Tuesday, July 31, 2012

with his mind on his money and his money on his mind

Everybody knows the guy on the left. Some Americans believe he's an African-born Marxist who has usurped the high office from which he now directs the economic and cultural dismantling of a once-great nation. Others believe him to be the messiah. Some of us like him OK, but with reservations, and a few think he's an inept, timid, garden-variety politician.

But who's the bald-headed guy on the right? Why, I recognize that guy, even though I haven't seen him in a while. It's Jon Corzine, the financier and former Democratic governor of New Jersey, who stole approximately $1,600,000,000 from customers' accounts at the now-defunct hedge fund he used to operate, MF Global.

Mr. Corzine is currently "under investigation," whatever that means, by the Just Is Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, but he has not been indicted nor tried for the very grand theft he committed in 2011.

He's currently one of the president's top "bundlers," having collected and turned over more than half a million dollars in contributions to the Obama campaign.

Open and blatant corruption -- it's not just for Republicans any more.

The Lion Snoops 2Nite

Snoop Doggy Dogg has had a spriritual awakening during a trip to Jamaica, and henceforth will be known as Snoop Lion.

Although his legal name is Calvin Broadus, Jr., his "Snoop" identity has been the only one known to his fans and detractors for years. "I want to bury Snoop Dogg, and become Snoop Lion" Mr Broadus Jr told journalists at a news conference in New York.

Apparently it was a conversation with a Rasta priest that caused the conversion of Mr. Lion. There was no mention in the story of any substance he may or may not have smoked, inhaled the vapours of, or ingested. My own understanding of Jamaican conversions is that there's always something green behind them.

From now on he will only compose and record reggae music. No more "Gin & Juice."

Some people here, especially depraved church ladies in Minnesota and Texan Zionists, are worried about a Mohammedan takeover in the US. Seems to me they should turn their attention to the possibility of cultural infiltration by pacifist Rasta devotees of the Ethiopian cult of the great god Jah.

Monday, July 30, 2012

my name is god, and i approve this message

If a teabagger troll
Should say to you
That he don't like
The way you do,
Just tell him
"Novus ordo seclorum, baby."
If you can't outshout em,
Might as well bore em.
After he's gone to sleep,
Whisper in his ear,
"Annuit Cœptis."
And open him a beer.

brown rainbows

I hold in my trembling (but not for long) hand the greatest human development since our primeval ancestors successfully concluded their quest for fire, and learned how to cook their mammoth meat rather than swallowing it raw, au parasites.

It is a box of Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies™ mix, which with the addition of some oil, a couple eggs, and a dab of water mixes up easily into a batter that cooks in a little less than an hour, and produces an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan of decent-tasting brownies -- not the best you've ever eaten, and certainly not as good as your Aunt Myrtle Mae's, but good, for lack of a better word.

However, these brownies are easily rendered magical, with the addition of just a little magically infused oil. I'd recommend no more than a couple of tablespoons of magic in six or eight tablespoons of oil.

The result is a pan of brownies that taste just as great as the non-magical version, but have what some call "the rainbow effect." The French like to say these rich and delectable treats have "a certain I-don't-know-what."

Whatever you want to call it, this gravy-colored rainbow's effect tends to make people smile a lot, and temporarily look (but not feel) as if they've taken a wrecking ball to their foreheads.

However, those who would eat the magic brownie must be warned, not everyone finds the effect pleasant. In fact, severe heartburn, echolalia, and panic attacks inevitably afflict some who just innocently sought a little magic in their lives, so exercise due caution in these matters.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

electoral college

Current assessments of the fall election show Romney winning more states and possibly the popular vote as well, but Obama taking the race, 281 electoral votes to 191. Is this a great country, or what?

I know us humble mortals are not supposed to question the validity of this thing called the Electoral College.

It may be an 18th-century device clanking along awkwardly in a 21st-century world, but all true-blue Americans understand that it's a gift given to us by our Founding Fathers, all of whom were superhuman beings who sat on the right hand of God.

Our understanding of these things is far superior to that of heathen foreigners, who don't comprehend the American civic religion. For them, the Founding Fathers might seem to be a bunch of mouldy aristocrats, much in love with showing off their useless educations by baffling us peasants with their fancy Latin phrases, and subject to the usual human weaknesses such as hypocrisy.

One of them, for example, was a slave owner who was also one of the world's leading theoreticians of human liberty.

But forget all that. If the Electoral College was good enough for St. John Adams and the blacksmiths and whale-hunters of Massachusetts in 1790, we should be grateful to have preserved it. So all you liberals just shut up, and eat your traditional American food -- Hot Pockets™ and seasoned curly fries.

Friday, July 27, 2012

split existence

Pictured here is the drink, as seen from the car deck of the boat I crossed it on yesterday, heading from the Seattle side to the forest side.

The drink is scary, even though this little piece of it that I cross every week is generally calm, peaceful, and not large in comparison with, say, the ocean.

Still, seen close up it seems immense, cold, relentless, and threatening. Every land animal naturally fears falling into the middle of the drink.

After a safe and uneventful passage, I arrived at chez Catboxette where I snapped thus photo of a flowering begonia, on the verge of living up to its name, and the gorgeous, once-trashed but now salvaged pot it sits in.

The spare composition of pottery and plant represents her aesthetic perfectly.

The weather was warm and sunny when I arrived here yesterday, but it's turned cool and rainy this morning. It's not raining in Seattle, but here's a picture from the KING-TV tower on Queen Anne Hill of the fog the city is wrapped in this morning, preventing outbound air traffic from departing Sea=Tac.

I had to hurry getting ready to leave yesterday, and arrived here without clean socks, or a belt, or a jacket. I'm getting tired of this geographically bifurcated existence. I really need to move over here, where the heart is.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

kilgore trout lives

The internet age might be drawing to a close.

I've been spending the bulk of my waking hours on line for 10 years now, but lately I've been noticing that increasingly, as time goes by, the internet is becoming little more than a vehicle for advertising, just like television which has sucked for decades, and also a means for government and other quasi-governmental institutions to pry into our private lives.

The printed, dead-tree book is poised to make a comeback, and yesterday I read one -- "Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. It concerns the career of an obscure science-fiction writer, Kilgore Trout, a dirty and disheveled old man whose work is sold in bulk to the publishers of pornographic magazines, to be used as "filler" between the photographs, and the developing insanity due to haywire brain chemistry of a successful midwestern businessman who is influenced by Trout's work, Dwayne Hoover.

I bought the book at 10:00 in the morning, started reading it at 11:00, and finished it at 8:00 in the evening, devouring its 300 pages at an average rate of 33-1/3 pages per hour, while enjoying every word and every one of Vonnegut's childish felt-tip drawings.

I don't know if I'd call "Breakfast" a great novel or not. It's extremely skillfully written, in a style which may not have a name, but which I would call "fantastic realism." Vonnegut's work contains no trace of the things in literature I hate most, sentimentality and romanticism. Instead, he writes jazz, riffing and improvising on the real world as he understood it.

As I read this novel yesterday, I was not advertised at, even one time. No advertisers made notes on my reactions in order to guage my "preferences," and I was not scrutinized by any government agency or department looking for tell-tale signs of "terrorism," or more accurately, unorthodox, hence dangerous beliefs. And that's what I call living.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

clever turtle

I never imagined having anything nice to say about Mitch McConnell, one of the nastiest pieces of human refuse ever. But today, his call for a straight, up-or-down vote on both parties' tax plans was an excellent move, both strategically and ideologically.

The Associated Press story on this development points out that McConnell's move puts the ball into the Democrats' court, and that they're going to have to now literally put the nation's money where their mouths are.

In an announcement that seemed to surprise Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor that he was accepting a Democratic offer to hold back-to-back roll calls on both parties' bills, with each measure requiring just a simple majority for passage.

The new plan puts pressure on Democrats to avoid an embarrassing defeat of their own tax cut plan, which closely resembles proposals by President Barack Obama to extend tax cuts for all but the nation's highest earners. Republicans want the high earners to keep their tax cuts, too.

This is where the condom meets the highway, so to speak. The Democrats keep telling us that it's those other guys who are owned by the corporations and one-percenters, not them. McConnell is forcing them to either vote for what they say they believe in -- extending the tax cuts for the poor, middle-class, and semi-rich, and allowing them to expire for the truly wealthy -- or stand exposed as the biggest hypocrites this side of Vatican City.

What will our heroes do now? My guess is they'll show their awareness of which side of their bread has the butter. Those Senators from hotly-contested states have a tit in the wringer, that's for sure.

Or, they could pass their tax proposal with a lot of posturing and self-serving bloviation, then amend it to death in the lame duck session. Nobody in the Senate just recently fell off the turnip truck, and they all know how the game is played. Problem is, so do a lot of us who are watching them. Closely.

I hope I'm wrong. Progressive thinking on this matter is that it doesn't make a bit of difference which party is in charge, since they're both in on the grand theft. We'll see.

good taste is timeless

One might hope that the Hello Kitty Hotel in Taiwan finally answers the question on everyone's mind, "How far are they gonna take this thing, anyway?"

Ugly couches are commonplace, and every Goodwill store in the country has one or two on offer on any given day. It was hard to pick the ugliest couch, but I think we have a winner!

No celebration of taste and practicality would be complete without paying homage to the classic round bed, the universal standard for poor design.

Found all this and lots of other cool stuff here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

new frontiers in i don't know what

Here's the thing even a barely conscious, marginally-smarter-than-a-brick state legislator should know without someone having to tell him, her, or it: If you send a bare-chested picture of yourself out on the internet, even if you just send it to a "close friend," you're making it public.

As in the whole world will see it. Remember Anthony's wiener? duh.

Highly-placed state officials do this kind of stuff frequently though. Some of them are so stupid and helpless it makes you wonder. Like this sex tourist who saw an American he didn't know walking around with a camera in this foreign land where he was vacationing...

Finally, we have the sad case of one Louie Gohmert, (that's him in the picture), whom Juanita Jean accurately describes as a large, white, hairless, perspiring Christian Republican congressman from Texas, who today on the radio called fellow Republican Senator John McCain "a numb-nuts," because McCain has made disparaging remarks about Michele Bachmann's crusade to investigate everyone in government for their ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Actually, this is all new frontiers in I DO know what, but don't want to say.


In one of the few remaining big money sports where size doesn't matter and the game is not dominated by overgrown freaks, a true giant passed from the local scene yesterday as Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the Yankees.

Ichiro came to the Mariners in 2001 after playing nine years in Japan. During his 11 and a half years in Seattle he won the major league batting title twice and set the record for the number of hits in a season.

At 38 he's in the sunset of his career, but in his first at-bat as a Yankee last night, playing against the Mariners in their home at Safeco Field, Ichiro banged a line-drive single to center for his 2,534th major-league hit. Even as he heads for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, his career isn't over, but can now be assessed as the game-changer it was, transforming major league baseball from a parochial American institution into an international phenomenon.

Monday, July 23, 2012

reading the law

Reading Constitutional law accurately is a technical exercise, requiring specific ways of evaluating language and intention.

The Second Amendment, for example, is as brief as the author could make it and still get everything in he wanted to cover. This benchmark standard of concision and brevity, of which the Second Amendment is such an excellent example, requires that an accurate interpretation of the law will take every word into account.

In law school, according to the blogger Hecate who has experience in these matters, this requirement is known as "reading the statute in a way that will not 'render' any of the words in the statute as 'surplusage.'”

The other requirement of reading law is that it must be interpreted in a way that takes into account its purpose or intent. The Second Amendment was written for a country which had no standing army. The male citizenry was thus drafted by the Second Amendment as a kind of armed, ready reserve.

The infant republic would be defended by its yeoman peasantry, who would show up for service in good condition from all that work down on the farm, and armed with a weapon they were familiar with and could use. In theory, that's how it would work, anyway.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Taking all the words of this single-sentence, concise law into account, there is absolutely no evidence that those who wrote and approved it had in mind the right of every idiot and lunatic under the sun to acquire limitless numbers of weapons of mass destruction, and the ordnance to blow people and stuff up because he was having a bad hair day.

Found this item at Atrios's blog.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

kolorado kool-aid

Dwayne Hoover (Breakfast of Champions) is not a fictional character. The name is fictional, but the character is real, both male and female, and legion.

You can't fight insanity with more insanity. The only antidote is sanity.

Thinking for very long about the latest mucker and his deadly midnight rampage is enough to drive anybody crazy, for no purpose. There's no way to bring back the dead.

It's time to take action, in the name of sanity. Today we'll cut back the dead rosebush, compost the corpse, clean up the corner where it lived, and plant something else there. We'll harvest the lettuce and rebuild the soil in that end of the garden.

In a few minutes I'll greet the rising sun with the uncompromising sanity of a well-timed yoga practice, countering the boiling insanity of the society in which I find myself with the quiet equanimity of Messrs. Patanjali and Krishnamacharya.

Another day in the madhouse called America. Another day during which I might be shot and killed by a lunatic, but more likely will simply sit and watch the world spin round one more time, and so grow in sadness.

Friday, July 20, 2012

back to the woods

I'm back in the forest, where I'm in the process of moving, although not proceeding with blitzkriegian speed. Today after brunch at the local and most excellent café, we drove into town for an errand at Don's, an old-time drugstore, then went up to the ornate, Victorian Kremlin-style county courthouse to pick up my new license tabs.

Then I took a big step, and at m'lady's insistence scheduled a consultation with a doctor on this side of the water, a general practitioner who I'm hoping will be what they call my primary-care physician -- something I haven't had for years. And I really need somebody at this point who can assess the comprehensive situation, as opposed to just treating this or that or the other problem.

I don't want to go on and on about my health problems, so I'll just give you the lowdown, kids: stay away from whiskey and cigarettes. You'll be sorry if you don't.

It's rain and clouds, with some thunder in the northwest today. It's been weird -- two days of sunny paradise followed by a day of water, mist, and haze. It's been the pattern for a couple of weeks, and there's not much doubt in my mind our climate here has changed, like everyone else's, only the effects here are not so far disastrous as they have been in other places.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

jammed, slammed, and alabammed

I'm Alabammy bound;
Ain't got no heebie-jeebies hangin round;
I'll be the biggest ticket-man on earth,
All I'm worth;
I'll put my tootsies in an upper berth,
And when that choo-choo sounds,
You got to know I'm goin to cover ground --
I'm gonna holler so the world will know,
Here I go --
I'm Alabammy bound.

--Robert Hoffman, 1909

billions and billions of billions

Financial news these days boggles the mind, and spins the head. People are yakking in billions and alluding to amounts in the trillions of dollars. Money has, as Jim Kunstler says, become a total abstraction.

Except it's not. 100 Billion Euro is what it's taking to bail out the Spanish banks. That's about 123 Billion dollars, and don't even ask what happens to the Spanish economy as a result (Nada).

100 Billion is what the federal gov would recover if it reinstates regular tax rates on money earned in excess of a quarter million. (Families earning $260,000 a year will still get the tax break on the first $250,000.) That's over ten years, so ten billion a year.

100 Billion is also what it costs to run the Afghan war for one year, at the current level of mayhem. Some posters in low places claim that amount of money is "a drop in the bucket." But you can't run a year's worth foreign war with tens of thousands of expeditionary troops involved, along with their mercenary auxiliaries, staffs, and servants with a drop in the bucket.

Incomprehensible sums, combined with the fact that the US economy would totally crash and burn if we were not always either at war or preparing for war...are we all OK with that?

Look at the "official" numbers on Wikipedia, at the however-many hundreds of billions in the annual "defense" budget, and you're not getting a true picture, because that figure does not include the costs of:

1) The Department of Homeland Security;

2) The FBI, CIA, NSA, and all the apparatus of security and surveillance the government has acquired since 9/11/2001;

3) Current wars;

4) Pensions;

5) Routine and rehabilitative care for veterans of past wars, hospitalization and normal medical costs.

If you add it all up it comes to about a trillion dollars, give or take 100 billion or so. That's slightly more than half the national budget, and this is no way to run a railroad.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

bovine waterbeds

Bovine waterbeds are all the rage on dairy farms where hard-working, wise owners promote well-being and happiness amongst their herds. One of the current trends helping achieve this goal is providing comfortable beds for the lactating beasts to lie down upon, for they are no more likely to lay down than we are.

Even if I was big as a cow, I would not want to have to carry a big, heavy udder around on my feet all the time. The poor cows will obviously be more comfortable if they can take a load off once in a while, and farmers have discovered they can get onto and off of waterbeds more easily than they can regular mattresses.

"Happier cows, happier milk" says Willamette Valley (Oregon) dairy farmer Ben Van Loon. And the cows say "Moo."


No more BeliefNet for a while.

You can't have a rational conversation with idiots.

crappy weather

The sky is just a thick blanket of clouds again today. Summer refuses to get here, and no, this is Not Normal. When I was a kid growing up here, the weather was nowhere near this crappy.

There's no doubt in my mind that this is one result of global climate change. What causes most of the country to burn up works to make other places cooler and wetter. Right now northwest temperatures are comfortable (mid-70's), but the atmosphere is muggy.

Even though I don't like this, we shouldn't complain. It's better than being on fire.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast your pearles before the swine; lest they trample them under their feete, and turne againe and rent you."

Matthew, 7:6
KJV, 1611


I haven't been everywhere in the world, but among the places I have been, the U.S. is still the best place to be. This is in spite of, rather than because of our politics and attitudes.

America's main attraction, as always, is her natural resources and open spaces. I've been to Europe and Japan, and of necessity they do not have anything like the way we assume the freedom of having free, natural, open spaces.

Most of the Olympic Peninsula, where I live, is rain forest and mountains, inhabited only by animals and birds. Germany has forests, but seen from the air they're rectangular, and seen up close, manicured, like an expensive haircut.

Even today, after 150 years of continuous habitation in the most recently settled parts, America has almost unbelieveable agricultural potentional, but it will only be realized if we get rid of outfits like Monsanto and Cargill and get a handle on the rapidly-heating climate, which means getting a handle on fossil-fuel emissions. The drought is threatening to permanently cripple much of our best agricultural land. Being a patriot, I think a person must witness the farming culture of Washington and Oregon to get an idea of how abundant and gorgeous mother earth could be, all over the country.

Our political and cultural life, as opposed to our natural lives, is a different story. We started out by stealing this beautiful and rich place, of course, from its former inhabitants. And "make no mistake" (as our beloved leader likes to say), the US was an empire from the beginning. Starting with Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana Territory in 1803 which may or may not have been legal under the Constitution, for the first 100 years the Empire was strictly continental. Further expansion in the 19th century was got by war with Mexico, a treaty extorted by intimidating England for the spot I'm sitting on right now, ending with the purchase of Russian Alaska in 1867.

By the end of the century with nowhere left to expand to, the Empire jumped overseas with Bill McKinley's noble crusade to liberate Cuba from the Spanish so we could have it for ourselves. However, the real war was in the Philippines, where the "Spanish-American" war ground on for years at great cost to both sides before Filipino resistance was shattered.

Then comes America's first Democrat "peace" president, Woodrow Wilson, and World War I, then Calvin Coolidge's blessing of the United Fruit Company's commitment to taking over and running Central America as a plantation, at which point a few people began to notice the symbiotic relationship between capitalism and war.

It would have been really hard to stay out of the big, colossal, world-scrap that came up a few years later, probably the last one of its kind. I still think of it as "the good war," and it's how Frank Roosevelt got us out of the first Wall Street depression and launched us into the evil times that have followed.

No point to even writing anything about what came after WWII. I do that here every day. And at any rate, that chapter, and that evil time, is just about done.

both sides

"Both sides do it" is lame, stupid, and untrue.

"Both sides" do not foam at the mouth the way Rick Santorum does whenever he reads a newspaper or watches network newz. "Both sides" do not hate the working class. "Both sides" do not invent an Iranian nuclear threat with their lying mouths in order to have a weak enemy to attack. "Both sides" are not obsessed with fetus-Americans while hating poor children who have already been born.

Barack Obama is not a "leftist," or an extreme anything, except an extreme mediocrity.

Both the American revolutions we've had so far were accomplished by radicals, who at the start were fringies. The mainstream caught up with them; they didn't "move to middle" or move anywhere else, because they were right, and they were taking a moral stand (as opposed to a political position). The American revolution we're teetering on the brink of will be the same way.

There was no compromise with monarchy and absolutism, and no compromise with slavery or slaveocracy. There will be no compromise with the dictatorship of the one percent, or their zombie robot Tea Party attack dogs.

We will never give an inch.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Romney will lose the election. It's obvious at this point he's totally unable to handle anyone calling him on his BS. I guess living a life of privelege, no one has ever done that to him before. So he's going down like a sack of coal.

So the job for progressives at this point is to find a way to prevent Obama from winning. As his former law school prof, Roberto Unger said in a famous video, "Barack Obama must be defeated."

How can that happen if Romney loses?

Washington, the state where I live, is very blue. So is Oregon, just to the south of us, and so is the northern 2/3 of California, with about half that state's population.

I'm voting for Stein, the Green candidate. She's not going to win any states, even on the Blue Coast.But what happens if she gets just enough votes so that no candidate has a majority?

Let's say Obama gets 45 percent of the vote in Washington, and Romney gets 43 percent (which could happen, because the eastern part of the state is politically primitive), and Stein gets 12 percent.

My question is "What happens to Washington's 11 electoral votes if no candidate has a majority?" What happens if a similar situation arises in Oregon? or even California?

I don't know the answer, but it's worth a shot.

There must be some way to put a stumbling block in front of the Obama re-election machine, which is rolling along happily at this point like a puppy in a roomful of rubber balls.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

on being a good person

Jonathan Schwarz:

I learned from this article about the work of Bradley J. Strawser, a former Air Force officer and now a professor of philosophy at the Naval Postgraduate School. Strawser recently wrote as article titled "Moral Predators: The Duty to Employ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" (PDF) in which he explained that:

I argue that there is an ethical obligation to use UAVs. ... there is a strong moral obligation to use [drones] in place of inhabited aircraft.

But is using drones the only moral obligation that we have? No. As another philosopher, Michael Novak, said in a February 10, 2003 speech at the Vatican on Just War doctrine, invading Iraq was also "a moral obligation."

Similarly, the philosopher Osama bin Laden explained in a 1996 journal article titled "Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,"

Terrorizing you, while you are carrying arms in our land, is a legitimate right and a moral obligation.

You want to be a good person, don't you? Of course you do. And now you know what you have to do.

Links to cited material are at the original.

a higher mind

Looking at the candidates of the two major parties is depressing. Can't we do any better than to run a mindless horse race pitting the cynical, calculating Obama and his stupid and repulsive opponent, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born?

I find myself recalling Doris Haddock, or Granny D as she became known toward the end of her life, who in her 90th year walked from Santa Monica to Washington DC to call attention to the need for campaign finance reform. That was in 1999 and 2000, and since she passed on the political deformity she protested has grown much worse.

She stopped in Madison, Wisconsin at the Reform Party convention the year of her long walk, and spoke to the delegates of the overwhelming evil that had crept into the American political system and had become its dominant characteristic, "Due" she said "to the twin judicial fictions that money is speech, and that a corporation is a person."

She was a simple person, a wife and mother who worked 20 years as an executive secretary for a shoe manufacturing company in her home state of New Hampshire. At the time she took her personal campaign for reform from coast to coast she suffered from an arthritic foot and emphysema, but still undertook what would have been difficult for someone half her age in good physical condition. She was determined.

In 2008 she ran for the US Senate as New Hampshire's Democratic nominee, losing to the Republican incumbent Greg Judd, and died in 2010 at age 100.

Doris Haddock took any political conversation in which she engaged to a level much higher than we're used to. Why do we tolerate the disgusting crudities of sound-byte-campaigning, the raw corruption of the artillery duels with giant checks as ammunition, or the bully-boy intimidation of the mobilization of mass-media propaganda? Are we stupid, or simply too immoral to care?

Maybe we shouldn't answer those questions. We might find out more about ourselves than we want to know, but Granny would never have tolerated that kind of willful ignorance. She died too young, because we need her today more than ever.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

hairless primates

Romney is truly disgusting; he's not even human.

Matt Taibbi nailed the essence of this primitive, un-evolved mind-stem in his Rolling Stone column yesterday: Romney really showed us something in his luridly self-congratulating N.A.A.C.P. gambit, followed by the awesomely disgusting "free stuff" post-mortem speech he delivered the next night in front of friendlier audiences. The twin appearances revealed the candidate to be not merely unlikable, and not merely a fatuous, unoriginal hack of politician, but also a genuinely repugnant human being, a grasping corporate hypocrite with so little feel for how to get along with people that he has to dream up elaborate schemes just to try to pander to the mob.

So true, and yet, I cannot bring myself to vote for Obama again. I've come to think of him as "Mr. Drone Warfare," and another brazen sell-out to the bankers, like Clinton.

I really don't care which of them wins, and I know there are many others like me. Do you realize what this says about us as a country?

Things haven't been this bad since the 1850's.

Friday, July 13, 2012

tweeting jesus

If you're not a Louis C.K. fan yet, I'm sure you will be at some point.

breaking the rules

It's easy enough for popular song writers to follow the rules, because even though they're unwritten, the rules are well-known. For example, if you write a song dealing with despair, anguish, and potential suicide, that's OK as long as your lyrics present these potentially explosive feelings in a maudlin, sentimental, and vapid manner. Rule number one is "Don't disturb the audience."

This is what makes the international number-one hit "Alone Again, Naturally," written and performed by Gilbert O'Sullivan in 1972, so unusual and ultimately revolutionary. Even though I was familiar with the song at the time it was popular, I didn't listen to the lyrics closely enough to pick up the depth of anguish and profound sadness they express. Only now, 40 years on, am I secure enough to take in the song's disturbing message, and appreciate its author's audacity.

1972 Was a watershed year for the cultural revolution that had been playing out in the US for a decade at that point. Despite overwhelming public disapproval inspired by the anti-war movement, the war in Vietnam clanked on like the mindless machine it was, and the mood among the disaffected at the time has been described as "LSD hangover." Sadness and melancholy were in order, and apparent not just in O'Sullivan's tune, but also in the popular work of, for example, Burt Bacharach.

Raymond O'Sullivan (such is his real name) has continued writing pop songs down to the present day, but without his early success. Still, he's been luckier than a lot of pop musicians; he married his gorgeous Norwegian girlfriend with whom he still lives along with their children, and won a £7-million judgement against his early-70's manager whom he found to be ripping him off. He hasn't done badly for someone who broke the rules, including the one that says "Thou shalt not write a pop song dealing with the natural atheism of souls in despair."

The YouTube version below includes the lyrics to this wonderful song, but the better version for viewing, which is un-embeddable by the author's request, is a lip-synched-for-TV out-take which you can see here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

sound of the heart

Consider the Salish Sea -- its mild and placid aspect, its small extent, and its former richness, severely compromised these days, I'm sorry to say, primarily by runoff from automobile exhaust and brake linings. But it can and will come back.

Today I had to travel to Seattle from Port Orchard, which is in the lower-left or southwest corner of the map. I've been there taking care of my sister's cat while she and sister #2 are in Hawaii.

Leaving the house at 6 a.m., I motored up the pleasant little freeway they have on this side of the water to Poulsbo, then took the two-lane road east to Kingston to catch the boat. Along that road, about mid-way between Poulsbo and Kingston, right by the turnoff for Port Gamble, is C.B.'s Nuts, which has the best peanut butter on the planet, or at least the best this old peanut-butter-eater has ever had, and everything else to do with nuts.

To give you some idea of distance, the drive from Port Orchard to Kingston is about 40 minutes. I could have caught a closer ferry, but I wanted to stop by my apartment in north Seattle, and the Kingston-Edmonds ferry run enables me to avoid a lot of sweaty-palms traffic in town. If you've never driven in Seattle, you need to know it's "challenging" -- to put it charitably.

After the half-hour, fog-enshrouded crossing to Edmonds, during which the captain intermittently blew the boat's loud, sort of beery baritone horn, I was in my apartment in Greenwood (Just south of the "h" in "Shoreline") by 8:00, where I took in the mail and watered my plants. Then it was off to the heart of Ballard, one of the oldest and best-preserved parts of town, to teach a 9:30 yoga class at the Ballard Senior Center. That was much fun, teaching a lively and mostly very fit group, and by 11:00 I was back in the car headed east, looking to get onto the southbound roadway of Aurora Avenue -- good old 99.

You'd think it would be easy -- just drive east from Ballard -- but there are few if any continuous east-west corridors in Seattle. The town is an isthmus, and even arterials which begin by running east-west fall prey sooner or later to an uncontrollable urge to turn north and south.

By 11:00 I was on 99 headed south, over the old, soon-to-be-replaced Aurora Bridge over the ship canal, then sped under the congestion of downtown Seattle in the tunnel, cruised down the old Viaduct, which these days is always under either construction or destruction, I can never tell which, came to a fork in the road and followed Yogi Berra's advice (i.e., I took it!), and motored over the bridge spanning the Duwamish Waterway to West Seattle, which is the little square-headed peninsula just to the southwest of the "S" in "Seattle."

And there I caught an 11:40 boat from the Fauntleroy Pier at Lincoln Park, and after touching at Vashon Island, most of which is cut off on this map by the lower frame, we proceeded to Southworth, south-southwest of little Blake Island, and the straight and easy road to Port Orchard.

Got home at 1:00, so seven hours from door slam to door slam. Without the yoga class you could do it in four or five, and on a beautiful day like this it would make a nice day trip for someone unfamiliar with the area who wanted to get a hands-on feel for local geography.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

do you like boobsalot?

From Atrios, probably the nicest picture of a blue-footed booby I've ever seen.

There are also red-footed boobies, just so you know.

comments from out there

When I posted "my new debit card" (see below) on a political discussion board yesterday, I figured it wouldn't be too long before ignorance and reactionism, driven by fear and rage, would pop up like a zit. And before too long, we got

He (Che Guevara) was a ruthless killer that went around trying to impose his beliefs by force. He is glorified by those who share his idealistic views, so they ignore his methods, like all ideologues do when it is done by "their" side.

The truth is I never was much interested in Che's life (because he was a communist) nor his image. As in the case of another revolutionary, George Washington, the image is has grown larger than the life, and obscures it rather than shedding any light on it.

Since I knew so little, I went to Guevara's Wiki biography, which is extensive, and found out a few things. For example, when he was young

Guevara traveled throughout Latin America and was radically transformed by the endemic poverty and alienation he witnessed. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to conclude that the region's ingrained economic inequalities were an intrinsic result of capitalism, monopolism, neocolonialism, and imperialism, with the only remedy being world revolution.

I can't find anything there to disagree with, but at that point I would have asked him "What kind of revolution do you have in mind?" Because even then, I would not have given serious thought to Marxist-style revolution.

But a Marxist is what Guevara was, and as a revolutionary and a warrior, he was effective, relentless and implacable. The Wiki bio notes that "Guevara became feared for his brutality and ruthlessness."

Guevara was also responsible for the sometimes summary execution of a number of men accused of being informers, deserters or spies. In his diaries, Guevara described the first such execution of Eutimio Guerra, a peasant army guide who admitted treason when it was discovered he accepted the promise of ten thousand pesos for repeatedly giving away the rebel's position for attack by the Cuban air force. Such information also allowed Batista's army to burn the homes of rebel-friendly peasants.[70] Upon Guerra's request that they "end his life quickly", Che stepped forward and shot him in the head, writing "The situation was uncomfortable for the people and for Eutimio so I ended the problem giving him a shot with a .32 pistol in the right side of the brain, with exit orifice in the right temporal [lobe]."

He died as he lived, violently.

Now that communism is as dead as a smoked oyster (something our domestic wingnuts haven't reckoned with, but then they're a little slow on the uptake), we can get a better perspective on the last 150 years. Communism may have been the god that failed, but it was the first effective response to the rise of industrialism and the rise of capital concentration that went with it. It was the first serious attempt to deal with the grotesque social deformities that are the inevitable by-product of captial concentration, which Mittens Romney is still trying to sell as a good thing, you know, the glorious virtue of Bush's tax giveaway for billionaires, etc.

I give credit to Che for his recognition that revolution was necessary as it still is, and for his courage, which we still need. If he didn't recognize that the viable template for world revolution was crafted by Gandhi rather than Lenin and Mao, all I can say is he wasn't perfect, and it's very risky to judge people's past actions from a present-day perspective.

And since I find there's a lot there to admire, and I think I'll use the card and buy the shirt.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

that's what i say, yes it is

Aretha sings "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

my new atm card

I should have known it would come to this, with that damned socialist Obama in the White House.

And word on the street is that anyone who complains about it will be sentenced to work eight hours in Michelle's People's Vegetable Garden. Laborers will be forced to pull weeds and hoe, and will suffer the wrath of the dragon lady if they are insufficiently motivated.

What wretched morass of political correctness, social justice, and "Green" (read "collectivist") dystopia have we come to?

This picture was schnorred from Fran the BlueGal.

way down in klumbus, georgia

It may not be popular to say so, but I've never liked Little League. With its uniforms, major and minor leagues, and over-organization, it bears no resemblance to the fun, semi-organized schoolyard game I played as an adolescent.

The kids sometimes cry when they lose, and the parents sometimes fight. No one is required to watch this somewhat disgusting video, but it does answer the question, "What does 600 pounds of arrested development look like?"

Monday, July 09, 2012

guitar talk

Originally published here January 27, 2009. D1 is me, D2 a friend in Oregon, also named Dave.

The Story of an Orphan Guitar, and the Boy Who Loved Her

D1: (Playing the instrument): This thing plays so pretty it breaks my heart.

D2: Well, you don't want a guitar that breaks your heart. A song, maybe...

D1: Except for where it says "Lyle" on the headpiece it's exactly like the Gibson (Hummingbird).

D2: Yeah, it's why they call a lawsuit copy. I'm sure the Gibson Company would like to bring a lawsuit against Lyle for making it.

D1: Did you say you picked this guitar up for 60 bucks?

D2: Yeah...but like I told you, it was falling apart. The top was coming off; it was filthy and it had stickers all over it; the bridge was broken. It was out of adjustment and the tuners were crumby. The neck was warped and the frets were worn...(laughs)...have I made my point?

D1: Yes, I think so.

D2: I knew when I got the neck straightened out that it was gonna be OK, and that's when I realized that it's a really great guitar. It's a happy guitar now. It lives a sumptuous life in its brand-new guitar case instead of banging against the wall in a pawn shop.

D1: (Plays a few bars of "Back South" by Scrapper Blackwell.) I never did learn how to play that kind of stuff -- those difficult blues picks like Scrapper Blackwell used to play. He used to play those so fluently...it's simple stuff, but it's hard to play.

D2: Well you have to be playin' it all the time. Like those rolls and stuff, you gotta play 'em all the time or you become stale.

D1: I'll learn it eventually...Am I keeping you up?

Photo ©Dave B, 2012

Sunday, July 08, 2012

republican legislator horrified to discover

Yas, there are other religions besides Christianity which actually exist.

Valarie Hodges, a Louisiana house member, said she supported Gov. Bobby Jindal's school voucher plan, until she learned that some vouchers were going to be disbursed to Mohammedans, to use in their own schools teaching Mohammedanism to their little Mohammedan rug terrorists.

Then there was trouble in River City, let me tell you.

Found this little itemette at buzzflash.com.

inter-dependence day

Even though the country is suffering hard times, a few small businesses are doing very well. It's a great time to be the kind of grocer who specializes in working with local food producers. Eating local is all the rage, and once you've had food from "around here" (and with some exceptions, it doesn't matter where you are) you'll never go back to frozen pizza.

Friday evening the lovely Catboxette took me to Chimacum Corner for the second annual Inter-dependence Day celebration. Everything on the menu(s) was produced by local farmers and fishers. The music was local too, and agressively acoustic and old-timey, as opposed to the over-amplified, alienated racket of contemporary "culture."

Pity the poor bankers, insurance honchos, arms dealers, and other capitalist buccaneers and brigands of high finance. Despite their recent losses in fortune and reputation, they think they're still in charge, still running the world. Suppose they had a war, or put up a factory, or built a suburban subdivision and nobody showed up?

Chimacum Corner, by the way, is a for-profit business, but their business model is not like what they teach in MBA programs, since the owners realize that it's cooperation, not competition, that wll make this country great again.

The Crow Quill Night Owls provided music for your dining and dancing pleasure.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


My mom had this clock, which stands in the corner of my sister's dining space now. My dad's mother probably bought it at a junk store back in the 50's or 60's, either complete and working, or more likely, not running and with parts missing. Gramps knew how to restore old clocks, and the old weight-driven pendulum kind was his favorite. He considered spring-driven clocks and watches newfangled and inferior mechanisms.

I don't know the history of this graceful and elegant clock, but I suspect it was made in the US some time in the later nineteenth century. I'd guess it came out of an artisan's workshop, possibly with cannibalized clockworks. No trade name is on the 10-1/2-inch face, nor stamped or carved anywhere on the five-foot box which is empty save for the two brass weights and slow, patient pendulum ticking off the half-seconds.

It takes a person back in time to look at this relic of everyday genius expressed as engineered simplicity, and still functioning almost perfectly. This one loses about 30 seconds every forty-eight hours. If adjusted properly, it would function practically perfectly, practically forever. It attempts to be, and comes close to being one of those things of which we might say, "It never changes."

Friday, July 06, 2012

fireworks fail, updated

I was pleased to hear from my correspondent in Utah that the Poulsbo/Bainbridge Island fireworks fiasco (see below) was not the only such mishap this year, and that the big leagues are just as vulnerable to premature splodings as smaller towns and obscure hamlets.

And with bigger consequences. This happened in San Diego, where a technical glitch (rather than an idiot with a gun) set off all of the city's fireworks at once on the fourth, condensing an 18-minute show into 15 seconds.

The Atlantic Wire has the story and ran this photo, which is a lot less spectacular than what one might hope for. It looks to me like the top of Albert Einstein's head.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

travel day

Not much time for writing today, because I've been in transit for most of it, what with catching a 6 a.m. boat out of Southworth To West Seattle, then by car to Ballard to teach my friend Bev's weekly yoga class while she's out of state.

Plus, after a torturously long and on-again-off-again foreplay, featuring innumerable peek-a-boos consisting of weak sunshine and gradually rising temperatures, full summer has finally arrived in the Northwest, as of yesterday, the 4th. Time to get outside and soak it up while the gettin's good.

The photo above shows the scene from the ferry at 12:30, leaving West Seattle on the homeward half of the trip -- nothing but bright blue sky and the dark blue water of the sound. The faint, white rectangles lining the horizon are reflections from the windows on the opposite side of the boat.

And this is the view from the deck as we backed out of the dock at Vashon Island, the midway stopping point on our short voyage. Altogether a great day to be on the water, even if it's just for a ferry ride.

Photos ©by Dave B, 2012

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fourth of July

The Declaration of Independence needs to be dusted off and re-published. Our situation today is similar to the one Americans faced in 1776.

In 1776, the Englsh King and Parliament had resolved their power-sharing conflicts of the previous century and together were absolute rulers of an empire which stretched around the world. In 2011, with the Citizens United ruling, a corporate oligarchy consolidated its power over a world-encircling empire, employing the US government as its bagman and enforcer.

According to the Declaration, government exists to enable us to secure for ourselves our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But the government of the corporate state has brought us death, from war, medical neglect, and environmental lunacy, the slavery of debt and economic depression, and the pursuit of fantastic wealth for a few and misery for the rest.

This corporate-owned and -controlled government cannot be allowed to continue to exist, because its existence is incompatible with the continued existence of civilized society, or with that of the earth itself.

As with the earlier revolution, carried forward in its earliest stages by a few radicals in Massachusetts, the seeds of the gestating revolution are mainly on the two coasts. Now as then, the awareness of the inevitability of revolution spreads slowly but inexorably due to our rulers' tyranny and use of oppression. Now as then, the vast majority at this stage of the struggle is either politically neutral, or committed to defending the status quo.

However, I have no doubt this revolution will eventually succeed, followed by a period of experimentation, then a re-establishment of democratic rule. This will happen because the corporatocracy is destructive, and through its policies of repression will dig up its own roots.

To this end we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

c'mon baby, light my fireworks

The festivities were all prepared for the July 4th holiday in the town of Poulsbo and on Bainbridge Island. These small communities on the west side of Puget Sound can't compete with the holiday extravaganzas in Seattle, but their annual fireworks event, which they put on a day early, on the 3rd, is a significant local happening, and this year's was all ready to go.

The fireworks were safely stored in a locked shipping container at an auto wrecking yard a few miles south of Poulsbo.

Nine days ago and sometime after midnight, the operator of the wrecking yard, who apparently lives on site, decided he wanted to go outside and give his new rifle a try. See where this is going?

He began shooting the junk cars in the lot. Of course, one of his rounds ricocheted off a car and struck the shipping container full of fireworks. The explosion was heard miles away, lit up the night sky with a spectacular but very short fireworks show, left a large, smoldering crater, and propelled the scorched remnant of the container 20 feet laterally.

"Oops!" says the headline of the Seattle Times story, which has all the details. The only thing I'm still wondering is why this local story is by-lined "Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times."

Monday, July 02, 2012

annals of tyranny

Related to the Assange story posted here earlier today is this item from Common Dreams:

Annals of an Aspiring Police State: The NYPD posted a "wanted" flyer for an activist Harlem couple who (legally) film cops conducting stop-and-frisks, branding them "professional agitators" and listing their home address. Matthew Swaye and Christina Gonzalez saw the error-filled, mugshot-bedecked flyer when they walked into the 30th Precinct for a community board meeting, which will be illegal any day now.

The flyer, complete with mug shots, is here. The flyer's text would be funny if it wasn't so bullying and threatening:

"Be aware that the subjects are known professional agitators that live at [our address posted on poster]. Above subjects mo is that they video tape officers performing routine stops and post on youtube. Subjects purpose is to portray officers in a negative way and too deter officers from conducting there responsibilities. Above subjects also deter officers from being safe and tactical by causing unnecessary distractions. Do not feed into subjects propaganda."

masculine thought

Tomorrow I plan to beautify America, and get a haircut. I'm way overdue.

And no, that's not me. It's just some masculine dude being a guy.

the prisoner

As Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hunkers down for a second week in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, waiting for Ecuador's president to either approve or reject his request for political sanctuary in that country, he is acutely aware that what awaits him if he should step outside the building is immediate extradition to Sweden, and possibly to the United States.

If the American authorities should get hold of him as they would like to, he will be put on trial for espionage, a capital offense.

Writing of Assange and his critics and enemies in The Independent (UK), Patrick Cockburn says "British commentators have targeted him with shrill abuse. They almost froth with rage as they cite petty examples of his supposed gaucheness, egotism and appearance, as if these were criminal faults."

Thanks to WikiLeaks, more information has become available about what the US and allied states are doing and thinking than ever before. The only competing revelations that come to mind were the publication by the victorious Bolsheviks in 1917 of secret treaties, including plans to carve up the Middle East by Britain and France. A more obvious parallel was the publication of the Pentagon Papers thanks to Daniel Ellsberg in 1971, revealing systematic lying by the Johnson administration about Vietnam. In similar fashion to Assange, Ellsberg was reviled by the US government and threatened with the severest punishment.

I can easily understand why our national guardians of freedom and democracy would have vaporized Ellsburg if they had thought they could get away with it, and will do so to Assange if they are able to lay hands on him, for both these men committed the worst crime anybody can commit in an authoritarian state -- they told the truth. The truth flies in the face of the universal deceit that characterizes our current regime, revealing its every action as founded in deception, manipulation, and misinformation. George Orwell reminds us that "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Sunday, July 01, 2012

the dewey, dewey fog

It's another "Seattle sunshine" type of day here in the Great Northwest, where I paused briefly this morning to snap a picture of these two horses grazing in a field on Big Valley Road, in Kitsap County.