Monday, February 28, 2011

today's...

...mood ring is driven by memories of Alina Keyser.

To describe her as "a bright girl" does her memory and spirit injustice. She was fiery, self-confident, not afraid to challenge anything. And beautiful in a way that only eastern European women seem to be. She would argue anything with me, holding her own better than any lawyer I'd ever opposed. She refused to be cubbyholed, no matter what the subject.

Her family moved from Romania to Chicago IL when she was very young.  One of her big struggles in life was coping with her father, who, in her description, ironically was a very authoritarian and punitive person.  "Ironically," because he had moved his family from Romania to the USA to escape the authoritarian regime there.

Just as I was getting to know her well, she was killed in a head-on collision at Lookout Pass.

EDIT:  I'm not really happy with that short bit.  So I need to expand.

At the time of her death, Alina was heading to pick up mutual friend J____ at the airport in Spokane.  The snow was squalling something fierce that day, and Lookout Pass is a dangerous snowy place anyway, even when it's not storming.  Several people told Alina to stay home, to call the arriving friend and tell him to grab a motel room for the night, to drive over the next day when the weather was better.

Such a suggestion normally would have been dismissed by Alina... and was, on this occasion.  Danger wasn't something that really registered soundly for her, at least not danger behind the wheel, and not when aiding a friend.

When I learned of her death the next day, I was shocked, in disbelief.  Then I was angry.  I was angry because J____ had wedged in between Alina and me just as we were growing closer, and he'd done so just for a fuck.  Not because he wanted anything more, not because he wanted something substantial from his relationship to/with her.  And I was at the other end of the spectrum, pretty much having fallen wildly in love with her, amazed by her, sometimes even intimidated by her.  The feelings I had were so powerful that I was frightened by them, and I'd pulled back instead of drawing closer.

That backward move provided J____ with just enough space to drive a little wedge in between Alina and me.  I hated myself for pulling back, I hated J____ for jumping into the space, and I hated Alina for being so casual as to have that little gig with J___.

A couple days after her death, another mutual friend, A_____, asked me if I wanted to speak at her memorial service.  A____ had introduced us, had watched us interact and grow closer, and he knew how I felt about her, how she felt about me.  When he asked me I was still in the throes of anger-sadness-hurt.  The sadness was winning the competition.  And the sadness was overwhelming, the type that would make me burst into tears without any forewarning.  I imagined myself trying to speak to an audience on Alina's qualities and why I loved her, and all I could picture was myself breaking down after three or four words, unable to give her the tribute she deserved.

So I told A____, "no, I don't think that's a good idea."

I went to the memorial service and stood at the very back, trying to remain invisible, arriving late and leaving early, avoiding everyone who might speak to me.  While I stood there the overwhelming sadness was being overtaken by shame.  She deserved tribute from everyone who loved her and knew her well enough to describe her qualities, what made her magnetic.  She deserved my honest words, and I refused to give them.

I've had several failures in my life.  I am a cruel taskmaster when confronting myself inside my head, and I tend to use the cat o' nine tails fairly enjoyably in my self-correcting interior conversations.  I'm pretty good at self-torture - psychological variety.  But usually, after enough metaphoric whippings, I let go.

I'm still holding on to this one.  I'm holding on because I miss her and I want to tell her that I'm sorry, sorry for pulling back, sorry for flaking on the memorial tribute, and most of all, sorry for being a jealous selfish jerk.

pure beauty

Richard Buckner, Mud

Be careful where you lie down, boy
In this bed of roses
Promises of petals, then
You wake up on the other end

Love is such a monster, kid
And power is addictive
Sweet fire and beauty'll turn this city flat
And could you really handle that

I thought I was through with living once
But, lord, the way she lies there breathing
In the deepest hour of the night
Unraveled, opened full and all undone by

And last night we capped the cavern, dear
We said the word and we're goin' down
Honey you pulled out the big blue
And you kissed it all through

Christ, how this life
From mud to miracle
Is just the prettiest little burden
Isn't it, El?

The Progressive

Alexander Mitchell Palmer - progressive pal of genderbender J Edgar, organizer of Palmer Raids, Quaker war secretary.

murder of euphemism, chapter 31

The word "lover" henceforth should be replaced with the phrase "fuck partner."

today's remarque

It has been mighty quiet in blorgistan lately.  Reasons?  No se.

Meaning, I don't know their reasons, don't know personally. But I'll guess.

Nearly everywhere I turn I see people ripping a new cloaca for les brers Koch, slamming them for "undermining democracy" and the like.

But let's look at that proposition: if "democracy" is "undone" by millionaires who finance a Republican bowel movement, then...

...what is done to "democracy" by millionaires who finance a Donkey defecation?

The Koch Bros are merely the Right Side Team's latest media pillory occupants. They are not especially unique in what they do, cash-contribution-wise, on the landscape of American national politics. Lots of rich people throw money at one party or the other. And sometimes they chuck change at both parties. Many times they do!

The naive and venal hypocrisy of slamming the Koch Bros from a partisan perspective strikes me as the ultimate nyaah-nyaah, nanny-nanny-boo-boo keening of invertebrate "liberals" and "progressives." These Lib-Pwog People of Perfection don't even realize that their Miraculous Multiracial Meritocrat was put into office by people who play the same game as do the Koch Bros -- shoveling filthy lucre into the coffers of "movements" and into the coffers of the Party Itself.

Nowhere do I see a Donkeybot Dipshit complaining about the influence of corporado capitalist contributions for his team.

Though I do notice, in wider distribution and at greater depths, an awakening of tired heads on the subject of how futile was the partisan angle supporting Mister Mulatto the Meritocrat.

Is this blogtopia silence an actual playing-out of cognitive dissonanceFN?

A fucktard like me can only hope.

_________________________________

FN - Pseudo-intellectual/meritocrat lingo for hypocrisy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Today's gratitudes

These people have played a significant role in my skiing ability's progression and refinement:

Jim Weiss - rancher, ski racer, ski race coach, ski instructor.  Jim worked with me extensively for two seasons, in exchange for which I helped him brand calves one Spring.  Jim is probably the most natural teacher I've ever met.  The things Jim taught me remain useful to me today, and they all revolve around a basic approach to skiing:  it starts at the feet, and if you use your feet to communicate with the skis, the skis will tell you what you need to do.  Of course you have to have a level of skill refinement to appreciate what the skis are telling you, and what you need to do when they tell you something.  Jim essentially broke down all my bad habits from a youth spent skiing in an aggressive but self-taught manner, and taught me a completely new way of skiing.  He is the person most responsible for my skiing abilities being where they are today, because he taught me very solid fundamentals.

Weems Westfeldt - ski instructor, writer about skiing.  I grew up reading Weems' instructional tips in ski magazines and then in 2004 had a 3-day EpicSki Academy clinic with him teaching me and 4 others at Snowbird.  Weems taught me how to ski steep bumps with active absorption, a technique that made a huge difference for me.  He also taught me the active soften/collapse and diagonal dive moves that are essential to skiing deep cruddy snow in the steeps.

Roger Kane - ski instructor, skiing philosopher.  Roger was my coach at a 3-day EpicSki Academy clinic in 2005 at Big Sky, where we had boilerplate snow for all 3 days.  Roger taught me brushy carves, soft turn finishes, seamless quick transitions, the down-unweight, and the snaky crossunder, and shared a few good philosophical discussions on chair rides.  Roger's biggest gift to me, however, was detecting that I have body alignment issues and recommending stance modification by adding canting and lifts to my boots, to level out my stance.  Bud Heishman did the boot modifications - thanks Bud!
 
Joan Rostad - ski instructor, organizer of EpicSki Academy.  Joan likes to provoke discussion and play devil's advocate, which I enjoy.  Her efforts were responsible for my skiing with the prior two (WW and RK) and her discussions made me think differently about skiing.  I part company with Joan on her approach to ski instruction -- she wants to create new skiers out of people who probably shouldn't be on skis (the "grow the sport" perspective), where I prefer the school of thought where ski coaches work with people who have already demonstrated passion and aptitude for skiing... treating skiing instruction not as a business, but a guild.  This latter perspective is reinforced by my work with Jim Weiss, who shares that view, and left the world of ski instruction because of the emphasis on business and "creating customers."  Joan has worked with Jim Weiss before and has written about her skiing with Jim in an article called "Spirit in the Skis," but the article is not published anywhere with free access.

Bob Barnes - ski instructor, writer about skiing.  Bob also was one of the organizers of EpicSki Academy and his book The Encylopedia of Skiing is an essential resource for technique geeks like me.  His discussions of technique at the EpicSki website helped refine many of my understandings of skiing.

Drew & Amy Dolan - fellow skiers at my ski hill.  Both are aggressive, fast, powerful and smooth skiers.  Amy is one of the most technically solid skiers I've seen.  Drew takes some great lines.  I've learned about skiing just by skiing with them and following them.  They're both good mtn bike riders too.

hil-larious

Did you know that the Toobz commenter under the handle "hilzoy" --a person I've argued with at various points in my Toobz-based sociopolitical reading and talking-- was/is Hilary Bok, daughter of Derek Bok and Sissela Myrdal Bok?

To quote Johnny Carson:  I did not know that.

you can't contain me

The limits of my personal autonomy are described by those acts I do which pose a threat of injury to you or others.

And I'm not threatening you.

If you want to ride the same MTB trails as me, I suggest you get behind me, as you'll only be holding me back and in so doing will feel threatened by my ability to navigate and negotiate those trails faster, smoother and more playfully than you. However, if you're a UCI World Cup rider in Men's Elite DH, you can go ahead of me, because I'll be holding you back.

If you want to ski at my home ski hill, I suggest you possess expert level skiing ability. And if you don't possess that ability, then I suggest you stay home. You're just going to get frightened by me and the many others who ski there because it is an expert's hill.  What you fear, what intimidates you, is what nourishes us in our skiing.  Go learn to ski somewhere else, where conditions are controlled, snow is groomed, fall lines are 2-dimensional and not 3-dimensional.  Do not demand that my ski hill dumb itself down merely because you are frightened by the prospect of skiing there.  Go find somewhere else to ski.

You frightened fellow humans already have controlled much of the world in which I live.  You demand pristine asphalt and extensive street-plowing, you demand snow-and-ice-free travel in a region where snow and ice are a common feature 5 months of the year.  You demand mtn bike trails that are 4 feet wide and perfectly smooth, thus obviating the need for a mountain bike, just so you can feel competent at an endeavor in which you have no skill or experience.  You demand street lights everywhere, because the dark scares you.  You demand sidewalks because drivers scare you on behalf of your Precious Children, but you never stop to imagine that the problem is the drivers and not the lack of sidewalks.  Putting in sidewalks allows the shitty, dangerous driving to continue and expand.  Nice work, terrified human.  Very nice work.

Your insistence that this town needs "more places for dining out" has triggered an expansion of shitty chain restaurants serving the same shit you can get at any other American town of 10,000 or more people.  You do this because new experiences scare you -- even though new trinkets attract your reptilian brain and cause you to respond like a Pavlovian hound hearing a bell.

Your fear of uniqueness drives you to McCopy all the McThings and McPlaces you "admire" from your mindless follower's perspective.  And what you choose to "admire" is based largely on what you have seen on the TeeVee, things being done by people who are no more intelligent, individualized or insightful than you, but who happen to have more money or more "media" cachet than you, for reasons which defy all attempts to find a substantive basis therefor.

Your desire to have pristine asphalt is based on your desire to drive an expensive car, SUV or "crossover" everywhere you have been told you "must go" in order to be a "popular" human.  What you drive today will be replaced soon enough as the culture's faddishness goes from whim to whim.  Many of you are still aiming to drive an Audi, a Porsche, or a Mercedes-Benz and among those of you who aim that way, some of you are Jewish by religion or cultural affinity, and staunch defenders of Eretz Yisroel, on the basis that the Diaspora requires a Jewish State.  Do you ever think about how your Dream Car maker was a maker of the devices of mass slaughter during WW2?  No, why would you?  The only thing important is that you drive what's considered "impressive" or otherwise reflective of your superiority.

What authentic things have you done in your life?  What genuine values do you hold, and act upon?  Can you name a single one?

Iannos, divine prophet

Ted Leo's lyrics to St John the Divine:

And when the world will stay the same
But your place in relation to it has changed
And when the word begins to lose
Its power to restore and soothe
And when the blackness starts its spread
From behind your tired head
What taxes now was once your wealth
What sucks and aches becomes your health

And when the night spreads into day
In one unbroken spread of gray.
And when the darkness fills the space
Between the bone and skin of your face
Seeps between your skull and brain
As input filters through its stain
The tightness in your brow contains
What poisoned yesterday but now sustains

And when the night begins its flow
And you watch yourself give up control
When what was cold now keeps you warm
And you watch your outer self transform
And the one you love
Keeps the faith that you can rise above
But if you've kept faith with yourself
You might admit that you could use some help

Remove yourself and study close
When next the dark begins its flow
Though clinical the problem be
Remove yourself and you will see
When next the blackness flow begins
I eat your pills, you eat my sins
You take me back to prouder days
But please don't take my anger away

I don't pray
But I humble myself
I am on my knees today
I don't pray 

****************************************

What's he talking about there?  Here's Chucky's view.FN

He's talking about depression and how it affects a person.  But also in a pointed criticism of our society, he's talking about:

1) Psychoanalysis and the "medical model," and the way shrinks encourage patients to eat Rx drugs which turn those patients into zombies.  Which is all well and good for those whose emotions cripple their effectiveness in life, but horrible for those who use their emotions as a font of creative output.  Horrible, as in: terrifying, maddening, emptying.  "What happened to my emotions?  Now all I feel is a blase resignation."

2) Religion's inability to offer any better solutions than psychiatry offers.

_______________________

FN - As first considered on Wednesday as I drove to/from skiing with The Tyranny of Distance playing on my truck's stereo, but reinvigorated by this morning's peek at this thread and the comments by "Toad" in that thread.

do you remember...

...what I said in the second of two lessons, that one can have a fine parchment indicating a life of diligent 4.0 GPA accumulation at every turn, and still be a total fucking idiot?

Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit 1:

The blubbering whale, exemplar of overindulgent eating to satiate an assortment of personal insecurities,

Matt "Yep, I went to Harvard, which makes me better/smarter than you!" Yglesias.

Oh, the sacred Crimson!  Lux et Veritas, indeed.

fragmentum

The practice of identifying Marxism as the solution to humanity's problems is like pretending to study mathematics, but stopping at basic algebra.

despite American "truths" heard in conversation, the customer is NOT always correct

Seattle restaurant adjacent to airport refuses to serve TSA agents.

"We would prefer that you go outside, defecate, and eat that."

thanks to BDR for the link

Friday, February 25, 2011

synchronicity

loading the truck to go ski, I'm thinking about the problems of gomers and bettys participating in mountain sports and thinking that higher-level athletes need to accommodate them, rather than the gomers and bettys being aware of their surrounds and the abilities of others, which are higher and result from more time and experience in the activity.

you don't pull onto a 65mph highway and then slam on your brakes because you're afraid of the rumble strips on the inside edge, right?

same thing here:  you don't ride a descending trail with rocks and roots and then slam on your brake when you see a root.  the roots are part of the trail, if you can't handle them, maybe you need to find another trail -- rather than blaming the person who can handle them, for his being able to handle them.

selfish yuppie perspective:  "I can't go faster than this, so YOU SHOULD NEVER go faster than me!"

Downhill freakout video - MTBR.com

defining America 2011...

...and other regimes too, but I'm an American.

Prof. Crispy defining squishy totalitarianism

related:

Skookum - A Lose-Lose Proposition


Skeptical Eye - PCR: "If law fails, CIA will assassinate Assange."

Obama is to Bush43...

...as Cameron is to Blair.



nod to Pere Lebrun

When driving a manual transmission...

...and the gears are either slipping or shifting for you, you know something's messed up in the mechanical workings. The synchros are shot, the clutch is slipping because your main bearing seal leaked all over the disc or because the pressure plate's springs are played out, or the transmission's internal gears no longer are finely cut and are smeary, loose and jiggly.

It doesn't mean you now have a better car, an automatic transmission that never needs your clutching attention.

It means your car is broken, somehow, and it's time to diagnose and then repair the problem. Or, if you're well-heeled, time to sell or trash this car and buy another.

Or, if you're me, time to stop driving and start walking, or riding a bike.  If the season and the journey permit, that is.

One might say this is a metaphor for a socio-economic-political awakening. Which may prompt one to read and understand what's going on here.

ANTHEM: Yuppies, 2011 version

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Q & A with CFO

Q:  Charles, are you serious?  Are you a serious man?
A:  One at a time please.

Q:  Charles, are you a serious man?
A:  No more serious than anyone else who still breathes.

Q:  Are you serious?
A:  About what?

Q:  I have a hard time knowing which of your posts, if any, are joking, and which are serious.
A:  You're supposed to be asking one question at a time.  I didn't see speechifying nor random personal observation covered in the agreement.

Q:  Which of your posts are joking?
A:  The ones where I'm joking, of course.

Q:  How can we know if you're joking?
A:  How do you know when anyone's joking?

Q:  Charles, what are your values?
A:  Personal autonomy, downhill velocity in the mountains, driving within the speed limit in all situationsFN, kindness to all animalsFN2, and intolerance for permissive liberal/progressive/"modern" child-rearing which sets no boundaries because "we want little Henri-Claude to experience the world freely and fully express himself."  Yeah, not if that means he's throwing food from the produce bins at the window because he likes the "splat" it makes.  Your little Hank-Clunk is an obnoxious little human and he's going to be a fucktard adult (read: a lot like you, only worse) if you don't fence in that behavior, pronto.

Q:  Charles, are you homophobic?
A:  While I value individuality, I don't fear sameness all that much.

Q:  Charles, do you hate gay men?
A:  Only the ones who mean to do harm to me or my loved ones.  You know, like Larry Craig, or Andrew Sullivan.

Q:  Charles, do you hate lesbian women?
A:  Not at all.  Some of them are a lot more burly and rugged than me, and I'm a regular mountain cactus.

Q:  Charles, are you stuck in the world of stereotypes?
A:  I sure am.  As an athletic hippie intellectual greasemonkey lawyer biologist environmental planner earthdog mountainragamuffin who did well in school and mainstream "professional" American business/work settings, I've had plenty of people trying to stereotype me as a geek, a brain, a hippie, a jock, a gearhead/greasemonkey, a "college dweeb," a corporate shill, a "suit," a mouthpiece, a hit man, a pickpocket, a socialist, a Republican, a libertarian, a nihilist, a Democrat, an anarchist, and a communist,  I'm very familiar with stereotypes and especially the ones that other people have told me I must fit into.  I see a world of cubbyholing narrowminded humans in America.  So yeah, I am stuck in the world of stereotypes.

Q:  Mr Oxtrot--
A:  --no formalities, please.

Q:  --why are you so condescending, authoritarian, and dismissive?
A:  What can I say?  I'm a product of my environment.

__________________________

FN - Except when I am on the highway and want to haul ass.  Otherwise, I'm a Model Citizen behind the wheel.  Though I wasn't always.  Shit, I used to drag race my Mustang on public streets, and used to drive the highways of the Eastern Seaboard at quite a few digits above the limit, back when I lived and worked in Ratraceville, USA. 

FN2 - Except for those cat-wannabe bioaccessory dogs that are about the same size as, or smaller than, a large squirrel, and especially the kind carried around by girls/women who think they're Paris Hilton, or men who think they're Perez Hilton.  I show those precious little creatures my general animal kindness by feeding them to larger animals, to help restore balance in the predator-prey cycle.

it's all... scrambled

After reading Justin's latest entry and leaving a few comments afterward, a song popped into my head, it's the newest addition over on the right, Cex - The Wayback Machine, which comes from this album.  I have a copy of that one as well as Maryland Mansions.   While I was copping the song at that Yahoo/Rhapsody .mp3 site I started wondering what else Cex has done in the meantime and a few Toobz jumps led me to Cex's website, which had me just about cackling.

Excerpt (referring to his latest album Tiny Creatures):
THESE NINE STRONG EMOTIONAL BANGERS MOST ABLY DEMONSTRATE THAT NO MAN ALIVE IS BETTER THAN ME AT MAKING THESE MACHINES WEEP!!
I AM THE SPANISH INQUISITION OF THESE SYNTHS AND SAMPLERS!!!!
ONCE I HAVE INTERROGATED A PIECE OF GEAR
IT UNDERSTANDS WHAT MEN CALL TERROR!!!!!!

solidified: I hate Teh Gaze

I mean, I must.  I argue that DOMA is irrelevant because people can live together as a couple, as a unit, without state-sanctioned "marriage."

And I argue that if a gay man wants to leave his estate to his partner, he can do so without being in a state-sanctioned "marriage."  He just has to create the relevant will and estate documents, have them notarized.

If someone challenged that estate, it would be a challenge based on greed, not on gay sexuality.  Trying to open another's will for contest is not a matter of sexuality.  And if someone tried to make it about sexuality, any half-decent lawyer would be able to expose such an argument for the red herring it is.  Wait -- am I saying that it's inevitable that a gay or lesbian couple will have to pop for a lawyer?  Well, yes -- in a will contest you have to have a lawyer representing the Executor or the Estate, regardless of whether the dead person was gay, hetero, bi, bestial, necrophilic.

If by chance I wanted to leave my whole estate, all $1,325.61 of it, to someone unrelated to me by State-endorsed Marriage, I'd have to do something other than allow the estate to descend under statute.  I'd get screwed out of my wishes unless I set up something in a legal document.

I don't feel slighted by this.  That's probably because I'm not looking for the State's approval of my sexuality, and I don't know why I would seek that approval.  The State is not my friend.

I'd offer up this notion for consideration:  this issue, DOMA/gay marriage, is a divider intentionally put forth by politicos and pundits to make people pay attention to gay marriage and not to other problems plaguing America.  

If you're one of those Regular Humans who can't exist without being coupled-up, I'm sure this issue makes you wonder about how fair things could be, or couldn't be, if only we had the State endorsing gay and lesbian marriage.

But then I wonder:  is marriage about love between two people, or a business deal between two people?

And if it's a business deal, what does that say about the relationship being negotiated?

the bah! the humbug! the gratifying confusion of it all!

The Sea Shepherds and the Japanese whaler are colliding again, and again, and again.

According to the ultimate "again," the Sea Shepherds are winning.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

too many of these

One of the reasons why I get so tweaked by the big increase in my town's new residents over the past 5 years is because that increase has provided a huge number of people like these two hyper-competitive dorks satirized below.  If there were any people like them 5 years ago, they were cavedwellers who didn't ever appear in public.  Now, however, they're everywhere.

Mike F on the Donkey Hit Squad hovering over Wisconsin

There's several paragraphs of related observations at this link, go read 'em.  You can download a .jpeg image there too.

The union....

...analyzed & explained by JRB

Excellent background for considering and understanding points in the wave of union-related reporting in the "news" of the past week or so.

I recommend...

...BDR's place, and especially today's opening salvo about The Noble Spartan, Star-of-David Betray-Us.  Don't stop at that opening salvo, though.  Scroll down.  There's always an assortment of links to interesting things related to political stuff foreign national and local, music, books-n-shit, and even some humor.


Don't jump, Fleabus.  It's not that bad.  Just take some cat-Prozac!

take this Soma and forget everything, dude

Boiling Frogs Beltway Buzz: The Upcoming Bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Prozac

I took Prozac for several years, not coincidentally it was back during this era.

I would suggest Prozac for anyone who wants to experience these things:

* loss of sex drive
* loss of general ability to enjoy things
* loss of any mood outside a total flatline
* strange sleep patterns
* tooth grinding
* total indifference to everything in your life
* but none of the dreamy, hazy, floaty, pleasant feelings from morphine/heroin

I have no respect for Big Rx. I have been negatively affected by many of their products, and as a lawyer I watched how they altered the landscape of tort liability to their great advantage, convincing Americans that we need not make any Rx safer because safety costs money and pills already are expensive!

I'll tell you one thing:  if your job causes you moral or ethical anxiety, Prozac will obliterate that feeling.

That, right there, tells you why Uncle Sam would want Americans on it.  Don't fix the problems in our nation, don't do that.  Just take a pill that makes you ignore them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

two lessons learned

from this experience.

1) The influence of those whom you respect should never be kept secret, private, or understated.  I have known people whose ego was so strangely fragile that they would take heaps of assistance, coaching, guidance and tutelage from others, improve greatly in the process, and attribute it only to their own natural talents.

In bicycle racing, and in ...uh... casual riding with people who are or have been competitive cyclists, this often arises in the form of sandbagging, which often looks like this:
"Uh, I'm just getting over a cold and haven't ridden in weeks... no... make that months... so I can't really hammer today, I'm feeling really weak and tired, definitely not 100%."
...3 hours later, ride over...
"Man, I'm surprised my legs felt so good today.  I guess I must have built up a great base last season."
No mention of the clinics, camps, coaching sessions or supervised training sessions.  None.

Lawyers I've known rarely have shared honestly their gratitude toward teachers, judges or fellow lawyers who influenced them.  I think lawyers are a pretty egotistical bunch, generally.  Any social position that requires graduate education in a competitive system breeds competitive people just by its mere operation.  Many such people are not the least bit athletic so they have no real outlets for their competitive drive other than work.FN  And I'll tell you, when nerds get competitive about ideas and grades, it gets totally fucking bizarre in a flash.

Law students will intentionally mislead innocent question-askers, they'll steal books from the stacks so that others can't read an essential case before class, or they'll razor the case out of the book and put it back.  Nerds in distress are a fucked-up group.  I find them more destructive and dangerous than individual or serial murderers or rapists, mainly because nerds get into positions of bureaucratic power and implement their fucked-up nerd rage fantasies.

Like wars... if mainstream R or D.

Or privatization.... if "libertarian" or neo- Con or Lib.

Nerds have a shit-ton of pent up frustration from being dealt some serious shit while growing up.  I watched how the asshole jocks at my schools tortured the geeks who weren't lucky enough to be athletic or otherwise able to get some coolness cachet.  Don't think for a minute that people won't harbor harsh, vindictive resentments about such treatment.  What the fuck do you think facebook is?  It's the product of nerd rage.

Wait... what was my line of thought again?

Oh, that's right.  Egos, and refusal to grant credit to those who shape us.  Yeah, it's important to do that.  We are shaped by the exemplary people in our lives.

Which leads me to the 2d point I wanted to make.

2) The quality of a person's academic or intellectual abilities depends more on the symbiosis of native talent, hard work and good coaching/guidance, than it does some label or social status token.  Within the NJ legal world my alma mater is well respected but if you move outside the NJ and outside the Phila and NYC metro areas, most people think first of the school's basketball team, and occasionally of its baseball team.  You don't hear people talk about the great law school.  There's a lot of reasons for that, but cultural wealth being highly subjective means they aren't necessarily logical reasons.  In America there are schools that have held public high esteem for centuries and that kind of durable reputational weight is hard to dismiss.

It's a lot like trying to convince a lifelong Democrat that there are problems in America right now that are being allowed by Democrats, advanced by Democrats, solidified by Democrats.  The partisan will want to see Republican wrongdoing as the sole cause, and will work from a paradigm that sees Democrats as always working for the good, even when they're not achieving it.  That's a very hard paradigm to crack, let alone shatter.  The same holds true for the big name schools in America.

I can say from experience that it's not the school that matters.  I used to interview and help hire summer associates and junior associates.  I've interviewed a lot of smart people, a lot of people with glossy resumes.  They weren't always the same people.  Most often times, I found they were not the same people.  I'd say the reason is this:  people who have great creative intellects often are not the same as people who make 4.0 from the start of First Grade.  However, the people who get accepted to, attend and graduate from Our Nation's Finest Schools are pretty much of the 4.0-for-Life crowd.  I've interviewed those people with "bulletproof" resumes and narratives, and I can't recall recommending a single one for hire, even at the more experimental summer associate level.  None of the products of Our Nation's Finest Schools impressed me with their minds, though their parchments were mighty weighty and their smugness often impossible to contain.

Is this a chip on my shoulder I'm exposing here?  No, not really.  It's just how I see the world.  Formal titles and positions of exalted station do not impress me.  What impresses me is how a person thinks, the degrees of interconnectivity he/she can see and describe, and access for problem-solving.  That's what I looked for when seeking new hires.  Intellectual creativity.

And that's not found in a parchment.  It exists in native form and like athletic ability, it requires nurturing, structured guidance, and polishing.

If there's anyone reading this blog who disagrees with this second point, I'd love hearing from them.  I've never met someone who is fullly brilliant all the time without working on any aspect of refining one's thoughts or thinking processes. 

________________________________

FN - These days, as opposed to when I was in school, I'd be forced to add video gaming as an additional possible outlet for competitive instincts.  Video games were not available other than at arcades when I was in school, and the arcade games really weren't that sophisticated in the competitive game genre -- like multiplayer shooters, or team competition games based on hockey, football, soccer.

cover all abdominal incisions

...before clicking on this link, because I promise a belly-bursting laugh when you arrive at the other end of your Toobz journey to the click's locale.

they actually published him? seriously?

It wasn't the first time, wasn't the last, but certainly was the most exciting for certain people and their interests.  The opinion is roughly 65-70% lifted from my brief.  As a former law clerk I know that to be a good sign that the court found the argument not just persuasive, but authoritative.  One of the advantages of having clerked for a judge (in this case, two of themFN) is that I knew how to write in a way that easily could be adopted into a judicial opinion.

I was taught this skill first by a professor that I would consider a legal genius, a professor from whom I took Federal Courts I, Federal Courts II, and US Supreme Court Practice.  The professor himself had been a law clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy for 5 years, and had authored the seminal book on practice before the Supremes.

Under such tutelage a young mind would have to work hard to not prosper.

Eugene Gressman's method of teaching and testing his students was to train them to think like judges.  To assume the role, psychologically.  And then to practice that role, by writing opinions on the final exam.  The final exam consisted of an opinion written by Prof Gressman, with which the students could agree, or from which they could dissent.  Students could agree in part and dissent in part if they chose, but their reasoning would be examined closely.  In all cases the review was identical to what one would recieve at the SCOTUS upon submitting a Writ for Certiorari.

With someone like that teaching you, how can you not become a first-class reasoner and arguer?

Every student I knew who took a class from Prof Gressman became a much better thinker and writer afterward.  We used to call him the secret weapon, we who took his classes and loved talking to him.  He provided an unfair advantage.

********************

One of the things a person needs to do to improve his skiing is repetitive drills that are designed to experience and then make habitual the most efficient moves available for a given motive.  These drills can be made fun, if you like humbling yourself to new movement patterns and states of imbalance, or they can be annoying if your way to improve is to just practice the same old moves you've been making.  These latter skiers who are bored by drills never tend to improve very far.  They may look passably skilled to the random observer, but to race coaches and other teachers of high-level, efficient and powerful skiing, flaws are readily apparent.  The fabled "natural athlete" who can just practice on his own and achieve high-level skill is a myth, in my experience.  Natural athletic ability takes one a short distance or a far one, or anywhere in between, depending on the person in issue.  But it will never, on its own, be the stuff of greatness.  Only practice makes for greatness.  Only practice allows one to do better than the lazy natural athlete who has a lot of natural talent and is gifted at using that talent wisely.

Even a dedicated person who loves improving will still find drills and formalism confining after enough practice.  It's important to take the drilled-in skills and move them onto the mountain's uncontrolled spaces, the un-groomed terrain with inconsistent snow, variable fall lines, and natural obstacles like trees, rocks, cliffs.  Racers and race coaches call that "free skiing."

99% of the time, what I post here is the thinking and writing equivalent of "free skiing," and very undisciplined.  But there have been big chunks of my life where I was as dedicated and regimented as a Marine, intellectually speaking.  I remember those days very well.  It's a unique feeling, wringing out your mind the same way you can wring out your body on the hill on a pair of skis.  Those moments when you are pondering over an insurmountable problem and your mind clicks into a new plane where the problem has disappeared and a new creative landscape has arisen -- that's an amazing, empowering feeling.

The day I argued the appeal in Sussex Mutual, I was 2d to argue.  Tom Hunt went first and during his argument, made a few gaffes.  I noted those gaffes on my pad.  When the panel called me, after addressing them each, I began my presentation with observations on the gaffes Tom had made, and offered a solution out of those gaffes.  Then I presented my argument.  The panel only asked me a few questions, and each time I had a ready answer that I could provide and integrate into my existing ongoing presentation.  I didn't feel interrupted, I felt like I was given opportunities to expand further on what I was saying.  My presentation clicked to a close within the allotted time.  Joe Molloy got up and gave his presentation but his case was a losing one and Joe pretty much knew it.  He had no enthusiasm, sounded resigned to loss, seemed to be going through the motions only to satisfy an obligation to a client who already had accepted the loss.  After the argument was over, Tom and I talked about how Joe seemed resigned, and he thanked me for polishing up the smudges in his argument.

When the opinion arrived several months later, I hurried to examine it and was just about doing somersaults when I saw so much of my brief in the court's opinion.  That we had won the case by arguing from the amicus positionFN2 was even sweeter.  It felt as good to me as my best days on skis.  Am I proud of that work, even though it was droll insurance work?  You bet your motherfucking ass I am.  It feels good to hit the levels of any endeavor where you are so in tune, in such a state of mastery, that it is all flowing and you can play, rather than feel troubled or confused or disoriented.

And in my experience, that only arrives after countless hours of hard work, repetition, under the guidance of people who know better than you do, know how to make your raw material become something powerful, rich and unique.

Thank you, Eugene Gressman.  You taught me how to think and argue.

___________________________

FN - During 3d year I did an internship with a Federal judge and since I was a 3d year, the judge's 2 law clerks gave me meaty opinions to research and draft.  Then after graduation I spent a year clerking for a chancery (equity) judge in the NJ judicial system at the same courthouse where the Federal judge had been on the bench before Reagan put him up on the Fed bench.  The chancery clerkship taught me a lot about equitable proceedings, and the liquidation of Sussex Mutual was an equitable proceeding, so I had a little advantage due to my background.  Equity is a small niche of legal work, and in most states it is contained within general civil litigation and justice.  NJ and DE both have separate equity courts with a large body of equity jurisprudence compared to most every other state.  The equity clerkship is considered one of the best for producing good legal analysts and writers because equity is the most subjective area of law, and is guided by fairness principles rather than statute, regulation or code.  Much of equity jurisprudence surrounds maxims of equity, and the equity case law shows the application of those maxims.  In that way it's not unlike general civil litigation and jurisprudence, which is why the two are lumped together in most jurisdications.  But equity is unique because it has creative remedies.  Injunctive relief is an equitable concept.  Equity is the only branch of civil law where people can be compelled or restrained, rather than penalized or compensated by monetary award, or having their rights academically adjudicated in triangulated fashion (i.e., "yes, he did breach the contract.") 

FN2 - Technically we entered as an intervenor but the arguments for intervention are similar (but not identical) to those made by an amicus curiae and I think probably most laypeople would recognize amicus and not likely intervenor.  The technical difference involves what is at stake.  Our client had a financial stake in the outcome of the liquidation of Sussex Mutual.  An amicus curiae typically would have a theoretical stake, a jurisprudential interest.

yes. I want to belong to this kind of Social Club.

Holy fuck I love this song. Every time I hear it, it's as good as it was the first time I heard it, and that was a pretty long time ago and many many listens ago.

fuck me AGAIN.

The best thing about the Toobz is an endless supply of self-impressed idiots posting naive postulates as if they were canon.FN
It must be strange to be Radiohead, the most extraordinarily, absurdly popular art-rock band on the planet. (Popular way out of proportion to the kind of music they're interested in making, or the level of fame they seem interested in having.)
By focusing on the jr high/high school concept of "popularity" and making that in any way relevant to a discussion of artistic merit or style, you show how little you know about art, no matter what you may know about "popularity."

Those whose creative impulse tends toward "hey THIS will make me POPULAR" are no longer engaged in art, they are engaged in commerce.  Which is entirely different.

I'd rather go to another "critic" Toobz spot for explanation regarding the intersection of popularity and creativity... like this quote:
"Good music was popular by mistake," Tanya Donelly, lead singer of Belly and co-founder of Throwing Muses and the Breeders, once said of the early 1990s. "Then the crap took over again."
Personally, I'm more interested in the drift afoot in rock music now. PJ Harvey releases an album of quiet songs. Radiohead releases an album of quiet songs. Did the duet cause this?

Is it a reaction to the 20somethings who are playing trash-can-rock, music which is in one genre for 8 seconds, another for 10, another for 5, another for 15. It's like Mr Bungle was used for a template... and who the fuck ever said Mr Bungle was worth anyone's attention or time? Shit strikes me as interesting as a migraine, and perhaps more painful.

________________________________

FN - I mean, the irony is a-bounding, like a kangaroo or springbok on dianabol.  Just look, for example, at the sentence to which this here note is appended at/by the foot.

fuck me.

Zucky's "massive intelligence"?

Give me a fucking break.  There's nothing "massively intelligent" about Facebook.  Like Domino's Pizza, it is a very simple construct made "intelligent" only because humans respond reflexively, out of insecurity and tribalist urges, to whatever they hear "everyone's doing."  That Zucky's "product" fit this impulse and blossomed doesn't show Zucky is "massively intelligent."  Lucky, perhaps.  But not much more.

The average American writer must be about a 90 on the Stanford-Binet.  The people praised in American media as "massively intelligent" strike me as, at best, shrewd and manipulative... or very lucky... with average intelligence.

I would consider Richard Feynmann to have been "massively intelligent."  But not Wee Zucky.  He's just an arrogant little dick who got lucky.

the general theme

The problems we face now have nothing to do with Dem vs Repub and that's what people need to get well in hand before assessing the landscape further.

Monday, February 21, 2011

and what "thing" would that be?

OCL:
It's one thing for a newspaper to withhold information because they believe its disclosure would endanger lives.
That's a broad excuse for non-disclosure.

You sure you're a Constitutional Lawyer there, OCL?

Congrats on feeling confident enough to challenge the editorial policy of the NYT. I hereby bestow upon you the parchment indicating you have reached a 6th grade (out of 12+college+post-grad) level of awareness on how America works.

Keep studying, little one.

this just in from Dave the Downer!

...reporting live in droll monotone from Madison WI is our correspondent Dave Downer.  Take it away, Dave!

"Thanks Bob.  I'm here in the middle of a huge throng of public employees who are striking at the state capitol in Madison.  We're seeing a lot of reporting around the Internet showing support for the strikers, but I'd like to offer my appraisal based on what I've been seeing here in this hotbed of progressive politics.

"One of the things that many viewers and readers seem to miss is that Progressive politics are all about change from within.  A Progressive never imagines that the system is broken, because a Progressive thinks the system can be changed for the better with polite advocacy and nice, logical statements offered in a sheepish fashion.

"This means that it is mistaken to draw parallels between what is happening here and that which is going on, for example, in Egypt.  There, people want a change of system.

"Here in Madison, the strikers just want a little more money and more benefits.  They'll ultimately cave when the state throws them a meagre scrap or two, because that shows change from within."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

this generation's Tawana Brawley

is Lara Logan, and this generation's Al Sharpton is Laura Flanders.

Sharpton says he was trying to expose corruption and racism in the NYPD.  That's a noble goal, but you don't do it by lying.  Nor by setting up a situation that generates sympathy for a girl who was never done the way Sharpton says she was done.

The skeptic says Lara Logan wasn't raped by those she's accused for the reasons suggestedFN, and the point of her story is to discredit forces in Egypt which are anti-USA, in some form or other.  The skeptic says Laura Flanders is using Lara Logan's story to smear anti-imperialists.  The skeptic says this is like the episode of V where Anna has her daughter's legs broken "by anti-V forces" (actually by Anna's goons) to generate empathy for the Visitors.

____________________________

FN - Meaning, they're setting up a situation, and likely some goons were paid to rape Logan while claiming some identity or interest or vengeful motive, but they're just actors like Mohammed Atta or the MOSSAD agents who danced in the streets of NYC on 9/11/2001 while pretending to be Islamists.

Purest irony.

I should be the dean of Drexel University, if this person teaches philosophy there.  Holy shit.

Let me be clear:  I agree with the angle of the article, but the writing is shit.  Hopefully she's a lot better on her feet in a lecture.  But she's written two books, so what explains that shit writing?  Dave Barry is a better philosophic writer than M.G. Piety's example in the linked essay!

I think there's an obvious point in what Piety's talking about:  there are two big reasons why we now are in an era of research and study devoted to proving what's obvious to anyone alive:  (1) as Piety suggests, there's a lot of money to be made, provided you have no ethical, moral or existential qualms in accepting money for research, study and reporting of what needs no research, study or reporting to know; and (2) by making what otherwise would and should be obvious a matter of first needing exhaustive research and reporting by some "expert" or "authority", people become more dependent on those "experts" or "authorities," and are less inclined to trust their own mind, their own experiences.

The long-term social impacts of that practice would include a populace that is highly malleable, dependent on  others for description and understanding of the landscape of their lives.  Which means many things that used to be accepted facts now can be the subject of manipulation, spin, and distortion.  One would think that it's obviously damaging to aquatic life if billions of gallons of oil are spilled into an aquatic ecosystem, but in 2011 that's now a matter of dispute because "scientists" in the employ of Big Oil will argue that there are no long-term negative impacts, just short-term inconveniences.  If these "scientists" sound sufficiently science-ish they will gull a lot of people -- in a populace where the obvious now is in dispute because it's being "studied."

I'd suggest Piety put down her Kierkegaard and pick up some Richard Feynmann.

Charles Davis makes Chucky reminisce

Just up by Charles Davis:
The Obama administration insists that Raymond Davis, a 36-year-old special forces veteran accused of killing two Pakistani men, is a U.S. consulate official -- and thus legally entitled to murder with impunity (oh, the perks of gang membership!). The Guardian, however, is reporting that he is "beyond a shadow of a doubt" a member of the CIA, in the words of a Pakistani intelligence officer, and thus fair game for a prosecution.
Chucky's maternal unit worked for Uncle Sam in the State Department when Chucky was in his 20s and 30s. When he was nearing college graduation, Chucky talked to M.U. about Foreign Service work. M.U. showed one of her rare moments of passion in mothering, and got all anxious, flustered and hyper at the idea of Chucky entering the Foreign Service. "I don't think that's a good fit for you, not at all. Sure you could pass the exam, but the work after really isn't very interesting, not for someone like you anyway.  Your talents would be wasted."

hit 'em in the head...

...with a 2x4!

Jesus, will the IceCatPond crew ever suffer an attack of understanding?
The LA Times could not get federal prosecutors to explain themselves, rightly, because of their professional responsibilities.
Uh, wrong. A lawyer's professional respnsibility to his client does not include letting the client commit further wrongdoing.  Or, in the case of a prosecutor who knows something about the accused's acts, the prosecutor doesn't have some holy obligation to keep those points of fact a secret merely because it's under litigation/prosecution.  The prosecutor should decide:  if the facts are relevant, they should be part of the counts in the indictment, charge and prosecution.  They should be made public.  There is no interest served by keeping them secret, other than the interest of secrecy and all the skullduggery that can happen under its cover.

A lawyer first and foremost is an "officer of the court" with right/wrong, legal/illegal, moral/immoral being the first obligation. If the client's interests conflict, the lawyer's obligation is not to discard right/wrong, nor to stay silent or inactive. The lawyer should recuse himself, or ask to be excused, when the client seeks the lawyer's assistance in furthering the wrongs already done.

And then, the lawyer should make sure his former client gets what he deserves, justice-wise.

In other words, a lawyer can't just hide behind attorney-client privilege, unless he/she is amoral. Where the privilege is properly invoked, the IceCatPond quote above is appropriate. But it doesn't look appropriate here.

Essentically, IceCatPond is helping the relevant information stay hidden, while suggesting that's okay because somewhere in the story there's a lawyer who says he can't divulge things.

Let me just offer this: that lawyer either is enabling criminal activity, or is hiding behind an inappropriate understanding of his obligations as an officer of the court.

By hiding behind the privilege, the lawyer is saying, "I know, my client fucked over a lot of people, but I can't tell you anything about that. Why? My client pays me really well, and that income is more important than exposing the crimes committed and the harms wrought socially by those crimes."

Does that sound too idealistic?

Well, it doesn't sound like the legal system we have now in America. But it does sound like something you might hear at the Yale Law School, doesn't it?

No, I didn't think so either. To me it sounds like a view from a counter-culture law school that might even lack ABA accreditation.

Originally this post stopped below my hypothetical position of the ethically slippery lawyer, stated above in green font.

But then I got to thinking: how much does any of Chucky's audience know about lawyers and what they are supposed to do, ethically or "professionally"? I'd bet most have vague ideas based on knowing a lawyer, hearing about legal ethics obliquely in the news, or maybe jigsawing together some notions from pop culture portrayal of ethically challenged lawyers.

Which pushed me for a traditional merit-loaded legal expert's view of things, to see if I was too far afield.  And I found this gem by Yale Law School professor Stephen Carter:
In a formal study of the term "integrity" and its meaning in modern ethics, law professor Stephen L. Carter sees integrity not only as a refusal to engage in behavior that evades responsibility, but also as an understanding of different modes or styles in which discourse attempts to uncover a particular truth.

Carter writes that integrity requires three steps: "discerning what is right and what is wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong." He regards integrity as being distinct from honesty.

tales from the Grand Guignol

...they stormed 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, crushing uniformed goons and faithful members of the White House staff under their feet. Once inside, they found President Barometer and forced him into his POTUS chair in the Oval Office. There, 3 men and one woman circled around Barometer, though they did not restrain him in any way. "Where is the Vice President? Where is your Chief of Staff? Where are your Cabinet members?"

Barometer peed his pants, then shat in them. Flop sweat was everywhere. The Oval Office began to smell like a sewer.

"Where ARE THEY, Barometer?"

Barometer's voice was quaking, tears were streaming down his face. "I'm sorry, I just thought I was doing what's best for America. Honestly. I believed in trickle-down, I thought I had earned this. Why are you doing this to me?"

"Stop your whining you little prick and tell us, where's the VP and where are the Cabinet?"

"D-d-d-downstairs, where the Presidential Bowling Alley used to be. Honestly, I'm..."

and the shotgun obliterated Barometer's face.

The crew headed downstairs, led by a former White House Policeman who now was eager to see the nation changed into something like what he believed when he was a boy. I'm sick of this duplicitious greedy system.

They found the cowering simps huddled in the old bowling alley. Like the Oval Office, this room smelled as a sewer. They were huddled, but they were still bickering with each other, trying to lay blame for this revolution on anyone but their own selves. I told you we should have fled to the Caymans!

The rebels' leader, Dog-Boy, turned to his compatriots: "Leave the room. NOW."

Dog-Boy dropped the backpack he'd been wearing, and opened it. He pulled out a plastic bag full of zip ties, and threw it at the shit and piss covered functionaries. "I want you to restrain each other, hands behind the back, like wearing handcuffs. But only after you've all secured your ankles first. Do it. NOW!"

It took them about 10 minutes with their bumbling poor coordination that never saw an athletic activity, never worked a hand tool, never did a day's honest labor.

Dog-Boy pulled a laptop out of the backpack and set it up on a table opposite the bound and smelly crew. "I want you to watch this." He cued up a video and it contained scene after scene of innocent American citizens being tasered, beaten by riot police, tear-gassed, Maced. Next it showed foreigners being murdered by American troops and American mercenaries, murdered for defending their homeland against the US Government's thieves who planned to steal natural resources.

"I want you to think about the natural consequences of such actions."

Dog-Boy walked around the crew, pissing on them. Then he dropped his pants and took a shit, pulled some surgical gloves out of the backpack, and grabbed a handful of shit. He walked to the VP. "Eat this," he said, "in memory of those you have murdered and tasered." He went around the mob, making each one eat a portion of his shit.

"How did that taste, was it good? Do you still feel like a Master of the Universe?"

Several of them were vomiting. All of them were crying.

"Do you think I should show mercy to you? Would that be consistent with your view of the world? Hmmm. No, I don't think so."

Dog-Boy reached once more into his backpack and pulled out a collapsible container full of a jellied substance. "Do you know what this is, Masters of the Universe? This is one of your gang's great creations. Napalm. Jellied gasoline. You and your forebears loved to use this in Vietnam, didn't you?"

He walked around the crew, splashing the napalm onto them, covering them. Then he created a trail about 10 yards long and stood at the end of that napalm trail.

"The nation thanks you for your service, and now discharges you from existence. Good-bye."

He lit the trail and walked out of the room, closing the door to muffle the screams of the torturers, murderers, and goons within.

we buck the colloquial, and turn toward the literal and formal

"Chucky, you are a cynical man and the most conspiracy-minded person I know."

This is my friend MR talking to me on the chairlift last Saturday (a week ago).  I chuckled.  No pun intended.  MR and I see the world differently, but I respect MR as he is intelligent and thoughtful, means well, but sometimes is undone by his own impulses.  He's human, in other words.

The problem with Cynicism?  Well, in the common tongue, it means only harsh bitter outlooks, and to many if not most, there is nothing valuable or redemptive in Cynicism.

Maybe it would be wise to see the roots of Cynicism, its literal and formal meaning. As usual, I choose the simplest jumping-off point --Wikipedia-- which means this won't be sufficient for the meritocrats who won't hear anything that doesn't come straight from Haaaahvaaaaahd, but it will give the readers of this post something to start thinking about, at least.  Something to distinguish the colloquial from the real.
There are four reasons why the Cynics are so named. First because of the indifference of their way of life, for they make a cult of indifference and, like dogs, eat and make love in public, go barefoot, and sleep in tubs and at crossroads. The second reason is that the dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it. The third reason is that the dog is a good guard, and they guard the tenets of their philosophy. The fourth reason is that the dog is a discriminating animal which can distinguish between its friends and enemies. So do they recognize as friends those who are suited to philosophy, and receive them kindly, while those unfitted they drive away, like dogs, by barking at them.
That describes one aspect, and here's another:
Although there was never an official Cynic doctrine, the fundamental principles of Cynicism can be summarised as follows:

1. The goal of life is happiness which is to live in agreement with Nature.
2. Happiness depends on being self-sufficient, and a master of mental attitude.
3. Self-sufficiency is achieved by living a life of Virtue.
4. The road to virtue is to free oneself from any influence such as wealth, fame, or power, which have no value in Nature
5. Suffering is caused by false judgments of value, which cause negative emotions and a vicious character.
What I didn't include from the Wiki entry is the etymology of Cynicism, which shows the word originates in the Greek word for "dog."

Anyone who spends a lot of time around dogs, especially dogs in group settings, and more especially how one dog greets a "stranger" dog and how the acquaintance is handled, can learn a lot from dogs.  The first block quote above references a fourth point that is very instructive.

Dogs also are a lot smarter about how to handle resources.  For example, wolves will hunt in a pack and take down one animal, then the prey becomes food for the pack.  There is a pecking order on when each dog gets to eat and that's largely due to seniority, and among the senior dogs it's about alpha vs non-alpha, leader vs pack member.  But the alpha dog never takes more than he or she needs for him/herself.  The alpha dog also doesn't direct the hunters to go take down as many prey as possible as quickly as possible for hoarding.

Dogs are not bound by fear of the future's uncertainty.  This is what enables them to be more responsible, more likely to conduct their lives in a way that is sustainable for many generations of dogs.  They take only what they need; they defend their turf only to the extent it's threatened.  They don't go looking for new turf to conquer; they only look for turf that enables them to support themselves.

They don't fear the future because they adapt in the present.

Did you get that?

They don't fear the future because they adapt in the present.

Certainly dogs don't use the natural world to create trinkets that they adorn themselves with, to create some sort of externally oriented attempt at showing superiority through what they possess or wear.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

9 parts Naked Emperor, 1 part Sharp Critic

Terry Eagleton?

NB:  This is a thought fragment, not an airtight argument. 

How it looks:

The Nine Parts:

Apparently, Eagleton resembles two people I have criticized regularly for their fake-leftist pretenses, Naomi Klein and Michael Lewis.  Here's an excerpt from the Wiki entry on Eagleton:
William Deresiewicz wrote of After Theory, Eagleton's book, as follows:
"[I]s it that hard to explain what Eagleton's up to? The prolificness, the self-plagiarism, the snappy, highly consumable prose and, of course, the sales figures: Eagleton wishes for capitalism's demise, but as long as it's here, he plans to do as well as he can out of it. Someone who owns three homes shouldn't be preaching self-sacrifice, and someone whose careerism at Oxbridge was legendary shouldn't be telling interviewers of his longstanding regret at having turned down a job at the Open University."[19]
Damn.  What did I say about Ms Klein?  Generally, that she pretends to criticize capitalism's operations, while retaining great privileges through its workings.  The talk and the walk don't match.  She says capitalism is destroying us with its greed.  She's relatively rich herself, so unless she's greedy, she ought to be a major philanthropist with donations to causes which seek to undermine capitalism.  Her "philanthropy" instead appears, from all I can discern, to be the books she writes.  Which she sells.  Not at cost, but at great profit, per book.  Her philanthropy, her largesse toward the people whose plights she pretends to care about, is confined to words.  She flies around the world doing talks.  She's like Al Gore.  Do as I say, not as I do!

Damn.  That's also pretty much what Michael Lewis has done, though Lewis isn't as overt or direct in criticizing capitalism, he just writes about pockets of it where there is large-scale theft, under sanction of law.

And here's a writer I admire, David Lodge, also from the Wiki entry on Eagleton:
Novelist and critic David Lodge, writing in the May 2004 New York Review of Books on Theory and After Theory, concluded:
Some of Theory's achievements are genuine and permanent additions to knowledge, or intellectual self-knowledge. Eagleton is quite right to assert that we can never go back to a state of pre-Theory innocence about the transparency of language or the ideological neutrality of interpretation ... But like all fashions it was bound to have a limited life of novelty and vitality, and we are now living through its decadence without any clear indication of what will supersede it. Theory has, in short, become boringly predictable to many people who were once enthusiastic about it, and that After Theory is most interesting when its focus is furthest from its nominal subject is perhaps evidence that Terry Eagleton is now bored by it too.[20]

The One Part:

Eagleton criticizing Martin Amis for saying this:
What can we do to raise the price of them doing this? There’s a definite urge—don’t you have it?—to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.’ What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation—further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan… Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children...It’s a huge dereliction on their part
I really like several of Amis's novels, but his public statements about Islam are pretty reprehensible, and sound like psy-op spin authored by MI5, MI6, the CIA or the State Department.

a straw that cracks a camel's back

How did Chucky get to where he is today?

One of the formative experiences was working in-house for an insurance company.  In that capacity Chucky did many things, one of which was to demutualize the company and turn it into a corporate entity, a subsidiary of a larger corporate holding company.

While this restructuring was ongoing, Chucky talked to the other employees of this insurer.  He was curious about their investment in their jobs, their interest in job retention.  Why?  The company president planned to try to sell the company after demutualization.  And he was asking Chucky to stay mum about that fact.  He didn't want the talent pool to flee.

Essentially, the company president wanted to brag on the talent pool in order to maximize acquisition pricing, but was not in any way prepared to help the talent pool stay on-board post-acquisition.

Chucky mused to himself:  isn't that fucked up?  He wants the benefit of that talent, without rewarding them for it by securing their retention or otherwise helping in a post-acquisition transition.

Chucky asked his supervisor, the General Counsel, about this strategy.  GC said "I advise you to just do your job."

So Chucky took it upon himself to redefine his job.  The new definition:  sharer of inside secrets.  Chucky began telling employees that the company was being readied for sale, with no assurance of continued employment.

The company president is both ruthless and spineless.  He will protect his own wealth but he can't bring himself to confront anyone when he disagrees with them.  How did he handle Chucky's new job?

He moved Chucky to the position of Counsel to one of the subsidiaries, one that was run by the company president's 20-something daughter, an arrogant and fat little girl who knew nothing of insurance but everything of being a spoiled, pampered girl who got whatever she requested from Daddy.  President thought this would make Chucky quit.  But it did not.  Chucky relished the chance to spar with Fat Daughter over her self-important aims in negotiation with the state insurance regulator.  Fat Daughter said she would get the regulators to do it her way.  Chucky reminded Fat Daughter that Chucky had over a decade of insurance regulatory experience and it might be best to at least hear his thoughts.  Fat Daughter remained obstinate.

In meetings with state regulators, Chucky would try to smooth the rough, self-important edges of Fat Daughter's personal style.  This meant trying to control the meeting, which was difficult, given Fat Daughter's arrogant impetuousness.  It didn't always work well.  Chucky decided that it would be best if he worked directly with the regulators, cutting Fat Daughter out of the process.  Once this happened, the regulators began to show some flexibility.

When the parent company's transition to a holding company was complete and all the subsidiaries were created, capitalized and running, President hired a new General Counsel.FN  This new fellow told Chucky that the holding company was going to become a big player in the financial world, like CitiGroup.

This new fellow had never worked in insurance corporate or regulatory capacities before, so Chucky chuckled to himself and thought, "this is gonna be rich."  Well, it was rich.  Rich indeed.

New GC told Chucky that Chucky would have to become an expert in banking and securities law, so that Company could become The New CitiGroup.

Chucky doesn't give a flying fuck about banking and hates investment entities, having done work for them in a prior legal job, and having found them to be some of the biggest thieves on the American landscape.

So, Chucky said "no thanks," and left the job.

The Machiavellian plays of the company President were pretty insane. In retrospect, Chucky can see how President put Chucky as Counsel to Fat Daughter's little subsidiary so that Fat Daughter could be like a vampire of Chucky's knowledge of insurance corporate and regulatory workings... which exceeded President's knowledge. President had created the company by hiring lots of people who knew what they were doing. President just had particular profit or product or approach goals he wanted to implement... that was the extent of President's expertise in insurance. Meaning, he was not an expert on anything but President's whims and goals.

At the time he was moved to the Fat Daughter's subsidiary's Counsel spot, people within the company told Chucky it was an intentional move to get Chucky to quit, and regaled Chucky with stories of how President had done similar things to 4 or 5 others whom he wanted to fire but didn't have the balls to do. But in retrospect Chucky now is wagering it wasn't so much a pressuring or quasi-demotion as it was a way to enable Fat Daughter to run the subsidiary solo despite her ignorance... she could just argue with Chucky, watch Chucky work, and then copy Chucky.  One doesn't have to be a lawyer to negotiate with insurance regulators, it just helps with the parchment gravitas, and it helped that Chucky was almost 20 yrs older than Fat Daughter too.  But another big part of regulatory success is the regulators' familliarity with you, so Fat Daughter could get that part down in her abrasive, self-centered rookie days with Chucky as buffer, and then later tone things down after watching Chucky.

Chucky never said Fat Daughter was stupid. Chucky just thought she was excessively arrogant, very spoiled, and socially awkward, even moreso than Chucky.FN2

Of course even the passive-aggressive method of firing used by President also was Machiavellian. When you force the other to quit, you radically reduce the chance of a wrongful discharge suit from the departing former employee.

What Chucky learned from this experience is that he hates having his intellectual abilities used by others for ends that Chucky finds obnoxious, unethical, morally repellent, or just plain stupid. And that he hates Machiavellian manipulators. And that he hates being manipulated.

This is why autonomy is important to Chucky.


_______________________________

FN - Chucky would note for the record that at the time he started work with President's company, his former employer law firm's supervising partners told him he was ready to be General Counsel at any small or mid-sized insurer working in America, and assistant GC at any large insurer.  Chucky's supervisors were themselves very familiar with America's largest insurers and their operation, inasmuch as one supervisor had been an assistant GC at a very large American insurer, and the other had been serving large American insurers as outside counsel for over 20 years.  They weren't blowing smoke.  They were trying to keep Chucky there and make him a partner, they didn't want him going in-house.  But they were candid about his chances of success if he moved in-house.  Chucky's move to President's company was not a career move, however.  It was simply the best job Chucky could find in his new home town, the same town where Chucky now resides some 13 years later.  The point here is that President could and should have put Chucky in the GC spot, merit-wise, but did not, largely because of Chucky's demonstrated incapacity to serve as President's rubber stamp.  New GC was a rubber stamp - he had been President's young protege at the law firm where President had been a partner before creating the company that he "served" (sic) as President during Chucky's employ.

FN2 - Despite his Mr Hyde-like tendencies, Chucky actually succeeded greatly in the supplicating, unctuous approach that is required for success in dealing with regulators and enforcement personnel.  The problem is that behaving that way exhausted Chucky, as it took a lot of effort to not be Mr Hyde, to be more Dr Jekyll.

Mike F's latest


Mike's editorial comments are found here, where you can also find a downloadable .jpeg of the above.

the inculcation of obedience extends to recreational pursuits

Recently I posted something about the 78-year-old man who was arrested for skinning uphill at Jackson Hole.  More recently I discovered a ski website discussion about the subject, and if you have the time, and the interest in this intersection of alpine lift-served skiing and submission to authority, I'd suggest going to read it.

EpicSki.com - Arrested for skinning at JHMR

give yourself a laugh, of course...

...at the NY Times' expense, courtesy of Jim Bovard's essay from 1983.

what IS, versus what SOMEONE SAYS is

The blunderbuss birdshot at Boggyboy reminded me of an idea I wanted to post.

Namely,

it's dangerous to think that because someone reports what is true and obvious, the reporter is a genius, brave, insightful, or worth a high salary.

Jane Mayer did an expose on the Koch Brothers' wealth and use of that wealth to get political favors. When the expose was released, Donkeybots, Lib-Wools, and PwogSuperServants rallied to declare Jane Mayer a courageous, brilliant journalist.

Why?

Because she said something "nasty" about Evil Rethuglicans (Koch Bros).

What Mayer reported is FUCKING OBVIOUS, you idiotic shitbirds! Of course a millionaire brother of a millionaire brother would try to join in a brotherhood of political influence using familial wealth. Of course. That's the fucking point of capitalism, Janey and all her Mayerlings. The whole fucking point of capitalism is to get a lot of money in order to have power over others.

The whole fucking point.

End of discussion.

So when some "reporter" tells you in a "daring expose" that a millionaire is "trying to buy influence" with his/her millions, instead of saying,

HOLY FUCK! MAYER IS A BRAVE GENIUS! KOCH BROS ARE EVIL RETHUGLICANS!

you should be saying

yeah, thanks Janey, for belaboring the obvious.

UPDATE:
Holy serendipity, Batman! They're never gonna get the clue, not as long as they hang out at IceCatPond, home of the Hamsterwheel of Hate for those evil Rethuglicans!

Friday, February 18, 2011

a self-impressed clueless idiot of long standing

Only a partisan douchenozzle who is clusterfuckingly, despairingly ignorant of how things actually work would think that the protests in Wisconsin will be stifled by Koch Brothers money, rather than by DNC-approved goon squads.

Boggyboy, the DNC and RNC are secret lovers and they've had at least 3,167,692,586 mutual orgasms with countless others solo.  Wake up and smell the cummy sheets, bro-heem.  Don't need the Koch Brothers, Boggyboy.  Jane Mayer isn't a genius, Boggyboy.  She's a partisan hacker.  Like you, only more "famous."

Whatever that means.

The reason things are going batshit in Madison isn't because of Evil Rethuglicans.  Similar governmental shenanigans are happening in states with Democrat governors and legislatures.  The same fucking thing on MEGA-STEROIDS is happening now at the Federal level.  And you know which party is in charge there, eh Boggyboy?

Naturally, you have to make this about Evil Rethuglicans.  Because that's your identity, eh?

I'm TBogg, and I hate Republicans!

In a world full of change, it's nice to know that Boggyboy can't grow, intellectually speaking, and will always be the same partisan punk.

barkeep, give me two fingers of Skepticism in a dirty glass

comment posted by "Spencer Thomas" at naked capitalism:
I would apply this more to the Democratic party (particularly in the Senate) than liberals as a whole, but the description is correct. So, what is it that makes so many of today’s Democratic politicians so spineless, so devoid of resolve, so weak?

* Fear that divisiveness is a “turn off”, even if they’re totally right.

* Fear that attacking those that are wrong, even blatantly, is somehow rude or uncivilized, and so is “beneath” them.

* The idea that compromise is always a good idea, and has value even if the ends are horrific. Even if that means compromising with war criminals, human rights violators, anti-enlightenment value nuts, or bigots.

* Some twisted belief that compromise shows that you’re “civilized”, even if that means giving everything away.

* Fear of appearing “radical” and being painted as a fringe minority, even though what they’re often challenging is radical.

* Best is the enemy of good. No exceptions. An inability to see that it can be worth losing a fight while sticking to your principles than giving in and losing the confidence of your erstwhile supporters. Not to mention the fact that some compromises can be worse than simply losing.

* Enslavement to the median voter theorem, and (sometimes) polls. Both parties can be guilty of this, but Republicans have been much better at sticking to their guns under fire. Lyndon Johnson’s administration proved that governing by polls does not work.

I would call it “Modern Democratic Party Culture.”
Dear Mr Spencer Thomas:

You are describing perhaps yourself, but not the people sitting in the Congress or in the Obama Administration.  The Democrats who hold federal power now are not "afraid of" anything regarding their "image" or the horrifying power of the obstructionist Evil Rethuglicans.

Spencer, reality check time -- they HOLD POWER right now.  In that position, how possibly could they "fear" what happens to their "image" or what the supposed "minority party" would be trying to wrestle out of them?

What evidence is there that some actual, substantive, meaningful tension or disagreement exists between Dems and Repubs at the Federal level?

Perhaps you could cite Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul and consider them emblematic of the GOP, but you'd be mistaken in so doing.  And sadly, Paul pere et fils are the only GOP members who are bucking the tide of government right now.

Had you been paying attention, Spencer, you would have noted that Obama has not just solidified the agenda and acts of Bush43, he has pushed them further.

He has done so with willing cooperation from both the Republicans and those of his own party.

It's time you realized the Democrats are not incomptent, afraid, cowed, intimidated, worried about image, concerned about re-election, or anything like that.  They are doing what they want -- doing it affirmatively, not defensively.  Offensively.

if I were a sculptor, I'd make a huge "E" out of iron.

Trickle-down economics.

I miss Dave Stockman, PCR v 1.0, Ronnie Ray-Gun, Don Regan.

Thank FSM we have Stumpy Reich, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Tim Geithner.

the Gloss is a holographic projection, he's really not that Glossy

JRB recently posted a quote by Rudolf Rocker, and I'm taking half the quote and reposting it here:
In common with the founders of socialism, Anarchists demand the abolition of all economic monopolies and the common ownership of the soil and all other means of production, the use of which must be available for all without distinction; for personal and social freedom is conceivable only on the basis of equal economic advantages for everybody. Within the socialist movement itself the Anarchists represent the viewpoint that the war against capitalism must be at the same time a war against all institutions of political power, for in history economic exploitation has always gone hand in hand with political and social oppression. The exploitation of man by man and the dominion of man over man are inseparable, and each is the condition of the other.
While "leftists" and "socialists" and "Marxists" argue over what Karl Marx would have done, the problem of institutional oppression continues. And when ultimately the "Marxists" convince the "leftists" and "socialists" that Glossy Karl holds the Keys to the KingdomFN, we'll have another problem -- the flawed "Marxist" insistence on changing from capitalist "democratic republic" to a "dictatorship of the proletariat."

And all dictatorships, no matter whom the dictator, are oppressive and authoritarian. They embody institutional oppression.

So why bother with that notion?

Why not imagine no "intermediate step" at all?FN2

Fear?

Of anarchy?

Seriously?

Fear of having autonomy? Seriously?FN3

This is the dividing line: can you imagine life without a Parental Authority (state)?

Have you ever dared to imagine it?

As long as you depend psychologically on the state's existence, it's just a protracted adolescence.

________________________________

FN - Which they intend to do, with their pedantic obsession over "what Marx actually said," in the process deifying Marx.  "Marxism" is about creating a new caste of experts, priests, interpreters, whatever you want to call them, who are to be considered "essential" in the operation of the "dictatorship of the proletariat."

FN2 - "Intermediate step" is what some "Marxists" have said is the character of the "dictatorship of the proletariat," with Glossy Karl's eventual goal being, allegedly, a stateless existence.  But I question whether one wants a stateless existence if one insists on using a state to get there.  To me, the "intermediate step" argument is a long con -- see the preceding footnote. 

FN3 - Actually I agree with most everything Fromm says in Fear of Freedom, at least regarding the nature of many (if not most) humans to seek external support rather than accepting full responsibility for their lives, their freedom, their autonomy.  Most indeed would prefer a governmental authority to tell them what they can and cannot do... or at least, to tell "others" what they can and cannot do.  Ultimately this is the point, the hot button issue, for statists:  they cannot imagine someone or something NOT protecting them from "bad guys."  They can't imagine how they could do it for themselves.  Don't even want to imagine it.  That's why people live in big cities, the feeling of being surrounded by lots of people is, to many humans, as comforting as being in their mother's womb.  Conversely, the idea of fending for themselves for a night in the woods is terrifying, hence The Blair Witch Project's absurd success at scaring people.  Anyone who's spent time near Seneca Creek in northern Montgomery County, MD knows there isn't a damned thing to fear in the woods around there.  Nothing at all.  You can't get lost, either:  you walk to the creek and follow it downstream if you want more people per square mile, or upstream if you want fewer.  You're never more than a mile, tops, from "civilization" when you're in those woods.  No reason to be frightened, even if you are a city slicker.  None whatever.