Thursday, September 30, 2010

Platonic Bullshit

Plato had an idea that somewhere in the universe, on some spiritual plane, every single thing that ever existed either had a mate that it was trying to reconnect with, or a perfect form of itself that the object would like to become. Something like teacup-ness, or white-sidewall-tire-ness.

Does that make sense?

Well, here's Plato's bullshit-ness, and it's awesome:

This is a news website article about a scientific paper

Couldn't resist passing this along. Hope you like.

Terrorists Are Everywhere - Turn 'Em In!!!

In what appears to be another edition of "you're not paranoid enough", the Justice Department has kicked off the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative. Suspicious Activity Reporting is its own thing, of course, simply the idea that if someone buys fertilizer, or a lot of hydrogen peroxide, or takes pictures of a building, that that person might be doing those things for nefarious purposes. If they do all three, they might very well be doing those things for nefarious purposes.

The question is, how many things do you report, and who do you report them to?

But now there's an Initiative. Time to get enthusiastic about turning in your fellow citizens!

We've had these sort of concepts before, most recently as the "If You See Something, Say Something!" campaign. How very "Leave It To Beaver" of them.

Now, I'm not a big fan of terrorism. The attacks on 9/11 were horrible, and probably preventable. But since the system we had in place prevented a lot of information from being shared between various parties, and even if they could have shared, they didn't want to, since information is power, and if you own it, you don't just give it away. There was, of course, a certain amount of high-level complacency in the administration at that time as well. While I don't believe the towers were brought down by pre-planted explosives, I'm afraid I have no problem believing that Cheney and others in the Bush administration wanted something to happen, in order to galvanize/terrify the American public into letting them have their way with the country.

This initiative worries me. It essentially sounds like we should all be checking up on anything new or out of the ordinary at all times. If someone does something that's not criminal, but just suspicious, we should report them? I think the worst thing about there not being pay phones anymore is that you can't anonymously turn someone in for buying too much hair gel. Perhaps if I were to buy a cheap pay-as-you-go cellphone, I could have a little fun; but then, of course, it becomes like the Boy Who Cried Terrorist: if I actually saw someone doing something, would the authorities take me seriously?

If you watch Burn Notice long enough, you realize that there are many things you can make with household items that are probably not good for most people to know about. And of course, Fight Club. Gasoline and certain other ingredients in equal quantities is basically napalm.

(no - I'm not going to say what)

So if I see someone going to the Safeway to fill up a gallon can of gas, and then going in and buying a whole bunch of the other thing (a truly innocuous item), do I automatically assume "firebomb"? And what about the old classic, Drano and aluminum foil? Is someone roasting a chicken and unclogging their sink, or are they planning on screwing up the toilets of a bunch of government buildings?

I think Bloom County had one of the best ideas:

I think it's going to be a sad day when eccentric behavior, or photography, or chemical/mechanical experiments in your own home might suddenly become a reason to investigate someone. I've already had the experience where, while taking photos of various objects on one of our local ferries, a guy with no visible signs of authority (except for the gun on his hip) started asking me what I was doing, why I was taking photos, etc. Here I was, being Mr. Eccentric Photographer, and I was suspected of potential terrorism, and if I couldn't come up with a reasonable explanation, they might haul me off to jail and interrogate me further.

I have to wonder, would that be fun? Interesting? Terrifying? If there's a way to document it all without the documentation being compromised, I'd be all over it. Hmmm....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Secks Is BAAAAAD. Really.

There are some folks out in politicoland that create such a sense of WTF that I have to go backwards out on a limb with a saw in my hand to just to comprehend them.

First off, I should clarify my own views on the subject of sex: I'm for it.

I'm not a big fan of prostitution, but it does serve a purpose in mature societies.

Sex trafficking (the purposeful deception and entrapment of young ladies into a life of unwilling prostitution), THAT I'm really, really opposed to. And not just because I hate waking up at three in the morning to the sounds of
- BOOM -
a house being battered in so loudly it sounds like they're busting down the door next door to me. Ever heard a shotgun firing a shock-lock round? Like friggin' cannon fire.

It was up the street a block and a half, but the whole neighborhood suddenly knew that the cute young Asian couple with the stack of mattresses in the garage were being busted, and it wasn't until later that we found out why...   eeewww...

Anyway, two related stories that have come up in the last couple of weeks, and a friend of mine prodded me a little to write a blog post about this one.

After much cannon fire from various law enforcement agencies, Craigslist has removed the "erotic services" from their websites in the United States. But nowhere else. Not even Kuwait. So, apparently, erotic services are acceptable everywhere but in the good old Puritannical US of A.

By the way, on Craigslist, you can still get a "massage."

And, to add insult to injury, we have this new TEA Party candidate that is running for Senator in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell. Who does not approve of sex outside of marriage, and who does not approve of masturbation in any way, shape or form, and who thinks that only by teaching our teenagers the wonders of abstinence will we save them from STDs and other things that we actually had a handle on back in the seventies. She got here, of course, after doing quite a bit of sexual experimentation back in college, which, she said, left her feeling "empty."

Perhaps she needed to pick a, ahem, bigger partner for her meaningless sexual escapades.

Then there are her stories of consorting with witches. Which is why she is now opposed to Halloween. You have to wonder how she feels about celebrating Easter with bunnies and dyed eggs and all that, since that's based on a pagan ritual that we celebrate at about the time when (supposedly) Jesus died for her sins. Perhaps it would be more acceptable if we explained that Jesus hid the eggs just before he was crucified. Since he was the son of God, and could therefor do anything he wanted to, he might even have laid the eggs himself.

I wonder if she'd feel better about the whole easter-egg thing if we were to simply build a crucifix with a dummy Jesus and pelt him with eggs, to remind us of how naughty the Jews Romans were.

(sorry, blaspheming again, I know)

I get the feeling that if she ever becomes lactose-intolerant, she'll go after Cheese festivals in Wisconsin for not being Godly, since God wouldn't have made her hate something so much if it wasn't some sort of sin.

So, remember, anything you personally think is fun/bad is probably a sin. Which is why you should try to enjoy it more. You know, like murder.

No, wait...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Incredible Shrinking Me

The more I write about politics, the less it appears that I understand what the hell people are thinking. While I do have a few followers, and I do occasionally stray into the land of unabashed angryville (see the Bible Burn post below), I'm becoming unutterably sad for our nation and our leaders.

The Left (for want of a better word) seems to be composed of a combination of the overly politically correct, the slightly embarrasedly religious, and the completely cynical and misanthropic. I put myself partially in the first and third categories, while skirting around the middle category altogether. I'm pretty much certain there are no deities either watching over us, or even just letting us do our thing while the world They gave us collapses and dies. If there was a God, he/she left a while ago. Probably between the end of the Brady Bunch and the beginning of Beverly Hills 90210. And I'm pretty sure the Star Wars Christmas Special had something to do with it.

Meanwhile, in political LaLa-Land, while freaks like Sharron Angle and Michelle Bachmann get to be heard loud and clear by whomever will give them a hearing, we throw folks like Harry Reid up against them, who still sounds like he's apologising even when he's on the attack. Ms. Angle can talk about doing away with Social Security and Medicare, while Reid promptly comes back with a nuanced, truthful precis of the situation, but no one wants to listen to him, because, well, complicated explanations are boooring, duh!

So, fine, we'll go elect some clown who promises to fix everything for free, no one will feel pain, and everything will be fine again, our children will grow up safe, and well-educated, because the Department of Education won't be filling their little heads with leftist thought, and all those black people will stay in their neighborhoods and not blight the landscape, and the only drugs you'll hear about are the good drugs, drugs that are properly prescribed, or, even better, over the counter meds like cigarettes and alcohol, because those (in moderation) are good for you - just look at Mad Men, wasn't that a great time?

Oh, yes, and by the way, all government is bad.

Except the military.

Here's why the military is so great. It's a nice little chart.

I mean... Holy shit...

Meanwhile, you have David Brooks telling everyone that America isn't in decline, that it's just a state of mind, people aren't doing all the saving they used to, so they feel desperate, and it's time for everyone to get back to work, and not whine about crappy wages or working conditions, because you know, get back to fucking work you lazy slobs.

This isn't fun anymore, and I can't express in words how foolish I feel, nor how foolish I think we have become, as a nation. We've gone past the point of no return. And I'll keep doing the day job, paying my mortgage, paying my bills, and voting for the appropriate D when the time comes. But I understand why people don't want to vote. Facts don't win arguments. Only emotions win arguments.

We make speeches for each other. We reinforce our own ideas. We do well at saying how dumb the other side always seems, or how intolerant, or how wilfully blind, while ignoring our own weaknesses of pedantry, condescension, and an overarching sense of smug superiority.

And I include myself in there, so there...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Re-Announcing: Bible Burn!!!

For something this nuts, I'm not going to provide links back to the Temple of Crazy, AKA Dove World Outreach Center. They don't need the publicity.

Pastor Terry Jones (absolutely not to be confused with Monty Python's Terry Jones, a man with great respect for the teachings of Christ) has planned to gather his flock on September 11th of this year, and make a bonfire of Qur'ans on his church's front lawn. He does this "out of love for Jesus" he claims. Also, to prove that we still have freedom of speech in this country.


Then I recommend we prove to him right back, that freedom of speech is a two-way street. I'd like to see an event where we wrap a whole bunch of bibles in American flags, throw in a couple of apple pies (and anyone's dead Mom who wants to be cremated), and start a fire of our own.

(actually, only licensed crematoria are allowed to burn the bodies of the dead, so I guess we'll have to leave our dead Moms at home for this one)

Survival Research Laboratories had a planned event back in the 1980s called Bible Burn. Everyone was supposed to bring a bible and throw it on a nice big bonfire (in a semi-controlled environment - if you've ever been to an SRL show, you know what I mean). Right before it was set to take place, the organizers called it off, in what I would call a moment of cowardice. They claimed death threats. I say, let's start it up again, and see what happens.

I know, fomenting hatred and fear and making people think stupid thoughts about a dead guy nailed to a cross who professed love of everyone, which has brought about a wave of people who say his name as they prepare to unleash hatred on people who don't think quite like they do.

Some of their reasons for burning the Qur'an? (they have a LOT of them)
  • "Islam denies Jesus' divinity" - just like the Jews and George Washington! Let's burn the Talmud and a bunch of dollar bills, too. IDOLATRY!
  • The Qur'an is not "recorded in heaven" the way the Bible is. How they know this I'm not sure I get.
  • Islam teaches "Arabian" idolatry and rituals. The code word here is "Arabian", i.e., non-white, therefor Satanic.
  • They say the Qur'an wasn't written until years after Muhammed's death, and is full of contradictions. Not unlike the Bible, actually.
  • "Islamic law is totalitarian in nature", they say. Really? So, the Pope isn't totalitarian? Would they themselves not basically be telling everyone how to live if they had a shot at being in charge?
  • "Islam is not about democracy or human rights". Hmmm.. Like Guantanamo or Bagram?
  • Muslims cannot change their faith, because it's punishable by death. Interesting, because Pastor Jones says there are a bunch of ex-Muslims that support what he's doing. If they've changed their religion, why aren't they dead? Someone's asleep at the switch! Christians can, of course, change, but not without their pastor telling them they'll burn in hell. What's the big difference there?
  • "Deep in the Islamic teaching and culture is the irrational fear and loathing of the West." And deep in Christian teaching (these days) is the irrational fear and loathing of the East.
Yes, I'm an asshole. And an agnostic (at least I'm honest enough to say I'm really not sure about many many things). But I try not to be a hypocrite.

Oh, and a great, non-violent way to see all things Satanic (as far as these twits are concerned), I highly recommend you see this movie: "Unmistaken Child". Makes me think hard about the idea of old souls...

The Post-Modern Corporation (that eats people)

I've been reading a book on my lunch hour called False Dawn by John Gray, formerly the School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. And I've come to the conclusion that Republicans really don't know anything, read anything, or care about their own futures. Because what they seem to be arguing for is not just a return to the good old days of the robber-baron capitalists of the 19th century, they seem to want to become the coal that fired the engines.

The Glenn Beck rally on Saturday, in which Beck attempted to resurrect the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. (without actually knowing what it was King was for), had a variety of Tea Party folks, nice old white people (here and there were tiny pockets of nice), and gun nuts who must have felt naked without their concealed-carry pieces. Beck had asked everyone to please leave their guns and signs at home, since this wasn't a political event, but some kind of moral lecture, religious revival, or possibly, The Plan, as Beck had called it a couple of months back when he announced this event.

As it happens, he didn't reveal The Plan, unless you count the folks in the Puritan outfits that are supposed to go out and evangelize for... something or other. He did, however, reveal The Palin, who was her usual incomprehensible self, sounding like a combination of Yoda and Hooked on Phonics played backwards.

Turnout was in the high-seventy- to low-eighty-thousand range. So of course, Fox says half a million showed up. "We report, you decide not to think."

One woman was quoted as saying that if she wanted to buy a gas guzzler, she should be able to, and she wanted to use any kind of damn light bulb she wanted. To which I say, fine, if you can afford the gas it takes to fill up a HumVee, be my guest. If you want to burn lightbulbs that die every six months and cost ten times what a CFL does to power, fine. We won't credit you for much in the way of brains, but go ahead, waste your money.

False Dawn argues that the politicians of the United States, and some in Europe, have decided somewhere along the way that a market-driven economy (what the Right calls Free Markets), now equals a system in which the societal costs of running a factory or driving a car are being absorbed by the society at large, and that big corporations and their owners are not responsible to the society at all. The point of operating a business has nothing to do with enriching the community or benefitting the country in which the business resides - no, it's all about enriching the corporation, making sure that there are as few impediments to the ability of the corporation to do what it needs to do to maximise profits.

If this is the way we're going than I suggest a Swiftian response: if someone is unemployed for too long, and they can no longer get benefits or welfare or food stamps, then I suggest we use them for either fuel for power stations (like coal, only not quite as clean burning), or fertiliser for ethanol corn. If they can't serve any other useful function, let them die and reduce the surplus population.

While I recognize that that was a very mean-spirited paragraph, it wouldn't surprise me if that's what a lot of the Tea Party thinks, simmering just under the surface.