Hawking Up Hairballs

Monday, December 28, 2009

Human Sandbags

Was there any indignity that wasn't visited upon blacks in the days of slavery, and then later during the segregation era? One wonders. Check this out, a New York Times item from 1912.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Odious World

”One is not superior merely because one sees the world as odious.”

The above comes from Francois-Rene Chateaubriand, who is credited as the founder of French Romanticism. I had to laugh upon reading it. I found it right on the mark, for I have to admit that I am often guilty of thinking myself a superior person simply because I look upon the world with a cynical eye.

Just recently I was thinking that I am of an age where I really should write a will. Not that I have financial resources that amount to much, but it might save my family members some hassles when I die. That got me to thinking about what I wanted in the will. I definitely want to be cremated. Fuck the Christians and their resurrection of the flesh. Besides, cemeteries are just good parks ruined.

Then there's the matter of what I want done with my ashes. Oh, I know what I'd dearly love. I'd love to have them scattered on a garbage dump. That's how odious I think the world is. I'd rather that my ashes mingle with the world's detritus than with anything else.

I won't do it, of course. It would upset the surviving family members, and what would be the point of that? There is an alternative though. Perhaps if some hot, young beauty could be found who would agree to rub my ashes all over her perfect body. Yeah, that right there, that's the ticket. She could start with her breasts, move on down to her belly, ash-dirtied hands going right for the sweet spot, and, and,...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Obama's Leadership, Or Lack Thereof

I'm linking to a great article about Obama's approach to leadership. The following quotation from the article sums it up. “He (Obama) can't seem to muster the passion to fight for any of what he believes in, whatever that is. He'd make a great queen -- his ceremonial addresses are magnificent -- but he prefers to fly Air Force One at 60,000 feet and 'stay above the fray.'”


Monday, December 21, 2009

The Great Recession

I was watching the Bill Moyers show on PBS yesterday when he did a profile of this guy who started a community organizing group in Boston, with the purpose of preventing foreclosures and forcing the banks to let people stay in their foreclosed homes as rental tenants. I wish I could recall his name, but I was doing other things when the piece was on and I wasn't playing close attention. He's an admirable fellow though. He doesn't organize his group in a top down fashion. The purpose of the group is to get people to take control of their lives by fighting back. It's the only way to do things and expect them to work.

So, I was only half watching the show when something struck me. They were talking about how the group was demonstrating at the home of someone who was being foreclosed on. A representative of the bank was there and he told the group that it wasn't personal, that it was just the market.

It's just the market. That got me to thinking. I sometimes find myself shaking my head at the ideas that are put forth to justify the actions of the banksters and others. They're so obviously wrong. What I forget to think about is that these wrong ideas have consequences. These flawed ideologies empower those who work for the real villains, the bank employee, for example. I'm sure he doesn't like what he's doing to people, but he can console himself with the idea that it's just the market at work, which is like a force of nature that we messs with at our peril.

I also watched a segment of 60 Minutes. It was about Wilmington, Ohio, where Airborne Express had been headquartered. Airborne employed 10,000 people there, all of whom were laid off after Airborne was acquired by DHL. The reason I mention it, is this. I've been wondering what the powers that be will end up calling the current financial crisis. It's obviously more than a garden variety recession and they're allergic to the use of the “D” word. Well, the reporter who was doing the segment called it the Great Recession. Bingo! I think they've found it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Broken Americans?

Are American's a broken people? That's the question asked in the article to which I link below, and the answer is in the affirmative. The author thinks that's why we see so little active protest against the anti-people policies that have been coming out of Washington for quite some time.


Money-Laundering Banks

How about this, ladies and gents. According to the Guardian, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime claims that the global banking system was saved from collapse at the height of the financial crisis by billions of dollars of drug money. Is it any surprise? Not to me, but if I'd written it before this statement from the UN official appeared, there are people who would have accused me of being a conspiracy theorist.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Oh, The Disney Horror!

Mickey Mouse is reportedly in tears. Goofy is wandering the streets of Disney World in shock,and Donald Duck has fled south to join his avian cousins in warmer climes. And what has spurred this uproar in the world of Disney? Well, it seems that one Patrick Disney Miller, Walt's 42-year-old grandson, has been arrested for “possession of a firearm by a felon”.

So, the Disney scion was strapped and he's a felon. How rich! According to the article that I read, the nature of the felony is not currently available. Disney fans are probably praying that it's a drug charge. That's almost to be expected of the offspring of the wealthy and famous. The worst probably has them lying awake at night. What if the man is a pedophile? Or, horror of horrors, what if he was caught getting a bit too intimate with the Disney fauna? What if it was something laughable, like distributing Disney porn? You know, comics of Goofy on Donald sex, or Daisy on Minny. The public wants to know for God's sake. Where is the National Inquirer when you really need them?!

Torches And Pitchforks Watch

Oh, yeah, ye banksters. Be afraid, be very afraid.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting Ideas

I've been telling myself that I wouldn't write so much about politics. It would probably be healthier if I didn't, but I can't stop. It's all just so outrageous. However, in this entry, I'm going to get back to the topic of writing.

People occasionally ask me how one gets ideas for writing. They seem to think that this is a difficult thing to do. I perused an article on just this topic by Dan Simmons, a successful scifi novelist. He says that he frequently has people come up to him at parties and such, telling him that they've got a great idea for a novel. They suggest things like, why don't you write the novel and we'll split the proceeds. They seem to think that coming up with the ideas is the hard part. Simmons, of course, politely declines. The fact is that ideas are easy to come by. It's the implementation that's a bitch.

So, how do you go about it? Well, there are certain exercises. Here's one. Take three unrelated words and turn them into a story. I'm looking at an example now. It's in the book Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course: albino, pistol and strawberry. An idea immediately comes to mind, admittedly not a very good one, but a viable idea nonetheless. You see, there's this hit man who has a passion for strawberries. He munches on them while waiting for his victims, and he always leaves one in their mouths. There's this police detective who is assigned to catch the hit man. He's an albino who is so without pigment that he is almost invisible by the light of the midday sun, and he catches the hit man when the hit man fails to see him at high noon. Like I said, not that good, but viable.

However, I generally get my ideas in the form of a character in a certain situation. Here's one that came to me recently. I was thinking of those guys who propose to their girl friends at baseball games and such. That's pretty mundane, but what if the girl turned him down? That's a little more interesting, but it's probably happened a number of times. However, think of this scenario. The proposal comes up on the message board between innings. The stadium camera is on the couple. When the proposal is made, the woman gets a shocked expression on her face. Once she gets over the initial shock, she jumps to her feet and says, “No! No! No! This is our first date!” She then flees the stadium. Now you're getting more interesting. However, that's not something I'm going to follow up on. The kind of character that would pull such a stunt isn't of much interest to me.

In the end, coming up with story ideas boils down to the same thing, no matter what the technique you use to get yourself going. It's directed daydreaming and, like anything else, it takes a certain amount of effort to learn, but it starts to come naturally soon enough. Unless you fight it, which some people do. They fear where the demons of the imagination will take them. You can't worry about that though. You've got to kiss your demons, then kick them in the ass, and tell them to get to work. You've got a story to write!

Contempt For Obama

As I've made abundantly clear, I'm no fan of Obama. However, I have been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in regard to his motives. I thought it quite possible that he meant well, but has been caught up in the constraints of the office and the political realities in the USA. However, I'm no longer willing to give him that benefit of a doubt. I now have contempt for Obama. He's a moral degenerate.

What pushed it over the line for me? It was some things he said in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, a speech that he gave just a few short days after announcing an escalation of the war in Afghanistan. He justified that escalation by saying that sometimes nonviolence doesn't work. As an example, he gave Hitler and Germany. He's right. A nonviolent campaign wouldn't have stopped Hitler. He had to be opposed with military force. But look what Obama's doing. He's comparing the war in Afghanistan to the war to stop Hitler. However, the comparison isn't apt. In this war, we're more in the role of the Nazis than anything else. We're the country that's invaded Afghanistan, the country that has forced a government on those people run by a CIA asset whose brother is a drug lord, the country that's made it clear that we're going to stay until we've bent them to our will.

Politics is said to be the art of the possible. Okay, I'll go along with that. But what was possible in regards to Afghanistan and the Peace prize? If Obama really feels that the war in Afghanistan is necessary, then he should have declined the prize. That would have been the honest thing to do. It is even possible that, had he handled it right, he could have accrued some political capital. But, no. He had to have his prize, so he conflated war with peace, just like every other president before him. Of course, that implies a definition of peace that is quite different from what you would find in the dictionary. When American politicians talk, peace is a state where the other nations of the world passively accept the dominion of the USA.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More On The Obama Administration

The link below will take you to an article critical of the Obama administration. It first appeared in a British socialist publication. I think it's right on the mark. I liked the following in particular, “The saddest thing is that Americans are cultivated like mushrooms from birth to death, kept in the dark and fed horseshit. Consequently, they haven't the slightest idea that there is an alternative to the system in which they labor at the pleasure of corporate and financial elites who own both their government and their every waking hour. That alternative is democratic Socialism. Self governance for the broadest common good.”


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Lame Duck Obama

I've never been an Obama enthusiast. I don't see how anyone could have been, given how the political system works. At this particular point in history, you can't be nominated for the presidency in the Democratic or Republican party unless you are bought and paid for. Obama was bought and paid for. Why else do you think he has Wall Street insiders like Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner setting his economic policy?

As it is shaping up now, Obama is the black Jimmy Carter. For all I know, he's well meaning but, if he is, he doesn't have the desire or strength of will to push his agenda through. Take Pakistan, for example. He caved in to the generals there. He's caving on health care. He's caving on creating jobs. It's almost like he's already a lame duck. He certainly doesn't seem to have any more clout than a lame duck president, and I don't see how he can expect anymore than one term.

What are likely to see after Obama? A nasty, right-wing figure, I'm afraid. If they have any political sense, and the right seems to have plenty of that, they'll use Palin as a stalking horse. She'll pave the way for a very right-wing candidate who isn't as outrageous and flamboyant, but who is just as toxic. The moderate voters that the Republicans hope to win will be turned off by the likes of Palin, but will then embrace the “more sensible” candidate, just because they're sick of the Democrats.

As far as Obama goes, I saw what was coming right after he was elected. He and his wife were on some talk show. The host asked them who the boss was in the household. Michelle Obama spoke right up and said, I am. Obama kind of sighed and agreed. Oh, shit, I thought, we're in trouble here. It's not that I believe that the man is supposed to be the dominant figure in a relationship, but you have to be strong-willed to be a president if you expect to get anything done. And you see what's happening. Perhaps it was Michelle who should have been elected.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tell Me You Don't Believe This

I'm linking to the followin because I think it is of the utmost importance. It concerns additional stimulus and tax breaks for the economy. I urge everyone to read it.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Paradigm Shift?

I'm not going to comment on the article to which I link below. I couldn't add anything of substance. It's a summary of the position of the economic historian, Robert Brenner, and I like what it says. His basic position is that the world economic system is not just suffering from a particularly bad economic slump, but that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift not unlike that from feudalism to capitalism. The article's a bit long, and it requires close attention, but it's worth it.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Star Trek

I never understood the appeal of the Star Trek television series. The sets were so obviously fake, the acting poor, and the plots uninteresting. In other words, it was no better or worse than the typical TV fare. Likewise for the various Star Trek movies. However, I recently watched the newest Star Trek film and I was impressed.

It was a fun bit of entertainment, with lots of characters from the original TV series for the aficionado. (The were played by different, younger actors, of course.) With a few exceptions, like Blade Runner and the original Terminator, I've never been much for science fiction movies, mostly because the worlds that they created were not visually believable. However, that has changed in recent years. The computer graphics have become so good that it has become easy to suspend disbelief when it comes to the visual aspects of the worlds created in these movies.

I wonder how long it will be before the techniques become so sophisticated that they won't even need actors anymore. They currently use focus groups to test the endings of a lot of movies, and they will change an ending if the members of those groups react negatively. Can't you just see them choosing computer-generated actors based upon the reactions of some focus group?

Yeah, it's a brave, new world that's a-coming, folks, and it's all a part of the neoliberal version of the capitalist project. Computer-generated actors, fully automated, robotic factories, online stores that have no need for stock clerks or sales people, that's what they're up to. Make the workers obsolete, as in the world of Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano. Those what have, will have. Those without, which means the overwhelming majority, will have to beg for scraps. Imagine a worldwide version of the worst of Indian poverty. That's what we're looking at. Unless, unless...

Bankers and Guns

Now, isn't this rich. For fear of an angry public, Goldman senior executives are applying for permits to carry handguns. No, I'm not making that up. The link below will take you to the story from Bloomberg. I love it. You can't put the fear of God in the bastards, but it looks like you can make them fear the masses. Torches and pitchforks, I say! Torches and pitchforks! We march on Wall Steet at dusk.