Thursday, November 25, 2004

No Turkey Day

My wife the hospital pharamacist told me yesterday am that she was not working 1st shift (7a-5p) on Thanksgiving, she was working 2nd shift (11a-9p). So, my Thanksgiving dinner options were 10a or 10p -- neither acceptable. So, turkey will be Friday at 2p. 1st time in my 53 years I have not pigged out on turkey and dressing on the last Thursday in November. It's just Not Right ...

Finished the 3rd novel of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, "The System of the World". Very nice read, all threads tied up or snipped nicely. Doubtful that I will ever reread this basically 3000 page novel again. So nice to see the value of thought and the Enlightment represented in such a positive light.

Thinking the other day about religion. Will it always be around, but maybe engineered into more meaningful forms -- ones that keep up with current knowledge instead of relying on old, old books? Read an article in the paper on a new Islamic terrorist group that trains in the desert with only 6th century technology, so they can really get that Mohammedan world-view -- how stupid is that? It boggles the mind, stop time, stop progress, everyone will be oh so much more comfortable? satisfied? what? who knows?

This made me think of the Cellar Christians (Cellar because organized religion has been outlawed) in what I believe to be the greatest science fiction novel ever written: "The Stars My Destination", by Alfred Bester. Funny, I just went to Barnes & Noble to pull the link, and all the reviews there also say "the greatest SF novel ever written" -- so I guess I am not alone in my opinion. It was originally published in 1956. I 1st read it in my early teens in an Anthony Boucher collection "A Treasure of Great Science Fiction", Vol 2. (This was published in 1958. It also had "Brain Wave" by Poul Anderson, a great story, in it. I actually picked up this and Vol 1 as well in hardback in a used bookstore 10 or so years ago.)

Anyway, I have reread "The Stars My Destination" at least 20 times since then. It is only about 160 pages. Every time I reread it, I marvel at how it has still maintained the edge it has. It would make a great movie (if Hollywood weren't obsessed with Philip K. Dick) -- great anti-hero protagonist, tons of action. I could never figure out who would play Gully Foyle tho, but the actor is now available. Russell Crowe would be perfect for the part. So, need to get that going ...

RIPing of CDs procedes apace. My wife is convinced I'm obsessed. Currently at 2400 tracks, 7 days, 13GB. I now have 3 objects of techno-lust (I'm so excited: I'm alive! I'm a consumer! I'm a real American! I have a reason to live, new things to buy!):

  1. A 40GB iPod for backup;
  2. A WiFi unit to talk to my wireless router to let me access my PC from the main stereo;
  3. A analog to digital input device, so I can rip my vinyl and tapes.
Life is good ...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Black Day

My tag line today was: "Four more years of the evil empire -- I heard they start construction on the Death Star at the first of the year".

My response to my older, Mainer, Bush-backing brother. He really didn't rub it in much at all, I just needed to rant.

>>> Talked to 2 different independents today, one in 20's, one in 40's, both of whom indicated they would vote for Saddam for president before they voted for Hilary.

I'm starting to think we should push the constitutional amendment to let Ahnold become president. I like the CA republican mix: fiscal responsibility (pre-bush republican), but socially fwd (pro-choice, stem cell research, gay rights).

I don't think Kerry vs W make a difference in Iraq. It is a BFM (Big Fucking Mess), and will be for years to come. The Daily Show (my only source of broadcast news -- altho I did also watch NBC and CNN last night) of course read the excepts from daddy-Bush's memoirs on why he didn't go on to Baghdad: no exit strategy, no way it could be anything but a BFM.

The only upside of the BFM is that I was definitely getting the impression after they rolled through Iraq (after rolling through Afghanistan) that Syria and Iran were next -- same type of badmouthing Iraq got pre-invasion was starting up. Hopefully we don't have to worry about that for a while.

I have heard from 2 places that we are constructing 14 long-term bases in Iraq, but have not read it anywhere. Have your heard/seen this? I agree with you, it's about the oil. Oilman president => war in Middle East.

I believe that, after rolling through Afghanistan, we still had tremendous support for War on Terrorism, and could have done some serious good. Then, the hard-on for Iraq ("he tried to kill my daddy", who the fuck knows the real reason). Now, 10s or 100s of 1000s of new Islamic martyr recruits. Real reason: Wolfowitz doctrine? US as hyperpower can do whatever the fuck we want, so let's conquer some oil-rich countries?

I have felt since day 1 of Iraq, Osama was laughing gleefully when we invaded. Iraq, despite Saddam being your typical bloody-minded dictator (like some of the ones we {used to?} prop up in South America), was actually a fairly moderate Arab state: Women could go to school, learn to read, hold jobs, lots of other horrible westernized stuff. Osama wants the return of the Shariat, the return of the Caliphate, the good old days of serious Islam from the 13th century. (The Christians at least don't want to go back to the past -- they just wish the rapture would hurry up and get here -- hard to decide who are the greater dumbasses.)

We are the hyperpower now, and, before Iraq, were in a great position to really do some good. When you are the biggest, toughest hombre, you are still a fool to behave like the neighborhood bully. The dweebs will gang up on you no matter how big you are. Prior to Bush, for maybe 10 years the US would usually try to do right, and carry out morally defensible actions: Somalia, Yugoslavia. Now, it's, we do whatever we feel like, because we can.

Blagh. I really do feel like we are now being governed by evil men. They are zealots who convinced themselves that everyone wants to be just like us (and fuck, they didn't need the military, another 10 years of Brittany Spears would have done the job), and, with typical Christian side deals with Jebus, I am sure have already received absolution for lining their pockets via Haliburton and the rest. Their power base has been built by playing to the worst parts of human nature: fear; look out for #1 above all else; and mindless conservatism. They show a totally shameless cynicism, knowing that if you tell a lie often enough, x percent of people will start believing it, and feeling that because they are working for "the greater good" of realpolicik and corporate domination, every dirty trick and smear tactic are justified. The Daily Show had some great clips of Cheney biting some reporter's head off "I categorically never said that", followed by 2 clips of Cheney saying exactly the thing he was denying having said. They are fucking liars.

I find conservatism to be an offensively stupid worldview. At some level, it always involves the belief that some fucking non-existent "golden age" in the past was better than now. So, when exactly was that? I have always loved how the Christian broadcasting channels fill dead time with Westerns. Ah, the old west, when the good guys wore white, the bad guys black, none of this Miranda stuff, just shoot the guys in black. And, women had three professions open to them: wife, schoolteacher, or prostitute. The good old days! The 50's? I still remember the nuclear attack drills in grade school. The ... whenevers? Let's face it, right now is the best time ever to have lived. My only regret is I wasn't born 50 years later than I was.

And, you pegged it on the Bible-thumping stuff. Exit polls, bush's strongest area of support, moral values, 85-15 bush. Fucking dumbass christians. So, you can be a brain-addled, former alchoholic and cokehead, run the Jebus program because you don't have enough of your own personality to do anything else -- praise Jeebus! It seriously concerns me that we have a gene pool heavily selected for the religous fanaticism gene. They are what carried the election, every "public christian" on my street had a Bush sign in their front yard. Well, maybe they'll have gene therapy for it soon.

Of course, when you're are born with a silver spoon in your mouth and get to be president by inheritance, you tend to want to keep the nice, conservative, feudal values going.

So, brother, I know you're buying all this. If you like, I can maybe hook you up with a discount ACLU membership.

Well, I think I'm done -- you shouldn't have told me I was being a "better sport". That is pretty much the essence of my barroom political rants of the last five years -- and I haven't even had a drink this evening, that's probably my problem. Hope you enjoyed!