I listened to Ace's radio broadcast (on repeat) tonight, and left the righttalk station on.

Right now, there's a woman named Phills Schafly hosting a show, about banned books. the show went right into a guest, a woman that has six kids (and has put them up for parochial schools, and home schooling, and presumably seminary at age 12) who is HYSTERICAL. Right off the bat, she described the books as "Radical Feminist, Anti-Christian, demaning of Traditional Roles", and whole bunch of other stuff. So far, she hasn't mentioned any actual titles (God forbid), except "To Kill A Mockingbird", which she described as being not particularly offensive. Who knows what is offensive, she dosen't say. She does say, however, that it's brainwashing, and that it somehow leads directly to drug abuse.

I can't even explain it. Go to righttalk.com, and see if her show is playing, and listen to the first five minutes. Stuff like this makes me miss Ilyka.
new reading list
via ASV: Banned Books Week

I know this is old news to many, but it's new to me. I am, primarily, a book dork; more than any of my other geeky hobbies, I love to read. I still read at least one book a week, ususally more. I always have a book with me, everywhere I go, in case I get stuck having to wait for ten minutes at an appointment or something. I hate sitting and staring at walls (or, worse, reading Pimple magazine at the dentist's office) when I could be entertaining myself. Books have, at times of stress, been my refuge, my island in the storm.

And, while I understand the concern over having your eighth grader picking up a copy of Naked Lunch or a Chuck Palhunik novel, banning a book is not the way to go. The key, as usual (i.e. video games, music, movies) is keeping track of what your kid is reading. Somewhere in Jr. High, I found a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and when I told my dad I was reading it, he said something like "Isn't that a bit...advanced for you?" Which translates from parent-speak as "Dosen't that have, like, sex jokes and stuff?" To a certain extent, it does, but he let me read it anyway, and, lo and behold, I'm not some kind of freakazoid pervert or anything. Or not so much as to be abnormal, anyway. In fact, books like that, that were probably above my reading level, were a big part of what engendered a love of books in me early on. English classes are important, but often, they don't introduce students to books they actually want to read; they make reading a task. Books like the Hitchhiker's Guide can demonstrate the fun that can be found in books, even if they aren't exactly literature.

The second key to keep in mind, when it comes to banning books, is for everybody to step back, take a deep breath, and get a friggin grip already. Huck Finn is not a racist work. Harry Potter is not satanic. Book banning is one of those fun issues that both major political parties are wrong on; they both scream when censorship is applied to something they like, while aggresively pursuing censorship on stuff they don't like. This is especially egregious, to me, when coming from the right: Who cares what the government-funded schools stock in their library? It takes a Family, right Mr. Santorum? So if your kid comes home with a copy of "Mary has Two Mommies", or, god forbid, "The half-blood Prince", maybe you need to talk to your kid. Tell them about what they're reading, explain the reality an ups and downs of the point of the book to the kid. If it's so bad, forbid your kid from reading it. But don't try to get the government to tell your kid what books they should or should not read. Everybody expects the left to call for legislation of what they think morality should be, the whole point of conservatism is that that isn't the government's job.

The craze over banning fantasy and horror books reminds me of people a decade ago that wanted to ban dungeons and dragons. R.L. Stine is not going to turn your kid into a satanist any more than Gary Gygax was.

Anyway, the top 100 banned books, with bold for ones I've read follows. As with the song poll earlier, I'm surprised just how few of these I've heard of, but in this case I plan to find out:

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling

8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Hm. There's alot of great books on there. A few of my favorites. If I taught High School English, maybe five of them would be requried reading. And there's a few I don't get; I mean, I understand that you don't want your kid reading "Sex", by Madonna, but who's calling for the banning of "The Color Purple"? "To Kill A Mockingbird?" Who the hell is calling for the banning of that?

It's all nonsense. Like I said, there's several there that every kid should read, and several that would make for good wholesome entertainment. Any of the other ones, you should know your kid is reading, and be able to explain why they're good or bad.

That is, of course, assuming that the parents have read (and understood) the books at some point, instead of just firing off angry letters to their school districts, which I seriously doubt.
funniest photo of the day
Was going to be this, via Ace:

Until I saw this, via C&S (link not safe for work):
there's a bar joke in here somewhere
As you may have heard, the Catholic church is going to soon be looking specifically for celibate men to ban from the priesthood. That is, if they are gay, celibate men.

I guess that, somehow, I am once again landing as a moderate on this. Which kills me.

Alot of left-leaning Christians want to assert that homosexuality is not a sin, which is nonsense. Gay sex is specifically prohibited in the bible more than once. There's alot of wiggling and parsing going on there, but if you are a strict follower of the bible, it's wrong, wrong wrong.

Notice, though, that I said "Gay sex". Boinking another man is a sin. Wanting to boink another man but not doing so is called temptation. Temptation, of course, is not a sin, else we'd all be fucked. Even Jesus was famously tempted by the devil; I certainly can't quote the scripture, but there's a passage where Jesus is looking out on a city, and the devil tells him "Come with me, and this can all be yours". Jesus thinks about it, and eventually rejects the idea, but the point is that he thinks about it. He was tempted. He chose the righteous path, but as with any human, he was tempted. The point of the story is that temptation, or wanting somehting in your head that you know is wrong, is not a sin. Acting on it is.

Which makes the whole weeding out of gay priests thing nonsense. It dosen't matter if a man is attracted to women, men, or farm animals, so long as he maintains the dedication to remain abstinante. Once he violates that oath, with man, woman, or schoolboy, he's fucked. He can think about it, be tempted by it all day long, and it's no big deal. If you think there isn't a priest out there that has never thought "Woah, look at the boobs on that one", you're sadly mistaken. That's part of the programming. Virtue is overcoming that base temptation and living a sinless life.

In a way, I would say that the priesthood is good for a serious Catholic that discovered he was gay: from a Catholic perspective, he can either have gay sex and be doomed forever, or he can have a marriage to a woman that he isn't really interested in, or he can give his life to god and humanity. If you are a Catholic, and you honestly believe that being gay is to be doomed forever, then better to dedicate your life to abstinance in the name of doing God's work.

As for the idea that gay men are more likely to violate the rules...well, there's a pretty serious basis for that, but it's still wrong. There's the alter boy problems. Also, much cited is the idea that among non-priests, gay men are, generally, more lauditudinarian toward sex. That's a statistic, not an insult, and not a surprising one, much to the lament of many gay men who do not share that view. But I doubt that that attitude is shared with men willing to join the priesthood. You're there because you know you're a sinner, as is every other human being on the planet. You join the priesthood looking to repent, not looking to get laid. If anybody with loose attitudes toward sex of any kind makes it through seminary, then there's something wrong.

What they should be looking for is not people prone to temptation, but rather, people prone to give in to their temptation. Being attracted to men, while a statistically higher risk, is not a sin. Having sex, with anyone or anything, is. And for chrissake, when somebody does do something wrong, kick him the fuck out. That, I think, is really the biggest problem: not that there wre some guys that enjoyed buggering kids working for one of the largest organized religions in the world, but rather that the power structure of that Church passed on it. Not only ignored it, but covered it. Hey, kick the guy the fuck out. Tell the world: He's not one of ours.

But banning gay men for the simple transgression of temptation is silly. Every living human deals with temptation, daily. The character, and virtue, of a man is how he deals with that temptation; and that virtue is what should be the qualification to lead others.
the first! ever! gay horror movie
Via the ads at ASV: The first ever offical gay slasher flick.

Two things: in the ad there, is the "Thrusting the knife at somebody's face" gif right below the word "Gay" incedental or intentional? Just curious.

Second, "First ever gay horror movie?" Have you ever seen a Clive Barker film?
the bettster, bette-o-rama
Okay, I'm way to fuckin' lazy to go dig up the audio files, but I have a question: Has anybody heard the most recent Bette Middler speech?

Is anybody else reminded of the stupid SNL skit where whassisface would play an office dork sitting in a corner, making name plays on everybody that walked into the copy room? "The Danster. Dan o rama. Danalicious..." Etcetera etcetera, ad nauseum.

I don't know, maybe that's just how she talks. But the inflection was exactly the same: heavily enunciated, high at that the beginning, dropping and dragging at the end.

"The Bushsterrrrr. What an Assholllllllle. Ka-trinaaaaaaa. Lots of dead folllllks. Global Warminggggg. War in Iraaaaaaaaaq. What an Assholllllllle..."
phone sex in public places
I have nothing important to say, so instead, I'm going to amuse (bore?) you with a fun story from my life:

For reasons I don't care to discuss, I recently had to buy a western union to send to the people that own the better part of my car. I don't really know where one goes to buy western unions, but I remembered seeing a sign about it at my local Giant Evil, so I went there.

A matronly black lady pointed me to the forms I needed, which I filled out and returned to her. I didn't have my account number on hand, however, because I do all my business with this company with my SSN. That wasn't good enough, but she kindly called up the company for me.

Unfortunatly, instead of providing a series of actual numbers for the telephone number, a helpful acronym was used, which corresponded to numbers on the telephone. Something like "1-800-I-OWN-YOU" or "1-FUCK-UR-KREDT" or "1-800-THANKS FOR THE PAYMENT, ASSHOLE, WE'RE KEEPING YOUR FUCKING CAR ANYWAY!!!! WE KNOW YOU CAN'T AFFORD A LAWYER! GOOD LUCK EVER SEEING YOUR CAR AGAIN, MOTHERFUCKER!!!". Something like that, I don't remember exactly.

So, the nice lady behind the counter dials up the Loan Sharks. This is a very long process, as she experiences some difficulty trying to translate the acronym into actual numbers. Why the loan sharks insist on using letters, even in their western union account, is beyond me, as all it does is create confusion.

Having finally consulted the Dead Sea Scrolls and translated the phone number, she hands me the phone to deal with the computerized voice I am sure to encounter on the other end. She sure as hell dosen't want to hear it. I, of course, am paralyzed with fear; talking to my car company on a supermarket phone makes me feel like a KGB officer placing a phone call from the basement of the Hoover building. Everybody is staring, especially the people in line, and I have to deal with the labryinth of computer-routed recordings before getting to a real person that, probably after considerable begging and maybe a ritual bloodletting, will give me my own account number. It's enough to make Kafka gag.

Anyway, I'm standing there with the grimy phone to my ear, when what should I hear: a sultry female voice. Not the impersonal "Dial one for German, Two for French, Three for Swahili, Three hundred and Pi for English" voice, but rather a sexed-up Jenna Jameson. Who has, by the time my brain catches up, thanked me for calling "Intimate connections", and is presently asking me to input a credit card number.

Ummm, unless there's been a policy change I haven't heard about, that isn't the right number. Of course, me being who I am, I can't just tell her to hang it up. I hand the phone back to the afore mentioned friendly, matronly lady behind the counter, explaining that I don't think that that's the right number. She listens for maybe ten seconds before her eyes go wide, she lets out an "OH SHIT" giggle and slams the phone down. I wish I had a photograph of that moment, her expression was priceless.

She offered to try the number again, but I declined and drove the ten minutes to home and back to get the proper account number, which I should have done in the first place to spare both her and myself the mysteries of telephone communications. She delayed her break to help me, and, thirteen hundred-dollar bills later, I had my western union.

Still haven't gotten my car back, but I wish I knew what number she had dialed. That chick sounded hot.
smells like...infantry

"You are stuck on stupid."

Beautiful. Click through there, and listen to the mp3. I wonder what unit that guy was with, if he's 82nd or what. Sounds like pure infantry. Guy reminds me of one of my Drill Sergeants, except quieter. But that piece of speech is classic Army, even throws in a quick "Huah?", which I'm sure just confused the reporters. I'd say that I'd like to see politicians pick up on that, but they'd never be able to get the inflection right, the final, declarative tone of it.

And I like the poster idea, but it should be just the declarative form he uses second. That's perfect. Somebody needs to make an mp3 of just that line that I can keep handy and click on every time I read the news.
Ilyka gets a sex-change: Reminds me of a Chuck Palahunik novel
I'm going to spare the tongue bath here; everybody who reads these stupid pages knows I think Ilyka is the Cat's Ass, as my grandmother used to say. All I can say is that if Ilyka finds herself a strapon and goes after the web from the other end of things (there's a visual for you), I better be getting a friggin' email. I don't think it'll work, if she actually does it, as Hubris pointed out, I think I'd probably recognize her writing from a mile away, as would alot of people. That's somewhat of a backhand compliment, but a compliment it is.

I had a whole long post here, but it went away. Instead, what it boils down to is a very smart thing some old guy told me one time: illigitimi non carborundum. Don't let the bastards bring you down. I've never been the subject of sexual discrimination, so I don't pretend to know, but I hope that some stupid remarks won't force a good writer to quit. There's alot more people saying complementary things than people saying discriminatory things; and even if I'm wrong on that, then that's all the more reason not to quit.
bring the hate
I know big bloggers are constantly annoyed by people pooping all over their comments, but I love it when I get 'em. Every once in a great while, I get a sensible argument in my comments, which I usually acknowledge and appreciate. But most of them are...well, stupid. Not even arguments, really, just rants.

I have long held that stupid people are put on this planet for my own personal amusement, and blog comments are evidence of that theory. Every time somebody calls me a name, it makes me giggle. When some poor schmuck goes on for a half hour explaining to me exacly why I'm wrong, generally making little sense and often not even addressing the point at hand, I have to read it several times for pure entertainment factor.

I know I shouldn't spend my time "fisking" stupid comments, but hey, what the hell, I'm having fun:

Your an idiot...
I accept that premise, but I want the comment to stand, for the amusement of those of us that completed High School English.

Louisiana is too poor of a state as is the city of New Orleans... to try and think that the Mayor could have handled this problem on his own is ridiculous. Oh and lets just say they did spend all that time and money to evacuate people on the busses and then the levies don't break? Money of an already incredibly poor state just pissed away. The green makes the world go round and thats the end of the story.

Okay, that would be the meat (tofu?) of the argument. I'm not really sure where this guy's coming from, but I want to point out that I prefaced the post as such: "As I've said, I'm not following too closely to the various scandals around Katrina. I know some of the School-bus stuff, but not enough to pass judgement." From there, I went on to say that the assertion that they couldn't get anybody to drive people away in school busses is rather silly. School busses, friends and neighbors, are not terribly complicated pieces of equipment. The guy that drove me to Jr. High and back every day couldn't remember his own name without some help, but he seemed to manage okay. Note that I'm not arguing the plusses or minuses of evacuating the city. Apparently, though, the Mayor and the Governor both think it would have been a good idea, they claim they just lacked personnel capable of handling an oversized minivian, which, again, strikes me as somewhat silly, which was the point of the post.

For those in the audience that are not paying attention, such as the commentor above, please note that I did not assert that "the mayor could have handled this on his own". I do think that if the Mayor's best excuse is that they couldn't find anybody with a driver's license to help evacuate the city, then he should start looking for another job. The "Bus drivers weren't hanging around in the hurricane" argument is dumb, dumb, dumb. This guy seemed to manage okay, and from my understanding, he dosen't have a graduate's degree in bus management.

As for Louisiana being a poor state, yes, you're right. However, the poorest of American states is wealthy compared to an awful lot of countries out there. I'd say that calling them "Too Poor" is incorrect, but I'm not sure what they are suppossed to be too poor to accomplish, since there wasn't actually an argument in there to anything I wrote. Too poor to magically invent a transporter that will beam all the water out of New Orleans and all the people to Houston? Yes, you're probably right. But too poor to find a few people in a crowd of thousands that can negotiate highways with a school bus?

Somehow, I fail to see the connection. But thanks for visiting, and feel free to respond at any time.
money where your mouth is
I can't believe somebody more important than me hasn't linked him yet, that I've seen, but Brian from Memento Moron actually put up and took the trip from Oregon to help out with Katrina relief, and is blogging the trip.

Stuff like this is what makes blogging so cool. I don't have to watch some news-dork on my teevee telling me what he's thinking or what he saw; he can tell me himself. Great reading.
will they dig up conrad veidt, as well?
They're remaking the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? Dear God, why?

I don't know a whole lot about art, or film as art. What I do know is that I am a big fan of the Expressionist movement. It consisted primarily of Germans that had survived the first Great War, and talked about the War and the aftermath through art. The result is surreal, disturbing work of an authentic nature that absolutely no one has matched since.

Caligari is one of the best examples of that art form. Everything from the plot, to the costuming, to the scenery reflects a reality that is...shattered. Broken beyond repair. Whatever adjectives you want to apply to it, it is a direct product of the world from which it was made and the lives of the people that made it. That can not only be replaced; it cannot be effectively mimiced.

So why the hell are they remaking it? I find it hard to believe that they will produce anything of artistic merit out of it; the very fact that it's an update precludes a whole lot, and, as I said, the original is very much a product of its times. There's alot to be said about "Right Now", but pirating an exemplar piece of art and trying to force it into a modern light dosen't seem like too clever of an idea to me. It isn't going to be a big blockbuster; Caligari means nothing to too many people for it to matter.

I'm not an artist, but I do consider myself to be something of a writer. And I would never try to take, say, Slaughterhouse-5 and rewrite it to make it fit into 2005. It's a work all its own, a product of its times, and wouldn't work today. I wouldn't want to rewrite "Howl". My girlfriend, who is a painter, wouldn't take Max Ernst's work and re-paint it, no matter how much she admres the originals.

So why does the film industry insist on doing it? We're not talking about remaking the Exorcist or Willy Wonka here; much as I love those movies, they can be spun off into new movies. But Caligari?

I don't get it. I can't find a whole lot of information about the new one, but I don't like the shots on the main website already.

I don't know. I guess, depending on what they do with it, I may get fairly excited about it; I may even like it. That depends very, very heavily on what they do with it. But my strong initial reaction is, Dear God, why?

Bad news via Michele, who also has a handy list of how we can stop things like this from happening.
spaceship drivers
As I've said, I'm not following too closely to the various scandals around Katrina. I know some of the School-bus stuff, but not enough to pass judgement. Except, I love this one line I've seen a couple of times now; If this is the best defense the mayor can come up with, he better start thinking about what he'll be doing after his term is up:
Sure, here was lots of buses out there. But guess what? You can't find drivers that would stay behind with a Category 5 hurricane, you know, pending down on New Orleans. We barely got enough drivers to move people on Sunday, or Saturday and Sunday, to move them to the Superdome. We barely had enough drivers for that. So sure, we had the assets, but the drivers just weren't available.

Dude, bus drivers? You couldn't find Bus Drivers? It's not exactly a graduate degree, here. You aren't driving a space shuttle. I'm not CDL Certified, but I'm betting I could probably manage a school bus, if the alternative is sitting on my roof for a week hoping that a helicopter will come find me. I might bump some curbs along the way, but if I have to drive that thing on the rims all the way to Ottowa, you better belive I'm gonna do it. The gas is the long skinny one on the right, the brake is the flat one on the left, and the round thing in the middle steers it. I might need some practice with the door opening thingie, but I think I can manage.
Inspired by Sadie, comparing relative viewpoints on sex and politics. I know there's a caveat to this, this isn't meant as an argument against her, but I think she pretty accurately captured something I want to talk about:

An Anarchist: You have two casual, non-exclusive dating relationships. As far as you're concerned, sex and dating are private matters to be resolved between consenting adults. In your opinion, the government has no place messing with your private affairs. You and the two women voice your dissent against the government's existence and then go form a loosely-organized orgy.

Once upon a time, I considered myself something of an Anarchist. Still do, to a certian point. (Somewhere I have a pic of my kevlar from overseas with the Anarchy pin I wore on it for a while, just to piss people off. And maybe to make a bit of a point) I had alot of friends that were Anarchists, and was invited, and intended to go, to to the Anarchist convention a few years ago. Nevermind the irony of the fact that I had to go to Army drill once a month, and that my days of attending anything on my own timetable would be ended shortly by 9/11.

As a starting point, let's define Anarchy: 1 a : absence of government b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

That's the technical definition of Anarchy. The problem is, as with any belief system, there's Anarchy, and then there's the political Anarchist movement.

Anarchy, to me, is pretty much Sadie's quote above. Nobody, including the government, messes with anybody else's business. This idea, much like pure socalism, is unfortunatly contingent upon itself; that is, it only works if everybody agrees to do their part and not to fuck with anybody else. This is only achievable to a certain extent in reality, and, therefore, fails when applied to reality. When socalism fails, you get communisim; when Anarchy fails, you get warlords.

See, there is always somebody, usually a fair number of somebodys, willing to fuck with somebody else if they think they can get away with it. So when you have Anarchy, instead of everybody just agreeing to get along and live that way, what you get is a survival of the fittest society. In anarchist philosophy, this all balances out in the long run; in history, it leads to an opressive regime led by the most brutal player in the game.

That's a bit off topic, but you see where I'm going. Lack of some controlling authority leads to people doing whatever they can to grab that authority, from which the strongest emerge and dominate over everybody else. Not exactly utopia.

But the Anarchist movement is something completely differant, with is own sets of ups and downs. The ups, to my mindset, are pretty much everything everybody's ever said about government intervention in anything. Not only is the government generally incredibly inept at getting its stated mission accomplished, more often than not it has no business in trying to do so in the first place.

The downside of current, or, honestly, leftist Anarchism, is that it suffers from all the pitfalls of any radical movement these days. Life in these United States is too good for a radical movement, and radical activists generally come of looking like boobs for all their effort.

There's several problems. My first disappointment upon attending an Anarchist meeting (which has to be some kind of oxymoron) was the sheer lack of knowledge going on around the room. This is a common effect at any political protest I've been a witness to: There's the true believers, who at least know what they believe and why they believe it, which make up maybe a fifth of attendees. The remaining percent are there because it's cool to be a radical, or a friend invited them, or they have some vauge idea about fighting the police (facists!), or because they heard it would be a good place to get laid. These are the people that don't really know what the fuck they're talking about, but they enjoy throwing bricks through Military Recruiting station windows, so they're along for the ride.

The other problem is the bizarre, and often contradictory, nature of beliefs among what I would call the true believers, the other fifth. These people are generally educated, after a fashion, and can at least carry on a debate. But could somebody explain to me how higher taxes are a function of Anarchy? What about government Welfare? Government control of Corporations? What about state suppression of a belief the Anarchist finds disagreeable? Anti-Gun laws? For that matter, any sort of Anti-anything laws? Or pro-anything laws? All of which are popular among the so-called Anarchists.

And the ultimate: Cops are facists when they're chasing you through backyards for spraypainting somebody's store, but who are the first people you call when you have a problem?

A very good friend of mine, a regular participant at the Anarchy discussions, had a guy break into her house one nite, and attempt to rape her. As any sensible person would, she called the cops first thing. She gave a statement, all that stuff.

Now, these are the same cops she was calling every name in the book the night before. Cops, who, lest we forget, are for the most part just guys doing a job, and a pretty shitty one at that. In differant circumstances, she'd have been more than happy to spit on their faces and call them tools of whatever.

She didn't feel that they did their job as effectively as they should have, which may be true. The cops in that area were notoriously lousy, and had to deal with cases like this fairly often. On top of that, she was a known Anarchist, the same people that had caused the cops trouble all over town for various problems.

I don't blame her for calling the police after what she had been through...but dosen't it say something about the politics of Anarchy that the ever-despised state-run police were at the top of the call list when she needed help?

Anyway. Anarchists, these days, aren't really all that troubled by the Government. There's a few areas where it infringes on civil rights that pisses them off, but by and large, so long as it helps them, they don't mind it. That isn't Anarchy, That's communism, and it's a direct result of what I described above: in America, the government has comparitavely little control over what people do, so the more ambitious and vicious among us fight their way to the top of a corporation, and proceed to do everything they can to fuck over everybody else. Survival of the fittest, barbarian rule, with a polished veneer.

One of the political philosophies I've identified myself as is a "Constitutional Conservative", which, I think, is about as close as I've seen to a working Anarchy, or an ordered Anarchy, if there is such a thing. Which is unfortunate, because it still isn't all that great. The rise of big corporations is inevitable under those circumstances, and there's no doubt that those people are ruthless bastards. The differance is that they exist at our sufferance, whereas a government has the power to force its people.

For most of the Anarchists I've met, though, that paragraph by Sadie isn't really right. They'd go on boinking everything they met, while ruthlessly persecuting everybody who didn't agree with their lauditudarin attitude. The best character I can think of is Alex from Clockwork Orange. If you can fight them, you're allright. If you're faithfully married and dress in khakis for work every day, they'd laugh while kicking in your teeth, raping your wife and burning down your store. Because, see, this is Anarchy, dude, and you live by our lack of rules, or you die by them.
Ace, reading a very worth your time first hand report of the disaster in New Orleans, has some thoughts to share:

1) The city will be in fair shape sooner than you think;

2) The death toll will be lower than some grandstanding politicians have suggested (although still painfully high); and

3) The response from local officials was just as woeful as you've suspected.

So...the damage isn't quite as bad as the news media reports. It's bad, have no doubt, but not as bad as it looks on the telly. That, in a way, is the media's job, or a direct result of the media's job; not privoviding information, rather getting viewers. Pumping the disaster for every set of eyeballs they can get is what they're paid for.

I'm not even going to try to criticise them for that; I don't like it, but that's the way it is. What that results in is series after series of photographs showing the city looking like a bomb was just dropped on it, and extremely high death tolls.

Just to clarify: New Orleans is still there. Not one hundred percent intact, certainly, but probably about eighty percent so. Maybe more. Parts of the city have electricity already, a service that requires massive amounts of infastructure, from power plants to lines, etc. I hadn't expected to see that for a while yet.

The newer buildings, especially the bigger ones, may have had their windows blown out, and probably flooded on the lower levels. But structurally, they are still sound. Some of the older buildings will have been hit pretty hard, but large sections of the city (the much renowned French Quarter is on the list, where alot of those older buildings stand) weren't hit hard enough to do much serious damage. There's a bar open and operating on Bourbon Street. Somebody must have forgotten to mention to them that Armaggedon is upon us.

Alot of the pictures I've seen are from housing developments along the gulf. In those areas, there's nothing left. Nothing, just a pile of driftwood. Matchsticks. That's what happens when you build a house on a concrete slab, with nothing sunk into the ground, and a massive wall of water washes over it. But that's the worst of the disaster: Not insignifigant, to say the least, especially to those who used to live in those houses, but it's not the end of the world, either.

And the number of dead...well, there's certianly too many. Lay the blame for that at the feet of those responsible. But please don't ever use the phrase "I heard on the news that as many as XXXXXXX people may be dead". There isn't. What were the initial expectations after 9/11? 10,000? 15,000? Those numbers, unfortunatly, weren't outside the range of possibility, but thankfully were nowhere near reality, either.

I'm not trying to downplay what happened here. This is, almost certianly, the single worst natural disaster to ever hit the US, and we live on a big plot of land. As I've said before, I'm doing whatever I can, my small bit, to help the people affected.

But hysteria dosen't help anybody. It's annoying, and counterproductive. This is not the end of the world, and it's not the end of New Orleans. The city has taken a serious hit, from which it will take years to recover. Some of the physical losses, and certianly the loss of life, will never be recovered. The city is changed forever.

But it's not "Gone". Construction will go up over what came down, the Saints will play football, drunk girls will flash their boobs on spring break, vampires will still haunt the cemetaries. New Orleans is many things to many people, and it still is, and it will continue to be. I prefer to focus on getting back to that, helping the people and the city heal, than bemoaning and exaggerating the wound.
props to the huffpo
I haven't read a whole lot from the Huffpo, and I've tried. Every time I bring up that page, it's just nonsense from nobodys, which I can find anywhere. I want more Chopra posts. I liked his book on Merlin.

But I have to give serious props to Ariana for continuing to allow Greg Gutfield to write there. I'm pissed I never got around to listening to him on Ace's radio show, that guy is freaking good. And brutal. As a public figure, she deserves a pretty fair amount of respect for allowing him to keep using up her bandwith. As a token conservative, he's no Bill Safire. The guy is not only harsh, he's harsh with the blog he's writing on.

My favorites from his latest, an entry exam for joining the Huffpo:

-Can you work the phrase "tipping point" into a sentence, without actually
reading the book, "The Tipping Point," or even understanding what this
tipping point thing is? Can you pretend to know something without knowing

-Do you believe that no one can voice support of the IRAQ war UNLESS they are willing to serve in it?
-YET when it came to the flood, you readily assumed an expertise in crisis management within hours of the disaster?...

-do you see "looting" as a function of poverty?
- brought on by Bush's policies?
-do you think you and a looter might get along over a beer?
-as you both agree over the point you just made about poverty?
-do you press charges after he stabs you?...

Do you assume all poor people loot when faced with crisis?
-Even though most, if not all, poor people hate looters?
-Even though most, if not all, poor people HATE YOU MORE- for excusing looters?...

-Do you think conservatives are stiff, humorless and mean?
-have you ever sat through a Tim Robbins play?...

-Do you hate authority?
-until you need a cop?
-do you try to have an opinion, even when you really have none?
-do you think googling replaces thinking?
-do you favor high drama over slow progress?
-do you like it when authority figures are "shown up?"
-do you cry for authority figures when you're "helpless?"

There's lots more. Two or three of those are post ideas I could expand upon. The whole thing is great.
judge roberts, lando calrissian, ted kennedy, and bukkake
all in one post. Fuckin' hilarious.

I also want to note that I am currently at the very top of searches for "Tawney Kaiten", and I have no idea how that happened. I don't think that's how you spell her name, I don't know if that's the right name in the first place, I only mentioned that name once and it was just an offhand remark while I was riffing on calling Ace a dork and questioning his sexuality. Nothing unusual there, I'm about the eight millionth person to do so, right after the guy that did a blog post about Ace calling him "Drizzt" during intercourse. So, really, nothing remarkable there, and I'm sure it isn't what these folks are searching for.

I'll take it, but still, odd. Gotta dig up a still from that video somewhere.
object lesson, part deux
I'm seriously hoping this dosen't become a continuing series.

A great spoof of the king of disaster porn and bad news, Geraldo.
winged rodent
Last time I did a bird post, I actually got somebody that knew something about birds. All he did was lecture me, but hey, at least it was a response.

So here's a question: Anybody know how to keep a bird, specifically a cockatiel, from chewing on your shit? Especially housplants. He finds the bamboo plant on my desk very tasty, as well as the tiny little potted herb garden I've been trying to grow.

I've tried the sour-apple stuff used to keep dogs off of furniture; Syd seems to find it tasty. He licks it off before he chews the plant to shit. And these are teeny tiny little houseplants; once he gets ahold of them, they're done.

Is there a taste birds don't like? They don't have much in the way of taste buds, I know, but there has to be a smell or something that freaks them out. This little fucker will eat everything from fresh basil to his own dried poop. In fact, I'm yet to find anything he won't eat; I'm surprised cockatiels ever survive past infancy, mine would probably eat his own young just for shits and giggles. He's certianly not underfed, probably overfed, but I still can't wean him off houseplants.

I think I've finally taught him to stop trying to eat the beard stubble off my face, enough good shoves off my shoulder fixed that one. Is there something that works for defenseless bamboo plants? Do they make venus fly traps in cockatiel size?

A plant that bites back, that's what I need.
object lesson
The reaction to this is the sort of thing I'm on about here with my lack of interest in the politics around Katrina:

Barbara Bush: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," she was quoted as saying in an interview on National Public Radio...

"Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," ...

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Stupid thing to say? You betcha. Well, not even necessarily a stupid point, I don't think, but an incredibly stupid way to say it.

Even if you're homeless, it obviously sucks to have your entire frigging home town sucked out to sea. The upshot is that now, at least, you have three hots and a cot, and reasonable, if not idyllic, shelter.

If you're not homeless, but getting massacred by debt...well, that's mostly gone now. I have no idea how this will work out as far as insurance goes for people who lost homes and cars and such, but I'm betting that they won't be held responsible for those loans. Acts of God, and all that.

Again, is having your house and all your personal belongings suddenly at the bottom at the Gulf of Mexico a pleasant experience, or the preffered way to get out of debt? No. Obviously.

But, if you've ever been seriously in debt, just getting rid of it can be a huge plus. I have a car that I haven't been able to afford the payments on for a while now, and while I would much rather sell it than have it stolen, at least it would be off my list of headaches. I'd get about 3/4 what its worth from the insurance company, and be able to move forward.

That's pretty minor debt-wise compared to what alot of people have. Once again, not the best situation to be in, but, for some people, especially the very poor, there are pluses. Not the ideal way to get there, but there it is. Look around (no link, sorry, too lazy), there are stories of people saying exactly that. Sucks, but whereas before they were behind a boulder-sized eightball, the kind of debt that will ruin a person's life, they are now at a more or less blank slate. Sitting in Houston, looking around and doing the same thing they were doing: trying to figure out how to move forward, with added greif but minus a big stone around their necks.

So what Barbara was saying was an incredibly poorly phrased, somewhat rich-people ignorant statement of what at least some people are feeling. I don't know about you, but it dosen't come as a shock to me that the Bushes are rich people, and tend to think like them. So are all our illustrious politicans, not all of whom are Republicans. For that matter, the top several wealthiest Senators are Democrats; wealth is a requirement to play in politics these days.

But what drives me crazy is the hours that people have dedicated to this single stupid remark, like the editorial above, and the blatant politicization of it. Rush, earlier today, was making light of it, minimizing it, like a good hack. I don't blame him, the reaction from that is pretty darn ridiculous. But you know that if a Clinton or Rockefeller had made those remarks, Rush and Hannity would be all over it; it would be interspersed with their commentary on...everything. They'd be playing that bit over and over and over and over, until even I was tired of hearing it.

The point is: It dosen't mean anything. Nothing at all. It is not indicative of anything that should come as a shock to anybody. It was a stupid, poorly phrased offhand remark that has blown up into this big huge thing, and that is the sort of thing that I am really, really tired of hearing about. I don't care. I fail to see why anybody should care. It has zero bearing on the very, deadly serious task at hand. It's just people screaming at each other about nothing: hot air, white noise.

UPDATE: What she said. Hate that, when somebody says exactly what I've been trying to say for days, and better. Drives me crazy. I should just delete the past several posts and put up a link to this.
A Classic.
Aprapo of my last comment: I've been listening to more music radio, reading more books. The political stuff out there at the moment is really leaving me cold. It seems...even dumber, and less relevant, than usual.

The primary news today is Katrina. I'm a man of very limited means at the moment, but we're buying stuff to send down there; Christ knows those folks are worse off than I am. I'm trying to do my little part because, as Ace used to say when begging money from readers, it's not the size of the donation, it's the size of the pool. If every person in America sent a few things, it adds up to an awful lot.

But the arguments around it are...frankly, disgusting. I've said before, I don't know what the hell people expect, but every level of government is throwing everything they have at it, from the President on down. Even that, however, cannot create a miracle. Moses is not going to step out of a FEMA office and part the seas around New Orleans. George Bush cannot make Manna fall from the skies. What he can do, and has done, is send money and people. And give stupid speeches on teevee that accomplish nothing except appeasing the true believers and pissing off the opposition.

Aside from that...it's all garbage. America, or Republicans, aren't doing enough...because we hate black people? Are you serious? That has to be one of the dumbest fuckin' statements I've ever heard. And it is, unfortunatly, everywhere. I refuse to spend an hour of my life writing up a post to refute that argument; I have better things to do with my time. Arguing theological dogma with my fucking cockatiel would be more productive.

Then, there's the flipside; that accuses blacks of more looting and stuff in the city. Dug. New Orleans is something like 60% black, hence, there are more blacks looting. Excluding any other economic factor, just the simple fact that there are more black people there period says to me that most of the folks looting will be black. That isn't racism, it's arithmatic.

See this? I'm getting sucked into all these dumb-assed arguments I promised myself I wouldn't. The point is, there was a disaster, and, for the most part, everyone involved is doing everything they can to rectify it, if for no other reason than to avoid giving the other side ammunition. That's a plus, I suppose: Much as I hate arguing about the stupidity of arguments here, the very fact that the arguments are so fucking stupid proves that there hasn't been any too-serious lapses. There's been fuckups, to be sure, but, as any emergency personnel can tell you, that's to be expected when something like this happens. The fact that neither side has found a serious, important bone to pick is promising.

I can't believe that Rehnquist isn't getting more coverage. Maybe it's a good thing; bless his soul, the media is actually letting someone die in relative peace.
i watched the news today, o boy
I watched whatever channel had the big special on Katrina on Tuesday. I watched some of the Wednesday reportage.

My girl seems to feel a need to watch these programs. We have a special, if superficial, connection to New Orleans, which I won't go into here.

But the news specials...I don't know, don't do much for me. I mean, I have a pretty good idea what's going on there. Should I feel like a bad person, or a less concerned person, if I don't watch hour after hour of "This person lost their house. This person lost everything. This person is trying to get a bus. This person can't find a hotel room. This person watched their aunt drown".

Sucks. I know that. Sucks in unimaginable ways.

The news specials, though, are heavy on emotion and dramatic taglines, while light on information. I want to know what is going on there on the large scale, what are people doing to fix the problem. Not what people are doing to fix aunt Mathilda's house, but the big problem, which is certainly there.

Do I need to watch face after desperate face to feel the problem? Do I lack caring for switching the channel, rather than depressing the shit out of myself over what is an overwhelming, massive tragedy; a tragedy about which I can do nothing?

I don't know. I don't really get it. I feel bad for those people, and hope to christ they can find their way out of this situation. I hope like hell the city can be repaired; I plan to live there someday. If my driving to New Orleans tommorow would do a bit of good, I'd do it.

But here in my apartment in Pennsylvania, I don't see what is to be gained from crying over the news. I don't think I'm detached from the disaster, but I don't see what good will come from becoming more emotionally involved in it, either.

Tears don't help anybody, and for me, understanding isn't gained from the teevee. Understanding, and more importantly, helping is reached from inside.

The news programs seem like goosenecking at a carwreck. I know what a carwreck is about, and I have a pretty good idea what the people involved need. My heart goes out to them, but seeing their blood spewed across the highway dosen't lend understanding, and it dosen't help the people involved.

My heart goes out to the victims here, but I hope I'll be excused if I turn off the news vultures on the tee vee.

Instead, turn off the tee vee, put your eyes on the road, and go help, if you can.
no fuckin around

My kind of people.

Donations go here.
"Out here a man settles his own problems."
John Wayne
You scored 54% Tough, 14% Roguish, 19% Friendly, and 14% Charming!

You, my friend, are a man's man, the original true grit, one tough
talking, swaggering son of a bitch. You're not a bad guy, on the
contrary, you're the ultimate good guy, but you're one tough character,
rough and tumble, ready for anything. You call the shots and go your
own way, and if some screwy dame is willing to accept your terms,
that's just fine by you. Otherwise, you'll just hit the open trail and
stay true to yourself. You stand up for what you believe and can handle
any situation, usually by rushing into the thick of the action. You're
not polished and you're not overly warm, but you're a straight shooter
and a real stand up guy. Co-stars include Lauren Bacall and Maureen
O'Hara, tough broads who can take care of themselves.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the
Classic Dames Test.

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Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid

That's right, bitches. John Fuckin Wayne. The Duke, piloting this keyboard. Heh.

I always figured myself more rougish than tough. I'm certainly not charming or friendly, that's for damn sure.

Test via Texas Best Grok, Quote from this worthwhile page here.



howdy, thanks for stopping by. what you're looking at is the intermittent ramblings of an iraqi vet, college student, goth-poseur, comic book reading, cheesy horror loving, punk listening, right-leaning, tech-obsessed, poorly typing, proudly self-proclaimed geek. occasionally, probably due to these odd combinations, i like to think i have some interesting things to say; this is where they wind up.

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us...We need the books that affect us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside of us.

ace o spades hq
bargain-basement allahpundit
a small victory
army of mom
babalu blog
beautiful atrocities
being american in t o
belmont club
blame bush!
castle argghhh!
citizen smash
the command post
common sense runs wild
curmudgeonly & skeptical, r
curmudgeonly & skeptical, pg-13
dean's world
drill sergeant rob
exit zero
enjoy every sandwich
feisty repartee
fistful of fortnights
free will
four right wing wacos
ghost of a flea
half the sins of mankind
the hatemonger's quarterly
hog on ice
house of plum
id's cage
ilyka damen
incoherant ramblings
in dc journal
the jawa report
knowledge is power
lileks bleat
the llama butchers
memento moron
the mudville gazette
naked villainy
nerf-coated world
those damned pajama people
professor chaos
professor shade
the protocols of the yuppies of zion
protein wisdom
the queen of all evil
seven inches of sense
shinobi, who is a f'n numbers ninja, yo
tall dark and mathteriouth
the nose on your face
the thearapist
this is class warfare
texas best grok
tim worstall
way off bass

other must reads: