Friday, June 27, 2003

Strom Thurmond is dead.

Goddamnit! I didn't even know he was sick!

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Darn it. The Great Blogger Migration of 2003 has left Mac users in the dust. Ergo, I will have problems with imbedded links (this is mostly because I never memorized how to type the code in manually).

So anyway, read this:

I was going to say something clever but got the funny sucked out of my while trying to post.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Wow Carlton! Senator Hillary Clinton's Accomplishments in the 107th Congress have sold me! She's a regular Bob LaFollette.

(this was too long for the comments box, so here it is in the open)

Carlton wrote, in the comments below: "Well, for a list of what Hill's been doing as a senator, you can go here:
I don't believe she voted against the patriot act, which was passed during a period of mass hysteria, you must admit. I am disappointed that she hasn't been more of a voice -- or that there hasn't been more of a voice -- speaking out against the tax cut. but these complaints are not particularized to her, at least not for me. You are right that Clinton's presidency is still under construction -- but I believe it is being rehabilitated. I think the intervention in Kosovo will be seen as a positive -- for coalition-building, if nothing else. Remember when the "A" in NATO stood for "Alliance"? Intervening in Haiti had, I think a good result as well. There's also the Family Medical Leave Act, reformation of the student-loan system (the deets of which I'm a little unclear about) the blocking (by executive fiat) of new roads in national forests . . . what do you want? He had the most embattled presidency of the 20th century. It should say something that these items are top of the list for deletion by the current administration. Mostly, Greg, I wonder why you are so upset about Hillary. You seem to be frothing at the mouth about this. I still don't know why."

I'm not so much frothing, but it does bug me when people talk about how liberal Hillary and Bill were without demonstrating the ways in which they were.

Your points:
-- periods of mass hysteria are precisely the time when one should expect a leader to lead. Hillary and Bill were nowhere to be found during this latest period, except among the hystericals.
-- if we were talking about all politicians, then it would be fair to give Hillary a pass on the tax cuts and similar things. But we aren't. We are talking about her and the degree to which she is a liberal. I'm particularizing her for the purpose of discussing her.
-- The Kosovo intervention, while not a bad idea, was horribly executed. Lots of people got killed and lots of things got broken for no reason other than US military tactics (on a side note: I don't see the need for NATO).
-- Clinton dithered on Haiti for several years before actually doing something, and the something he did was a half measure. Haiti was in AWFUL shape when Bill left office, and has gotten worse under Dubyah (as have most things: no Dubyahlover am I). A big strong liberal humanitarian like Bill (or Hillary) would surely give a shit, right? Has Hillary tried to get anything done since she became a senator? She does, after all, have Hatian-American constituents.
-- The Family Medical Leave Act is a good thing. Credit Bill and Hillary for that one. How long were they in office?
-- The Student Loan thingy is something I'm also fuzzy on. Considering that I have a shitpile of student loan debt, my instincts tell me it wasn't the most dramatic reform in the world.
-- The roads in National Forrests deal was also not bad, but you do know that logging in National Forrests increased under Clinton, right?
-- Yes, his presidency was embattled. He won ALL of his personal battles, though, and was (and is) hugely popular. Had he used a fraction of his skills on getting meaningful change going, I would certainly remember him more fondly.

I really, genuinely don't think he or his wife want[ed] the same sort of change that I or my ilk want[ed], however.

I guess that gets to why I'm so chapped about Hillary: she is not what she is perceived to be. If you want a very intelligent, ruthless, skillful centrist who will use progressive rhetoric to maintain slavish support while going about the business of doing, essentially, nothing to change the world, then Hillary (and Bill) are the candidates for you.

But if you want a liberal, look elsewhere. If you want a leftist (which the right seems to think they are), you've got to look even further.

The thing is, we knew this (or could have). Bill was governor of Arkansas for 10 years before becoming president (for 8 years!). Did Arkansas become a liberal island in a sea of backwardness? Um. No.

Friday, June 20, 2003

In the comments below, Carlton said (regarding my distaste for Hillary Clinton):

"Huh. I know a lot of people who are very excited about her, and feel she's a liberalizing force simply by her presence in politics. I think so too. Universal health care was pretty progressive (albeit poorly executed), don't you think? Also, she antagonizes (to insanity) the forces that I truly despise, so she's an ally. You really can't divorce (so to speak) her political identity from her husband's? They are becoming more distinct all the time. She's apparently a very hard-working senator."

As to the notion of her (or even the both of them) as a liberalizing force: What is liberal about them? Their ruthless anti-union policies? Their bomb-happy foreign policy? Perhaps their unconditional support for the death penalty? Or was it NAFTA? Or was it their WTO/IMF boosterism? Perhaps it was all the new schools they didn't build? Or all the cops they hired? Or the people they put in prison? Or the drug war?

Sheesh! When you put it like that I guess they are pretty liberal! (compared, say, to Dubyah)

As to the "universal health care": This is going to sound crazy, but I don't think they intended to get a real bill passed. Why, otherwise, would they have sought to re-invent the wheel instead of looking around the world (Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Japan, etc) to countries which had variations on univ. health care and take what worked and leave what didn't? I feel the same way about how the gays-in-the-military issue was handled: Bill floated the idea and let the military and the homophobes tear it to pieces and ended up with what we have now, when all he really had to do was issue an order saying that from now on it is not an issue and those who don't like it can seek other employment.

In both cases the Clintons were able to turn back to their constituents and say "Golly! We tried!" without having to actually do a goddamned thing.

As to the lightning rod effect: I've also been mystified by the fervor with which the right hates the Clintons, and it pisses me off in particular because in almost every way the Clinton's policies are more conservative even than Nixon's. What this has done is shift political discourse in the US even further towards the right than it was before and ensured that politicians who are even slightly left of center are demonized even by the Democratic party (witness the DLC versus Dean or the Boston Globe versus Kerry).

What has "Hard-working" Hillary done in the Senate, anyway? Did she vote against Dubyah's various tax cuts? Did she vote against the Patriot Act? Did she try to stop the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq? Has she demanded a 911 inquiry? An Iraq inquiry? ANY inquiry?

What, also, has she done to distance herself from Bill? Nuttin. Anyway, they were (relentlessly) sold to the world as a team, and her book apparently goes to great lengths to maintain that image, so NO: I don't see them as measurably different, in terms of politics.

If you really look at the (still-under-construction) Clinton Legacy, I think you'll find that it has been all about bait and switch.

Can you name anything important Dubyah has done that Hillary or Bill have openly opposed? Doesn't that say something about them?

Thursday, June 19, 2003


I've been sitting on the thing I'm about to say for a while now, in hopes that someone else would say it. I've not seen anyone else say it, however, so now I'll get it out from under my butt.

Hillary Clinton's book is called "Living History". I would be hard pressed to think of a more meaningless fucking title. Press me hard will you? Well then:

"Experiencing Stuff"
"Being Alive"

My beef (other than my loathing of Hillobeans) is that we are all, right at this moment, living history. We always have. We will continue to do so. In fact, all human beings ever ever ever have lived and will live history.

Cuz that's what history is. It is all about us. It is not about non-us things. No one has ever written a history of anything that is not in most significant ways a product of things people have done (Hawking was playing with a phrase: he wasn't actually telling the history of time). The other stuff? The stuff about things that happened before there were people? That's called, variously, geology, paleontology (sp?), and other such.

Most things that people do, I regret to inform you, are pretty mundane and humdrum. Living, breathing, eating, drinking, sleeping, working, fucking, dying, breeding, etc. Still, it is history. In fact, there are many historians (and I am sortof one [historian, that is]) who think the seemingly mundane stuff is endlessly fascinating. See the books "The Year 1000" or "The Peasants of Languedoc" or "The Foul and the Fragrant". Do you know, for example, that many/most European villages during the middle ages had no names? Did you know that the people who lived in those villages, by and large, had no names either (at least not as we usually think of them today)?

That's every bit the history that is Hillary "I couldn't breathe" Clinton's life. In the long run, in fact (and I'm a born-again annaliste, so it is all about the long run) that stuff is way more important.

So. Think back over ALL the things you did during the years chronicled in H.R. "the best thing I ever did was send my child to Britain" Clinton's tome, write it all down, send it to a publisher, and demand that it be published as "Living History, Too". If the plan works, future historians will take note.

Future alien paleontologists may also wonder what happened to all of the pretty trees, who simply wanted to have a little bit of "living biology".

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Democratic Candidates Assail Bush Across a Wide Spectrum

"Senator John Edwards today denounced President Bush's tax-cut program as the 'most radical and dangerous economic theory to hit our shores since Socialism."


So John Edwards won't be getting my vote (not that there was ever much question).

-- Bush's plan didn't wash up on the beach, dickhead.
-- Socialism did, sorta, but it was at least as early as the 1840s and Fabianism.
-- Equating tax cuts for the rich with socialism?
-- The article goes on to say that Lil Johnny's speech "bristled with the populist language that has come to characterize his campaign for president." Is that the populist language made popular by "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman? Or is it the populism of Barry Goldwater? Perhaps the populism of William Jennings "the-Boy-Orator-of-the-Platte-Voice-like-a-mountain-lion-Bryan!-Bryan!-Bryan!" Bryan?
-- Edwards "proposed exemptions on some capital gains and dividends taxes paid by lower-and middle-income families." Ooooooh! Feel that? That's pure bristle. Lower income families pay capital gains and dividends taxes? The fuck?

Monday, June 16, 2003

Must I be a man in a suitcase?

As SCOTT has already established, he and SHELLEY live HERE and are about to move HERE. In the interests of stealing and watering down his idea, I now present a the story of my roaming.

NOTE: addresses are not accurate.

I was born in the hospital HERE when it was known as Lloyd Nolan Hospital (not long after it stopped being the Tennesse Coal, Iron, and Railroad / US Steel company hospital). My parents and I lived HERE (in a house near the “Rd” on Dickey Springs Road) until i was 4. My brother had just been born when we moved HERE (in a house near the bend in Suncrest Rd). We lived there until I was ready for first grade, at which point we moved HERE to live in the house of my grandmother (maternal) while my parents toyed with building a house almost right next to her (see the “Rd” in “Morgan Rd”). They gave up on building and instead bought a house HERE (right at the end of Gober Drive: Dickey? Gober?). Interstate 459 was finished while we lived here, and much “development” has followed. In fact, the area is very different now. We lived here until we moved HERE (a house on Waterside Circle, which is on a lake not visible on this map) when I was in 11th grade. My parents lived there until they moved to Tulsa (in 1993).

During my freshman and sophmore years of college, I lived HERE (just above the “U” in “University Ave”, in the dormitory Bond Hall, with CARLTON and just down the hall from SCOTT) with the exception of visits home, which were spent with my parents back on Waterside Circle.

In 1992, I moved into a house HERE (on the corner of 2nd and Corrine, facing 2nd, with Corrine to our left) which I shared with Scott and others until the summer of 1993, when I moved back to Waterside Circle to help Mom and Dad and their other child move HERE

After helping them move I went to live HERE (in a dormitory on Rheinallee, at the corner of Uhlandstrasse) for six months or so. I returned to the US in February, 1994, to join Scott and Dawn (with whom we had also briefly shared the house at 2nd and Corrine) in a house located HERE (13th Ave, near the corner of Hardy). In the fall of 1994 I moved HERE (an apartment on the right side of N.Main, just above 7th) and lived there until the spring of 1995.

During the summer of 1995, I spent a few weeks HERE (in a Catholic retreat building of some sort. I’m not sure of exactly what part of Jagdschlossgasse it was, but I like the idea that I was near Gobergasse)
and HERE (that looks about right: I was in a dorm on the Chelsea campus of Kings College, which is now, apparently, no longer extant).

I then returned to the US and moved into a house HERE (O’Ferral, between 24th and 25th) in the fall of 1995. I stayed there until the late summer of 1996, when I moved HERE (a dormitory facing Roemerstrasse, between Legionsweg and Husarenstrasse) for about one year and then HERE for about one year (an apartment on Sebastianstrasse, just above the word “Rudolf”).

In the fall of 1998 I moved HERE (a small apartment building on Walnut St., between High and Spruce, right where it says “Morgantown” on the map). I lived in one apartment for two years, and another for one. I then moved HERE (a house on Lyndhurst near the corner of Arlington, which I shared with my friends Sara and Karen) until the fall of 2002, when I moved HERE (details are not yet available, apparently. I live in an apartment just to the right of the grey line going north out of the city, just above the red circle).

I’ve also spent a good bit of time HERE and HERE and my parents lived HERE after they left Tulsa (in Tulsa they lived in three different places: you don’t care). Now they live HERE

Where are you?


“Dogs of war and men of hate
With no cause, we don't discriminate
Discovery is to be disowned
Our currency is flesh and bone
Hell opened up and put on sale
Gather 'round and haggle
For hard cash, we will lie and deceive
Even our masters don't know the web we weave”

Pink Floyd “The Dogs of War”

News junkies (and even those among us who are still experimenting with news) will have noticed a recent upsurge in mainstream criticism of the fact that, as yet, no WeaponsOfMassDestruction have been found in Iraq. The People (in the US, I mean: people in the rest of the world seem to have been suspicious from the start) seem to be coming around to the idea that they were somehow misled regarding the need for an invasion of Iraq. I’m skeptical that the misgivings of The People will translate into anything significant (recent polls suggest that, although people think lies were told, they think the ends justify the means) but that isn’t what interests me anyway.

What interests me is that much of the squealing about having been lied to is couched in terms of THIS TIME. I infer, from much of what I have been fishing from the mainstream, that the problem (to the extent that there IS a problem) is that the late war on Iraq was sold on false pretenses and that the US government CANNOT do such things. Lie about why war must be had, I mean. I further infer that the people who are outraged are so because they are under the impression that this is not the sort of thing US governments do.

If my inference is correct, then the people who are upset are woefully and dangerously ignorant of the history of their country. Since I have sought to teach the history of the US to several hundred US citizens in my brief teaching career, I’m fairly confident that ignorance is widespread.

The air, sea, and land forces of the United States have been deployed well over 100 times in just the past century to do all sorts of things all over the world. MOST of the time, the government mislead The People about why. I’m going to hit some highlights and I’m going to do it from memory. This means that some details may not be here. Look them up. Get edumacated. You may know them already, of course: I’m hardly the only person who knows this stuff.

-- The Taliban of Afghanistan allegedly would not “give up” the perps of 911, and thereby stirred up hell. I recall rather vividly that the (loathsome) Taliban did, in fact, offer to discuss/negotiate the matter and perhaps send some perps to a third country for trial. By the way, where IS Osama bin Laden?
-- Gulf War I was predicated, in part, on allegations of Iraqi troops preparing to invade Saudi Arabia (satellite info was circulated to that effect) and stories of the Rape of Kuwait (including the babies cast from incubators). Both of these arguments have been pretty solidly revealed to have been lies. There is also the matter of US diplomat April Glaspie (sp?) having hinted at a “green light” for Iraq (that one is more muddled).
-- We invaded Panama because of Manuel Noriega’s participation in the international drug trade. Good job we’ve got him behind bars, eh? How did it come to pass that Noriega became leader of Panama to begin with? For that matter, wherefore is there a country called Panama?
-- The glorious Grenada invasion. Nuff said.
-- The Gulf of Tonkin incident and the attacks on Cambodia and Laos should be familiar enough by now.
-- While the Japanese and Germans DID declare war on the US in WW2, it is often forgotten what preceded those declarations. I’m not saying that the Axis was correct, but I am saying that it is important to remember that wars don’t just leap up out of nowhere.
-- Did you know that the US invaded Russia in 1919? That’s when the Cold War started.
-- The Lusitania apparently WAS carrying armaments and the Zimmerman Note was apparently faked. The US joined WWI under muddy, if not outright false, pretenses.
-- The US army prepared for WWI by invading, briefly, Mexico (in response to Pancho Villa’s raid, and to take sides in the Mexican civil war).
-- Remember the Maine? It has been pretty clearly established that the Spanish-American war was based on nothing but lies (except that there really were rebels in the Philippines and Cuba who needed help against the Spanish: we got rid of the Spanish for them, and took over ourselves).
-- Bury your head at Wounded Knee, by the way.
-- Ever wonder why the Marines were ever in “the halls of Moctezuma”? The Mexican war was all about the lying. James K. Polk won office in part by openly declaring his intention to get a huge chunk of territory from Mexico. He fulfilled that promise. Here's one of the characters from JFK’s “Profiles in Courage”, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, on why they hate us, by the way. See below for “the shores of Tripoli”.
-- How did Florida come to be part of the US?
-- Barbary Pirates? The US Navy/Marine Corps participated in a “police action” along the northern coast of Africa in the early 19th century.
-- The American Revolution, while not ignoble, is based in the popular memory on the depredations of George III. It turns out he wasn’t THAT bad, and the revolutionaries turned to the (much worse) kings of Spain and France for help.

Surface? Scratched.

Among other lessons you might draw from what you’ve just read is that if you live on territory claimed by the US government, you live on land taken on the basis of (at least minor) official misrepresentations of the truth. Start from that premise and then look at the rest of the world and the US footprint upon it.

This is important.

I do not advocate the throwing up of hands. I do not mean to say that, because almost every military action ever taken by the US government has been taken after varying degrees of lying it is somehow ok and we should all stop pestering Dubyah. What I suggest is that we should use our historical perspective to encourage us to DEMAND that the lying stop. Don’t mythologize Reagan or FDR or Wilson or Polk or Jefferson or any of the others who have lied in the past: use your knowledge that the US government has a pretty clear pattern of behavior to instantly and consistently be skeptical of the reasons offered for any future military action. Do NOT be so quick to give the benefit of the doubt. Do NOT assume they are innocent until proven guilty. Lives are at stake (including our own).

This is particularly true of those people who actually are in the military. Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airpersons are at the most immediate risk of having their trust betrayed, as they are the ones asked to go kill and risk being killed.

I heard “Mexico” (Elvis Presley), “Marilyn” (Dan Bern), “Town without Pity” (Gene Pitney), “Old Devil Moon” (Frank Sinatra), “Stars” (Simply Red), “Every Picture Tells a Story” (Rod Stewart), and “Son of Neckbone” (Beastie Boys).

Where are all of the female singers? Odd.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

SPIEGEL ONLINE reports that an unofficial US boycott of the Paris Air Show is apparently in effect. No US military types higher than colonel, relatively few US aerospace executives (Lockheed-Martin's dude just cancelled), and no US military aircraft are participating.

Petulant seems to be a good adjective, but it looks suspiciously like it has French roots!

I support this decision on the part of the Duyahistas. I want the wedge between the US and Europe to get bigger and be driven with more force. The world needs the Europeans to get up off of their asses and oppose the US empire, and if they have to be forced to do it, then that's how it must be.

Good morning!

I have always been under the impression that chicken pox were so called because they make one's skin get bumpy in a manner not unlike the skin of a (plucked) chicken.

Does monkey pox make you look like a shaved monkey?

the Independent had a list of famous(?) people state the name of the worst book they'd ever read and explain why. Interesting, although I'm flummoxed (no: I'm dumbfounded) as to why people heap such scorn on "the Lord of the Rings".

Maybe it is just because of the current resurgence of LOTR and some people like to take a poke at really popular things just to seem cool somehow (I must admit that I've been guilty of that from time to time: I recall a period of Nirvanna hate that I've never quite been able to explain to myself).

I will say this about worst books:

-- I am really underwhelmed by Ernest Hemmingway and think he's way overrated.
-- I've tried, several times, to read "The Catcher in the Rye" and have always been distracted by shiny things, or an itch on my toe, or the sound of grass growing. I finally read the Cliff's Notes in hopes of finding out what the hubbub was all about. I still don't know.

But wait! I'm history boy!

-- Most non-fiction books on the US Civil War were written by people who should not be allowed near a publisher (see William Bryant's "Cahaba Prison and the Sultana Disaster").
-- The same thing is true, to a lesser extent, of books about the US Army in Europe during WW2 (see Peter Allen's "One More River: The Rhine Crossings of 1945").
-- Daniel Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners" is just. plain. awful. However, it did spark a nice wave of new thinking among academics about the Holocaust, so it isn't all bad.
-- Paula Fass's "The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s" is not so good. It suffers, among other things, from being about a tiny slice of what it claims to be about (it is really about rich, urban, WASP youth) and has some big holes in it's research (one section of the book lifts it's title from the novel "The Plasic Age" by Percy Marks, but there is no evidence whatsoever that Fass read the novel: it would have made her book better had she done so).
-- A hundred years ago, a gang of folks gathered around Columbia U professor William A Dunning wrote histories of the Reconstruction which were so packed with lies and racist horseshit (but trussed up in lovely prose and Columbia cred.) that they STILL influence peoples' understanding of that part of US history. Hard to read: must be read and attacked. My personal favorite (not!) is Walter Flemming's "Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama".

What say you?

Television, the drug of a nation: breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

(lyric lifted from the Disposable Heroes of Hiphopricy)

I'm going to experiment with the friday five. Shelley used to do it, and Chris does it now.

I'm going to do it. At least this once.

1. What's one thing you've always wanted to do, but never have?

Pilot a flying vehicle.

2. When someone asks your opinion about a new haircut/outfit/etc, are you always honest?

I usually (honestly) inform them that I really don't like to comment on that sort of thing OR respond with a question along the lines of whether they like it or if it is comfortable. Hair questions I usually answer by noting that I am bald(ish) and am not qualified to discuss hair (at least not head hair).

3. Have you ever found out something about a friend and then wished you hadn't? What happened?

Nothing springs to mind. I've been fairly lucky with my friends. They are all either genuinely what they appear to be OR really good at keeping their dirty laundry unaired. Either way, good for me.

4. If you could live in any fictional world (from a book/movie/game/etc.) which would it be and why?

Star Trek. Cuz it is Star Trek. And people fly around in things all the time, and I'd like to do that (see #1). And then there's the whole absence of poverty, absence of racism, absence of Dubyah aspect to it.

5. What's one talent/skill you don't have but always wanted?

I would like to be more comfortable with mathematics. That, I think, would qualify as a little bit of both talent and skill.

Friday, June 13, 2003

A few posts back I said that Rumsfeld, not Wolfowitz, was the man to watch for diplomatic fuckups. Well BINGO!

Of course, this may not be a fuckup at all. I suspect he wants the US out of NATO. You heard it here first!

By the way: moving NATO headquarters out of Belgium would only ease his mind if they were moved clean out of the EU, since as long as the law he doesn't like stands in Belgium, ALL OTHER EU STATES are bound by arrest warrants issued under it. That's why the Brits had to arrest Pinochet a few years ago (a Spanish judge had issued a warrant).

By the way, all EU states and Canada have also signed the treaty creating the International Criminal Court. So suck it, Rummy!

"Can't Not" (Alanis Morissette)

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Gregory Peck dies aged 87, another Gregory struggles on, aged 31.

I was indirectly named after Gregory Peck. Mom and Dad agreed on the name because they both liked it (and they both thought he was good, too, but I wasn't named in honor of him in the way that you might name someone after a grandfather). The rejected first choice of my mother was "Ashley" (as in Wilkes, from Gone with the Wind). Ah, what might have been . . .

"Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time" (the Delfonics)

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

has started a new web page called The SkinTrade Daily. It is devoted to info and products and general stuff involving tattoos, piercings, and other such body adornment (I'm not sure if adornment is the right word: it was not my first choice, as you might guess if you read on). So, if you are into that sort of thing, give it a look.

I am not into that sort of thing. I have never seen a bit of skin (mine or anyone else's) and thought "you know what would make that look good? Some ink. And maybe some stainless steel." It has never happened, although I suppose it might someday. Anywho, Chris has solicited thoughts on what sort of thing should appear on his new page, and I have one (even though I'm not his target audience at all). Here is my thought:

I would like to see (and it may be out there somewhere already, but I haven't looked for it) a bit of counselling for those who may be considering getting tattoos (and, to a lesser extent, piercings). I have three anecdotes which may 'splain why I think this is needed.

-- When I was a (long-haired, bearded) undergraduate I signed up for the Intro to Military Science course at my university. I took the course for 1) two easy credit hours, 2) the promise of free climbing/repelling lessons, 3) the promise of a free helicopter ride, 4) my general interest in knowing stuff that doesn't relate to math. The other students in the class seemed to be either gung ho types who just wanted to get their war on or fratboys (who may have been attracted by the first three of my reasons). One day one of the fratboys was showing off his new tattoo before class (this was back in 1991, before the fad really took off) and eagerly showed it to our instructor, too. Our instructor was a crusty master sgt who was cruising towards retirement after a career which had involved special ops nastiness. He was muy macho and had a few tattoos of his own, so the fratboy was hoping to impress him (I think) with the new fraternity shield on his ankle. The instructor looked at it, cleared his throat, and said something to the effect of "there are very few things you can do when you are young which you will deeply regret years later. You've just done one of them. Ten or twenty years from now you are going to look at your ankle after a hard day's work and wonder what the hell you were thinking."

-- A very good friend of mine, whose name I will not mention so as not to incriminate him, asked me to ride along with him to a tattoo parlor in Gulfport, Miss. He wanted to get a tattoo to remind him of a woman with whom he was infatuated at the time. I went with him, and counselled against the tattoo all the way to the parlor to no avail. A few years later he expressed that he was very sorry to have gotten that tattoo and that he wished he had listened to me.

-- A relative of mine (with whom I am not at all close socially, although we do share most of our genes) has a tattoo that he got during a particularly ugly part of his life. It is inside his mouth. He regrets it.

My point is that people need to think long and hard before doing something like marking their bodies for life with what may be a passing fancy. People who are more experienced with tattoos would do the world a great service by making that point loudly and clearly.

I heard "I Dream too Much" (Sun Ra), "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" (Marvin Gaye), "I Love You" (Anita O'Day), "I Stay Away" (Alice in Chains).

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Go to Barcelona, where the streets are paved with nekkidity.

It has been up for a couple of months, but I only just discovered the Weight Watchers recipe cards, circa 1974 via Carlton's friend's blog and I find it very funny. You will, too. Won't you? WON'T YOU?!?!

I hear a Mexican radio. I hear a Mexican, woah oh, radio.

Monday, June 09, 2003

The road to surfdom is a very pleasing blog. The fellow recently posted this:

I am Sa-ddam
I am Sa-ddam
Saddam I am

That Saddam-I-am
That Saddam-I-am
I do not like
that Saddam-I-am

Have you found my weapons in the sand?

I have not found your weapons in the sand.
I have not found them Saddam-I-am.

It goes on and on and is really well done. Follow the link and look at 6 June "A young person's guide to weapons of mass destruction".

We just got back in town from our long weekend. It was really fun. I'll blog on it soon.

I hear "Moby Dick" by Led Zepplin.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

THE MINISTRY OF TRUTH is doubleplusgood. That goes without saying, of course. I love Big Brother.

I'm watching the movie "Delores Claiborne" (which the distributors in Mexico have seen fit to call "Eclipse Total") on the telescreen and contemplating whether to crack open a bottle of Victory Tequilla.

As much as I love the Guardian, I have to say I'm more than a tad bit pissed off that they would get me all hot and bothered with this headline: Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil.

The reason I'm troubled is that the headline and the first paragraph seem to have dramatically overstated (and selectively interpreted) the story. The first paragraph says

"Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed, confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the US-led war."

Ummmm. Source? Turns out the Guardian is relying on reports in Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt. But the Tagesspiegel piece simply quotes Die Welt, which in turn quotes Wolfowitz as saying, in response to the question of why North Korea is handled differently than Iraq, "[b]etrachten wir es einmal ganz simpel. Der wichtigste Unterschied zwischen Nordkorea und dem Irak ist der, dass wir wirtschaftlich einfach keine Wahl im Irak hatten. Das Land schwimmt auf einem Meer von Öl."

My translation of that: "Let's put it very simply. The biggest difference between North Korea and Irak is that we simply had no choice, economically, in Iraq. The country swimms on a sea of oil." The Welt reporter let it go at that. Why? Because it isn't a shocking revelation.

Context is important, you know. It seems pretty clear, from the Welt piece, that Wolfowitz means there is still a great deal of economic leverage possible with North Korea (which appears to be destitute) but there was very little with Iraq because Iraq had plenty of non-illicit stuff to trade (oil).

Mind you, I still am pretty sure that the US (and much of the rest of the world) gives a rat's ass about the entire Middle East (broadly drawn) mostly because of that sea of oil, and gives something like a shrew's ass about various other, less oily parts of the world.

Oh Guardian! Don't be silly! Stick with Rumsfeld: he's the one whose going to fuck up and say something stupid.

By the way, as if you need one more reason to question whether the Guardian is all much ado about nothing on this, check the Straits Times of Singapore and you'll see no huffing and puffing whatsoever on this "story" (and the statement was made in Singapore).

"Across 110th Street" (Bobby Womack) and "Town without Pity" (Gene Pitney)

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

As Chris so helpfully pointed out (grrrr) in the comment on my Cubs post, it turns out that Sammy Sosa got caught with a corked bat tonight.

Those of you who don't follow baseball might now be asking yourselves what this means. To summarize the info in the link: it is naughty, as it is unfair. A corked bat allows skinny weaklings who could never ever hope to clear the infield (and Sosa is clearly that sort of person) to hit the ball as many as a few yards further. "Corking" makes the bat a tiny bit lighter, which adds to bat speed (which means you can come around a tiny bit faster on a pitch) and, more importantly, adds "spring" to the moment of contact between the bat and the ball (if you hit the ball with the corked part of the bat). It also makes the bat more fragile, and that's how Sammy got caught (his bat shattered: he's broken several bats over the years, by the way, and this is the first time there has been weapons of mass destruction in one).

And no, no member of the Atlanta Braves franchise has ever been caught with a corked bat. In fact, only a few players ever have. One more ugly mark in the record books for the Cubs.

Does this mean I have to stay abroad forever? I think John Asscraft planted that bat on Sosa.

"Shotgun" (Jr Walker and the All Stars)

I went down to the Bloody Crossroads of Grammar and Politics and refused all rides offered.

I was reminded, while reading that article, of a wonderful article a year or so back in Harper's by David Foster Wallace called (something like) "What we mean when we speak English". Anyway it is about the "usage wars", which many of you probably didn't even know were still being fought.

I hate to break it to you, but the usage wars are going about as well as the wars against terrah, drugs, and poverty, and victory in those wars will look a whole lot like victory in Iraq and Afghanistan (minus the dead people but with just as many lies and misrepresentations of reality).

Three Dog Night: "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)"

What do these things have in common?

-- a tornado touches down in Oklahoma
-- a divorce settled in West Virginia
-- a war against "terrah" is fought in Iraq

In all cases, trailers are very possibly involved (or at least, the involved parties are concerned about trailers in some way).

Pink Floyd "Fearless"

Monday, June 02, 2003

Here's the ONLY reason I wish I were in the US right now: my beloved Chicago Cubs are over 1/3 of the way through the season and are NOT YET out of it. In fact, the Cubbies are, narrowly, in FIRST PLACE in their division!!! And they've done it with minimal reliance on Sosa's (big, big, ohmigodit'sbig) bat. I told a friend, upon the hiring of Dusty Baker, that I saw no reason to believe that he could work any more magic than any of the other fine managers they've had. That piece of wisdom is on its way towards the memoryhole as I type this.

"Uncle Fucker" from Southpark and "I'm an Old Cowhand (from the Rio Grande)" by Harry Connick, Jr.

Hey by the way!

The US government has caught an acutal terrorist!!! Did he attack the World Trade Center? No. Is he from Afghanistan? Saudia Arabia? Iraq? No, no, and no. Is he, at least, a Muslim? No.

This guy committed his most recent (alleged) crime in 1998. He has been hiding, apparently, in the Smokey Mountains (i.e. right under our collective fucking nose) since.

It took 5 years to catch him.

Thank GOD we've got that Homeland Security thing up and running!

Incidentally, he was caught "rummaging" behind a supermarket in Murphy, NC. There are states (Oklahoma is one) where there is a chain of supermakets called "Homeland". Coincidence? I think not.

Also, if you've never been white water rafting, but have always wanted to try, a nice beginner river is located right near Murphy: the Nantahala. Enjoy it. You'll enjoy it more if you do EXACTLY what the person running the boat tells you to do (I say this in case the asshole businessman from Minnesota who almost got my paddle imprint on the back of his head in 1991 is reading this).

I heard "Coast to Coast" by Scorpions, "Jerusalem" by Dan Bern, "Midnight Confessions" by the Grass Roots, and "Doctor" by INXS (I couldn't be a doctor. I couldn't be a lawyer. I couldn't be a scientist. I couldn't be normal, especially in the daylight.).