Ray Davis, Editor & Publisher
|. . . Topics . . .||. . . Annals/Logs . . .|
|. . . 2001-10-02|
In the nick of time, tireless indexer Juliet Clark sends the following:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Alternate Season Episode Guide, 2000-2001
|. . . 2001-10-05|
What breed of idiots would voluntarily reduce government income at the start of a war? Beats me, but they bred enough of 'em to populate the executive and legislative branches and have some left over to publish newspapers: walking around yesterday I saw no less than five front pages that called new tax cuts an "Economic Boost" rather than "Suicide."
Do many people really believe that fear of taxes is what's killed the economy? Speaking as a representative consumer, I'm trying not to squander my meagre life savings because I'm worried about unemployment, health care costs, and retirement -- you know, all that social safety net stuff. Decreasing my "tax burden" isn't about to make me worry less.
Have fetus, will travel
Those who aren't checking Ethel several times a day (the perfect cure for the blues!) might've missed confirmation of the prediction that some numb brains would soon be fumbling for a definition of "terrorism" that excluded birth control clinic bombings. Next prediction: Congress will end up having to specifically single out anti-abortion terrorists in an amendment as "the terrorists we're afraid of annoying," much as sexual orientation is explicitly called out of hate-crime bills on account of too powerful a political constituency wants to hate selected sexual orientations.
In somewhat related news, our spineless Congress (is that too harsh? mostly spineless, then) has once again decided that military personnel cannot be permitted to have an abortion in a base hospital. Way to make that Saudi Arabia tour of duty even more secure!
"It would be great for two normal guys like us to get together and talk about world events, you know, in a normal sort of way"
Despite better intentions I remain unable to tear myself (and thus you, for the moments you read this) from pointless "political" chatter. Not to be confused, please, with political action.
Is the noise comforting somehow? I don't know; I would have to be able to envision an alternative to be sure. It certainly seems annoying... but when I try to engage more... directly with the events of September 11, I find myself stuck on a puerile fantasy of somehow bargaining my life for that of one of the victims... a more-or-less waking relative of the recurring childhood nightmares in which I helplessly watched my family slide into a volcano.... Insomnia and news aren't intelligence boosters.
For tomorrow: We try again! If we're still here!
And for today, let's all sing along with prince jubril usman (via Bifurcated Rivets):
i AM CONVINCED THAT GOD APPROVED OF THIS TRANSACTION
BUT WHAT IS TRYPING TO MAKE IT LOOK NEGATIAVE IS WHAT
I DO NOT KNOW. TELL ME.
|. . . 2001-10-06|
Philosophers often behave like little children, who first scribble random lines on a piece of paper with their pencils, and then ask an adult "What is that?"
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein's "Big Typescript"
|. . . 2001-10-08|
Civilization vs. Savagery
"European human-rights legislation may prevent Britain from extraditing suspects in last month's terrorist attacks: Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights bars Britain and the other signatories from extraditing prisoners if they could face capital punishment."
Randolph Bourne (via [sub]culture; re irony cf.):
"With how many of the acceptors of war has it been mostly a dread of intellectual suspense? It is a mistake to suppose that intellectuality necessarily makes for suspended judgments. The intellect craves certitude. It takes effort to keep it supple and pliable."
"Senior Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on 'I'm Sick and Tired of Not Feeling God' during the service at 10:30 am.... Jailers Needed" (via Obscure Store)
|. . . 2001-10-09|
Those who haven't triggered the proper marketing traps won't be familiar with Levenger -- a stationery store aimed at nouveaux riches -- and its catalog of "Tools for Serious Readers."
Even for yuppie junk mail, Levenger's copy is overripe, redolent of leather everything (including leather manila envelopes -- "rather like changing Eliza Doolittle from East End flower girl to Ascot lady... will burnish beautifully the more it's handled"), splattered with $90 ball point pens, and bedecked with sepia-toned celebrity portraits. Be as happy as Henry James! as suave as Robert Louis Stevenson! as elegant as Sir Isaac Newton!
And for the most part the photographed samples of what's achievable with a little intellectual leverage from Levenger are what you'd expect given such heady role models. On "the BMW of folios" someone's noted that "Each new product will be involved in a series of meetings from concept to final update"; "Monumental Letters with Pedestals" construct the message "ASPIRE"; the "lighthearted Innovation gel pen" has written "Discuss strategy with Internet group," "Confirm flight reservation" is written on "a delicious temptation of color and texture" (i.e., notepad), and "5 year plan - Goal?" is written with "Rotring's impeccable style"....
But in The Perennial Journal ("a luscious cream stock... with gilded edges for lasting beauty"), the target consumer's mask slipped:
|"One less bell to answer. One less egg to fry. Isn't that how the song goes? Not that I fried eggs anyway. Too much fat and cholesteral. But I digress... I'm just trying to keep my mind busy with other thoughts, I suppose. I'm not meant to live alone, to have everything to myself. Some would say I am lucky now, but all I can do is cry."|
|Speaking of consumption, Beth Rust forwards the following list of shopping ideas from Amazon:||
|. . . 2001-10-10|
Trina Robbins's organizational and historical work are admirable, but she always seemed like kind of a dope. And her interview (and frequent drowning out) of Alison Bechdel removes all doubts -- particularly this sentiment, which experts consider the number one warning sign of dopiness:
"I find you so fascinating, Alison, because we're so different and yet I really like you."(emphasis via me, link via Eclogues)
More Warning Signs
At the doctor's office yesterday (it's been a busy week here), I saw a poster with a dozen cute little cartoons of the Warning Signs of Diabetes. "Excessive Hunger" was a guy shoving a cake into his mouth, "Sexual Dysfunction" was an sad-faced man lying in bed with a sad-faced woman, and so on. But "Vaginal Infection" was a woman holding a sign in front of her torso that read "Vaginal Infection." That is to say that the warning sign of a vaginal infection is literally a "Vaginal Infection" warning sign.
Maybe this is only interesting if you're reading Wittgenstein....
If I knew how to send email to misterpants, I would certainly call the Purity Supreme supermarket chain to his attention. The Purity Supreme in Nashua, New Hampshire, used to have special "Singles Nights" where Nashuan bachelors were supposed to cruise the aisles with their sporty shopping carts. I wonder if they still do that.
Token Non-Trivial Item of the Day
Juliet Clark forwards her sighting of a very rare bird, actual reporting from a San Francisco newspaper!
"Tens of millions of Americans can no longer get medical treatment, a job, a home, a credit card or a host of goods and services without agreeing to resolve future disputes in confidential, unregulated proceedings riddled with conflicts of interest. They cannot claim injury, fraud or discrimination without paying filing fees that may reach thousands of dollars. They cannot rely on legal guarantees of due process and fair treatment. They cannot appeal, except in rare circumstances...."
|. . . 2001-10-12|
Although a Berkeley resident, I don't feel much team spirit -- dope-smoking morons and obnoxious rich kids aren't really my crowd -- but it is kind of neat how the harmless blather of our little city has made it a scandalous by-word nationwide, like it was Scottsboro or something....
+ + +
There's nothing coherent enough to call a "Left" in American politics. However, if a "Left" were to exist, it would probably be hanging around the Bay Area and Seattle and Portland; and if we try for an empirically based definition of what we find there, we probably do end up with something like synthetic zero's:
"... in the case of the far left, our side is always wrong. The left becomes a mere critiquer of the faults of our own society, and leaves the problems inherent elsewhere to someone else to criticize."The Objectivist Party, in other words. No wonder it's so unpopular!
As for s.z.'s main point, I'm all for cultural imperialism. The sooner quaint tribal customs like gay bashing and Creationist teachers are wiped out, the better for everyone. I even love the tools of cultural imperialism -- books, movies, pop music, the Peace Corps, TV -- though I guess a disproportionate amount of my financial support goes to the Peace Corps.
The problems are that, first, despite the interest it holds for scholars and tourists, cultural imperialism alone isn't particularly effective: like, "All in the Family" was broadcast for years to Braymer, Missouri, without local attitudes changing. And, second, that the effort put into cultural imperialism is teensy compared with the efforts put into economic and political imperialism. It's generally less important to the imperialized than as a self-righteousness aid within the community of the imperializer.
Reconstruction was slightly about attempting to bring a nonracist society to the former Confederate states, but as practiced was even more about seizing property and power. European-Americans talked of bringing Christian civilization to our Native American brethren and sistren, but mostly brought eviction papers. Why is Cuba a criminal state and China most favored? The policy pivot in banana republics is the banana, not the republic.
So when those good old liberal humanist culturally imperialist banners are hoisted (long may they wave!), it's sensible to look for what might be hiding beneath them. It usually isn't all that hidden.
As Jean Teasdale has pointed out, "we should pursue the distractions that make our lives fulfilling and worthwhile, because life is not about getting angry over things you cannot control, but pleasing yourself."
It is thus my duty to report that the September 1959 issue of Coronet that supplied today's cover girl also contained many disturbing exploitive photographs of not-quite-sixteen Tuesday Weld: bookish, anguished, winning, odd, painting, and reading.
Tomorrow: More Wittgenstein!
|. . . 2001-10-13|
Dialog without argument
The need to tease things out in discussion rather than standing by a clear proclamation is one of the vices that makes me useless as an activist. As evidence, I agree with everything written in synthetic zero's response to my response:
"I suppose I can summarize this by saying that if we can't do the right thing for the right reasons, we can at least pressure our government to do the right thing even if they also have ulterior motives."If I'd taken a little more care with the closing sentence of my little editorial ("So when those banners are hoisted, it's sensible to look for what might be hiding beneath them"), some labor could've been saved. (But it was such a nice round rhetorical close!) What I should have gone on to say is that the results of this inspection don't (necessarily) invalidate a call to action. Purity is unobtainable, even undefinable, and its lack doesn't (always) justify apathy. Domestically, what makes an inspection necessary is the effect of the sloppily hidden non-idealistic motives on our government's actual conduct; only after we know those motives can whatever slight political pressures available to us usefully be brought to bear on that conduct. Internationally, it's important to realize that other countries are unlikely to trust our purported motive no matter how sincerely we might purport it, and that their lack of trust is well justified. "Why Do They Hate Us?" seems a not very constructive diplomatic question compared to "Why Don't They Trust Us?"
One nit: I specifically spoke of Reconstruction rather than the Civil War or the ending of slavery. The Civil War wasn't fought to end slavery (although it was fought to defend slavery); the end of slavery was simply the Civil War's only positive side-effect. And I'm all for the purported motive of the Radical Reconstructionists. In fact, I think slaveholding Confederates should've been dumped en masse into the Atlantic and all their property handed over to the newly freed slaves. But, as it happened, no one asked for my opinion, and maybe that's just as well.
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