video: how flat is the world? flat as a pancake. flat as dick cheney's affect. flat as kansas after a tornado. real, real flat. flat as billy joel on a bad night. flat as a sheet of tracing paper. flat as an idea in the mind of thomas friedman. flat as a white person's butt. flat as...oh whatever.
the recent school shooting plots prompt me to say what i always say: they have an insurrectionary element, and they are directed at the most profoundly authoritarian instirtutions in our country short of prisons. one element of the repression is the direct exercise of authority, another is the forced association of people who can't deal with one another.
Revenge for being picked on by other students and dislike of the school staff motivated the unidentified students, Lindhag said.
thought i'd put up my creators column from last week, since it's about blogging.
Ponder with me, if you feel like it, the sad fate of the blog.
There was a time when "blog" meant that almost anyone could publish
almost anything she wanted, when it seemed that the media of political
discourse were being radically decentralized with incredible rapidity,
when no one could control what people were writing and reading or its
remarkable and strange effects.
The mainstream media (msm)
would become obsolete, their tepid opinions and colorless language
swamped in a sea of free, beautiful, anarchic ranting. And by sheer
vastness and variety, all this talk would be self-correcting; everybody
could participate everywhere, and every mistake would draw a hundred
It seemed a remarkable realization of democratic ideals.
But the blogosphere is now under full-scale consolidation and
colonization. Most of the most-read "blogs" are simulations. Let's
consider a few examples.
The "Daily Kos" is perhaps the most
visited political blog on the net. The discussion is lively and,
apparently, freewheeling -- there's even the occasional cuss word. But,
truth to tell, it is the mouthpiece of the Howard Dean wing of the
Democratic Party, and taken all in all, it is painfully orthodox and
unanimous ("with a Democrat like [Joe Lieberman] on the Armed Services
Committee, why do we need Republicans?"). Of course, there are dozens
of official right-wing versions, as well.
That is one form of the contemporary pseudoblog: the tool of a political party or issue organization (pro.lifewithchrist.com).
Another genre is the "blog" put up by an msm outlet. These things are
multiplying like mad, and newspaper websites are quickly mutating into
blog collages, on specific subjects or driven by specific personalities.
Washingtonpost.com lists 25 "blogs." The New York Times has taken to
publishing guest columnists such as Sarah Vowell and Stanley Fish in
blog format. The Los Angeles Times keeps you abreast of the news and
gossip from Vegas, for example, with a blog. Time magazine has signed
up long-time blogger Andrew Sullivan, among others.
These are best thought of as slightly reformatted msm opinion columns and news stories.
A genuine blog, it seems to me, is unedited; it is someone specific.
It's probably riddled with typos, etc., but it represents the
unadulterated voice of an individual rather than the flattened prose
and predictable range of opinions of a bureaucracy.
But an msm
pseudoblog is ultimately subject to all the same constraints as the
rest of the publication. The publication is just as suable there as
anywhere else, and so everything questionable is going to have to get
through the legal department. Cautious and conscientious professionals
edit these things, and the "bloggers" know the constraints before they
These faux blogs can be good; I very much enjoy Joel
Achenbach's at washingtonpost.com, for example. But even their
liveliness is just a trifle disturbing. They are attempts to simulate a
freewheeling, idiosyncratic voice and point of view. They take the
little frisson that accompanied the first efflorescence of the blog and
try to clone or replicate it in a context that is anything but free.
And just let's not deal with commercial flogs, beautifully designed
sites with bold entries such as "Giorgio Armani Croc-Embossed Tote
& Embellished Satin Halter." Amazon.com has instituted "plogs";
there, Meg Wolitzer is telling us that she's almost finished Ayelet
Waldman's "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits," "which is really smart
and tender." Nike and Microsoft blog. At the same time, there is more
and more advertising on actual blogs (intapundit.com: "HELP RE-ELECT
SENATOR GEORGE ALLEN"), which can be expected to have the effect of
toning down content.
Perhaps this is the fate of all media --
indeed, all signs of life or communication -- bludgeoned by
bureaucracy, corporate, organizational, and governmental. I think it's
fair to say the blogosphere is liable to come under FEC and FCC
regulation, the traditional death rattle of any form of human
This particular communication revolution is over.
But if you felt like pondering with me, I don't want merely to leave
you melancholy. After all, every repression is the occasion of the next
resistance, and human communication is essentially uncontrollable. So
bring on the next idea.
perhaps the deepest, most profoundly moving moments in brokeback were the scenes of jake "selling big equipment." anyway, every second, every frame, every idea (true, there was only one) was entirely devoted to political correctness. if stalin was still making movies, he'd have mad bm. anyway, i actually agree with the political agenda. only i object to being subjected to an endless string of cliches, or a mechanical reversal of cliches, in the service of any agenda. maybe you should try to tell a story. maybe you should construct a cogent argument. maybe you should think of these as different operations.
i think what i admired most about brokeback mtn was the characters' passive acquiescence in their own misery. of course, the fact that neither of them could utter an english sentence may have reduced my empathy. but that of course was the key part of the movie's brave, yet entirely mechanical, reversal of stereotypes. i'm working up a script for brokeback 2, just because i don't understand how the heath ledger character escaped being beaten to death.
it's cute to think, as hu meets with bill gates and advertises starbucks, that china and the us have precisely the same economic system. that's cute because one is allegedly based on the principles of marx, the other of adam smith. both are massively regulated entrepreneurial capitalist communism. china probably has a few more of its cf and ceos who are nominally government officials, but that's just a little matter of titles.
so, like i was talking to god the other day and i kept asking Him questions, like: how could you make me into crispin sartwell? why are people dying in darfur? did you really disapprove of new orleans? etc etc. but i couldn't get His attention. he just kept rolling the damn dice, yelling shit like "baby needs new clothes!"
a bit late on this, but though cynthia mckinney may not be the brightest bulb in the lamp store, you have to acknowledge that, as a general principle, slapping cops is a good idea, and we can all learn from her bold spirit of courage and independence.
it's not hard to say what's wrong with the basic philosophical position that our language produces our reality, evidently now a universally acepted truth. you end up yapping for years about questions like: is it amnesty? is it civil war? assmonkeys. it is what it is.
The conservative magazine Human
Events recently published a list of the most harmful books of the 19th and 20th
centuries, as selected by "a panel of 15 conservative scholars and public
policy leaders." It was a predictable list, including tomes by
conservative betes noirs Marx, Keynes, Kinsey, and Freidan. It was also wildly
inaccurate. Herewith, the real and true list, as compiled by a panel of dozens
of important experts, all of them myself.
(1) A.A. Milne, "The House
at Pooh Corner"
Charming. Yet in its slight
insipidity lurked the horrific possibility of the Care Bears.
(2) Roger Tory Peterson, "A
Field Guide to the Birds"
"Mein Kampf" for bird
(3) Lao Tzu, "Tao Te Ching"
This book was so destructive
that it literally wasn't written in the 19th or 20th centuries.
(4) Crispin Sartwell, "The
Art of Living"
No one ever read this book. But
after it came out, the world continued to crumble into a meaningless nightmare
(5) James Joyce, "Ulysses"
Don't ever let anyone tell you
that this is a good book.
(6) Mick Jagger and Keith
Richards, "Sympathy for the Devil"
This book was literally so
destructive it wasn't even a book.
(7) Irma Rombauer, "The
Joy of Cooking"
My mother's "bible."
There were way too many novels
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
(9) Ken Bain, "What the
Best College Teachers Do"
They subvert your children's
intellects with a bunch of subversive blabber, that's what.
(10) J.K. Rowling, "Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
First I had to read this twice to children. Then I dropped
it on my foot and had to see the podiatrist.
Crusader Mike is profoundly, deeply cynical about human nature. Perhaps that is due to my own feet of clay, that come to mid-waist -- still, I get convinced at times that someone is at least what they seem; and then I am disappointed. Sadly, I think that is happening with John McCain.
Ariana Huffington considers the McCain conundrum this week and I think she is right on target. He's convinced that the only way he can be president and cause the changes he believes we need to make is to soften his stance toward things that dismay and disgust him. Referring to Bush's recent speeches as "fairly eloquent" is a really telling example. When McCain embraced Bush in 2004 over Kerry, he looked pained and disgusted every time Bush touched him. Given the Bush inability to craft a coherent sentence, McCain's "fairly eloquent" is not damning with faint praise; it's damn near Steven Colbert Level Presidential Worship given where he started from.
His brief appearance on The Daily Show where Jon Stewart went after his rapprochement with Jerry Falwell was possibly hopeful. When Stewart asked him if he was "freakin' out on us and going into crazy base world," McCain smiled and said yes. Now, McCain offered to invite Jon to Liberty University for the commencement speech so that he could sit next to Falwell as McCain spoke to the students. If I were Stewart, I'd call him on it. And, take a camera crew...
I am reminded of the line from A Man for All Seasons, where Thomas More learns that his friend and former protege Richard Rich has turned informer and betrayed him in return for appointment as governor of Wales. "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"
what's funky about the "gospel of judas" is that it indicates that there was supra-moral or "beyond good and evil" stage or movement within christianity, in which the greatest sins are conflated with the greatest moral heroism. there are such movements and moments in many religions. an interesting analogy would be tantrism, which prescribes moral transgression, including various sexual activities (but at its most extreme: murder, even), as means to enlightenment.
i think we ought to stat thinking of the "illegal immigrant" problem as a straight-up civil rights deal: comparable to the black rights movement of the fifies and sixties. the prejudice, dehumanization, exploitation are as palpable. focus for a moment on the fact that you're dealing with actual human beings. we need immigrant martin luther kings and malcolm xs. or maybe we have them already; we just can't speak their language, and they are subject to deportation.
this is pathetic. so i guess we assume that the gospel accounts are true, and that there was this dude walking around the mideast performing miracles. then, having gone with that, we try to dissolve the miracles with naturalistic explanations: he, um, floated across the sea of galilee on a block of ice, but it kind of looked to idiot peasants like he was walking on water. of course he turned water into wine: but probably this had to do with a well that was dug into a wine cellar etc. look. either believe the whole kit and caboodle, or assume there is nothing to explain. idjit.
Combining evidence of a cold snap 2,000 years ago with sophisticated
mapping of the Sea of Galilee, Israeli and U.S. scientists have come up
with a scientific explanation of how Jesus could have walked on water.