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The Short and Bittersweet Ending

Posted on 2005.10.24 at 07:35
Tags: ,
This journal's days are done (barring something utterly unforeseeable). My LiveJournal days are done. I've been doing a lot of thinking and have decided that it's time to move on, to leave LJ behind. Thing is, what brought me here no longer keeps me, and what once seemed good to me has in some cases become neutral to me, and in others it's turned not-so-good.

From my first (deleted) journal to m834 to this journal, I've spent years here. I have seen the collapse of a marriage and other relationships. I have seen the creation of new relationships, including the most profound and wonderful one of my life. I've grown a great amount, and I've seen certain aspects of myself -- aspects that I still treasure -- atrophy. It's been a real mixed bag, in other words. That's not a bad thing in itself; it's life as many of us know it. But the bag has gotten threadbare in places, and the patches I've stitched into its fabric are themselves wearing out. The LJ model is not working for me so well anymore. I think, no, I know -- it's time to make a radical change.

This journal will not be deleted. I want to keep track of a certain number of you, my friends, and I can't do that as well if I delete this journal. I hope that at least some of you know who you are. And I hope, too, that those of you who may feel disappointed at this turn will understand and forgive me.

I will still be publishing online, but in an entirely other space and in a different way. For the time being, I am going to say that I need to keep the exact whereabouts private. Those of you who'd like to continue corresponding with me may reach me via comments to this entry. At some point I may let you know where I've gone, but I make no promises. Sometimes it's necessary to leave old attachments, however valued, behind. You'll always be able to write to me via regular ol' email if you are so inclined.

Good luck to all of you in your lives. May you find what you seek, and may trouble fail to find you.

Take care, and be well.

Namaste.

Stuff, events, whatnot...

Posted on 2005.10.22 at 21:24
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Walking back to our apartment from where I parked the car, I passed by a neighbor's open back door. Warm air was blowing out, carrying with it the humidity and scent of laundry drying in a clothes drier. It offered this lovely and welcome contrast, that warm air, to the near chill of the overcast twilight world. I wanted to stand there and bask in it. It felt both wistful and hopeful.

Wistful because of the recent letter from my father, who wrote to tell me that my mom's weight is down to 83 pounds, and the hospice worker told him that, literally any time now, she could go to sleep and just not wake up again. I know that my dad's health is also failing, and even if it wasn't -- there's little chance of his continuing on without my mom around to goad him into it. So, yeah.... I cannot really think about this right now, you know? It seems like it's been stretched out for so long already. I just want my mom's suffering to end, and my dad's as well.

October passes. Cool days are starting to feel normal. Hallowe'en decorations adorn many of the apartments around us. Black and orange crepe paper, paper cut-outs and plastic spiders. Ghostly silver cobwebs. Cardboard skeletons and glossy, comic-looking bats. Actual pumpkins still to come. At night the sky is a failing sort of pink. Mornings, the car is covered with dew.

I paid bills today and bought some comic books: first three issues of the comic serialization of Shaun of the Dead (published by IDW), which are going to stay in plastic with cardboard backing; Lore: book one, by T P Louise and Ashley Wood (IDW); and The Hollow Grounds, by Luc & François Schuiten (Humanoids/DC Comics). Also got a copy of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys for Nuala.

The books came thanks to Nuala's and my walk around the local downtown shops. We were simply looking at this and that. I tried on a pair of Chip and Pepper jeans that were very cool and almost obnoxiously trendy. Saw some killer Ben Sherman clothes, too. We wound up in the comic book store because I parked in front of it. So there you go. What can I say? I am weak in the face of comic books, graphic novels and the like.

My work week is about to return to a solid forty hours per. My typing speed has improved since I began this job. When I first began, I could manage an average of (don't laugh) 6000 characters per hour. Now I am averaging between eight and nine thousand. There are rumors that the company is going to be permanently hiring on those temps who, like me, have remained since the job was offered. I think I'm pretty much happy about it. In any case, it's a decent paycheck I'm receiving for my labor and that's what counts most at this time in my life. Who wants to be close to one's co-workers, anyway? Fuckin' straight-ass, non-geek normies.

This entry both says a bunch o' stuff and nothing much at all. Big surprise, yeah? I still haven't even talked about how wonderful was the Sigur Rós concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

Speaking of music, here's a short "Moody recommends..." list:
  • Amina: Opened for Sigur Rós and are, effectively, their "accompaniment". Soft, mysterious, sometimes spare, often richly textured, effusive, enchanting music by very talented musicians.

  • The Sunshine Fix: Psychedelic, `sixties style rock that is nonetheless original for all its obvious roots; catchy tunes, good lyrics. Related to Olivia Tremor Control.

  • Super Furry Animals: Imagine that some Welsh rockers grew up listening to music ranging from Motown to the Gorillaz.... No, trust me!

  • The New Pornographers: Clever, catchy lyrics, strong hooks, fun and fully-fleshed-out tunes.... All that and Neko Case, too! W00t! Pop with nutritional value!

  • TV On The Radio: Akin to SFA but with a more serious leaning. Imagine a laid-back Living Color touched by and tuned into that good sense that made Motown's legends, along with the good sense of `seventies political consciousness. Got that? Okay, now throw in some doo-wop here and stratospherically tuned guitars there and, well, I hope you get the idea.

  • Meshuggah: Hardcore tech metal that undoes all pre-conceived notions of what real hardcore metal is supposed to sound like. Sheer, unadulterated, polyrhythmic madness.

Okay, that's all for me this evening.



Amina, "Fjarskanistan"

everything seems so close

Posted on 2005.10.19 at 16:55
Tags: ,
.
.
.

an imposing sol-
          ace,
a desperate breath
i n h a l e d
          &spatout
in flowers and

the sea which covers

everything un seen
, a
shiny revenge tune
, a

          blanket of white noise over the whole mess.

there are petals in the breakfast,
pollen in the juice,
          bees adagio

          droning like the gregorian calendar
through the gods' memory of egypt's last new moon...

and in the back of his mind
he ponders the approaching certainty of death
with           eyes
                    in the back of his head.

          everything seems

so close

.

Observation:
"The debate about whether there is a global warming signal now is over, at least for rational people," said Tim Barnett, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. "The models got it right. If a politician stands up and says the uncertainty is too great to believe these models, that is no longer tenable." ... [Natural] variation in the Earth’s climate, or changes in solar activity or volcanic eruptions, which have been suggested as alternative explanations for rising temperatures, could not explain the data collected in the real world. Models based on man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, however, matched the observations almost precisely.

Expectations:
  • The desert Southwest will experience more heat waves of greater intensity, combined with less summer precipitation. Water is already at a premium in the four-corners states and southern Nevada and, as years pass, even less water will be available for the region's burgeoning populations, with extreme hot events increasing in frequency by as much as 500 percent.

  • The Gulf Coast will be hotter and will receive its precipitation in greater volumes over shorter time periods. "The region actually will get more rainfall than it does now, but it will not be steady," Diffenbaugh said. "We project more dry spells punctuated by heavier rainfalls. We need to perform further analyses to understand how much of this is related to tropical cyclone activity."

  • In the northeastern United States – roughly the region east of Illinois and north of Kentucky – summers will be longer and hotter. "Imagine the weather during the hottest two weeks of the year," Diffenbaugh said. "The area could experience temperatures in that range lasting for periods of up to two months by century's end."

  • Similarly, the continental United States will experience an overall warming trend: Temperatures now experienced during the coldest two weeks of the year will be a past memory, and winter's length will diminish as well, according to the model.


    Good luck, everyone.

    Meshuggah, "Closed Eye Visuals"

    Quote of the Day

    Posted on 2005.10.15 at 16:04
    Tags: ,
    <td>...[One] does tend to become rather unpopular. "We are in a terrible dip at the moment, a kind of abyss, because the assumption is that politics are all over. That's what the propaganda says. But I don't believe the propaganda. I believe that politics, our political consciousness and our political intelligence are not all over, because if they are, we are really doomed. I can't myself live like this. I've been told so often that I live in a free country, I'm damn well going to be free. By which I mean I'm going to retain my independence of mind and spirit, and I think that's what's obligatory upon all of us. Most political systems talk in such vague language, and it's our responsibility and our duty as citizens of our various countries to exercise acts of critical scruntiny upon that use of language. Of course, that means that one does tend to become rather unpopular. But to hell with that."
    —Harold Pinter
    </td>
    Thank you Leiter Reports.



    Devendra Banhart, "Heard Somebody Say"


    Bi-partisan Clarity?

    Posted on 2005.10.05 at 16:22
    Tags: ,
    Thank you Kate Cambor (TPM Cafe)!

    <td>What would the Founding Fathers say about Miers? "[The President] would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure."
    Alexander Hamilton
    </td>




    Frank Zappa, "Cocaine Decisions"

    Unintelligent Designs

    Posted on 2005.09.28 at 16:27
    Tags: , , ,
    Uncertainty is simply a part of life, hence it is a part of evolution and, at present, the theory of evolution. However, uncertainty is not something that should be overcome by whatever "sounds good" to one's ears or conceits, and scientists -- as a whole representative of the tenets of scientific study -- abhor the demonstrably unscientific plugging of apparent holes via untestable means. So-called "Intelligent Design" is untestable. Just short of finding serial numbers etched on genes or cosmic designer comments written in the stars, there is no way to prove or disprove the claims of ID advocates. This makes ID unscientific (at best).

    That so many Americans want ID taught to kids in school right along with the theory of evolution is neither here nor there, so far as I'm concerned. Americans are poorly educated in the sciences. As noted in the article linked to, "One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century". Americans, like people all over the world, believe in a lot of things that aren't necessarily so. Heck, I've a relatively well-educated friend who believes that people have never been to the moon. One must never underestimate human stupidity or forget the laws that govern it.

    Thing is, science classes cannot, and ought not be made to, abide accommodating that which is unscientific. The occasional attempts to force them to is indicative of a certain long-standing tendency in America -- perhaps in humanity itself -- to reject what it doesn't understand in favor of what comforts it. But we nonetheless owe it to ourselves and our children to do better than muddle the issues. If it belongs anywhere, ID belongs in philosophy classes. Better, it belongs in comparative religion classes.

    But that is affording ID a stature it does not really deserve, at least at present, because ID is a politico-religious tool dreamed up as a palatable, seemingly plausible alternative to creationism; it is still creationism. ID sounds reasonable on the surface and, it's proponents say that, after all, they are merely asking that science classes "teach both sides" or "teach the controversy". But IDers are motivated by goals that are not innocent and not innocuous.

    For a timely example, note the recent lawsuit brought against the school board of Dover, PA, who are attempting to put ID in the school curriculum. Despite board members' claims that they are not motivated by any religious concern, they are in fact being "represented by nonprofit Christian law firm". Additionally, the plaintiffs allege that the board's own documents show that its members "had initially discussed teaching 'creationism'".

    Fortunately, scientific study yields real results, and the evidence supporting the theory of evolution, which is already strong, has recently gotten even stronger:
    Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, [scientists] should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species' DNA and the two animals' population sizes.

    "That's a very specific prediction," said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.

    Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.

    Their analysis was just the latest of many in such disparate fields as genetics, biochemistry, geology and paleontology that in recent years have added new credence to the central tenet of evolutionary theory: That a smidgeon of cells 3.5 billion years ago could -- through mechanisms no more extraordinary than random mutation and natural selection -- give rise to the astonishing tapestry of biological diversity that today thrives on Earth.

    But all of the above is to some extent academic and is not germane to the quintessence of the issue. At its heart, the IDers'/creationists' motivation is their fear that the theory of evolution somehow would refute or disprove the existence of "God", which is patently ridiculous. I believe I've said this before, but it bears saying again: Science proves or disproves the statements of (scientific) theories, no more and no less; science does not attempt to prove or disprove that which is unfalsifiable (untestable), because such things are not in its purview, not part of its domain. You cannot prove or disprove the color blue using math. You cannot prove or disprove the meaning of a poem with statistics. Furthermore, IDers'/creationists' efforts back an amazingly simplistic picture -- I would go so far as to call it a childish picture -- of the universe, of the world, of life.

    Religious beliefs can and do motivate scientists, as such beliefs motivate politicians. There is not necessarily a problem with that. The problem necessarily arises when religion is mixed with the practice of science and/or politics in a limiting and restrictive manner designed to quash dissent or uncomfortable questions.


    Thanks to Leiter Reports.

    More here, courtesy of Knight Ridder's Washington Bureau.

    And even more here, courtey of The Revealer.




    Death Cab For Cutie, "Different Names for the Same Thing"

    Rita reaches Category 5

    Posted on 2005.09.21 at 19:16
    Tags: , ,
    ArchivalCollapse )

    Useful: See the Eye on the Tropics 2005 site for satellite imagery of the gulf region.

    Katrina's Consequences...

    Posted on 2005.09.19 at 13:52
    Tags: , , , ,
    Summary of how it went down:

    >>> Wikipedia is now offering up a Hurricane Katrina timeline.

    >>> Another piece, this one covering the timeline of the "blame game" (courtesy of ginmar's journal): "Right-Wing Myths About Katrina, Debunked". [Updated with this link. 2005.09.19 at 21:54.]

    Summary of who's profiting on Katrina's aftermath:

    >>> The Project On Government Oversight offers revelations that ought to piss you off.

    Racism and Katrina's Wake:

    >>> Pandagon: Race Archives. If you or someone you know is having problems sorting out the race-related issues raised of late by everyone from Giraldo Rivera and Kanye West to any number of others (famous to anonymous), you owe it to yourself to peruse the entries at Pandagon. Read it back to Katrina's landing date (and further). Do check out the right-hand sidebar on the main page for a listing of people who made a truly positive difference following the arrival of Katrina.

    >>> The Raw Story gives the low-down on NOLA's exposed power structure. Their ongoing coverage is well worth the discomfort you may feel reading it.

    >>> "America Doesn't Care About Black People" -- Part 1/Part 2 (brought to you by Leiter Reports). Mind you, I'm of the opinion that this is perhaps better expressed as "Dominant, rich, white Americans (like those of the Bush klan) especially don't care about brown people in general... or in particular".

    >>> Some NOLA losses -- which are America's losses -- are not being reported, such as the loss of the heart of Hoodoo culture. This is a powerful, personal account from a man intimately familiar with New Orleans.

    >>> Crooks And Liars offers a good many media clips to assist in backing up all of the above material.



    Sepultura, "Roots Bloody Roots"

    Worth Much Consideration

    Posted on 2005.09.19 at 11:00
    Tags: , ,
    <td>Can We Learn to Think like a Plant? The problem with science today is that it stops short of knowing the physical world -- as opposed to the self- contained domain of logic and mathematics -- because it ignores the many-faceted inner realm where we experience the world as much more than measure and quantity. ... In some ways the last few hundred years of science have amounted to the insane project of mapping reality according to a schema of intelligibility while denying intelligibility to reality. ... What scientists need to realize is that our conscious (and unconscious) interior is vastly richer than the contentless abstractions playing over the convoluted surface of our brains. We are creatures of imagination, of heart-felt feeling, and of will raying out through our muscles and bones. And to the degree we must call on the full powers of this inner language in order to comprehend, for example, the leaves successively gestured forth along the stem of a buttercup -- to the degree this language makes the world intelligible -- we must acknowledge that the language speaks truly. That is, it reveals the world, which is to say that what speaks in us speaks also in the world.
    —Steve Talbott
    </td>
    Thank you NetFuture.



    Super Furry Animals, "Atomik Lust"


    Meta For...

    Posted on 2005.09.15 at 10:09
    Tags:
    Tie up memories with a ribbon of hair, tie the scroll to the leg of a passenger pigeon, and set them free. The moon is not so far as Andromeda, but the view is better. From here, the greatest storms appear as scientific sketches. Open the seals of the lightweight helmet. As full of strange matter as it is, space still sucks.

    Alarm clock. Time for work at the discotheque. The girls dancing in cages of light; skin shimmering, hair floating and spilling; eyes like Cleopatra's or clipart, like the Sphinx's, like anime girls', like Buddha eyes in Katmandu. Alarm clock. I was dreaming. A state of detumescence is the essence of the waking realization that, in fact, there is no job at a discotheque.

    Hello, world. Hell, O World. The dawn lays its light across the duvet of city sprawl like the flayed hands of an angel. The mind of the sky is clouded. It's only a moment's thought. The next moment, coffee. The next moment is titled "Preparedness is the Way of Insufficient Insurance", but there is, nevertheless, a job to be done.

    There's never a cold day on Venus, planet of love. Blood-red Mars is never warm. The lead melts as the paper browns and curls. These words are for you. These words... they are for you. Ashes in the coffee. Steamed milk. Alarm clock. Snooze over. I was dreaming again. Breath flows warmly over the cool skin of my bared shoulder, and goosebumps follow.

    From here, the perfect storm appears in scientific sketches of Spain and Portuguese stories, poetry, lunar hills, vinho tinto in black and white, golden cheese in platinum.
    Thought I saw you as I walked the seventy-eight steps from my front door to the car. Stop. You were lurking in the shadows of the car port. Stop. Your smile floated in an atomic haze some indefinite number of nanometers before your face. Stop. It was brighter than anything. Stop. A plague of memories, a murder of crows, a fallen passenger pigeon. Stop. Rook takes bishop, king loses faith. Stop. The queen is offering paeans to the boys at the discotheque. Stop. Alarm clock. Stop.

    An hour later I am at work, having rushed there slowly through moderate traffic after oversleeping (courtesy of the snooze button). Unshaven, hair disheveled, eyes bleary, countenance slack and slightly askew, outlook foggy, mood unstable, pulse dogged, blood pressure brick red over scarlet, aperture poorly gauged, shutter speed irregular, consciousness attenuated, conversation muted, head full of polystyrene Krsnas, each bearing a scroll with Hunter S. Thompson's last words on it. This is not at all what I imagined I'd imagine I'd've imagined it to be. Then again, -- it never is.

    Sleep deprivation is very much like a Bromaxefed™ hangover. Not having showered or shaved, along with not having brushed one's teeth helps cement the accuracy of the comparison. Co-workers find workstations of at least two terminals' remove... Which is odd, actually, because normally they sit even farther away if they can help it. Or do I mean further?

    Today, I decide, does not begin a series of anything. Perhaps it falls somewhere along the line of one. Certainly it falls along the line of at least one. I decide that today does not terminate any series, either. I am still here, and you are... well, you are wherever you are. We are moving around like planets, like comets, like asteroids, like stars, all in a snow-globe of our own experience, looking for God or Something to keep shaking us up, afraid of or yearning for or completely unaware of those Pynchonian healing needles of terror and longing. As I sit at my terminal, filling in fields with data in the form of others' personal information -- or do I mean filling in fields with others' personal information in the form of data? -- or do I mean filling in the form of data with the informational fields of others? -- and are said forms Platonic, or have I assumed too much intimacy? -- I realize that all hours eventually pass, and that the interminable is merely a coded message from the sun, telling me to remember that, as hot as Venus is or as cold as Mars, it, the sun, will one day swallow it all, along with the Messenger of Change and whatever lies between love and war. The sun says, "Make the Moon a spaceship and run!" -- and then laughter like golden bells pealing clearly across the interminable white noise of the radioactive æther resonates in the marrow of my hidden velvet bones, and I know, I know, that the sun fancies its death as the metaphor of dandelions that only the morning glories fully understand.

    And I think, Wow, y'all have been so patient with me. And what has it gotten you? -- This? This entry? This bit of work I do? I wonder if, when I do envelope stuffing, I've ever left a visible fingerprint behind and, if I did, did the recipient notice and, if she or he did, did he or she wonder if I cared? Because, well, very often I do really care. I wonder the same thing about stuff like this that I'm writing here. And then I realize that I'm at work and I'll forget that I wanted to write that and no-one will ever know and does that even matter in the end? I'm not being maudlin or morose; this is not mope-ed piece I'm trying to pedal to subscribers across town. And then I remember that I'm at work, and talking-to-yourself at work is looked down upon as plainly disruptive and potentially frightening if not merely unpleasantly unsettling....

    After the guards helped me to my car, I drove to Starbucks and bought a double espresso. "Thank you, sir", said the barista. "Call me Ishmael", I said. I left with my drink and stood outside in the bright morning light, the sun like a gold coin nailed to the mast of the heavens, and watched the traffic flow by like the phantom spume of a cultural white whale. Somewhere, far away but not so far, my love lay sleeping, dreaming in her own Atlantide of a Titanic piñata split in twain by the children of Poseidon and Neptune at Venus' month-long birthday party.

    Someday, the world's gonna end. But not today, love. Not today. Our ribbons of hair are tied together.

    Casino Versus Japan, "Where To? / What For?"

    NanaNAnaNANA... *air guitar*

    Posted on 2005.09.15 at 07:52
    Tags:

    Happy Birthday, cluebyfour!


    May today (and all your days) be free of government interference.



    Seriously... Have a good one, man, and may this year prove to be the best so far.

    Take care, and be well.



    Sepultura, "Born Stubborn"

    Retreat into an Indefinite Interim

    Posted on 2005.09.14 at 23:07
    For some reason, I thought it would never become too difficult to write here, to write at all, anywhere. But here I am, now, looking at this screen before me and thinking that I just can't bring myself to write much of anything... even though it's all there... or so I tell myself. Fact is, I don't write or communicate much with anyone who isn't actually in my field of vision. It's harder than hell to make myself talk. I read stuff, think of stuff, consider it, -- and fail to talk about or share it.

    Why?

    Disillusionment, maybe? Fatigue brought about by the seemingly endless effort it takes to open up for... less than I'd hoped for? Is it really a matter of diminishing returns?

    I've not been so big on commenting much to anyone of late. Truth is, I've been struggling to maintain a sense of why I bother. Not with you... but with pursuing... this. It's nobody's fault, and I mean that in a completely sincere way. What I miss is talking in person with folks. Not that I've ever had that with the almost total majority of folks here. But... maybe I still had at some point the sense of its possibility. Now, though, it seems less than likely that "we" will ever meet. People I care for seem so goddamn far away, while all the bad stuff seems so much closer, so much more intrusively intimate.

    Truth is, I've been working a lot, and trying to learn how to be myself still, how to remain myself. Today, I worked to figure out how much money remains after the bills are paid. We're solvent, we're good; working is what makes it real. Beyond the bills and the daily shit, working this job is what's making it possible for Nuala and I to go see Sigur Rós at the Hollywood Bowl....

    But my life is all contained now in this everyday world, the one where people hundreds and thousands of miles away are beyond me. I've never known your breath on me, never seen the flickering tip of your tongue as you speak, never sensed the moisture in your skin as you touched my hands. Your words haunt me, the encroaching abstraction of compared contexts saps them of strength; I fall asleep at night thinking of my "Things To Do" list as memories of your days settle like dust on the back of my cell phone.

    How far out of my way will I go in an entry to avoid saying that I miss what I thought might have been, on more levels than even hinted at here?

    I'll find my way through it, and I hope someday to see you standing there at your door or mine, a smile on your lips and an open invitation to celebrate the meaningful we've striven to nurture between us in our exchanges....

    But I have to admit that for the nonce I am so sad... and I don't know how to keep going on here. I am... I'm tired of talking in words, words in this over-defined and ultimately ambiguous language. I think Kirkegaard definitely had a point.

    There's more to it than all this I've written here. Work has in fact lent force to my sometimes too-eager introversive tendencies. All the shit that went down in the wake of Katrina did not help, and rather compounded issues I've suffered since BushCo gained and then retained the White House.

    But I've gone on long enough here... In this entry, maybe in this journal. You, my friends, are really good folks. Distance... well, sure, sometimes it makes the heart grow fonder; sometimes, though, it bruises it in slow motion.

    I need to be away... to think... to regain some... perspective? hope? something....

    Sometimes, it's the most beautiful things that kill you.

    Sigur Rós, "Saeglópur"

    Katrina: Race(ism) and Class(ism)

    Posted on 2005.09.10 at 17:23
    Tags: , ,
    For those willfully (shamefully) blind people out there who're saying "Oh, c'mon! This Katrina thing has nothing to do with racism/classism!", I offer the following quotes (from The Washington Monthly):
    >>> Mark Williams, explaining why things would have gone better if New Orleans had more white people: "They didn't have the necessary brains and common sense to get out of the way of a Cat 5 Hurricane....The only role race plays in this is that the American black population has been the prototype for an entire race of people being, being turned into a group of dependents of the government — trapped there, I'm using that word very loosely are screaming we want help, we want help."

    >>> Tom DeLay, chatting with a couple of young evacuees who are now living in a tent in Houston: "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

    >>> Steve Sailer, displaying his trademark scientific approach to issues of race and poverty: "In contrast to New Orleans, there was only minimal looting after the horrendous 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan — because, when you get down to it, Japanese aren't blacks."

    >>> Rep. Richard Baker (R-Baton Rouge), musing with his lobbyist pals about one of the silver linings from Katrina's destruction of New Orleans: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

    >>> Rick Santorum (R-Law & Order-SVU), displaying his trademark sensitivity to the plight of the poor caught in Katrina's path: "There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."

    >>> Hugh Hewitt, explaining that, as usual, the odious MSM is responsible for everything, including all the dead people in New Orleans: "[Reporters] did not do their homework, because they did not understand the levees were the threat, they ended up killing hundreds of Americans. I'm not going to say thousands, because I don't know the number. But I know hundreds are dead, that they did not communicate the severity of this storm."

    >>> Barbara Bush, wittily showing off the Bush family's famous compassion toward the poor after a visit to the Astrodome: "So many of the people here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

    >>> Robert Tracinski, in a widely emailed missive, picking up where Mark Williams and Steve Sailer left off: "But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them."

    Remember these people and their pals and families and cronies next time you vote. Do not let them snow you with any lame-ass excuses and back-peddling. Hold them all accountable!

    PS: Such willful blindness illustrates, very simply, a person's racism/classism. If you can read the quotes above and then defend them or excuse them -- you are exhibiting racism/classism pure and simple. Wanting to turn away from them and ignore them is not much better, if it is at all.

    The Ugly Kiss of Apocalypse

    Posted on 2005.09.10 at 12:05
    Tags: ,
    A coworker said to me yesterday, "We're in for seven years of this [referring to Katrina and disasters generally]... I think, because these are the 'end times' tribulations". She said she'd been stuck listening to another coworker talk about the Bible's prophecies. Of course, that coworker is steeped in the usual christist twaddle about the end of the world. I was able to politely bite my tongue for maybe a second before I had to say something in response.

    I pointed out that, in fact, humanity has been facing periods of war, destruction, plague, unrest, what-have-you, for as long as there have been humans around to face it. Visions of apocalypse were and still are written on the cracked vellum pages of our history. People have visions of "end times" all the damn time, and they are always certain beyond doubt that they see all the signs of such times' undeniable imminence. Frequently, as one would expect, they tie their visions to their moral/religious beliefs. All this is undebatable, except perhaps by those whose beliefs include "real" apocalyptic visions. It does no good to point out that beliefs are just that.

    It would help if more people actually knew something about the so-called "Book of Revelation". It would help if people knew what the word "Apocrypha" refers to and means. Basic definition: "writings or reports not considered genuine". In a Biblical context, the Apocrypha comprises those writings "not forming part of the accepted canon of Scripture"*.

    The "Book of Revelation" resides in the category of Apocrypha. It was written circa 96CE (common era), probably by a man called "John the Elder". Of course, fundamentalists and their ilk argue that it's a legitimate, inspired work. It's in their interest to do so. Those owning the prophecies folks believe in have power over those believers to some extent. That it's a power based in fear is hardly surprising; fear resides mainly in the hind-brain, home of instinctive (reptilian, chthonic) responses, and people have long known it to be and used it as a powerful motivator for others. Of course, it's not only a power based in fear, there's also the appeal of being "extremely right". I leave it to you to unpack that one.

    I encouraged my coworker to set aside her thoughts about whether these are "end times" or not. I encourage any and everyone to do so. They are not useful thoughts, not good thoughts, not healthy thoughts. Rather, think about what you can do to aid and assist the victims of wars, disasters, plagues and whatnot. The people who've lost everything in the wake of Katrina and the war in Iraq -- to name but two of many recent events -- will not be made safe, will not be clothed, will not be fed or housed by visions of apocalypse.



    *If you'd like to get a better handle on what the "Book of Revelation" is about, please see Frontline's coverage of it at PBS.org. There is also a whole portion of the site dedicated to "The evolution of apocalyptic belief and how it shaped the western world" -- an unfortunate title, as such "apocalyptic belief" is still shaping the world, and not just the western part of it.



    Meshuggah, "Terminal Illusions"


    Inspired by a conversation...

    Posted on 2005.09.08 at 16:12
    Tags:
    Imagine that you have reached the end. Your life -- all you knew, all you were, all your potential (realized or not) -- is done.

    Imagine that you are lying in a bed, your breath hitching, your nerves uncertain, your heartbeat irregular, failing. You are in a bed, and loved ones are beside you. You feel both fortunate and frightened. The animal you are is in no hurry to relinquish its grip on existence. You swallow hard, over and over. Hands touch you, but you're not always sure whose hands they are, because there seem to be so many while simultaneously seeming to be none but your own. Every caress sends slow waves of yearning through you. You yearn to live in them.

    Time stretches, dilates, loses form. You realize that you no longer sense things as once you did. Memories leak into the living moment. You find yourself standing by the front door of your childhood home one moment, the door of your college dorm room the next. They seem like the same door. You see faces. Smell food. Hear music. Taste a kiss. Feel... yourself. You lose track of the moments. You lose track of all that was your life, and find yourself breathlessly caught up in the life of the world, which even now continues to unfold itself in a myriad of ways.

    Who am I? you ask. Who was I? Who.

    And then you die.

    And then you know.

    In that moment you realize, as with the deepest profundity and gratitude and love, that you are God, and that this moment, eternal and perfect, is the eternal now. You are bringing everything into existence. Just as it was when you were one person in a sea of unique faces. Just as it will be. Just as it is. You are the one who did this; you made the world, just as it is and was and shall be. You are all. You are it. You are your creation.

    Why did you do it? Why will you? Why are you?

    Sooner ask the sand why it lies where it does, or ask gravity to explain itself. It is what it is because it is what it is. But how silly is that for an answer? You are it. You are the answer and the questioner, the question and the one who answers. All is light. All is without meaning. You reach out and take the hand before you, and love flows everywhere. Your lips are moist and firm, yielding and demanding. The hunger of your heart is the hunger in your mouth that forms the kiss. This is the very first kiss; this is the archetype of all kisses. Your kiss is all kisses. This is freedom. Laughter. Loss. Tears. This is death. This is life. These are stars. You wonder at it all. Here is the sea. There the moon. Westward falls the setting sun and from the east comes the dawn. You love and you love and you love. Everything will come from it and return to it. There is no reason for it; it is what it is.

    Existence is your body. From it all life shall flow. You are the natural order of things. You... you become conscious only through yourself. Conscious of all life, of everything. You are life. You are death. You are the kiss, the kisser and the kissed. You are murder and tragedy, too. You are hunger, plague and desiccation. You are rape and genocide. Do you want to change it? Change yourself? You are the baby's first breath, the breeze amongst the cherry blossoms, the aurora borealis. You are the milk and the greedy calf sucking it down. You are autumn fires in chill fields. You are shell casings falling on dirty concrete, and the impact of each slug in the tender flesh of one caught in the crossfire. You are water reflecting the moon in New Orleans, the unidentified body floating by. You are a quasar. You are frozen ice on a world incomprehensibly removed from the outreaching hands of the child who is just now speaking his first full sentence ("I want the ball"). Do you want to change it? It's all you. It always was and it always will be. It is all of a piece. You look in the eyes of your father as he dies, caressing his brow, murmuring to him as your mother, sister and brother stand around you. "I love you", you say to him as he swallows over and over, his breath hitching, his heart failing. And then he becomes still, and on his face there is an expression you can't translate. His eyes see something you don't.

    And then he dies.

    One day, you will know...

              what you already know.


    In the Wake of Katrina

    Posted on 2005.09.05 at 13:39
    Tags: , , ,
    George W. Bush, our current would-be president, has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff (confirmed while watching CNN) -- not for the hundreds of thousands effected by Hurricane Katrina, not for those who died in the disaster, not for our nation's loss of self-respect, but for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the news of whose death preëmpted coverage of the ongoing disaster in Louisiana and its neighboring states. While tens of thousands of people (most often poor and black) reeled from the worst disaster in American history and the shocking lack of any timely response to it, news coverage of the ongoing disaster was interrupted by extensive (and highly repetitive) coverage of the death of one old white man, whose legacy involves undermining women's and minority rights.

    Words cannot begin to convey my absolute disgust.

    ...


    Astrodome: Superdome Redux: Two law professors blog their experiences at the Houston Astrodome and at the Goerge R. Brown Convention Center.
    Read ExcerptsCollapse )

    Also see their entry, "We Are Watching, Too". Please pass this story on. Please link to it and share it.

    ...


    Call us "unreliable sources", will you? The media talks back: Rebellion of the Talking Heads.

    CNN's tit-for-tat: The Big Disconnect on New Orleans.

    Business Week on Bushco's Boneheaded Blunders: Let Katrina Be A Warning.

    Continuing updates at WWLTV's section: Updates as they come in on Katrina.

    NOLA Times today: "New Orleans staggers to its feet for next step on long road".

    Times Picayune calls for firing of every FEMA official: Open Letter to President Bush. [Link corrected.]

    From WWLTV.com comes this story:
    Offers [to assist America] have been received from Russia, Japan, Canada, France, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, China, South Korea, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, NATO and the Organization of American States....

    [Source]

    From the folks at MoveOn.org comes this valiant effort: HurricaneHousing.org; a resource to help victims of the hurricane locate free housing, and help those offer it who can.

    Reading the list of countries above... damn, you know -- I'm choked up, utterly humbled. Knowing how many people will in fact offer their homes to host those who have lost everything fills me with unexpected hope. I want Americans in general to see what happens. I want us all to witness how we can rally to each other's aid. I want us to feel the humility and hope, the respect for those made helpless by uncontrollable and desperate circumstances, the honor of standing up and taking responsibility for the care of our fellows and of leaving behind the egotistical, judgmental crap.

    Let everyone now know what should have been obvious all along: We have the choice to do good for others, to treat them well (despite any difference), to treat them with the respect due any other person (no matter where she or he lives in the world, no matter how young or old he or she is, no matter her or his class, race, religion, etc.).

    We must get beyond the horror and the terror of these days.

    Anything can change. In the long run, everything will change.


    The Big Picture

    Posted on 2005.09.01 at 13:33
    Tags: , ,
    There is virtually no way to adequately convey the extent of the enormity that is Katrina's aftermath. The more I read up on what's going on, the more my heart falters and my mind pales.

    Folks, I know you probably know at least as much as I do, but I have to say it unambiguously, I have to say what I know: this is far worse than anything we've seen so far in this country.

    In case you are presently unaware of available resources that are talking in depth about the situation, here are a few of the best stories I have found, stories that reveal the scope of the disaster in plain language.



    It has been suggested that the reason the media is focusing on smaller, personal vignettes, or on narrow and specific aspects of the disaster, as opposed to reporting on the bigger picture, is that the big picture could conceivably create mass panic if it was grasped by the country in general.

    You might reasonably ask, "Well, what am I supposed to do about it?" To that I say, Please, if you can spare any money or necessities, send it to an NGO that can use it. Please. This is all going to get much worse before there's any hope of it getting better, and the only way it's going to get better is if we -- as many of as can -- do something, anything, to help.

    A "Meme"

    Posted on 2005.08.31 at 16:07
    Tags: ,
    Done on phaenix_ash's suggestion:

    Ask me for a "top five" list of pretty much anything, and I will list my top five of that thing or things. Copy and paste this in your own journal and give your own top fives.



    Death Cab For Cutie, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark"


    Our hearts go out to all those whose lives have been disrupted, damaged, and ended by the hurricane/tropical storm Katrina. The images of the damage left behind, and the thought of what will have now to be done to rebuild (where that will even be possible), staggers the mind and stuns the imagination.

    I cannot imagine how hard this will be for countless people. Although the overall damages are not comparable to those of the tsunami, for any individual or affected group of people in the region hit by Katrina -- the enormity of the situation is the same. Culturally, the loss of New Orleans (which may very well be unsalvageable in any recognizable form) will be felt for generations to come.

    Truly, I am at a loss for words to express the ache I feel. I simply hope that people there will find their lives again and rebuild.

    Also, there is this: Death over the TigrisCollapse )

    PS: If you intend to donate money to aid disaster relief in the gulf, please do so sensibly and avoid getting scammed. Donate directly to the Red Cross or via Amazon.com or some other reputable agency. The Red Cross website is not being responsive presently due to the traffic they're seeing, but Amazon.com is available and easy to use.

    Music that Tears Your Head Off (in a good way)

    Posted on 2005.08.28 at 17:54
    Mood: hot, sweaty, ugh, help me...
    Tags: ,
    Well, it's hotter than hell here today, so it makes sense (I reason) to post something about some hella good music. Here are two highly recommended releases for those of you who like your music hard enough to smash diamonds:

    Darkest Hour, Undoing Ruin:
    Lyrics for ''Tranquil''Collapse )

    A Life Once Lost, Hunter:
    • A Life Once Lost Homepage: ALOL's homepage includes links to free songs and the video for "Vulture" (from the new album).

    • A solid, even-handed review: "I already can't wait to hear what this band will do next - there are no gimmicks or blatant attempts at stardom, all this band is trying to do is have fun and write the most stimulating, accessible forms of aggression that take into account every end of the modern metal underground, from tech to sludge to thrash and beyond."

    Lyrics for ''Vulture''Collapse )

    Rant on...

    Posted on 2005.08.27 at 12:47
    Tags:
    Fuck you, American Legion. Seriously. Fuck you.
    American Legion Declares War on Protestors -- Media Next?

    By E&P Staff

    Published: August 24, 2005 4:20 PM ET

    NEW YORK The American Legion, which has 2.7 million members, has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. Speaking at its national convention in Honolulu, the group's national commander called for an end to all "public protests" and "media events" against the war.

    "The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu.
    (More here.)

    Members of the American Legion are dupes, rubes, irresponsible marks. BushCo must love them. Hell, you better know I respect the sacrifice of vets for their country, for my country, but I can't when it's flavored by such nationalism, such jingoism and such deeply un-American sentiment. How dare they!? Isn't a good part of what they are fighting for "the American way of life" -- which, last I heard, still includes free speech and the right to protest?

    "My country right or wrong" should never be uttered by anyone in power here. Nor should any leader here claim to be aligned with "God" while also claiming to represent the country. Likewise, nobody should claim to defend the honor of the United States in one breath while dishonoring its foundations in the next.

    "No one respects the right to protest more than one who has fought for it, but we hope that Americans will present their views in correspondence to their elected officials rather than by public media events guaranteed to be picked up and used as tools of encouragement by our enemies," Cadmus said. "It would be tragic if the freedoms our veterans fought so valiantly to protect would be used against their successors today as they battle terrorists bent on our destruction..."

    And when our "elected representatives" are a) questionably "elected", b) obviously not listening, c) impotent or ineffective, d) even aligned themselves against the interests of the American people? What then? Should we sit on our thumbs and be quiet until the shit storm has passed?

    Frankly, I don't give a fuck about Jane Fonda's past doings. You cannot lump protesters under a picture of her in Hanoi. The war in Vietnam was a bad war, and it was right to end it and it was right that so many Americans protested it to the end.

    "Let’s not repeat the mistakes of our past," he added. "I urge all Americans to rally around our armed forces and remember our fellow Americans who were viciously murdered on Sept. 11, 2001. We must commit ourselves to stand united together to defeat terrorism once and forever." [Source]

    Let us not forget this critical and uncontroversial point: Iraq was not involved in the attacks of 9/11; there were no Iraqis among the hijackers and Saddam Hussein played no role in them. There were no WMDs found in Iraq, either. Iraq was incapable of attacking us.

    However, to say that we need to remember the victims of 9/11 is a good idea. We should remember that George W. Bush and Company, through their supremely self-centered and business-oriented behavior, have successfully made of Iraq a beacon for jihadis everywhere. We should remember that BushCo has dishonored the deaths of those victims as well as the subsequent deaths of "coalition" soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

    It is sad to see that the American Legion has so lost its mind that it cannot remember what it is soldiers fight for. Soldiers fight for the "folks back home" and to uphold the sacred principles at the nation's heart.

    "Nuala Gazes"

    Posted on 2005.08.26 at 01:01
    Tags: ,
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    [image]

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    First outdoor shot with the new Canon PowerShot S2 IS. No retouching in Photoshop.

    Devics, "Heaven Please"

    Foursquare

    Posted on 2005.08.21 at 11:26
    Tags: , , ,
    Just the other day, the son of a friend of ours sent each of us here a bracelet or a necklace. For me, this precocious child made a bracelet of polished stones -- jet onyx (in flattened, round disks), lapis lazuli (in naturally-shaped pieces) and hematite (in spheres) -- and adorned with a single silver feather. It was a lovely, thoughtful gift from a child who has not seen me in well over a year. Although I do not know him very well, my understanding is that he is a very perceptive, caring and curious child.

    Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday. She will be thirteen. I miss her. She wants to learn to play the guitar, which she certainly has the fingers for. I'm trying to figure out how to pay the lion's share of lesson costs. I miss her. She draws exceptionally well already and is a straight "A" student. I've plans for giftmas that I want very much to make work. I wish they included visiting her, but for now that's out of my reach. I miss her.

    Nuala's son is a loving, precocious boy. I've been amazed to see how much he's grown in the few years I've known him. He's had to deal with so much... so much. But Nuala has done well by him, done her best for him, and he seems to be settling nicely and well into his elementary school world. I want to take him to the Natural History Museum and to JPL. I want to the world to open itself to him, because I know he'll appreciate and come to revere it.

    §


    This life continues to be all about learning...Collapse )



    Gustavo A. Santaolalla, "Jardin"


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