Monday, March 24, 2008

salt lake city

Pompous Mormon symmetry.  Everywhere marble:  flawless, funereal (the Capitol, the organ in the Visitor Center.)  Yet a Los-Angelic modernity, too - all the requisite gadgetry for a minimalist, extraterrestrial comfort.  The Christ-topped dome (all the Christs here are copied from Thorwaldsen's  and look like Bjorn Borg)  straight out of Close Encounters:  religion and special effects.  In fact the whole city has the transparency and supernatural, otherworldly cleanness of a thing from outer space.  A symmetrical, luminous, overpowering abstraction.  at every intersection in the Tabernacle area -  all mabel and roses, and evangelical marketing - and electronic cuckoo-clock sings out: such Puritan obsessiveness is astonishing in this heat, in the heart of the desert, alongside this leaden lake, its waters also hyperreal  from sheer density of salt.  and, beyond the lake, the Great Salt Lake Desert, where they had to invent the speed of prototype cars to cope with the absolute horizontality . . .  But the city itself is like a jewel, with its purity of air and its plunging urban vistas more breathtaking even than those of Los Angeles.  What stunning brilliance, what modern veracity these Mormons show, these rich bankers, musicians, international genealogists, polygamists ( the Empire State in New York has something of this same funeral Puritanism raised to the nth power).  It is the capitalist, transsexual pride of a people of  mutants that gives the city its magic, equal and opposite to that of Las Vegas, that great Whore on the other side of the desert.
- bu [n]n Y

sailing the rum

some photo's for yarr!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

KO on Hillary

Seems KO backs up my previous post. Good to see someone in the MSM sees the madness gripping the Clinton campaign.

And then this from Hillary. I dare anyone to untangle the twisted logic riddling these words...

"If Barack Obama cannot reverse his downward spiral with a big win in Pennsylvania, he cannot possibly be competitive against John McCain in November."

Downward spiral? Pot, meet kettle.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Demo c rats

From the first uttered word humans have been communicating via language, developing that perfect combination between sound, pitch and idea. Think of any word. What images flash through your mind? How many ideas shoot like branches off that first idea? How many words build themselves off of the first word, like a mind game of evolutionary scrabble?

Language conveys nearly everything, we communicate with words and sounds and are equally understood. We learn to love through words, but we also learn to hate through words. We probe the fringes of society through language, but do any of us fully understand it?

If you look at the title of the post, you'll find demo, and you'll find rats. The C in the middle is like a greater-than sign, which suggests that rats are greater than demo. It's language, and we manipulate it as we like (though the above example can be rejected as being entirely fallacious). The alphabet can be manipulated for the betterment of the individual, or used to their detriment. Not all language is equal, and some language is decisively detrimental.

Now, politics circa 2008. Language - be it republican or democratic - is so guarded and calculated that the lines between manufacturing results and campaigning for votes becomes blurred. Manufacturing language through scientific algorithms tested with focus groups and then leaked to drudge does not equate a dialog with the American people. Language is being manipulated before our very eyes; on CNN and FAUX, and to a lesser extent MSNBC, language is being abused. Notice the commentator vs journalist coup on cable television. Language - on right wing radio, left wing radio (yea, I'm talking to you Air America), is divisive and partisan. Truth is spoken occasionally, but not often does an individual bridge the exclusive caverns of both camps.

Language. It is Hillary's crutch. She can't say anything that will encourage republicans to join her, and the more she talks the less democrats want to vote for her. She has said recently that McCain is more qualified to be president than Obama, handing the opposition live fuel and then laughing it off as silly and reinforcing the necessity to stick to the issues. Ferraro, a supporter of Clinton, said recently that the only reason Obama is where he is is because of his skin color (yea, Geraldine, everyone understands the overwhelming advantage African Americans have in the US). Wow, the power of words. The Clinton camp seem to be using the sub-genius strategy of ninja wordsmiths. Words are important - and when you use words which represent the opposite of what you say, your either deceiving us or yourself - so which is it?

Words matter. Clinton cannot continuously shout 'wolf' with impunity. Her surrogates can't decry his advantage because of race and at the same time expect to remain above the fray of racism. For Clinton to repeatedly maintain that she and McCain were qualified to be president because of their outstanding service to this country, but Barack only offered a speech in 2003 and thus has yet to cross the threshold of commander in chief, is patently absurd. Words matter. We are all judged by them, given grace or pardon by them. Perhaps we forgot words are actions, that our words preview our actions.

Language matters most when it remains consistent, a thing nearly forgotten in politics. Barack is consistent in his argument, and doesn't descend beneath the fray except to defend himself. Watch the exchange, watch when they say one thing but exhibit another. McCain was vehemently against torture but has now acquiesced to the administration, and seems to think no one remembers his previous position.

Language is an action. Remember that, and judge the candidates upon the entirety of their character. None of them are perfect, but then we aren't electing a savior or messiah. We can only know them by their actions and words (and even then can be deceived - you have to be shrewd), and the most trustworthy now appears to be Barack Obama. His language and action appear positive and consistent. Words do that, they convey hope or fear depending upon their users intention. In the Clinton campaign, fear has surpassed hope, and she is betting that America will be convinced.

Fear is a 3am phone call. Fear is Barack's middle name - Hussein. Fear is loosing. Fear manifests into strategy, and strategy into words. Clinton's words are bowing like serfs beneath her anxiety. Words are our barometer to truth or falsehood. When they are misused, purposely or not, it is found out. Clinton has repeatedly misused words in order to gain momentum - a kind of audacity of fear.

Yes, words matter. People declare their intentions by their words, and then set out in an effort to accomplish those intentions.  Remember we are trapped in a war of aggression upon another nation, unprovoked, which is costing us 12 Billion dollars a month to sustain, and remember that words and actions brought Hillary Clinton to vote for that war, and to not since reject it, and to pronounce words that suggest Obama had only those poor judgments (actions) and speeches (words) to oppose the inevitable debacle. Yes, words and actions matter.

By a raise of hands, how many of us support the war in Iraq? Exactly. Words matter, votes matter, actions matter. How can we allow those who contributed to the problem to be in charge of the solution? Really, I wonder. Even Einstein wondered...

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

Lets be honest. Words lead to actions. Hillary voted for the K-L bill, for the Iraqi war, supported NAFTA and accepted millions of dollars in exchange for killing her universal healthcare plan during Bill's administration. She has been on the boards of both Walmart and Monsanto (two ethically challenged corporations), been involved in shady dealings in Arkansas, been husband to the man who oversaw the demoralization of the modern democratic party (sorry, guilt by association is a weak argument); and who will do nearly anything to attain power, even if it means imploding the party she is running to lead.  

My analysis isn't based on race or gender, but on actions and words.  Because of that, the rational choice is Obama. Can you make a more convincing argument?


Monday, March 10, 2008

Feeling blue in a red state

I came across this post on dailykos. It is the vote-confession of a Mormon conservative living in Salt Lake City who has decided to vote for Barack Obama.

"I may have grown up thinking conservativism was grand and Democrats were evil, but now I know better, and that is mainly due to Barack. That is why he is so important."

Of all the red states in the US, Utah has got to be the reddest. Despite the emergence of the neoconservative movement, Utah has consistently voted Republican in recent decades, tending it seems to give the pro-war wing of the Republican party justification even in light of such monumental failures as the Iraqi war and, perhaps more troubling, the housing-economic meltdown manifesting exponentially.

Has political affiliation become the equivalent of religious identity? Is it written in stone or otherwise canonized that we should respect one political party? Why are political ideas synonymous with theological beliefs, and why do red states remain red, and blue states blue? It makes you question, reading the above account - that someone could reconcile belief with something his community has suggested is against their belief...but is it really? Is having a country insured with proper health care against anyones belief system?

A couple of years ago I took a class on the history of Christianity. I learned a few lessons, small tokens of gold that now allow me to spend my way through this argument. Christians were for the first 200-300 years practicing communists. They shared everything, and if you wanted to join their esoteric movement, their community, you would have to give everything to the community, including you financial net worth (or most of it). That is why Marcion became such a pivotal figure in early Christian history, because he was able to buy a voice for his important ideas by giving his inherited fortune of 200,000 sesterces (to the credit of Marcion, though he was not allowed to stay within the community, many of his ideas were incorporated into later Christian theology.  His insistence on a limited canon encouraged the church to set limits on what could, and perhaps more importantly, what could not be included within the official canon, what has today become known as the New Testament). Certainly the church changed after that, after Constantine. They became less a share-based movement and more an individual-based movement.

Christianity has had a long and politically bizarre history, especially seeing its effects on the politics in Utah circa 2008. It was at various times an agent of the state, the king, the emperor, the pope, the revolutionary, the conservative. Take your pick, Christianity has been politically used to justify an enormous swath of belief, and is being presently used to justify a war of aggression on another nation, in spite of its ill effects on the aggressor and aggressed. Tree, meet fruit.

Obama and Clinton represent a more egalitarian approach to society - democrats in general today carry the torch for the poor, the needy, the sick and hungry. The democrats are fighting for universal health care, and tax cuts for the poor, not the rich. This approach seems to more represent the early days of christianity - where all people were taken care of, and treated equal - than to the neoconservative approach that suggests capitalism is the answer to everything, that the free hand of the market will keep all above the rising waters of political and economic disparity. An early Christian would say when my friend and neighbor is hungry, I share my food. Wouldn't Christ himself, the benefactor of Christianity, tell his followers to give before you get, to make certain that all are treated with a modicum of decency.

Most western democracies have embraced some form of universal health care as a societal necessity. Here in America, the place of the discovery of general anesthesia - perhaps the greatest discovery in the history of science and medicine - we still are in the dark ages of social progress. A rising tide raises all ships. Responsible social democracies, like Norway and Sweden, should be our example in how to proceed. Yes, they are taxed more than us, but in exchange the decency of every individual is preserved. Isn't that more important than personal success?

So back to the story of the Mormon in SLC who is voting for Obama. I have to ask, why aren't more Mormons voting for a better life for everyone, instead of better life for only a few. The Limbaugh's and Hannity's of the world are trying to make you think that conservatism-republicanism is the skin on a bleached skeleton, that theres meat where there is only bone. They sell war as conservative, spending as saving. It is Orwell's nightmare revived, and animated. Doublespeaking people toward their own financial and political ruin. Let me ask a few questions:

Does spending 10+ Billion in Iraq per month equate financial conservatism.?

Does nation building seem politically conservative?

Does enacting the biggest spying operation ever know in the US appear conservative?

Does lying US toward war follow a conservative philosophy?

Does torture now equate Christian conservatism?

Christians in America are being robbed by a two-bit thief. I really wonder what the title conservative has come to mean. I think I know what Christian means, and it is not the evangelical preachers who have enlightened me, it is the words of their great savior. I've read the New Testament; I don't remember any wars of aggression. I don't remember a footnote accompanying the old testament commandment thou shalt not kill (even though, paradoxically, there was plenty of killing to be had in the OT). I think, according to the very beginnings of Christianity, that early Christianity represented community and responsibility, a philosophy that emphasized the needs of everyone other than yourself.

But we are a needy culture, and an individualistic country. It is one of our memes, our social proclivities. America, the land of the free. But as we are learning, nobody is free unless we all are free. You can't have a country that flat out denies health care to its poorest while with the other cheek claims to be free. You can't justify agricultural slaves and claim to be a nation of free people. You can't justify paying CEO's 20 Million dollars a year and continually reject raising the minimum wage beyond 5.5 dollars (as the republicans have done). It is not healthy, nor is it Christian, it is not free.

So I understand this one Mormon's journey toward the Democratic party. It is simple. It is an understanding that community is as important as individual, politics and religion aside. Simple. It is a Christian/rational idea, it is humanitarian, it is reasonable and well-meaning. My question to all Utah Mormons is this. What theology allows you to continually justify your subservience to the Republican party? Is it healthy? Have you looked at the long term consequences of supporting war and aggression? Difficult questions, all of which the diarist considered in making his choice. My hope is we will all make this choice for our own self-interest, which, interestingly I think, is nothing more than the needs of the community at large, be they rich or poor. Again, a rising tide raises all boats. Investment in society is our one way out of the dark room Bush has lured us in to. It is the humanitarian approach, I hope everyone sees that.

There is nothing wrong with states rights, or personal property rights (juices in the spinal fluid of modern conservatism), as long as they contribute to the betterment of everyone. Perhaps that is the lesson. A kind of do unto others for the 21st century. Heres hoping we do just that - reject war and useless military spending in exchange for better social programs. Isn't it time we surpass political differences and finally elect a candidate who will take care of the poor- the health needs of all in the US? I think that is the fundamental question.


Afterthought by Emerson:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.  

Friday, March 7, 2008

I'm amazed

I am always amazed at the mental Produce that comes from each of you...I don't know where in our genes that comes from...maybe just a spark and then you blow and that spark becomes a

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Week in History (March 2 - 8)

March 2, 1863: Congress authorizes standardization of RR tracks at 4 feet 8.5 inches. Why did congress allocate the dimensions at that particular width? Some speculation culled off the internets (as to the veracity of the following claims, it may be said that they originate from the web and are thus by there very nature prone to academic skepticism, but the reading is too much fun to leave out in this post. As well, when the answer has anything to do with the booster rockets at Thiokol, it immediately becomes interesting....for reasons only a few of us understand.)
"The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads. Whydid the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used. Why did “they”' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? Roman war chariots first made the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels and wagons. Since the chariots were made for, or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder which horse's rear came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses. And now, the twist to the story. There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horse’s behinds. So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a horse's ass!”
March 2, 1931: Mikhail Gorbachev was born. An hour with Gorbachev and Charlie Rose produced a few interesting moments, though it's hard to find anything much in Mikhail that equates the Reganesque revolutions here in the US.. Perhaps he was nothing more than a doppleganger, a sinsiter form of bilocation parodying the Regan administration. Umm, yea. But this might further elucidate my point....Regan's Evil Empire speech addressed to the 41st annual convention to the National Association of Evangelicals, on March 8, 1983.

March 3, 1934: John Dillinger escaped from the county jail in Crown Point, Indiana.
On March 3, 1934, Dillinger cowed the guards with what he claimed later was a wooden gun he had whittled. He forced them to open the door to his cell, then grabbed two machine guns, locked up the guards and several trustees, and fled.
A documentary on Snake Eyes, the illusive bandit, can be found here.

March 3, 1959: Ira Glass is born. In this thread-bare interview, he confesses his vegetarianism as caused by a chicken stalker, or more precisely, a poultry advocate. Or find him here, as an advocate for the art of storytelling.

March 4, 1925: Inaugural Address of Calvin Coolidge. Here is the text, and here, for the first time on radio, is the Presidential Inauguration. Per the verse...

These results have not occurred by mere chance. They have been secured by a constant and enlightened effort marked by many sacrifices and extending over many generations. We can not continue these brilliant successes in the future, unless we continue to learn from the past. It is necessary to keep the former experiences of our country both at home and abroad continually before us, if we are to have any science of government. If we wish to erect new structures, we must have a definite knowledge of the old foundations. We must realize that human nature is about the most constant thing in the universe and that the essentials of human relationship do not change. We must frequently take our bearings from these fixed stars of our political firmament if we expect to hold a true course. If we examine carefully what we have done, we can determine the more accurately what we can do.

March 5, 1897: Soong May-ling is born, and a year later, Zhou Enlai. Two hero's of the Chinese revolution, though one ended up in Taiwan, while the other stayed on the mainland. Madame Chiang is represented here (without sound), while Zhou is shown announcing the four modernizations.

March 6, 1926: The boy behind the global economy is born, leading to the knighting of post-modern madness. This piece is pro bono for the likes of him.

March 7, 321: Constantine decreed (March 7, 321) dies Solis — day of the sun, "Sunday" — as the Roman day of rest.

March 8, 1917: Senate agrees on rules of cloture:
On March 8, 1917, in a specially called session of the 65th Congress, the Senate agreed to a rule that essentially preserved its tradition of unlimited debate. The rule required a two-thirds majority to end debate and permitted each member to speak for an additional hour after that before voting on final passage. Over the next 46 years, the Senate managed to invoke cloture on only five occasions.
March 8, 1817. Constitution drafted by an organization that chose to call themselves "New York Stock & Exchange Board," later shortening the name to the New York Stock Exchange.
The first central location of the NYSE was a room rented for $200 a month in 1817 located at 40 Wall Street. But the volume of stocks traded had increased sixfold in the years between 1896 and 1901 and a larger space was required to conduct business in the expanding marketplace.[1] Eight New York City architects were invited to participate in a design competition for a new building and the Exchange selected the neoclassic design from architect George B. Post. Demolition of the existing building at 10 Broad Street and the adjacent lots started on 10 May 1901.
If only they had some prescience to foresee the balloon-housing market of 2008. But alas, 2008 will exceed anyones guess, I presume....