Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interim

Tangential re Agorism:

Roderick Long, Libertarian Anarchism: Responses to Ten Objections (.pdf) (.html)

...and here's a recent radio show with Long talking on the same themes ...or you can skip the web page and download the .mp3

There's some material at Lew Rockwell's site regarding Libertarians and the left, and more libertarians and the left, still more of the same, and also this about libertarians and the left.

As well as this concerning the libertarian disgust with anarchists who are anti-market.

Monday, March 28, 2011

nope

Elizabeth Warren is not the foe of the financial world.  She is another Barack Obama, another Samantha Power, another Susan Rice.  She is a meritocrat pretending to be working for beneficial change from within.  She is a peace offering.  She is a gender-equality, post-sexism token.

And her "consumer protection" tag is hardly earned.  It's pro-business soft-pedaling, her perspective.  It's the equivalent of saying "more, better regulators" or painting a smiley face on missiles, bombs and bullets.



related past posts here.

Agorism... a foreword

My life has been one of intellectual change. I grew up in a GOP household with GOP grandparents. Whatever The Other Side thought wasn't really discussed. The mold created for me & my brother was one organized around confident statements regarding The Way Things Are. The short version essentially was that poor people are lazy, rich people got that way by working extra hard, work an honest job and you can be middle class, and the quality of your life is judged by the trinkets you buy and accumulate.

My grandfather was an entrepreneur. He and 3 friends created a business that printed labels for meat. When I was a kid, meat cuts at the grocery store had purple labels such as "WATER ADDED" or "USDA Grade A Beef". My grandfather and his 3 friends made those labels. They made them by buying two old newspaper presses from The Washington Star and rigging them to accommodate slightly different print plates. The labels were printed on a type of rice paper tissue that reminded me of the tissue you'd get in a gift box bearing a sweater or shirt or necktie, translucent and almost transparent when viewed as a single sheet.

For a while, their business was the only one in America making those little labels. This earned them a comfortable living but it was distinctly middle-class, no upper- angle to it by material means, none by the type of work done, and none by the education of my grandparents. Neither had been past high school. My grandmother was a math whiz who, growing up today, would likely be in a PhD program doing the type of mathematics that I find too symbolic and not practical enough. She worked as an accountant for a magazine downtown. Aside from being kind and generous to me and my brother (which seemed to us as their favorite thing), they liked two things: drinking booze, and going to the horse races.

My grandfather grew up in tobacco farming country and he was a very kind and even-tempered guy. He was much more even-keeled than I was, so I didn't relate to him all that well. I'd see him witness something that had me angry or upset and he'd just be coasting along, taking it all in stride. When he'd want to talk about sports that he'd played in his youth and younger adult lives, he was a lot more interesting to me. Probably if I'd been interested in horses he'd have seemed the wisest man alive. He knew horses very well -- what made for a racing horse, what temperament, what natural tendencies, what types of stamina. He and a couple of friends owned race horses that ran in "claiming" races, which are basically run for the purpose of showing a horse's abilities at the track, in hopes that a more established owner/trainer would buy the horse from you for further development or for stud/mare use. My brother and I traveled to most of the horse race tracks roughly surrounding the DC area -- Charles Town, Laurel, Bowie, Aqueduct, Pimlico, Timonium -- and when our grandparents' horse won a podium spot, we'd get into the winner's photo. The wall behind the bar at our grandparents' house was covered with such photos.

What I remember most about my grandfather, what I learned from him and still value today, was his tendency toward understatement. He was a consumerist/materialist only on two fronts: he liked buying tailored clothes from Lewis & Thomas Saltz, and he liked driving Cadillacs. To get a feel for his Cadillac zeal, watch Tin Men and pay attention to the way Richard Dreyfus and Danny DeVito feel about their Cadillacs. If he'd grown up in Baltimore, he could have been either of those two guys. There was a lot more Baltimore in my grandfather than there was DC, attitude wise.

My grandfather had a flag in the yard, like American Dad!. He practiced the flag routine every day, sunrise & sundown. He hadn't served in the military, so it wasn't a holdover from that routine. It was just a kind of simple pride he had, in living in America and having a decent house with a yard big enough to contain a flagpole and not look crazy, in having a successful business, in owning horses, in driving Cadillacs, in drinking Scotch and smoking Camels. If you've seen Mad Men you know what the culture was like back then. My grandfather was in on it, living a middle-class suburban life but of the blue-collar, lower-middle-class variety.

Despite the Saltz tailored clothes (which were not upper-middle class; he wasn't aping Brooks Brothers clones) and the Cadillac and the American flag, my grandfather liked things simple. Once we filled up with gas at the Shell station and got a little American flag decal with the fillup. When we got back home from our trip --which included a drive to Queens Chapel to get the Daily Racing Form-- my grandfather went inside and I stayed outside. After about 15 minutes I had the idea that if he liked the flag in the front yard he'd probably like the decal on his Cadillac's rear bumper. So I put it onto the bumper, being careful to put it on in a straight, squared up fashion.

When he later discovered the sticker, he calmly told me he was going to remove it because he didn't want any kinds of add-ons or flash on his car. He explained that he liked things simple and that the car itself was fine as it was, without any additions. Then he explained that it's always good to ask before doing something like putting a sticker on his car, or on anyone's car.

Removing the sticker was a chore. It didn't just peel right off. He had to use a razor blade and he wanted to avoid scratching the bumper's chrome. I could tell as I watched him that he would have preferred to not have to do this. But he didn't say anything more to me and didn't really show any anger or frustration. He just seemed... defeated.

This is why I didn't relate to him all that well. His path seemed one of the resigned.

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

At halfahundred rings on the trunk I can say I have lived through 3 periods of absurd "growth" or "prosperity" in America.

The first one was during my childhood and as it was waning, Vietnam occupied more of the national attention. I noticed this as a very young boy. Why I noticed it, I could not tell you. I just remember attitudes shifting from play to panic, and then the newspapers started running photos of coffins and bodybags and dead bodies.

The second was occurring while I was in college, the Reagan era. I remember the easy flow of money in those days. I remember working at Ski Center with the son of this man, who told me of his summer job in Manhattan working for an investment bank, spending $100 a night just on booze, and much more if you figured in the chemicals and herbals. I remember my college friends all vowing to get all kinds of expensive trinkets upon graduation and landing in a plush job. I can remember one of my friends getting an Infiniti Q45 at age 27. I chided him: "Dude, that's a middle aged man's car, what the fuck are you doing with that?" As this bubble was popping, what happened? Poppy Bush invaded Iraq.

The third one began with Operation: Iraqi Freedom and if you're lucky enough to get in on the binging sectors of Wall Street, government contracting, medical/health care, or house construction/"development" you have been living some fatness lately... haven't you?

One might say that Operation: Iraqi Freedom was ginned up just as the synthetic financial bubble was behind-the-scenes bursting. It sorta looked that way to me. But then, I'm always looking for such connections. Maybe I see what I want to see and not what really is?

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

About 10 or 11 years ago I ended a decade-long fascination with and support for Team Donkey. I'd landed on that team after seeing Team Elephant machinations result in a bigger wealth disparity, more environmental destruction, and a weird cultural permissiveness toward humans' more destructive urges (greed, acquisitiveness, powerlust, envy). My tribalist instinct suggested jumping ship to Team Donkey so that's what I did. I tried to figure out what Team Donkey stood for and tried to engage myself in American business etc. cultures according to Team Donkey's Rules for Success. This involved becoming a progressive meritocratic bureaucrat as well as working as a Limousine Liberal Corporate Lawyer.

The experiment was interesting but the results were the same. The only difference was in how the Team's members congratulated themselves, or in what trinkets or symbols they chose to show their superiority. But the tribalism was still the guiding force -- the intolerance of "the other" and dismissal of anything reeking of "the other." And the end result was just as materialist, just as wasteful. And just as superficial.

The end result might be easiest summarized this way: from my view, Cruise Missile Liberalism is no different than Jingoist Warhawk Conservatism.

I started playing around with anti-State thinking, but only my own variety. I made no inquiries into anarchism, communism, libertarianism, or other accepted deviations from The Duopoly. I just pondered what I'd seen in my life up to then, thought about it as a former progressive envirobureaucrat, as a limousine liberal lawyer, as an anti-corporate in-house lawyer to an insurance conglomerate, as a wannabe entrepreneur, as a solo lawyer, and more recently, as an unemployed person who can't find a job for over two years despite a diverse experience portfolio and a willingness to work menial tasks.

I thought about things from the perspective of someone who has enjoyed varying degrees of materialism in his life. What did buying those things get me? How long was the satisfaction? How deep? How long-term was the impact from owning or using that thing? Did I learn anything from owning or using it? When I "upgraded," was there substance in the move? Or was I conned by clever advertisement? How often was I conned? How much grifting is there in the marketplace? How much confidence trickery had I employed in my various jobs?

This caused me to investigate human psychology. As an intuitive and perceptive kid with an abnormal sensitivity, I was already keenly aware of the ways people deceived each other, how you could not just hear a person's words and believe you knew the story, how you needed to watch patterns of behavior and see that people's true manner is shown more often by what they do than by what they say. Some people mean well and have reasons of their own for being inconsistent. Others are more Machiavellian. This I knew. I wanted to know the whys, the underpinnings of motive, sub- and semi-conscious varieties.

Some of the psychology I'd read for a core-satisfaction requirement Psych class in college had stuck with me, but only as themes and not connected to particular "authorities" or schools of thought. For new sources I read William James The Varieties of Religious Experience, then read several books by Alice Miller, and two by Erich Fromm.

I had also read five psychiatric novels -- three by Irvin Yalom, and Caleb Carr's two books about "alienism" -- and those books prompted me to think a lot about human motive, how people are formed by their experiences.

Through Fromm I got exposed to Frankfurt School thinking, which I learned was influenced by Marxism, so I looked into Marxism discussion forums around the Toobz but found them petty, divisive, pedantic, authoritarian, rigidly doctrinaire. The vibe was oppressive and totalitarian. I moved on.

A lot of what I read at AntiWar.com made sense to me and so I looked into Raimondo's links to the Mises Institute and Murray Rothbard. I'd already been exposed to Ayn Randian "libertarian" thought through two of her novels I read in my late 20s and early 30s and wondered how the AntiWar crowd might be different. As I read more on Rothbard I found a lot of his ideas compelling but kept getting hung up on the fascination with free markets and capitalism.

The anarcho-capitalists have a fantasy vision of America that runs a bit like this: if you eliminate all government intervention in The Market, people will behave admirably toward one another... at every level, at every scale, in every size of society and in every situation of concentrated wealth.

I part company there. I don't think the greed we've seen in America has been a result of government intervention in The Market.

I would agree that profiteering via governmental spending is a much bigger avenue of inequity/disparity in 2011 than it was in 1875. No doubt the government takes much and gives little back -- unless you're a government contractor, in which case she gives you a lot back!

I think for limited-sized communities the anarcho-Capitalist utopia could work. I'm no expert sociologist or anthropologist, but I'd peg the maximum size comfortably at 100 people.

If we simply got government out of business's way in 2011, how would those gargantuan, power-wielding businesses now existing be somehow more inclined to behave in a humane fashion? How would that work, exactly?

Isn't the problem one of scale: when wealth concentrates greatly, it wields disproportionate power. You can talk about one man, one vote all you want, but if one man holds most or all of the wealth in his community, he's likely the only vote that counts toward whatever's under vote. You can tally the formal votes, but the powerful voice can sway no matter how many powerless voices mount against it.

I've seen it happen in every work setting I've been in, in every group dynamic I've experienced, in every human setting involving people trying to come to a group decision.

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

"Chucky, what does the foregoing have to do with Agorism?"

That's a good question.

The mind goes where it will.

When I stumbled across this excerpt
entrepreneur/venture capitalist: GOOD - innovator, risk-taker, producer the strength of a free market

non-statist capitalist: NEUTRAL - holders of capital not necessarily ideologically aware "relatively drone-like non-innovators"

pro-statist capitalist: BAD - "the main evil in the political realm"
I realized that Agorism is just Ayn Rand with a twist. Rand's heroes were entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

They are automatically equated to risk-takers and innovators but there is no question of why entrepreneurs are valuable, why risk-taking is valuable, why innovation is valuable, why being a source of venture capital is valuable.

The equation is done implicitly and with great hubris: if you have a lot of money and you invest that money, you are the most noble human, and the most worthy of praise.

Therefore you are the one people should listen to.

And how is that different than what we have now?


coming up next: the real critical analysis

Sunday, March 27, 2011

hoist a toast, tip a hat...

...in the direction of Joe Bageant, who has succumbed to the cancer he'd been fighting recently. His last two years of writing really resonated for me. I appreciated his desire to get people to focus more on the people he grew up among -- relatively poor, Republican-identifying rural people. Anyone who wants to see America change toward a more egalitarian place would do well to read Joe's work and to try to understand the people so frequently demonized, hated and dismissed by disaffected Democrats and other "left"-identifying folks.

Hope it's more tranquil for you now, Joe.

this evening...

...this gets criticized.

I need twice as much space and half as many things



also check out The Russian

One Glass of Water

and Chicken Payback

hey

I'm standing outside my back door.  I hear a bird calling, so I look for it.  Two houses back there's a bird standing by itself on top of a house's furnace vent, which is steaming.  It's calling... then waiting... then tapping like a woodpecker maybe 7-8 times... then waiting... then calling... repeating the signal.

I think it was one of these.

PRESS RELEASE: OIL undergoing strategic realignment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cybernetica, ZZ, USA
Sunday 27 March 2011

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Oxtrot Industries LLC ("OIL") today announces its intention for strategic realignment.  Through this realignment the strategic intent is for OIL to merge with, acquire, or become integrated into one or more entities engaged in a similar line of work in the same or similar industry.

ECONOMIC PROSPECTS

OIL is presently overcapitalized and therefore strategically from an economic perspective, OIL would prefer to be the acquiring entity in this realignment.  However, OIL at all times has run as a non-profit entity and therefore its mission is and always has been this:  to focus primarily on The Company Mission, and not The Bottom Line.  Consequently, although it greatly enjoys making a profit, nobility of purpose is the most important factor for OIL to consider in this realignment.  OIL's philosophy can be summarized simply:  by doing what you like, you will be doing what you like.

BRAND ENHANCEMENT/PROFILE UPGRADE

As a recognized entity in The Ted Stevens System of Tubes, OIL provides not only the economic power of an overcapitalized, efficiently run entity, but also carries a distinctly recognizable brand name(s):

Charles F. Oxtrot
CF Oxtrot
Chucky
constructive deconstruction
Progressive Reports Now
Felicia Foxworthy
Amber Milgram
Holly Ballou
Galen Greenwood
Suresh Prabhupada
Jayne Hamster
Randall Lysander

and carries residual but presently idle value attached to Tubes Travellers' memories of these iconic Tubes identities:

cancer logic
liquified viscera
Article 48
charlie_foxtrot
uncle crud
gonzostrike
particle bored

STRATEGIC TIMELINE

OIL is seeking realignment by June 2011.  The schedule may be accelerated at OIL's prerogative.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Interested parties should contact OIL President and CEO, Charles F. Oxtrot, Esq., B.S., J.D., L.P.G., V.S.A., at 666.714.2112 or at upchuck@oillc.net

welcome...



Must-see TV here.FN (cribbed from comment by "John" at IOZ's)

The peacock struts with plumage here too.

There is huge buckage in this work, broheems.  Oxtrot's brother is in on the gig.  He was assured by his bosses sometime last year that the position has a 10-year durability.


________________________

FN - Note that when I checked the link for Fed Proposal RTB220610 it took me to a general site listing proposals etc, but a search of the RTB220610 number yielded nothing. Maybe I'm firewalled out; maybe it's a bug at the site? Professor Paranoia says it was yanked from public access at some point. Anyway, I found a copy of its text here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jack provides the formula...

...and I doubt it could be improved.

from the comments at IOZ's.
How to get liberals and cruise missile anarchists to pay attention:

Go to grad school. Flatter your professor. Borrow his money to make a documentary about your latest, most important issue. Get a director with an appropriate and culturally significant name to make an art house movie about the making of the documentary.

Keep your soundtrack up to the minute. Serious stuff, this. Don't ever play yesterday.

Get your old media in place.

Next, ready your iDevice. Try not to think about the Malaysians making starvation wages producing it. Give no thought to the thousands of abused and degraded workers involved in digging up the raw materials, building it and getting it to your fat little fingers.

Be a Twit about your cause. Everything anyone needs to know about the [war, natural disaster, crisis involving millions of people you've never met] can be summed up in seventeen words or less. Flap your thumbs and let the world know you Believe! You Hope! You Care!

Text "$10" to the Red Cross. Or Habitat. Or that charity some guy who sings through autotune started after he got caught with a seventeen year old bus boy.

Check your facebook status. Make sure your mood matches the cause. This is important. Dissonance is for arguments and ideas you'll never think through to their conclusions. Your digital identity, on the other hand, needs to be seamless.

Enlist the support of someone with an exotic name. Quote zer. Tweet about ze. Chastise everyone who can't think good thoughts about anonymous exotic people. Sneer at people who are too hungry, overworked, underfed or childweary to know zer's work.

Make money for Arianna Huffington. Give her your work for free. If you can, mention Christina Hendricks. Huffington seems to like her.

Dress stylishly. Or, study the current mode in depth, copy it, change one item, perhaps a purse or a bangle. Or, do the opposite of what's in vogue and dress as if you know nothing about it. Someone will Tweet that you're an independent spirit.

Be seen.

Be followed.

When John Stewart wants to mock you and the people you hate, all under the guise of celebrating comedic moderation, show up in droves. Take pictures. Tweet them. Stumbl them. Congratulate yourself that you weren't born to parents of the laboring classes.

Update your status.

Ignore the minimum or starvation wage workers who washed the bus you rode, served you your coffee, cooked your breakfast, cleaned your hotel room, picked the cotton, sewed your clothes, harvested the rubber which soles your shoes, dug clay for the ceramic in your designer mug or hauled all your trash to the dumpster.

Go to bed with a smile.
comment link here.

I can't remember where I put down my pack...

cribbed from Dirt



One time on one of my alpine MTB adventures my friends SA, CC and I crested on a ridgeline and set the bikes down to go grab a view, have a snack, and sample some greens. When we went back toward the bikes we couldn't remember where they were. We traipsed through scrub pine and heather for about 10 mins before finding the bikes and resuming the ride. I think it was on this ride:

the lazy man's route

Easier to bump along something found this AM at ADD



...which reminded me of my first encounter with "Marxists."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

oh I wish I were a Tony-funded blogger...

...that is what I'd truly like to be
for if I were a Tony-funded blogger
everyone would be in love with me.

(apologies to Oscar Meyer and their jingle-writer)

Pointing fingers backward at the Yoo-Addington fiasco under Bush/Cheney doesn't serve any purpose now except to try to show Tony Podesta and Rahm Emanuel that you're a serious Donkeyphile.

Let's try to remember:  Obama took office in Jan 09.  The Democrats took over control of the Congress in the Nov 2006 elections.  Those two dynamic shifts --if you think this is about Bush/Cheney being "bad guys"-- should have heralded a big change with Holder's Department of Justice.

Obama and Holder could and should have worked immediately to reverse the Yoo-Addington fiasco.

Yet they did no such thing.  In fact they stepped forward to advance the propriety of the Yoo-Addington "unitary executive" theory and other aspects of executive primacy and prerogative.

So why would someone do a pseudo-wonkery essay like this one, if not to show Pure Partisan Puffery?

As to matters of "security" and something being "classified," I suggest reviewing Arthur Silber's work on "intelligence" and its utility in government policy and planning.

fuck you whiny bitches...

...I'm going skiing!

That's what I said yesterday at noon, after spending the AM reading people blather about why the "intervention" in Libya is "humanitarian."

A guy can only take so much of that shit from people who call themselves "anarchist," or "leftist who analyzes and criticizes power" before his brain hurts.

It was a good decision.  The skiing was incredible. The Whale's Blowhole is closed Tuesdays from now 'til the chairs stop running for the season, and there was a 6" new blanket when the chairs started running at ten. I was up plenty early and could have taken my fatty-fats up to slay some big lines, but instead I chose to gnash my teeth at the failings of people who pretend to be one thing, and do another, while refusing to see their inconsistency.

My first chair ride on the upper chair I asked a fellow how it had been in the AM. He said it was amazing. I laughed at myself for reading blorgistan blather instead of being on an early chair. But I was on the freight train midfats and I was able to stalk some good lines anyway. The midfats float fine if you haul ass and I love haulin' ass so I had a great time everywhere I skied.

The latter part of the season is best for so many reasons, but the crowds thinning in mid-February is the biggest one (or better said: for me, the one with the biggest impact). I like being able to ski bigger lines at higher speeds with fewer people. I can miss a person just fine, but it interrupts the flow when some gomer is hacking his way inconsistently ('cuz that's gomer-style, the inconsistent hacking) and you can't chess-move your line to accommodate his. His "line" -- if you want to call it that -- is no more than the random collision of uncontrollable skis, frightened skier, and difficult terrain.

People who ski like that should avoid Blowhole. It's an expert's hill. There are a few ski hills like that around the USA, hills with overwhelmingly expert terrain. They all have a bit of intermediate and beginner slopes or trails, sure. But that's not why people go there.  People go to expert hills to ski expert terrain at expert speeds. If you're an expert skier at an intermediate-heavy hill, you're gonna have trouble. Your speed will have to drop down to 2/3 or 1/2 pace -- which is not fun at all for most experts, let's face it -- and your ability to play is drastically reduced.

My friend MR (who I talked about in this thread) is not an expert skier. He likes skiing but it's not a big part of his life. He has a wife & kids and a busy job. He skis maybe 10x/year if he's lucky. He doesn't like Blowhole because he's not able to relax and have fun. Wisely, he chooses to ski at other hills. When he and KD and I went to that hill on the ID border a couple weeks back, we all were able to have a bit of fun. That hill has expert terrain that isn't quite as steep or irregular or otherwise technically difficult as Blowhole. It was just "expert" relative to the hill's other runs, which are very tame when compared to Blowhole. MR was able to relax and play there.  He had a great time and was smiling all day. At Blowhole he's anxious and worried -- he reminds me of myself when I'm thinking about the present American landscape and all of its foolish "sociopolitical" commenters active in Blogtopia.

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

There is no "humanitarian intervention" exception from the improper use of power.

If you are a critic of centralized power, you must criticize that centralized power's use of militarism for any purpose. Militarism is power abuse, point blank.

Even when used in the most arguably moral/ethical situation -- self-defense -- there remains a question of power and the ability to abuse the power.

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

If you were camping with your family and you heard a noise outside the Family Tent (bearing you, your spouse, and your two children), and went to investigate, fearing your and your family's well-being was at stake for mortal danger, would you be justified in any type of power-wielding toward the interloper you heard outside the tent?

Think of the children before you answer! Think of the children!

And your helpless spouse!

Reach into the tent's corner pile of Dad's Stuff - KEEP OUT!, find that lockbox, get out that Glock.

Quietly unzip the tent's fly. Sneak outside. Uh-oh. There's someone scrounging around the fire pit. Quick, squeeze off a few rounds to protect the children! Protect the wife!

Now go see what kind of murderous interloper you've killed, while your wife and kids wake with screams of fear at the sound of gunfire.

Look.

It's a rail-thin homeless person.

Oh well, another loser who couldn't manage in the Ego Economy. It was done for humanitarian purposes. You successfully saved your wife and your children.


Related:

This.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

take a walk...

...over to Skookum and read Jay's latest.

another swing, another whiff

Better suited to being a fan, than to being a hitter.

lambert at Corrente:
Note the idea of minutes. Procedure is very, very important. Corporations and looters tend not to like formal procedures.
Hah hah hah hah hah! The formal procedures are written by corporations and looters! Hah hah hah hah! Lambert so funny! Hah hah hah hah!

Fucking pwogs.

toot your own horn

Several posts back I mocked a poster at Corrente for bragging on "working on SB5." In response I said I'd worked on legislation but didn't brag about it for my ego wall.

I did a lot of work on federal air quality regulations in the early 1990s, working with EPA OAQPS staff.

If you live in the DC metro area, you live in and breathe the air that I helped clean up and regulate, because I wrote the DC metro area's compliance plan for dealing with the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. If you are lucky you may have seen me interviewed by "the news" on several occasions, discussing DC area air quality. You also got air quality alerts in the summer, for ground-level ozone, thanks to my work. Yes, you are certainly welcome. No doubt about it.

I wrote the legislation that became this section of the Montana insurance code. I'd be pretty proud of that one if I were me. It's a sidestep around traditional insurers' lock on pricing and product.

I don't brag on that stuff because I grew up in DC and saw lots of ego walls in every workplace I ever visited. They weren't just in federal functionaries' offices, no sirree. They were everywhere. Doctors, lawyers, CPAs, auto repair shops... everywhere.

The only place I tolerate ego walls is Italian restaurants, like Sammy's Villa, where I used to eat lunch every high school Saturday after Saturday AM duckpin bowling league.FN

When I was a lawyer playing for The Law Firm's team, my office didn't have any diplomas on the walls, didn't have any certificates anywhere shown, no trophies anywhere. I didn't even carry a briefcase. Didn't even own one. Didn't have a "topcoat" either -- used to wear my shell over the top of my suit jacket.

The partners were concerned about the image of my minimalist approach to externalizing myself. One partner I admired told me: "you gotta get a decent topcoat, man." The briefcase part was something that I avoided the whole time, using redwelds that held my files. But I did end up getting a topcoat once I started meeting clients and doing things in public settings. The world expects a certain thing from a corporate law firm lawyer. The client world does, at least.

Generally speaking I'm a bigger fan of letting people be impressed (if they are going to be impressed, that is) by watching me work or play and seeing me in action. Anyone can sound good in a resume or on the Toobz. Anyone. Especially OCL.

___________________________

FN - I'm pretty sure that the "Don Rockwell" described at the link is the same Don Rockwell who was a year behind me at Springdale Prep, who played on the tennis team. The years his parents were in a bowling league at White Oak Lanes may have been the same years I was bowling there -- the HS kids league games started at 8 AM and ended by lunch, and he's talking about afternoon leagues ending by dinnertime.

you want to help Libyans?

from a comment at Montag's:
Assume we can identify “the Libyan people” with sufficient specificity, know their aims, know their needs.

With that knowledge there are many, many ways to help them.

Armament afly, that’s the most destructive of all.

Troops on the ground is 2d most destructive.

Strategic assistance, that’s 3d on the list.

How about free medical care for their injured? That sounds pretty good.

Repair any broken body, no matter what side they’re on. That sounds even better.

We won’t choose these latter courses. Why? Because of the kind of nation we are.

Because people who WOULD use the health care mandate HERE would rather use guns and bombs and soldiers THERE.

Which tells you a lot about their humanity, I think. And about the integrity (or lack thereof) in their “political” positions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

come on. gimme a break.

Corrente.

1) "...busy with SB5."

2) "...this is Glenn Greenwald's turf."

3) "...the lack of self-awareness is absolutely staggering."

WTF?

1) BFD, bubba. I've done legislative work. I don't brag about it like a picture on my Wall of Fame. The Toobz ain't a Capitol Hill bar at 7pm, dipshit.

2) OCL is not the only person on earth who knows the law. He's not the best choice for the intersection of law & government. So why is it "his turf"?

3) Not nearly as staggering as you mistaking your aims for theirs, and assuming it's about their incompetence.

UPDATE:

Lectern-leaning Lambert chides me in his own update, calling me a "dipshit." But not refuting my take, merely saying I'm wrong. An explanation as to how I'm wrong, that would help. But it won't be forthcoming. Lambert's merely protecting his team, circling his wagons, pleasing Tony Podesta.

Lambert says I'm a "dipshit" for talking about "competence" when the literal statement was about "self-awareness." Well, if the criticized person were more "self-aware," wouldn't that imply "more competent"?

Yes, it would.

Lambert also suggests I'm mistaken because supposedly I think the bubba is bragging on writing legislation. I said "legislative work" and by that I mean anything related to legislation -- crafting it, modifying it, or interpreting it for an audience.

Lambert portrays himself and his blog as a font of wisdom. Curiously, it's almost never found there.

shaper

What have TV shows focused on during the past 5 years?

From an outsider, general non-watcher's perspective, gathered by reviewing the updates at Hulu.com, it would seem these are the big focal points of TV programming across the channels or genres served by Hulu, and by my local PBS affiliate. I have watched shorts or complete shows of each of these types, either on Hulu or on my local PBS affiliate. If I remember an example show's name, I'll put it in parentheses after the show type.

* House shopping
* House building
* House renovating/remodeling
* House "upgrading" with furniture/accessory rip & replace
* House landscape overhaul
* House landscape improvement

* Food cooking
* Competitive food cooking (Hell's Kitchen)
* BBQ specialty food cooking (Steve Raichlin)
* Italian specialty cooking (Lidia B's Italy)
* Quick & easy food cooking
* Quick & luxurious food cooking (Jacques Pepin)
* Quick & exotic - Japanese
* Quick & exotic - Scandinavian
* Quick & exotic - world traveler ethnic food investigator
* Baking
* Competitive baking
* "Consumer"-perspective food & cooking
* "Healthy" cooking
* "Personality" shows with a bit of cooking on the side (Rachel Ray)

* Police shows -- classic/typical precinct procedural (Detroit 187)
* Special, high-tech police procedural (CSI, NCIS)
* Psychological profiler / psychopathic devil pursuit and capture
* Special-gifted genius working for/with police (Numbers)
* Special-gifted "liar-detector" working independently and with/for "law enforcement" (Lie to Me)
* Beautiful, sexy, brilliant forensic investigator (Bones)
* Legal procedure with police procedure sideline (Law & Order)
* Legal procedure with police procedure emphasis (Law & Order: SVU)

If you looked at these categories of TV show, what would you think the networks' programmers are trying to convey?

Here's what I'd think.

1) They want a lot of people to spend money on their houses -- the whole domain, including the house itself, its furnishings, its grounds. And the spending should always be focused on "upgrading" -- moving upward in status, or at least in expense and hopefully that will convey some status to those who value what's expensive. This is supposed to offset the crash of the artificial housing bubble, with a secondary bubble based on renovation/remodel or "upgrade" projects.

2) They want a lot of people to spend a lot of time getting used to exotic and fancy foods, to get really used to fancy food preparation. The point is to make eating not just a gustatory experience, but also something which defines one as a consumer -- and hopefully, a smart and upscale consumer, a fancy person, a well-bred and distinguished person. Why? As the economy collapses and gasoline gets really expensive, it's not going to be easy to get out-of-season or never-in-season things trucked or flown into your town's grocery distribution channels. (Prices are already heading upward, you'd notice this if you were living week-to-week like some of us.) And as the prices go up, people cut back. The ramping-up of food-centrality, food-consumer-image centrality is about staving off losses by making people see food differently than they would on their own, without the influence of cultural infotainment.

3) They want people to defer instinctively to the police and law enforcement related personnel. They want people to carry in their mental baggage a positive image of police people trying to "do the right thing" and "protect and serve." This is important as police thuggery ramps upward.

Watch TV and you are shaped.

Mind what you become.

relax. you've earned it.

The news tells its audience what they want to hear.

If you're in the white collar middle class, it would ring true when Paul Krugman laments an 8% unemployment rate. Of your 100 or so friends, you are pretty sure that only 3 or 4 presently have no job of any sort.

If you're in the white collar middle class, you probably went to college and maybe if you're lucky you went to a reasonably "good" school. You may even have a post-grad degree from a decent academy. As a result of that education, you consider yourself an informed and thoughtful examiner of what you gather as "news." When you hear about the Japanese nuclear plants in disaster, you consider it a testament to poor engineering or antiquated designs -- in your world, nuclear power is the future. It's clean, and it's green.

Nuke plants don't have that ugly plume you remember. You don't exactly remember the plume personally, of course. You remember the plume from what your father has said about his childhood in a greasy industrial town.

And then you remember that trip last Spring to Vegas, when you rented a car and drove out to see Lake Powell. That's what cinched the deal for you: nuke plants don't dam up a scenic river like the Glen Canyon Dam did. Nuke plants will prevent Native Americans from losing sacred ground to America's technological progress.

Sure, a bunch of Luddites can be heard to say that there are problems with nuclear power. A few of those fools even laughably refer to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But you know better. You know that was 66 years ago, and technology today makes nuclear power much more controllable, much safer. You know this because trusted news sources have told you so. Leading opinion journals have suggested as much. Even a "radical" one like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists agrees that nukes are the future!

So whenever someone questions you or challenges your assertion regarding nuclear power, you know where to take that challenge or question: right into the land of Condescending Reply. Most effective is this response: attacks on the person's likely status as an Evil Rethuglican, or a stooge of industry.FN

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

So of course, when you hear "unemployment figures crested into 8% last month," you think it's a shame, but you really don't mind. You still make a nice salary, still live in an upscale or up-and-coming neighborhood, still see the right movies, still know which opinion columnist to admire this month. You know where to get edamame, bok choy and arugula. You know who has the best prices on Kindle readers, and which hot new authors are 21st-Century-compliant.

Why would unemployment numbers matter to you? That stuff is only reality for poor, uneducated, unenlightened people who don't know how to surf the present economy's wave. You've heard rumors, of course. Your grandfather told you, sitting in his nursing home in that grimy industrial city, about his friends' grandchildren being unemployed for 18 months or more.

You don't care. First of all, that's not happening in your town, and it's not happening in your social circles.

Besides, even if it might start happening in your town, you know how to lie about yourself and whatever you need to sell or say to keep your job. Or to get any new job you might want. You know this is an era of complete fraudulence, but you don't mind. In some ways, it feels like a natural fit to you.

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

This new ego-centered culture of fraud isn't so bad, after all. In fact it's given you a lot of personal comforts. That new crossover vehicle you got just before last winter, that saved your bacon a few times on slushy roads. It let you transport your kid safely to soccer practice that one day you left work early to spend some quality time -- you were able to punch it and pass that person who rear-ended a school bus. PHEW, that was close! Thank god for the supercharged V6 engine and real-time AWD!

So... no, it wouldn't be fair to call these little personal comforts "luxuries."

That's what Republicans want. Luxuries.

You just want to be comfortable. And safe.

Because you've earned it.

__________________

FNPlease remember to ignore all irony in that latter attack vehicle!

The Limey DH season begins

Marc Beaumont takes the win! Great looking track, which Beaumont described as "awkward" -- exactly the kind I like!



I have to say that the "personality" angle displayed in the closing interview, where Beaumont mouths platitudes and then tries to show a good "personality" for sponsorship -- that's crap. Bike racing should be about nothing more than racing. Whether a competitor "had a great time" on the gear he uses should be irrelevant, and the idea of promoting the gear mfr is absurd. Nobody wins a race because he was on a GT frame rather than a Giant frame.

Thankfully, Beaumont wasn't as obnoxious as a lot of riders are. Maybe that's because his sponsorships feel solid to him.


Tangentially related:



Q&A with CFO, part 5

Q:  Charles, is it true that you are a meathead jock?
A:  Interrogator, is it true that you are a dumbfuck?

Q:  Charles, are you someone who puts a high value on athleticism?
A:  Yes.

Q:  Would it be fair to say that you don't respect people who aren't athletic?
A:  Yes.

Q:  Why?
A:  They're just thinkers.  They're not doers.

Q:  Isn't that a little extreme?  Isn't that a caricature?
A:  Maybe.  All good caricatures are rooted in the subject's real features though, eh?

Q:  I see your point.
A:  That's a first.  Better mark your calendar.

Q:  Explain this preference for athleticism.
A:  Can I get a "please"?

Q:  Would you please explain for our 3-person audience the preference you harbor for athletic people?
A:  I relate much better to people who understand the world of action.  I prefer women who are well-toned and have excellent body coordination and awareness.  I like people who use their competitive instincts to nourish their recreational pursuits, rather than in some other setting.

Q:  Can you explain that last point?
A:  In my experience, very competitive people who lack an athletic outlet for their competitive urges, they tend to be assholes toward everyone in their work and home lives.  They view every fellow human as a competitor who seeks to dominate or vanquish the competition.  They live in a caricature of life.  They don't live at all.  They just destroy.  They are embodied destruction.

Q:  And you have witnessed this, you have been subjected to it?
A:  More times than a calculator can tabulate.  The worst are people who were highly competitive in their youth, but quit sports when they entered or graduated from college, because sports are "for kids."  Most such people are rabid followers of "pro sports" or "college sports" as a spectator-enthusiast, which just amplifies their loss of competitive outlet.  They identify strongly with a team, coach, athlete.  This puts them in the mindset of one playing a sport.  But instead of playing, they are dreaming of playing.  This causes them to notice an inconsistency between what they desire or need, and what they actually are doing, in their lives.  The result is anger, aggravation, and a false sense that others are competing with them -- for a spot in a parking lot, for "first" place in a checkout line, for attention in a public setting like a bar or restaurant, for a spot in the lift line at the ski hill.

Q:  Interesting.  I notice you mentioned people at the ski hill, fighting for a spot in the lift line.  Aren't they engaged in something athletic?
A:  Not when they're fighting to be "first" onto the chairlift.  That requires no skill or athleticism.  It requires only arrogance and self-righteous exclusion of all others.

Q:  What else explains your preference for the world of athleticism?
A:  Back to the idea of doer-vs-thinker.  In a sport, if you want to learn something, you find someone who knows the sport better than you, from a fundamental movements perspective, and who can teach those movements and their importance to you.  This person is called, variously, an instructor, a coach, or a guide.  Conversely in the world of academics, if you want to learn something, you don't find an instructor, a coach, or a guide.  First you are required to show that you know the secret handshakes, can recite the fundamental points of every favorite Founding Father in the field of inquiry, can identify all the Rock Stars in that field, and finally, only then, are you allowed to talk about how to do something.  And, if you want to do something that one of the Rock Stars never did, you are told that you aren't doing it right.

Q:  I'm not really following you.
A:  I'll try to explain it more practically.  I have a good friend CC who is a highly skilled MTB rider.  Several years back, he, I and another rider took a trip to SW Utah to ride for several days.  On one of our rides, CC was able to cleanly climb this steep pitch where I kept failing.  I tried 3x without success.  Finally I asked CC what I was doing wrong.  CC asked, "how about breathing, are you breathing?"  I stopped and realized, I was trying to climb the pitch as if I were swimming the length of the pool underwater -- on a huge held breath.  This little point of knowledge enabled me to climb the pitch the very next try.

Q:  I see.  And how does that relate to what you're saying about academics?
A:  I've had discussions with "leftists" about how to handle this point or that of the American society's various workings.  Instead of focusing on the point I'm raising, inevitably I'm challenged on how much I know about Marxism, whether I studied Gramsci, Trotsky, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Che Guevara.  Suddenly it becomes a competition as to who knows the most about "leftist" politics and that stupidfuck term, "praxis."  The idea of taking action is lost, lost to the competitive display of knowledge about "praxis" from a theoretical perspective.

Q:  And how does that tie into your quarrel with non-athletes.
A:  When I asked CC what I was doing wrong, he didn't go into the history of bicycles, the evolution of mountain bikes from road bikes, the types of techniques people used in the early days of mountain biking.  He just focused on the likely problem and offered an idea.

Q:  And that explains why you prefer athletes?
A:  Yes.  They work on practical effect.  The armchair athlete, however, does nothing of the sort.  For him, the athletic activity is merely an excuse to show knowledge -- like the academic -- or to display the fancy kit of tools he has -- like a triangulating consumerist.  And the non-athlete, well... he just doesn't get it at all.

Q:  Charles, I'm wondering how you would classify someone whose work involves quasi-athletic motion, but who isn't an athlete.
A:  Example?

Q:  A logger, who uses saws and axes to fell trees, must spend time thinking about the movements of swinging an axe effectively, of using a saw efficiently.  No?
A:  I agree.

Q:  And if that logger hasn't ever played a sport, he's still more a doer than a theorizer, isn't he?
A:  Where felling trees with a tool is concerned, yes.

Q:  So is your preference really for people who understand the world of action, and not so much a preference for athletes?
A:  No, it goes beyond to the athlete.  And by "athlete" I refer to sports that are active. Some sports are more docile than others, enabling one who is more couch potato than jaguar to actually participate and possibly do well. Bowling is one such sport. Golf is another. Racing cars is a third.

Q:  So where are you drawing the line?
A:  I suppose it has to do with whole-body use, versus something you could conceivably do from a chair.

Q:  This makes you quite an elitist, Charles.
A:  Guilty.  Guilty as charged.

Monday, March 21, 2011

the frightening silhouette of the Straw Anarchist

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all the bloggers who are engaged in attacking anarchists with a real vengeance over these past two weeks.

Bravo, courageous keyboard warriors!  As a group, you all have chosen to ignore anarchism itself, and instead either attack self-proclaimed "anarchists" who are nothing but jokers looking to stir up some e-entertainment in Toobz discussion fora, or you methodically eviscerate straw-men to whom you ascribe the horror of colloquial anarchism ("anarchism yields murder, mayhem, madness!").

I find that very strange.  One look at the Fed Govt and State Govts throughout America, and the only thing one can see is corruption, lying, thieving.  Everywhere.

You "critics" of anarchism, you assume that these problems can be fixed.  But how?  Meritocracy hasn't worked -- it's just made things worse.  Democracy's impossible for 2 reasons, one of them being that the USA is a republic, the other is that campaigns are owned by corporations and rich individuals.  So how do you expect to fix things?

It's funny, humans at 16 can't wait to get out from under their parents' wings, roof, authority.

Seems it doesn't take people long on their own to choose a return to the parental nest, though.

in order to distract you from what The Noble Democrats are doing...

...I'm going to have to demand that you look back to 2004, and blame Bush-Cheney for what's going on right now.

IceCatPond proudly carries water for Team Donkey, Podesta Squad subdivision.

whittled would

The longer you stay plugged into the dominant culture, the harder it becomes to feel autonomous, the more difficult the idea of being able to fend for yourself.

As a kid I loved being in the woods, away from all signs of "civilization." It was the only thing that kept me from being sulky. In the natural world, I felt at home. In "civilization," I felt alien. I've felt that way for as long as I've been conscious of my own thoughts and thinking on my own existence.

Being an existential kid had advantages and dis-. On the dis- side I have a stark memory of laying in bed one night, around age 7, and realizing that mortality is essential to us humans, and that I was going to die one day. This made me sad, angry, frustrated. Why would humans be mortal? If mortal, why would one human bring another into the world? The pain of knowing how much there is to enjoy in life, with the lingering background of its end one day, at a time and place and in a manner unforseeable... this was harrowing to me as a 7-year-old.

I'm definitely on the same family tree as homo habilis -- I have good dexterity compared to most humans, it seems, and I have a very mechanical mind that easily picks up new movements, and easily refines existing movements. The use of tools is something I enjoy. Tool-based sports were my favorite -- the more complex the motion, the more I liked it. Swinging a golf club well enough to hit a ball in the direction you choose, on the trajectory you intend, with the type of landing you desire... that's an intense tool-directed activity. Learning how to work a lacrosse stick so that you can pass and shoot from either side, that's like learning how to dribble a basketball with either hand, or a soccer ball with either foot -- and then taking it up 10 notches in difficulty. It's not just base-level either-hand/either-foot ambidexterity at work, it's a complex use of the off-hand/off-foot. And I enjoyed it.

I like using tools to repair my tools, too. When I was a kid I did all my own bicycle maintenance. After getting a 10-speed at age 15, I got spooked by the gears and stopped doing my own work. But when I got back into cycling as an adult and started taking it seriously, I determined to learn how to do my own work because it was easier and cheaper, provided I could avoid costly mistakes. I made a few mistakes that cost me some money, but the worst one was a $25 loss, which wasn't too bad.FN

The point of all that rambling is to say that I like tools and I like technology when they are useful.

However, I think that to the extent tools and technology reduce a person's need to think, or one's need to be connected to the natural world in which one lives, I find tools to occupy points along the spectrum of destructiveness. Some slowly corrode aspects of humanity, like the wind weathers rock. Some quickly wash away points of humanity, much like a flooding creek will create a new streambed and new stream banks. And some just wipe out chunks of humanity, like a volcanic eruption or massive earthquake can destroy a house, a town, a populace.

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

An example of the kind of technology that slowly corrodes aspects of humanity would be the cell phone and its child born to its teenage-mom self, the smartphone.

Witness how people conduct themselves in public when on a cell phone. They are not in the space they occupy physically. They are in the same room, metaphorically, as whomever they're talking to. The people in their physical space are inconveniences and they are distractions, in many ways but most importantly where the conversation is concerned.

To the cell conversation pedestrian, this means inattention to other pedestrians and more dire threats of street traffic if one's crossing the street. When the pedestrian moves into a public space of a more focused type (from sidewalk into, for example, a bakery) and insists on continuing the conversation, the cell talker is telling the proprietor of the bakery and all who work there:
I am imperial, my conversation is paramount, I am the customer-who-is-always-right, and the manner in which you serve me will be one which accommodates the cell conversation I'm on, which means accommodating the person at the other end of this phone call as well as accommodating me.
Prior to the introduction of the cell phone as ubiquitous lifestyle accessory, how would this have played out?

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

The "smartphone"FN2 takes this conundrum and makes it even more thorny. Now the distraction is even more complicated because of texting. Texting requires complete inattention from one's surrounds, because one must pay mental attention to not just the message received, but also the keyboard/touchpad/whatever onto which one must enter pressures, sequences, whatever in order to create the desired text reply, which then must be sent and the sending verified.

I have watched people do this while driving. And it fucking pisses me off. Most people can't drive worth a shit. They think they can, of course. They have a driver's license to prove it!

As if the DL tests driving skill.

As if the DL tests driver attention.

As if the DL tests driver safety.

Most insane is people texting when the road conditions suggest full attention on the road: heavy traffic at highway speeds, icy roads, wet roads, snowy roads.

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

In the past 5 years I have had a lot of close calls with my own wellbeing in danger, as a pedestrian walking my dog, and as a cyclist, with people who are using a cell phone and completely ignorant to their surrounds.

I have also had close calls as a driver, with a pedestrian who is so engaged in his conversation that he walks right out in front of me. Luckily this has happened in town where the speed limit is 25.

I've watched cyclists who aren't very skilled at handling their bicycles, crossing a 35 mph road while engaged in the joint activities of cycling and texting on a cell phone.

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

I make it a rule to never use my cell phone while driving. I don't use it in public -- I won't walk down a sidewalk having a conversation, won't walk around the video rental place or the public library talking on my phone in normal conversational voice, won't use one while in public in any fashion.

I would rather be in the moment, in the environment where my body is.


Related:

The End of Violence

The truth of The End of Violence
___________________________

FN - In 1993 dollars. I believed that my rear derailleur was "broken" and therefore bought a new one. Later I learned that they are adjustable and rarely break unless they hit a rock, stump, etc. at speed. The adjustability would be obvious to anyone who took the time to examine a derailleur and notice the adjustment screws labelled "H" and "L" (for "High" and "Low"), but I have my moments where I can't be bothered with details -- and that was one of them.  What had happened, actually, was that the rear derailleur cable had stretched and there was a cable tension problem.  That's very easily solved with about 3 minutes of time, an allen wrench, and a needlenose pliers.

FN2 - By which I mean all cell phone technology states beyond basic land line phone emulation, not the more recent "more computer than telephone" states commonly associated with "smartphone."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

David Swanson chooses tiddly winks

The mealy-mouthed status-quo-apologist momentarily adopts the stance of meliorist-pretending-at-revolutionary. Here's David Swanson -- moral cripple, intellectual dilettante, ethical poseur:
And, of course, the impoverishment of millions of people has resulted in a shortened life expectancy in the wealthiest place on earth, a place where some are able to indulge in the greatest and most wasteful luxury ever seen. But Rall makes no argument for his root assumption that our choices are to kill people or "sit on our asses." Rall wants jobs created at a rate that approaches the actual need. He wants corporations nationalized and brought under control. He wants an end to eight-figure bonuses on Wall Street. His solution is "a hundred thousand angry New Yorkers armed with bricks (or guns)."

Now, I'm not suggesting you have to know something will go perfectly before you try it, but shouldn't you try the approach most likely to work the best? And shouldn't we know what has and has not worked before? Rall claims that the 1999 Battle of Seattle slowed corporate globalization because a few people broke a few windows. Yet, many people who were there and engaged in that struggle point to the nonviolent blocking of the streets that prevented the conference from being held, and the moral force of the broad coalition that took over the city and won allies even within the halls of corporate power. This was done despite, not because of, a few jerks smashing windows.
Oh I get it. Walking or standing around in the vicinity of a "protest" = engaged in the struggle. And what is the struggle?

Inasmuch as Swanson's a meliorating apologist for the status quo ante, I imagine "the struggle" is whatever Swanson feels is symbolically valid and therefore representative of a vague dissatisfaction with someone somewhere -- and preferably not stated too caustically, too directly, or too impolitely.

Suitably following that nonsense above from David Swanson, I found Arthur Silber's most recent entry, containing this:
Gee, you think outrage and condemnation are effective tactics with a Pigfucker like this? You think he loses sleep because a few people are upset? He desperately wanted to be Pigfucker-in-Chief, and tirelessly worked for many years toward that end. I once described anyone who so deeply desires to be Pigfucker-in-Chief as "terrifyingly deranged." Almost no one agreed with me when I first said it, and very few people agree with me now. That particular truth disturbs you too much. Poor, pathetic you.

I can barely tolerate reading most "dissenting" writers at times like this. The Pigfuckers launch their newest assault on decency and humanity, on the sacred value of a single human life, and on civilization itself, and the protesters are all so goddamned, fucking polite. The United States government is led by blood-guzzling, flesh-eating pigfuckers. Fuck polite.
We can't even get Swanson to agree that being polite is not the answer.  Swanson is a slave, and one who identifies more with his master and lord, than he dares imagine what it would be like to have his own freedom.  Swanson wants to keep our system pretty much the way it is, just give it a mild tune-up to make it appear more benevolent.

He just wants to give it a Prozac.

hacking his way to riches

David Sirota.

HA HA HA, David! Joke's on Montana! You directly helped elect Governor Brian Schweitzer, who has shown to be a clusterfucking meritocrat hiding behind "rancher" wallpaper...

...and indirectly helped elect Jon Tester, who has proved to be as big a warhawk as that Evil Rethuglican he replaced, Conrad Burns.

HA HA HA! You got paid a lot of money to do the very thing you're complaining about in the linked essay above! HA HA HA! Joke's on Montana! HA HA HA!

Stay tuned for a reading from More Better Democrats, a pivotal essay by David Sirota.

PS: Davey Sirota is approved by AIPAC and The Podesta Brothers, so you know he's a big wheel!

the nail salon

The mechanistic, process-maven approach of most "enlightened, serious commenters" reminds me primarily of one metaphoric image:

Vietnam, 1971. An 18-year-old American soldier has just stepped on a landmine. His leg is blown off just below the knee. The nearest soldier rushes to his aid and calls for a medic. While waiting for the medic's arrival, the aiding soldier begins to clean the lower-leg-less soldier's fingernails. He's making them spotless, clearing out all the muck and dirt from beneath them. Now he's levelling all the nail ends, making them smooth and presentable.

Medic arrives. "What the fuck are you doing there, soldier? This man needs first aid on his leg. Why are you playing with his hands?"

"He has such beautiful hands. They are made ugly by all the tooth-bitten ends and the dirt beneath them. Besides, this is all I know, nail care. I was a beautician in Manhattan before Uncle Sam pulled me over here."

"Soldier, I don't give a fuck what you used to do, nor what you think you're good at, off the battlefield. Get your fucking head in the game, soldier. This man is losing blood fast and you're worried about his fingernails?"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

formative influences, ch. 1
















Oxtrot's Rule: working example

Witness the noble Progressive.

The noble Progressive assumes those elected to office are trying to do their best, but are just missing the mark. Lazy. Lack of effort. Maybe reading the wrong book before going to sleep, or eating the wrong high-fiber bread with his organic dinner.

When the noble Progressive encounters evidence of financial chicanery in the federal government, the noble Progressive is shocked --completely so-- and naively wonders if this might be a subject where further abuse could occur.

It does not ever pass across the noble Progressive's internal computer's display, the question of whether perhaps the financial chicanery is the whole point. The noble Progressive cannot conceive of a governmental entity operating just to be a cash cow. The governmental entity is instead assumed to be about whatever its name suggests. The NSA therefore is presumed to be about promoting and protecting the security of the USA.

The noble Progressive hasn't really understood how things work. This is because he believes in a world taught him from K-12. In this world, America is the world's foremost democracy, and its domestic and foreign missions are largely devoted to improving the lives of all humans on Earth.

When a noble Progressive encounters evidence that a person, a group, a division, or an entire governmental entity is functioning in a way that normally would suggest corruption of the "buddy-buddy" or "old boys" type, the noble Progressive is faced with a problem:
Is my conception of government wrong? Could I possibly be mistaken when I assume noble purpose and implementation?
This question is quickly resolved in the negative.

Why?

The noble Progressive has attended Our Nation's Finest Schools, and his successes resulting from that education confirm the nobility of America's institutions.

The noble Progressive recently bought a Toyota Prius, which is far better on gasoline than the Isuzu Trooper he used to drive when he was younger, sportier, and more interested in projecting an "outdoorsy" image. Now he wants to project a modified version of that younger himself: the "green professional."  The fact that he can do this, as an image, and as a "lifestyle," by living in a country where the Prius is for sale and is affordable and is made by the dependable Toyota, this confirms the American system is optimized for technological benevolence, and the market of consumer choices is confirmed as the best system for humans on Earth in 2011.

The noble Progressive also listens to reputable sources for news: Jim Lehrer on PBS, Charlie Rose on PBS, All Things Considered on NPR. The noble Progressive closely tracks the daily feeds of Daily Kos, Huffington Post, firedoglake, Common Dreams, and in moments of radical secretive curiosity, Democratic Underground. The synthesis of these disparate sources is very easy; their message rarely deviates from the theme: America is a source for global improvement. Its government is the author of progress, bringing development and productivity to third-world nations and the less-fortunate.

The noble Progressive's favorite actors confirm this view: they lined up to support Barack Obama in 2008. Except for that Sean Penn guy, lately he's been a bit of a hothead. His movies weren't ever that great anyhow. Except the one about Harvey Milk. That was courageous. You can tell Sean Penn really cares. Even if he occasionally bad mouths Obama, he is a living demonstration of the First Amendment. So it's a win-win that just looks like a win-lose. And what's better than that, really?

Know their aim and you will know their competence.
Know their competence and you will know their aim.

Q&A with CFO, Part 4

Q: Charles, are you tired of thinking and writing about sociopolitical matters?
A: Indeed. I've experienced burnout in my life, once in a sport and twice in a job, and I'd say what's going on with me now is burnout, episode 4.

Q: Why do you think you're burnt out, Charles?
A: Internal reasons, external reasons. Some of both.

Q: How about the external ones?
A: Easiest to talk about. Thanks. First. Shitbird "leftists" and their stupid-ass theorizing about how to organize and how to transition into revolution. This is what happens when you have people who've never done a fucking thing in their lives except theorize and talk about that theorizing. When it comes time to act, they sit on their fucking thumbs, and rotate until they ... well. You know.

Q: Other external reasons?
A: The disconnectedness of 99% of the people I know, their willingness to live in a self-created, other-authored hologram of life, and their fear at the notion of discussing how things work and how they might fix things.

Q: Explain how that's different from sitting around theorizing.
A: Sure. I'm talking about people who can't even theorize.

Q: So how big is that first group you mentioned, within the whole population. How big are the sit-around-and-theorize, in your estimate?
A: Spitting into the wind here, but let's say 7%.

Q: How does that square with your 99% number above?
A: I'm not a statistician or pollster. I'm roughing numbers as I go. Let's change the 99% to 92%.

Q: What's the other 1%?
A: The ones running the show and profiting from it openly, knowing how it really works.

Q: Where are you?
A: I'm usually in the 7%.

Q: So shouldn't you criticize your own inaction?
A: Of course. Why do you assume I don't? You're not hanging out in my noggin, listening to my internal conversations. You don't know what I say to myself on the question of personal culpability, personal complicity, personal service as hypocritical obstacle to the changes he actually wants to see implemented.

Q: Well what exactly have you done to make changes?
A: Rejected consumerism to the greatest extent possible. Stopped using mainstream sources of infotainment -- no news, no TV, no cable/satellite dish subscription, no radio. Withdrew my labor from the pool that capitalizes on it. Began honestly questioning the nagging points that have bugged me since I was a teenager and first becoming curious about how American society actually works and noting how that real society differs from the society described in school lessons, in TV commercials, on TV shows, in movies. As I got older I noticed it also functioned differently than most of what I saw in college history 101. Some time in my early 30s I noticed that the US, state and local governments operated differently than how they told their subjects. In my late 30s I noticed that the "system of justice" in America is lopsided and not intended to moderate disputes fairly --at all-- but instead is designed and operates to reinforce power disparities, racial disparities, socioeconomic disparities, philosophic disparities. And that's when I unplugged.

Q: That sounds like quitting. That's interesting.
A: I'm assuming you have a follow-up question.

Q: Yes, I'm just trying to be polite, Charles. Isn't it strange for a man who has been a competitive athlete for large chunks of his life, and continues to be competitive with himself, athletically, intellectually... isn't it strange that such a man would just quit something?
A: Not to me. I have quit jobs. I have quit girlfriend relationships. I have quit familial relationships. I have quit friendships. I have quit business relationships. In college I quit after 7 holes in a 36-hole golf match, walked off the course. The next year, I tried out for the soccer team as a walk-on at the start of the school year, made the team, then quit because I couldn't juggle the athletic training and the workload of 2d yr Birds&Bees. I had to either quit soccer or quit Birds&Bees. Soccer it was.

Q: So you're an experienced quitter?
A: Yep. I've quit other things too. I've been a casual cigarette smoker at several periods of my life. Usually very stressful ones. I find it pretty easy to quit.

Q: Tell me about quitting that golf match. What were the repercussions?
A: No, I'm not going to talk about that. Sorry.

Q: Come on, Charles. For such an apparent badass, you are showing yourself to be cowardly here.
A: I can't stop another person's mistaken assumptions or fabricated impressions. I can't stop another from imagining a personality that I don't have.

Q: Okay, how about quitting consumerism. How easy is that?
A: Not easy. Way harder than quitting cigarettes. Way harder than quitting drinking. Way harder than quitting Rx prescribed to keep a guy in happyland.

Q: How did you manage?
A: I started with a big-ticket item: the personal automobile.

Q: Wait. Charles, didn't you just post something about an Audi?
A: Dumbass, that was a different entry on a different subject. Jeezus. Go read it again.

Q: So you're not going to buy a new car? Not even an economic new car? Not even a Prius?
A: Jeezus. The fucking Prius. That fucking car is the Barack Obama of the motor vehicle world. Shit.

Q: Do you ever want a new car?
A: For fleeting moments, here and there. Mainly if I'm on a very long road trip. I'd prefer to have something built more for eating up lots of pavement. An autobahn-burner. But that preference is mostly about appetite, not nourishment.

Q: How did you get rid of the car fetish?
A: It was easy because I moved to a place where the pavement is... no... was minimal and a lot of the places I would go for recreation were accessed by rough roads. I had a road rocket car when I moved here. I used to spend a lot of time driving before I moved here. And I liked driving. I treated it like any sporting thing. I would have fun. I would go as fast as I could, safely, and try to move smoothly through traffic like a fish moving upstream against a fast current. I liked turning, cornering I mean. I like going fast through turns. I like making the car as flat as possible by using skill and technique through successive corners, chicanes, etc. And going fast while keeping it flat. I've always loved that stuff. I broke my wrist on my skateboard while in HS because I was doing slalom down a long driveway that I'd set up with pinecones. The golf coach was pissed. I didn't care. I was having fun on my skateboard and that was more important than missing a golf season.

Q: So you sold your car?
A: Traded it in on a little pickup. And that's what I'm driving now, 13 years later.

Q: You drive a 13-year-old car?
A: Yep. With floor rugs that have holes, coffee stains, gravel & mud. Seats that are torn. Seatbelt receptacle chewed by my dog. 3 rock dings and 3 cracks in the windshield. Quite a few dents. The paint is flat, no longer glossy. There's rust on the body in a couple spots. Still runs very smoothly though. Needs new tires... not right now, but before next winter. Needs a brake job real soon. Sounds like I'm describing myself!

Q: How many miles a year do you drive?
A: Since I got my house, maybe 7k in a heavy driving year. Lately, around 4k. When I first moved here I took a lot of road trips within the state and also up into BC and down to SW Utah, and all points in between. Heavy use the first 4 years I lived here. The middle 5 were probably 10k/yr. The last 4 have been 7k then 4k most recently. And most of that 4k is driving to ski in the winter.

Q: When was the last time you took a vacation?
A: My life is a vacation compared to what I used to do on those lucky 2 weeks a year.

Q: When was the last time you took a road trip to ski or ride MTBs?
A: Several years back I drove to the Sawtooths to ride for 2 days. Haven't done a skiing road trip since 2006.

Q: What about other consumerism? Do you spend a lot of money on your skiing equipment or MTB equipment?
A: Compared to someone who doesn't ski or ride bikes, I probably do. Compared to someone who's a mild enthusiast in either sport, I don't. Compared to a lot of serious participants in either sport, I don't. Both of my primary bikes are 3 years old. Both have a lot of miles on them but one doesn't need maintenance. The other --a full-suspension bike-- needs maintenance to overhaul the pivots on the rear suspension before riding this season. Not sure I'm going to be able to afford that any time soon. Guess I'd better start yoga to be less old and creaky this season, if I'm not going to have the FS bike to ride.

Q: How about ski gear?
A: I got some new skis last Spring that I finally started using this year. The last new pair was 2 years before that. And the prior new pair was 3 years before that, even. I ski a good number of days/yr so compared to the average skier I am not a total retro-grouch, but I'm pretty close. A lot of skiers are on new stuff every year. In contrast my boots are 10 seasons old. They work really well for me so I'm not eager to change them. They're on their 2d pair of liner boots and those liners are about dead. So next season I need at least new liners. That's about $225-250.

Q: Do you ever want to get new stuff, just because you want it?
A: I did that for the first 35 years of my life. It was never really as satisfying as the expenses just kept getting bigger and the rewards more obviously artificial. Eventually I felt like a kid on Xmas morning -- excitement for the first hour or two of having a new thing, but then... enh. Who cares? Clearly I'm not like most people in that sense, however. If I ever had a strong corvid impulse toward shiny new things, I've lost it.

Q: When one of your friends gets something new, does it ever make you envious?
A: No. I have one friend who really likes to give me shit about my driving an old truck, my using an old cell phone, my using an old desktop computer, my having such a small TV and such a cheap DVD player and such an old stereo. He's one of my oldest friends and he likes to remind me of the days when I chased trinkets, as if I'm just lost for a little while and bound to return to the fold. But I don't feel the pull.