Bummernacht! The first day of Zappadan 2013
Mr. Zappa was unabashed and unashamed. His musical influence was as strong and varied as his musical influences.
Sure could use some of his singular unabashedness these days.
One forerunner and influence was Fred Neil.
Every morning when I wake up,
I burn my fingers on the coffee pot,
Toast is cold and the orange juice is hot,
I should start over but you know I'd rather not
Same thing gonna happen again,
Cause that's the bag I'm in.
Bags! That's the problem. We're all in the trick bag these days. Hey! Watch the elbows will ya?
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Bummernacht! The first day of Zappadan 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
"Look! The pyramid is opening."
"The one with the ever widening HOLE in it!"
Clever dialog like this drew me to the Firesign Theater albums. The above is neither my favorite FST exchange nor
particularly relevant to this missive. It's a drop-in. An aside. Bait. Chum. Bits and pieces.
I haven't played a FST album in many years. No "Waiting For The Electrician or Someone Like Him", No "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers", No "I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus". No "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once"... No need. The tracks are indelibly etched into my brain.
"Shoes for Industry Compadre."
Around the FST phase of my education there was another comedy troupe known as "The Congress of Wonders" who released an album titled "Revolting". I've encountered other Firesignians over the years, but rarely encounter a fellow Wonderer. I'm sure they exist. They must. It's the only explanation for finding "projects" based on "Revolting" on YouTube.
The plot of "Star Trip" is simple. While traveling through space, the starship collides with a Space Turkey which knocks it off course. The off-course distances grow rapidly.
May I remind you that since we are traveling at a rate of Warped Factor 3, that our collision with that turkey, thirty-eight seconds ago, has put us 13 billion miles off course.
23 billion miles off course now, sir, if my calculations are correct. And they always are.
...(Much corny comedy brilliance)...
Well, Captain, it?s easily $27,000,000 worth of damage.
Uh...$27,000,000 worth of damage?! Grrrr!
Well, actually, it?s only one tube that costs fifteen cents, but the service charge is enormous since we're so many light years away from the service area. That is provided and they can find us anyway seeing us we're 200 billion miles off course.
If you've followed this at all, you now know how I feel on most days as I read, watch and listen to the growing absurdities of life. Hurtling off course through time and space.
And now a word from our sponsors?
and you eat it every day
And that's why I take... Damnitall!
Monday, November 18, 2013
We have weather. Thanks to climate change, and other factors, we have enough weather to fill large blocks of airtime on the dozens of 24/7 newsfotainment outlets. Yesterday, in Illinois, it was tornado weather. Today, nationwide, the images and sounds of devastation have been gathered, edited, colated, then interspersed with live, on the scene, remotes, we Americans are being "informed". By now you've seen the pictures of the carnage. The Aftermath.
It's a matter of some debate whether the path the November, 17 2013 storms followed is part of "Tornado Alley". The title, introduced into the American lexicon in the science-heavy post-war 50s, describes
Proof positive of climate change? A reflection of our induced obsession with weather and weather related phenomena? A large chunk of both along with many other factors? How should I know, I'm a blogger, not a meteorologist, climate scientist, storm chaser or weatherguesser. Well, okay, I'll plead guilty to the last.
Through casual observations of exterior signs and a calendar, I'm able to discern the general conditions and guess the weather outside without having to actually go outside, and certainly without tuning into the weather report from the experts "every 10 minutes on the nines". Admit it you do too.
The maps and charts and radar and trained professionals can be helpful. They can add to your personal observations and aid your ability to plan outdoor oriented activities in advance, but on a daily, hour by hour basis, they are of minor consideration. But that's a rant for another day. Today's puzzler is the seemingly exponential growth of weather-related gut-punches to America's mid-section. For me the area of piqued interest is localized to the "Six-county Chicago Metropolitan Area" which also covers a lot more ground than it did in the 1950s.
Through both casual and careful observation from my position in an inner-ring "First Suburb" of Chicago, I know that territories and settlements north, south and west of the big city have grown out, creating easily identifiable urban sprawl. Lesser urban areas of the state have experienced the same. Ever since my wayward youth, I've known about city, near suburbs, far suburbs, boonies and rural. I've marveled at the nomadic lifestyles constantly urging folks not to settle for green grass when there were cornfields to develop into greener grass utopias. Looking for wide-open spaces then insisting that they provide all the convenience and resources of more densely populated areas. Driven by more land for less money even if it meant a longer commute, urban sprawl invaded the rural landscapes. During the irrationally exuberant boom times, the "Uboughtdafarm" developments, divisions and sub-divisions ran amok and continue, only slightly tempered by the housing meltdown they helped fuel.
In 1990, the Plainfield Tornado exposed the downside of building large tracts of housing out in the boonies. In 1980, that F5 twister would have churned up cornfields, uprooted fence posts and caused power outages to several farms. In 1990, it took 29 lives. spurred a brief discussion of "urban planning" and brought a new focus on weather prediction and warning models that have only improved over time. Does it help to know when thousands of homes and the people who inhabit them are threatened? Of course it does, but when it was known and predictable that those thousands of home were in the very likely path of destruction...?
It didn't slow the developers. It didn't diminish the sprawl. Many millions of dollars were made moving many thousands of people into the known, but unprotected, path of future storms. The crop of new homes were bigger, went up and sold faster than before. Planning was limited to maximizing profit, embracing "growth" for growths sake and all the economic prosperity that came along with all the new residents expanding the tax base. The sales brochures didn't advertise the geographic and topographic downsides. The buyers were looking for utopia and that's the illusion they were shown.
Nowhere in the 24/7 reporting on tragic devastation have the developers been discussed or their wisdom questioned.
What's up with that?
I feel for the victims. I truly do. I can't stop progress. I also can't feign shock and surprise at these recurring nightmares. I suppose that makes me a terrible person... been there; done that. Premise accepted. That still doesn't make ME the bad guy.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
down the rabbit hole? into the breach? on a quest for something solid to hang on to. The curse of Diogenes?? Sisyphus? Scooby-Do? Trying to find some sense in it all. Again. Hitting a wall of fucknuttery. Again.
It must all weave together into something recognizable. Right?
It's an international challenge with serious local impacts. At its root, in the larger sense, it's a shipping crisis. It's about the movement of product without concern or a plan to deal with the by-products until they become a visible, active nuisance. Ship "ballast" is recognized as the main source of the problem. From Wiki: Cruise ships, large tankers, and bulk cargo carriers use a huge amount of ballast water, which is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded. Ballast water discharge typically contains a variety of biological materials, including plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria. These materials often include non-native, nuisance, and/or exotic species that can cause extensive ecological and economic damage to aquatic ecosystems. Illegal immigration?
Shipping companies shouldn't be held responsible for the non-native species they carry in their ballast tanks? That's why they pay taxes and fees, so the government can deal with the problem. Oh, but wait, like all good corps, shipping concerns have accountants and attorneys and lobbyists whose sole function is the reduce the corp's taxes to the absolute "legal" minimum. Captains navigate the seas, while the legal department navigates the loopholes. After all, ballast is not technically cargo.
Just another gray area to be exploited.
I think what scares me most is that I'm more right than even I have considered. That the blatant nonsense driving our debates at the expense of deliberately ignored/downgraded important issues is the actual battle plan. Not that race/racism, gun-control, gun rights, TIA/ PRISM, Wiki-leaks, Snowden, Manning are trifles. Only that War/Peace, Life/Death, Heaven/Hell on Earth things get buried from view and thinking about and resolving major challenges become afterthoughts.
Worse, prevailing "wisdom" and leanings lock onto pseudo-factual perceptions in such limited windows that they obscure the big picture. Unless/until these falsified ammyl-nitrate caps stop being snapped under our noses
"Poor people caused the housing bubble to burst. Ronald Reagan
was IS a small government conservative deity. The 1st amendment applies to today's corporate owned "Press" without exemption. The 2nd amendment is absolute; inviolate. The American Health Care system is the finest in the World. Pharmaceuticals have greatly reduced disease. Coal is clean. Genetically modified agriculture is good. Every sperm and embryo are sacred. A college degree is proof of an educated mind"... These packaged and merchandised beliefs are far from universal and far from universally true. Your interpretation and perspective really does matter. Common knowledge, like common sense, can be oxymoronic. If you listen you'll hear channeling of these prevailing wisdoms, to the exclusion of uncertainty regarding their provenance, on every channel.
Those tracks you cross in your travels are NOT the railroad. Each section of rail, each tie, each crossing, gate, engine, boxcar, tankcar, flatcar, depot, spur and yard combine to form an elaborate, complicated, interdependent and connected transportation system. If the crossing you regularly encounter is dangerously bumpy, it doesn't mean that every crossing is so screwed up that you have to creep across it. Yet almost universally, you see cars slow to a crawl at crossings. Not every car does, but enough do to affect every other car on that stretch of road at that point in time. Vehicles have suspension systems to absorb impacts. We're not riding around in wooden-wheeled buckboard wagons.
When Citi rewrites our banking regulations, When Exxon rewrites our energy policy, When the NRA rewrites our gun laws, When ADM/Monsanto rewrites our farm bills, When Big Pharma writes our prescription drug program. When the Health Care Corps writes our health care. The defense industry our military priorities, When those who get ahead by leveraging the pooled resources of our 401Ks, 403Bs, IRAs, Money Market accounts into their own income generating playgrounds, we have positively entered an alternate unnatural reality. How did this become the American Way?
How do we make it stop?
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Warning: What follows may ramble.
In many ways and forms over these years, I've tried to present my observations in a somewhat linear manner. And failed; semi-miserably, but I have tried; in my ways... What can that say to anyone except in the unlikely case that their POV aligns with mine own? Addressing inculcated systemic infections -that have lopsided effects- through anecdotal examination of a singular example can be fun, but it's unlikely to solve the problems, or even shed light on the larger influences. Trying to debate a single issue within the carefully constructed, over-riding framing applied to ALL issues is a folly I cannot abide. Especially when that framework is pure falsehood, bolstered by decades of agitprop, defining our situation exclusively, with no allowance for potential errors in structure. Relying on meaningless "Either/Or" options of good and bad.
The proof of my postulate, for me, displays in the near absence of deviation from these norms. Not all that long ago, we very briefly considered the very real possibility of something resembling PEACE on this rock. Long standing impasses were bridged, obstacles were overcome, enemies dealt with and among the populace there was an expectation of real, tangible societal progress. It was short-lived. The so-called "peace dividend" was scuttled, in part, by the policies through which it was connived.
Historians might be tempted to point out that we've been here before. That over the arc of history, we humans have survived far darker days. That is undoubtedly true. What historians are reluctant to say is that we've been damn lucky to have survived. That despite surviving, we've never actually come out on top. That the forces that have plunged our planet into cyclical dark ages have emerged from such times diminished, but intact in both position and belief. Only rarely have the architects been led to the gallows, put up against the wall, or summarily executed. Never eradicated, only pushed back. Excesses tamped down beneath a threshold of tolerable. To do otherwise almost surely to fulfill the post-apocalyptic wastelands of fiction.
Up in the masthead, I placed a seemingly random quote from a lesser known novel by Frank Herbert, "Whipping Star". Herbert, author of DUNE, creator of several fictional universe, entered my life in high school. His fiction was wildly dark and speculative, yet optimistic. His disruptors stood apart, typically detached, from the ruling elite. This was by design and was recognized as essential to long-term sustainability. The balance of power was constantly adjusting, internally, via intrigue, succession, violence and inner manipulation. Externally, another type of elite with no interest in rule, applied needed corrections when the internals missed something important and the pendulum swung to an extreme. Herbert's heroes simply shifted the balance of power, leaving the masses free to live in relative tranquility. It's Speculative Fiction. What if?
Bildoon shook his head. "What Abnethe's doing - it's impossible!"
"If she does a thing, how can it be impossible?"
"They have to be somewhere!" Bildoon snapped.
"I find it very strange," Tuluk said, "this trait you share with humans of stating the obvious in such emphatic fashion. "
"Oh, go to hell!" Bildoon said. He turned, slammed out of the lab.
Tuluk, racing to the door after him, opened it and called at the retreating back, "It is a Wreave belief that we already are in hell!"
He returned to his bench, muttering. Humans and PanSpechi - impossible creatures. Except for McKie. Now, there was a human who occasionally achieved analytic rapport with sentients capable of higher logic. Well . . . every species had its exceptions to the norm.
- Frank Herbert in "Whipping Star"
In the far future, humankind has made contact with numerous other species: Gowachin, Laclac, Wreaves, Pan Spechi, Taprisiots, and Caleban, and has helped to form the ConSentiency to govern among the species. After suffering under a tyrannous pure democracy, the sentients of the galaxy find the need for a Bureau of Sabotage (BuSab) to slow the wheels of government, thereby preventing it from legislating recklessly. BuSab is allowed to sabotage and harass the governmental, administrative, and economic powers in the ConSentiency. Private citizens must not be harassed, and vital functions of society are also exempt. Jorj X. McKie is a born troublemaker who has become one of BuSab's best agents. Drafted for the impossible task of establishing meaningful communication with an utterly alien entity who defies understanding, McKie finds himself racing against time to prevent a mad billionairess from wiping out all life in the ConSentiency.
Ah, the incongruities of life on a single planet without benefit of airlocks or jumpdoors or the BuSab agency minding the bigger picture. We don't live in such a world. We continue to live in Opposite World.
Where is our Bureau of Sabotage? Is it the tea-party standing four-square against everything? Well, no, of course not, since preventing movement of any kind only assures the continuation of current policies. Was the U.N. conceived as our planetary BuSab? A structure to manage ambitions and expectations? What has prevented it from achieving its mission? How did it become the target, rather than the solution?
The world is round. We'll get there eventually. I'm still optimistic. Still sad that we're guided and ruled by fear. Finding little substance to maintain a rosy outlook. Heartened only by successive generations of malcontents taking up the cause of a sustainable place. Patiently waiting while impatiently urging that we get down to our real business in being here. Wherever and whatever here is.
Friday, July 26, 2013
This place is not technically shut down. There's a ton of activity. Other bloggers are on top of it and doing
their usual bang up job.
Things, as they are, have been less than motivating to write about. It's just all so FUBAR and I'm at a loss to distill
any one thing or group of things down into bite size chunks.
Consider me on injured reserve, or sitting out a suspension for testing positive for normalcy. There's just too much to untangle to offer anything cogent.
It's all the same game. Same as it ever was.
I could, without question, bang out a few paragraphs about my little hamlet's existence here in Proviso Township, Crook County, Illinois, U.S.A. That food chain
is chock full of meat, but little in the way of nutrients.
The Struggle Continues. Like Frosty, I'll be back again someday.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I can't come down
It's gone too far
Oh, I can't come down
It makes no sense
Just wasted words
Oh, I can't come down
I've tried to come to terms with it all
Has it really gone this far
Love suspended frozen in a jar
I never did belong
They're staring back at me from inside the cage
I'm staring back at me
The ape's coming of age
I can't come down
It's gone too far
Oh, I can't come down
It makes no sense
Just wasted words
Oh, I can't come down
Why offer stimulation to a lost cause
You drive the nails in, I can't take anymore
I'm the last one survivor I took you all
I'm the rare breed the cast off
Come on break the mold
I can't come down
It's gone too far
Oh, I can't come down
It makes no sense
Just wasted words
Oh, I can't come down
It's not one thing. It's nearly everything. Externally at least. Tainted, infected, untethered, immune to repair.
I know I'm not the only sane man, but until something changes the dynamics, it's pointless to continue shouting into the abyss. Adding to the noise.
Goodbye for now...
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY AUGUST SPIES' AT THE HAYMARKET, MAY 4, ON THE OCCASION OF THE BOMB-THROWING
"FRIENDS-The speakers of the evening not having arrived I shall entertain you a-few minutes. I am told that a number of patrol wagons, carrying policemen, were sent to Desplaines street station, and I understand that the militia have been called under arms. There seems to prevail the opinion in certain quarters that this meeting has been called for the purpose of inaugurating a riot, hence these warlike preparations on the part of so-called "Law and Order." However, let me tell you at the beginning that this meeting has not been called for any such purpose. The object of this meeting is to explain the general situation of the Eight-Hour Movement, and to throw light upon various incidents in connection with it.
For more than twenty years have the wage workers of this country begged and prayed their masters, the factory lords, to reduce their burdens. It has been in vain. They have pointed out the fact that over a million of willing and strong hands were in a state of enforced idleness and starvation, that to help them to obtain employment it would not only be advisable, nay, it was necessary to reduce the hours of daily toil of those who were fortunate enough in having found a buyer for their 'muscles, their bones, and their brain. The masters of this earth have treated them with contempt, have condemned them to vagabondage whenever they insisted. The legislatures have been called upon, one petition has succeeded the other, but with no avail.
At last the condition of the disinherited producers has become unbearable. Seeing that neither "boss" nor law would concede anything to them, they have organized for the purpose of helping themselves -a wise and prudent resolution.
All over the land we behold vast armies of producers, no longer begging, but demanding that eight hours shall henceforth constitute a normal working day. And what say the extortionists to this? They demand their pound of flesh, like Shylock. They will not yield one iota. They have grown rich and powerful on your labor. They amass stupendous fortunes, while you, who bring them into existence, are suffering from want. In answer to your pleadings they ask for the bodies of your little children, to utilize them in their gold mints, to make dollars out of them! Look at the slaves of McCormick! When they tried to remonstrate with their master he simply called upon "the protectors of these free and glorious institutions" -- the police -- to silence them. And they did silence them.
You have no doubt heard of the, killing and wounding of a number of your brothers at McCormick's, yesterday. Mr. McCormick told a Times reporter that Spies was responsible for that massacre committed by the most noble Chicago police. I reply to this that McCormick is, an infamous liar. (Cries of "Hang him.") No, make no idle threats. There will be a time, and we are rapidly approaching it, when such men as McCormick will be hanged; there will be a time when monsters who destroy the lives and happiness of the citizens (for their own aggrandizement) will be dealt with like wild beasts. But that time has not yet come. When it has come you will no longer make threats, but you will go and "do it."
The capitalistic press, like the "respectable gentleman" McCormick, howls that the anarchists are responsible for the deeds of violence now committed all over this country. If that were true one would have to conclude that the country was full of anarchists, yet the same press informs us that the anarchists are very few in number. Were the "unlawful" acts in the Southwestern strike committed by anarchists? No, they were committed by Knights of Labor, men who never fail to declare, whenever there is an opportunity, that they are law and order abiding citizens. The attack upon McCormick's yesterday -- Was it made by anarchists? Let us see. I had been invited by the Central Labor Union to address a meeting of lumber yard laborers, on the Black road. I went out there yesterday at the appointed time, about three o'clock in the afternoon. There were at least 10,000 persons assembled. When I was introduced to address them a few Poles or Bohemians in the crowd cried out: "He's a socialist." These cries were followed by a general commotion and derision -- "We want no socialist; down with him." These and other exclamations I was treated to. Of course, I spoke anyway; the crowd became calm and quiet and fifteen minutes later, elected me unanimously a delegate to see their bosses. Nevertheless, you can see that these people are not socialists or anarchists, but "good, honest, law-abiding church-going Christians and citizens." Such were the persons who left the meeting, as I afterwards learned, to "make the scabs at McCormick's quit work." In my speech I never mentioned McCormick. Now you may judge for yourselves whether the anarchists were responsible for the bloodshed yesterday or not.
Who is responsible for these many "lawless" acts, you ask me? I have told you that they are generally committed by the most lawful and Christian citizens -- in other words, the people are by necessity driven to violence, they can't carry the burden heaped upon them any longer. They try to cast it off, and in so doing break the laws. The law says they must not cast it off, for such an act would alter, yea, revolutionize the existing order of society! These acts of violence are the natural outgrowth of the present industrial system, and everyone is responsible for them who supports and upholds that system.
What does it mean when the police of this city, on this evening, rattle along in their patrol wagons?
What does it mean when the militia stands warlike and ready for bloody work at our armories?
What are the gatling guns and cannons for?
Is this military display of barbarism arranged for your entertainment?
Ail these preparations, my friends, ARE made in your behalf!!
Your masters have perceived your discontent.
They do not like discontented slaves.
They want to make you contented at all hazards, and if you are stubborn they will force or kill you.
Look at the killing of your brothers at McCormick's yesterday. What did they do? The police tell you that they were a most dangerous crowd, armed to their teeth. The fact is, they, like ignorant children, indulged in the harmless sport of bombarding McCormick's slaughterhouse with stones. They paid the penalty of this folly with their blood.
The lesson I draw from this occurrence is, that working men must arm themselves for defense, so that they may be able to cope with the government hirelings of their masters.
I see Mr. Parsons has arrived. He is a much abler speaker in your tongue than I am, therefore I will conclude by introducing him."
The "Law" hung Mr. Spies for his words.
If the theme and content of Mr. Spies' speech sound familiar, as though they could be re-spoken today with only minor update, you're absolutely right.
His sacrifice and memory have been blurred into "history". Today, we should remember.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
On the floor of the Senate, but rarely on the mainstream mouse circus, Senator Bernie Sanders, waves his arms, points his finger and orates about basic, widely-held American folklore. That our strength lays in the common people. That our virtue is being twisted and abused. That we're getting screwed by a small, but wealthy and powerful minority of a short-sighted, greed-driven, untethered elite. He flat out says we've been sold out by his fellow congresscritters. His words sound queer and funny to the ear. A little bit jumbled and jive-y. He's saying stop, look, LISTEN. The way forward requires that we stop buying what's being sold. Stop because it is a wholly inferior product that few people want; being marketed as our only option. He's saying there are better choices that aren't even being considered.
Hell yeah, I love Bernie Sanders. I love Elizabeth Warren as well. Still, I have to ask why they're the ONLY strident voices who are clearly articulating how we are getting screwed. IN DETAIL. Why should I have to seek out their battles? Why must I endure a Hollywood Squares Set of pundits, who've been absolutely wrong about absolutely everything? Sanders and Warren are shouting into the abyss? Written off as fringe elements? Issue by issue their thinking is echoed by a majority of the American people.
This clip from Bill Maher's Real Time clearly shows this insanity. Stephen Moore and Abby Huntsman? Impervious to facts. Ignoring anything that might derail them from spewing their focus-group tested narrative. It's all great fun ain't it?
Dovetailing nicely with another marginalized voice from the fringe, Noam Chomsky: "The real mass media are basically trying to divert people. Let them do something else, but don’t bother us (us being the people who run the show). Let them get interested in professional sports, for example. Let everybody be crazed about professional sports or sex scandals or the personalities and their problems or something like that. Anything, as long as it isn’t serious.
Of course, the serious stuff is for the big guys. “We” take care of that."
Further examples would border on redundancy. The signal to noise ratio is so poor as to render it impossible to determine where to turn, except OFF.
What would happen if we were to say "Time-Fucking-OUT!" and spend time to set some real priorities? Turning this rig around requires time, space and an actual plan for the future.
Can I suggest a first step?
Spend three hours to watch and listen to the amazing Amy Goodman. You needn't do it in one sitting. Watch/Listen. Consider what you've heard. Extend the anecdotes to other present "debates".
Listen some more. Keep listening until you get what she's saying. That while we haven't always fulfilled the promise of America, we have been better at it than we've shown in recent decades.
Then ask why this voice has to be sought out in order to be heard in our larger discussions? Instead we're most likely to some noise, that, when you sift it, mostly sounds like this.
Even when the signal strength is pegging the meter, the noise drowns it out. Watch Elizabeth Warren seek answers, watch the regulators she's questioning, boldly and openly admit to her premise.
As much as to say, we've legalized it. So What? We're just following orders.
It's all made so complicated when in reality it is simple.
Monday, April 8, 2013
On Saturday, I was riding the bike around the area. Every patch of “green space” was occupied with the exuberance of youth; Soccer, baseball, lacrosse, tennis. Hundreds, if not thousands, of kids. Signed up, lined up and strutting their stuff.
Games! Play ball! Weekend warriors!
Along the sidelines, anxious parents alternate between socializing and spectating, For me, this is the pulse of community. These are the main events that restore hope for the future.
You can learn much listening to the conversations of sideline parents. What is important and what is not so important. Their priorities are in order. Their concerns are measured. Their hope is tangible.
Friday, March 22, 2013
If you've never watched the often awkward "family" units who compete for "Fast Money" on "Family Feud", but you've religiously watched your favorite flavor of newsfotainment showgrams, you've witnessed the scene. On "The Feud" questions are asked of 100 loosely affiliated people: 100 married men/women, 100 college students, 100 waiters/waitresses etc. Their answers are ranked in order, put up, hidden, on a gameboard. Two families go head- to-head to guess the top answers to the survey question. The comedic value of the game show is played through the host, but the comedy gold comes from the often cringe-worthily stupid guesses from family members. Whether from nervousness at being on National TeeVee, the predictable result of generational inbreeding or simply misunderstanding the premise of the poll questions, the family's weakest links are the high-octane fuel that drives the game. You, sitting in the comfort of your teevee viewing room, can play along.
The top five answers are on the board.
"Name a movie monster" [Dad from the Smith Family Buzzes in]
Let's look... Godzilla is #3
Two answers can top it.
Okay, Gramma Edith from the Jones Family?...
As the family plays the game they all cheer, support, applaud... "Good Answer!" Rah Rah!", regardless of how feeble the guess.
Got it? No? I'll wait...
There. Alrighty then, the next time you tune in to your favorite talking heads mouse circus, watch as though you're watching "The Feud"
Understand that when the question asked is how much is 2+2? And the answer is "CUT TAXES!" The "family" MUST cheer, applaud and whoop it up,
As they go down the line and responses never vary, never rise to an answer,
Dirty Fuckin' Hippies!
Love it or Leave it!
Thank you for playing our game.
Join us next time...
...And somewhere, Ronald Reagan is smiling.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Eight years ago...
Jon Stewart stepped on a bug.
The bug was crushed. Thousands came to the funeral and stayed on, not just to perpetuate the carnage, but to expand it exponentially.
I don't think anyone can watch Stewart's brilliant skewering of Carlson and His Beluga and not cringe for them. So clueless; so sure of their own importance. After all Jon Stewart's a comedian. Hilarity must ensue...
Some might even consider that Crossfire's subsequent demise marked a turning point in the effort to make media more aware of its Public Trust responsibilities.
Anyone who thinks CNN's non-ceremonial, but fully superficially symbolic axing of Crossfire was a game changer would be correct. So long as they also understand that the game was changed to render such antics meaningless in the media newsfotainment batshit crazy belfry.
At the time of CNN "fixing the glitch" that was exposed, Media Consolidation was already firmly entrenched. The formula was codified as a proven winner. Clowns, Shills, Jugglers and Jesters posing as serious journalists will adequately fill the schedule. As long as they don't turn on each other, play the game and never, ever, ever fall for the Stewart gambit again, things will be fine.
The answer to superior intellectual guests was to minimize their access to the set. Find a "reasonable" facsimile instead, or if unavoidable, make sure to surround them with noisemakers to turn everything upside down, inside out and backwards.
In the new blacklist era there was no notice that the Quislings and Flatworms who ascended to the serious political roundtables were posers. Nobody mentioned or talked about the "experts" who were no longer there. You can book Ron Paul, but never Noam Chomsky, Sy Hersh or even Phil Donahue, (who INVENTED the format!). Nope, the rolodex represented the milquetoast, malleable, go along to get along center-left to the near-extreme Randian righties.
And the beat goes on without missing a beat. The new NORMAL for political fight club had only one overarching, all encompassing rule. You want to play, you play by OUR rules.
It can be fodder and sport for comedians, that's easy to drown out with consistency, hype and abject dismissal that anything is different. Cutting edge journalism is whatever we deign to air. No quarter for "outcasts" as long as we agree as the gatekeepers.
We are forever in their debt. They maintain the mantle of the Free Press; guardians of the newsfotainment branch of the corporate structure.
Their ivory towers well out of range. Impervious to meaningful challenge.
Open wide. BOHICA baby!
Thursday, February 28, 2013
On Wednesday morning (2/27) Joe & Mika kvetched through a segment with author Michael Moss about his book "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us". Nobody on set seemed to grasp the irony that a show that provides the media equivalent of unhealthy ingestion on behalf of its own Media Giant does this disservice, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks per year. That's a shitload of salt, sugar and fat disguised as whole grain "good for ya" BrainFood.
This is not an indictment of a specific show, network or personality, just an observation. Pretty much all of the vast wasteland is riffing on the same recipe; Six drops of essence of terror, five drops of sinister sauce.... This also isn't a lament that there are no shows trying to provide an information diet not laced with societal poisons or pollutants.
Those are out there too, with ratings to match the public's dietary preference for Salt. Sugar. FAT.
We're not just a fast food nation, we're a fast everything nation. "When the stirring's done may I lick the spoon?"
But what does any of it really mean? We are what we eat? We eat what's put in front of us whether it's good for us or not?
We eat whatever Mom & Dad bring back to the nest and regurgitate into our piehole? Salt. Sugar. Fat. It's tasty!
You know that feeling? You arrive at an event and immediately realize. You're in the wrong place. What to do? Suffer in silence? Fight? Flight? Find a neutral corner? Start drinking? This isn't going to end well and you know it.
Having not been to more than a handful of events, in recent memory, that didn't evoke the survivalist in me, I find myself waning nostalgic for the days when nonsense was somewhat avoidable.
I make no secret that I'm different. I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.
WBEZ's "This American Life
with Ira Glass, on NPR, recently aired a two-part series about Harper High School on Chicago's southside. If you think you have a handle on the
"Chicago Way", a grip on the cost that the subsidy of your lifestyle extracts, your limited responsibility for what happens in the
world outside your patch of grass, I dare you to listen to both hours. Realize and admit that this is just a glimpse into another's reality that exists in small part from your neglect. Recognize that the choices you make, the causes you support, the politics you enable, the community you rely on to rationalize your philosophy... Understand that you can't distance yourself from accountability. The bill is due and payable.
If you have reservations, if you firmly believe in your own entitlement, if you feel you've attended the school of hard knocks and refuse to see that your perceptions of costs, value and worth are incomplete, then Party On Dude, but don't look back.
To go from there
so fast, so unthinkingly, cannot end well either.
We all have dreams.
If as many folks could quote chapter and verse of RAH's "Moon is Harsh Mistress" as those who hold up "Atlas Shrugged" or other books held up as
excuse to be myopic self-involved twits, we might get through to some semblance of an advanced civilization.
"Rational Anarchists" believe that the concepts of State, Society and Government have no existence but for the "acts of self-responsible individuals", but concede that this is not a universal belief. The desire for anarchy is balanced by the logic that some form of government is needed, despite its flaws. Knowing this fact, a Rational Anarchist "tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world". In terms of morals there is no such thing as a ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free, because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything that I do".
Friday, February 22, 2013
Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that our planet will be gone.
We can't work it out?
We can't work it out?
Think of what you're saying.
You can get it wrong and still you think that it's alright.
Think of what I'm saying,
We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.
We can't work it out?
We can't work it out?
Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.
I have always thought that it's a crime,
So I will ask you once again.
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.
While you see it your way
There's a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
Can we work it out?
Can we work it out?
Isn't 40 years of being horribly wrong, long enough?
Friday, February 15, 2013
When people speak of "Chicago Style" politics, -which they do, quite often, with only their own fevered delusions to guide them, to convey some simple unseemliness- what they never seem to grasp is the near universal standards and practices in play. If there is a "Chicago Way", it's not in the ways and means. Chicago practices a type of evolution politics that has been at work forever.
In the relative minor leagues of the modern game, the town of Cicero represents its ignominious past with a bizarre sense of pride. Cicero was home to Al Capone. From Cicero, weather permitting, "Scarface" ran his depression era empire. Too hot? Whether meteorological or legal, Capone was a snowbird; freely traveling, telecommuting. His physical presence was largely unnecessary, except for ceremonial duties, or to add that personal touch when needed. His celebrity status far outweighed his notoriety. He lived large. Everybody knew his pedigree. He got away with it. He was finally done in by a technicality; a legal cleverness. He went to jail. Case closed? Game over?
Of course not. Cicero remained. The Capone method intact, but without the intense spotlight. If it works, don't fix it. The crimes and corruptions associated with Capone and Cicero did not disappear with the verdict. The business didn't divest, it diversified. Over time, the corruption was no longer supported by criminal enterprise, it became publicly funded. It was legalized.
Meanwhile in the larger Opposite World...
Matt Taibbi reminds us, again, that the game never ends. He also reminds us that there is always a vested interest in the perpetuation of the game.
Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail
How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it
by: Matt Taibbi
After laying out the more colorful particulars of what might have been a monumental indictment, Mr. Taibbi concludes with the
"Thus, in the space of just a few weeks, regulators in Britain and America teamed up to declare near-total surrender to both crime and monopoly. This was more than a couple of cases of letting rich guys walk. These were major policy decisions that will reverberate for the next generation.
Even worse than the actual settlements was the explanation Breuer offered for them. "In the world today of large institutions, where much of the financial world is based on confidence," he said, "a right resolution is to ensure that counter-parties don't flee an institution, that jobs are not lost, that there's not some world economic event that's disproportionate to the resolution we want."
In other words, Breuer is saying the banks have us by the balls, that the social cost of putting their executives in jail might end up being larger than the cost of letting them get away with, well, anything.
This is bullshit, and exactly the opposite of the truth, but it's what our current government believes. From JonBenet to O.J. to Robert Blake, Americans have long understood that the rich get good lawyers and get off, while the poor suck eggs and do time. But this is something different. This is the government admitting to being afraid to prosecute the very powerful – something it never did even in the heydays of Al Capone or Pablo Escobar, something it didn't do even with Richard Nixon. And when you admit that some people are too important to prosecute, it's just a few short steps to the obvious corollary – that everybody else is unimportant enough to jail.
An arrestable class and an unarrestable class. We always suspected it, now it's admitted. So what do we do?
The best we can hope is that the monied criminal class will book a cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph, lose power, rendering all of their many amenities moot, to suffer the kind of degradation they richly deserve? How many boats do you think we'll need?
You may take some small solace that where you live is better than Cicero, just don't scratch the surface or examine the books.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Whether being played up by one side or played down by the other, you're still being played. Regardless the issue, it seems, the game is the thing.
One might wish and hope for better, given the stakes, but what chance is there of that happening? The game's the same, the pitch is the same, not level, but the same playing field, the errors, both forced and unforced, the same. Oh what I wouldn't give for some evidence of performance enhancing drugs. Scrums are fun, but at some point somebody has to move the ball. Isn't that the point of the game? You might like to think so, eh?
The Jumbotron display with awesome graphics, dizzying effects and fireworks must tell us the score, right? Despite being filled, edge to edge, with
"information", it's mostly trivia, ephemera or blatant advertisements or product placement. It's still a zero-sum game on the field. The real deal,
is unwatchable. Sportsmanship? Gamesmanship? Statesmanship? Hooey!
Public spending in the aggregate, snowballs on with its winners and losers. Public policy, foreign and domestic, remains relatively static; fixed, while the potential for game change is lukewarmly debated. In the perpetual gloaming of perpetuating the game that we all find objectionable, the only game I see is a half-assed facsimile of Whack-A-Mole. Purposefully pointless. An endless indigestible series of maneuvers whose only comparable move in "sports" is the "referee-administered five count" of Professional Wrestling. All show; no go. Gouging, punching, foreign objects, chairs, tables? Okay, but when I count five you have to stop! Unless I get distracted and lose count, then I will begin again. You can stop and immediately begin again which will trigger another 5-count!
It's silly. The ref knows it, the participants know it and the audience roaring its approval knows it too. That's entertainment. Little to no public funding is involved. Politics, OTOH, is all about the movement of public funds. Or rather, the conversion of public funds into private hands, ostensibly in return for services, to provide services and somewhere down the pipeline to receive services. Yeah, over there where the kleig lights and spotlights are providing a light show. Where craft services is providing coffee and food for the repress corps (one of those fees for service ya know). Where security badges are issued, then checked and recorded for the record. Where the ringmasters, minus the top hat and whistle, carry on.
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages... Hey Look! Doh Nuts!
Sunday, January 27, 2013
It all started innocently enough. The boys club had adjourned to closed session to discuss the things that are legal to talk about behind closed doors. One Mayor, four commissioners. At some point in the proceedings one of the commissioners introduced the idea of giving our Village Administrator a bump in pay. After all, he's a hard-working guy. A $20,000 raise would be fitting. That would make him the highest paid non-union village employee, which is only fair since the VA is at the top of the organizational chart.
Keep in mind, this is taking place in a small suburb of Chicago, Crook County, Proviso Township, Illinois; population 14,000 and change. Our present village administrator is home-grown. A childhood and lifelong friend of the Mayor, without, what one might call, credentials. Still, he rose to the top in a nationwide search for a professional administrator. His hiring was justified owing to his familiarity with our village's quirks. Since he was himself a former three term commish, he knew the ropes, the players, the game. He'd have no learning curve and he was willing to work cheap owing to his fierce loyalty to his home town.
This public administration is no big deal. It's not rocket science after all. He'd hired our first "professional" administrator back in the 90s. He helped handpick the second and gave input on the third before deciding not to seek re-election. Throughout his elected terms he was part of the ruling majority and was relatively popular.
He'd been in that back room. He knew how things worked. He didn't need to be there to fix this glitch, but somehow, things didn't go according to the script. The village is, depending on whose numbers you use, $65-85 Million in debt, resulting in a downgrade in our Moody's rating. The economy had done a number on revenues. Property values are down. We lost a major car dealship. Another had downsized expecting to be wounded in the Detroit shuffle. The trendy strip of boutiques and shoppes along the commercial district were suffering, limping or had closed/moved on. Revenues were down across the ledger. Money is tight, so it wouldn't look too good to give one guy a $20K raise. The idea was tabled.
The Mayor's usual 3-2 majority had let him and his buddy down. No harm; no foul. Then one of the usual two of that 3-2 final, broke with time-honored protocol and spoke to the local paper about what had transpired in the back room. Oh the humanity! When the paper ran the story, people were talking! The comment section of the online version started to boil. At first expressing shock and outrage at the weirdness. Then it turned. even. weirder. Like something out of Hitchcock, the seagulls arrived, pecking and flapping and crappin' all over. This is just one guy breaking "the rules" and the paper getting its jealously and hate on for the ruling majority. Our VA should be paid just like the credentialed pros. He's a nice guy. He deserves it. He's EARNED it.
This issue became such an ISSUE, that the mayor felt that he must set the record straight, so a letter was crafted, printed and mailed to every mailbox in town, giving his official interpretation of things. The raise was a non-issue. THE issue was that one commissioner transgressed the sanctity of "closed session" for purely political gamesmanship. What might seem a political piece of work limited to distribution by the mayor's campaign organization and funding, was instead a village (taxpayer) expense.
"Mayor's perogative"? Calls have been made to the various oversight and legal resources to determine if this mailing is a legitimate government function. No rulings yet... stay tuned.
Since being hired as VA, things have run smoothly. Gag orders to village employees issued and internet policies were implemented so that information comes forth (or not) only through official channels. No one speaks unless authorized! There is no official evaluation process of the VA's job performance, and no benchmarks for comparison. Nobody can say what anyone else would have done if given the position based on education and experience. The job description is a work-in-progress.
The general operating nexus is that Three beats Two. Majority rulz! I could go off on a rant concerning the scorched earth demonization of past and present opposition, critics or even questioners of the three beats two absolute method. It's a tight ship, run by our very own Captain Queeg.
I'd be embarrassed for my village if I thought it would do any good. From a purely spectator perspective, I've seen Jr. High School student governments with higher standards and ethics.
Two weeks in, it's just gotten weirder and weirder. The paper also ran a story about our newly seated rep in the state legislature's redrawn 7th district. He'd won his primary by 36 votes after a tough, ugly campaign. He was unopposed in the November general election.
He verified a rumor that one of his first hires as the new state rep was a former cop in the area who had pled guilty to obstruction of justice in a scheme/scandal that used on-duty cops and equipment to provide private security to area businesses.
The "service" was run by the chief of police who was also convicted.
That story provoked many comments as well. It then went (locally) viral! "Everybody deserves a second chance!" "Ex-felons are people too!" The paper and its operatives are unprofessional crybabies!" Muckrakers! Yellow Journalists! Smear merchants!
In another place and time, again, I might be embarrassed or even ashamed at the enjoyment I've derived from watching all of this unfold, but I'm past that. This is what happens when the cool/popular kids become empowered via shallow, popularity contests in which lying isn't just encouraged, it's the game plan. Once in power they show all of the pettiness and meanness of playground bullies everywhere.
You can actually watch society's devolution take place in real time. You can see Opposite World in a semi-controlled petri dish, up close and very personal. You can observe both the method AND the madness.
As the methodology has spread up and down the food chain, very local to township,county, state federal governments, to the UN and globally. The quirky similarities are obvious. It is a darkness differing only to the extent of the brutality practiced.
Complete with armies of orcs, goblins, trolls and seagulls in seemingly endless supply. Lots of noise and great gnashing of tooths. Flapping of wings and jaws. Full of sound and fury, all merely part of the pageant quickly rendering itself more trouble than it's worth to the average mortal.
If there's a place where this has not happened, you can be sure that it will. Sooner rather than later. Wherever herds of numbots can be driven, they will visit and their stay will be unpleasant. Resistance is futile?
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
If you're driving along the interstate away from the big city you're cruising along at 70-75 mph. There's even a tollway in Texas where you can legally drive at 85mph. Almost universally, when you cross an established (imaginary) line approaching a population center your legal speed limit drops to 55 mph. When you exit the highway, you encounter another LOWER speed limit on the exit ramp. From there the limit goes up and/or down based on the local thinking on what rate/limit balances safety and expediency factors and concerns. At the local level such things can be highly subjective and arbitrary for a variety of reasoning. Nowhere in this country, that I've seen, are posted limits an accurate reflection of actual driving habits, but the lines are clearly established.
We deal with such things on a daily basis, devoting little thought to adapting and adjusting to local conditions. Your brain registers signs and warnings at the same time it's listening to your vehicle's surround sound system. You slow down in school zones, stop at red lights, you're hopefully aware of time and relative dimensions in space and your spatial relationship to external factors. There are elaborate processes in place to regulate and monitor behavior. These too range from laissez faire to compliance checkpoints. It can be total nonsense to no nonsense and anything in between.
Despite the patchwork pattern and wildly differing emphases, in general, people adhere to the rules of the road without undue hardships. Rarely is there widespread protest or unrest surrounding the rules in general. On the contrary, the loudest, shrillest voices are proponents of stricter regulation and enforcement to address acute LOCAL anomalies. All of this, despite vast differences in equipment and driving aptitude.
If you are a motorist, you encounter the spectrum on a daily basis. You share the roads with vehicles of every size, shape and condition; driven by individuals of every conceivable ability who've somehow met and maintained the minimum qualifications for their state. Through exhaustive proxy wars, they've determined that a .08 blood alcohol content is the standard for impairment. Below that you're okay, at or above that level and you're dangerous to yourself and others. Fair enough?
I know "drivers" who are seriously impaired before they even turn the key with a BAC of 0.00. Be honest. You know them too. You see them every day on your daily commute. They can be oblivious, distracted, hyper-caffinated, multi-tasking (badly), harried, depressed, elated... That they are driving a motor-vehicle is not what they're thinking. They've driven this way every day too. They can do it in their sleep and more than a few come close each day. You never know what they might think (or not think) to do. You get behind the wheel and you take your chances, but you most certainly don't do it alone. You rely on the laws to keep the roadways relatively well-regulated.
We grasp most of the logic behind limits, but we just lose our collective shit when anyone tries to apply the same logic and guidelines to guns and ammo. Trying to limit or regulate guns in densely populated areas is turned into an assault on freedom. The first step to totalitarianism!
"Any limit on gun ownership anywhere is a threat to gun ownership everywhere!" Really? Of course not, but when your diet has consisted of a steady stream of such counter-intuitive nonsense, and you deeply believe that civilization hinges on your personal arsenal, and you've never understood anything about city life or the people who choose to live packed in like sardines, and you judge such places by the things you see and hear via your satellite dish, well Bubba, you're the expert.
The west wasn't settled by guns in towns. It was settled by prohibiting guns in town. If checking your gun at the town line was unacceptable, you didn't go to town.
You stayed free in your rural paradise. Free to carry openly without hassle. Free to hunt and shoot for sustenance or sport. Free to believe that when the city folk came to disarm you, you'd fight back. That threat was never real. City folks aren't interested in running your life. They would appreciate the same from you. You solve problems your way, based on your situation, which might require you to act as your own sheriff. Those same solutions when attempted in a densely populated urban environment do not facilitate the same outcomes.
When you hear the intractable rhetoric of gridlock over our bullet problem, one faction is believably absolute in their resolve to stand against ANY further encroachment of their Second Amendment rights. They caved, too easily some will say, on private ownership of fully-automatic weapons, on shoulder-fired rockets, RPGs, mortars, tanks, cannon and tactical nukes, so they're not about to make the same mistake again.
They're simple folk and like it. They don't want city folks telling them nothin'!
Guess what? City folks are fine with that. They'd appreciate a little bit of good ol' fashioned reciprocity. What works in rural don't work in urban and vice versa.
Agreed. Live and let live. When you cross density thresholds you adapt. Rural folk are practical? If given the chance, they might be practical about gun control?
Can we pass limits and regulations that embrace the geography?
Monday, January 7, 2013
I'm guest blogging today at Zachary Klein's Just Askin'. He asked, I responded. It was interesting to write on a deadline again. It reminded me that I should make more of an effort here.
If the reminder sticks, you may begin to see more regular updating, with a potential goal of, at minimum, a weekly post. That's not a resolution mind you; just an idea.
The Draft folder is in need of weeding. A concept of revenge writing is simmering.
Happy New Year!