Sunday, October 15, 2006

somewhere, beyond the blog

Ends of Eras?
CBGB and Tower Records: out of here.

North Korea
So, a few years back, President Bush in his wisdom named Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the “axis of evil,” and later Cuba, Libya, and Syria were added to the mix. They were all devising weapons of mass destruction, believe it or not. Yes! That's right!

Earlier this month, North Korea said it would stop working on a nuclear weapon if the United States would participate in talks, a proposal we have long refused.

In a desperate bid for attention, like a toddler acting out, I suppose, North Korea finally blew something up, mightily alarming the rest of the world – except for the skeptics, of course.

Newsday reported that North Korea detonated “what it said was a nuclear device.” Further (this report was printed on Friday), “after five days of intense work, analysts still cannot say for sure whether the test was a success or a dud—and there is a remote possibility the blast was not nuclear.”

Sciencenow posted on its site: “But scientists poring over seismic signals from the blast are pondering why the detonation appears to have been so small. Some wonder whether the test was a failure--or even an elaborate hoax.”

Associated Press: “Russia was the only country to say it had ‘no doubts’ over the North Korean claim, but the U.S. and other experts said the explosion was smaller than expected and they had yet to confirm it was nuclear.”

AP also had this, earlier in the week: “Was North Korea's nuclear device a dud, as some Western experts suspect?”

LA TIMES: “One intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. intelligence agencies detected an explosive event in North Korea with a force of less than a kiloton. Historically, the types of devices used in initial nuclear tests have yielded several kilotons of force.”

I don’t know what to make of all this. The implication seems to be that this MIGHT be some kind of massive disinformation campaign by North Korea to strike fear into the heart of the world. If so, it worked just fine. All North Korea had to do, really, was gather a bunch of North Koreans in one area, and have them jump up and down simultaneously, while yelling “Boom!” That would create the seismic activity necessary, and save them a fortune on technology.

It’s just like the terrorist plot to mix shampoo, mouthwash, and coffee to blow up airplanes. Was there really a plot? Terrorists didn’t really need one, did they? All they had to do was SAY they had one, and the next thing you know, airport stores, boarding gate coffee joints, and concourse cafes are pushed out of business. Passengers are left thirsty, greasy-haired, and plagued by halitosis.

What’s next from the pesky axes of evil?

--spread a rumor that eyeglasses can be specially ground to form powerful lasers that can drill a hole in the side of a plane and force it to crash.

--special software can turn laptops into powerful explosives.

--pyrotechnic fuses can be woven into clothing.

--C4 can be disguised as baby formula.

Daily Mail
“A Cabinet Minister has joined the growing furore over British Airways banning a Christian employee from wearing a cross around her neck by branding the ban 'loopy'.”

Mouse Orgy!
Reuters: “The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday said it took ‘appropriate action’ against employees at its Paris theme park who were caught simulating sex while dressed as Disney characters in a digital video that has received wide attention on the Internet.”

I have seen this video! Its features:

--Goofy humps Minnie

--Snowman humps Minnie.

--Goofy humps Minnie again, until an assistant in a blazer parts them.

--Mickey humps Snowman.

--Goofy humps Chipmunk.

This sounds more degenerate than it was. It was more like dirty-dancing than humping. Remember the Bump? Like that. Just young people in stupid costumes mucking about. And remember: they’re French!

Last night
I did a reading for the final night of Litquake, a San Francisco annual event that has become very popular. The venue, a small gallery in the Mission, was packed. I shared the venue with R.U. Sirius (from Mondo 2000, remember?), reading his invented dialogue between Timothy Leary and William Burroughs; Pam Tent (reading from her memoir of her years with SF underground legend, The Cockettes); Chronicle columnist Mark Morford (funnier live than in print, I thought); talking about The Rapture and hate mail; monologist extraordinaire, Josh Kornbluth, recalling his college days injecting mice with cancer; and crusty editor/publisher Warren Hinckle, who arrived late with a very sweet and very smelly basset hound. He told stories about Hunter Thompson. He was entertaining enough, but you know--? Enough about Hunter S. Thompson.

Our little group reading was titled “Emperor Norton Lives: Only in S.F. Authors.” This was mildly irritating. One doesn’t want to think of oneself as a delusional person (Emperor Norton ws not an emperor, but though he was). Worse, one doesn’t want to think of oneself as a delusional person, and being promoted to the public as a delusional person in order to get people to come see you.

But hey, I say, shrugging, the joint was packed. I killed. I was reading from my new show in progress, SLOUCHING TOWARDS DISNEYLAND, a half-baked history of the world, focussing mainly on (it’s a theme!) delusional persons, drunken louts, and odd events. The War of Jenkin’s Ear, for example.

My friend Bill…
…and I were talking, and he had an interesting insight into these modern times. People LOVE to multi-task. If we’re on the cell phone while driving, say, we feel like we’re on the cutting edge of accomplishment.

But if you are on the receiving end of multi-tasking you are angered and/or annoyed. That is, you feel insulted that while talking to you, multi-taskers are not giving you their full attention.

There may an algorithm contained in this that might explain all human behavior. I'll get back to you. Gotta take this....

Thanks to James Wolcott…
…I got this from Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, THE ENEMY AT HOME:

"Although I do not believe that Abu Ghraib reflects America's predatory intentions toward the Muslim world, I can see why Muslims would see it this way. In one crucial respect, however, the Muslim critics of Abu Ghraib were wrong. Contrary to their assertions, Abu Ghraib did not reflect the shared values of America, it reflected the sexual immodesty of liberal America. Lynndie England and Charles Graner were two wretched individuals from red America who were trying to act out the fantasies of Blue America... This was bohemianism, West Virginia-style."

This may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. It’s like blaming Timothy Leary circa 1967 for a keg party rape circa 2003.

Which led me to Chris Shay’s comments last week:

During a debate last Wednesday, he said, re Abu Ghraib: “It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from (Maryland) who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked. And they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn't torture.''

It was the sexual immodesty of liberal America. Ipso fucking facto.

Stop the presses!
Washington Post: “Democratic operatives do not publicly say that they went out of their way this year to recruit candidates with a high hotness quotient. Privately, however, they acknowledge that, as they focused on finding the most dynamic politicians to challenge vulnerable Republicans, it did not escape their notice that some of the most attractive prospects were indeed often quite attractive.”

Demonstrating once again, I suppose, the sexual immodesty of liberal America.

But the real question is, yes, Democrats are way cuter than Republicans, but which candidate is going to perform oral sex upon my voting person? That, to me, is the dealbreaker. When it comes to pulling the lever, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Finally, from the pale wife:
She was reading something or other, as is her wont, when she told me where the phrase “beyond the pale” comes from. World Wide Words gives the whole story:

“That word pale has nothing to do with the adjective for something light in colour except that both come from Latin roots. The one referring to colour is from the Latin verb pallere, to be pale, whilst our one is from palus, a stake.

“A pale is an old name for a pointed stake driven into the ground to form part of a fence and—by obvious extension—to a barrier made of such stakes, a fence (our modern word paling is from the same source, as are pole and impale). This meaning has been around in English since the fourteenth century. By 1400 it had taken on various figurative senses, such as a defence, a safeguard, a barrier, an enclosure, or a limit beyond which it was not permissible to go.

“In particular, it was used to describe various defended enclosures of territory inside other countries. For example, the English pale in France in the fourteenth century was the territory of Calais, the last English possession in that country. … Another famous one is the Pale in Ireland, that part of the country over which England had direct jurisdiction….”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howdy Merle,

Just a bit of nerdishness to impress your friends:

North Korea apparently notified China to expect a 4 kiloton explosion. That's a small nuke in any event, and is somewhat harder to do than a larger bomb, because you're playing around the edges of criticality. It's also prone to what is called "pre-detonation" which is what happens when you get a neutron setting off the chain reaction (remember all those mousetraps with ping pong balls on Disney?), before the thing is fully "assembled" (actually they compress a bomb core with explosives).

A less than expected yield is most likely to be an indication of a real research program, where they Koreans are trying to generate some technology (possibly to sell). It's also what you'd be doing if you had a limited supply of plutonium and wanted to get as many bombs from it as possible.

In short, the indications are that this test indicates bad news, not good, and those who are belittling it are as clueless as usual.

I'm betting that their next test will be a lot larger, and use a technique called "fusion boosting."

As for the "desperate bid for attention," I lean more toward the view that the U.S. likes to push small countries around--unless they have nuclear weapons. Dictators don't have much of a retirement plan, so maybe Kim is just trying to keep his job.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Merle Kessler said...

So rather than a demonstration of power, it was more of an in-store display of wares for prospective buyers.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I might not go so far as to say it was a sales display, but Pakistan did have to close down its "Nuke Bazaar" a while back and that means there's a lot of "pent up demand."

I'm thinking it was more like a "beta version," though.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Dinesh D’Souza wrote)
"Lynndie England and Charles Graner were two wretched individuals from red America who were trying to act out the fantasies of Blue America..."

This statement has a truth value, doesn't it? Sometimes I think people use sentences without imagining them to possess that quality. If it *does*, then I'm betting it's "FALSE".


3:34 PM  

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