February 2002

State Of The Union

March Of Folly

Terrible insurance. Somewhere out in the wilderness there were faceless men with keys and code books and red telephones. And while they drank coffee and obsessively cleaned the radar we scampered under the summer sun playing at war with a well defined notion of good and evil in our hearts. Be it ridiculous in the grand scheme of wisdoms and truths, and despite the fact that the annihilation of the world was the talk of the town, there was a strange comfort in being able to turn off the light in the sky and see where the lines were drawn on the world. When we returned to school in the fall the USSR was still coloured red on the pull down maps and behind its border still lay mysteries. Right and wrong play little into the escalation of dislike and suspicion. For the silent majority comfort is offered in knowing there is a well defined enemy to guard against that adheres to a mutually understood though unspoken set of over complicated and inhumane rules. There are guns and planes and missiles enough for surplus and sale. And in having them the need to use them diminishes.

Of course that's simply common sense, though a subtly difficult form of common sense to come to terms with. The truth of the matter is that The Soviets, like the west, slithered under the oceans in billion dollar deterrents, awkwardly fumbled about with foreign governments, waged wars pawning the citizens of such nations, played at deceitful photography, and built platforms in space from which to drop bombs like spiders down onto the globe. All in an effort to deny absolute catastrophe. There is reason to believe that men suffer from an ignorance that is foreign to their own realization of themselves. There is also reason to believe that self preservation over-rides the need to have the world succumb to the mass illusion of some politically influenced synaptic reflexology. You can go but so far in the attempt to impose influence before you are faced with the fact that your opposition will do whatever they must to ensure that their version of polite society survives. Faced with such facts a strange balance is attained that on paper seems impossible but somehow manages itself despite impossibility. And along the way those that are used and then easily forgotten when they are no longer needed conspire under mysterious flags to wage righteous wars of retribution in the name of their own dignity or an alternate version of emancipation . But nothing changes the fact that were the roles reversed the same tactics would be employed by any who would walk that road. The implications of history aside, the incontrovertible truth behind the existence of a 'mass public' assures a despondent nature within it. The inability to communicate and come to some form of mass public consent concerning a majority of issues acts as the cancer of true intent and pure information. Because the factual nature of pure information is degraded as it is passed amongst a varying degree of intelligences and belief systems. At the conclusion of information's journey from inception to comprehension it will be altered numerous times and therefore distorted. This leads to the simplification of information as it pertains to the mass public resulting in the eventual decay of its overall intelligence. Sometimes it's simply better to know that there is an enemy out there who regards you as the same. And given that, who also knows, as you do, that to take it too far would spell the end of both of you. Furthermore, that the governments of both are irrelevant in so much as their need for influence is ultimately tempered by an outcome that neither can afford.


On the 11th of September, 2001 I was awoken by my telephone and told to get up and turn on the television. So I did. Minutes later I watched the second airliner careen into The World Trade Center, confirming that the first collision was no accident. The first thing that went through my mind was a now famous sentence spoken fifty years prior by a Japanese admiral that had been educated at Harvard. I sat there and watched the flames float out of the gaping holes in the sides of the towers and, eventually, both towers crumble to the street below. And at that moment I selfishly allowed myself to miss the Soviet Union.

Tips Of Icebergs

  • Some years ago the international community helped fund the construction of a football stadium in Kabul, Afghanistan. I believe that's correct, I may be wrong, I'd have to check to make sure. Never the less the Taliban used the stadium for public executions. I recall seeing footage of a woman being shot in the head at the edge of the eighteen yard box for what they deemed an unforgivable crime. Such as infidelity. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for respecting cultural difference as long as basic human rights are involved. But there is little defense one can offer for shooting a woman in the head for breaking the bonds of marriage. I don't really give a damn what God has to say about it. If you're cowardly enough to actually shoot a woman in the head in front of eighty thousand people or run individuals over with a tank in midfield, I don't see why anyone needs to use the events of 11 September as an excuse to drop Daisy Cutters on your opium fields. The same innocents that could be harmed in such instances were amongst those that filled that stadium to watch their fellow countrymen and women be executed. And despite the fear and insurmountable odds against those that must have thought it despicable, there is no excuse for standing by while such evils are undertaken. If protest in such circumstances means death, then die a good one.

  • Poverty mixed with arcane and zealous religious views have always been a recipe for disaster. Afghanistan is no exception to this rule. Being that it's filled with armed combatants from a dozen other nations who have flocked to it to defend a religious government that shoots women in football stadiums, one mustn't be surprised when the international community turns a blind eye and then screams blue murder when the remnant of a super power with a checkered past in the foreign policy department decides to go on a witch hunt for a needle in a stack of needles. It's as old as the Resurrection.

  • Televised warfare is a polite way of saying you're never too bored to watch television.

  • Ten fingers in ten pies has drawbacks. Some of which involve knives.

  • I saw a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the other day and it brought to mind the Montgomery bus boycott. And for some reason it dawned on me how bizarre it was that the civil rights movement needed to even exist in a nation founded on the premise that personal liberty was its highest ideal. And that the true state of a nation was defined by how far a government would allow itself to stray from the dream of its infancy.

  • A compassionate society considers the ramifications of its actions before acting. God knows there are heroin addicts in Amsterdam who are feeling ill due to restricted supply.

  • Actions speak louder than words. And sometimes inaction speaks louder than both of them.

  • Throwing yourself out of a 100th floor window takes guts. Enough guts to leave those that remain responsible for ensuring that no one has to be that brave ever again.

    In An Italian Bathtub

    The Roman Philosopher Seneca once put forth: 'What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.' In an abject world one must assume that most would see such a statement as pessimistic and cold. It has become our nature to seek the definitive between that which we consider good natured and that which we consider not to be. Some, upon simply reading those words, might disagree in that an entirely unrealistic and quite 'learned' optimism has taught them that such thoughts are inherently wrong. It's wrong to be unhappy and right to be happy, for example. Upon closer examination one might look at the statement and think he was merely trying to say: 'Shit happens. No need to get worked up about it because it always will' or 'relax, it's bound to rain again'. Given a new perspective, what may seem like pessimism is actually illumination. Better still, simply the truth of wisdom put forth without concern of context. It's interesting though how the meaning of something so wise can be convoluted by the mindset of ones times. Seneca, for example, probably didn't concern himself with whether or not the context of such wisdom deterred the recipient from its meaning. If so, why in our times is it so important to put forth thoughts and wisdoms in a manner most pleasing to the mass populace just to ensure they understand it? That very undertaking undermines its intent. That and, over time, makes anything but the most benign presentation of thought taboo.

    Some years ago, while in northern Italy, I befriended a Greek vacationer. During a long and interesting conversation we touched upon our homelands and the cities from which we came. And during the conversation he did as most would do and went about proclaiming the virtues of his native city and all that it had provided the world (as I did soon after he finished). Being that he was from Athens the list was, of course, impressive. In summation he declared it the greatest city in the world because it had produced Socrates. Being drunk at the time I nodded in sloth like agreement and said something along the lines of 'Well, you've got me there'. Strangely enough, two years later I was reminded of that conversation because of discussion concerning philosophy that I was having with a friend and found myself dwelling on his boast about the famed Athenian. True, Socrates was an Athenian. But one has to wonder if it should be such a point of pride. It was Athenians, after all, that condemned him to death. It's one thing to claim such a man and his inventions of thought as their own, it's entirely something else to forget the fact that many Athenians considered him to be completely out of his mind. So one has to wonder if Athens was great for producing such a mind or simply as ignorant as everywhere else for killing it.

    Thankfully great ideas find a way of infecting the cores of our being and eventually come to dwell beyond the circumstances of their origins. It's entirely reasonable to say that most individuals or ideas that we end up reflecting upon with pride and reverence are often considered absolutely bananas or completely disagreeable during their lifetimes. The status quo is an impossible monster to defeat single handedly and is often only slain years after both combatants are deceased. Thus is the predictability of individuality. To strive to succeed in the accumulation of wealth, for example, is predictable and altogether both unoriginal and questionably individualist. Most modern societies place extreme importance on the amassing of wealth as if it somehow indicates that an individual is of a higher caliber or character because of it. Strangely, individuality itself contradicts the idea as any true individual would not be enamored so easily with the accepted guidelines of a what is considered a 'successful life' by a majority who consider themselves individuals but adhere to the standard maxims of the status quo. Strangely though, it's this very hypocrisy that ensures that those true individuals that are ridiculed and labeled as 'crazy' for not adhering to such maxims, or are proponents of thoughts which are not popular, will eventually be realized for what they truly were. The sad aspect is that they're quite often recognized some years later by those that are enamored with the status quo and simply think it incredibly intelligent of them to champion someone or something that, if in their own lifetime, they would probably burn at the stake without hesitation.

    Individuality is, in our times, nothing more than a sales pitch. Like an incubator held within ones self where an externally dictated self perfection resides. The freedoms that wealth provides, for example, are not, in truth, freedoms at all. Merely placebos to the malady that is the status quo. It is the very same principle that allows the deification of entertainers simply because their medium of employment embodies all of the major attributes of what is perceived to be success. Fame, wealth, and what many believe is the freedom and happiness that comes with them. Therefore, when someone within that sphere does not act according to the status quo, they are quite commonly ostracized and labeled difficult or unstable by the majority. The same rules apply to all walks of life to varying degrees of severity. But the truth remains that individuality is commonly not something that is practiced but rather thought of by the majority as something that inherently 'is'. And like anything that is taken for granted it eventually becomes just a word, while those that believe themselves to be individuals adhere to the standardized guidelines of what is considered 'a successful life'.

    The night after running into the Greek vacationer in Turin I was unlucky enough to get food poisoning. I would spend three unconscious days in a marble bath tub, waking every so often to vomit on myself before losing consciousness again. I remember that the towel rack was heated and that on the third day a maid wandered into the bathroom and shook me for a while. I'm pretty sure that, during those three days, I dreamed in great detail some of what I've written here. On occasion, bad mussels offer a little clarity of thought. But that's about all.

    Villain Of Music

    The world is stuck on suck. 'Nuff said.

    I've A Coffee Table

    I'm out of practice. New place, new room, new keys. New locks on the doors, new binoculars, new neighbors to spy on, a stand up shower (the greatest of inventions). The last time I sat down to do this was in a fish tank. I had recently been separated and was living in the worlds smallest apartment which I moved into sight unseen. I landed at the airport, caught a ride into town, and found myself standing in an impossibly small room with nothing but two bags. And within that awful little place there was a closet with a giant glass wall. And it was in there, sitting at a flimsy computer table that I bought from Office Depot and put together incorrectly, that I would go about it month after month. For two years. When I moved out I threw that computer table in the dumpster. I despised it as it represented my inability to put together a basic table that came with clear, concise diagrams, and easy to follow instructions.

    The odd part about moving was that I didn't own furniture. Once again, out of necessity more than anything, I was forced to change residences in a little over a week. So I found myself at one of those modern furniture places with a friend who insisted he tag along to make sure I didn't purchase anything that didn't clearly place function before the fleeting desire to own something chic. Thankfully his attendance paid off and I now own the worlds most accommodating couch. Come to think of it, I actually own proper furniture. For me, that's saying something. What? I'm not quite sure. But it's worrisome.

    So here we are. Home again, home again, jiggity jig.


    Your Questions. My Answers. Dial 1-900-Idiot Savant.

    Questions? Are they stupid? Did you think before you started typing? Maybe you're thinking too much. Maybe you're a Bud Girl in lingerie and you're trying to take a picture of yourself sitting in a chair with your web cam but it keeps fucking up. Maybe you're trying to decide how best to ask something ridiculous without sounding like a moron. Maybe you want me to pledge some money for some bowl-a-thon to help save the Spotted Owl. Maybe you're naked and you're a Bud Girl trying to take a picture of yourself sitting in a chair with your web cam but it keeps fucking up. Maybe a voice deep within you is telling you to e-mail something stupid and you're struggling to maintain control. Maybe you've just completed 35 pages of some short story or long winded diatribe and don't realize that the delete option comes standard on most versions of MSN's Hotmail. Maybe your parents just came home and you've snuck your girlfriend into the house while they were gone but she's in the bathroom in nothing but a t-shirt and her socks and won't come out because she's pissed at you for doing something and you're thinking of e-mailing me for advice before your dad busts through the door. I've no clue. But for the love of God, fix your fucking web cam!

    Your target -