Friday, January 16, 2009

Onto the Breach

It has been a long time since I updated this blog. Just as well. I meant to weed out the fickle readership that I had wrongly attracted through internet-driven self promotion, and I hope I have succeeded. If you are reading this, you are one of the truly devoted, which means you're either a saint of a fool. Only you can answer which. Now, some brief, scattered thoughts on fascism:

There is the question of Nazis. Who are they? Where do they come from? They have nothing to do with Germany or the Germans, of course. That psychology fucker that did that famous experiment decades ago proving how far people would go in torturing another human being proved that we are all, at heart, Nazis.

So how long until day traders leave the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to goosestep down Park Avenue to the Ride of the Valkyries? Only time will tell, but with the bullshit going on in business today, it seems like it doesn’t necessarily have to be far off. Thank the gods for Saint Obama. If it were Bush elected this year and not taking leave to suffer through the last days of his life in a state of post-presidential, Nixonian disgrace, things would look far different.

If Bush were today our incoming president, I’d probably buying commercial quantities of arm bands and just waiting for the propaganda ministry to issue the Fourth Reich’s official seal so I could produce and distribute them through my eBay store. What is the purpose of life if not to profit from the misery of others?

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Tale of Two Campaigns: How a Call for Change Degenerated into Nixon-esque Deception

Look into my eyes. You know this love is real.

Obama was for Change. Then McCain was for change. Then Obama was for lowering taxes for the middle class. Then McCain was for fixing Warshington [sic], which clearly was/is "broken." Then Obama was for teaching that old dude (his opponent) how to use the internets. Then McCain was for keeping pornography out of our kindergarten classrooms.

I had such high hopes for this campaign. Obama, with his astounding Horatio Alger-esque story and his nuanced, undilluted answers to difficult questions, made me think that perhaps this country has retained its fabled upward mobility. I thought that, with him in power, this country could once again be run by a pragmatic, utilitarian individual unfettered by ideology. And McCain, a war hero with an undisputed strength of character and a moral compass that no person or group could tamper with ensured that, even if Obama lost, the country would be in much better hands than it was during the previous eight years.

But this campaign has, to varying extents, made beasts of both these men. They have both been responsible for departing completely from the issues this country faces, opting instead to create an atmosphere of destructive, infantile personal attacks and lies on issues such as sexism (Mccain) and racism (Obama) in the campaign, and immigration (both). Obama has publicly quoted McCain as "always [being] for less regulation," which was disproven here. And McCain said that Obama's "one accomplishment" in the field of education was to support comprehensive sex education to kindergarteners, which was disproven here.

The pattern here seems to be that the campaigns have been wildly skewing the nature of commentary given by pundits, government officials, and their opponents to the point that the message percieved by the public is radically different than the reality of what was said. So the obvious next step would be to just completely fabricate speeches, conversations, bills, votes, or events. Given what's being said by both camps, it doesn't seem that far off.

I was watching a Jim Lehrer PBS Documentary on past Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates, and the debates of the past looked quaint and civil compared to what is going on now. Scum-merchants like Rupert Murdoch have rotted our brains so much that we can't handle a debate on the issues anymore. We are becoming a headline-only nation. Welcome to FOX country. Leave your intellect at the door.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


And a pound-pound
As the fist, like honeybaked ham slams down on particle-board top
More...I mean less, and buy buy sell sell!
Words shuddering down drywall and vibrating across fiber-optics information stream.

Where did that go, and who put that what where?
While jobs lost families broken
Yellows and greens
On the Bloomberg Machine.
If money is love, call me Don Juan
Whiles fingers blush and faces bleed
Yellows and greens on the bloomberg machine.

Ring ring ring
Ain't nothing happening but out and way-out
Scott-Heron said, he, years before on 125th and Lenox
And bombs fall on tent-cities in hovel-world
Bentleys parked out on high-rise shuddering drywall
Breeze tipping, topping
Bombs dropping.
All for yellows and greens on the bloomberg machine.

Photons sizzle on underground lines
The rest of it sits
It's moving and still there.
Assistant licking up stained-coffee mess
And all of it sits.
The bombs dropping
On the Bentleys now.
We wore cardboard eyeglasses so we couldn't see
All for yellows and greens on the bloomberg machine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pretension at the Financial Times: Frederic Malle's Quest for the World's Most Obscure Adjective

Frederic Malle has an eye for good perfumes. The other, smaller one is so he doesn't bump into things.

The place where I work has a vast wealth of magazines and periodicals streaming through it daily, which is how I came across this gem of a cover. It is the cover to an insert in the Financial Times: the metrosexual (it's pink), English version of the Wall Street Journal.

The title of the insert is: "How to Spend It." One of my colleagues has pointed out that I should also subscribe to "How to Make It," the subtext being that, as a career dishwasher, I cannot afford Msr. Malle's fancy perfumes or a Rolls Royce or a diamond-encrusted mustache comb. I have only one thing to say to you, nameless colleague: touche. I am poor, and I hope that pointing this out made you feel richer.

But enough of this, for we are all here for the perfume, after all. The cover, shown above, is of Frederic Malle who, according to the words on the bottom, is "In Search of the Perfect Perfume." I would venture to guess that he is searching a lot easier with his left eye than his right, being that the left is doubly as large.

But funny cover aside, Msr. Malle really is a perfume visionary. According to the article, Msr. Malle "has no laboratories of his own, no big budgets or multinational advertising campaigns and yet, mention his name in sophisticated circles where perfume is truly understood and talked about, and a certain air of reverence enters the debate."

Wow. I really have been going to the wrong parties. Usually we all talk about whether Axe or Bod is the better bodyspray. Clearly my circle of friends neither truly understands nor truly talks about perfume. I bet if you mentioned Frederic Malle in a debate, there wouldn't be the slightest hint of reverence in the room. How pathetic.

So now I know how to spend my money. I'll drop about $250 for 100 mL of this guy's perfume, douse myself in it, and go to classy parties where perfume is truly understood and talked about. I can't believe I actually had a will to live before this epiphany.

Pretension at the Financial Times will be back next week with:

Countdown to Steel-Dog Destruction

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stamp Collecting for Dummies or How to Network With Indian Hobbyists

One of my brother's friends, for some reason, had me join his "stamp collecting" group on Facebook. I am still not quite sure if his supposed love for stamps is a joke or not. That's where all the trouble started...

Just kidding, there really isn't much trouble in this story--I just thought that'd add a little drama. But I shall continue:

So then some "person" on Facebook called Stamps Int friended me. That, I believe, caused me to be friended by an individual in India whose name I will not mention for his (or her) protection. This person left a message when they friended me, which went something like:

It is always very nice to meet a fellow collector. I am a stamp enthusiast, and would love to learn from you about what kind of stamps there are in your country, and how it is to be a collector there.

My natural instinct is to, in pure Brando fashion, immerse myself in the role of the stamp collector, and see how far I can take it before making my first enemy on the Indian subcontinent. But I don't know much about stamps, and I'm not sure I can fake it. Here is the complete list of information I can offer this Indian person:
  1. First-class postage for a normal-sized letter is 42 cents.

  2. Stamps in the United States often have pictures of dead presidents, Elvis, or Neil Armstrong on the Moon on them. Or kitties!

  3. When there are wavy lines on a stamp, that means it has been used to mail something. The postal service puts these wavy lines on stamps so that they cannot be used twice. I also believe that a stamp without the wavy lines is worth more than one with wavy lines to stamp collectors.

  4. If a stamp is stuck to an envelope, you can remove it with steam. I would probably use a tea kettle. Tea kettles are fun because they are a good excuse to try out your annoying English accent. Just yell "Put the kettle on, love!" at someone.

  5. There are 42 cent stamps, 2 cent stamps (only really old people have these), and "forever" stamps, which you can either use to mail things forever (hence the name), or as a really silly investment, since they only cost, like 48 cents or something, so if you hold onto them for 15 years, the postage will probably be 60 cents, and you'll have saved yourself 12 cents per stamp. Glorious.
Yea, so I'm pretty much running out of things I know. I don't really think I'll fool this Indian person, but I'll try. I wonder what someone thinks when someone else tries to trick that person in to thinking he/she is a stamp collector. It's not quite normal.
If you have more things I can tell my new Indian friend, let me know in the comments!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Abortion Argument Put to Rest

People have been arguing about abortion for a long time. I even partook in some argument in my ethics class last year. Now I love beating a dead horse as much as the next guy, but this horse is pretty smelly and mostly decomposed. It's time this argument is put to rest, because this topic is distracting from more current questions that we don't, as of yet, have an answer to.

Sarah Palin, John McCain's maverickish pick for VP, is Pro-Life, and so much so that she is having her 17-year old daughter (pictured left) bring the baby to term, AND marry the "father." I put father in quotes because, if I know anything about men, I know that the look that kid is giving above is the "as soon as this campaign is over, I am changing my name and moving to Mexico" look.
I certainly don't fault Palin and her daughter for choosing to keep the baby, since it is undoubtedly the more compassionate and ethical choice if you have the means to raise it, but the marriage is another matter. I don't think that these circumstances (forced by the parents, the Republican Party and the entire news-consuming public of the United States) are conducive for the formation of a lifelong commitment. This is the product of abstinence-only education, which is such a patently unrealistic and stupid policy that it boggles the mind.

But I digress. Now if you try to argue about whether abortion constitutes murder then you'll be embroiled in a philosophical argument that, like most philosophical arguments, will never end as long as there are human beings that love the sound of their own voice. Trying to come to a conclusion about whether a fetus is alive is like trying to run off the edge of the earth.

BUT if you argue about whether it is reasonable to outlaw abortion in the United States, the answer is simple: no, it is not. There have been societies in the past that have outlawed the practice, and what they end up with are disturbing back-room procedures performed with coat-hangers and other such horrific events. If we outlaw abortion, those practices will make a comeback, and I'm sure no one on either side views this as a healthy alternative to the status quo.

So, there's the end of the argument. I probably should have put that part in the beginning, but oh well. Now on to Republican blog sites so I can futilely try to make them see the error of their ways. Auf wiedersehen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crazy Like a Fox: How to Turn Your Brain into Cream of Wheat with Nothing But a TV Set

I know for a fact that I am not the only person that finds mainstream 24-hour news stations disturbing. I brought this up once to someone, who replied to my statement that this trend is harmful to the national current events dialogue by saying: "It's not news, it's just entertainment."

I didn't have a rebuttal to this at the time. Or maybe I did, but I didn't feel like getting into this sort of argument with a person I had just met seconds ago. But here is my current rebuttal: watching clowns riding unicycles is entertainment. But, if someone watches these clowns for an hour on TV, they don't come away thinking: "Wow, I really understand what's going on in the world now."

If you watch FOX News and are impressionable, this is exactly what happens. You come away believing that Barack Obama went to a Muslim school, or that we should care about Jessica Simpson or some crazy woman that is dragging her daughter behind a motorboat in the Florida Keys, or that Sarah Palin is the greatest thing to happen to America since Friends went off the air.

There is something harmful in spouting rumors and half-truths to the American Viewing Public, especially when your demographic is the least educated, least informed, most impressionable segment of America. This is yet another way that an unchecked free market fails this country.