Saturday, January 27, 2007

Random Early Morning Musings

While I can't tell you how I managed to survive my first 10 hour graveyard shift, I can tell you that over these next few months, I won't actually be doing very much work. The function I'll be serving these long lonely nights will essentially be a warm body for an operation that doesn't see much action in the wee hours of the night.

The advice I received from my co-workers when they learned I was going to third shift: Bring a book.

Aside from some reports, there just isn't a lot to do. And you know? I'm fine with that.

You're talking to, basically, a pretty lazy guy. I'd rather be idle and bored than busy and stressed anyway. Besides, guys like me...we don't get bored. Why, you ask?

Perhaps that can be better explained by a verse from the popular hit song Click Click Boom by Saliva.
On those Saturdays
When kids go out and play
Yo, I was up in my room
I let the stereo play
Wasn't faded, not jaded
Just a kid with a pad and pen
And a big imagination
Perhaps I'll make a dent or two in Poets Row. Perhaps I'll make my way through Dan Simmons's new book, The Terror. Perhaps I'll get stressed out with the workload and have a breakdown.

Well, that last one isn't very likely.

Speaking of Poets Row, I haven't been working on it lately. Part of the reason is that I didn't know where to go with it. After scanning through the last few chapters, including portions I haven't even posted yet, I started to wonder: Was I writing a private eye mystery novel with heavy character and moral elements, or was I writing a literary novel about a private eye that was equal parts morality play and character study?

I wanted to write a private eye book --a full on mystery novel-- but it seems I've been skating a little close to literary crapdom. I had no idea where to go storywise, working without an outline as I am, so I focused on the relationships of the people. In a literary novel, go to it. Delve into the relationships.

In a PI novel, though, that stuff is just gravy. It's the hook to keep you interested during the long haul, but not neccesarily the stuff that keeps you turning pages.

That, my friends, is the story. And the story of Poets Row, at least the latter chapters, has been a bit well...boring. It hasn't sustained my interest, and I'm writing it, so I have a feeling it may not sustain the interest of the Generic Reader either.

But I did have an idea the other day, an idea that once it fell into place, seemed like the missing piece of the puzzle. Ladies and Gentleman, we have plot.

No, I'm not giving it away here. I'm starting to think this secretive thing may have its merits --You don't see J.K. Rowling running around telling you what's going to happen in her book, do you?-- plus, since everything I write is subject to revision, I may decide to change it up if a better idea comes along.

It's gonna be good though.

Idiot Bait...Or How I Stopped Worrying About Liberal Bias and Learned to Love the Wingers

Remember Jamilgate? You know, that time when "conservative" wingnuts went batty because an AP report didn't line up with what the military was saying?

I wonder what those same wingers think about this story.

The relevant passages?
The new account contradicted a U.S. military statement on Jan. 20, the day of the raid on an Iraqi governor's office, that five soldiers were killed "repelling" the attack.
You get that part? The "new" account "contradicted" the US military "statement."

I guess that means that the account isn't exactly "new" so much as it is "true." And contradicted the military's statement? Isn't that just a nice way to say "exposed the military's lie?"

Of course, I don't expect the Malkinites to jump on this story. Once bitten, twice shy, they say...

If they found the story about Sunnis being burning alive by a rampaging Shia death squad so incredible that they have to concoct an implausible conspiracy theory to dismiss it, what do they think about insurgents convincingly impersonating American soldiers (even using the same SUVs, uniforms, and weapons) in a sneak attack that left 4 American soldiers kidnapped and murdered?

Surely some liberal media person made that one up, huh? Don't they want us to win, dammit????

Friday, January 26, 2007

Random Friday Ten

My goal today is to prepare for tonight. Tonight is the first night of my stint on graveyards. The last few days --I've been off since Tuesday-- I've tried to stay up as late as possible to acclimate myself to the odd hours.

I've only been able to make it to about three in the morning.

Here's hoping I make it all to way to eight this time.

And so with that, we've got the Random Friday Ten:

1) Corrosion of Conformity - So Much Left Behind
2) Kyuss - 100 Degrees
3) Daft Punk - Around the World
4) Karma to Burn - 30
5) Metallica - Harvestor of Sorrow
6) Pantera - 25 Years
7) Blind Melon - No Rain
8) Lamb of God - Remorse is for the Dead
9) Clipse - When the Last Time
10) Danzig - Mother

Mother...tell your children not to walk my way. Tell your children not to hear my words, what they mean, what they say. MOTHER!!!

The Decision-Maker

You'll probably see this joke done better on TV in the near future.

Not too ago, President Bush said he was the "Decider." Today, he said he's the "Decision-maker." Apparently, the president doesn't know who the hell he is.

Out of Line

If there's one politician I dislike more than the President, it's the Vice President. Wolf Blitzer recently sat down with Cheney and discussed a myriad of topics, but the one that got my blood boiling the most was Cheney's indignant reaction when Wolf Blitzer brought up his lesbian daughter's pregnancy.

After reciting some anti-gay criticism from Focus on the Family, Wolf asks Cheney to respond.

Cheney refuses, and then say "I think frankly you're out of line with that question."Motherfuckersaywhat?

If it had been sitting in that chair across from Cheney instead of Blitzer, I would have been out of my chair, rearing back with a bitch slap before the Vice President's secret service bodyguards could tackle me.

Out of line? After decades of gays being treated as less-than-human social deviants by Republicans, a question about the Vice President's own gay daughter --his pregnant gay daughter-- is out of line?

The hypocrisy is self-evident. He's a high-ranking official in a party that actively opposes gay rights, and yet he's also the loving father of an openly gay daughter and he's "delighted" that she's having a baby with her lesbian partner of several odd years.

He could have used the opportunity to dismiss Focus on the Family's fixation on the nuclear family as the ideal and talked about how love and acceptance and understanding and respect are better indicators of what's "ideal." But he didn't.

He got huffy and said Wolf was "out of line."

Which is what we, those of us who are sympathetic to "the gays," should say the next they pull out the next anti-gay measure that makes their lives harder than they need to be.

You want to put a definition of marriage in the Constitution? You're out of line.

You want to make it harder for gay people to adopt? You're out of line.

You want to deny health benefits to same-sex couples? You're out of line.

You want to keep gays out of the military? Fuck off. You're out of line.

Lame Ass Smears

Since I've been skipping my normal right-wing indoctrination sessions, I was totally oblivious to the fact that we should be concerned about Nancy Pelosi's blinking...oblivious, that is, until I talked to Uncle Jim. I didn't notice at the time, but Nancy Pelosi did a lot of blinking during Bush's State of the Union.

Perhaps it is as Uncle Jim suggests, morse code instructions to her Democratic peers, or perhaps it's a sign she can't be trusted. Me? I think maybe she got a little carried away with the mascara.

It's funny, though, that Nancy Pelosi's notable blinking is actually a topic of discussion in the right wing memesphere.

If you think about it, all the right wing smears that have come out the last few years are laughably...well...retarded. And I don't mean that as an insult to the retarded.

The swiftboating of John Kerry? Man, that was cheap. Can't criticize the man for volunteering and serving? Say he doesn't deserve his medals.

Jim Webb as kiddie porn author? Please! I just spent the last ten minutes or so searching for all the offensive passages of porn in Jim Webb's renowned books and well, I find them lacking.

You want incest and sodomy? Here ya go:
A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red they appeared burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from the little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy's penis in his mouth.
Yeah, that's weird. But it sure ain't titilating!

Want underage sex? Here ya go:
He saw the invitation with every bouncing breast and curved hip. HE WAS THIRTEEN...SHE WAS FIFTEEN...In a few moments she drew him to her and he murmered in his quiet voice, 'I am small.' 'You are large enough,' she answered. And he found he was.
And there's more!

Go ahead, scan through the list. If you've ever read more than one book in your life, you won't find anything that's over the line. Of course, I don't think this is an attempt to puritanically erase all mention of sex or nudity from our nation's war literature. I see it for what it is: a hypocritical and shameless stab at character assasination.

Besides John Kerry and Jim Webb, I can find several other examples of these kinds of lame, easily debunked smears. Did you hear the one about Barack Obama going to a madrassa in Indonesia when he was six??

My point is that if you want information, scratch that, not just information but information that directly correlates to the concrete world around us, what is otherwise known as truth, you are better served not listening to whatever mud the infantile right wing slime machine is slinging.

And if you do listen, exercise a little less credulity.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The State of the Union Is...

Tomorrow you will hear that the state of the Union is strong. It's just something you say these days. In the 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush said:
As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our Union has never been stronger.
In his 2003 SOU address, Bush got downright poetic about how strong our Union was.
In a whirlwind of change and hope and peril, our faith is sure, our resolve is firm, and our union is strong.
In 04, an election year, Bush didn't want to take any credit.
Americans are rising to the tasks of history, and they expect the same from us (the politicians). In their efforts, their enterprise, and their character, the American people are showing that the state of our union is confident and strong.
In 05, after wrapping up that 04 election, Bush decided to take a little credit.
Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going back to work, with our nation an active force for good in the world -- the state of our union is confident and strong.
Last year, this is what he said.
Tonight the state of our Union is strong -- and together we will make it stronger.
He's not alone in this "union is strong" business, though. Bill Clinton sure had his share. In 96, this is how he summed it up.
My duty tonight is to report on the state of the Union -- not the state of our government, but of our American community; and to set forth our responsibilities, in the words of our Founders, to form a more perfect union.

The state of the Union is strong.
A year later, he yawned and this came out.
My fellow Americans, the state of our union is strong.

And Reagan? In 86, he tossed out this one.
I am pleased to report the state of our Union is stronger than a year ago and growing stronger each day.

To get a really juicy one, you have to go back to Ford, who in 75 said this:
I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good.
And then he rattled off a few of the reasons why.

In 76, the year I was born, he wasn't as bleak.
Just a year ago I reported that the state of the Union was not good. Tonight, I report that the state of our Union is better--in many ways a lot better--but still not good enough.
Me, I like Ike's 1958 speech. There's none of this hollow sloganeering, just a bit of hardcore truth.
But we could make no more tragic mistake than merely to concentrate on military strength. For if we did only this, the future would hold nothing for the world but an Age of Terror. And so our second task is to do the constructive work of building a genuine peace. We must never become so preoccupied with our desire for military strength that we neglect those areas of economic development, trade, diplomacy, education, ideas and principles where the foundations of real peace must be laid.
Ike, where are you when we need you, buddy?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

God Is Not a Moderate

Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan have been having a blog debate on religion that's been interesting to follow. When it comes to the religions of the Book, I'm definitely in with Harris, but I'm always interested to hear what Andrew Sullivan has to say, especially on this subject. He appears to be one of those "reasonable" Christians who sneers at fundamentalism, something we have in common, incidentally.

But his last entry made me want to slap him.
I also find in your last email a form of intolerance that reminds me of some of the worst aspects of fundamentalism. Take these sentences:
Anyone who thinks he knows for sure that Jesus was born of virgin or that the Qur'an is the perfect word of the Creator of the universe is lying. Either he is lying to himself, or to everyone else. In neither case should such false certainties be celebrated.
What you are doing here by the use of the word "lying" is imputing to the believer an insincerity you cannot know for sure. When we speak of things beyond our understanding - and you must concede that such things can logically exist - we are all in the same boat. Your assertion of nothingness at the end of our mortal lives is no more and no less verifiable than my assertion of somethingness. And yet I do not accuse you of lying - to yourself or to others. I respect your existential choice to face death alone, as a purely material event, leading nowhere but physical decomposition. Part of me even respects the stoic heroism of such a stance. Why can you not respect my conviction that you are, in fact, wrong? Why am I a liar in this - either to myself or to others - and you, in contrast, an avatar of honesty? Isn't this exactly the sort of moral preening you decry in others?
Having heard the same talk of intolerance in my own religious rants, I have to say I take Harris's side here.

Perhaps his intent can be better conveyed with a little editing:
"Anyone who thinks he knows for sure that Jesus was born of virgin or that the Qur'an is the perfect word of the Creator of the universe is lying to himself."
I know that's a bold statement, but it is nevertheless true, and I think if Andrew thought about it, he might actually agree.

There is no way that one can know those things for sure. You can believe them if you want...but you can't offer any kind of proof of them. We don't even know who killed Tupac, so how are we supposed to know about any of that? Say the Creator descended and said, "The Qu'ran. I wrote that. Observe it, motherfuckers, or die!" That might be suitable proof. But until that happens, preface every sentence with "I think."

"I think Jesus was born of a virgin." Or "I think the Qu'ran rules!"

Saying you know for sure is, frankly, bullshit. And Andrew, you know that. This is where you cue the harps and speak of faith.

I'm actually kind of disappointed he went there.

Sam Harris isn't a spirituality hating atheist, and neither am I. We just don't think that clinging to mythical interpretations that rely on faith are the way to go. Hopefully, the biblical myths will be like the ancient religions someday, absorbed but not taken so seriously. Is that so bad?

A New Addition to the Fam

Some good news, though. My neice was born yesterday. Say hello to Angelina Jayce.A perfectly healthy baby with big brown eyes, she was born sometime around 8PM last night. I arrived shortly after she did and was one of the first to hold her. If you asked me, she looked a little like Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters, but I'm sure that resemblance will pass. But if her first words are "I'm the gatekeeper. Are you the keymaster?" I'm going to be scared.

Don't ask about the name, though. Trust me. Just accept her name as beautiful.

Me? I asked...and let's just say I got the whole "When you have kids" routine. Damn right. The Britneys and Kaitlyns of today will be the old lady names of tomorrow, just as Mildred and Ethel, two trendy names from back in the day, are the old lady names of today.

No, nothing trendy for my girl. I'm going biblical. You can't go wrong with biblical. You know why? Because it's classic, and classic never goes out of style. I'll name her Mary...yeah, Mary.

Mary Jane.

Congrats, bro!