It is truly said that "America is so rich our poor people are obese." That seems to grow more true by the moment for the poor, low-information eaters teetering among us on wobbling platform heels or swooping past us in those little electric carts in the supermarkets.
Conversely is also said that "you can never be to rich or too thin." To confirm that the rich among us are always fooling around with their intake in a binge/purge self-fornication festival. On the one hand many among our rich of pallor have chosen to feed on the lard-laden excrement doled out daily by the current administration and are lining up to by more. On the other hand it would seem that the same wan affluent are lining up to buy food that is so refined and uptight that it has been entirely stripped of what any other culture, any other era, would recognize as... well... food itself. So deep is the affluent American's longing for thin that we have now arrived at "food free food."
It is no surprise to anyone paying attention to the long and unwinding national nutrition neurosis that we need to have some new mountain of diet bullshit to climb every five years of so.
Mount Lo-Fat No-Fat.
Mount Creamy No-Fat.
Yes, it is a libidinal landscape made of featureless false and phony foods. It is a dietary desert of drifting sans. Sans lactose. Sans meat. Sans chicken. Sans land animal. Sans face. Salt free. Sugar free. Gluten free. And, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever will be, Kosher.
Up and up the bullshit steams in a never ending inward spinning gyre of dietary dreck and nutritional nuttiness so complicated and so intertwined in morality and self-image that there seems to be, at times, nothing left to eat in a country that has more food per capita than any other nation in the history of the world. To quote that great American philosopher, Chester A. Riley, "What a revoltin' development this is."
It now seems to be the case that the food fetish factories of the world, in an effort to separate the American rich from their extra money, have pushed the pedal to the metal now that it is clear the American dollar is about to go the way of the Zimbabwe dollar. Just last month I noticed the store in my neighborhood was selling bags of crispy kelp flakes. That's right. Kelp aka "Seaweed." A bag of these unfrosted flakes weighing in at less than an ounce was being offered up "on sale" for $4.99. A quick bit of grocery store math tells you that some company in collusion with the store seemed to feel it could retail its product for $60 a pound. Sixty smackers a pound. For.... Kelp aka "Seaweed." Weed from the sea..... An offer beyond bogglement.
But I only wandered in that brave new kelpflaked world beyond bogglement for a bit before I came across, just this afternoon, a new product that offered me even less food for more money. It was something called "Crispibread" and its selling points were proudly displayed on the box:
There you have it. To say this food is "vegan" (as it does) is to underestimate its nothingness. Free of nuts. Free of soy. Free of gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, and that evil life form, yeast. Free of it all. Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free of food at last!
Our long national nightmare is over.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
The Waste Land
No, not "blind dating" where the danger is in the dated one, but "bungee dating" where the danger lurks in the date itself. "Bungee dating" because one finds oneself jumping into a situation that is 100 feet deep with a bungee cord that extends to 101 feet.
Thus it was with this sorry pilgrim, this old and true friend, who called my West Coast retreat from New York this morning, tattered and battered from his bungee date of the previous evening, telling his tale of testosterone-powered urban woe.
He will be distressed that I have related it here, but it is for the greater good I do so. Men, take heed. Ladies are advised to avert their delicate eyes.
So I'm having this telephone relationship with her, see? You know, the kind of relationship where you're doing this long dance to the tune of "Getting to Know You," and its going pretty well.
I mean, I like it the way it is. We don't see each other a lot because of jobs, errands, New York yadda-yadda, and all that sort of thing. But also its neat, unusual, to spend hours on the telephone just sort of chatting away.
I *never* talk on the phone this long with anyone, but she's clever with questions and sort of keeps me blathering away. I don't feel weird about it until after when I notice that she's winkled all this information about me out of me, but I still don't know a lot about her.
She's a reporter type. I keep feeling I'm getting my notes taken, you know. But still I like it. I mean, hey, it's all about me so who wouldn't?
Still, we are really not having enough face time. She's getting all these weird ideas about me -- which just aren't true. Or maybe they are and I don't like being in such total disclosure with a telephone relationship.
Anyway, she's been under a lot of stress -- job, sick loved ones, hangovers, insecurity, the whole mini-catastrophe. She's sounding fried on the phone and I'm getting the 'let me help you' impulse big time. So when she mentions how uptight her body is, I say, utterly innocently, "I know just how you feel. We need a spa night with major shiatsu massages. That'll tune us up."
The next thing that should have gone through my mind was a dum-dum bullet, but sadly that did not happen.Continued...
Why don't you write a play
Why don't you cut your hair?
Do you trim your toe-nails round
Or do you trim them square?
Tell it to the papers,
Tell it every day.
But, en passant, may I ask
Why don't you write a play?
What's your last religion?
Have you got a creed?
Do you dress in Jaeger-wool
Sackcloth, silk or tweed?
Name the books that helped you
On the path you've trod.
Do you use a little g
When you write of God?
Do you hope to enter
Fame's immortal dome?
Do you put the washing out
Or have it done at home?
Have you any morals?
Does your genius burn?
Was you wife a what's its name?
How much did she earn?
Had your friend a secret
Sorrow, shame or vice
Have you promised not to tell
What's your lowest price?
All the housemaid fancied
All the butler guessed
Tell it to the public press
And we will do the rest.
Why don't you write a play?
[Rudyard Kipling, 1899]
"Training in marksmanship helps girls at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles develop into responsible women. Part of Victory Corps activities there, rifle practice encourages girls to be accurate in handling firearms. Practicing on the rifle range in the school's basement." -- -- Shorpy Historical Photo Archive
He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
Howso' great their clamour, whatsoe'er their claim,
Suffer not the old King under any name!
Here is naught unproven--here is naught to learn.
It is written what shall fall if the King return.
He shall mark our goings, question whence we came,
Set his guards about us, as in Freedom's name.
He shall take a tribute, toll of all our ware;
He shall change our gold for arms--arms we may not bear.
-- orkut - Rudyard Kipling "The Old Issue"
The creation of the Crab Nebula corresponds to the bright SN 1054 supernova that was independently recorded by Indian, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese astronomers in 1054 AD as a "guest star" that faded slowly over the next two years. The Crab Nebula itself was first observed in 1731 by John Bevis. The nebula was independently rediscovered in 1758 by Charles Messier as he was observing a bright comet. Messier catalogued it as the first entry in his catalogue of comet-like objects. -- Crab Nebula
Titanium skaters on lakes of metallic hydrogen
Etch constant curves of crystalline
Isotopes of orange uranium
All about the vacant house.
Enigmas of equations
Slide lattices to rest
In beds of powdered strontium,
Molding energy as form suggests.
In the place of flux we find new forms,
For flux-formed spaces enfold
Charms of magnet's fever
That conduct the core from pole to pole.
The whiteness of Earth's silences
Are eyes that stare on space.
Orbits chart them ceaselessly,
Etching irises of lace.
The inner of Earth's outer
Is a torus twisted twice.
Balloons ascend within it
Painting shadows in the room.
What can the mind of silence hear
Other than a whiteness past revision, past review?
It evolves from epicenters,
Stretches measureless as sound,
Or is seen as the floor of the void
Where the whine of protons stills....
In the drifts of chromium snow,
and gazes on the bones of matter bare.
At times, men in aluminum cloaks
Descend the neutron ladder,
And move in a sleet of particles
Too scintillating for instruments to record.
At times, men in groups descend
Through the smoke of the universe,
To tend the embers, imprison flame.
Their cascading movements sparkle.
We taste the afterimage of events.
Below us, pale and infinitely silent,
The plutonium leaves arabesque
Through radiant silences of solid helium.
Sometimes it seems I had a dream, and, as a dreamer woke immersed in mineral baths closed within a cool, dark chamber fed by streams flowing in from the center of nowhere.
Hanging from the granite ceiling a kerosene lantern cast shards of light through the pale steam rising from the surface of the pools.
Ripples radiated outwards from the edges of my body and tapping faintly on the rock revealed the edges of the chamber.
Outside I could hear the wind slide across the spine of the mountains, speaking in a language that I remembered but could no longer understand.
Steam filled my nostrils and heat penetrated my bones until, after a time, I had no body, only a sense of silence and distance and calm.
It was as if I had just woken from all water into dream.Continued...
1. We admitted we were powerless over spending—that our deficit had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that increasing taxes two times greater than all those currently levied could restore us to solvency.
3. Made a decision to turn our nation and our lives over to the care of Socialism as we understood it.
4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of all the gold actually left in the vaults of the Fed and Fort Knox and found two nuggets worth $325.99.
5. Admitted to voters, to the Federal Reserve, and to all eternal Government bureaucracies the exact nature of our bankruptcy and appeared in a barrel on The View.
6. Were entirely ready to have the Fed print infinite money on whatever paper they could get at a case discount down at Staples.
7. Humbly asked the voters to give us all their money, their IRAs, and title to their vacation homes.
8. Made a list of all persons that still had something squirreled away, and became willing to make send in the National Guard to dig up their backyards and basements.
9. Made direct promises to replace any precious metals or gems found with paper money, ten cents on the dollar, to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would require a cash award of more than $49.98.
10. Continued to search for hidden assets and when we found them promptly seized them.
11. Sought through Universal Health Care and reducing the military to improve our nation until it resembled Great Britain in real power and influence, and confiscated all guns and ammunition we could lay our hands on to keep pesky disagreements with the National Guard on a name-calling basis, praying only for a disarmed, dispirited, depressed and Universally Medicated citizenry and for the power to rule over them.
12. Having had a rebirth of the Soviet Union under Stalin as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to any remaining free societies, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
INT. UNDERGROUND DC PARKING GARAGE. BOTTOM LEVEL. NIGHT.
Libra's footsteps echo off the walls. Flickering neon light buzzes. In the corner of the garage a whole sector of lights has gone dark. Shadows thicken. A lighter flickers in the darkness as a cigar is lit.
LIBRA: Carthago. Countersign?
CENTURION: Delenda est. Sort of overly dramatic don't you think?
LIBRA: Not paid to think. What is the assignment?
CENTURION: The Wing thinks it's time to lay a little blue smoke between the mirrors. Take the heat off our team and torch the other side. That's your job.
LIBRA: Fine. How wet does the Wing want it to get?
CENTURION: We project that if three team members are put down it should put a stop to any attrition in 2014.
LIBRA: Wouldn't taking out just one serve the same purpose?
CENTURION: No. It has to look like a pattern.
LIBRA: Fine. Any particular team members you need erased?
CENTURION: Nobody from Chicago or San Francisco. And from safe seats only. We need to preserve the count. Renegade's very keen on that.
LIBRA: Level of obfuscation?
CENTURION: None. Public and messy. "Accidents" would be counter productive. But no families. Renaissance would be upset.
CENTURION: Within the next 10 days. It would be best if all three were within the same day.
LIBRA: You want target clearance and notification?
CENTURION: No. This will be the last contact for this contract.
LIBRA: Half to the Bahamas account by noon tomorrow and the half on completion to our friend in Costa Rica.
LIBRA: Anything else?
CENTURION: No. If we need you again we can always find you.
LIBRA: That's what you people always think. Oh, by the way, was that stuff about you getting naked with Renegade over the golf weekend the real deal?
CENTURION: Just get it done.
FADE TO BLACK
For all you do / This bud's for you.
On sale in Seattle something that will lower your information, voter:
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Faust. Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet, make me immortal with a kiss. [Kisses her.]
Her lips suck forth my soul; see where it flies! --
Come, come, give me my soul again.
-- Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus.
One is speaking, of course, of our latter day Helen of Troy, ye right honorable
first beard first lady of the Disunited States, Michelle Obama. Her "official" second term portrait was just released and is provided here as source material. (Standard "can't unsee the seen" warning applies.) Play nice.
Updated with a fresh spread from Michelle La Vaughn's Secret Diary via Cripes Suzette -- Dear Diary – BANGS! |Continued...
When all Earth's seas shall Levitate,
Dark shawled within the skies,
Upon our eyes will Starfish dance
Their waltz of Blind surprise.
The sun will Rise within wine Dark
As Argonauts imbibed,
Whose drunken arms embrace that sleep
Where Phaeton's horses Stride.
Upon all of Earth's wind-sanded shores,
As dolphins Learn to soar,
All we once were on the land
Shall be sealed behind the door
Of Ivory and Chastened Gold,
That the Mystery solved complete
Shall never til the seas' Long fall
Wake mariners from their sleep.
Big Data comes to Professional Porn: Deep Inside - A Study of 10,000 Porn Stars by Jon Millward.
They seem to be light and lively:
The average male and female performer are the same height as the average American man and woman: 5’10″ and 5’5″ respectively.2 However, porn stars are quite a bit lighter. At 117 lbs, the average female performer is a considerable 48 lbs under the national average for women, and the average male, at 167.5 lbs, weighs 27 lbs less than the national average for men.
And, no, they don't have bodacious tatas:
The most common bra size for a female porn star is a surprisingly handleable 34B. Not double-D, not even a D. Double-D actually came in 4th, behind B, C and D. The most common set of measurements for the women was 34-24-34.
And, yes, porn looks like America:
The proportions of each race match the general American population almost exactly, despite the fact that race is still heavily fetishized in porn.
At the same time, traditionalists will be pleased to know that porn stars make a nice couple: "Nikki Lee and David Lee—the most common first and last names of porn stars."
Much more safe for work than you think.
PS Blondes evidently do not have more fun: "Dark-haired porn stars outnumber blonde ones almost 2-to-1."
[Note: Last week's cruising debacle resulted in thousands of articles and comments including this one: 7 Reasons to Never Ever Ever Vacation on a Cruise Ship It also caused me to revisit my own brief flirtation with cruising some years back and add the 8th reason: It's BOR-ING!]
"A life on the ocean waves,
A home on the rolling deep..."
-- Sea Shanty
In travel I once thought there were only three levels of tedium that overtake one between departure to destination. If you go by car, your tedium level is light. You have the power to interrupt your journey at any point as well as a changing view and a task, driving, for diversion. Travel by rail or bus introduces you to the second level of tedium when only scheduled stops enable you to break the journey, but the scenery remains in the middle distance as a diversion. Should you go by air, your despair and terror are lessened by the knowledge that, except for extreme distances, your powerlessness and lack of view will at least last no more than a day.
The three levels of tedium. Each more or less equal to the others and each part of what you pay for wanting to indulge in the mindlessness of modern travel. But I have, this week discovered, a fourth level and this level contains all the horrors of travel plus the horrors of actually being there. This is a level of tedium previously unexplored by me, but rumored to exist by sensible travelers who have gone and returned to tell the tale. I should have believed them but, like the fool I have always been, I had to experience it myself. Right now I am still trapped within the confines of the experience but it isn"t too soon to send out a warning in the hopes that there are others out there who will not be the fool I was; who will turn back before committing themselves to this constantly renewing fresh hell on the ocean waves.
But should you have a taste for tedium, should boredom be like mother"s milk and daily bread (lots of it) to you, you will be surfeited by this otherwise antiquated mode of travel. Indeed, for sheer, mind obliterating tedium, for the kind of vacancy induced only by event horizons with no events and fewer horizons; for a feeling that arises in no experience other than incarceration, there is nothing that can beat the tedium induced by that modern masterpiece of torpor, stupor and pointlessness, the Cruise Ship.Continued...
"First they came for the blacks, and I spoke up because it was wrong, even though I'm not black.
"Then they came for the gays, and I spoke up, even though I'm not gay.
"Then they came for the Muslims, and I spoke up, because it was wrong, even though I'm an atheist.
"When they came for illegal aliens, I spoke up, even though I'm a legal immigrant.
"Then they came for the pornographers, rebels and dissenters and their speech and flag burning, and I spoke up, because rights are not only for the establishment.
"Then they came for the gun owners, and you liberal shitbags threw me under the bus, even though I'd done nothing wrong. So when they come to put you on the train, you can fucking choke and die.
"Or you can commit seppuku with a chainsaw. I really don't care anymore. This is the end of my support for any liberal cause, because liberals have become anything but."
"I wonder if at some point, those who get things done just get tired of all this and give all of the idiots a sort of separate, but parallel world where they can spend valueless money on worthless crap, compete with each other for meaningless honors, and attempt to impose preposterous narratives on one another through an unending parade of news shows, talking points, and blog posts. Meanwhile, the doers build and repair the infrastructure, pioneer innovations, bear and raise kids with a good shot at becoming perfectly decent human beings, and run the real financial system according to sound principles.
"Perhaps Kornbluth's Marching Morons [FullText] already covers this ground, but today we don't have to worry about the idiots out-reproducing the doers. Sufficient access to birth control, abortion on demand, not-especially socially costly diversions, inflated credentials and titles, food, and a few hundred square feet of living space in a "cool" urban setting will keep them content for a lifetime. In a few generations they will have chatted and partied themselves out of existence. The solution need need not have a eugenic dimension. Those children of idiots who show a strong desire to create (in the real, material sense), who like children, who want to raise them responsibly, and who believe that wealth is to be earned through toil could always be invited to the other side.
"Contempt is an important part of the scheme. Not of the doers for the idiots, but for the idiots for the doers. As the last idiot couple pops the last viagra and copulates for the last time to some life desecrating lyrics played on a sound system they could never understand, and as they die of simultaneous orgasms/strokes, they must die with contempt on their wrinkled lips for the doers. They must always be absolutely convinced of their superiority (that sound system would never have been built without us... you didn't build it... we did!). Given their hubris, I don't think that is a hard goal to achieve.
"And to be honest, I really don't think that we are that far from being able to put this plan into practice. Not that far at all."
Posted by: el baboso as a comment on Modern Love
Some people like ballet but I've always been one for the subtleties and wistful nuance of interpretive dance. This brief example is surely one of the finest of that wistful genre of deeper insight and feeling when it comes to the dance. Indeed, discerning connoisseurs of dance will rejoice at seeing, once again, the most moving moment in the history of dance coming in at 1:22.
Indeed, so wonderful and universal is this moment that scholars of the dance may want to study it closely a few times. In that way they can deepen their understanding of the manner in which the dancer's restrained and even, deconstructively speaking, [airquote]chained[unairquote] angst and fin-de-siecle malaise can be released into an ever evolving gyre of praise to freedom emerging like a reluctant toadstool through the elemental torrent that is released upon her. As well as wanting to get her a towel for a stimulating rubdown. I am not sure if a dissertation on this theme and moment has been written but I am sure that, if one is written, it will be an original contribution to knowledge.
“I’m no yenta, but I think this is going to work." - Jim Rogers
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Submitted for your consideration an item most notable for its soothing palliative tone in which the unusual is normalized. As the age's intellectual insanity assumes the proportions of a plague, the experience of reading the herald of these plague years, the New York Times, becomes more and more like reading dispatches from the alternate universe of "hoping these changes stick." That the changes can only stick if the core of the more normative America holds both economically and militarily (even as the 'changy' culture struggles to destroy it) is where the hoping enters in.
Still it is an item imbued with sweetness in the coyly named "Weddings & Celebrations" section of the Times. It really has it all when it comes to the modern nature of love in a time of cultural cholera: Vows - Kate Adamick and Kay Diaz - Weddings and Celebrations - NYTimes.com [Emphasis carefully added]
"The two women were introduced Feb. 4, 2008, via an e-mail message from their mutual friend, Jim Rogers, the New York State deputy attorney general in the social justice division, for which Ms. Diaz, 45, is a senior trial counsel....
On Valentine’s Day the women exchanged photographs. “It’s an absolute bonus she is as beautiful as she is,” Ms. Adamick said. They scheduled their first phone call four days later. Lengthy, nightly conversations ensued....
The next day Ms. Adamick flew back to New York from California. To her surprise, Ms. Diaz was waiting for her at Newark Liberty airport with two dozen roses. The connection was instantaneous. “She dropped the flowers on the ground and kissed me,” Ms. Adamick said. “We were making out in the car like two teenagers,” Ms. Diaz said. By the following morning they were engaged. 'It just came out of my mouth...' "
A little more than a year later, on May 8, the couple were legally married by Jeanne Laughlin, a Connecticut justice of the peace, in a conference room at the Stamford Government Center.
They exchanged yellow pipe-cleaner rings, saving their engraved gold bands for their public ceremony the next day, when Mr. Rogers — who had introduced them — led them through their vows in the three-story atrium of 632 on Hudson, an event space in a 19th-century New York town house.
“All my life I searched for you, but never thought I’d find you,” Ms. Adamick said. “All my life I dreamed of you, but never dreamed you were real.”
Mr. Rogers said, “You may both kiss the bride,” and their 96 friends and family cheered as the couple smiled exuberantly.
"And," as Walter Cronkite would totalled up the whole passel of perfection if he'd attended, "That's the way it is."
Having not been invited, all I can say is that they seem like a nice, attractive couple and that I wish them all the happiness they can garner from the world. Life's tough enough on the denizens of this relentlessly advancing and evolving world, and tougher still without love.
And yet for all that it seems to me that the report of the affair as scribbled by the oddly yet predictably named "Devan Sipher" in the 'paper of [the broken] record' is trying too hard to retain a deadpan affect; a state in which the writing does not "dumb it down" so much as it "blands it out."Continued...
Who says a major in English Lit is wasted? The Boston Globe decided to use the first line from Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow: See the whole front page here.
"A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.
"It is too late. The Evacuation still proceeds, but it's all theatre. There are no lights inside the cars. No light anywhere. Above him lift girders old as an iron queen, and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of day through. But it's night. He's afraid of the way the glass will fall--soon--it will be a spectacle: the fall of a crystal palace. But coming down in total blackout, without one glint of light, only great invisible crashing." -- Thomas Pynchon: Gravity's Rainbow (opening)
"And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you."
-- Don Henley
There's a lot of it being bandied about these days. Change, that is. Mostly in the realm of the Politics of life. Despite all the hand-wringing and introspection that goes on in this area, I've come to believe that the Politics of life are easy. It's the Poetics of life that are tough.
Changing your politics by either softening or hardening or completely reversing your positions on issues is such a simple intellectual feat that almost anyone, even politicians and lawyers, can manage it. At bottom, it is mostly a matter of viewing or "re"-viewing your internal map of how the world should be, and taking up those positions or opinions or policies that you believe will lead the world from "what it is" to "what the world should be."
Thoughtful and engaged citizens of the nation or of the world continually assemble and reassemble their political beliefs to resemble their visions of the world and its continual becoming. All of which implies, to a greater or lesser extent, some individual control over the creation of policies which determine -- to some degree -- political outcomes.
Politics is the great game of our globe. It is now and always has been the only blood sport played well by both warriors and wimps. This is as it should be since blood or treasure must often be spilled to obtain any one of many possible outcomes. In all this, change may be for the better or the worse, depending on where you stand, but change will come, have its way and send the butcher's bill.
And the butcher's bill will always be more than you imagined you would have to pay. In blood and in treasure, the stakes are fates.
All of that is hard and difficult and, more often than not, splits parties, factions, families and friends right down to the living bone. It is played in real time and with live ammunition. But none of it is mysterious. In the end it involves only the process of politics and, while the rules may be at times obscure, they can still be descried and codified.
Not so the changes of the darkest realm of our lives; that realm we know only dimly but tell ourselves, in our error, that we know well. This is the realm of the human heart; a place where change comes more slowly than wisdom accrues, and rolls below our conscious minds like a deep, underground river into which we have drilled, through the bedrock of our lives, the wells of love and the wells of hate.
We recognize and celebrate the deep wells of love within ourselves. So much so that we invite others, be they strangers, friends or lovers, to drink from them; to refresh themselves and thus know us as the kind of human being that can love and love deeply; that can make the deeper vows of love in life and, despite setbacks, still cling to them and draw strength from them. To close down and fill in one of these wells we open in ourselves to another is still seen -- even in this deluded age of no fault for anything -- a large failure in, and a waste of, life. This is as it should be. A deep love is known, by all who have had it granted to them, as the rarest of all moments of grace to be had in this world. Nothing can buy it and nothing replaces it. One can only nuture it or squander it.
We toast the couple who has made it to fifty years of marriage. We are, indeed, amazed these days when half that measure is achieved. We admire the parents who have a deeply challenged child and yet stick by and raise that child into all the happiness of which that child is capable. We honor all those who spend their lives in service to humanity and even, when that service passes all understanding, raise them up as saints, holy or secular.
The water from our deepest wells of love runs clear and clean. It refreshes the soul. Like all the great waters of this life it carries within it no taste at all other than that which is pure and which is true. Tasted once we carry within us forever a ceaseless thirst for more of it.
Then there are, because we are only human and caught halfway up the stairs between beast and angel, the darker wells of which we do not speak, but which run just as deep and just as ceaseless within our hearts.
These are the wells of the black and bitter water that we drink from at that awful hour of 4 AM in the soul. That hour when the bad phone calls arrive, when the arguments and the accusations twist in the soul, when nothing is satisfied and sleep is slight and the dawn delays.
Nothing good ever transpires in an argument carried past 2AM, and it grows almost lethal as it winds on until 4. It doesn't matter whether or not the argument is with another or just with oneself, let it run that long into the night and you will know -- cold and stained -- the darkest secrets of the self. And you will drink them down as night after night and year after year they are drawn up from the heart's core. And the water will be dank and false and carry an ever increasing taint of poison into your soul. Tasted once, you will have a ceaseless thirst for more of it.
I've been drinking my dark bitter glass from my secret well of hate in the dark hours on and off for what is now going on fifteen years. That's a strange measure since it marks just about the same length of time that I loved the woman and was married to her.
But I'm no addict. I'm no alcoholic of hate. No, not me.
Over time I no longer drank from this dark well nightly. I'd lost a couple of years to its intoxicating haze in the early 90s, but I emerged from that in time. Say what you will of the dark water, it did not rule my life, only -- from time to time -- my nights.
After some years had passed it surprised me to realize that I had not really thought of her for months. It was surprising to notice that my once nightly mantra of secret thoughts centered on all the wrongs done, and all the years of my child's life stolen from me, had retreated to a much more infrequent pattern. I was relieved that the thoughts that always spiraled down into the dark (where I would imagine the worst sort of things happening to the woman I once loved above all others) had faded to a sometime thing.
And there it stayed, a sometimes thing. A steady state of hate.
Of course, because it came up from a well of hate I had dug deep into my heart with my own hands, the sometimes thing was always the same thing on those random nights when it filled my sleeplessness. It was a thing fashioned from the shabbiest materials of my soul, all the cheap claptrap that I was capable of pasting to the mildewed walls, all the shoddy stuff that held me up as a heroic "sufferer" at another's hands, the eternal moist "victim of circumstance," the paltry, spurned lover. The husband who had been so unjustly cast aside that he had conveniently forgotten his own hand in the matter. The wronged father who could not be bothered to look at his own failures when the spite and the maliciousness was so clearly all on the other side.... On and on it went in a litany of wrongs unavenged. The trial was held and held again and the verdict on her "crimes against my humanity" was, according to the jury (that would be me as well) always guilty, guilty, guilty.
Then I'd siphon up another glass of black hate from the dark well of my heart, knock it back neat, and get on to my favorite part: punishment. I won't go into the punishments I would imagine except to say that I have an extremely vivid imagination and that being in the book and movie "American Psycho" would have seemed like an all expenses paid day at Disneyland by comparison. After all, it is the nature of hate to feed upon itself and, like all addictions, demand greater and greater quantities to become sated. Let's just say I ate my revenge slow and cold with a table knife.
And that was how my private little melodrama played in the showcase of my soul as a decade rolled by and I waited for it, like some perverted and worn Velveteen Rabbit, to become real. I'd hear of her from time to time but never in any great detail. I could have if I'd wanted to since I still retained connections with various members of her family. But I didn't ask and they didn't tell. In truth, so dark was the hate I held for her that I thought I didn't want to hear anything about her unless the news was bad -- very, very bad.
I honesty and deeply believed that about myself right up until the day I actually heard some very, very bad news about her.
It came in over the rumor mill of the telephone, just like the game of telephone. Somebody told somebody something. That somebody told somebody else something. And that somebody told me. It was a series of anecdotes four times removed from the subject. Little more than the thin gruel of gossip watered down and enhanced four times over.
The tale told was bleak and awful. It had all the things about it that I had, in my hate, been waiting to hear: disease, destitution, loneliness and ruination. My waiting cup was at long last filled to overflowing and handed to me.
And I could not drink from it. I dashed it from my lips. In one stunned instant I knew that everything I had been telling myself for nearly 15 years about my deepest feelings for this person had been one of the most carefully constructed and meticulously executed lies I have ever told. And one that I had told only to myself. One that I had believed.
It was in one moment revealed to me as a lie because my very first and deepest reactions to the awful news I had been waiting for for so long was neither the glee nor the jubilation I had always imagined, but the exact polar opposite of both these states.
My first reaction was one of shock, of concern, or wanting to know more, of thinking immediately of which resources I possessed that could be brought to bear to help her, no matter what the cost.
A second illumination followed almost instantly upon the first and I saw tumble through my mind a host of bright memories I had long thought erased forever. The roses by the cabin door in Big Sur where we had first become lovers. The nights above the fog moving over the Presidio in San Francisco. Her face leaning out of the window of her loft down on Duane Street in New York as she threw down the keys. The wedding at the Pierre in New York. The flat in Belgravia. The villa in the Algarve, the apartment in Paris and the village house up along the Western Front. Her hand crushing mine as our daughter was born. The picnic in the Boston Public Gardens in a blizzard of blossoms from the cherry trees. The Hanukkah/Christmas evening when I looked into our house in Connecticut and saw her and my daughter lighting the candles on the musical Menorah.
Everything that had been good and true and wonderful across all the years before it all went smash rolled back over me, much as they say life does before a drowning man. Only it didn't drown me. It pushed me up out of my chair, out into the sunlight on the dock, and there it.... Sat. Me. Down.
It sat me down beside the still waters of the inlet with a ringing in my ears. Then it cold-cocked me like a ball-peen hammer stroke to the third eye with the truth of what I had been drowning with hate for so long. What I'd been hating darkly was not her at all but what I had let happen, in all the small and large ways that you do, to destroy what we had had and would never have again. A sad and sorry and shabby truth to be sure. All the more sad and sorry and shabby for being, in the end, so very common and ordinary.
After about an hour of this, I got up and went back into the houseboat office and made a call. I knew enough about the ways of the "telephone game" to know that you verify rumors before acting.
In a day I got an answer back that, in fact, nothing very dire was happening at all. Life for her went on and, in the main, that life was good. No threatening diseases, no financial ruin, no more loneliness than is common to single people of a certain age, and that she enjoyed the steady love of our daughter. Some travel was in the offing and, on the whole, everything was all right. Examining some of the details of her recent life made it clear how rumor bred with rumor to yield a dire report, but like all gossip it was only a few flecks of truth that were expanded into a false tragedy. There was nothing in it that called out for my intervention and thus no need to alter the state of no-connection that had suited us both for so long. We'd both, as they say, moved mostly on. No need for change in that regard.
Change. There's a lot about it being bandied about in the political sphere where, as I mentioned, it comes easy enough. Less so, much less so, when it comes to the change of the heart.
And a change of the heart is, I suppose, what I've finally gotten out of the whole long, sad, sorry and sordid tale. In the weeks since this happened I won't pretend that the deep and black well in my heart has somehow been back-filled by God, made whole in some miraculous moment. I don't think God does plumbing like that. He probably sub-contracts it out to free-will and leaves the heavy lifting up to you. I do know that I've managed to cap that dark well at last and am busy carrying in stones to keep the lid on.
Just as well because I'm not going to drink from that bitter water again. You need the power of a lie to work that pump, and once you know the truth about yourself you've got no handle to work it with. But I'm going to keep piling on the stones. Just in case.
"What is it about? Like all Greek songs, about Love and Death." -- Melina Mercouri, Phaedra
"The Politics of life are easy. It's the Poetics that are tough."
I'm still working out what I meant when I wrote that. It'll take me life plus 99 years.
The Poetics of life are much more persistent in their knocking at the door of your inner self than the Politics. Politics have their seasons, but the Poetics are our constant companions, waking and sleeping, thinking and dreaming. In a very real sense, since they run deeper than the Politics, the Poetics are the Politics' power source. But what are the Poetics about? Simply put, they are "like all Greek songs, about love and death."
I've done a dance or two with death over the years. I've found that he's not very graceful and he always wants to lead.
Once, during a long-lost summer, I was the night driver for a hearse at a mortuary. In the wee small hours of the morning, I'd drive the on-duty mortician to pick up a man or a woman's or a child's body from wherever it had become just a body. In the hot California delta night I'd drive the mortician, both of us in Blues Brothers suits, to a hospital basement, a home bedroom, a city morgue, or, one time, to a shabby skid row hotel where the leaking wicker basket holding the suicide had to be held vertically in the creaking ancient elevator for all eight slow floors.
I've been alone in the waiting room with my mother when the surgeon, still drying his hands on a towel, walked through the door and said, "I'm sorry, Mrs. Van der Leun, but we just couldn't stop the bleeding."
I've stood in a room high above Central Park West where the only sound was a death rattle in an old man's throat, and told the doctor on the telephone that there was really no reason to send the emergency resuscitation crew for the twelfth time in half as many months. I sat quietly holding the old man's hand for around thirty minutes until his breathing stopped. Then I left that room, told my in-laws he was dead, and watched them mask their expressions of relief.
I've found my name carved into the stone monument at Battery Park that lists those that died at sea during the Second World War. I've found the names of two men I went to high school with carved on the Vietnam wall in Washington.
If I'd managed to keep one address book for my contemporaries since graduating from high school, it would, as they say, be beginning to fill up with dead people and that rate would increase.
I've stood on the Promenade on the Heights and seen two towers fall and reduce thousands of people to ash and dust in what seemed like less time than it has taken you to read to this period.
I have sometimes, I confess, "been half in love with easeful death," but no one living escapes that siren call. The trick there is to lash yourself to the mast of the day, pray, and somehow, through the grace of God, just sail on by.
By now, like many others of my age, I've seen death personally and professionally, retail and wholesale. There really is, when you move with it, nothing to love about the dance of death. The only response is, as Prufrock knew, to see "the eternal Footman hold my coat and snicker, and in short, I was afraid."
So I know something -- not a lot, but something -- about that old Greek theme of death and it scares me about as much as it should scare, I imagine, any man. And, having now briefly been dead, the fear is perhaps less shrill but more persistent; a tempo of a fading drum heard far off, cast back over the horizon but still approaching.
What I know increasingly little about, and what really frightens me, is the other theme of the Greek songs, love. These days it seems that it will take more than a lifetime to figure love out.
Love frightens me because, unlike death, love cannot be understood. Love can only be given, gotten, taken or dropped. Like death, it would seem that, once discovered, there's no end to it -- or, to take Hemingway's point of view, no good end to it since one way or another death will trump love -- in this world at least.
Love is where the Poetics of life collide with the Politics. It's a collision where the possibility having to call in the MedEvac helicopter and the coroner is always present; where wreckage is assured and survival never promised. Falling in love is, as a comedian noted, like buying a puppy. You are purchasing a tragedy.
No, that's not quite right. Say rather you are purchasing a hybrid; a tragicomedy or a comic tragedy, since love always has, for those of us removed from its immediate drama, elements of the ridiculous, slices of the sublime, and not a few moments of boffo laughter at the shambling human animal.
Still, it would be nice if I could understand the nature of love and my absurd role in the love dramas of my life. If the joke, in the end, is on me it would be nice to be able to say that I "get it."
Nice but not, I think, necessary. Even if I never get it, I do know one thing for certain about love, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
First published 2009-- added to and altered since.
Being only a man, I often tire of the things of man; of his bottomless vanity and his endless violence which, as all the things of men must, resides in me as well as in you.
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us.**
Many years ago, I was browsing through a newsmagazine and came upon a photograph of the machete-hacked corpse of an African child floating like some half-chewed chunk of jetsam in a backwater of Lake Victoria. This was during what we now think of, because we have to think of it as something distinct from our normal run-of-the-mill massacres, as the Rwandan genocide.
It was a crystal clear photograph showcasing an act of genocide like any other, only the meaningless details changed: children, machetes, an African lake. As a professional in the pornography of violence, the photographer had gotten in close. The child's eyes could be seen. They were without pupils, the irises congealed into a dead fish-belly white; the white of clotted milk. The photographer had done his job well. The smell of it came off the page....
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen.
I thought then, looking at the eyes in the face of the ruined child in that photograph, that if that child's eyes could reflect anything they would reflect everything -- every thing -- we are.
And in those moments, looking on that picture, I came to know a despair that went beyond any puling despair for my miserable self, one that went out and went out from that photograph, like the ripples from a pebble dropped into dark water, until they lapped up against everything in the world, and rendered it all into hacked meat and mute purposeless matter. And I despised the world, and all of humanity, and, indeed, God himself. But most of all, I despised myself.
At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.
I despised myself for the reaction I was having to a mere photograph. I despised myself for having the ability to look upon it, to really study it, to feel the revulsion, and then simply put it down and walk away from it; no doubt to a reasonably good dinner. For that was what I had scheduled for myself later that day. After all, a good dinner at a good restaurant was a reasonable reward for another day at work in New York City. Wasn't it?
At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth driveling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.
I'd like to say that I did not go to that dinner and I did not enjoy myself, but I did. The moment with the photograph was, for the evening, forgotten enough. It never even came up. Not really the sort of thing you want to chat about over a roasted duck with cranberry sauce and your standard big California Red, is it?
The child rotting in the brackish water was, after all, not a child at all. The child was long since buried or left to dissolve as mere carrion. What had disturbed me was only the abstraction of a child snagged out of the world with photographic film, transmitted across the oceans via orbiting satellites. printed up on sheets of flimsy paper, and delivered to me and millions of others on a weekly basis.... to what purpose?
To   What   Purpose?
Because I needed to know? What did I know? That we are, each and every one of us, capable of the darkest evil? This much I'd known long before I'd known it.
Did I study it because I needed more confirmation? I'd long been confirmed. And yet the image stuck in my mind, not as an obsession, but as an unbidden harbinger. And in time, I came to know its purpose.
Its purpose was to teach me the one thing I really needed to know to live the life we are expected to live as fully paid-up members of today's "advanced and enlightened" society. Its purpose was to teach me how to make one decision that would make all the other clauses of this era's "new and improved" social contract easy to sign off on.
Its purpose was to teach me to hate God.
I'd never practiced that sort of hate before. I'd never hated God at all in all the years I had been "away." At most, my inclination towards God was a kind of studied indifference. It was casual pose, admired by many and practiced by most of my generation for decades. It was cool and in this age cool trumps everything.
Being a man, and a weak one at that, this unthinking indifference is more persistent than hate. It abides with me today -- most days. I am, as I have remarked before, a Christian in crisis only. Only when my happy little world is darkened by something that seems to me at the time to bring down pain and confusion, do I remember God and seek Him. It's a shabby sort of religion, I know, but at least it is a religion of a sort.
It was not a religion of that sort during the several years I hated Him. It was a white-hot kind of religion. I sought out His hand and His works in all the dark reports that deluge us all on a daily basis. I studied the latest news and kept a clipping file of outrage stored in my soul. I worked on it.
Childhood leukemia? God's on the job.
A close friend is shot-gunned on 14th street in a mugging? God's there pulling the trigger.
Yet another mass grave dug up in yet another subdivision of Hell in Europe, Africa, the Middle East? God's working the back-hoe.
It's a tough and dirty job and nobody but God has the moral clarity to do it. He's the original Bastard. A real Professional. To top it all off He had billions of fools convinced of His mercy and His goodness. They were ready to tell you that "God so loved the world...."
Really? I was a tough-minded secularist with the kind of soul that looked at the pictures of life with a hard, unblinking eye. Oh, yeah? Show me.
Any God that had the power to do good and yet allowed evil to exist and to prevail, why that God was..... It's an old standard, you know the tune and you know the words. I'm not going to sing it again here.
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice
It was a jester that stopped my hate of God. Not a great jester, I'll grant you, but a jester just the same. He used to caper for donations in the Central Park Zoo. Perhaps he capers there today. I wouldn't know.
Since this jester's act was pitched towards humans with no more than five or six years of experience in the world, the only people that ever stopped and listened and watched him were little children with their parents or nannies. And on one particular day, for no clear reason, myself.
He'd clear a circle near the seals and perform a few bits of juggling and some pratfalls. There would be some gentle mocking of the kids' parents, a bit of mime and a dollop of buffo slapstick. Then he'd go into his finale.
The finale was always the same. It was a frantic dance and pantomime done to a tune blasting from his boom-box. The tune was an old spiritual, "O Sinnerman." It's another old standard we all know, but it sounded different to me in that afternoon in the park in early spring:
O sinnerman where will you run to?
O sinnerman where will you run to?
O sinnerman where will you run to,
All on that day?
Run to the mountain.
The mountain won't hide you.
Run to the sea.
The sea will not have you.
And run to your grave.
Your grave will not hold you.
All on that day.
The world doesn't circle around anyone of us, but it does, from time to time, pick up its cues. And, since I tend to see the world with the eyes of a poet, I'm always alert to the subtext of experience.
I say "I" because I don't know any other way to name the observing presence that seems to always be riding on the saddle of my self-awareness. It really doesn't have a lot to do with me as a person and there are plenty of times I could do without it quite nicely, thank you. But I heed the voice when it has something of value to say, even if comes disguised as a mindless song out of a corny half-baked 20th century jester in fading makeup and tatterdemalion.
Maybe it was because I was tired of hating God at every turn. Maybe it was because I'd simply come to the end of wanting to take the woes of the world onto my shoulders. Maybe it was because I just happened, at that moment, to be ready to snap out of it. Or maybe it was because of the childish message of the song. Urban sophisticates can, after all, be some of the densest matter in the universe, and sometimes need to be spoken to in very simple ways.
For me, the voice said something like, "Oh, come off it and cop to your own shortcomings. I gave you everything there is and now you want Me to fix it? Be glad I made it fixable. And, if I hadn't made it the way it is, there'd be no you hanging around to hate Me, would there?"
And my hatred of God left me.
There wasn't any kind of great switcheroo where my hatred was replaced with love and the peace that passeth all understanding. It wasn't a replacement. It was a departure. And nobody waved goodbye. Least of all me.
I did not forget the photograph. I would never forget the photograph. But I did let go of the idea that the evil it embodied was an Act of God. It took me a long time, a lot of hate, and a very simple song before I came to understand that every act of evil is an Act of Man.
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee.
I'm just putting it out there because that racist Rob sent it in. Talk amongst yourselves.
"The late Paul Harvey was a masterful throaty narrator in the romantic age
before the onset of America's now ubiquitous metrosexual nasal intonation. Harvey just didn't sound different from the present generation, but from what we suspect, he sounded different from most generations to come as well. One reason that our age cannot make a Shane, High Noon, or The Searchers is that most of our suburban Hollywood actors cannot even fake the accent of either the frontier or the tragic hero anymore. When Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall go, so goes too the last link to the cinema's Westerner. There are no more voices like Slim Pickens or Ben Johnson. One of the successes of the commercial is that the photographed farmers did not speak, and left the impression of mute superiority." --Works and Days | The Super Bowl Farmers
Created by @notoserfdom.
"Yes, alas, it's an Open Thread, and not a liveblog. I don't really feel like listening to this imbecilic gasbag. I asked around but no one else has much interest, either.
"CNN/Chris Dorner Update: No, Anderson Cooper did not ask if it's harder to find a black man at night. See the "red flag" at the end."
Too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Four years without a budget is not holding our economy back, and bizarre new health care regulatoins aren’t holding our economy back, and the constant threat of ever-increasing taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” is not holding our economy back. It’s those darn banks telling people no.
Best number from the finest pop concert film ever made, Stop Making Sense. [Full film is HERE.]
David Byrne: I've got a tape I want to play.
Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,
We blended in with the crowd,
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines,
I know that ain't allowed.
We dress like students, we dress like housewives
Or in a suit and a tie.
I changed my hairstyle so many times now
Don't know what I look like!
You make me shiver. I feel so tender.
We make a pretty good team.
Don't get exhausted, I'll do some driving.
You ought to get you some sleep.
Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?
They won't help me survive.
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace.
The burning keeps me alive.
Kate Upton fills out the cover for a second year because... well... because... because the editors were shackled by the ankles to the Upton Entity three years ago and have not yet been rescued. 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue - A Full Look • Highsnobiety The full 39 (thirty-nine) photographs.
Presenting, via The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys, The Zero F**ks Given RX7
Twelve minutes of automotive nirvana. Highly recommended. "Never a dull moment here."
The top hat worn by Abraham Lincoln to Fordâs Theatre on April 14th, 1865- approximately one week after Lee surrendered to Grant in Appomattox Courthouse thus ending the war.
For Lincoln: Born This Day in 1809 -- "His Truth is Marching On"
To be born an American, or to become an American, you need only know and understand four things that we have written down. Our founding document, The Declaration of Independence. Our agreement with ourselves and our government that specifies and protects the self-evident truths and freedoms of the Declaration, The Constitution. Our national motto: "In God we trust." And our credo, "The Gettysburg Address."
A credo is a short and straightforward statement of beliefs or principles. A credo has no fixed length but lies somewhere between a motto and a manifesto. The most widely known traditional credo would be "The Apostles Creed."
Although it is not often thought of as such, Lincoln's brief oration at Gettysburg at noon on that long ago November day is, in all its elements, our national credo. Although shaped as prose fit to be cut, as it has been, into stone, The Gettysburg Address is also a lyrical poem as polished as a crystal prism. Through it, all that we had been up until that day midway through our most terrible conflict passed and was transformed into the multifaceted nation we have become today. And it is still not finished with us, nor we with it.
The Address shows us first how we came into existence as "the last best hope of Earth." It echoes the opening refrain of the Declaration's notes of liberty and equality. It reminds us of our original goals of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" goals to which our founding fathers pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor." It implies that all generations of Americans must, if the nation is to endure, pledge the same.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
The poem then brings the credo into the present. Not just the present moment of November 19, 1863, but all the present moments that came after right up to this very day in November in 2010. Then the argument between Americans had become so pitched that civil war between the contending factions had torn the nation asunder. We have come close to similar passes since then several times, but have -- remembering "the better angels of our nature" -- always turned aside and found a way to move forward together as a great nation of a greater people. Now may be another such moment; another such turning. Lincoln could not know our moment, but in his credo he indicates his belief that the test of his moment will be passed and that the nation will long endure. He also knows the cost of that test for those who "gave their lives that that nation might live."
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
From that moment in that long ago November, Lincoln's credo casts a cold eye on the ultimate costs of liberty whenever men determine that liberty, for themselves and their posterity, is worth whatever sacrifice is asked of them. Out of that vision he tells us what the duty of all future generations of Americans must be.
In the closing of the Address, Lincoln is at once a President, a poet, a seer, and an American. As such, he closes the credo to which all future Americans must cleave. The credo requires us to be constantly renewing the work of liberty. The credo tells us that we -- if we are to bear true faith and allegiance to all those who have built, stone by stone, poem by poem, word by word, and life by life, the city on the hill that is America -- must always be dedicated to the unfinished work that is always before us. The credo requires that we "highly resolve" to leave our nation in a greater state of liberty than we found it. And to leave our Union entire and intact as "the last best hope of Earth."
The most successful revolution in history was not the Russian Revolution or the Chinese Revolution. It was the American Revolution. It began more than two centuries ago and it continues to this day. It is not over yet. This is its credo.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Dateline: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. November 19, 1863
The only confirmed photo of Abraham Lincoln (circled) at Gettysburg, taken about noon, just after Lincoln arrived and some three hours before the speech. To Lincoln's right is his bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon.
Created by the strange brain in the jar at Tom the Dancing Bug Blog.
There is no "Mastermind."
The wildly popular comedy series "The Office" has just been given an injection of hilarity with Hillary Clinton's decision to show off her talents as "World's Best Boss" in the tenth season of the multi-award-winning show. Producers believe that the previously organic succession of Dunder Mifflin's incompetent but lovable managers - from Michael Scott to Robert California to Andy Bernard - will be seamlessly completed by the former Secretary of State, who is expected to bring with her plenty of baggage and surprising international connections. -- People's Cube
Contact Hillary with any questions of concerns right HERE. YES, you can leave a note sharing your feelings.
Because we can, okay?Continued...
A mistake that the Institute for Centrifugal Research** works tirelessly to correct. The ICR's "pioneering achievements in the realms of brain manipulation, excessive G-Force and prenatal simulations" are illustrated, quite vividly, in Till Nowak's short documentary, presented below. I beg you, please, wait for the "wedding cake" amusement ride.
You brought it to my attention everything that was made in God
Down through centuries of great writings and paintings
Everything lives in God
Seen through architecture of great cathedrals
Down through the history of time
Is and was in the beginning and evermore shall be
When will I ever learn to live in God?
When will I ever learn?
He gives me everything I need and more
When will I ever learn?
It's large. And so....
Contrail at 1:40.
"Same old tales ain't nothing new
What the hell's a soul to do
But maybe you can help me through
Giving me one dance with you
One dance with you
One dance with you
One dance with you
One dance with you...."
"Woody Guthrie carves a sign into his guitar
'This machine kills fascists', Ani Difranco says
'Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right'
I say, 'Here's a monkey wrench
Bop me on the head long enough....
Maybe I'll wake up for a second.'"
More and more watching these government creatures strut their stilted stuff yields only bitter laughter. Here's the classic example of buffoons on parade has His High Blomeness Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts blathers along framed by an obese fanner and a butch signer. This buffo comedy works best if you drop the sound and watch the craploa spew in the silence.
"It's 100 percent clear that they had no idea who was in that vehicle and just lit it up.... This could have been anyone. It could have been you. It could have been me."Continued...
Opportunity Passes 9 Years on Mars NASA's Mars rover Opportunity just celebrated its ninth anniversary on Mars - a mission that was originally meant to last just 90 days.
Although recently eclipsed in the news by its bigger brother Curiosity, Opportunity is still going strong and making valuable scientific discoveries. Launched into space in 2003, Opportunity bounced to a hole-in-one landing in a small crater on Mars' Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004. It has since spent 3,212 Martian days, or sols, on the surface, slowly moving from target to target, exploring craters, meteorites, unusual rock formations, and finding evidence of past water activity. Over the past 108 months, Opportunity has driven a total of 35.48 kilometers (22.05 miles) across Mars -- not bad for a mission designed to last only three months.
On First Looking Out of NASA's Rover
Written on January 25, 2004
Much have I imagined the arcing vaults of space,
And many fiery launches and cold orbits seen;
Round the darksided moon have I been
And raised a flag above Tranquility base.
Oft on one Red Planet would I place
Dreams of deep-brow'd Bradbury's Morning Green
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I saw Opportunity gaze upon our brother's face:
Then felt I like some sentinel in strange skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like those at JPL, when the Opportunity's eyes
Delivered them an image through the stars,
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
"All green" upon the dusty plains of Mars.
(Apologies to Keats. who would understand)
"The troubles came.
I saved what I could save.
A thread of light.
A particle, a wave."
After all, why rewrite what's been done before?
An Associated Press article Monday declared a healthy jobs market, fantastic auto sales, a surging housing market, and a stock market rocketing to new all-time highs. What’s not to love? ***Continued...
Who says the Supreme Being doesn't have a sense of black humor?
[From the dependably demented Sooper. Mexy. CONservative. | SOOPERMEXICAN]Continued...
The tumbril creaks and rumbles on
Upon the road of Slate,
Retracing rutted years of sand
Whose Distance storms Debate.
Its passengers stand fixed as stone
While faces cheer from Snow.
The blade awaits it's midday meal,
When Above becomes Below.
Innovations carved from clouds
Give despair and dance New measures.
The blade reflects its evening meal
When kings slake lower pleasures.
Arrived at Hope they gaze on mist
Where granite horses roam.
Their schedules as fixed as Dark.
Their future -- White as bone.
The head within the basket sees
Vast Parliaments of sky.
Its ears hear only fading surf
Where all past gone years reply.
"Today most people don't believe in the Muses any more. Not in the sense that the ancients did.
The three -- the goddesses of literature, science and the arts -- were at one time supposed to command men to speak. They have largely been replaced by the single all purpose modern deity: the Job. In modern political orthodoxy we do things for one rational reason only, which is to get paid. We write when the Boss tells us to. We craft a speech of talking points that the committee has approved. But of the muses we heard no more. Until recently. If any spiritual debt is owed to the informational technology revolution it has been in the resurrection of the Muses. For no one familiar with the programming world will believe for a minute that its best developers. For no one familiar with the programming world will believe for a minute that its best developers write code to be paid." -- Richard Fernandez / The House that Roger Built
"Everything is amazing and nobody's happy. We're not happy because for the first time in our history we're not allowed to be happy."
C'mon, invest the 20 minutes. You've got nothing more important to do in the next half hour.Continued...
[ At last I'm getting Saturdays off!: Postal Service to Cut Saturday Mail Whew! Just in time.]
1. Somewhere in this great land a concerned and responsible corporation is having their twice weekly colorful and compelling advertising supplement printed on 100% recycled paper.
2. As soon as they are completed millions of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements are shipped by truck to the various regional receiving centers of the U. S. Post Office.
3. From those centers, any number of allocated pallets of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements are broken out, put on U.S. post office trucks and delivered to local postal carrier destinations inside Seattle.
4. My postal carrier and hundreds of others report for work at local postal carrier centers throughout Seattle, and load up their vans with enough of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements to deliver one or more to each and every house on their route.
5. My very polite postal carrier parks her van at the end of my block and loads her sack with these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements.
6. She comes up my walk, up the porch stairs, and deposits my full share of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements into my mailbox with a clang every day between one and three in the afternoon.
7. Hearing the clang I wend my weary way to the front door and open my mailbox and pluck out said colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements.
8. With a sigh I go back in, trudge through my house, out my back door to the alley, and place the colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements into my Recycling bin.
9. Tomorrow the huge, lumbering Seattle Recycling garbage truck will stop and empty my Recycling bin into its maw and haul what is in it off to the Seattle Recycling center.
10. The collected colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements will then be shipped, by truck, to the center for turning recyclable paper into..... recycled paper which will then be used by a concerned and responsible corporation for their twice weekly colorful and compelling advertising supplements printed on 100% recycled paper.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Next year postage will increase because the U.S. Postal "Service" will need more money to keep this thing going.
"A rural mailman travels up a creek bed toward Morris Fork near Jackson, Ky., in August 1940.; K. Ng rides a Segway on his mail route in July 2002 in San Francisco."
What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.
Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism.
Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us.
Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
Orwell feared we would become a captive culture.
Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”
In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain.
In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.
In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us.” – Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves to DeathContinued...
Obama Supporter Interviews Her 2008 Self....Continued...
File under: "Moon Landing. Yeah, right."
Now is the parking lot of our discontent: The History Blog's Liveblogging the Richard III announcement is the best of many, many sites and news sources covering this.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here at this ungodly hour to find out as soon as humanly possible whether the skeleton discovered underneath a Leicester parking lot can be conclusively identified by a combination of DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating and forensic analysis as the remains of King Richard III."
As Richard III is now:
As Shakespeare had him:
"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Ana's that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge." -- Red Wind -- Raymond Chandler
Sometimes I almost think that there's hope for pop music after all. This is one of those times. Of course, I could be wrong.Continued...
Gazing out the window on a February Saturday deep in the winter of our discontent. Overcast, cold, rainy-- then....
SUNBREAK! Quick! Get dressed!...
Too late... rain ... as per usual in Seattle. If any city could use "climate change" right now, it's Seattle. Indeed, if you listen to the Orwellian bleaters that infest this city the current Seattle catechism for the "climate change" religion is the catch phrase, "Colder is warmer."
Seattle on a February Saturday. Boring.
So, because I am an American, I took refuge in the American mantra, "When the going gets boring, the bored go shopping."
Shopping, our shared cultural catatonia. ....
Just say shop!.... Just do it!.... Get out there and ....buy, buy, BUY.... something you don't need. Then buy some accessories for it. You'll need those to make the thing you don't need work like you don’t need it to.....Then you haul the unneeded crap back home and add to the other crap you don't need. Finding what we don't need and piling it up is what we do, I guess. Like many others I can resist it in my normal state, but not, I find, when I'm bored. You have a similar problem.
Result? I found myself driving in a fugue state through the used-to-be-industrial maze of south Seattle in the rain. I'd been to where I was going once before and was trying, like a half-blind man with a short white stick, to triangulate my way by driving the highways and flyovers that shoot along the fringes of this once muscular, once thriving industrial district. Now the glazed green alien gaze of the Starbucks queen looks down on it from Starbucks Galactic Headquarters as the aliens within plot how they can possibly put a Mini-Me-Starbucks into your bedroom closet.
And the big box stores grow all around and around, and the big box grows all around....
After a few blind alleyways and false turns I pulled into the CostCo parking lot. If I hadn't been in a Internet-overload hypnotic state this move alone would have immediately struck me as a bad idea. The sign certain? Cars shadowing shoppers slowly back to wherever they happen to be parked. Pick the wrong shopper flock and you can find yourself far, far away from the store entrance observing a spontaneous tailgate party featuring cold burritos. I got lucky and, shadowing a gaggle of shoppers, found a slot near the entrance. It was the end of my luck.
Like Rick who came to Casablanca for the waters, I'd joined CostCo for the tires. It makes a certain amount of sense since the savings on these plebeian but necessary items can be substantial. Since buying the tires, I hadn't been back and hadn't been exposed to the red kryptonite in the main cavern. Grabbing an abandoned cart, I entered the cavern of CostCo, flashing my card to the autonod of the otherwise unemployable person at the entrance.
Remember the haunting Cooleridge poem "Kubla Khan" that he wrote on the downside of an opium jag?
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
Well forget it. Except for "caverns measureless" and the opiate effect, Costco's nothing like that.
I don't know why Wal-Mart is taking all the heat for box-store degradation of truth, justice and the American Way of Really Rich Americans. A brief tour of Costco reveals it is a much cheesier organization with the exploitation of the aged, the infirm, the alien, and the disabled more obviously on display. But who knows why some companies become fashionable to disparage while others get a semi-pass? It probably has to do with the jerking knee that says either, "Biggest is baddest," or "The deepest pocket is the easiest to pick." It may also have something to do with Costco's founder jamming his overflowing sewer pipe from his money bin deep into the gaping orifices at the eternal Obama campaign..... but I digress.
The Wal-Mart stores that I've been in have the charm of a Swiss village compared to the Gulag atmosphere of CostCo. Oh, Costco has a look. The look is as if the Costco "Decor" vice president decreed, ”Hey, just pour a slab of concrete, drop bunches of crap here and there on the grid, and be done with it. Huh? Oh, okay slap up some industrial shelves so the bodegas of the world can find their salsa stock. And bolt some airport landing lights on the ceiling so you need to put on sunscreen before entering. Just light that sucker up so that nobody can smuggle a buttload of pretzels out the door.”
It is also evident to a single person in CostCo -- in about two nanoseconds -- that he or she needs to rent a family of 12 illegal aliens to get any real value out of the place. I mean, I like pickle relish on hot dogs just fine, but a two gallon container is probably enough that I can pass some on to my heirs even if I live another twenty years.
But all this carping arises from, as Wordsworth decreed, "Emotion recollected in tranquility." The truth is that the moment I entered the measureless cavern of Costco my brain was colonized by its Conquistaconsumadoros and I was plunged into a fugue state.
I glanced at the recommended "small televisions" and rapidly lost interest. Still, my reptile consumer brain said, "You've come all this way and the bargains abound around you. You have to get something. Shop, shop, shop, my precious.... your eyelids are getting heavy, your wallet is getting light..... shop.... shop....."
In this brain-wiped state I rolled my cart about the wasteland eating this or that small bite of a food sample offered by one person or another for whom English was neither the first, second, nor third language. All the samples were, as I imagine most of the food "bargains" were, markedly mediocre. It was as if Costco had decided to make all the food previously "Not Available in Stores" available in their stores. The idea here is that if you take a bite of "Hoosegow Chili" you incur an obligation to by a large vat of the stuff. What you can do with a vat of Hoosegow Chili, I don't know. Maybe open up a scrotum vulcanization stand on a dark desert highway.
At some point in my trance I must have put things in my cart although I kept wandering away and losing it, and then spending five minutes finding it again. I remember noticing, in some vague way, that the crowd and their gigantic carts was growing denser and denser as the minutes ticked away, but I did not yet understand the deeper more horrible meaning of the hordes on this particular Saturday.
Then, just as my degradation deepened, I was saved. Saved by the bell. My cell-phone rang.... loudly and vibrating at the same time. (Hard to ignore the vibrating ring in your pants.) I answered it. It was a fellow Pajamaista (who assumes that I am always in front of the screen) about a detail on the home page. He was startled when I told him I wasn't in front of the computer and could only mumble, "I... must... shop... must... shop... must.”
He said, “Man, you’re in Costco on this Saturday? Are you crazy? Flee. FLEE!”
He hung up and I found that, suddenly, I'd been slapped back into reality. And it was grim.
The horror. The horror. I realized that I had, in my fugue state, placed myself in the back of a gigantic box-store with minor in big screen TVs and a major in massive portions of food on the Saturday before the Superbowl.
Such a deep ring of hell is not where you want to be unless you have a burning-down football habit, which I do not. I barely know that the football, baseball, or basketball season is on; except for the fact that the basketball season is pretty much always on. (That's the running, jumping, hanging on goalposts, very tan tall-guys game, right?)
Still, there I was, blind and gulping like a cave fish in the deepest depths of the Costco caverns, the part back by the topless temple of toilet paper, 24 hours before kick-off, and around me countless hordes were preparing to feed even larger hordes.
I shoved my way through the cartlock around the beer and hot dogs to the center aisle where I could see, barely, the front of the store. In one horrified glance I saw that the Superbowlers were clogging the register lanes to a depth of about 500 fathoms. A quick consultation of my check-out line algorithm determined that if I joined the line at that very moment with my cart I might reach the parking lot with my crap around the end of the second Obama administration.
This is the kind of blood-simple shopping moment that makes grown men ask, "How bad do you want the stuff you've got?"
Hard to answer since, frankly, I wasn't sure exactly what I'd put in the cart in the first place. A glance down into the cart let me see my shame. It seems that in my shopping daze I'd decided I needed, out of everything on offer in Costco, two large Orchid plants and eight low-energy light bulbs. I have no idea why I put them in. Perhaps because the orchid plants made it easy to spot the cart in order to put nothing else in it.
Two orchid plants and eight light bulbs in a cart at the back of Costco equals one abandoned shopping cart, and me back in the car and heading to the nearest south Seattle dive bar in order to clear my mind.
But first I called my colleague back to thank him for snapping me out of it.
As I left the parking lot I had to drive carefully between the endless hordes pushing large carts filled with mountains of mediocre food and very large television screens. There would be a lot of cooking and assembly and swearing far into the night in Seattle. I wished them well.
Now I'm back online and much more interested in what's going on today. It's so calm here. Just me and you... and you're pretty quiet.
Soon the Superbowl kickoff will roll around and everyone who went to Costco and all the other stores yesterday will be at home for hours this afternoon. The only thing more boring than the much-touted and now utterly predictable ads will be the game itself.
Want to go shopping? I know where you can get a great deal on orchids and light bulbs this afternoon. Best of all, there'll be nobody there.
In 1955, Life magazine looked into its crystal ball to imagine “what life may be like in A.D. 1980.”
Unhappy about the weather? Everybody talking but nobody doing anything about it? Well, just get in touch with the Atomic Weather Commission. A flick of the nuclear switch, and presto! — the North Pole melts, the vast continent of Antarctica thaws into productive use, Greenland grows bananas, Vermont grows oranges, and everybody’s heating bill vanishes. Not fantastic at all, according to mathematician John von Neumann, who also predicts that energy may be just about as “free as the unmetered air.” So, no light bills. -- The utopia of global warming | ROUGH TYPE
Well, by the 1980s things were indeed looking up as exemplified by the one-hit wonder Timbuk3's one-hit "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades".Continued...
Meanwhile, in the real America far from the malls and the maddening crowd....
One minute and thirteen seconds. Whew! I couldn't do this. Could you?Continued...