.
Thayer Willis, a psychotherapist and author of a book about wealth issues, says one of her clients decided not to give her daughter the $11,000 a year she usually gets. The child's response: She stopped showing up for holidays.
Some wealthy clients are probably overreacting by cutting their cash gifts to children. Michael Kresh, a financial planner in Hauppauge, N.Y., has seen clients with "more money than they can possibly spend" cut back. The reason: "Their personal and emotional safety net has been violated" by the stock-market losses, he says.
Every fucking year?!!!?!
One thing I feel I know for sure, from many a visit to internet sounding boards and the like, is many of the people you will meet online that are arguing things like: progressive taxation is unfair, welfare sucks up most taxes, the estate tax punishes success, and other, uh, dubious views- really have no idea what wealth really is, or what "rich" really means. These people are usually somewhere around middle-class and they defend proposals that benefit people they will never become, in other words, really rich people.
I work in a brokerage house; a very successful brokerage house. We do billions every year, most of that is bonds sold to very wealthy people. It is not uncommon at all for a broker to have several clients with more than 2 million in municipal bonds alone. For those of you that don't know, 2 million in municipals means anywhere between 80-120,000 dollars a year generated tax free. These people make more in a year than the average wage earner just off of interest- and they don't have to lift a finger to do it.
This is common. If someone has 2 million or more in investable assets, you can bet they have a good-sized chunk just sitting in bonds. If they've got 5 mill or more, you can bet they're making more money than you just by sitting on their ass.
If you're not grokin' me at this point just go to any Yahoo message board that's connected to a story about Bush's budget. I'll wait.
For some reason it's become an accepted myth among, primarily, republican/conservative middle class folks that what rich people do with their money is create jobs. I often read letters to the editor and such that say, basically, "we should be thanking rich people, rather than taxing them unfairly, because it is from them that jobs come." This is simply asinine.
Of course people with money do create businesses, or help finance businesses, but if that's what wealthy people primarily did with their money, there'd be no unemployment. We'd live in a freaking wonder-land. Considering the financial wealth of the top one percent of households now exceeds the combined wealth of the bottom 95 percent, and in 1999 the Forbes 400 required $625 million for inclusion, and there were 268 billionaires on that list, it's not hard to reason that all that money is not actively participating in the economy.
Wealthy people do primarily one thing with their money- try to make it grow. Most of the time it's completely out of the job-making loop. It's in shelters of all sorts, it's overseas trying to get rich off of the new hot market, it tied up in government bonds, municipal bonds, CMO's, etc. All this money touches the economy, it skirts it, but it's not buying product, it's not paying wages, it's not opening a plant; all it's doing is trying to make interest or grow.
So this WSJ piece just kind of drove home that point, again, to me.
This chick gets $10 grand a year. Jesus christ. I'd be lucky to get $100 bucks a year from my parents. Folks don't realize just how it works when you're wealthy. You get stuff like $10,000 a year. You get a car. You spend $30,000 for a three-week vacation. You spend $80,000 for a wedding. Your parents pay for your apartment. You know, thinking about it, every kid I met in college that had a nice apartment and/or a car they had their parents to thank. Working among the entertainment industry here in LA every young go-getter trying to get their foot in, same thing; if they have a nice apartment or a nice car, they didn't pay for it. But I digress…
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with rich people spending their money in ways po' boys like me can barely even imagine, just that the concept of what big money is and does for a person, for a family, is completely lost on yahoos who actually believe repeal of dividend taxation will create more jobs.
The big question is, why? Why would a wealthy person (a really wealthy person) create a business when they don’t have to do anything to get a 4-6% return on their money, basically guaranteed? Answer- unless they really, really wanted to start, or fund, a business… they wouldn't.
So what's my point?
$10,000 a year, every year?! Now it's cut off, and you might have to wait…
You know what does bug me that's been in my mind since the shuttle tragedy? The way we wait, noses turned up in the air, for the rest of the world to feel sorry for us. On the evening news it's something like: "condolences starting to come in from around the world", as if we have been waiting for our tribute.
We're the world's victim. Hundreds die in natural disasters "over there" all the time, barely registers a blip on the screen. No messages of condolences from the president, no one ever cares. The last time I can remember the US as a society caring about anyone anyhere else was (not counting every time Israellis are killed in Israel) a few years ago when Turkey had that catastrophic earthquake. Teams from the US went to help, that was great, it felt good.
We lose some astronauts and expect the whole world to send us flowers. That Instapundit guy (I don't read him, so he's that guy), on the day of, waits breathlessly to hear from around the world; Are the French kissing our ass yet?:
ANOTHER UPDATE: It's a big deal in India, but not in France:
Just thought you might be interested in knowing that none of the major French channels (TF1, A2, FR3, M6) have, as of this moment, even bothered to interrupt programming to announce the Columbia news. I live in Switzerland and have been zapping back and forth between CNN, MSNBC, BBC and various Swiss, German and French channels. The French apparently haven't noticed yet (or don't care?)
Best regards from Lausanne,
Hmm. That's representative, too. LATER: Bill from MerdeinFrance emails:
I'm definitely not one to defend the French but with regards to French news coverage of this disaster it is true that LCI TV (owned by TF1), 24 hour French language news available only to cable viewers, has covered this non-stop since the story broke. Other channnels, it is true, have not broken for any coverage.
So there you are. It's also showing up on the websites for many French TV stations and newspapers.
Who cares!? Our president didn't say "sorry" when we killed 4 Canadian soldiers, hell we didn't even barely acknowledge it, and now it looks like we'll make scapegoats out of the 2 pilots. We killed some 4,000 civilians in Afghanistan (by modest estimates) and Rumsfeld tells us we did more than any other country has ever done to prevent civilian casualties (like not use cluster bombs or daisy cutters or rely upon high-altitude bombardment? No!), and it's left at that, we never hear any more. Not one honest TV report on the effects of sanctions in Iraq, they go there, walk around Bagdad, see computers in storefronts and decide everything is hunky-dory, there's no humanitarian crisis. Bush snubs S. Korea's president, he snubs Schroeder, he mocks the UN, pulls out of every half-way decent international agreement for the most hideously cynical reasons, "it might cost us a few bucks more a year to rape the planet!". We try to force GM grain upon starving nations that don't want it. Exploiting the poor misfortune of millions of people to get our product in their countries for good, against their will (once you get it in, you can't get it out. And BTW, ground GM corn was fine, we refused, had to be the whole grains because we want them to plant it)! Jesus Christ. The way we regard the rest of the world how on earth can we demand sympathy from anyone for anything?
The mere fact that every European nation and Japan and Australia, etc., constantly out-classes us in the common courtesy and good neighbor department just illustrates what kind of pathetic, spoiled, self-absorbed pissant we have in the white house, and what an arrogant, demanding, petty, selfish-plus victim-complex kind of nation we're very fast becoming. 40 years. that's all it's taken, 40 years. Yeah everyone was basically a racist in the 50's, given that it was national policy, but that was the last generation of people (the majority at least) raised to be just a little humble. Now the measure of a man consists of how unwilling he is to question himself. O'Reilly and Limbaugh and the like are admired specifically because they flaps their jaws and never apologize. This is the ideal as we continue to fuck up the new millenium-
Guilt is the worst plague to ever effect mankind.
To introspect is to doubt, to doubt is to show weakness, to show weakness is to fail.
There is nothing more important than the most superficial wants of the individual. In fact, it's rampant overconsumption of things we don't need that defines us- it's a manifestation of our liberty. ("libertarians" are often fat asses) [cheap shot, I know]
I'm tired of it. If the whole world went out and bought us a big goddamned greeting card that had a big, round ass on the inside and said "Fuck You!" in 60 different languages, it wouldn't be out of line.
I'll take back everything I've written if everything I've written becomes untrue.
(BTW- just to make clear, the beef is with the way this country is being run, and who's running it, not the nation itself. But that's a given. At least for folks with half a brain, that is.)
I hate wildly expansive or dismissive remarks on subjects the speaker obviously knows nothing about.
I dont know crap about the space shuttle. So, I shouldn't have said anything, especially not that the "too old" argument was nowhere. What the hell do I know?
The more I read, the more I don't care if another shuttle ever launches again. I think space exploration is a fine endeavor for government, and I hope it continues, but why send more people up in shuttles for a week at a time if it serves no practical purpose?
So, in an effort to not be whom I despise (people who refuse to introspect just enough to see when they're full of crap- most neo-con internet dwellers out there), I declare I posted an annoying post, and I know it.
Also- just to drive home a point, it took hours to put together an independant investigation team for this, over a year for 9-11.
Though the shuttle space has flown for 20 years, NASA expects to continue flying it for at least 12 more. After all, each orbiter was built to last 100 flights and NASA's four birds have just notched 100 flights among them. That's only a quarter of the projected lifetime of the fleet. Even the most frequent flier -- Discovery -- has just 27 flights in its logbook.
Suggesting "it was too old" is a nowhere argument. They've already assembled an investigation team, which is good.
It's awful, of course, but I have to admit, my worry, the thing sticks in the back of my mind and makes me dread the following days and weeks is the nagging feeling that the Bush administration and other neo-con forces out there are going to do something, I don't know what, but do something to just make all of this so... I'm afraid they're going to strip it of it's humanity. It's awful to think of such things when tragedy has just struck, but 9-11 sort of cemented the fact that nothing in this world is anything but a political opportunity or liability to these guys. Over a year after 9-11 we still didn't have an investigative panel, when we get one it's got Henry Kissinger on board. It's funded with far less money than was the Whitewater investigation (which turned up no wrongdoing), minutes after the attacks Rumsfeld was using it as an excuse to draw up war plans for Iraq...
I've never been so alienated or jaded before in my life. I shouldn't be thinking such cynical things, but I can't help it. I hope they don't do it, don't do what they've done since day one, but I have no faith they won't. If they do... God if they do I just... I hope they don't. I hope Bush shows an ounce of humanity, completely free of politics just once in his awful term. That's how it ought to be, it's nothing but a tragedy.