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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stuff

Books

Trying to slog through a book that I don't really like, but I'm doing it for what, I think, are noble reasons.  The Cipher by Kathe Koja came out in 91 as the first in a new series of books from Dell that they called their Abyss line.  They bragged that it was a new kind of horror, more psychological (whatever that means) and less about haunted houses and Indian burial grounds.

It just so happened in a period of my youth when I was receptive to such a thing and I remember reading several books in the line, not really being impressed by any of them, and especially struggling with The Cipher.  I remember it being weird, in subject matter and style, and twenty years later...it still is.

It's written in a kind of minimalist stream of consciousness style which only works some of the time.  I've been reading it generously, giving it every benefit of the doubt, doing my due diligence as a reader to figure this thing out, and much of it is still opaque and vague.

I didn't finish it twenty years ago and I'm going to now for one reason and one reason only.  I need to know if that's the point, to be vague.  If it is, I get it.  Score.

If not....

Bands

I've talked up a band called Baroness a few times, I'm pretty sure.  I just downloaded their double album a few months ago.

And it wasn't long after that they were involved in a scary bus crash in England that almost cost them their lives.  When I read John Baizley's account, it sure left an impression.

They were coming down a very steep winding road in their tour bus when the brakes gave out.
Most people who have been in accidents understand the pre-trauma sensation of time slowing down. There were almost two minutes during which I knew we were heading for a collision. It felt like two hours.
They ended up hitting a guard rail and flying off a 30-foot ledge.

It gets worse:
When the bus hit the ground, I flew like a missile into the windshield.... I hit the glass so hard, that the entire windshield flew from the frame to the ground, and I bounced back inside the bus. .....I surveyed the damage to see instantly that my left leg was very obviously and badly broken. Then I lifted my arms forward to see if either had been damaged. My right arm was covered in burns, blood and broken glass, but working well enough. My left arm was crushed beyond belief, broken in the middle of the bone in my upper arm (humerus), and hanging 90 degrees backwards, with many spurs of bone poking through muscles and sinew at the surface of my skin. The bone was shattered into seven free-floating pieces, and my wrist and hand were swinging behind my back, spasming freely. Instinctively, I reached behind my back, grabbed my wrist and re-broke my arm forwards, hugging it to my chest, where it remained for the next three hours until it was cast in plaster. 
They all survived, which is a good thing, and I wish them a full recovery even if it's not speedy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

World Series Crap

I'm more of an NFL/NBA guy, it's true, but I have to say:

Baseball beards these days are ridiculous.

Stop it.

Too Smart to Be A Libertarian

I swear to God, man --and I don't even believe in God-- that I'm too smart to be a Libertarian.

 Witness an item on Reason Magazine's Hit and Run blog:
Bernard von NotHaus, maker, seller, and advocate of metal rounds under the name "Liberty Dollar" for them that might want to own metal rounds, continues to be persecuted by the U.S. government, and his tale makes the New York Times today.
Now you might have read that and thought to yourself, "What the hell is a 'metal round?'" Here is a photo:
That is not a "metal round." That's a coin. And we're surprised that Von NotHaus was found guilty of counterfeiting?

The part that cracked me up, though, was this:
I'm surprised the Times's reporter apparently got von NotHaus to use the word "coins" since whether or not these were meant to emulate U.S. coins was such a sticking point in his legal travails. He would always insist to me when we spoke that his Liberty Dollars were to be called "rounds," and were a “voluntary private barter currency,” a phrase that appeared on the rounds in later mintings.
And you actually bought that?

What's worse, he wanted us to buy it? As if we're all too stupid to know what a fucking coin is....

The Indispensible Frum

David Frum, on the rape/abortion nonsense coming from Republicans running for Congress:
My own suggestion would be that if your reasoning process leads to a conclusion this goofy - that a rape victim must be compelled to bear her assailant's child - then perhaps you ought to check your work. There's an error in there somewhere.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Projections

You're going to hear a bunch of bullshit in the next two weeks about how Mitt Romney has "momentum" and how winning one out of three debates by being phonier than ever is going to put him over the top.

Don't believe that shit.

Votes are being cast as we speak. I sent mine in yesterday.

And Romney is a still long shot:

The Enduring Myth

Native American Russell Means died the other day and I was not sad. Once I thought he had something valuable to say, so I cracked his autobiography. That's how I discovered, in the first few pages, that the man was a racist.

And hey, I understand. If I grew up in poverty on the Pine Ridge res, I might hate white people too.

It doesn't make it right...but I understand.

I have to say, though, that I can not countenance ignorance such as this:
Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people, while it is "proof that the system works" to Europeans.
Oh bullshit.

This is pure myth-making "noble savage" nonsense. We've heard it all before. In the film, The New World, Colin Farrell's John Smith waxes poetic:

They are gentle, loving, faithful, lacking in all guile and trickery. The words denoting lying, deceit, greed, envy, slander, and forgiveness have never been heard. They have no jealousy, no sense of possesion.
You see, Native Americans were perfect and the white man ruined it.

But here's the truth:

Native Americans are human. I know, it's shocking, but they are just as capable of greed and deceit as anyone else in our species.

This idea that they did not seek status or material gain? If you were still alive, Russell, I would invite you to study your own history. Not the stories your grandma told you, but the actual history.

Learn about the civilizations in Mexico. Read up on Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde and Cahokia. Learn about the Aztecs and the Inca. You're going to tell me that "material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people?" Well I guess you never heard of Montezuma...

One of the key reasons Cortes was able to defeat Montezuma was because his Spanish cohorts had legions of native allies who were pissed off about paying too much tribute to the emperor.

And you're going to tell me "traditional people" have this "spiritual process" where they "give away wealth?" Nut-uh.

Let me show you the ruins where kings reigned and the common people knelt before them. You think that's a European innovation?

Better educate yourself. Especially if you're attempting to educate me. I've done my homework on this one....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More on Princesses

I admit...I don't really have much interest in the ethnographic make-up of the various Disney Princesses.  As a male in my mid-30s, I'm not the target audience anyway.

But Alyssa Rosenberg is very interested.  She was quite upset that Sophia is just going to be a generic princess rather than a Hispanic stereotype, and she's not the only one.

Unfortunately, Disney has had to respond to these asinine demands.  Here's a disclaimer that I didn't need:

“What’s important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world,” Nancy Kanter, senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide said in a post on the Princess Sofia Facebook page. “All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.”
My emphasis.  This strikes me as a big "No shit" moment.  Even if a fantasy cartoon was intended to represent real world cultures, it would do a poor job of it since it's a fantasy cartoon.

Alyssa says this "isn’t just cowardly: it’s all kinds of boring."  It may be boring  --I personally am quite bored by princess shit-- but I'm not sure it's cowardly.

What's next?  Getting mad at Tolkien because he called his little people "Hobbits" and made no serious effort to deal with the real world problems of midgets? 

It's a fantasy, man.  The whole point is that it's not real.