Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Florida: The Fool's Golden State

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The beauty parlor is filled with sailors.
The circus is in town.

-- Bob Dylan | Desolation Row


The frozen rain that would not stop drove me out of Seattle a few weeks ago. I took shelter at a friend's house deep in the Florida Keys. No rain. No chill. Turquoise waters. Long bridges and longer sunsets. A half an hour north from Key West. Fish sandwiches, large flocks of snowy egrets, Tiki bars specializing in Rumrunners with a dark rum float. Hammocks and sunshine. Powerboats and new yachts and boat drinks and running up on plane past Little Palm Island and out into the Gulf Stream with twin Cats putting out a perfect wake.

In a word, "Paradise." Right?

Yes. If you don't track in for the close-up.

Because, as much as the boosters of Florida want you to believe it, Florida is no longer "ready for its close-up." Florida is still pretty from the air and also in the middle-distance. But a close up examination of Florida, in the Keys or elsewhere, is like a close-up of a once beautiful woman that time is beginning to dissolve into age lines, lank hair, and too many calories in too many visible places.

Like that fabled great beauty, Florida is going to great lengths to keep anybody from noticing. The brochures have increasing amounts of make-up slathered on in the form of retouching. The flab is being trussed up in Spandex or draped with new clothes cleverly cut for the "ample." Most of all, the fact that large sections of the Keys and the Florida coastline are really quite dead is being hushed up at every opportunity, and new shades of rouge are being applied to the corpse to keep the money rolling in.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Jan 17, 2009 9:42 AM | Comments (31)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Flight 1549

There's nothing to add to the universal amazement and gratitude regarding this moment except the subject line of a recent email:

"Yet again God speaks to the deaf......"



Posted by Vanderleun Jan 17, 2009 5:22 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ah, Florida!

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"I'm melting! I'm melting!" -- The Wicked Witch of the West and Condo crazed Florida

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The Ironic Sunday Paper's Front Page



Posted by Vanderleun Jan 11, 2009 6:32 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
EMERGENCY MEASURES: BUSH HALTS ALL DOMESTIC PRODUCTION AND IMPORTS OF BULLSHIT.

"Sorry, but we're full," sez soon-to-be-ex-prez.

In what may be his last executive order, President George Bush today put the kibosh on the Bullshit industry citing "national security concerns" and the lack of enough bullshit snorkels to supply the population of all states.

"It is with great reluctance that I do this," said Bush, "since in so many ways bullshit is our most important product. However, with the bailin of the Obama administration of bullshit artists from the Clinton years, the bailout of even the porn industry, and the unforeseen tsunami of bullshit flowing out of Hollywood and cable television, the level of bullshit in the country is now over the heads of our toddlers and is rapidly rising to the point where even average sized adults are in imminent danger of drowning in it."

Following the President's statement, the head of FEMA confirmed that yet again the agency will be unable to supply the population of the country with life-saving bullshit snorkels should the barriers to BS fail during the Obama inaugural. "We've determined that as Obama takes the oath of office, the media alone could unleash such a slobbering wall of bullshit that it will overwhelm the banks of the Republic and drown millions not prepared or equipped with bullshit snorkels. If we had had more funding after the election we could have done something but as it stands the entire country is now at risk."

The director of Homeland Security concurred in this assessment stating, "We are doing everything we can to turn back the massive floods of foreign bullshit currently streaming towards our shores, but unless the President orders the navy and air force to eliminate offshore bullshit havens such as the BBC and Christine Amapour, our ability to protect the nation is seriously in doubt. Without napalm strikes on MSNBC and Nancy Grant, we're helpless."

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A ray of hope from the still surviving private sector.

Wal-Mart responded to the bullshit crisis by rushing to all its stores the "Emergency Obama Age Snorkels" (above) that have proven to be effective during the campaign. Wal Mart spokesperson said, "We hope that by making these simple devices available at cost to our customers that some of our fellow Americans will be able to ride out the bullshit flood that is about to engulf the country. Wal-Mart is, once again, the store that cares!"

Soon to be Bullshit Commander in Chief Barack Obama said, "Oh yeah? Well, we'll see about that."



Posted by Vanderleun Jan 9, 2009 8:47 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Greatest Thing About Texas is...

... that everything in Texas turn out to be on my diet!

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The second greatest thing about Texas is the if this United States of America thing doesn't work out, Texas is already set up to be its own sovereign nation. (And it's already had a dress rehearsal.)



Posted by Vanderleun Jan 9, 2009 7:25 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Greetings from Austin, Texas

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As in "Don't Mess with..."

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Home of Lone Star Beer...

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... and strangely enough, Rosie the Riveter.

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Posted by Vanderleun Jan 4, 2009 12:13 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
January 1, 2009

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Since my main subject of study is America, I'm going out to do some urban, suburban, and rural anthropology for a bit. Posting will be a sometime thing.

In the meantime, here's a selection of traveling music. Take it away, Bob.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Jan 1, 2009 8:57 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On the Road Again. Turn the Page.

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Since my main subject of study is America, I'm going out to do some urban, suburban, and rural anthropology for a bit. Posting will be a sometime thing.

In the meantime, here's a selection of traveling music. Take it away, Bob.

Now the rainman gave me two cures,
Then he said, "Jump right in."
The one was Texas medicine,
The other was just railroad gin.
An' like a fool I mixed them
An' it strangled up my mind,
An' now people just get uglier
An' I have no sense of time.
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Jan 1, 2009 8:54 PM | Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
As if you didn't have enough to worry about...

A New Kind of Mind

When this emerging AI, or ai, arrives it won't even be recognized as intelligence at first. Its very ubiquity will hide it. We'll use its growing smartness for all kinds of humdrum chores, including scientific measurements and modeling, but because the smartness lives on thin bits of code spread across the globe in windowless boring warehouses, and it lacks a unified body, it will be faceless. You can reach this distributed intelligence in a million ways, through any digital screen anywhere on earth, so it will be hard to say where it is. And because this synthetic intelligence is a combination of human intelligence (all past human learning, all current humans online) and the coveted zip of fast alien digital memory, it will be difficult to pinpoint what it is as well. Is it our memory, or a consensual agreement? Are we searching it, or is it searching us? - Kevin Kelly -- The Technium



Posted by Vanderleun Jan 1, 2009 12:57 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Only 2008 Wrap-Up You'll Ever Need

VIA: Cassandra



Posted by Vanderleun Jan 1, 2009 12:02 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"ALL I HAVE IS A VOICE / TO UNDO THE FOLDED LIE"

SEPTEMBER 1, 1939
JANUARY 1, 2009

by W.H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the January night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Terrorism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
'I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,'
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.



Posted by Vanderleun Jan 1, 2009 9:55 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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