Saturday, January 27, 2007

True Equality

True Equality

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Breakfast with a side of pills

Rush Food Drugs Yum! copy Earlier today on Rush I heard the greatest thing since the advent of two ply. He took a call after ranting for the last twenty minutes about Hillary Clinton's hair style or some such nonsense. The caller proceeded to inquire about Rush's military service.

The caller said: "I wanted to speak to you about your time in the military"
Rush: "Uh, okay. Go ahead."
Caller: "Which branch of the military did you serve in?"
Rush: "I've never served in the military."
Caller: "Is that because they don't accept fatasses and dope fiends?"

After that comment the caller didn't stick around too much longer, but that was enough to make Rush livid! He shrieked about how those people won the election and they're still angry and how the caller along with godless lefties can't do talk radio and how they lower the level of political discussion to name-calling. What a feeble reply to a stellar zinger.

"An American Pastoral" a Jim Morrison Production

Thumb Jig Update!

Earlier this month I pontificated about the effectiveness of the newly-elected Democratic majority and sadly my apprehensions have been confirmed. After some huffing and puffing from Nancy Pelosi, which actually had the oil execs wetting themselves, when it came down to brass tax the lobbyists had their day. She swore to slash subsidies granted to top oil companies within the majority's first 100 hours...sounds like the bee's knees, right? Unfortunately, only $5.5 Billion of an approximate $32 Billion had been lopped off the subsidies and tax breaks earmarked for big oil in the coming five years. Also, a three-point give-away bill was proposed, and after some hemming and hawing two of the three items were passed.

With all of these tax breaks as well as this welfare being thrown at well-to-do mega-conglomerates one has to remember what dad said right after you asked for a twenty spot: "You goddamn money-milker, what do you think, money grows on trees?" This cash isn't being yanked out of limbo it's coming from you and me. We're paying for those outrageous corporate pensions, golfing junkets and Swedish rubdowns. All the while we're supposed to believe that a $1.99 is a fair price to pay for gasoline. Either have us fork over more lettuce and strengthen our energy autonomy or give us gas for dirt cheap. It just goes to show you corruption is bipartisan.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

When the clock strikes twelve...

Doomsday Clock Here's more proof that everything is just hunky dory. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the collective who operates the Doomsday Clock, have decided to make an adjustment. The concept of the Doomsday Clock is that midnight represents the destruction of mankind, right now it's set at seven minutes before midnight. Taking into consideration "worsening...climate threats" and fears of a "second nuclear age" brought about by Iran's and North Korea's worrisome pursuit of the bomb, it's unknown where the scientists are going to place it, but it's safe to assume things aren't looking promising. The last modification was back in 2002 when the clock was eased ahead from ten minutes to it's current position. Since 1947, when the clock was built, it was set at seven minutes to midnight and has been altered 17 times since then. The closest being two minutes away from striking twelve during hydrogen bomb testing between the U.S. and the Russians in 1953, and the furthest away from Armageddon was seventeen to in 1991 when a nuclear arms reduction agreement was attained.





Digital Doomsday Clock


The Origin of Music

Man as Maestro copyHere's a sublime article on Where I Drown about the ancient origins of music.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A simple lesson

non-violence

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

Is that a knife in your pocket?

Knife WhitehouseNow that our democratically elected President - you know, the one 51% of our voting populace surrendered a second term to - officially called for 21,500 additional troops we can all breath a sigh of relief. For those of you who believed so strongly in this war against religious extremism and want to kick some Islamo-facist keister we have a uniform in your size waiting at your local recruitment center. But for the rest of us things are looking sort of dodgy. At first I was ecstatic when I learned the Democratic Party (or, according to Bush, the "Democrat" Party) had seized both houses of Congress, but now I'm not so sure a celebration was in order.

In the coming weeks we'll see if my victory strut was premature or in vain. Bravo Dems for aggressively pushing the miniumum wage increase through the House, however, it doesn't take Mother Teresa to figure out people need a sensible living wage. Beyond that no-brainer I have my doubts as to their political potency. Pelosi swore off impeachment proceedings right out of the gate, which isn't as submissive as one might think. Impeachment would be a dead end, not enough Senators would ratify the motion. How a President could have been this wrong for this long about everything - and I'm not being hyperbolic - and not garner a groundswell of antipathy I'll never know. Oversight hearings, on the contrary, is just what the doctor ordered, and Democrats have scheduled a number of them. The true test will be the level of competency these hearings are conducted with, remember it wasn't impeachment but hearings that toppled Nixon's administration.

And as for the Iraq escalation, they plan on exercising their power of the purse by denying Bush the Benjamins. Be strong Democrats, the Republicans will call you mean names like "Traitor" and "Freedom-hater" but the truth is preventing more lives from being lost to Presidential vanity or stubborness or philistinism is genuinely patriotic.


The question is do the Democrats have the bulbous cajones to accomplish this? Well, Malcolm X said that Republicans will take a fifteen inch knife and put it in your back while the Democrats will see that knife and pull three inches of it out. Is this justice?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The first bloodless war

Power of Images copy

Darius the first was great. He brought a single, standard currency to his empire of Persia, he updated the kingdom's laws and, being an honorable warrior king, Darius the first fought to protect his subjects from invaders...by invading them first. Darius was so great he smote a rebellion, not just once but three times. Because Darius recognized his own excellence he thought it reasonable to tell this to others. But how? This was a time before text messaging, hell, this was a time before Yahoo! News. So, Darius the first commissioned an army of architects and sculptors and artisans of every sort to carve his likeness into the stone walls of temples and raise heroic sculptures of himself all throughout his empire. In one hand he'd be grasping a spear, probably to fight off that rebellion he smote, and in the other he'd be grasping a two-petaled lotus. The inscriptions on these pieces would tell of his boundless love for all those he ruled. And his subjects went wild, they gave him gifts and praised his benevolence, thanked him for being their protector and mourned his death.

Mad BruteThis is because for the first time the image of their ruler was ever-present throughout the land. You wake up - he's there. You go to market- he's there. Visit the temple - he's there. This allowed for most to have a good idea of what their king looked like and the fact he appeared battle ready gave them a warm, squishy feeling inside. This is the power of images. Since Darius leaders of nations have adapted this basic technique to promote their agendas. In World War II Germany and Japan weren't the only countries that cranked out Propaganda posters, America used them too.

Consider Iraq. What images come out of the country? A statue falling, purple fingers and puffs of smoke. There's no carnage, no shrapnel, no destruction. It seems to be the world's very first bloodless war. However, this isn't the truth. The truth would end the war and Bush wouldn't be permitted to waffle for weeks before deciding upon an escalation.

To understand just how effective pictures can be in ending conflict it would be appropriate to analyze times when events have turned on a dime due to an apposite image. Vietnam, a combination of Cronkite's footage of soldiers scorching villages along with the single snapshot of a young Vietcong being executed, marked a substantial turning point in the war. Our Somali intervention ended after the horrific slaughter of Americans in the streets of Mogadishu were shown on 24-hour news networks.

But, most recently, Katrina demonstrated a dramatic use of nightmarish imagery to depict tragedy. Dead bodies were shown bobbing down flooded streets, and hungry, frightened Americans sat stranded on rooftops. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now lauded this rare coverage by the corporate-owned media as spectacular. And she's right. The outrage of the country was unifying, an anger that transcended party lines and contributed to the upheaval of the Republican majority during the midterm elections.

How different we might feel toward Iraq if it didn't look like this:

coalition chart

But instead looked like this:

Soldier1

War is politically incorrect. It's not rated PG-13 and it isn't approved for a general audience. Americans are dying, Iraqis are dying and it would have taken less time to come to that conclusion if we were given an honest portrayal of this gory struggle.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Most Dangerous Man

Sapient Ingraham copy

Is Brian Sapient the most dangerous man on the internet? Judging from his appearance on Laura Ingraham's radio talk show, he must be. First thing's first: who is Brian Sapient and if he's so dangerous why haven't you heard of him? Sapient is the leader of the Rational Response Squad (RRS), an online-based, free-thinking Atheist network, and the reason his name hasn't crossed your path is, well, because he's the leader of a free-thinking Atheist network. Sapient employs rather radical methods in order to convey his position. One such tactic is The Blasphemy Challenge. Here he encourages people to record themselves denying the existence of the Holy Spirit (immediately branding them a heretic in the eyes of God and exiling them from Heaven for eternity) in exchange for a free "The God Who Wasn't There" DVD.

Ingraham, sighting a potential opportunity to embarrass someone with a differing epistemological viewpoint, invited Sapient on her show. Her nasty, trifling interview is good theater but prosaic commentary. Sapient revealed the show's most remarkable defense mechanism on the RRS message boards, and it speaks volumes about the way verbose pundits hobble their guests and can control dialogue. As Ingraham attempted to roil Sapient with a few below-the-belt jabs ("Why don't you get a real job?") the producer, according to Sapient, was in his other ear forbiding him to defend himself. When Brian defied the producer's command Sapient's mic was clipped and Laura stated her conclusions unchallenged.

While Sapient broadcasts for over an hour each week on RRS, giving equal platform to Reverends, youth pastors and garden-variety believers, one must ask why does Laura Ingraham hate free speech? I am a firm believer in John Stuart Mill's philosophy of total inclusion when it comes to what we admit into popular discussion and the more points of view on such an important topic the better. With this approach the meritless ideas will, over time, shrivel and fade, and truth will reveal itself against the dull backcloth of falsehoods. The idea being reality is quite persuasive (when was the last time you underwent a blood-letting?). So, I ask, what is so dangerous about Sapient's message?

The highlight from the show: Laura presents Sapient with Pascal's Wager, asking if there is a God isn't it better just to believe because if Sapient is wrong he's going to suffer forever, but if he's right nothing is gained. Sapient counters, Socrates-like, by asking her in which God should one believe: Yahweh or Allah? Laura, without skipping a beat, delivers a pot shot and asks Sapient "So, what does your girlfriend do?"

Check out the full 15 minute interview.
Rational Response Squad
"The God Who Wasn't There"
"The Laura Ingraham Show"