Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fire This Blog

My million dollar idea.
Al Pacino as Phil Spector. I thought of it first! Somebody send me money. I accept PayPal.

Has anybody besides me…
…noticed a resemblance between Benjamin Netanyahu and Zeppo Marx? (He was the unfunny Marx brother.)

Moses Ma overheating re Twitter, in PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
“To me, the twitterverse is like a river of human awareness, composed of billions of tiny 140 character molecules -- each a snapshot of life or a thought or a reflection. A river of pure information that equals energy, according to the laws of quantum thermodynamics and stochastic processes. A river of life flowing by us as we meditate at its bank like some Siddhartha wannabe, in tattered jeans and Oakley sunglasses instead of orchid robes and begging bowl. And now, after long last, we see.”

Or now, after long last, we don’t see. From Good Morning Silicon Valley: underheating re Twitter, and Iran
“…[W]hile Twitter's technology makes it particularly difficult to stifle, the fact that it has remained viable also makes it fertile ground for surveillance and disinformation efforts. It's assumed that the government is monitoring the major streams and hashtagged aggregations, so first-hand reporting and mobilization information needs to be tweeted circumspectly there or fractured off into less visible channels. Security personnel are reportedly setting up Twitter accounts and posing as protesters to mislead or entrap. Twitter users outside Iran were urged to complicate government efforts to identify local dissidents by changing their time-zone and location settings to make it appear as if they were in Tehran, which may or may not hobble the authorities but certainly makes it harder for everyone else to distinguish the real front-line sources. Throw in the rumors and conspiracy theories and general noise of various third parties and you're looking at landscape where identity, location, credibility, motivation and agenda are all cast into doubt. Accurate and valuable information will continue to trickle out of Iran through Twitter, but it may take the skills of a CIA analyst to find it in the fog.”

Digital television!
Is here! Digital television is now! Thank you Congress for ushering couch spuds everywhere into a sharply defined wonderland of multi-channel crapola. LAW AND ORDER has never looked better!

In case you were wondering….
A stochastic process is, roughly, a random process. Its outcome depends upon unpredictable variables. Stochastic processes include war, meteorology, capitalism, and, after long last, Twitter.

All a twitter!
At least the blogosphere is, around David Letterman who, earlier in June, made some remarks about Sarah Palin and family that were deemed offensive. In his Top Ten List he deemed Sarah Palin’s clothing style “slutty flight attendant,” and elsewhere on his show made some lame joke about Palin’s daughter getting knocked up by Alex Rodriguez. (I would have described Sarah Palin's attire as more "flirty event planner" myself.)

So now we have It is run by conservative erstwhile talk show host John Ziegler who, as it happens, is working on a documentary about Sarah Palin. On that site, besides pleas to sign a petition, you will read, “62 Year Old Letterman Violates Common Decency With Sexist Insults of 14 Year Old Girl.” Well, he wasn’t insulting the 14 year old daughter, he was insulting the other one, you know, the one who got knocked up? But never mind… What I want to know is, what is common decency, exactly?

Rush Limbaugh weighed in: “The bottom line here is the joke's inappropriate whether the age of the woman is 14, 18, or 40.” I seem to recall that Rush Limbaugh once made a crack about Chelsea Clinton, when she was 13, calling her the White House dog. I got your common decency right here.

In the meantime….
The leaders of Iran appear to have bungled a coup that was probably unnecessary in the first place. Not entirely sure though. Gotta check Twitter.

Finally, in the interests of common decency, this news, sent me by the Wee Wife: Parents Throw Graduation for Ohio High School Students Caught in Cheating Scandal. "The Ceremony They Deserved." (By Meredith Heagney, from the Columbus Dispatch)

All along Main Street, people stopped what they were doing to cheer for the Centerburg High School Class of 2009.

A gas-station worker stepped outside and whooped. A woman dropped a bag of hot dog buns in her front yard and applauded. A few people had made cardboard signs of support: "Way to go class of '09."

Ninety-three graduates in crimson robes and mortarboards filed past and smiled for pictures. They were on their way to Centerburg Community Memorial Park, where hundreds gathered yesterday in folding chairs and on picnic tables for a makeshift graduation ceremony.

On Thursday, the Centerburg school board canceled the traditional ceremony planned for yesterday, citing a cheating scandal that started with a student hacking into the school's computer system and stealing tests. About half the seniors cheated or knew of the cheating and didn't report it, district officials said.

All the students' diplomas except the hacker's were released to their parents, who decided to give their kids what the Knox County district wouldn't.

The sunny ceremony wasn't the formal affair that would've taken place at the high school, but instead a slightly rowdy yet heartfelt imitation of a typical commencement, complete with a recorded version of Pomp and Circumstance.

"I didn't think we were going to have anything," said Leeza Smith, 18, whose eyes were red from crying. "The parents, they really made our day."

Several seniors marveled at the turnout as they took their seats on metal folding chairs atop a concrete platform. Before them, a small wooden stage held silver balloons and a bucket of red roses.

A few feet from them, two TV cameras filmed the event, crowded by little kids in jean shorts who wanted a closer look.

No administrators or staff members took part in the ceremony. Several times throughout, the students were applauded for overcoming the adversity of having had their ceremony canceled.
One by one, the graduates were called by name to the front of the stage to receive a rose. They weaved through the crowd to find their parents, who handed them their diplomas.

Carol Andrews couldn't stop squeezing daughter Caitlin. As a mom, she still wished her daughter had had a traditional, more formal, graduation, she said.

But, she added: "I think this is even more memorable. I'm just very proud of the community and the way they came together to give these kids the ceremony they deserved."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Last night I had the strangest blog....

A dream I had the other night.
Dick Cheney was at a beach party, in bathing suit and sweat shirt, hair wet, sitting casually on the ground, legs beneath him leaning on one hand, gesturing with the other. He was animated, smiling, charming. There was a gaggle of young people listening to him attentively.

I stood on the sidelines, having recognized him, and curious as to what he was saying.

Then he addressed himself to me: “What do you think, Merle, I know that you have written about this in the past.”

I was both flattered and frightened by this, that he was familiar with my work.

I drew into the circle, and started engaging him in a battle of wits. This being a dream, however, the form of wit was there, but the content was not. We were saying things to each other like, “Oh yeah, YOU do it.” “No YOU, it was your idea.” “Get out of here.” “YOU get out of here,” etc.

Suddenly, we wound up being friends. I sat next to him. He laid his damp head on my shoulder, and took a little nap.

John and Kate Plus Eight
This show is on my ever-growing list of things I do not give two whats about, but it’s been attracting a lot of attention, especially in Christian circles. I gather that the couple, who have sextuplets and a set of twins, have professed to be Christians, but are now in danger of separating. This has put many fans in a tizzy. A marriage counsellor, writing on the Christian site, her.meneutics, wrote: “Let’s be honest: Women, in Kate’s situation, how many of us would have chosen a submissive spirit as our primary mode of relating to our husband? Men, in Jon’s shoes, would you be waking up daily wondering how you can love your wife as much as you love your own flesh? Probably not.” I have discussed this briefly, with the Child Bride. I said, “I love you as much as my own flesh.” She said, “That’s not saying much. You’re almost sixty years old.” I said, “Will you submit, woman?” She said, “Submit this,” and showed me a finger.

And I have watched this show, briefly, with My Dreaded Other. She sort of likes this sort of thing. My feeling about this sort of thing is: if I’m going to watch a show about assholes, some of them better have loaded weapons, and know how to use them. In the snippet I watched, in which John and Kate were interviewed separately, whiny unpleasant John and whiny unpleasant Kate both blamed their problems (whatever the hell they are) on the intrusive media. This, despite the fact that they have their own television show, in which they invite the world to watch them in their largely-ignored (except by the camera) gaggle of whelps. If you don’t want the world to watch you, don’t have eight children, unless you’re from Utah. That’s the message I’m getting.

My favorite scold, Brent Bozell III, on the show
“The back story was charming. Kate had fertility treatments, but refused to ‘selectively reduce’ (yet another euphemism for abortion) any of six babies for the sake of convenience. Jon's employer, the lout, laid him off because he didn't want the insurance burden. Jon and Kate instantly were very sympathetic figures facing a very real, human challenge — and serious hardship — with pluck and devotion. The show caught on enough to be "promoted" to TLC. That led to spinoff books and speeches, where the Gosselins were more candid about their Christian faith than they were on TV.”

By the way, according to the Wee Wife, Jon was allegedly not laid off because of the insurance burden. He was laid off, allegedly, because he didn’t do any work, but spent all his time trolling the Web for freebies. Back to Brent!

“But within two years, as the show became TLC's top attraction, the temptations of fame and materialism began seeping in. Companies from Whirlpool to The Gap were placing their products on the show, so much so that Nielsen ranked this series in the top 10 product-placing shows on cable TV. Both parents got their teeth whitened, and Jon got a free hair transplant. Soon they were showing up on OPRAH and GOOD MORNING AMERICA.”

And this is where we came in…

Speaking of euphemisms for abortion….
“Abortion doctor” George Tiller was shot to death in Kansas City on Sunday. The left, in its infinite wisdom, blames Bill O’Reilly. Call me conservative, but I blame the shooter.

I loved the whole opening sequence of Conan O’Brian dashing across America to get to Los Angeles for the premiere of the TONIGHT SHOW (with Conan O’Brian). He looked great in that dark suit, his long legs pumping, like a determined young man on a mission. It was poetic. Artistic. And I loved that he had to stop for a while in Utah to look at Victorian dolls.

Neo-Morning in America
I’ve been trying, really I have, to feel that New Morning in America zest and tang. I’m not even sure what we’re calling this non-evident but hoped-for paradigm shift. I’ve heard New Foundation, Hope You Can Believe In (as opposed to what? Hope You Can Doubt?). As near as I can see, we have certainly rolled up our sleeves and are in the process of dumping several years’ worth of the biggest cultural load I have seen in my lifetime. But, as part of that same process, we seem to be acquiring a different load.

President Obama has vowed to bring “transparency” to his administration. This is one of those words that irritate me. So-called transparency rarely even achieves translucence; more often it just achieves a different kind of murk.

Reverse racism.
What the hell does this even MEAN?

Another dream
My tiny wife and I were in a motor court, somewhere in the midwest. Our cabin was stuffed with things, mostly useless, and I was trying to organize it all for our trip back home. My wife wasn’t there. She was off doing a series of chores.

A woman and two children came to the door, with boxes of food and plastic army men, intended for us, as a kind of care package, I guess. I was looking through the boxes, examining the army men, ignoring the food, as the woman talked.

My wife had made these little stick tripods in the courtyard, designed to help plants climb. The woman said her grandmother used to make tripods like that. She called them “sugar towers.”

She then asked me if the Clintons were still out with Rita. (I don’t know who Rita was; apparently some kind of wheel in the area; I don’t know why we were with the Clintons; until the woman had brought it up it was news to me.) I told her the Clintons were big in Iowa.

Then I started packing the van with stuff. The van had a habit of starting and going by itself. So I kept having to hop into the front seat, to turn off the van before it ran into something.

Sugar Towers
Over the weekend, the Propagatrix and I put up some sticks bound with twine for plants to grow on. From now on, these structures will be officially known as “Sugar Towers.” And thus our dreams infect reality. Thank you, Philip K. Dick! Thanks for nothing!

One of my favorite obsessions…
NYT: “Profiled in the documentary TRANSCENDENT MAN, which had its premier last month at the TriBeCa Film Festival, and with his own Singularity movie due later this year, Dr. Kurzweil has become a one-man marketing machine for the concept of post-humanism. He is the co-founder of Singularity University, a school supported by Google that will open in June with a grand goal — to ‘assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.’”

The Singularity, for those who don’t know, is the moment when machines surpass humans, and we are either subsumed and/or conquered (THE MATRIX, TERMINATOR), or become as one with the machine: our consciousnesses transferred into sturdy ABS plastic containers, we become immortal. It’s the geek Rapture. It’s one of those stupid ideas with which very intelligent people become enamored, possibly because they would prefer to live in their own heads, and would rather lose their itchy balls altogether, than face the complication of scratching them. Oh, and they don’t want to die.

My personal feeling? Everything’s going to crash, and we’ll be forced to use our useless iPods to hack furrows in cracked dirt, just to plant the turnips essential for our continued survival. Do cyborgs eat turnips? Wait a minute… do androids dream of electric sheep? Damn you, Philip K. Dick!