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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

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"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson

"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin

"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss

"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon

"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates

"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook

"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion

"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson

"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke

"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant

"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814

"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944

"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas

"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson

"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler

"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein

"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden

"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman


Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber

Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog

Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
The Mahablog
Brilliant at Breakfast
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The Bloggess

People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Monday, June 30, 2008
[...] But the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon one step further with its AP articles. The far-right fundamentalist group replaces the word “gay” in the articles with the word “homosexual.”


My friend Kyle reported this morning that sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials over the weekend. The AFA ran the story, but only after the auto-correct had “fixed” the article.

That means — you guessed it — the track star was renamed “Tyson Homosexual.” The headline on the piece read, “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.” Readers learned:
Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and seemed to save something for the final later Sunday.

His wind-aided 9.85 seconds was a fairly cut-and-dry performance compared to what happened a day earlier. On Saturday, Homosexual misjudged the finish in his opening heat and had to scramble to finish fourth, then in his quarterfinal a couple of hours later, ran 9.77 to break the American record that had stood since 1999. […]

Homosexual didn’t get off to a particularly strong start in the first semifinal, but by the halfway mark he had established a comfortable lead. He slowed somewhat over the final 10 meters-nothing like the way-too-soon complete shutdown that almost cost him Saturday. Asked how he felt, Homosexual said: “A little fatigued.”
I feel pretty, myself.

Right Wing Watch also documents many other results of this consistently brilliant use of auto-replace:
Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5 for the first; 2.5 out of 5 for the second.

And I'd hoped we'd left this sort of thing behind in the Homosexual 90s.

6/30/2008 02:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 5 comments

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IF YOU'VE EVER WRITTEN A BLOG COMMENT, YOU OWE THIS MAN. This sort of thing really makes looking at newszines a huge downer.

I'll let Mike Glyer speak for me here:
Jack Speer (1920-2008)

First Fandom member and writer of the Fancylopedia Jack Speer passed away this morning [June 28],” writes Patricia Rogers.

Speer’s famous Fancyclopedia, published in 1944, formalized definitions for hundreds of terms in use by fans.

Prior to that, in 1939, he wrote the first history of science fiction fandom, called Up To Now. It was very hard to find copies until just last month when Robert Lichtman recreated it as a PDF edition and posted it at eFanzines. In this zine, Speer first articulated the idea of Numbered Fandoms (fannish historical epochs), which ever since has occupied many a fan’s idle hours.

Speer also innovated several indispensable bits of faanish typography, including the quasi-quote mark and the interlineation. He contributed to faanish cosmology by inventing FooFoo, the ghod of mimeography, fearsome foe of Ghu.

According to Don Fitch, Speer was diagnosed as terminal some weeks ago. Still, Jack had managed to attend Corflu Silver in April, making his way around with the aid of a portable oxygen supply, attentive to everything going on. The con’s classic moment was when fellow eo-fan Art Widner serenaded Jack with the first-ever filksong, written by Jack himself.

Although the term “filksong” had yet to be invented, several of these songs were sung at the 1940 Worldcon. Jack created them by setting new lyrics with a science fictional theme to familiar tunes. A snippet of one goes:

We’ll build a tempo-ship
And we’ll take a little trip,

And watch a million years go by.

In 1995, Speer received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. In 2004, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon 4. His collection, Fancestral Voices, was published by NESFA Press for the occasion.

Having spent decades thinking of Speer as a distinguished founding father of fandom, as he certainly was, I’ve tended to overlook that he was having a helluva lot of fun while making history. This point is brought home by Harry Warner’s anecdote about Speer at the 1947 Worldcon in All Our Yesterdays:

From time to time that Saturday night, the happy fans were vaguely aware of the existence of loud, intermittent noises. Several Philadelphians explained them away as a local phenomenon that occurred when sewer gas caused manhole lids to lift violently in a sort of municipal burping. However, the real facts were not at all like that. During a late drinking session…Speer had suddenly remembered the existence of fireworks in the hip pocket of the Quintessence of FooFoo, his current auto…. Several roman candles later, policemen in a squad car gave [Speer and other fans] a warning about discharging fireworks within the city limits… [Afterwards], Speer and Davis seem to have taken up strategic posts on upper fire escapes [of the con hotel]… Firecrackers and skyrockets were alternated to provide variety… When the police returned… they paid $5.00 apiece at the 21st District Station for disturbing the peace. The investment was at least partly justified because the pyrotechnics had helped Willy Ley find his way to the hotel.

I could write at great length about the awesome fan career of Judge Jack Speer, spanning 1930-2008, and as is almost always the case when someone I've known for many years dies, I haven't the heart just now.

Jack was always entirely kind to me, acerbic nit-picker that he was, and I admired him greatly, ever since I first started reading his zines when I was 14-16 years old, collecting his old FAPA-zines, in which he'd correct everyone's typos and spellings, and all his other zines. He was one of the greatest sf fans ever, and utterly under-appreciated, not chosen as a Worldcon Fan Guest of Honor (GOH) until 2004, as year after year, decade after decade, passed with fans who hadn't contributed a hundredth of what he had done for fandom being picked, and this giant of fandom was passed over, despite the repeated urgings of some of us for literally decades.

(From 1981 to 1985, the Norwescon was picking Fan GoHs off of a briefing list I submitted, and I'm pleased to say that Jack Speer was chosen in 1984.)

Me and Jack, at the DC/Arlington/Crystal City Corflu Nova, 1994, courtesy of Gary Mattingly:
Jack also founded the fannish religion/order of Foo-Foo, in the early 1940s, countering the fannish "worship" of "Ghu."
Sacred Order of FooFoo - A glorious foolosofy which saves its adherents from the purple doomnation of ghughu, and guarantees their footure bliss. While ghughuism's setup is roughly that of an episcopal church, FooFooism'S more resembles a militant monarchy. The Western branch centers around he court of the Hi Priestess of All Foo, Pogo; Forest J Ackerman is the Right-Hand Man, Morojo her Handi-Maiden, ktp. In the Easter is Her Sacred Highness's Left-Hand Man, the Royal General of FooFoo. F Speer, who bears this tittle, countersigns and issues to neofytes such tags as Chief Scientist, Poetess Laureate, Vanday Oon, Grand Vizier, Nen Nen, Baron Yobber, and others. Permanent membership cards are not given until the persons are proven thru long adversity. In addition to these officers, the Order counts as rank-and-file members all persons wheresoever who are moved to go around reciting foo proverbs.

FooFooism began early in 1938, when FooFoo implanted in the mind of Pogo, and about the same time, of Speer. His Call to form the Sacred Order to oppose ghughuism in all its forms, however monstrous. Science that time the ranks of Foomen have grown by leaps and bounds (and shuffles). Victory is assured, for FooFoo has promised it. Like Tom Paine says, ghughuism, like tyranny, is not easily conquered, but the fite is a glorious one. A mity weapon that has been given us by All-Blessed Foo is the Poo; far mitier than is it than the yobber. FooFooism has a number of hily inspirational songs. One of these the entire Chicon (even the accursed ghughu and guggle, who were there) joined in singing.
That was the 1940 Chicon (World SF Convention) being referred to.

So about why you owe him, if you've ever exchanged comments with someone on a blog thread?

The Fantasy Amateur Press Association, better known as FAPA, is the original science fiction amateur press association, founded in 1937.

Apas were originally just fanzines bound together by an Official Editor (contraire to Wikipedia, "Central Mailer" is the term from comics fandom, and didn't come into use until comics apas started as an offshoot of sf apas in the early 1960s, comics fandom itself largely being an offshoot of sf fandom originating in the 1950s), but very rapidly, one of the founding members of FAPA invented what was called the "mailing comment," which is to say, some pages of comments on the previous mailing's zines, and soon most participants in FAPA, and then the next-founded apa, SAPS (the Spectator Amateur Press Association), and then almost all of the apas to come, were writing comments back and forth to each other, particularly as many fans took to writing about their lives, and daily occurrences, as a topic, and more and more zines, but apazines and general fanzines alike took to that sort of writing.

Who invented the "mailing comment"? Jack Speer.
Jack Speer
Eofan, fanwriter, filker, fanhistorian, costumer, apahack. Invented the mailing comment in FAPA's third mailing. Invented the quasi-quote mark and the interlineation. Also invented FooFoo, the ghod of mimeography, the fearsome foe of Ghu. Wrote new stfnal lyrics for popular songs and distributed them at Chicon I, the 1940 Worldcon, over a decade before the word "filksong" was coined. Wrote Fandom's first history, Up to Now in 1939, spelling out his theory of Numbered Fandoms. Past President of fwa (1993). First Fandom Hall of Fame (1995). Wrote Fancyclopedia, an encyclopedic guide to Fandom and fannish terms.
Jack was science fiction fandom's first fanhistorian, with Up To Now.

He invented the concept of looking at successive waves of fandom as "Numbered Fandoms," a concept valid when he used it, later much misused and confused by later generations.

Jack wrote the first reference work on sf fandom, the first Fancyclopedia, published in 1944, and readable in its entirety there.

Jack Speer, as written up by another deceased friend of mine, sf writer and fan, F. M. Busby. A review of Up To Now.

Up To Now.

Read The Rest Scale: as much as you like, for anyone interested in science fiction fandom's history, and for the rest of you, move along to another post.

There will never be another Jack Speer, and I'm just grateful I got to meet him, and be treated by him as just another contemporary, by the time of my generation.

Wikipedia: Jack was also a judge, and: "From 1959 to 1961, he served a term as a Democrat in the Washington state House of Representatives, representing a district in King County."

And without him, we wouldn't have apas as they came to be from 1937 onwards, and without that, we wouldn't have the style so many early hackers brought to internet culture from sf fandom, and without that, no Usenet commenting in the same way, and without that, no blog commenting in the same way; it's all one continuum for some of us.

Jack's influence on sf fandom alone can't be overstated. May he rest happily.

ADDENDUM, 3:59 p.m.: Some relatively recent pictures of Jack. A couple more here. A collection of some of his writing. His Fan Gallery page.

Jack wrote in 2005:
A footnote to “Colishun Course”: My first letter to a fanzine was published in Julius Schwartz’ Fantasy magazine. The magazine came to the Speer mailbox, and Dad read it before passing it on to me. He was amused at my presumptuously telling these people how to publish their magazine.
That was Jack.

ADDENDUM, 9:58 p.m.: Mike Glyer comments back.

ADDENDUM, July 2nd, 6:30 p.m.: Jack's obit in the Albequerque Journal. Via Mike Glyer. It's not long, but includes:
[...] He received his B.A. degree from George Washington University and after WWII his LLB from the University of Washington. During WWII he worked for the Lend Lease Administration as an administrative aide for the American Food Mission to French North Africa. During his lifetime, he was a registered parliamentarian; wrote a history of early science fiction fandom and the Fancyclopedia; and created a true-to-history civil war game. He was called "one of the pioneer historians of fandom," by SF author Harry L. Warner, Jr. Jack was a member of the First United Methodist Church, the Albuquerque Parliamentary Unit, the Science Fiction Society, the N.M. Space Society, New Mexicans for Science & Reason, Tennis Club of Albuquerque and the Exchange Club.
I had totally forgotten his Lend Lease work.

ADDENUM, July 13th, 1:22 a.m.: Patricia Rogers' eulogy for Jack Speer. Flickr page.

6/30/2008 09:15:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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IF OBAMA LOSES, it'll be because there are too many Americans, still, who are racist assholes, with no clue what critical thinking is, no idea what logical argument is, no knowledge of what the various logical fallacies are, and thus no ability to notice when they are engaging in them.

In short, far too many people, the overwhelming majority of people, appear to have never taken a moment to study how to think critically, and are thus helpless in the face of nonsense, since they're unable to discern truth from falsehood, and are blissfully unaware of their own illogical thinking.

Hoorah, America! We're number one!

Back in Findlay, Ohio:
[...] On the television in his living room, Peterman has watched enough news and campaign advertisements to hear the truth: Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service. But on the Internet, in his grocery store, at his neighbor's house, at his son's auto shop, Peterman has also absorbed another version of the Democratic candidate's background, one that is entirely false: Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

"It's like you're hearing about two different men with nothing in common," Peterman said. "It makes it impossible to figure out what's true, or what you can believe."

Here in Findlay, a Rust Belt town of 40,000, false rumors about Obama have built enough word-of-mouth credibility to harden into an alternative biography. Born on the Internet, the rumors now meander freely across the flatlands of northwest Ohio -- through bars and baseball fields, retirement homes and restaurants.


A swing voter who entered this election leaning Democratic, Peterson faces a decision that is no longer so simple as a choice between Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain, he said. First, he must pick the version of Obama on which he will stake his vote.

Does he choose to trust a TV commercial in which Obama talks about his "love of country"? Or his neighbor of 40 years, Don LeMaster, a Navy veteran who heard from a friend in Toledo that Obama refuses to wear an American-flag pin?

Does he trust a local newspaper article that details Obama's Christian faith? Or his friend Leroy Pollard, a devoted family man so convinced Obama is a radical Muslim that he threatened to stop talking to his daughter when he heard she might vote for him?

"I'll admit that I probably don't follow all of the election news like maybe I should," Peterman said. "I haven't read his books or studied up more than a little bit. But it's hard to ignore what you hear when everybody you know is saying it. These are good people, smart people, so can they really all be wrong?"
Yes. This is why paying attention to majority opinion is, in itself, a fallacy.

Think for yourself, fact-check, and think logically, testing your hypotheses, and not utilizing the results unless objective tests suggest you should, and then use them only tentatively, ready for more accurate knowledge to change your mind: it's the only way to avoid going wrong.
[...] As the years passed, Peterman and his neighbors approached one another to share in their skepticism about the unknown. What was the story behind the handful of African Americans who had moved into a town that is 93 percent white? Why were Japanese businessmen coming in to run the local manufacturing plants? Who in the world was this Obama character, running for president with that funny-sounding last name?

"People in Findlay are kind of funny about change," said Republican Mayor Pete Sehnert, a retired police officer who ran for the office on a whim last year. "They always want things the way they were, and any kind of development is always viewed as making things worse, a bad thing."

When people on College Street started hearing rumors about Obama -- who looked different from other politicians and often talked about change -- they easily believed the nasty stories about an outsider.

"I think Obama would be a disaster, and there's a lot of reasons," said Pollard, explaining the rumors he had heard about the candidate from friends he goes camping with. "I understand he's from Africa, and that the first thing he's going to do if he gets into office is bring his family over here, illegally. He's got that racist [pastor] who practically raised him, and then there's the Muslim thing. He's just not presidential material, if you ask me."

Said Don LeMaster: "He's a good speaker, but you've got to dig deeper than that for the truth. Politicians tell you anything. You have look beyond the surface, and then there are some real lies."

Said Jeanette Collins, a 77-year-old who lives across the street: "All I know for sure about Obama is that we're not ready for him."


So far, those who have pushed the truth in Findlay have been rewarded with little that resembles progress. Gerri Kish, a 66-year-old born in Hawaii, read both of Obama's autobiographies. She has close friends, she said, who still refuse to believe her when she swears Obama is Christian. Then she hands them the books, and they refuse to read them. "They just want to believe what they believe," she said. "Nothing gets through to them."


For the past month, two students from the University of Findlay have spent their Tuesday nights walking from door to door in the city to tell voters about Obama. Erik Cramer and Sarah Everly target Democrats and swing voters exclusively, but they've still experienced mixed results. Sometimes, at a front door, they mention their purpose only to have a dozen rumors thrown back at them and the door slammed. "People tell us that we're in the wrong town," Everly said.

Soon, on a Tuesday night, they'll walk down College Street -- past the American flags, past the LeMasters, past the Pollards -- and knock on Jim Peterman's front door. They will ask for two minutes of his time, and Peterman will give it to them. He will listen to their story, weighing facts against fiction. For a few minutes, he might even believe them.

Then he'll close his door and go inside, back to his life. Back to his grocery store, back to his son's auto shop, back to the gossip on College Street. Back to the rumors again.
Or you wind up like these people: helplessly ignorant, and unable to ever discern truth. Forever at the mercy of lies, and your own ignorance, and inability to leave it behind.

Imagine bequeathing that as your legacy to your children and grandchildren.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

6/30/2008 05:16:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, June 29, 2008
IF IT AIN'T GOT THAT SWING. A look back at a time when the U.S. knew how to make the U.S. look good, at least as good as it could in a time of Jim Crow, "Gentleman's Agreements," and very low glass ceilings for women, indeed:
HALF a century ago, when America was having problems with its image during the cold war, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the United States representative from Harlem, had an idea. Stop sending symphony orchestras and ballet companies on international tours, he told the State Department. Let the world experience what he called “real Americana”: send out jazz bands instead.

A photography exhibition of those concert tours, titled “Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World,” is on display at the Meridian International Center in Washington through July 13 and then moves to the Community Council for the Arts in Kinston, N.C. There are nearly 100 photos in the show, many excavated from obscure files in dozens of libraries, then digitally retouched and enlarged by James Hershorn, an archivist at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University. There’s Dizzy Gillespie in 1956, charming a snake with his trumpet in Karachi, Pakistan. Louis Armstrong in ’61, surrounded by laughing children outside a hospital in Cairo. Benny Goodman in ’62, blowing his clarinet in Red Square. Duke Ellington in ’63, smoking a hookah at Ctesiphon in Iraq.


Jazz was the country’s “Secret Sonic Weapon” (as a 1955 headline in The New York Times put it) in another sense as well. The novelist Ralph Ellison called jazz an artistic counterpart to the American political system. The soloist can play anything he wants as long as he stays within the tempo and the chord changes — just as, in a democracy, the individual can say or do whatever he wants as long as he obeys the law. Willis Conover, whose jazz show on Voice of America radio went on the air in 1955 and soon attracted 100 million listeners, many of them behind the Iron Curtain, once said that people “love jazz because they love freedom.”
The exhibit.

Willis Conover is, or at least once was, one of the most world famous Americans for forty years, and yet unknown to all but a few Americans, as his jazz show on Voice Of America made him known to hundreds of millions of people around the world, who eagerly listened to his broadcasts several times a week, a window into a world little known to them in their native lands.

But since VoA was forbidden to broadcast in the U.S., it was only the rest of the world who knew this, to them, most prominent of American representatives.

And while only a few Americans knew that Conover was one of the most well-known Americans around the world for decades, only a few hundred sf fans, or, eventually, a few thousand hardcore H.P. Lovecraft fans, knew that Conover was once a prominent fantasy/science fiction fan in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Aside from Conover's early fanzine activity in the thirties, he was one of the most prolific correspondents with that most prolific of correspondents, H. P. Lovecraft.

And like a lot of us old-time sf fans, Conover started in fanzines:
[...] WILLIS CONOVER (1921–1996), best known as the jazz commentator for Voice of America, published Science Fantasy Correspondent when he was fifteen.
As a result of his correspondence with Lovecraft, we even have fonts from Lovecraft's handwriting, since, of course, all Lovecraft's correspondence was handwritten, dear boy.

Free Lovecraft PC fonts and Macintosh Type 1 Postscript fonts here.

Even in 1937, Conover was producing tributes to Lovecraft, who had just died.

To the rest of the world, this was Willis Conover:
Willis Conover (October 18, 1920 – May 17, 1996) was a jazz producer and broadcaster on the Voice of America for over forty years. He produced jazz concerts at the White House, the Newport Jazz Festival, and for movies and television. He created musical events where people of all races were welcome, thereby helping to break down the color barrier in the United States. Conover is credited with keeping interest in jazz alive in the countries of eastern Europe through his nightly broadcasts during the cold war, when jazz was banned by most of the communist governments. Conover was not well known in the United States, even among jazz aficionados, but his visits to eastern Europe and Russia brought huge crowds and star treatment for him.

Conover was a legend amongst jazz lovers primarily due to the hour-long program on the Voice of America called Voice of America Music USA. Known for his sonorous and baritone voice, many would argue that he was the most important presenter on Voice of America.

On a trip to Moscow a taxi driver recognized him by his distinctive deep-toned voice. He was a celebrity figure in the old Soviet Union, where jazz was very popular and the Voice of America was a prime source of information as well as music.
Wikipedia knows nothing, today, of Conover's sf/fantasy fan background, or his intimate connection to Lovecraft, but your Amygdala does, of course.

Today we remember him, and a time when the U.S. government knew how to reach out around the world, and was famous for things other than torture, violating the Geneva Conventions, and maintaining prison camps intended to be beyond the law.

Better times, and who would once have thought we'd say that of the darkest days of the Cold War?

Audio of Willis Conover. A photogallery of Conover with jazz greats.

And a piece of fannish writing by Conover, a "faan fiction" (fiction about fans) piece, republished in Henry Burwell, Jr's September 1952 issue of Science Fiction Digest by Conover, reprinted from its original appearance in Science Fiction Critic of 1938.

A Russian video of Conover on VoA. And a biography of Conover, Willis Conover: Broadcasting Jazz To The World, by Terence M Ripmaster.
Many of the world’s best jazz musicians credit Conover with helping them learn more about jazz. This biography details his professional accomplishments in the world of jazz, including the profound impact he had on the Soviet Union and Eastern European Communist nations.
Amygdala salutes Willis Conover, who did more to break down the Soviet Union, and world communism, than a billion dollars worth of missiles and submarines. Soft power, folks: we can play to America's strengths yet again, if we try.

How did that work? Back to the NY Times:
[...] A cartoon in a 1958 issue of The New Yorker showed some officials sitting around a table in Washington, one of them saying: “This is a diplomatic mission of the utmost delicacy. The question is, who’s the best man for it — John Foster Dulles or Satchmo?”

Powell arranged for Gillespie, his close friend, to make the State Department’s first goodwill jazz tour, starting out in March 1956 with an 18-piece band and traveling all over southern Europe, the Middle East and south Asia.

The band’s first stop was Athens, where students had recently stoned the local headquarters of the United States Information Service in protest of Washington’s support for Greece’s right-wing dictatorship. Yet many of those same students greeted Gillespie with cheers, lifting him on their shoulders, throwing their jackets in the air and shouting: “Dizzy! Dizzy!”

When Armstrong arrived in the Congo as part of a 1960 tour through Africa, drummers and dancers paraded him through the streets on a throne, a scene captured by a photograph in the exhibition. As late as 1971, when Ellington came to Moscow, an American diplomat wrote in his official report that crowds greeted the Duke as something akin to “a Second Coming.” One young Russian yelled, “We’ve been waiting for you for centuries!”

The stars were happy to play their parts in this pageant for hearts and minds, but not as puppets. After his Middle East tour Gillespie said with pride that it had been “powerfully effective against Red propaganda.” But when the State Department tried to brief him beforehand on how to answer questions about American race relations, he said: “I’ve got 300 years of briefing. I know what they’ve done to us, and I’m not going to make any excuses.”

Armstrong canceled a 1957 trip to Moscow after President Dwight D. Eisenhower refused to send federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce school-integration laws. “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell,” he said. “It’s getting so bad, a colored man hasn’t got any country.”

Administration officials feared that this broadside, especially from someone so genial as “Ambassador Satchmo,” would trigger a diplomatic disaster. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles told Attorney General Herbert Brownell that the situation in Arkansas was “ruining our foreign policy.” Two weeks later, facing pressure from many quarters, Eisenhower sent the National Guard to Arkansas. Armstrong praised the move and agreed to go on a concert tour of South America.

The jazzmen’s independence made some officials nervous. But the shrewder diplomats knew that on balance it helped the cause. The idea was to demonstrate the superiority of the United States over the Soviet Union, freedom over Communism, and here was evidence that an American — even a black man — could criticize his government and not be punished.

The photographs in the exhibition evoke this time when American culture and politics were so finely joined. Curtis Sandberg, the curator at Meridian International, said that during the three years it took to prepare the show his staff would frequently gaze at the photos and say, “Why aren’t we doing something like this now?”
What you may not know is that the State Department does have a small program like that today:
[...] And yet the State Department has a program in jazz diplomacy now. It’s called Rhythm Road, it’s run by Jazz at Lincoln Center (a three-year contract has just been renewed), and it sends 10 bands (mainly jazz, some hip-hop, all of which audition for the gig) to 56 countries in a year.

It’s scaled more modestly than the program of yore. For one thing, no jazz musicians — for that matter, few pop stars — are as famous as a Gillespie, Armstrong or Brubeck in his prime, and the jazz musicians in Rhythm Road are not well known even by today’s standards. The program’s goals are more modest too. There is no pretense of competing for geo-cultural primacy. But that is what gives this program its cogent post-cold-war spin.

The State Department doesn’t tell the musicians what to do, but some of them, either jointly or on their own, have decided to emphasize not their music’s peculiarly American quality but rather its resonance with the countries they’re visiting.

When the saxophonist Chris Byars took a band to Saudi Arabia this year, he played the music of Gigi Gryce, a jazz composer of the 1940s and ‘50s who converted to Islam and changed his name to Basheer Qusim. “When I announce that I’m going to play compositions by the American jazz musician Basheer Qusim, that gets their attention,” he said. “Afterward several people came up, very appreciative, saying very intensely, ‘Thank you for coming to our country.’ ”

Before the bass player Ari Roland went to Turkmenistan last year, he learned some Turkmen folk songs. His band played jazz improvisations of these songs with local musicians — the first time such mixing had been allowed — and a 15-minute news report about the concert ran on state television several times the next day.

“They saw Americans paying homage to their cultural traditions,” he said. “Several people at the concert came up and said, in effect, ‘Wow, you’re not all imperialists out to remake the world in your image.’ ”
Wow. Indeed. And dare I say: wizard.

More, please. Faster, please.

Read The Rest Scale: scat-a-rat-a-wazz-matazz.

ADDENDUM, June 30th, 2008, 9:34 a.m.: welcome, readers of, The Sideshow, and Pharyngula. Feel free to check out other posts, and the archives; I've been unable to post very frequently for a long time, but signs are good for a return to far more frequent posting on most days in the near and mid-term future, commencing this week, so feel free to come back and check. Meanwhile, remember, if you break anything, you don't have to buy it!

(But donations are always welcome, particularly since I've just moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, and am trying to put together the money to both furnish the small attic room I'm in, and to be able to move to a place of my own eventually, while waiting to get my voter registration card, to get my state ID, to be able to get access to the local medical clinic, and then see about restarting my disability application, and/or whatever the heck else I'll be doing; etc.; whee!)

ADDENDUM, June 30th, 2008, 9:49 a.m: accidentally duplicated second paragraph of quoted article removed, and replaced with the intended paragraph; oopsie!

ADDENDUM: June 30th, 2008, 10:40 a.m.: in addition to cleaning up some typos, I'm adding this rather unclearly sourced set of quotes taken from "UFO Roundup," which seems to have used Lovecraft At Last as source material:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an enthusiastic letter-writer all throughout his life, sometimes writing to several people a day. Among his regular pen pals during the last year of his life was Willis Clark Conover Jr. (1920-1996) who was then a 15- year-old boy living in Cambridge, Maryland.

While writing his book Lovecraft At Last, decades after HPL's death, Conover stated, "There is a paradox I can't resolve. When our correspondence began, H.P. Lovecraft was forty-five. Today I am older than he ever was, yet he is forever the older man. He was three times my age when I knew him. I still know him, and he doesn't change."

"Little is left of the world I knew in 1936 and 1937. World War II has come and gone. Television, jets we take for granted. Men have walked on the moon. Men's and women's clothes have become interchangeable."

"Today I'm happily married. I live in Manhattan, and I love it. I commute about fifty thousand miles per year, and I no longer exist for the newest issues of Astounding Stories and Weird Tales; the magazines themselves, as such, are gone (This was the case in 1975, when Conover's book was written. Weird Tales, "the unique magazine," was revived in the 1990s--J.T.) Everything is different."

"I don't even recognize the teenage boy I was when I wrote to Lovecraft."

"HPL lives and speaks in his letters. I am newly affected--and as much as ever--when I read them again now, from the beginning of our correspondence to its inescapable end."

"I don't recognize the boy any more. I do recognize the way he felt about H.P. Lovecraft because I feel the same way today."

"It was the boy who disappeared, not HPL."

Conover had a dream. He wanted to create a non- profit "fan magazine" (now called fanzine) devoted to the science fiction of the period.

"My father was an Army officer," Conover recalled,

"He expected me to become one, too. In due time I was to attend The Citadel--the Military College of South Carolina. But I had lived on enough Army posts and seen enough regimentation to know it wasn't for me."

"Early in life, therefore, I retreated into myself. I dreamed day and night. I sketched with pencil or pen and ink, listened to music, went to movies, read books and magazines."

"I could read almost as soon as I could talk...As a child I lived in Oz, Barsoom and Pellucidar. Beginning in the 1930s, when I found Amazing Stories and Weird Tales at newstands, I travelled to the moon, to Mars and Venus, to the past and the future, to the fourth dimension, and into crypts and castles and haunted houses."

"One day I received a letter from a science fiction fan in a Midwestern state. He had read one of my letters in a magazine, and he wanted to correspond. Soon I was exchanging letters with a half a dozen youngsters I'd never met. The sweetest music I heard was the morning clank of the gate in front of our house in Cambridge, Maryland, when the postman arrived and I prepared for new conversations with my unseen friends."

"The teenager's impulse to form a club or join a movement proved irresistible."

So was born the Science-Fantasy Correspondent, with Willis as the editor and "a boy in New Jersey as the publisher." He wrote to Weird Tales, got HPL's address in Providence, R.I. and contacted him directly. Not only did HPL agree to an interview, he supplied Willis with out-of- print poems and short stories and put him in touch with other sci-fi [note from Gary: this is a complete anachronism, as "sci-fi" wasn't coined until 1949, and wasn't used at all by anyone else until Forry Ackerman started using it in 1954, and certainly wasn't used by anyone else in the field until the 1980s and later, other than mockingly] and fantasy writers of "the Lovecraft Circle."

In November 1936, Willis wrote, "A few feet above the sidewalk across the street from my own house, there was a warp in space--the focal point of where the four ends of space meet. It resembled the navel of a seedless orange, but it was almost perfectly transparent: I could barely see it. On the sidewalk, my younger brother was walking-- backwards--toward the space-warp. I realized it was a passage into another dimension or another time. In a moment my brother would fall right through it. He would disappear into another dimension. And I would follow him."

"My mother ran out of our house and into the street, to stop my brother. 'What is he doing?' she yelled. I explained that we were going into a different time- dimension--adding that we had often taken long trips in space-time, through another passageway hidden in our attic."

"Now I had gone--without my brother--through the space-warp above the sidewalk, and I was walking down High Street" in Cambridge, Maryland "in the early 1900s. I came to some sort of small restaurant or grille out over the (Choptank River's) edge on stilts or pilings, the entrance level with the street and touching it but some ten or fifteen feet above the water."

Willis shared this dream with HPL, who wanted to hear it all. So Willis followed up with more:

Approaching the shoreside restaurant, Willis wrote, "I asked the white-jacketed cook if he could tell me where I might find 'young Lovecraft.' He said Lovecraft was out on the river in his leaky rowboat, and pointed. Sure enough, there was the H.P. Lovecraft of about 1910, rowing toward a ladder hanging from the side of the restaurant down to the water's surface. The cook told me to stick around for a moment, he'd soon have the young fellow here."

Climbing the ladder, the 20-year-old, dark-haired, brown-eyed HPL encountered the strangely-dressed boy of 15. A boy with oddly-shaped glasses, dark hair parted on the left, a blunt nose and bright, intelligent eyes.

Willis wrote, "Young Lovecraft, a somewhat frail lad of nineteen or twenty (a pretty accurate description of HPL at that age, considering that Willis never met Lovecraft--J.T.), walked up High Street with me. We chatted quite pleasantly, despite a certain reserve on his part. He seemed astonished when I told him I had come from the future to see him, that I knew the H.P. Lovecraft of nearly thirty years ahead..."

At that, Willis woke up, only to find himself lying in his own bedroom in 1936.

What to make of such a strange dream? he wondered. And what about the alien "space-warp" floating above the sidewalk? Where had the inspiration for that come from?

(Editor's Note: Bopping around in hyperspace was the forte of Salem witch Keziah Mason and her alien sidekick, Brown Jenkin, in HPL's short story The Dreams in the Witch House, published in Weird Tales in 1932.)

Intrigued by the boy's letter, Lovecraft wrote back: "Your recent dreams surely seem up to the usual standard-- that one about the hidden room and the not wholly alive sleeper being a winner! You ought to make a story of that!"

Then came HPL's astounding revelation: "I feel greatly complimented by my inclusion in the time-juggling dream, and am glad of the data on my 1910 whereabouts. I was very ill (with a bad case of the prosaic malady measles-- HPL) early in 1910, and have only a hazy recollection of things for some time during that year. Now I know where I was! Undoubtedly I had gone down to the Eastern Shore (of Maryland--J.T.) to recuperate...With this memory-jogging I distinctly recall that prepossessing visitor from the future--although I'll admit I didn't believe that time- travelling stuff. I thought you were just spoofing. Indeed, I never thought I'd be alive as far into the fabulous future as 1936."

"Pray accept my belated apologies for the skepticism of 1910! Incidentally, I used to do a little rowing here (on Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island--J.T.) as well as in Maryland."

Apparently, HPL's mother, Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, brought her ailing son to her brother Elliott Phillips' house in Maryland, to get away from New England's cold weather.


Lovecraft died on March 15, 1937 at the age of 46. Willis Conover grew up and attended the State Teacher's College at Salisbury, Md and became a radio announcer for WTBO in Cumberland, Md. He gradually found his way back into music and had a long career promoting jazz on the U.S. Information Agency's Voice of America program, supporting and organizing jazz concerts and events. He wrote the book about his friendship with HPL in 1975. Retiring from VOA in 1993, he passed away three years later.

His "Lovecraft dream" remains unexplained. (See the book Lovecraft At Last by H.P. Lovecraft and Willis Conover, Cooper Square Press, New York, N.Y., 2002, pages 130 to 136, 274 and 275.)
Book pages mentioning Science Fiction Correspondent: Lovecraft At Last.

Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi's A Dreamer and a Visionary: H.P. Lovecraft in His Time.

The Immortal Storm: A History of Science Fiction Fandom, by Sam Moskowitz.

The Eighth Stage of Fandom by Robert Bloch.

ADDENDUM, June 30th, 2008, 11:35 a.m.: welcome also to readers of Cheryl's Mewsings and Popehat, and Crooks And Liars. Also, Off The Kuff.

6/29/2008 09:14:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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WHEN HARD TIMES HIT, IT'S THE MOST VULNERABLE who suffer, and of course that includes the homeless, the poor, children, and little animals.
[...] Please Help!” begged a post from a pet owner in Carroll County, Ga., who said she had two dogs that would be homeless when her mother’s home was foreclosed on in a few weeks. “Our shelter has something like an 80 percent kill rate,” the post said. “I have exhausted every effort I know to find them a good home. No one wants a pregnant dog.”

As mounting layoffs and foreclosures have caused many middle-class Americans to lose their economic footing, some are parting with their pets, a trend that has sent a tide of displaced dogs and cats to rescue groups and county animal shelters around the country, officials said.

“One lady was crying to me today and said: ‘I’ve either got to feed my kid or feed my dog. What would you do?’ ” said Shari Johannes, owner of Dog Pack Rescue, a “no kill” shelter in Kingston, Ga., that keeps animals until they are adopted.

Like most such no-kill rescue groups in areas where foreclosures are high, Ms. Johannes, who is keeping 180 dogs on five acres, is over capacity. She will not accept any more animals, though people beg her daily to take their pets.


In Georgia, which ranked sixth in the nation in foreclosures in May, directors of county animal shelters reported that the number of pets surrendered by their owners spiked in the first part of the year.

The number of pets left at Henry County Animal Care and Control in McDonough, Ga., was up 71 percent for the first four months of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007, said Gerri Dueringer, the shelter’s director.

In Clayton County, 22 percent more pets were surrendered in the first part of the year compared with 2007, said Mark Thompson, a police captain and director of the animal shelter in Jonesboro, Ga.

Other areas of the country hit hard by foreclosures are seeing similar increases, said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States.

“In terms of relinquishment, I’d say this is the most serious circumstance that I can recall,” Mr. Pacelle said. And as more pets are being turned in, he noted, cash donations to animal rescue groups have declined and fewer people are adopting pets.

“It’s a bit of a triple whammy,” he said.

The Humane Society recently started a foreclosure fund, which offers grants of $500 to $2,000 to help nonprofit animal rescue groups weather the crisis. Since late March, when the fund was announced, 133 groups have applied for aid and 11 have been given grants.

“Obviously, it’s a crisis for local shelters; I worry about what it means for our society,” said Betsy Saul, a founder of, a Web site that showcases animals for adoption at 11,000 sites in the United States.
It means the helpless are left to suffer, and the lucky ones must be content with whatever scraps they're thrown. As usual.
[...] Ms. Thompson said the flood of new animals because of foreclosures had already led to an increase in euthanizations at her facility.

“Last month, we euthanized 151 animals for space,” she said. “In June, we’re already up past that.”

“We see people who are at the end of their rope,” Ms. Thompson said. “We’ve had some bring their animals in who are living in their cars, and we’re all in tears then.”

Ms. Dueringer, the Henry County shelter director, said: “You pick up the young, adult, healthy dog and its only crime is that it’s alive. And you have to put it to sleep. It’s torturous to staff. It’s heartbreaking.”
It always is. Spay your animals. Don't buy "purebreds," and thus support animal racism, and breeding farms; adopt mutts, save their lives, and do what you can to support your local animal shelter.

And there will still always be tears.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

6/29/2008 08:27:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHEN I WAS A LAD, WE KILLED OUR OWN DINOSAURS, left them to fossilize, squeezed them to make our own oil, and we liked it.

Americans today have the economic expectations of small children:
We'd help ourselves by some discipline:
[...] Gas taxes are used to encourage conservation, to finance roads and transit, and to fill other government coffers. Higher rates tend to insulate drivers from price spikes. On a percentage basis, Europeans have had to absorb far smaller increases in gas costs than Americans in recent years. They’re used to paying double what Americans do — or more — and they live accordingly.
See also last week's entry.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

6/29/2008 07:31:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-YOU KNOW. Forget gun rights, campaign finance issues, bright lines that no one may be executed who is not guilty of homicide (count on Fox News and the other National Inquirer-level propaganda sources to grievously lie and distort the actual issue; see also Coker v. Georgia, which in 1977 banned the death penalty for rape), voter ID, habeas corpus, and all the other crucial decisions handed down at the end of this Supreme Court term.

What really stands out is that rock music has become so totally mainstream and tame that Bob Dylan is now being quoted by the Supremes.
[...] “The absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lack Article III standing,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “‘When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.’ Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records 1965).”

Alex B. Long, a law professor at the University of Tennessee and perhaps the nation’s leading authority on the citation of popular music in judicial opinions, said this was almost certainly the first use of a rock lyric to buttress a legal proposition in a Supreme Court decision. “It’s a landmark opinion,” Professor Long said.

In the lower courts, according to a study Professor Long published in the Washington & Lee Law Review last year, Mr. Dylan is by far the most cited songwriter. He has been quoted in 26 opinions. Paul Simon is next, with 8 (12 if you count those attributed to Simon & Garfunkel). Bruce Springsteen has 5.

But Mr. Dylan has only once before been cited as an authority on Article III standing, which concerns who can bring a lawsuit in federal court. His key contribution to legal discourse has been in another area.

“The correct rule on the necessity of expert testimony has been summarized by Bob Dylan: ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,’ ” a California appeals court wrote in 1981, citing “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Eighteen other decisions have cited that lyric.

Chief Justice Roberts’s predecessor, William H. Rehnquist, cited his beloved Gilbert & Sullivan in a 1980 dissent from a decision that the press had a constitutional right of access to court proceedings. He was still an associate justice, and he thought the court had made up the right out of whole cloth. In rebuttal, Justice Rehnquist relied on the Lord Chancellor in “Iolanthe” to rebuke the majority. “The Law is the true embodiment of everything that’s excellent,” the Lord Chancellor says. “It has no kind of fault or flaw, and I, my Lords, embody the Law.”

That made Justice Rehnquist’s point pretty well. The Roberts citation is more problematic.

On the one hand, he showed excellent taste. “Like a Rolling Stone,” as Greil Marcus has written, is “the greatest record ever made, perhaps, or the greatest record that ever would be made.”

On the other hand, Chief Justice Roberts gets the citation wrong, proving that he is neither an originalist nor a strict constructionist. What Mr. Dylan actually sings, of course, is, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
Thus Adam Liptak refutes Roberts, and we are left weeping that the Chief Justice (through his clerks) can't manage basic Googling/fact-checking, and so everybody must get stoned.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, 4:28 p.m.: To point out the obvious, the Court lies on or just over a knife's edge, and keeping McCain from winning is our only hope for the next thirty-odd years.
[...] And that may be fine for the core of the conservative wing, which could be revisiting them for years. Roberts is 53, Alito 58, and even Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been on the court for nearly 17 years, turned only 60 last week.
And Supremes tend to stay on the court into their 80s and 90s. John Paul Stevens is 88. The above three may stay even longer, given how advanced gerontology will be in thirty-plus years. You know about SENS, the "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence Foundation," right?

Consider the implications for the Supreme Court. Consider them hard. Because those are the sort of people who will be the first to get practical treatments.

And, yes, it's the "Methuselah Foundation."

Sound familiar?

6/29/2008 07:09:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

-- Gary Hussein Farber

Read The Rest Scale: 4 Spartaci out of 5.

6/28/2008 07:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008
GREEN ACRES ISN'T FOR ME, and unless you grow corn, and count on your ethanol subsidy, or are otherwise rich, it probably isn't for you.

The rise in energy prices has been inevitable and obvious since before I was born, but this is one of only many reasons why city living, in a place with good mass transit, will become more and more obviously, to even the least observant, the most affordable choice of a place to live for decades to come, for those who can't live by Amazon and interwebs, until the next technological energy shift:
[...] Mr. Boyle and his wife must drive nearly an hour to their jobs in the high-tech corridor of southern Denver. With gasoline at more than $4 a gallon, Mr. Boyle recently paid $121 to fill his pickup truck with diesel fuel. In March, the last time he filled his propane tank to heat his spacious house, he paid $566, more than twice the price of 5 years ago.

Though Mr. Boyle finds city life unappealing, it is now up for reconsideration.

“Living closer in, in a smaller space, where you don’t have that commute,” he said. “It’s definitely something we talk about. Before it was ‘we spend too much time driving.’ Now, it’s ‘we spend too much time and money driving.’”
Duh. As a result:
[...] In Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Minneapolis, homes beyond the urban core have been falling in value faster than those within, according to an analysis by Moody’s

In Denver, housing prices in the urban core rose steadily from 2003 until late last year compared with previous years, before dipping nearly 5 percent in the last three months of last year, according to But house prices in the suburbs began falling earlier, in the middle of 2006, and then accelerated, dropping by 7 percent during the last three months of the year from a year earlier.


More than three-fourths of prospective home buyers are now more inclined to live in an urban area because of fuel prices, according to a recent survey of 903 real estate agents with Coldwell Banker, the national brokerage firm.


In a recent study, Mr. Cortright found that house prices in the urban centers of Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Portland and Tampa have fared significantly better than those in the suburbs. So-called exurbs — communities sprouting on the distant edges of metropolitan areas — have suffered worst of all, Mr. Cortright found.

Basic household arithmetic appears to be furthering the trend: In 2003, the average suburban household spent $1,422 a year on gasoline, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By April of this year — when gas prices were about $3.60 a gallon— the same household was spending $3,196 a year, more than doubling consumption in dollar terms in less than five years.

In March, Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles on public roads than in the same month the previous year, a 4.3 percent decrease — the sharpest one-month drop since the Federal Highway Administration began keeping records in 1942.
Want to save money? Think about moving to a city. Want the country to live better? Think about how Congress can help improve urban living, including more money for mass transit.

And your next car, if you have to have one?
[...] Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, calculated that the jump in gas prices from $2 a gallon to $4 has taken $50 a month from the typical suburban commuter driving 25 miles a day.
Think hybrid. Think electric. A bit down the road (ho), consider hydrogen. And did you realize that next year you may be able to get an air car?

I don't know cars, but at Amygdala we know the future.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 insofar as you plan on living in a "place," or will ever need to get from one place to another.

ADDENDUM, 7/17/08, 12:02 p.m.: Tom Tomorrow sums up.

6/25/2008 04:28:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Senator Clinton lost my vote in 2005 when she came out against the First Amendment as a cheap campaign issue, because it was "only video games," proving she had no idea what the point of the First Amendment was, which is to protect speech which is endangered, not speech that is not.

First they come for the comics, the rock and roll, the video games, the underground publications, the despised expressions of those with little or no political power, the outlets of those with no votes.

Now Cuomo must lose.

What is it about New York State politicians that causes them, of all people, to hate free speech, and when they've cut down all the Constitutional freedoms -- and they're just the people to do it -- do you really think we could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

All "for the children"? How will the children stand in the winds that will then blow?

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

6/16/2008 07:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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[...] The ugly split within the GOP is clearly not something McCain has forgotten. In fact, he has launched a campaign to silence his conservative critics who live, literally, in his back yard.
Occasionally he also throws them table scraps.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for some interesting points on Arizona's being a battleground state, and the McCain campaign recognizing hard reality there, but only for campaign junkies.

If you're into that sort of campaign detail, see here for some interesting points on how Obama and McCain do with women, and how the nomination battle didn't have the effect you might think.

Lastly, this is interesting:
At least 14 Republican members of Congress have refused to endorse or publicly support Sen. John McCain for president, and more than a dozen others declined to answer whether they back the Arizona senator.
Gangs of 14 are so in in the early days of the 21st Century.

Past Literalism Watch posts include here, here, here, here, here.


6/16/2008 09:53:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, June 08, 2008
HAIL SENATOR CLINTON. Words to live by.
[...] The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States. [applause] Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.

I have served in the Senate with him for four years, I have been in this campaign with him for sixteen months. I have stood on the stage and gone toe-to-toe with him in twenty-two debates. I’ve had a front row seat to his candidacy and I have seen his strength and determination, his grace and his grit. In his own life, Barack Obama has lived the American Dream. As a community organizer and State Senate and as a United States Senator, he has dedicated himself to insuring the dream is realized and in this campaign, he has inspired so many to become involved in the democratic process, and invested in our common future. Now when I started this race, I intended to win back the White House and make sure we have a President who puts our country back on the path to peace, prosperity and progress. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do by insuring that Barack Obama walks through the doors of the Oval Office on January 20, 2009.

I understand that we all know this has been a tough fight. The Democratic Party is a family, and it’s now time to restore the ties that bind us together and to come together around the ideals we share, the values we cherish, and the country we love.

We may have started on separate journeys – but today, our paths have merged. And we are all heading toward the same destination, united and more ready than ever to win in November and to turn our country around because so much is at stake.

We all want an economy that sustains the American Dream, the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford that gas and those groceries and still have a little left over at the end of the month. An economy that lifts all of our people and ensures that our prosperity is broadly distributed and shared.

We all want a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable so that parents no longer have to choose between care for themselves or their children or be stuck in dead end jobs simply to keep their insurance. This isn’t just an issue for me – it is a passion and a cause – and it is a fight I will continue until every single American is insured – no exceptions, no excuses.

We all want an America defined by deep and meaningful equality – from civil rights to labor rights, from women’s rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families.

We all want to restore America’s standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq and once again lead by the power of our values, and to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming.


We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much.

Now the journey ahead will not be easy. Some will say we can’t do it. That it’s too hard. That we’re just not up to the task. But for as long as America has existed, it has been the American way to reject “can’t do” claims, and to choose instead to stretch the boundaries of the possible through hard work, determination, and a pioneering spirit.

It is this belief, this optimism, that Senator Obama and I share, and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard.

So today, I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes, we can.


This election is a turning point election and it is critical that we all understand what our choice really is. Will we go forward together or will we stall and slip backwards? Think how much progress we have already made. When we first started, people everywhere asked the same questions:

Could a woman really serve as Commander-in-Chief? Well, I think we answered that one.

And could an African American really be our President? Senator Obama has answered that one.

Together Senator Obama and I achieved milestones essential to our progress as a nation, part of our perpetual duty to form a more perfect union.


So I want to say to my supporters, when you hear people saying – or think to yourself – “if only” or “what if,” I say, “please don’t go there.” Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.

Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be. And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama is our next President and I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort.
Full speech here. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.

I remain desperately short of sleep, but hope to have further comment tomorrow, and hope to be able to get some sleep tonight, after midnight, when it starts to cool down. (Currently I have no a/c, just 7 fans, and some a/c leakage from outside where I'm sleeping, and it's been 103 here in Raleigh, with a "RealFeel" of... wait for it... 116. It's only around 87 in this room, but that's still uncomfortable. But after midnight it should be, I hope, cool enough to finally get some vastly needed sleep.)

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. Yay, Team Democrat. Go forth and do what Senator Clinton says!

Incidentally, and only tangentially, what Lance Mannion said here. I should write that phrase more often, and plan to. More directly relevantly to this post, this one, and what what Melissa "Wev" McEwan said.

I'm also sad about other misunderstandings in this campaign, but later for that, and now for this.

ADDENDUM, June 9th, 2:11 a.m.: I'm not getting any sleep, and will be a wreck, again, tomorrow, preserving my record of getting no or only 2-4 hours sleep a night, of the past five weeks plus. So in lieu of the thoughtful post I'd hoped to make, I suggest reading many of the insightful comments in this thread, and in this one. My plan was to highlight several specific comments, and write my thoughts about them, but I can't count on having the ability to do that tomorrow, and I surely can't do it now, I'm so exhausted, so, sorry, you'll have to do most of the work here; apologies.

ADDENDUM, 2:22 a.m.: Okay, I did write this:
"Electing a qualified woman president seemed a truly history-changing event. At 22, my grandma voted in the first election I was sad my feminist mother died 4 years ago and didn't get a chance to vote for Hillary. I would imagine African Americans felt similarly about Obama."

Grand to see you back, Redstocking! Welcome!

"Electing a qualified woman president seemed a truly history-changing event."

So is electing a qualified African-American candidate, so obviously that can't be it, alone.

I suggest that you may have the answer in your next two sentences: "At 22, my grandma voted in the first election I was sad my feminist mother died 4 years ago and didn't get a chance to vote for Hillary. I would imagine African Americans felt similarly about Obama."

What you are saying -- and I see this in many women, and some men -- is that Senator Clinton's campaign was, and her nomination would have been, a history-changing event that you identify personally with.

There's nothing whatever wrong with that! We are all the sum of the different parts of our identity! It is fine to identify with ourselves if it is within reason. And preferring a qualified woman to a qualified man is an utterly valid thing to do when you identify more with the historic nature of the first woman to come within a hair's breath of the nomination than you do with the first African-American to edge past that hair's breath.

Just as it's fine for African-Americans, and many other Americans, women and men alike, to identify as much or more with the first dark-skinned Democratic nominee for President.

Just as it was fine for Catholics to identify with John F. Kennedy, and for some Jews to identify with -- eeuw, yes, I know -- Joe Lieberman (that was then, this is now; hey, Al Gore picked him, not me).

And so on.

We are who we are, and that's a valid choice.

So maybe that's not if, but if it is, that's fine, I suggest.

What do you think?
2:23 a.m., and it's down to 81 degrees. If only I could sleep.

6/08/2008 04:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

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Friday, June 06, 2008
THIS IS OUR WAR. Chris Hedges brings us:
[...] "And we were approaching this one house and this farming area; they're, like, built up into little courtyards," he said.

"So they have like the main house, common area. They have like a kitchen and then they have like a storage-shed-type deal. And we were approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, because it was doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it. And he didn't -- motherf---er -- he shot it, and it went in the jaw and exited out.

"So I see this dog -- and I'm a huge animal lover. I love animals -- and this dog has like these eyes on it, and he's running around spraying blood all over the place. And the family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified. And I'm at a loss for words. And so I yell at him. I'm like, 'What the f--- are you doing?' And so the dog's yelping. It's crying out without a jaw. And I'm looking at the family, and they're just scared. And so I told them, I was like, 'F---ing shoot it,' you know. 'At least kill it, because that can't be fixed. It's suffering.' And I actually get tears from just saying this right now, but -- and I had tears then, too -- and I'm looking at the kids and they are so scared. So I got the interpreter over with me and I get my wallet out and I gave them twenty bucks, because that's what I had. And, you know, I had him give it to them and told them that I'm so sorry that asshole did that. Which was very common.


The vanquished know the essence of war -- death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin, with its goals of hatred and destruction. They know how war fosters alienation, leads inevitably to nihilism, and is a turning away from the sanctity and preservation of life. All other narratives about war too easily fall prey to the allure and seductiveness of violence as well as the attraction of the godlike power that comes with the license to kill with impunity.

But the words of the vanquished come later, sometimes long after the war, when grown men and women unpack the suffering they endured as children: what it was like to see their mother or father killed or taken away, or what it was like to lose their homes, their community, their security, and to be discarded as human refuse. But by then few listen. The truth about war comes out, but usually too late. We are assured by the war-makers that these stories have no bearing on the glorious violent enterprise the nation is about to inaugurate. And, lapping up the myth of war and its sense of empowerment, we prefer not to look.
This is your war. This is our war.

This (earlier in story) is what we bring when we bring war:
[...] Being surrounded by a hostile population makes simple acts, such as going to a store to buy a can of Coke, dangerous. The fear and stress push troops to view everyone around them as the enemy. The hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find. The rage soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed, over time, to innocent civilians who are seen to support the insurgents.

Civilians and combatants, in the eyes of the beleaguered troops, merge into one entity. These civilians, who rarely interact with soldiers or Marines, are to most of the occupation troops in Iraq nameless, faceless, and easily turned into abstractions of hate. They are dismissed as less than human. It is a short psychological leap, but a massive moral leap. It is a leap from killing -- the shooting of someone who has the capacity to do you harm -- to murder -- the deadly assault against someone who cannot harm you.


The killing project is not described in these terms to a distant public. The politicians still speak in the abstract terms of glory, honor and heroism, in the necessity of improving the world, in lofty phrases of political and spiritual renewal. Those who kill large numbers of people always claim it as a virtue. The campaign to rid the world of terror is expressed within the confines of this rhetoric, as if once all terrorists are destroyed, evil itself will vanish.

The reality behind the myth, however, is very different. The reality and the ideal tragically clash when soldiers and Marines return home. These combat veterans are often alienated from the world around them, a world that still believes in the myth of war and the virtues of the nation. They confront the grave, existential crisis of all who go through combat and understand that we have no monopoly on virtue, that in war we become as barbaric and savage as those we oppose.

This is a profound crisis of faith. It shatters the myths, national and religious, that these young men and women were fed before they left for Iraq. In short, they uncover the lie they have been told. Their relationship with the nation will never be the same. These veterans give us a true narrative of the war -- one that exposes the vast enterprise of industrial slaughter unleashed in Iraq. They expose the lie.


"This unit sets up this traffic control point, and this 18-year-old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50-caliber machine gun," remembered Sgt. Geoffrey Millard, who served in Tikrit with the 42nd Infantry Division. "And this car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split-second decision that that's a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts two hundred rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father, and two kids. The boy was aged 4 and the daughter was aged 3.

"And they briefed this to the general," Millard said, "and they briefed it gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. They briefed it to him. And this colonel turns around to this full division staff and says, 'If these f---ing hajis learned to drive, this sh-t wouldn't happen.'"

Millard and tens of thousands of other veterans suffer not only delayed reactions to stress but this crisis of faith. The God they knew, or thought they knew, failed them. The church or the synagogue or the mosque, which promised redemption by serving God and country, did not prepare them for the awful betrayal of this civic religion, for the capacity we all have for human atrocity, because the stories of heroism used to mask the reality of war.

War is always about betrayal: betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics, and of troops by politicians. This bitter knowledge of betrayal has seeped into the ranks of America's Iraq war veterans. It has unleashed a new wave of disillusioned veterans not seen since the Vietnam War. It has made it possible for us to begin, again, to see war's death mask and understand our complicity in evil.
I spent a good part of circa 1979 working at SEA-VAC, the Seattle Veteran's Action Center, a place devoted to helping Vietnam Vets in trouble in one way or another, to provide resources for them. Many were dysfunctional, suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); many had drug and/or alcohol problems. A significant number had become homeless.

All who showed up were wounded, though most not physically.

But their pain radiated. And I'd find myself running into faces I knew, in succeeding years, on the streets of Seattle, and on the waterfront, and camped in nooks of the Pike Place Market.

Their pain radiated.

Some got better.

Others did not.

The war was always with them. The war, your personal war, if you are a combat vet, so far as I know, rarely leaves most vets. It just, at best, gets pushed down inside, crushed into a small ball, put away as best as can be, denied, over-ridden, drowned out in some fashion or another, by those who cope best, and can best put it besides them.

But the war always remains.

The war never ends. It only burns lower, and with luck, the embers grow cool.

Save for the bad nights, and those moments when a car backfires, or a voice in another language, or the smell of burning meat, or another sound, or taste, or smell, or sight, suddenly brings it all back, overwhelming the senses and memory, for a time, whether a moment, or a whole new descent into a spiral of nightmare.

And so it is, even worse, for the victims of the war, the survivors of those killed and maimed, those with homes destroyed, villages ravaged, lives uprooted, families made into refugees, hatred and a craving for revenge to long live with many, while others can still somehow find peace.

We Americans: this is our war. This is my war. This is your war. This is what we have brought to Iraq. This is the "liberation."

This is all our war. This is always what we bring when we bring war.

This is all our war.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. Welcome to the war you own. Welcome to Iraq War, indefinitely, if America elects President McCain, as superb addition to Obsidian Wings, longtime contributor to terrific foreign policy blog, American Footprints, Eric Martin explains.

This is what we'll bring the world, and Iraq, and ourselves.

This is the price of oil. This is the price of big cars, and not bothering to turn lights out, and leaving tvs on, and using electricity without thinking about it, taking it for granted that it comes out of a magic infinite pipe, with no cost in human suffering.

This is the price of not doing all we can to conserve energy, but instead wasting it without thought for consequences: mutilated bodies and mind -- ourselves, and "enemy" alike.

We have to stop it.

Every day we're in Iraq under these conditions is another day of mutiliation, of limbs, of families, of psyches of soldiers and civilians alike, of our Army, of our young men and women, of their lives, of everyone's lives who sees the war in their face, and of our own, American, families, when the war comes home.

The war always comes home, one way or another.

Work to stop it. End the war, or at least our part in it. End it now.

Help us do the work.

Every day, try to do some little thing to help, however small. One day at a time: we can do it.

Change America, and the world. This is the best chance of my lifetime, since that terrible night, 40 years ago. Please do what you can to let us finally turn the country around, and help America become more of what it can be. Help end the Forty Years War. (Robert S. McElvaine explains: go read it; I was thinking much of this same stuff this afternoon, thinking about forty years ago yesterday, and where it all went wrong.) (Why were he and I thinking along the same lines? Because we're right, of course.)


Addendum, 11:43 a.m.: The closest I've come to being in the military was being Assistant Patrol Leader and Second Class Scout of my Boy Scout Troop. The closest I've come to war is Call of Duty 4. All I know I know from talking to actual veterans, and almost entirely from reading. But from a vast amount of reading.

Here is another book, for those who want to read more. The Politics of Readjustment: Vietnam Veterans Since the War, by Wilbur J. Scott.

6/06/2008 01:36:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 11 comments

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Thursday, June 05, 2008
CLEAN SLATE DAY. I'm too tired, from no sleep at all in twenty-four hours, and only two hours in the previous twenty-four to that, and two hours in the previous twenty-four to that, and mostly just two hours of sleep for weeks, with an occasional exception of four hours, and much gout pain, and much other stress, to do any kind of formal rewrite or polish of the following.

But I want to say this louder, and say it where I can find it again, on my own blog, however unpolished and rough it was when I wrote it on June 04, 2008 at 11:57 AM:
[...] As for Clinton's speech, what I have to say is this: it's over. Obama won. It's time now to come together, and unite the party to defeat John McCain and the Republicans in November.

I'd like to see us all focus on that, and avoid any actions or statements that would get in the way of that.

Senator Clinton moved off the stage last night, and that was her last moment to shine for her supporters. I don't begrudge her in the least focusing on them then, and beginning the process of bringing them down and towards supporting Obama for president as gradually as she sees fit. Let her have her last night of sun, and let her supporters take all they can from it, which is little enough: remember, for them, last night was a crushing and horribly depressing moment. It was a loss. It was a recognition that for all those who aren't in completely InsanityLand, it's over.

That's terribly hard to go through. It's like a death in the family when you care that much. I know what it's like to see your hopes and dreams disappear for years, decades, perhaps a lifetime, with a political loss.

And for so many people, and particularly so many women, this was yet another blow to women, and however we may want to debate the reality of the issues, and the statements, and their truth, and all those other things that matter to *us*, to so many women, all that matters is that yet again, victory was, as they see it, snatched from a woman, the patriarchy triumphed, and Wrong Was Done.

Let them down gently. Do your best to welcome them back. Help them through the Kubler Ross process.

We need everyone we can get to defeat McCain, and save lives around the planet, and help us turn America back towards the country we know it can be.

There's time enough for Senator Clinton to formally endorse Obama, and to begin campaigning for him. Give it that time. Give time for the five stages of grief, which only began last night for all those supporters of Senator Clinton.

No matter that, yes, it was over by Texas and Pennslyvania: they didn't see that, and that's not their reality. We're talking emotions, and hopes, and dreams, and the feelings of people who have felt kicked in this huge part of their identity all their life.

Telling them, or expecting them, to be all rational about it just isn't reasonable, because people don't work that way.

People have feelings. Let them have them.

This is the beginning of June. Give them a couple of weeks. Please. Put yourself in their shoes, and have some compassion for their human frailties.

It's the right thing to do.

No matter all the logical arguments in the world. This isn't about logic. And -- irony that this is me saying it -- it isn't always about logic and rationality and what's correct or true or objective.

Sometimes it's about letting hurt people grieve in their own way, and being kind to them while they're doing it.

Let's all try to be our best possible selves about this? Okay?


And to the people who will show up to complain about how selfish and wrong the Clinton supporters are, and how righteously we deserve to tell them to grow up, and behave better, and so on and so forth: just try putting a sock in it for a week or two, okay? Be a grownup yourself. Set an example. Make your mom, or loved one, proud of you.

Time to move on.
And later I wrote this:
Okay, due to circumstances, I was unable to see Senator Clinton's speech live, or more than a bit of it, despite my best efforts, and my knowledge that I'll remember this night the rest of my life, and now I'll remember it with disappointment and irritation, I've now read the transcript, and in combination with the bits I saw, I have to say that I don't know what people are talking about in seeing anything amiss about it.

I'll have to go read Matt and Sullivan, and whomever else, because my own response is: huh? Wha? What are you talking about?

I'm a little tired of people looking to take offense from fellow Democrats, rather than looking to interpret words charitably, or on their face value.

Can we stop that now, please?

And later this.

And I wrote this today:
"I hate to get into clintonian semantics, but this carefully worded sentence does not actually admit that Obama is gonna be the nominee.......yet."

Perhaps those of us who wish to think of ourselves as grownups might consider displaying some presumption of good faith?

I'm doing so. I believe Senator Clinton. I thank her for her statement.

Today is a new day. We need to beat John McCain, and get as many Republicans as we can out of Congress, and out of the state legislatures.

I'm going to do my best to put this terrible nomination campaign behind us, and move on. I want to give all my fellow Democrats as much of a clean slate as I can, and regard tomorrow as yet another new day, with past grievances forgotten as best I can, and where they're not to be forgotten -- and I confess that there are many I will be unable to forget in the slightest for a very very very long time, if ever -- I will pretend it is otherwise.

At least until the second Tuesday in November.

What y'all do is up to you. That's what I'm doing.

Anyone who wants to join me is free to speak up.
Who's with me?

Tangentially, also this, by the way. I do tons of comment writing at Obsidian Wings, if you haven't noticed. Tons.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5. I'd like to write a great deal more about what I think about all this, which is a lot, but, alas, circumstances make that very difficult this week, and in another week, I hope it may be moot. We'll just have to see, and, as you know, Bob, only time will tell.

Also, a stitch in time saves nine.

ADDENDUM, 11:23 a.m.: Also this:
"In fact I don't think there was a mob of Clinton haters"

What, anywhere?

This is the problem: endless numbers of people keep making, or denying, generalities that have to be true as generalities, while not realizing that by doing so, they enrage everyone who fits their generality, but of whom their claim isn't true.

When you use that structure for a claim, you have to be doing that. The language does what it does, your intentions having nothing to do with it.

So, please: notice that by structuring claims this way, you have to be making untrue and unfair and hurtful assertions.

So maybe everyone should stop it.

Be specific about whom you're making claims about, hmm?

ADDENDUM, June 8th, 8:22 p.m.: See also Senator Clinton's speech. To those who doubted: neener, neener.

6/05/2008 07:06:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 6 comments

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