Archive for the ‘rants’ Category

Ah, supporting our troops

September 18, 2007

gold star father kicked defending his son’s memorial“:

As Carlos passed counter protesters, one man ripped a picture of Alex from the memorial. Carlos leaped on the man to retrieve the picture. It was at that point that approximately five others all began to attack Carlos by kicking him in the head, legs, stomach and back.

some people make me sick…

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wish i had said that…

August 9, 2007

i’d never heard of pat condell before today, but i have a ton of respect for him.

hollow people

August 22, 2006
  • what i’m looking for in a partner:  warmth, feeling, heart.  compassion.  the sort of person that lights up the world, and makes it a better place… and so on
  • qualities i seek, on this list:  none.

sure.  beauty, education, wealth are all powerful indicators of status.  as is socioeconomic class.  they’re all quite seductive, i suppose.  i have no doubt that to many, these make for a “high quality” partner.  and i’ll confess to my own indulgence in those pursuits.

maybe if i wanted a narcissistic and screwed up relationship that would creep me out and waste my time, sure.

but for a partner?

blech.

best of luck to those seeking ‘quality’ in ephemeral beauty and status.  philosophy (except the deranged kind) already figured out that those pursuits lead nowhere.  you don’t have to be a theist to think that the world needs more goodness, and less inhumanity.

[shakes sis is probably right.  most of what appears admirable on a first pass is actually something of a pretense.  she just seems so hollow, it is more tragic than anything.]
[i really need to learn not to stare at train wrecks]

i’m going to start allocating my rage

August 22, 2006

at some point this morning, i realized that my brain had, in fact, overloaded from reading pandagon, and my ‘outrage’ center had been put into safe mode.  why? 

maybe if i just stop reading, all the bad news will go away?  seems to be the president’s strategy…

9-11, Derrida, and the West Wing

August 10, 2006

some 30% of americans cannot say “in what year the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington took place”.

what is fascinating to me is that September 11th is intimately associated with time, though never year. from philosophy in a time of terror:

“Something” took place, we have the feeling of not having seen it coming, and certain consequences undeniably follow upon the “thing.” But this very thing, the place and meaning of this “event,” remains ineffable, like an intuition without concept, like a unicity with no generality on the horizon or with no horizon at all, out of range for a language that admits its powerlessness and so is reduced to pronouncing mechanically a date, repeating it endlessly, as a kind of ritual incantation, a conjuring poem, a journalistic litany or rhetorical refrain that admits to not knowing what it’s talking about. We do not in fact know what we are saying or naming in this way: September 11, le 11 septembre, September 11. The brevity of the appellation (September 11, 9/11) stems not only from an economic or rhetorical necessity. The telegram of this metonymy—a name, a number—points out the unqualifiable by recognizing that we do not recognize or even cognize that we do not yet know how to qualify, that we do not know what we are talking about.

the event was unspeakable, literally. so it was associated with a time. so, if they’ve forgotten the year (and, as with most polls that show this, i often wonder at the question) – what impression did the event leave? is it eternally recurring? a floating point in the past?

even now, nearly 5 years later, we have no other word (beyond time). you’ll notice the great lengths the AP went to, without recourse to just “9/11”.

(more…)

pork or policies?

July 26, 2006

back home in montana, senator burns appears to be running on the “i bring home pork” platform. looks like he’s stopped letting the little things (like an ideology of small goverment and low taxes) get in the way of his being a senator. as wulfgar notes in the comments,

New airport lights in Butte, new baseball park in Billings, new ice rink in Bozeman, federal hand-outs to the YMCA in Dillon …? It’s just Burns doing what he knows best, trading favors for votes. That’s what he did for Abrahmoff, and now he expects us to follow suit.

what bothers me isn’t just that this drives up the deficit. or that i’ll have to pay that deficit off later. it suggests burns isn’t working on his moral compass, that he isn’t acting on principles. our senators were supposed to come up with broad policies that help the whole country. we’re facing real problems – and the best montana’s republican senator can point to is an ice rink? no offense or anything, but make me one of the 100 most powerful in government, and i’m pretty sure i could do better. what has he been doing for the past 20 years?

its a shame that burns’ wikipedia page lists pork as his primary accomplishment. and time considers this his primary justification as well.

or, as bret put it on leftinthewest

Having solved all of the nations problems Senator Burns has brought a skating rink, baseball field, and lights!!!

oh wow, turns out he can’t even deliver on this last round of pork.

[via leftinthewest]

you’ve spun yourself into immorality when…

July 20, 2006

i understand the need to put your best foot forward in politics. it doesn’t make sense to lose an argument, simply because the wrong words were chosen, or because the wrong argument was made at the wrong time. thats reasonable, and those are valid roles for media experts. but… this…?!?

…the reason the United States has been so slow in evacuating its citizens from Lebanon is that the public diplomacy (i.e., P.R.) issues raised by evacuating under Israeli assault are so complicated. Individuals within the State Department, I am told, have been reluctant to create an impression that the Israeli assault on Lebanon is as bad as it is or that civilian U.S. citizens are being threatened by U.S. ally Israel. If a conflict this severe had broken out in, say, Indonesia, the American embassy would have been shut down the next day and its personnel and families rapidly brought to safety. That’s how things normally work. (See Laura Rozen on the evacuation from Albania here.) In this case, however, the diplomatic message sent by shutting down the U.S. embassy in the face of Israeli bombing would have contradicted the U.S. government message of support for the Israeli mission against Hezbollah terrorists, which, when added to the general concern within lower-level diplomatic circles about ever creating a Fall of Saigon-style visual for the news media, have led the Americans to be slower than they could have been about getting U.S. citizens out of harm’s way.

if this thought has even crossed the minds of those in power, i’d say we have a real crisis in goverment. there is, of course, a chance that this is katrina-style failure. which is equally disturbing in my mind. either way, can someone in the media/congress look into this, its kinda important. (and a friend from college is there…)[whee – reading the comments from above, someone cites the Lavon Affair. since when did reality become a Tom Clancy novel / episode of 24? (the comment also cites the USS Liberty Incident, but i can’t make sense of that one.)]
[via shakespeare’s sister]

patriarchy claims another

July 20, 2006

a husband suspects his wife had an abortion and lied, and the advice given is outright amazing:

These are problems of emotion and hope and living, human problems, rather than a problem of whether she did something wrong or not. And this work may require you to think of the connections between your life up till now and your relationship with your wife; things that you consider unrelated may come up unexpectedly. You will need to make a good-faith effort to see how these things are related.

and then it makes it onto pandagon, where it becomes a bit nasty, i think.what purpose does this post serve on pandagon? i don’t know more about feminism as a result of it. its not deep enough for that. this certainly isn’t newsworthy. it isn’t quite a parable. its a witch hunt. a chance for the faithful to stone someone, to affirm who they are. there really isn’t enough here to assume (as some commenters do) that he’s a jerk, and responses seem to be more about assumptions than anything else. its like a slightly skewed rorschach inkblot.

i know communities do this all the time. i have a sense of the psychological functions it serves. still, a little disheartening. at some point, it looks like we’re defining ourselves and our goodness by who we exclude, rather than who we care for and the kindness we offer. i appologize if this post violates my own rules.

[full disclosure: this sounds like a trust/communication issue to me, with a whole debate being grafted onto that.]

satire (the end of it)

July 12, 2006
between the dead baby jokes, racist stories, and sexist comments, my group of friends is pretty hard to understand. for us, every bit of it is satire. the anti-semitic jokes come from my friend who is deeply in love with the daughter of a rabbi (and strongly jewish herself). the sexist comments come from the guys who head to marches for women’s rights and are NOW members. while our weekly thursday party in college was called ladies night, we all understood it as a joke. sure, by senior year it was a pick-up party for both sexes, but we named it sophomore year, when it was 9 guys getting drunk and watching cartoons of talking fast food.

so meeting us now is a bit like jumping in mid-conversation. without the history, none of it makes sense. this happens in all conversations, of course. wandering around town, i pick up bits and pieces of conversations, and its not uncommon to hear just the wrong thing at just the wrong moment, and really start to wonder. especially if you have strong expectations.

on a related note, reading through pharyngula today, i found out that one man’s satire is another man’s reality. i think there is actually much more going on here than is discussed. way back, i wrote an article on hell houses where i inappropriately cited a satirical site as a real hell house (i can’t find the old article). the satire, to me, looked entirely believeable as authentic. it was just one step further than everything else i’d read. at this point, reading the real stuff about hell houses, i was too shocked. it looked like nothing was outside the realm of possible anymore. [i’ll admit, i was also being a lazy writer and should have source checked the article – the fault really is mine, but even my editors and peer reviewers thought it was authentic, which says something about the universality of being blindsided by something so alien .]

i imagine something like this happened to this pete fellow at march together. a bit worse, since most of us know what the onion is. [side note: maybe he’s too close to it, but why not say “honest mistake” and move on? (he didn’t)]. i just wish the whole affair was a bit tempered. as-is, comments are like pointing at a train wreck and laughing.

but this just keeps happening. my college roommate and i have a longstanding debate about Maxim. i think its satire. i just can’t read that junk at face value. he thinks its offensive. i read the articles and laugh, because they’re preposterous from my point of view. i understand that people read them seriously, and i haven’t got a clue what the editor thinks, but its not the material thats offensive (to me), its how people read it that bothers me. if everyone read it and laughed, i’d be quite content. (he thinks its inherently offensive, and that i’m not actually reading it and laughing, but that at some level it reinforces my latent sexist worldview – even though he accepts that i’m a feminist. its a complex argument, with a very different idea of thinking, as i understand him).

i can’t claim to have insight from The Book (of erdos) that locks this one up, but pieces keep falling into place. in college, the super-self-involved theatre crowd became obsessed with the notion of “post-ironic”. not being in the conversation (and thinking they were all pompous jerks anyway), i mocked the very idea of the term. but thinking it over, its a workable concept. more than a few people i know date the death of irony sometime around when henry kissinger was awarded the nobel peace prize. its not just that the joke can’t be topped. we’re just too shocked. most english classes shrug off swift’s a modest proposal. today’s cheers and jeers starts with a letter about the flag and i can imagine it stated earnestly. or this liberty with a cross statue, which is the sort of thing used to mock someone, not something they go and build themselves. same deal with the homosexuality conversation referenced below.

the size of the shock betrays the real cause. when the premises of perspectives radically differ, and when they’ve been developed in isolation from other conversations, satire is effecively DOA. i wonder what other forms of communication are killed too. (abrupt ending, i know, but this is an unwieldy post as-is)

—-

two notes:
(1) the same is pretty much true of contemporary art. unless you trace the conversation the artisitic community is having with itself since WWI (debateable starting point) –> the present, it really looks like senseless garbage. ‘postmodern’ authors are in the same boat (i think).
(2) nothing about this means to say i don’t think some premises belong exclusively to yahoos.