Blog Noir.An interplay of cultural references, snark, the occasional smutty joke, Dadaism, Mamaism, and a genuine outrage at the horrors of The Situation.
--to paraphrase Freddy el Desfibradddoro
Saturday, June 30, 2007
“Power of the Purse”
Friends: Today I find myself reacting to a sting that could not smart more had it been delivered by a bee. And in some sense it was, since “B” is also the first letter of the surname of the spokeswoman of the Lady’s Auxiliary who delivered it. Beyond this, my inborn sense of tact requires that I not identify her further. (Suffice it to say that I earnestly pray that Mr. Carrington Bertram does not have an aversion to emaciated harpies, lest his matrimonial choice turn out to be have been a calamity of ill-consideration.)
Last Monday, this skeletal “bee” came to the Rectory for tea, and proceeded to inform me that most recent meeting of the Auxiliary had two agenda items: number one, Mrs. Bertram’s own effort to counter the sinister influence of the Hip-Hop music on the Youth, and, number two, complaints about last week’s sermon. Offering her a crumpet I knew she would never accept, I banteringly enquired if any complaints about the sermon had been forthcoming. To my shock and horror, there was barely an intake of breath before she embarked on a litany that began with the length of the sermon, and ended with an untoward focus on “idolatry’ and an unhealthy pre-occupation with one Miss Gwendolyn Patel. Miss Patel, buzzed the bee, apropos of nothing, was young enough to be my granddaughter!
In the intervening days since this outrage, I have nevertheless striven to turn the other cheek. I find that taking long walks is a good way to clear the mind of homicidal impulses, and so have been wandering through areas of town into which I had heretofore never ventured. On Wednesday, I was on the “wrong” side of the tracks, and heard a strain of music wafting through a broken window. As I listened, I surmised that this was some of the “Hip-Hop” music that the Lady’s Aux was so exercised about. I wrote down the lyrics, and as I have since pondered them, I find not only are they not objectionable, but they are, in their small way, profound! It turns out the “wrong” side of the tracks was the “right” side on that day! I am speaking figuratively, of course.
Today’s reading is from the lyric I so fortuitously overheard. The song’s title appears to be “First I look at the purse,” and I would like to introduce it to you. The song begins:
Some folks look at the eyes/ Some folks look at the nose/ Some folks look at the size/ Some folks look at the clothes/ I don’t care if her eyes are red/ I don’t care if her nose is long/ I don’t care if she’s underfed/ I don’t care if her clothes are worn/
Today’s youth is continually barraged with the message that superficial measures are the most important. Imagine if everyone was judged solely on qualities such as spindly frames, loose clothes, and gaunt noses? You wouldn’t like that, would you? Certainly for some of our flock, even prominent members of the Lady’s Aux, this would be a case of “making three strikes and so being out” as our friends who toss around the baseball love to opine. And yet the lyric tells us that we cannot judge underfed people so harshly, for that is a superficial measure, and does not hold a candle to more important considerations.
Yet how do we measure critical spiritual attainments? It is easy for a man of the cloth, because you may judge him by the brilliance of his sermons. In the case of people who may or may not be sitting right next to Mr. Carrington Bertram in the front pew, Romans 14:3 enjoins us to exercise care: “Let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth not.” We must not assess a book by its cover, even if the cover shrouds it like an opera dress on a weather-beaten scarecrow. And this is where the Hip-hop music once again guides us:
First I look at the purse!
We do not have to be Calvinists to understand that the surest way to know if someone is averse to hard work is if they are carrying a worn, mangy purse! Why else are you wearing your Sunday Best, if not to assure the Lord that you have been working hard enough to afford a new fashion ensemble? And the Lord appreciates that about you, or else why would we so often see people who don’t dress in good clothes end up in the poorhouse? The next time you pass a horde of vagrants, check to see if they know to accessorize properly. And ask yourself if this could be a chance correlation, or if it must be evidence of a Grand Design?
A woman can be as fat as can be/ With kisses sweet as honey/ But that don’t mean a thing to me/ If she ain’t got no money
Kissing a woman that is too fat, we are told, is almost as bad as kissing a woman that is too thin. Here, the Hip-hop bards are surely referring to the problem of eating disorders that afflicts so many of the more privileged youngsters in our community. Indeed, this problem was foreseen in the Good Book, since Proverbs 25:16 warns us: “If you find honey, eat just enough -- too much of it, and you will vomit.” Throwing up the honey would be wrong! The Psalm describes the proper Christian way to go about this: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean,” (51:7). I would urge some of the older ladies in the Congregation to please make a note of it.
It is far better to accumulate deposits in the bank than in the thighs, and indeed, we need look no further than the comely images of Mary over centuries of portraiture to realize that her fine raiment and well-toned physique were surely signs of her virtue. It would be inappropriate to call Mary, the mother of our Lord, either freshazimiz or phatilicious, but she clearly is all that. Indeed, who among the male members of the congregation has not thought to himself: “Oh, to have been in the Holy Ghost’s shoes, if the Holy Ghost had shoes,” eh?
The message here – perchance I should call it the “money” message – is that there are members of the community, some who tend to harangue and vilify the Youth, who may actually have something to learn from the Youth (perhaps we might think of the Youth as Africanized honeybees who may actually teach the older European honeybees a thing or two). They must learn, because while “B” may begin the word “battleaxe,” it also begins the words “be” “beaten” “by” and “Beelzebub.” And that is the path some of you are on, or my name is not Reverend Cavendish!
Witnesses in Hefei, the capital of the district, said that a strange shiny object swept across the sky, followed by an extremely loud bang. It was reported that an earthshaking tremble was felt as far as 150 miles from Hefei.
One of the witnesses, a certified respiratory technician named Chen, said that after hearing loud thunder, he looked out the window as a shining disc with a fiery tail passed overhead. He saw something fall from the mysterious aircraft to the ground below.
Hui Li, astronomy professor at Anhui University, said that the unidentified flying object appeared to be the orbiting Office of the Vice President, entering the earth's atmosphere.
The district police department confirmed receiving more than 1,700 reports on the case, and sent officers to search for the fallen article. Department spokesman Wen Zhao said that they have since recovered an unmarked box containing hundreds of White House subpoenas from the United States House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
From Beyond the "Your Mother Will Faint, Your Father Will Fall in a Bucket of Paint" Argument
"You should never say 'ain't'!"
"It's not a real word."
"Sure it is. It's widely used and understood. It's even in the dictionary."
"It's not proper English."
"Is the purpose of language to aid in communication, or must it also be another control mechanism in our prison culture?"
"It's not proper English; and people think you're dumb when you say it."
"Do you really think use of 'proper' English is an accurate criterion for judging a person's intelligence? It may be a clue or an indicator; but one has to take it in context. Just because someone says 'ain't,' or inventifies their own words doesn't mean they're dumb. They may be doing so for effect, or humor, or to relate to their intended audience. Or perhaps that's just the way they learned how to talk and don't feel the need for abject rule-following in communicating effectively."
QUESTION: Are all of the rules of language sacrosanct, or have we arbitrarily overimportantificated some of them?
BONUS QUESTION: Is George Bush stupid, or a brilliant linguist using language to his advantage to win over those attracted to his 'regular guy' image?
BONUS BONUS QUESTION: Is Mark Twain's reception by his contemporary critics for his use of language pertinent to this discussion?
"They leave me no choice. Prepare to launch photon torpedoes!"
A top House Democrat contradicted White House claims that it follows its own security safeguards adequately. Rep. Henry Waxman threatened to issue subpoenas if the White House did not comply with House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requests for voluntary interviews with officials involved in White House security decision-making.
"Contrary to recent White House claims, there is evidence that it has repeatedly failed to investigate security violations, take corrective action following breaches, and appropriately protect classified information," said Rep. Henry Waxman, said in a statement released this morning.
The Vice President responded to Rep. Waxman from his independant multibillion-dollar satellite office orbiting planet Earth, saying, "The president and the entity formerly known as vice president are complying with all the rules and regulations regarding the handling of classified material and making sure that it is safeguarded and protected and we want to hear no more about it!"
If Waxman was unwilling to comply with this order, Cheney threatened, "I will advise the launching of photon torpedoes from my armed orbiting office that will rain down upon his committee -- and my next meeting with the president is currently scheduled for June 28."
Montag has lots more from earlier today posted just below...
G. Will + G. Wallace = G. Willace... What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?!
Oppressive, white nationalist, flat-Earthers who resist modernization and favor playing fields that slope downhill into the other team's goal, unite!! Chaplain Montag of the First Knights of the 19 Quart Lobster Pot
Our brave contingent, our "aggrieved minority" took its lumps in the "'60s tumults." Indeed, that was a dark and furious time. But we're back, baby, and we're aggrieveder and minoritier than ever! Our noble leader, George Will, has issued a call to arms.
Father Will reminds us of our shinier moments and past glories, like the early successes of the George Wallace presidential campaign. But he also warns that third party politics is not the elixir for what ails US. Good Will prescribes continued and stringent fidelity to the two-and-only-two party political system, a tonic which, while it hasn't been quite the miracle cure to restore energy and power, hasn't poisoned us either.
If we are to maintain a grasp on what influence our little group has managed to scrape together over our storied history together, we must follow the doctor's orders while still taking the lessons of George Wallace to heart.
We must stand in the schoolhouse door of US electoral politics if our cohort's aggrievement is to ever be healed! We Will overcome this oppression.
Friends: Today is Sunday, and I so think it a good day to ask what makes Sunday different from the other days of the week. Why do we reserve one day of each week to talk about the value of friendship and caring, to denigrate the pursuit of wealth and power?
Today’s reading is from Heart Sutra: “All truths are emptiness. . . There is no purity and no end to purity.” Now, before I explain this bit of piffle, let me return to the question I posed above: Why do we reserve one day of each week to talk about the value of spiritual riches, and denigrate the pursuit of material wealth?
I once asked this of my friend, Mr. J. A. Patel, who was a practicing Hindu until he came to our town to run the local “Best Western” after the previous owner was indicted on a minor matter of racketeering and criminal conspiracy. At first, of course, I was surprised that a lodging house devoted to the Best Western values should be run by an Easterner. But when I posed this to J. A. (as members of our flock are wont to call the jovial innkeeper) he told me not to worry because he was from Western Kerala, and in any case Kerala can be reached by traveling west just as easily as it could by traveling east.
The truth of his assertion I confirmed using the globe in the Rectory several times over the next week. To my continued astonishment, I found the same principle applies if one holds the globe upside-down! Since then, I have enjoyed my visits to J. A.’s office just next to the lobby of his hotel. So it was, as I was pondering the question of what makes Sunday different from the other days of the week, that I asked this of J. A., and J. A. answered that it is for the same reason that we close our eyes to sleep at night. We enter a dream world so that we can awaken on Monday, assure ourselves that Sunday is over, and get back to applying the screws once again.
Now, I didn’t want to contradict Mr. Patel at that time, especially as his ravishing daughter Gwendolyn was reading her college assignments in the lobby, and could hear our conversation. But since neither of them are here with us now, I can tell you frankly that this is a pig’s trotter of a theory. If it were true, that would mean that the entire edifice of religious law does nothing but enable unethical behavior. Further, it would mean that preachers are nothing but the doctors that stitch up wounds to allow soldiers to be rushed back into battle. Surely this noble profession does not deserve such slander, and surely right and wrong are more than being awake and asleep!
I could only assume that J. A. was pulling my proverbial leg. The next day, upon finding J. A. away on innkeeper’s business and only Gwendolyn, of the long dark eyelashes, in the lobby, I seized on the opportunity to relate her father’s answer to her. I noted she was reading a copy of theHeart Sutra, which seemed rather inferior to our own Holy Scriptures in both length and variety. She considered her father’s answer, and asked me: Did I know of the parable of the dreaming rat? Now, I knew all manner of parable from my time in Seminary. Though I studied Divinity at the most difficult time one can imagine – shortly after the Seminary went co-ed – I still was able to concentrate sufficiently to bone up on my parables, and I was fairly certain there were none about rats, dreaming or otherwise.
“Since he was small,” the lovely Gwen explained, “Our friend rat had raced other rats, and been rewarded for racing faster and harder. At night, however, the rat dreamed of a Land of Peace and Brotherhood where he did not spend his time racing, and where each rat was given the same amount of food regardless of how hard or fast they ran. One day he decided that he would hang back, and, lo and behold, the other rats noticed and slowed down, too. The rats all still got a moderate amount of food, and our friend fell asleep thinking that he had created a Land of Peace and Brotherhood for himself and his fellow rodents. While he slept, the supervising scientist, reasoning that the rat was exhibiting behavior that might skew the results of his study, injected our furry friend with a fast-acting lethal poison. And that is how the parable of the dreaming rat ends.”
Again, I can only assume that the fair Gwendolyn was pulling my other proverbial leg, because her parable in no way shed light on her father’s strange answer. The parable of the rat can only mean one thing, and I am sure my more attentive listeners have already reached the appropriate conclusion. Science is the natural enemy of religion, and scientists are, with few exceptions, cold-blooded murderers.
Now I had two cryptic answers to ponder, and resolved to have it out with these outlandish Patels the next day. It is one thing to operate a “Best Western,” it is another to open an unlicensed mystical franchise and start proffering all manner of Easternisms that only serve to obfuscate the rather plain questions I like to use to kick-start my sermons! And this was Saturday, and so the deadline for my sermon was fast approaching. So I went up the street to the “Best Western” and found that not only was J. A. absent from his office, but Gwendolyn with her soft voice was not at her post in the lobby! Leaning on the counter, I thought to learn something about the “heart” from the economy-sized holy book on the counter. I opened it to the page I had seen almond-eyed Gwendolyn reading the previous afternoon, and what I found shocked and surprised me!
There, in the Heart Sutra were underlined the words: “All truths are emptiness. . . There is no purity and no end to purity.” In the margin, she had scribbled my own name, followed by an explanation point! At first, I was flattered and excited that her delicately articulated hand had penned my name. And then I started to wonder what she meant by associating me with this particular line in the scripture. In particular, was she saying I was both pure and impure? And what could she mean by that?
And then it struck me that I had an answer to not only my question about the difference between Sunday and the other days, but also an insight into the difference between East and West. For as I stand here on Sunday, I stand knowing that there is purity, and there is impurity, something the Heathen among us seem to question. Purity is not just a bumper sticker, and the War on Impurity is something we in our Church wage every day. Not for a moment could we consider the truth that we should not kill as being an “empty” truth (though, in fairness, it may be momentarily vacated by the need to pursue Evil-doers)!
Though the so-called “Best Western” remains open for business on Sunday, the rest of us take this as a day of rest in order to bask in the certainty of the purity of the Lord. And I know this purity is no dream, just as I know that at this moment I am standing right in front of you.
Engineers at the Central Intelligence Space Agency have informed the National Archives that the Vice President's office is no longer an 'entity within the executive branch,' but that it is now an independant multibillion-dollar satellite program orbiting planet Earth. The move comes after House investigators learned that the Information Security Oversight Office requested access to conduct a security inspection of the VP's office.
Little to nothing is known about Cheney's orbiting office, which oversees some of America's most sensitive government programs and receives almost no public oversight. Because of its sensitive missions, the VP's office goes to great pains to keep any details of its workings from becoming public. Cheney has practically dared any further inquiry into it.
An astronaide to the vice president admitted that the Office of the Vice President will no longer even be referred to as the Office of the Vice President. In fact, it can no longer be referred to at all: Cheney's satellite office has been assigned a top secret designation with a letter followed by numbers.
The entity formerly known as the Office of the Vice President was launched after the United States became more concerned about difficult-to-monitor terror cells and out-of-control Oversight Committees. Cheney believes that a super-stealth space station is crucial to deceiving his adversaries. "The entire entity formerly known as the Office of the Vice president that is now in orbit was conceived post 9/11. Changes in the threat have led to a re-evaluation of the entity formerly known as the vice president's mission," the astronaide said.
Congressional Democrats would not identify the now top secret vice-presidential former portion of the executive branch, but say they hope to find a way to bring it back to Earth through legislation.
With the sentencing of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald has apparently finished his work, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, to make a mountain out of a molehill. At the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times), he was appointed to look into a run-of-the-mill leak and wound up prosecuting not the leaker -- Richard Armitage of the State Department -- but Libby, convicted in the end of lying. This is not an entirely trivial matter since government officials should not lie to grand juries, but neither should they be called to account for practicing the dark art of politics. As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off.
Well, surely this last is a revelation to us all. I was one of the unsophisticated who thought that Journalism was, well, about shining the light on politics... About finding stuff out and telling us, the Public, about it.. And surely this last sentance not some allusion to something (cough, Whitewater, cough, Lewinsky), but a general piece of good advice. (Remind me to not get in a business deal with Mr. Cohen and to pray for his wife, poor woman..) No, now I see clearly: Mr. Cohen is in the business of turning off the lights for us all, and unenlightening a Public, so ungrateful at to want to know about, well, lying government officials. They were merely practicing their 'sorcerer's ways' in the Dark arts of governance. I am grateful for his explaining something so elementary that I had missed it.
There is only one coherent and valid response to concerns that the tortures which occurred in Abu Ghraib and other US Places of Detention might not have been entirely morally appropriate: the ticking bomb scenario. Because once your opponent admits that in very particular hypothetical situations, torture can be justified, then the argument becomes a simple matter of how much benefit of how much doubt we give our benevolent leaders...
Case in point:
"Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.
Scalia said, "Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so." [phillyBurbs: What would Jack Bauer do?]
Yeah, yeah. Just as President Lincoln acknowledged he might personally face consequences for his decision to suspend habeas corpus rights in the course of doing what he felt was necessary; Jack Bauer, to the extent that he is an actual real thinking person, too must realize that he might very well have some 'splaining to do after it's all said and done. Both of these figures also surely realized the old saying, "It's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission," when weighing their circumstances and the decisions they faced.
Yes. That is all well and good.
I grow weary of this so-called "ticking bomb scenario." I think we should be asking ourselves rather: "When is it morally acceptable not to torture?" Let us consider instead "The Fully Armed and Operational Death Star Scenario."
QUESTION: A space alien comes to you and says, "We are going to blow your whole world away. All of it, and every single person on it. Complete and utter destruction. Unless you do the unthinkable... I don't know... say... torture your own child. (?) Anyway, this is your choice. You have thirty seconds." Is it immoral to not torture your own child?
What if I say, for example, (hypothetically of course): "I don't care if it means mine is one of millions of voices crying out in terror before being suddenly silenced. Nobody will torture my child, me included."
"We think you might be happier working for another Study Group."
Uh oh! You just got fired! Sacked! Out of a job! If it could happen to Rudy Giuliani, it could certainly happen to you!
That's right! Anyone can get the axe...at any time! It can happen to the best people and the worst. It can happen to hard workers, and to slackers. Especially slackers...just ask Rudy! But he managed to bounce back! How?
How To Survive And Prosper Like Rudy Giuliani
1. Keep in mind that, like the Iraq Study Group, your new job won't last forever. Don't develop a romance with it, even if it is a Congressionally appointed blue-ribbon panel dedicated to finding a way forward in Iraq! It'll be bad enough getting canned without suffering the the agony of unrequited love too! Hey, you have to look out for yourself first!
2. Keep up to date regarding the panel's findings and to make sure you're still on it. If you're like Rudy, you've been having trouble showing up for any meetings at all, so always keep an eye out for new opportunities. That way you can quit just before Baker drops the axe, and you'll already be sitting pretty in another job!
3. Stay prepared financially. Try to have lots of cash in reserve. You might want to consider a lucrative speaking tour like Rudy's. Sure, all those speeches may have conflicted with the Iraq Study Group, but they brought in a whopping $11.4 million for America's Mayor in 14 months!
4. After you get canned, take exactly five minutes to grieve. So what if the Study Group had a "truly important mission," and now you can't use it to beef-up your commander-in-chief credentials. You'd just have to distance himself from some of the group's findings anyway! Quit moping around feeling sorry for yourself!
5. Be patient. It's going to take time to find another job. In the meantime, launch a presidential campaign!
6. Nurture contacts. Especially with people who served on the National Finance Committee for President George W Bush and with conservatives and evangelicals. Keep visible with speeches, debates, fund-raisers, and lots of good publicity.
7. Hire advisors to market you. Put out the word that you're available; show America what you're made of!
8. Finally. Don't panic. Lots of people wind up with better jobs than the Iraq Study Group!
If This Week's Awards Had a Name It Would Be 'Ed Hawk'
It seems appropriate that for a period that saw comments from myriad commentators such as:
Ed Amame Cole Slaw Shepherd Spy Chris Cross Dick Tate Ty Rent Dez Pot Dom Inator Ann Isotrophic Ann Gina Anne A. Phylactic Arthur E. Tarian Sy Cozo Matick Sy Coffant Ann Ihilate Pa Thogen Penny Tence Horta Tory Ella Borate Art Teest Miss Critical Miss Shun Critical Miss Shunairy
...that the I Miss Fafblog Comment of the Week, Spot! award go to one by the name of Miss L. Shield; who had this advice for Art Teest:
The last thing you want to do is deliver a finished piece, gauche or otherwise. You already know what they want to hear. Just bamboozle them with many words about the aspect ratio of eagle lift dynamics and pinpoint perspective. You should be able to get at least a couple mil for a feasibility study. Play your cards right and you could make a career out of this one.
Fantastic advice, Miss L. Shield!
Thanks once again to friend of the site Doug Richardson for linking. I think the Awards Committee speaks for all involved in saying, "We appreciate it!"
Friends: As you were wandering, lost, upon the barren hillside, before you stumbled into this, our humble cathedral, you might have been thinking: “Woe unto me, for I am, like, totally wrecked.” And that certainly is true, although the wreckage be wreckage of the spirit and not the body. Yet as I look upon you more closely, I wonder if it is not both?
Is it the case that you have been sipping your near-beer, wondering why all your friends have abandoned you, even your old friend Angela, who once responded to your friendly touch without calling for her bodyguards and spraying whole cans of mace into your eyes in front of the other members of the G8?
I, too, once was wandering on the barren hillside, and indeed tumbled down the hillside, over the edge of the gaping chasm, and onto the pointy rocks of unchecked pre-emptive aggression. I, too, remember looking at my bruised, spent visage in the mirror and asking myself what happened to the bouncing baby that once delighted mummsie and daddy? And it was much more than the Tequila -- although we should not discount the contribution of the Tequila – that brought this on.
Today’s reading is from Psalm 37:“For the man of peace will have a posterity.” The Psalm tells us that instead of sowing discord, you should consider sowing your seed instead.
Belligerence is often due to a problem that was also common in Luke’s day: “What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?” (Luke 12:17). For me, the solution came in the form of widow named Sheila, who became that room, nay, more of a suite with abundant closet space. Again, the Book expresses it so much better than I ever could: “And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem,” (Luke 2:38). From then on, of course, when I looked at my bruised, spent visage in the mirror, it was the fault of those womenfolk of Jerusalem. And God saw that it was good, verily, as Psalm 103 says of the stamina bestowed by the Lord: “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things; so that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” And here I would remind each of you of the immortal words of Saint John of Missouri, himself no stranger to temptation: “Let the eagle soar, like she’s never soared before!”
So lo, I found I had become a man of peace. Not just a man of peace, but “a man of peace with a posterity.” And a slew of paternity suits. But those are on the whole much easier to litigate, since the municipal court building is much more convenient than, say, the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Politicians hide themselves away They only started the war Why should they go out to fight? They leave that role to the poor
Time will tell on their power minds Making war just for fun Treating people just like pawns in chess Wait till judgment day comes, yeah! ---Black Sabbath, War Pigs
It does seem that way sometimes. Is war anything more than a sort of abstract chess game to the "power minds?" Is there a widespread sense of "My country/religion/race is better than yours," that brings populations along on the ride? Or is it really as simple as what Nazi Hermann Göring said about The Fear?:
Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
Impractically(?), I say, "Let the artists duke it out." No one communicates more effectively. Whichever side moves the other's people more with their propaganda wins. Or let the musicians duke it out: if the musicians can't jam together, then there truly are irreconcilable differences. It's true, musicianship will not always guarantee peace. I once saw two marching bands rumble at a high school football game!
Which is to say, doesn't all The War seem like a distraction from other important things, like meaningful energy policy reform, disaster recovery, enforcement of safety and labor regulations, enforcement of antitrust and racketeering laws, investigation of government corruption... etc... ?
QUESTION: Is there a better means of conflict resolution between the moneyed interests of nations other than the current system of attrition of innocents by death?
He came to Triana, to adulation and left a watch, and bemused Albanians, their First American President short next to the statues of Skanderberg, 'al-Iskandar Beg', the 'Eagle of Albania', eclipsed by the man in Cowboy boots... But hospitality and pickpocketing are old customs...
"President of the world" ,like a rock star to the impoverished Baltic state. And King Zog and Enver Hoxia spin at a fabulous rate...
Our latest hard-hitting news summary was maybe too hard-hitting and newsy for those with refined and delicate sensibilities, so we have decided to soften our hard-hitting coverage style by abandoning it altogether and instead will offer to you, gentle reader (and also to Spot), something else. So here is a poem what I wrote (and also entered into Blue Gal's Contest so I could maybe even win a fabulous prize for IMF,S!)
It is entitled:
Georgie and The Pontiff
Pope Benedict the X – V – I and Georgie Porgie Puddin’ & Pie Met up for tea the other day, And both of them had stuff to say. (Oh, to be a Cardinal on the wall.)
His Holiness intones,
“My Presidential Georgie P! We very much should like to see You end your awful, messy war And do some more to help the poor!” (He ends with a beatific smile.)
Then Georgie pipes up,
“Hey looky here now, Mr. Pope! You must think I’m a big fat dope! The U.S. can not leave Iraq Until we’ve got our safety back! And, as for helping out the poor, Well, noone wants to help them more... So I’ve got a smart idea, see? We’ll make the POOR our Mili-ta-ry!” (Georgie points to his sweet-smart-pumpkin-head and smirky-winks.)
(The Pope is not amused!)
The Pope shoots forth an angry scowl From the depths of his Papal cowl And straightens to his tallest height, Then hollers out with all his might! (And oh! His voice booms, Wagner-style!)
“The poor do not belong to thee! Nay! They belong to G-O-D And thou wouldst give them guns? You fool! Instead you should send them to school! Yes! Teach them to accept their lot, And not to want what they’ve not got… But to arm them? What if things go sour? They might realize they’ve got some power!”
(A shadow falls across the Pope's face for a moment, then he looks up at Georgie P. Each stares into the other’s eyes searchingly and then, as comprehension dawns, they fall into an embrace, weeping.)
Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction.
But wait, Rupert Murdoch thought, what can just one person do? hmmm... I know!
News Corporation, today, reaches people at home and at work... when they're thinking... when they're laughing... and when they are making choices that have enormous impact. We could incorporate our point of view on global warming into every program on every channel we have.
"The challenge is to revolutionize the message.
For too long, the threats of climate change have been presented as doom and gloom-- because the consequences are so serious.
We need to do what our company does best: make this issue exciting. Tell the story in a new way.
It's about damn time, Rupert. Right? welll maybe, maybe not - One Australian blogger, THE ORSTRAHYUN, says "Drinking Beer Causes Climate Change?
Murdoch Media Wastes No Time In Blaming Working Class For Global Warming" (scroll halfway down the page).
Which sounds like the same old 'blame poverty on the poor' routine, but I'm sure we will be getting a fairer more balanced viewpoint in this country any day week month now.
Well, lots of stuff happened this week in the comments on this post, where consensus seems to have been reached with regard to changing the template for this blog here:
Consensus say, "keep the green and purple color scheme! And the title of the blog!"
Consensus also say, "you might want to change the 'hand of god' picture. After all, you just plain stole it from that Chris guy."
Consensus didn't exactly say, "that 'pizza quote' from Fafnir is a testimonial for Fafblog! not this place! That's false advertising!" But consensus seems as if it might be saying, "We could replace that quote with something from Freddy's great post about the Fafblog! community."
Lastly, while consensus didn't say much about it at all, The Awards Committee suggests changing the font of the title from the one that was, again, stolen from that Chris guy, to perhaps some sort of blocky comic book font that screams excitement.
One other item for consideration, and one that must be broached delicately, so as not to give the impression that anyone around here is fishing for compliments... For the sake of first time visitors, and in the unlikely event another blog critic takes a run at IMFB,S!, perhaps some links over in the right-hand column to some of the better posts in the archives, the solid gold greatest hits, if you will. Nominations will be appreciated. Otherwise, the authors' extraordinary hubris will allow each of us to select the ones of which we are most proud.
Discussion on these matters can continue until the changes are made. The Awards Committee has learned that Ken from Ken's Kitchen is busy with the business of Reality, and so too, it can surely be assumed, is the Graphics Department from Ken's Kitchen. Therefore the design changes will likely be delayed in the short term, (as "header redesign" responsibility is being foisted off on him whether he realizes it or not,) and posting may be slow this week as well.
Also, welcome to the intrepid MR. Bill who has joined the ranks of IMFB,S! contributers. (I'll get in touch soon, and by soon I mean in a few days, as I suffer the same busy-ness affliction as Ken.) Everyone else, goad yourselves, and take a minute also to goad MarkC into doing the same. There is strength in numbers, and also in Mr. C's wit, which is cutting as a Samurai sword.
Oh yeah, and mistah charley, ph.d. makes I Miss Fafblog Commentator of the Week, Spot! for his treatise on slaying evangelists with solicitude:
...here is a literally true anecdote from my personal life, and something that happened this very day -
two women of a certain age, or beyond, one of each color [i.e. the two regular American colors, white and black - not all these fancy Juannie-come-lately Latinos, Asians, etc. etc.] came to my door today, inquiring about my religious affiliation etc. - they had Bibles in their hands...
Good one, mistah charley, ph.d.! And extra special thanks to Blue Gal and Crooks and Liars for linking on Friday and quadrupling our number of visits for the week!
Spot needed to go outside and nobody was here, so thepuppethead let him out, and then he had some ice cream. Then Spot came back in and he wanted some ice cream, so then everybody had some ice cream (everyone being thepuppethead and Spot). Then we were sleepy, but still we listened to Wolf Blitzer say words on CNN while simultaneously reading some newspapers -- because how else would we stay so well informed? So here is your news summary.
Item! Chairman of Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace Retires. General Peter Pace, who you will probably remember seeing flying around and magnetizing stuff with his underwear on Heroes this season, has "retired". He was 97, and apparently will not be missed; in fact, he may not have actually ever been the chairman in the first place depending on who you ask. His replacement is some guy named Mike who looks like he eats a lot of Brunswick stew, and can probably drive The Pequod into a ditch as good as the next fella. “Let’s hope so!” says Wolf Blitzer.
Item! Paris Hilton BlahBlahBlah! Blah blah Paris Hilton yackety schmackety blah. Wolf explains that Paris Hilton got released from jail and placed under house arrest (after being tagged by wildlife officials with a transmitter and having her ears pulled out straight and measured real good), but then had to go back to jail because she deserved it. But what you may not know (Wolf is really droning now) is that prison has made her stronger than you could ever possibly imagine, and after she gets out of jail she’ll get a job crushing boulders and bending steel bars between her bare knees! (Note: Some of that may have had a smidgen of non-news, because just now Wolf made thepuppethead drift off into slumber a little bit with his wordy words, as he is wont to do.)
Item! Scientists Study Robotic Toddler. Scientists hope that building and then studying a high-tech robotic toddler will one day help them to understand actual toddlers. Because you know, if you want to understand real toddlers you couldn't possibly just study, say… real toddlers… heck no. Where’s the sport in that?
Hm. Something there doesn’t quite make sense.
However, Wolf will probably clear everything up later with some more words delivered from the depths of his perfectly trimmed snow white beard. But we won’t hear them because Spot says it’s time for a nap.
So that’s the end of the news summary for this week. Bye!
Old people need to take more personal responsibility for their own health! Too many would rather suckle from the milkbottle of Medicare. It's past time for weaning. But people won't get behind these efforts until they can see that the program is in crisis!
Verse 3 in the Gospel of Thomas (in the Patterson and Meyer translation)
Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.
- with the statement below.
I'm Fafnir! Are you Fafnir? No? Look closer. There! You were Fafnir all along.
Why Are We Here? Missing Fafblog! can be like the solitary life of the Sumatran rhinoceros. I Miss Fafblog, Spot!? A saltlick around which to congregate.
Who are the Fafmissen?
A while back, Mark R. told us of what Nico J. van Strien reports from Sumatra:
The Sumatran rhino is solitary for most of its life. The home range of a rhino overlaps with the home ranges of several other rhinos and animals occasionally meet, but they do not stay together for any length of time. It may be that young sub-adults, in their first years of independence, form loose associations occasionally, but later they travel alone, wandering round their vast home ranges. A male and female seem to come together for only a short period for mating. Non-breeding females may have very little contact with other rhinos, because they occupy a relatively small range and leave it only occasionally to visit a saltlick.
The adult males seem to be more actively searching for contact. They cover a large area and are very active around the saltlicks, apparently searching for signs of other rhinos. Although males have more frequent contact with other rhinos, they never associate with an other rhino for more than a few days. If longer-lasting bonds were usual, the tracks of two or more animals walking together would be found more frequently.
Which offers, I think, a suitable metaphor for what it is to be Fafmissen.
Of course, the oft-quoted Freddy el Desfibradddoro, a shoe-in if there were ever a Blog Comment of the Ages award, who is quoted here again, explains better than I:
I believe I am not alone in my sentiment that it is not only Fafblog per se that we die-hard fans miss, but the sense of community among commenters that was somehow established - not by gushy exchanges of sentiment, but by an interplay of cultural references, snark, the occasional smutty joke, dadaism (and less often, mamaism - thank you, Mrs. F), and a genuine outrage at the horrors of the situation, all over a substrate of the siblinghood of sentient beings and the parenthood of the Creative Forces of the Universe, if any.
None of us will ever see its like again.
Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that. But it's OK to be sad sometimes too. [Freddy el Desfibradddoro: Fafblog! Comments]
And with that sense of community came also a sense of pride and warmth when reading things like this from a review of Fafblog!:
Who appears to be the same person that wrote those gentle words--- writing the same blog at a different URL ---has now cast a critical gaze upon IMFB,S!, and the reviews are mixed: a mix of luke-warm tolerance of our purpose, and critical skewering of a couple of the most recent posts.
While, as Ken says, "everything that you read here is always the truth," not everything here is designed to withstand rigors of rigorous literary criticism. (I barely even proofread half of my stuff before I post!) It would be futile for us to even attempt to equal the magic of Fafblog! here -- as a reading of any of the clumsy Falkor/Gizzard posts will attest. We can only hope to pale by comparison, and hopefully provide a small spot of contrast in the blackness that is the void where fresh Fafblog! content belongs.
QUESTION: Regarding I Miss Fafblog, Spot!Who knows if it's good or bad? Criticisms? Suggestions? Hopes and/or dreams?
If you're like me, you hate it when the president of the United States tries to interfere with your attempts to pursue peace! Are there any ways to get him to loosen up about stuff like this? Here's the problem: my Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, really wants us to renew secret negotiations with Syria, the idea being to to put some distance between Damascus and Iran, to kinda push Syria towards closer relations with moderate Arab states. However, some of my other advisors are terrified that any such effort will make Bush angry. Toooo annoying - the U.S. just keeps lurking and meddling! I know, I know the president means well and is trying to be protective, but c'mon, enough already! Nowadays, I feel like all Mr. George W. Meshugener wants is "regime change" here and "regime change" there. Why won't he stop interfering with our attempts to forge peace between my country and Syria? Help!!!
Best, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Dear Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,
So, it seems like you have a 'president problem!' I'm sorry to hear this. The leader of the free world is being overprotective, you're absolutely correct, and there should be some kind of limit to his lurking and meddling. Israel does need it's space and privacy, after all.
However, I'm afraid can help you, IPMEO. We don't know what to do about him over here, either!
Fred Thompson, Son of Doom: this is not my beautiful candidate!
Flashback to RNC headquarters early in May... ...where technicians grimly noted that the Son of Doom, Fred Thompson, was not nearly doomy enough for a packed audience of conservative Republicans at the the Lincoln Club of Orange County in Newport Beach, California...Son of Doom will not make that mistake again! His minions need red meat!
A bringing of the Panopticon question out of the abstract "a society" example and the giving to us of a relatable real-world example: Who says anything about preventing terrorist attacks? George Orwell theorized about how the fear of attack can be used to support the powers that be, and George Bush showed it could be put into practice. ---MarkC
Possibly the most beautiful prose ever written in a scatological bent: After a midnight repast of delicious leftover Roasted Asparagus, I became aware during my morning tinkles, of an odor in my pee most foul! I shall dedicate my afternoon to this mystery. ---Pope Benedict XVI
A deleted duplicate comment: [DELETED]
A seemingly random musing: I wonder who's kissing me now. ---Ginger
An inability to keep the party in chips: I keep running out of chips. Is that normal? ---thepuppethead
A parting shot from mistah charley, ph.d.: If there can be a major general, and a captain major, and a lieutenant colonel, why can't there be a col. col.?
But actually, that was a typo, as was the failure to close the italics after the book title. ---mistah charley, ph.d. (That was on 5/25/07. We don't mind about the italics, come on back. I Miss mistah charley, ph.d., Spot!)
No, wait. It was this that was possibly the most beautiful prose ever written in a scatological bent: "And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send "One Mighty and Strong", holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God..." [...] Paging Mr. Romney... ---Joseph Smith, Doctrines and Covenants (via: William of Malmsbury)
And finally, and winningestly, an admonishment of these very awards: 'Go, throng each other's drawing-rooms, Ye idols of a petty clique: Strut your brief hour in borrowed plumes And make your penny-trumpets squeak: Deck your dull talk with pilfered shreds Of learning from a nobler time, And oil each other's little heads With mutual Flattery's golden slime:...' ---Lewis Carroll's, Fame's Penny Trumpet (via: William of Malmsbury)
Yes, he's our favorite "twelfth century monk/historian with a taste for accuracy, and posting quotes in avowedly librul blogs," and based upon the content of his comment, let's hope he also has a soft spot for the goadingly ironic. Nicely done, William of Malmsbury!
Help!!! I have a vice-presi...errrr, I mean...an employee who is very obstinate when it comes to obeying instructions. Whenever I tell him to engage with North Korea he says, "no!" When I tell him to stop provoking China to attack Taiwan, he throws himself on the carpet and has a hissy fit. I'm not even sure how real these 'fits' are because Condi tells me that whenever I turn away he stops immediately. He seems to enjoy testing the limits, but when he behaves like this he interrupts the entire government's foreign policy apparatus. I would try to use positive reinforcement whenever he does the right thing, but he never does the right thing! He continues to try to hijack the foreign policy-making process! What can I do when I have a vice pres...I mean...employee crying on the carpet and refusing to to back European efforts on Iran? Do you have any ideas?
Sincerely, Lonely at the Top
Dear Lonely at the Top
You cannot have a vice-presi...er...an employee throwing tantrums on the floor. A little discipline in the White House might be in order, LATT! If that doesn't work, I would move the entire foreign policy establishment to a different location that's far away from him. Then, everyone can ignore his behavior and restore some functionality to the national-security policy-making process.
Sing it loud - Brothers and Sisters, Sing it loud, like you mean it! Sing it proud - Brothers and Sisters, Sing it proud, like you're free men! (amen!) The Constitution gave us all our hope - Brothers and Sisters Now we are all the hope for The Constitution!!
"We will not cut and run from the battle to prevent extensive and costly testing of food for safety! The effects of a false positive result, on top of a costly and onerous testing regime, would be devastating to the meat industry and the meatconomy. We must remain resolute in the battle against individual meat packing companies voluntarily carrying out this testing, at their own cost, on 100% of the product they sell, and then using 'safety' as an advertising gimmick. We cannot allow the Saftyists this victory! For in their victory, they would perceive our weakness. And they would call us 'girly men'. And that would be embarrassing. And costly. And we can't afford it. So there must only be progress, and the turning of corners. No cutting and running! Victory at all costs in this epic battle that will etch our legacy on the Goblet of History! I AM THE PRESIDENT!! ... Thank you and God bless." President Bush spoke, addressing a group of second graders whose field trip bus had stopped for lunch at the Capital Hill McDonald's.