Saturday, September 02, 2006

How to Bypass Warrantless Wiretapping

There are a variety of techniques for bypassing the warrantless wiretapping advocated by Bush.

You can use encoded signals and advanced mathematical formulas from the fields of steganography and two-way asymetric 1024-bit public key cryptography or, when appropriate, less bullet-proof techniques will suffice.

Besides (let it be our little secret, ok?), they really aren't very smart!

Page down for the encoded message:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dawg Theory

Have you ever seen a large dog play with a smaller dog?

The large dog lies with its belly on the ground to make itself as small as possible. In this way he shows that he's not a threat and willing to play.

The smaller dog picks up on these signals and responds playfully. The larger dog might even let the smaller one "pin him" and even when he pins the smaller dog he quickly lets him up to play some more.

The larger dog feels no serious threat from the smaller dog so he can afford to be magnanimous and playful.

Nations aren't dogs and the consequences of a threat acted out are much more serious but our MSM does a great job of heightening every single little threat. I suspect collusion with Prozac and Wellbutrin manufacturers. Why just today my MSNBC (no, its not CrooksAndLiars.Com, that wide-eyed Moises site on the disproven fringe libertarian economic theory, or Fox) home page read :

Medium Size Cities Suffering

pasted over a picture, bearing some muted connnection that I cannot grasp, but which which showed a woman and a couple obviously grieving or in some sort of distress.

Just what is my reaction supposed to be? I've become numbed...inured to the constant rat-a-tat-tat on my brain with all these scary things. Even still, for a microsecond, before I catch myself I go bonkers...henny-penny (as in "the sky is falling") as I start to ask myself "do I live in a medium sized city?"

But thankfully, I catch myself, silently saying "Aw fuckit, there I go again." Then I direct my aggravation to where I think it is better deserved.

Today I truly believe very little of what I am told to fear. I notice that fear tactics are so often practiced in place of constructive dialog. MSM jumps on the bandwagon and peddles lack of substance in a glossy wrapper of fear for no better reason than their own profits.

I look at our newfound cooperation in the international arena and wonder why, with all we make of our own supposed greatness, we can't be just a little more like the larger dog.

I concluded that we have become a nation, to some degree, beset by hysteria. As strong as we say we are yet as frightened and racked by waves of fear from each and every little threat that we are no longer effective among nations...unable to lead but very good at infecting others with the same sort of fear that controls us.

Finally, I see all this as a reflection of a leader and the reason I posted in US Politics. We reflect a "little man" complex of deep-seated fears and the resulting anger that is used to justify just about anything...ehtical/moral scales be damned.

We need steadier hands at the helm, and fast. A true leader. We can be strong enough not to be controlled by our own fear. We only need to be shown how.

Will hope arise, will it fight back
Through mindless stupor, Mac Attack?
Find one good man, a fearless leader
Sans riches, ego, vengeance meted

Who's strong enough to turn a cheek
Holding mighty no higher than meek
Relentless in the quest for peace
No cronies, debts, or palms to grease

Sunday, August 06, 2006

the Anti-Intellectualism of the Right

These are confusing times. There is willful manipulation of labels and words in an all-out, concerted attempt to either give them new meanings and associations not implied by their definitions or to rid them of the same...all in an effort to rally political support. At times we are hard-pressed to find any meaningful discourse amidst the sensationalism and side-stepping of real issues by the mainstream media.

Examples of this abound such as references to "liberal elite" despite the party most aligned with progressive ideals being out of power in all 3 branches of federal government. The reality is that the elite in our country are anything except liberal but this obvious, unavoidable fact does not deter many from promoting the unreality.

This brings to mind an excerpt from one of Ron Suskinds more prolific reviews on the Bush presidency titled Without a Doubt:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's
displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

In recent years there has been a movement that might best be classified as anti-intellectual, rejecting on moral grounds, a great deal of scientific and fact. Stem cells, evolution, and a great deal of sound scientific knowledge on the environment. As with efforts to reinforce mis-preceptions via semantic distortions (often leveraged in support of certain anti-intellectual agenda) the stakes are raised when outright misinformation and distortions are employed.

One doesn't need to do much research (though more reasearch certainly exposes lies and distortions) at all to understand the politics involved. A few icons of the religious right and hired corporate experts are standing in opposition to the best science that our culture has to offer. The whole of academia, consisting of those in our society who have dedicated their lives to finding truth in our physical world have been dismissed as fruitcakes. So there are clear choices and we must make them:

· The likes of Falwell and Robertson or the findings of our most esteemed and knowledgeable academics?
· The unanimous findings of the entire worlds climatolgists or the claims of a couple of dubiously credentialed hired-guns bought and paid for by corporate energy interests?
· Those in power who would enact into policy, as political payoff, laws that assuage the worst fundamentalist fears and paranoia of the right or men and women of reason who embrace modernity?
· The equivalent of the US Taliban or Progressives?

There is a naive, unexamined, and voluptious assurance in the image of conservatism as an ideology that upholds all that is good and decent but even that is not an accurate definition. The reality of the practice of conservatism is altogether different but this is what we get as a nation as long as we let the likes of Ann Coulter and Karl Rove (hardly respected thinkers of our day) define our choices for us. Conservatism, at its core, upholds traditional ideals and favors gradual change yet we now see the most fundamental traditions and tenets of our founding fathers being questioned by those who call themselves conservatives. Sparing you the litany of examples, the separation of church and state is the most noteworthy.

What used to be the fringe, lunatic right is now mainstream conservatism. Almost daily, Republican talking points emanate from notable politicians, icons and pundits that question the core values and principles our country was founded upon in attempts to redfine the well-known intent of our "founding fathers"....yet again, clear proof that the "reality" of the right is anything that its most extreme constituents would like it to be.

Having been raised Christian and college-educated I personally find no contradiction between religion and science or for that matter that the behavior of stem cells or sub-atomic particles are not all part of the magnificent creation that is our universe.

Perhaps your background or perspective is different but surely most can understand why someone with similar beliefs might question whether the fundamentalist streak in our culture is not something altogether different than what it purports to be. Maybe it is just a host of irrational fears wrapped in religious icons. This conclusion is even further reinforced when one examines the entire spectrum of religious thought in our country. Quite simply, the fact is that fundamentalists do not "own" religion. Quite often they usurp it in order to reinforce a host of irrational fears and beliefs having very little to do with the message of Christ.

I came across a review of a book that I'm considering purchasing. I was impressed by the way the themes mentioned above are nothing new. Anti-intellectualism has reared its ugly head in the past and the collision of ideals inherent in the way it both arose and subsided might well shed some light into what we can expect in this latest reincarnation.

The review is by Sam Tanenhaus, editor of NYTimes Book Review. The book is Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography by David S. Brown. Tanenhaus refers to Hofstader as postwar liberalism's exemplary intellectual. Hofstadter (1916-1970) considered himself largely an essayist rather than a historian but that does not make his writing any less compelling, among them two Pulitzer Prize winners. Lest those of the extreme right make Hofstadter out to be extreme it should be noted that he railed against some so-called progressive writings by historians of his day depicting framers of the Constitution as oligarchs intent on securing their financial interests.
A brief survey of his most notable writing offers a glimpse into what he considered to be the most pressing issues of his time and seem no less relevant today:

· Social Darwinism in American Political Thought
· The American Political Tradition
· The Age of Reform
· Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Tanenhaus cites an interesting alternate context offered by Hofstadter that challenged the influence of what he termed "conflict history". Tanenhaus writes in his review of Brown's book on Hofstadter, regarding Hofstadter's The American Political Tradition:

Hofstadter wrote a brief introduction that challenged the precepts of “conflict history” :

advanced by the progressive historians, many of them Midwesterners steeped
in the romance of the frontier. In narratives pitting “the people” against “the
interests,” they had dramatized what they saw as the tensions between the
forward-looking Western ethos and the settled prejudices of the East.

To Hofstadter this dynamic evaded the larger truth that “almost the entire
span of American history under the present Constitution has coincided with the
rise and spread of modern industrial capitalism,” with the result that just
about everyone, all across the political spectrum, and up and down the economic
ladder, joined the contest for riches. Even the most divisive conflicts unfolded
within this “common climate of American opinion,” shaped by a universal “belief
in the rights of property, the philosophy of economic individualism, the value
of competition.”

There are always unquestioned assumptions in our culture and there are always insights attained at either the personal or national levels through introspection, history, and a good look in the mirror. Any fuller understanding of America and how the rest of the world perceives us relies upon understanding just what our assumptions are and how we might be different from those in other cultures.

Hofstadter considered American politics to be a continual eruption of hostility, grievances, resentments and anxieties. Anti-Intellectuallism in American Politics is characterized as a "wide-ranging meditiation on Philistinism in American religionism, politics, business and education." (def of philistinism , a good word, applicable to present times).

In the Age of Reform Hofstadter characterized turn of the century reform movements -- rural populism and urban progressivism as :

...retreats from modernism, retrograde protests on the part of those “bypassed
and humiliated by the advance of industrialism.” What appeared to be
forward-looking programs were in reality rear-guard campaigns to restore
America to the “sacred” conditions of its rural infancy, when it had been “a
homogeneous Yankee civilization.”

Among the majority of issues distracting us from the ones directly relating to survival of mankind (i.e. war and the environment), it does seems curious when issues of separation of church and state and reproductive rights are being argued solely on the basis of religious dogma. In reality, Christianity is largely the religion of this "homogeneous Yankee civilization."

As with a lot of the governmental re-engineering of the 60's and earlier, Hofstadter was wary when thinkers worked in concert with doers. That seems fair-minded enough and no doubt if Hofstadter was alive today the emergence of so-called, off-the-beaten-path Neo-Con "thinkers" such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle would be equally disturbing.

The book describes Hofstadter as an anatomist of the materialist tradition and one who explored in a systematic way the "sociological penumbraof political life." Tanenhaus refers to this as "the murky substratum fo desires and impulses that underlay the surface pageantry of American politics." Hofstadter, among others "attempted to decode the signals sent by right-wing anti-Communists as they inveighed against the dangers of global Communism but opposed efforts, including the Marshall Plan, to shore up vulnerable European democracies." Hofstadter was impressed by a 1950 survey of contemporary American attitudes titled "The Authoritarian Personality" and attempted to uncover the hidden sources of McCarthyism.

From the Tanenhaus review:

McCarthyism, Hofstadter argued, was best understood not as a political
movement but as a cultural phenomenon. In what would become his most famous
formulation, he identified two distinct types of political protest. In dire
economic times, for instance the depressions of the 1890’s and the 1930’s, the
dispossessed banded together “to reform the inequities in our economic and
social system.” This was an example of “interest politics.” But in times of
prosperity, when social mobility increased and “the rootlessness and
heterogeneity of American life” left many behind, the losers indulged in a
different kind of protest, fixated on the search for scapegoats. This was
“status politics.”

Does any of this sound familiar? Much of this seems as relevant today as it has ever been.

Hofstadter was distressed at the defeat of Adlai Stevenson at the hands to Dwight Eisenhower, consodering it a defeat of American intellectuals and intellectualism itself. Tanenhaus describes:

The election also marked a striking transformation in Hofstadter’s
interpretations of the American past. The mordant anatomist of the materialist
tradition now set off on a new quest: to make sense of the nation’s recurrent
outbreaks of irrationality and illiberalism — the “periodical psychic sprees
that purport to be moral crusades,” the “revolt against modernity,” the
“paranoid style in American politics.”

Regarding the outbreak of moral crusades, Tanenhaus, citing Brown citing Hostadter (convoluted, I know...) writes:

In the boom years of the 1920’s, for instance, millions of small-town and
rural “native stock” Americans, alarmed by the ascendancy of the country’s
pluralistic urban culture, had embraced the organized bigotry of the Ku Klux
Klan and flocked to the punitive crusades of anti-evolutionism and Prohibition.
The pattern was being repeated in the 1950’s, also a boom period, only now it
was a curious alliance of upwardly mobile white ethnics (many of them Catholics)
and downwardly sinking displaced WASPs, who looked to secure their status as
authentic Americans by converging upon “liberals, critics and nonconformists of
various sorts, as well as Communists and suspected Communists.”

For those who would like to read the review here is a link. It might requires paid access to NYTimes site:

For those interested in the book, click on this title for the Amazon page, replete with more reviews etc:

Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography by David S. Brown

I agree with much of the content of the review. Today it is as evident as ever that all in politics in public discourse are not all they pretend to be. There are hidden agenda, mis-directions, and political play for support that is often cloaked as something other than what it is. A great deal of the review, and presumably the book, resonate with and gives credence to the hypothesis that much of the current "status politics" we observe almost daily, though purporting to be value-based, might well emanate not from religion but from a sordid collection of fears...of loss, of change, of multi-culturalism and religious pluralism.

I plan to purchase the book where it will occupy position #10 in the queue on my nightstand.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


You find heroes where you least expect them. Sometimes nobody else considers them to be heroes, or at least nobody has noticed yet. They are original heroes. Eventually they are in the right place at the right time and what's inside them moves them to action. Only then does someone notice and they become popular heroes.

People with exceptional and rare combinations of both intellect and heart are my first choices. People who show a kindness quietly when no one is looking when there is no motivation for gain or notoriety.

Those are the people who inspire me.

There are antiheroes too. Those who believe that "he who dies with the most toys wins" top that list. Some popular heroes are frauds and only gained that regard via artful and painstaking manipulation.

See? That's part of the problem. Many members of the TV generation think that HERO = CELEBRITY. Just ain't so. To quote Bush 41, "Not gawn dewit."

I'm not saying that its not good to drive a nice car.. I even had one once but I wouldn't trade all the Hummers or Ferraris in the world for a single wave or meaningful moment with a friend. OK, so I lied...I could give up a few, but not all, waves for a Ferrari. The best things in life are not the trophies that people point as signs of their own worth. That sort of self-absorption confuses greed for love and envy for respect....

For those who chase illusion I suspect that in the end, there is only regret. So my heroes are those ordinary optimistic people who care about others besides themselves, who never look back, and who in some small way touch those around them with their spirit.

Yeah, I know. It sounds kind of, well, uh sappy and soft doesn't it? But that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Life is full of contradictions. Sometimes to get it all you have to give it all up. Sometimes it takes more strength to show a weakness than it does to constantly parade your toughness.

IMHO (in my humble opinion)

I was looking through the wide variety of "heroes" in MySpace and it got me to thinking. I know, uh-oh, that gets me in trouble whenever I do that, but I just can't help myself. At times I can be more entertaining to myself than TV.

Consider the local news:
Local news in LA is just murders and movie stars, nothing substantial of social significance. It's just a mind-numbing distraction from what we do the rest of the time.

Consider the national news:
You've either got angry people yelling at one another or blaming the country's woes on some group that's not even in power, or it's milquetoast.

"Well, Bush did lie about WMD or was ignorant but those figures Kerry gave in the debate were off a few points."

Our media today, in it's quest for ratings, tries to give everyone a little of what it wants without offending anyone. Jeez, what do they do when offensive things start happening in the world, like, uh, maybe dropping a lot of bombs? Oh yeah, don't believe all that pinpoint accuracy nonesense. If you do, you need to dig a little deeper, to find the truth.

So today there is this type of political moral relativism that leads the media to say certain things, as if there were no difference between objectivity and neutrality. Washington beltway MSM (that's mainstream media) are like one giant sphincter which tightens and relaxes in unison. It's kind of like a parent of two young boys who gets so sick of the fighting that they snap and say "STOP! Yes, Jimmy was wrong for planting the claw end of the hammer deep in your skull Billy, but you were wrong too and shouldn't have called him a doodie-head." Because things through the media are made to seem so distant, as we are encouraged to "go out and shop", we have lost the ability to weigh and discern what is credible or egregious.

Sure our government is giving Halliburton contracts without competitive bidding and an offshore division that pays no taxes is dealing directly with Iran, a state that really funds terrorists (unlike Iraq), but on the other hand, John Kerry came back from Viet Nam and actually protested the war! The nerve! Gimme another latte with an extra shot.

Wake up and smell the dirty socks or bury your head in the sand like an ostrich, there is a choice to be be made here...or run from. Once the floodgate cracks open to begin allowing two contradictory things to be tolerated simultaneously without question there is no end to what can be written off without remorse. I really believe that America is suffering from some sort of collective emotional breakdown and that makes us susceptible to some politician who tells us how good we are and that he "Loves our values." Why do I feel like someone 5'4" and 200lbs who is told around closing time at the bar, "You look like you've been working out"?

Or maybe everything is just illusion and we are trapped in the matrix like so many seem to be.

Uncle Sam has now become a corporate bitch who has to bend over and grab his ankles each and every time some corporate bubba dangles a few greenbacks. Bush let the foxes in the henhouse. While taxpayers get nailed and pay taxes til it hurts (the kind of hurt that those near the poverty level feel, not the kind that might result in having to reduce stock options to some corporate bigwig making 10-100 million per year) as the price of our freedom. Giant corporations, apparently the source of all that is right with America, after benefitting in one of the most business-friendly political systems the world has ever known, pay ZILCH, and show their thanks by exporting our jobs overseas.

The big political divide that has formed should really not come as a big surprise, SHOULD IT? I mean, it is kind of hard to dismiss some of the things that are happening with the wave of a hand. I used to have a grandmother whose favorite expression was "Well, I just don't know about that." She loved Nixon til the end and maintained that "He was such a nice man and I'm sure that if he lied he had a good reason for doing so."

It's hard to believe, given some of the things that are happening, that there is any middle ground at all. With the likes of Halliburton one either has to be shocked, betrayed, and angry or simply trust those who tell you it isn't so.

Oh, to be a child again, to be tucked in at night and have food put on the table on schedule. To trust, no, to know that all that is done without our involvement. Sorry, we're adults now and should not be so trusting when it comes to choosing who leads the country.

The worst thing of all, the thing that gives so little cause to hope, is that our national media is eating out of the governments hand.

During Viet Nam, there was no shortage of imagery that surrounded the carnage. We saw it daily on the nightly news. That sort of made that war up-front and personal even though we were safe in our living rooms. My wife gets upset if I say "doodie" at the table so just imagine having the TV on and seeing the body of a child burned to a crisp. There were images of seemingly miles of body bags coming home. Finally, after getting hammered on the head with this for a few years, people started asking "Why?" That was long overdue.

We will be in a never ending war as long as our media does not do what it takes to de-sanitize the war, with respect to what we are seeing of it. Get used to it. They can't get us to stop and we can't get us to stop. When we finally realize that we created more enemies that we killed we will once again collectively decide (with our vote) that it just isn't worth it. That will neither make us cowards nor mean that we admit wrong though the loss of a certain personal, false pride will be too much for the mentally constipated to take.

Our national media has become a force for Orwellian doublespeak. The pablum they feed the typical non-thinking mind in front of a TV set is as mono-dimensional as the absurd reduction that "there are good guys and bad guys and the good guys always wear white hats." Words like "terrorist", "insurgents", and "freedom fighters" appear to have deep meaning and we all nod our heads as if we know just what these things mean. In cowboy movies this sort of childlike thinking is OK, but the real world is more complicated, fraught with bothersome shades of gray.

Want to know how to make an insurgent? Kill their loved one, intentionally or accidentally. It takes a little imagination to understand have to forget that you are you for just a moment and ask "What would I do?"

To spare my much-appreciated friends and readers any further verbosity in this heroes section, I delegate to the crush of thoughts engendered by that last paragraph with a link.

The worst thing about it is that nobody bats an eye anymore, instead we eat it up. "Bush is a godly man and he wants to protect us", I keep hearing. "Why do these people keep saying bad things about OUR PRESIDENT?", some ask, without ever asking whether the reason might be because it is true. TRUTH is a rare commodity these days.

Even our national news is entertainment, molded more by the need to sell itself than any sort of human values.

Consider our basic ignorance of the world around us:
Since 1976 weekday newspaper readership has fallen from 77.6 to 54.1 % of adults 18 or over (See Link ). This statistic parallels others that suggest that more and more people are turning to TV for their news. That offers scant perspective to those, who are unable to escape the confines of their self-imposed knowledge prison, who succumb to scapegoating of the collective “they” by others who stand to gain from tidily packaging the jumble of fears that have been engendered in the post-911 world.

I can tell you this, as a nation we are most provincial, particularly in comparison to Europeans. Statistics vary, but passport ownership is one good barometer.

Once you subtract out travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and other nearby countries and consider that many passports are good for 5 or 10 years and may be used only once it is apparent that “they” understand much more about us than we do about “them”, and that’s not much either. This isn’t exactly the most effective climate for understanding how our actions as a nation might be perceived abroad, IS IT?.

Or maybe it's just not important how the vast majority of nations regard us. After all, "We're an empire", George Bush tells us. After all, theres no single nation whose butt we could not kick. Whew! Glad someone pointed that out, so I can sleep at night.

Bill Clinton said that he was preparing our nation for the day when we are no longer the worlds single dominant superpower. Sounds like a prudent savings plan to me rather than a cowardly admission. Ever seen a big dog play with a small dog? The larger one lays down and makes itself smaller so as not to scare the little dog, and pulls all its punches. Now maybe the dawg theory of international relations is not sound thoery but you probably catch my drift. We have a real choice of electing someone who will be conciliatory or someone who is like a mongrel dog -- snapping, snarling, and threatening at any little dog that does not do our bidding. When you are big dog you can afford to be a little magnanimous.

So what's the point?
Ah, yes. The point. There always is one, or at least there should be.

Is a hero someone we envy or someone we respect?

Christina Aguilera or Mother Theresa?

I must admit that Christina's hot, juicy little ass trumps Mother Theresa's leathery old tookus, any day of the week.

The Nobel for Christina, I say.

So, is it any small wonder that:

  • We elect a former cheerleader, a D+/C- student for president over a smart guy?

  • We are totally clueless as to how the rest of the world views us?

  • We just don't give a shit wheher the rest of the world respects us as long as they envy or fear us?

  • Most people's decision-making process is just a minor gene-sequence short of an amoeba's?

  • We are like a bus full of drunken idiots going full steam, the wrong way, down a one-way street into a big 16-wheeler?

Sorry, you probably are thinking, ooooo, he's no fun. I'm having a bad case of day-after-election-day-blues.

Anyway, back on track..the POINT...

Maybe some little wormy scientific nerd, a vertiable mental muscleman, would make a better hero for all of us than Arnold Schwarzenegger. I know, Terminator I really did have a profound influence on the lives of so many, even though III sucked.

Wow, what a unique concept...maybe the guy that invents somethng which overnight eliminates our dependence on foreign oil, if oil company hit-men don't assassinate him first, is the real hero.

That's all. That's where I was heading with all that. Many peoples heroes are who they'd want to screw or who emulating would get them laid or possibly envied, not those who would affect our lives in any appreciable or lasting way. Maybe that's too harsh so maybe it's just human nature to call someone merely recognized by all as a hero. Would that make Paris Hilton a hero?

Christina really does have a hot little ass though, doesn't she?

Upon reflection, I'm compelled to sing praise to those rare unique individuals in history, veritable Bodhisatvas, who saw with clarity the flawed humanity of us all and held up a mirror that relected back the monsters within -- Jesus and MLK to name a couple. But jeez, look what they got for their trouble. That speaks tons, doesn't it? Doesn't Jesus have any cool relatives left who'd be willing to have a little talk with Bush?


I was between jobs once and took a look at MySpace. I actually got a space on MySpace, MyMySpace.

So, I started looking for some cool heads in some group "Peace" somethingorother and everybody that seemed cool was young. That's not to say I don't consider add requests for those in 40-50 range. What ever happened?

Was it Churchill? or Lord Chamberlain?...someone English anyway, that said "if you are under 40 and not a liberal you have no heart and if you are over 40 and not a conservative you have no brain?" Cool is ageless and both Einstein and Ghandi were 15 once.

Back before piercings we thought long hair was unique. A close friend had the first earring on a male (at least that most in that university had seen) ever back in '73. Now that was rad, or so we thought. Shocking, no? Gotta keep doing something new in order to to keep from becoming a cheap knockoff or coarse, unoriginal, copycat. Kids of tomorrow are going to assert their individuality and punish their parents with something like...maybe, no tattoos.

Bill Maher's acute observations come to mind. He observed that tattooing yourself with a letter from one of the Chinese alphabet does not make you spiritual or even deep. Picking your nose is an intensely personal experience but that doesn't make you interesting.

Hawaiian shirts have become the Golfer's Izods of today. I'm giving all mine to GoodWill. Death to Tommy Bahama!

But I was just networking and not scamming so what they hey, maybe they'll be "friends" anyway. MySpace "friends" is sort of a misnomer. Maybe networkee, or virtu-buddy, or make-believe-playmate. In some cases it is merely a listee, a notch in my E-Bedpost, or seldomly-accessed-trophy-on- the-shelf. Is it possible to really have 100's of friends? There are always quality vs. quantity issues for me.

So what's this thing about body parts? Boob shots and booty shots? Not enough context to show how it all fits together and not enough heartfelt verbiage to give an inkling of what's inside or whether there is even a dirty mind, which can be very healthy. There is beauty in the way it all connects, but a nipple shot? That approaches the same sort of captivating allure had by the dissection segment of my human physiology class...blaaahh

Some of the ladies are trolling for men. Some of that man-bait gets a few keepers but it can also get...well, never each their own. Not tryin' to moralize. Just a non-judgemental observation. I must admit I like some of the half-face images. They sort of draw you in.

I proposed a game which had the potential for being quite quite erotic if approached with the right frame of mind. I went first:

  • Get out your digital camera

  • Take a picture of some part of your body

  • load it into photohop or some other graphics software

  • crop a bit of flesh, say 1/4" x 1/4" (if you really want to push the envelope and fancy yourself a diva, sex god/goddess, or sexual Olympian do 1" x 1")

  • put it on your space

  • free prize to whoever guesses the approximate body location it came from

Here's mine (blown up a little):

More about me...yawn...snore

I 'm SouthernBoy-cum-CitySlicker. By thirds of my life, living in Central Florida, Atlanta, and currently Southern California. People are mostly the same everywhere, Y'all dudes should know dat, huh?

Circumstances surrounding my birth had it that I was exposed to Southern Black Gospel Music for hours per day from age 0-2 years (No, my parents were not poor white sharecroppers. Dad was a liberal southern lawyer a la Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird). Suppose that affected me, sort of like the imprinting by which a baby chick thinks the first thing it sees after hatching is the momma hen. Even today, I hear that Gospel Music and automatically start twitching uncontrollably all over and raising my hands to the sky in a cross between calesthenics and the hokey-pokey, like some devil-possessed Pentacostal....and make no apologies for it. My tastes have since become vastly more eclectic, but I still love MoTown sound.

People in certain places only THINK they are different. After all, you have to have someone to be better than, or who are you, right? Not! Believe it or not, the average person in LA is quite provincial and very self-assured in their belief that everything was invented here. I just love to inform my friends that something new and trendy existed years previous on the Right Coast....that sort of bursts some bubble. The tougest one to swallow is that 6-time world surfing champ, Kelly Slater, is a Floridian...don't forget that lil' titdbit of trivia. A little mean, but I'm gentle with it.

I realized I'd lived in big cities too long when I went back to a HS reunion and found my former friends in a tightly closed circle, viewing me with circumspection of the sort we've all seen when that dusty stranger comes in from the prairie to some little one-horse, western town. Everyone's peeping through shutters until one brave soul approaches the n'er do well drifter saying "Howdy stranger, what business ya got here in Tombstone?" I managed to escape the citizen's commitee of Southern Baptists armed with an ample supply of rope, pitchforks and other implements of destruction.

It is that from which I came...raised in the Methodist Church and sang in the choir...all good things to which both moral and musical senses owe but I am no longer active. Maybe if I'd had kids I would return for their benefit. The church group did not bear the slightest resemblance to anything fundamentalist at which I would surely have chafed more and diverged from sooner. That experience left me with a curiosity and perhaps disdain for religious types whose faith is not enough. Some need to hear what they believe proclaimed as absolute truth and echoed in a well-understood form by all around them. Many are profoundly disturbed when these outward signs are not constantly present.

Q: You know why Baptists won't have sex standing up?
A: Someone might think they're dancing

None of this is to say that I am an iconoclast. I am respectful of all beliefs and religions. It is just that our beliefs erect barriers and that true understanding of another comes when you know something of the experiences and influences that led to the beliefs. Usually our beliefs are exactly what prevent us from gaining the knowledge that leads to understanding.

Having beliefs that do not resonate with core values can require reconciliation of biblical proportions as new facts are uncovered. If this gets to be too much either the mind refuses to reconcile further facts or ostensibly and deceptively rational information is accepted without question. Once one is in too deep rigidity is inevitable. There is no shortage of social, political and religious safe havens from all the confusion.

The American People

We are the American people
Loving Jesus, church with steeple
Voluptuous cushion of assurance
Unquestioning, righteous, our concurrence

The nations fear is so infectious
Redemptive bloodlust might protect us
They cannot change so what's in store
If not a never-ending war?

What can we do, who can we blame?
We know inside they're all the same
This national lynch mob cannot stop
Glorious presidential photo-op

We're strong and nearly unopposed
And they'll be buried, decomposed
There is no risk, no roll of dice
We do it without sacrifice

Labels define us to a "T"
Yellow ribbons on our SUV
I'm for the cause one hundred percent
Regretful though not penitent

It's so simple, black and white
Reason fails so we must fight
While we won't give for we are strong
Unlike us they'll break before long

Islamic, balsamic its all the same
Oily, murderous, money game
Forced into it, it's not our fault
Their just rewards, deadly assault

We can't be wrong, I'll be explicit
It's all their fault, we're not complicit
They're ignorant of our God-like mission
As we beat them all into submission

Admit to nothing, straddle no fence
Has naught to do with competence
If we can't get the ones who dunnit
Get some others, that's how we'll run it

Be resolute and do not bend
Since they will thank us in the end
For mother, father, sister, son
Dead and buried, freedom won

World opinion matters not
We need no friends to join our plot
When we need help they'll have forgotten
The spoils however misbegotten

And please accept our stated reasons
For more death with each passing season
We'll help them learn Lord, if you're willing
See it our way or see blood-spilling

Oh Lord, sweet Jesus, God of war
Help us smite them we implore
Rain oil down on us from on high
Until our wells have all run dry

Our body counts, so good, so low
Our working class, the ones to go
Their hope is our benign neglect
No need to think, care, or reflect

Techno-warfare, missiles in space
Unleashed without even a face
To know in moment of last breath
A reason for the end, one's death

We're good at war, as well you know
Your kids don't even need to go
Forget it starting based on lies
We stay by keeping news sanitized

Will hope arise, will it fight back
Through mindless stupor, Mac Attack?
Find one good man, a fearless leader
Sans riches, ego, vengeance meted

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Who's strong enough to turn a cheek
Holding mighty no higher than meek
Relentless in the quest for peace
No cronies, debts, or palms to grease

Copyright © 2006 by Pat Pattillo. All Rights Reserved.