Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quote of the Day: From Observation

"You have to humble your view to approach the truth."

Forgiveable Puns #1

She walked in like a personification of trouble. I similed.

There Is No Time. Part 2

~ this post is a Part 2. There was also a Part 1 ~

So, a popular definition of time is: time is what keeps everything from happening all at once. If time does not exist, what keeps everything from happening all at once?

Well, everything is happening all at once. And not in any philosophical or freakadelic way! In just the plain way we see. Everything is happening continuously, in every direction, at all rates of speed. It's just that everything can't happen everywhere at once. When two things happen towards each other from opposite directions and collide, we say "an event!" When we fret over everything happening at once (and how to keep this from happening) we fret not over matter things, or energy things, but over relation things. We fret over events.

We really needn't fret over that! Yes, an event is - in terms of parts of speech, it's a noun. An event is a "thing," in that sense. But it is not a "thing" in the sense of such material or physical things as matter, energy. Events don't multiply what is. We trail no events behind us in our wake as we move! Events piling up in memory do not add to the accumulation of things-that-are. An event is just an underscore, an emphasis we place. A classification we bring to this or that kind of happening, or this or that specific happening. The event "exists" for exactly so long as the configuration is in place and then the event - is gone. As vanished as the configuration itself. The event is fleeting; it fleets away - it was only a relationship between things in the first place. It was an earthquake. It was a car accident. It was a gunshot to the head. It was a kiss.

Behind it is left: a changed state of things. Actual rubble, actual wreckage, an actual corpse. Love, actually - or at the very least saliva.

In all the things themselves, the energy-matter things - everything is happening all at once. It's not a logistics issue! Fret not. It doesn't take the calendar of days to stop three hundred sixty five suns from rising at once. All that's needed to "stop" that from happening is - the actual things of energy and matter that are happening. Because the earth's motion is regular, because there exists one earth, one sun, because of the actual things and their properties - location, velocity - the events will proceed in order. In sequence. The idea that anything more is needed to "stop" a bajillion suns and earths from suddenly configuring the fuck out of each other is amusingly ludicrous!

There's another popular definition of time that defines time as "that which clocks measure." To be a bit more strictly accurate, clocks are that which clocks measure. A clock measures only itself, not time. The tension and relation of the clock's inner workings is all that's needed, to keep every tick from happening "at once."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pickup Line of the Day

"There's a lesson in your Garden that my Snake needs to learn,"



Oh my god I could open so many peoples' eyes on so many points of um


I need to bone up on some of this stuff first. You can't just go on the Discovery Channel and go off about why you find subjects EXCITING. You have to KNOW THEM. You have to own them. No actually, you probably just have to know them.

So the call goes out to those of you: I need STUDY BUDDIES in the FOLLOWING FIELDS:

1. Natural History (covers everything from evolutionary biology to the birth of the universe and its progress made since)

2. noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo not math

2. ok math


3. The cultural anthropology of human biology: a focus on mythological and sociological aspects of the body: all the ways different world cultures proceed from the same basic living equipment to manufacture all different sorts of taboos, ritual, celebrations, and explanations for this that or the other bit of fleshy systemics! And WHY? This alone could be a pretty rich show. You could take off from that to take you all over the world, and deep into the roots of peoples' blood-deep natural main ingrained ways to be - from culture-wise to genetically. And how the differences set as off, even as the commonalities unite us!

4. Art. Actually, forget it. I have this cold. Plus...that's more an A & E channel field.

5. The art, science, and evolution of human entertainments? By casting it in sociological terms, I think it fits. A study of what has kept people busy and enthralled in their leisure hours, from time immemorial on the paleolithic plains right down to now? An examination of the history of new techniques, their introduction and proliferation to be sure, but with a focus on the changing purpose and perception of entertainments themselves! Their role. Sports, theater, movies, television, storytelling, pantomime, charades and games - for the purposes of this course (for the purpose of the associated series), I would like you to approach "entertainments" with the definition: any pastime with forms and conventions (and in some cases, rules) set up, developed, refined, elaborated upon and popularized with a goal to have a reliable way for humans to pass the time enjoyably - whether as participants/performers (as in baseball) or spectators (also as in baseball).


Um. You know what? These courses are getting a little involved. Such that a study buddy would almost have to put in some major work getting the course together, first. So OK, I guess I'm not really asking for "study buddies" here, so much as research partners. But I guess that's pretty much just life, anyhow!

Maybe the Discovery Channel could help me. They probably provide research assistants! I mean, they've got as much a vested interest in this as I do. They don't want to end up airing a shit program, just because I don't know what the fuck I'm doing and they couldn't provide the small boost of erudition a study buddy could provide.

40 is the New 30 for Hot Hollywood Blondes

~ another in this continuing series Ripped Off From The Headlines, wherein I take a headline and write an article to it, without so much as looking at the real actual article ~

Hot Hollywood Blondes can't fucking count, apparently.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Features of Interest #2: California's The Monterey Bay

So! You're familiar with the famed California of the midnorthern Americas. It's one of the most storied of States! Famous from literature all the way through film and beyond, as a setting for all manner of plots and dramas. Whether you like time-traveling whales, film noir or pick-your-disaster, chances are: California. And right about smack to the center of its left edge, in the "Central Coast" region as it's called, sits a real gem: The Monterey Bay.

Perhaps the first thing you'll notice about The Monterey Bay is, there's a kind of a broad, wide, undulating surface....and then there's a jutting part at both ends, with kind of a broad sweep of a curve in the middle - now this is less the bay itself, by the way, and more the land that encloses it, that surrounds and defines it and gives it its form - but still of great regional interest! With many features to ogle. Oggle. Gawk at.

There are a big couple of smoke stacks in Moss Landing. I forget what that used to be. Maybe it still is! Moss Landing, in any event, is situated right about smack in the middle of the curved part - midway between Santa Cruz and Monterey. A landmark visible clear from the other side of things.

Monterey proper - it's a city, it's situated at the southern edge of its namesake Bay. Monterey is cute, but I tell you it ain't a patch on Santa Cruz! They do have a lovely aquarium there, in Monterey though.

But getting back to the bay itself, the bay proper - we're talking a pretty broad expanse of wide, undulating surface, the surface of which is - well, it's weird! It's not like the regular planet surface. It's very permeable. You can stick your hand right through it, and it comes back out wet! But while this seems like the last kind of surface you'd want to go fucking around with a vehicle on, in many ways, the surface of The Monterey Bay is almost perfectly adapted to boats. It's not so strange, once you think about it a bit! Air is quite similar: at first you might say, "air is no surface at all!" But it can't be denied that for a plane speeding through it - as long as that plane is well-designed - there is sufficient "surface" for its wings to find purchase upon, as it cleaves through! And so it is with the hull of a boat. Although a boat depends less on its forward velocity and more on its innate buoyancy (similar to a buoy) to generate the "lift" necessary to stay on top of such weird, permeable surfaces as The Monterey Bay is composed of. Can science ever stop confounding and amazing us?

So that's the Monterey Bay in a nutshell! There's a really super deep part, too, out there a bit. But you don't want to see that. The surface is pretty much the attraction.

I'd be happy to show you around!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Generally-Valid Generalizations #1: Women Want Cock Pt.2

~ this post is a Part 2. There was also a Part 1: the Introductory Post to this Newly-Inaugurated, ongoing series called Generally-Valid Generalizations! ~

So anyway, look: all over the world, women want cock. Not all women, and not all cock (cf. "generalizations") - but enough so the statement remains generally valid.

Would anyone take offense at the general statement "women love chocolate," or "women like jewelry"? Yes, someone would take offense - and rightly so! The character of these statements is such that - even if they may be generally valid to a degree - they tend to trivialize women's likes and needs as superficial! Clearly with cock, that charge cannot apply. For what could be more urgent, more vital, more pressing? Women want cock, and they're willing to trade pussy for it. All over the world, this exchange is being transacted, either as a straight trade or with other factors in the mix. The transaction is happening right now! Even as you read this statement! And to the parties involved, the transaction is often viewed as to their benefit.

Now what do you say we quit putzing around on semantics, trying to deny plain fundamentals and skirt the issue with some damn dodge! How about instead of all that, we DEAL with it? How about instead of all that, we ask the big question: "OH YEAH?? WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT!!"

Suddenly everybody's not so glib.

Generally-Valid Generalizations #1: Women Want Cock

Exceptions aside - look, we all know there will always be exceptions to any generalization, okay? Even to that last one.

But so what? An exception is no insult to the generalization's general validity; any more than the generalization is an insult to the exception's individual and exceptional nature. Right? Right! Of course! Sheesh!

Jesus. It's like I even have to explain these things. "Generalization," people? LOOK IT UP...? I love it when some fucking moron is like "A GENERALIZATION? Hell, buddy I heard you say that! WELL IT DOESN'T APPLY TO ME, HUH!? WHAT YOU GOT TO SAY NOW? I AM A UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL TO WHOM WHAT YOU SAY IS WAY OFF!" People like that are fucking morons. Are you like that? My insult doesn't apply to you, then: Exception. See, you're exceptional! Now go to the corner and feel good about yourself. Wear this hat!

No but seriously, come on. Go look yourself in a mirror and get over it, please, because yes: boxes and categories can and do apply to you. To me, too. Shocker. Speaking as one homo sapiens sapiens to another, there's not a bit of slight in the fact that any line that encompasses us both can be drawn around us, creating a descriptive category to which we both belong. It's not a fucking insult, okay?

Generalizations are useful, to the degree that they are valid. There is quite a vast wave of experience moving towards us at any given time, and a generalization can guide us so our efforts and analyses can be put where needed most. While it is true that generalizations misused, misconceived or misapplied can fuck shit up for us if we try to go by them, you could say the same about any tool misused!

I generalize even there. I hope you'll admit the validity?

There are quite a few useful things that one can generally say, with general validity, about persons, places and things - and thus do I Hereby Inaugurate This Series of Articles! It shall be called Generally-Valid Generalizations, and therefore so shall I call it! In each post of this series, we aim to make a definite statement that means something, and that has broad, general applicability within the category identified. We'll make the boldest claims we can that we can defend as generally valid. Or who knows? Maybe we'll just throw some non-bold generally-valid shit out there! Why does it always have to be so bold with me? It's like a thing with me. It doesn't always have to be "so bold." Really, what's so great about "bold"? Some things, non-bold in themselves, may yet have bold implications.

Or not. Like I said, "bold" is not really the yardstick around here, or it shouldn't be anyway. It's more a habit than a preference.

So. Yeah.

Where were we? Man, I got really sidetracked here. How about I let this post stand as just the introduction to the series - a tone-setter! And then I'll come back and kick it off properly in Generally-Valid Generalizations #1 Part 2.

Call it a plan.

Less of a Comment, More Its Own Separate Post #1: People Who Object On Principle to "Belief"

Man, I could do a whole other post on people who object in principle to the word "belief."

Have you run into these people? I've run into a few. They'll claim they have no belief at all, on any matter! They look at it as if everything upon which one could have belief is either a matter for certainty (within which, presumably, certainty is infallible!) or else it is a matter where one should have absolutely no iota of belief or disbelief, either way.

This strikes me as dishonest. First, it's dishonest about one's own lack of knowledge. About the limitations of knowledge and of certainty. But more importantly, it's got a gnarly ingrown component of hypocrisy in there! You can't say you should have no belief, either way. If you say "should," then you believe something. You believe: given certain conditions, a person should do X. That this is belief is plain on the face of it.

Why you hold the belief is no matter. Maybe you don't claim to base the belief on morals - and so? Maybe you say it's based on pure selfish benefit, or "self-evident reason," or some galoolahgilly, but your should remains nevertheless a belief. It's a belief you have about how people should act.

And what's wrong with that? Nothing! As long as you're not simultaneously going around making shady and dishonest claims that you have no beliefs whatsoever.

A skeptic believes.

A skeptic believes that one shouldn't accept a proposition as true in the absence of compelling indications that it is true.

Now THAT'S a pretty strong moral stance! One of the most self-evidently valid and justifiable moral stances we have. And it remains a moral stance, even if you or I or any given person embraces it purely for the strong selfish benefit it confers. Skepticism remains a moral stance because skepticism, whatever else it may be, is a firm foundation for human growth and understanding and a powerful means to combat evil. Evil in various forms, oh people might call it out as ignorance, deception, disinformation or oppression by any of these means. These are evils, it don't take a dude in red pajamas and a pitchfork. In just the same way, "don't murder" retains its aspect as a moral stance, regardless of why a given person embraces or repudiates it. There's a pretty strong argument for selfish benefit there too, usually.

"Moral" doesn't equal valid, after all. Given its defined aims (usually some version of compassion), its general validity or invalidity can be established. As long as you're not one of those dipshit absolutists!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From The Bookshelf: Daniel Quinn's Ishmael

I did read Ishmael. I have to say I didn't like it. Oh, I loved the psychic gorilla! He was a sweetheart, and a wise guy, and even of the ridiculous things he said, you could easily see how a gorilla in that situation could have come to such a view. And even believe it. But the voice of the author character was just so overbearing. Grating and self-righteous about everything! First about his own cocksure knowitall ignorance, then about his newfound self-righteous cocksure gorilla-based purity - his superiority in the gorilla-proven fact of everyone else's ignorance. Perhaps "I didn't like it" is not really true. I loved Ishmael very much, I simply found Ishmael to be...not itself unpleasant, not wholly unpleasant, but still. When asked about Ishmael, the book, what springs to mind first and strongest is the lingering taste of curdled self-righteousness.

I've thought, "hey, maybe we're supposed to see the narrator character as a prick?" But there's no real question about that, is there? Of course we're supposed to see him as a prick. What are our options? Yet it's off-putting how Quinn seems to expect the reader to identify with that character as a seeker. Now, supposing I can make myself believe Quinn sees the two main characters as each very much off-base, in different ways, in their various observations and inferences - if I can buy that, the book becomes in my mind much more enjoyable! But I can't really buy that. Quinn clearly means us to regard the narrator as some kind of zealous convert/prophet "enlightened sinner" who has been brought round to Big, Real Truths, while Ishmael is to be taken not just as a saint, but as someone whose views we should take at face value. A real shame, because the character has potential to be and mean more than that. Who doesn't love a telepathic gorilla?

Also, you cannot tell me that girl (the rich one, the daughter) was not boning the gorilla. You notice he left that part out of his little life story! I mean, that's not necessarily any of our business, and I don't insist on it, really. In fact I only just thought of that now! Still, the idea that we could live in a world in which Daniel Quinn might casually slip something like that into a book like this - how delightfully skewed would that be? And how true to life. And why not? Why not write a book ponderous with the weighty wisdom of worlds at stake, and then the title character, your talking gorilla Ishmael, come to save the day and set us all straight - and as he's laying out his lessons and his life story, he just slips that little detail in! Why not? It wouldn't radically change the story, would it? It wouldn't change the story at all!

But we know: we don't live in that kind of world. Quinn's well aware that if he had put that in there, the whole slant of the book would have been changed for people. Imagine reading along, getting enlightened by all this laid-back matter-of-fact wisdom our simian messiah has such a seemingly endless supply of, and then suddenly - HOLY SHIT SHE F***** THE GORILLA? But it really is none of our business. Probably best Quinn left that part out, on balance.

Point is: you know they were. You can't tell me that didn't happen! Part of me wants to say "hey, that's just sick dude, we're talking about Ishmael here, it's a freaking sensitive classic from the age of new age woked-up responsibility," but the other part wants to stand back from humanity a bit, at the distance of stereotypical visiting space aliens, and say "What's the deal on this mixed fascination and repulsion? All that fuss over some organ interaction and fluid exchange!" You have to feel that a super-enlightened ape wouldn't be so beholden to those kinds of taboos.

So that's all from me on Ishmael. Except you know what? I've decided to revise my opinion! I liked it. Next time someone asks, I will have that to say.

And lest you get it wrong, my reversal has nothing to do with whether or not there was or wasn't any unspoken bestiality backstory angle. Goodness. That poor woman had a hard enough life - and so did the poor ape for that matter! So what if they consoled each other in such ways? It ill becomes you or me to point, gawp and snicker! Fie upon this bedamned residual Victorianist prudiana!

Mind you, I'm against bestiality on the whole. Let's get that straight right now. There are principles involved. I can't consider most animals to be capable of consent, for one thing. Something like that would likely be a very confusing, probably unpleasant and possibly even traumatic experience for the animal, and we have no way of knowing. What right do we have to treat a fellow creature as a mere accessory to our pleasure? None, unless they volunteer for such treatment. In which case, hey, why not? But it needs to be a mutual, full-on consent deal, and that presupposes beings who are each fully capable of giving consent and communicating consent. In the real world, guess who that rules out? Gorillas. Hell, even those sign-language gorillas - are you really going to tell me that thing's learning and understanding are on a level with an 18 year old? Or if the gorilla is British, a sixteen year old? You see immediately how suddenly we muddy the waters, tracking these kinds of questions into it. I'm just against it, that's all. Humans have no business presuming a thing like that. Just to get their jollies!

Ishmael, though, is a being as fully sapient as any human. He's certainly capable, not only of an informed consent, but of communicating that consent without ambiguity. So those usual scruples don't apply to him, do they? No, they go right out the window. A psychic gorilla, easily our equal or better in matters of mind, would be an equal participant in any such union. How dare we judge otherwise? Nevertheless: it's hardly our business, as I said. And it should not make the slightest difference to how we see the story. So GROW UP.

I assure you, it makes no difference either way to how I see it. My reversal on the review verdict is a simple, honest recognition that my affection for the gorilla, in the end, outweighs my distaste for the obnoxious voice of the narrator. Ishmael is one of the great characters of literature, powerfully drawn and affecting.

She was boning him.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Open-Mindedness: No Virtue

I don't consider open-mindedness to be a particular principle to defend, or even a virtue to value. What is open-mindedness in itself? It is simply lack of knowledge! Or to be more accurate: open-mindedness is being honest about one's lack of knowledge.

The virtue there is not open-mindedness. The virtue is honesty. Honesty with one's self carries with it a disinclination to self-deceive. Open-mindedness by itself is no virtue at all, for if I know one thing, really know it, then I can no longer be open-minded about a proposal that demonstrably, irreconcilably contradicts what I know.

Of course, if what demonstrably, irreconcilably contradicts what I know is observable reality, and not some person's proposition, then what I know must be broken. It must be either discarded or reconceived. It must be reconciled with reality, for knowledge describes reality. Or at the very least: knowledge cannot be irreconcilable with reality.

In practice, people who claim to be "open-minded" can claim it is out of skepticism, but often they're skeptical about the wrong things. We have, in working experience, a model: a description of our universe which is increasingly and powerfully accurate, even increasingly elegant. I call it physics, but I'm not picky about terms. It's the model much of homo sapiens has been scraping towards together since just about before we began wearing eyeglasses. Scraping together, collaboratively, which for us means: competitively, argumentatively. Still we come together. We've been guessing and working out, testing and refining our descriptive models, clashing them against each other, and slowly - seemingly, inexorably - our descriptive models converge.

Today we have quite a coherent and expansive framework, from within which we describe the universe. We predict from it, and get back strong confirmation. Better and best: every single time the model fails, that failure (and the corresponding refinement) advances the model. Every seeming stumble is in fact a leap. And we keep on refining, keep on reconciling our descriptions to reality.

Our goal is to describe the universe. As accurately as we can, to the greatest extent we can. It's pretty great.

But some of the things people have to propose to you...they really don't fit what we know, you know?

For instance. I don't really believe in the reality of telekinesis. Sorry, but there it is. Is telekinesis impossible? Aw heck probably no! How could it be impossible? But let's admit a few things about telekinesis, as long as we're examining the proposition. For one thing: it sure hasn't been very demonstrable. For another, given homo sapiens has had the same brainplan for something like 200,000 years, you'd think a trait so obviously adaptive would be in wider evidence! For a third thing, the theories people advance to explain how telekinesis is supposed to operate don't exactly boost its luster. Ditto, I don't really believe in space aliens visiting Earth. This is not on principle. It's for particular reasons. Or what about the achievability, in practice, of faster-than-light travel through space? I don't really believe in that. The idea of traveling from one point in the universe to another without crossing the intervening space is a different matter, and slightly more plausible. Or what about time travel. I don't believe in it. At least - not to the past. I don't really believe that will prove possible within what physical properties the universe will show itself to have. Within the sum total of all the energy the universe will show itself to have. These are not unknowable areas. There are some pretty damn compelling indications on points like that.

Skepticism is not open-mindedness. Skepticism is simply a refusal to judge in the absence of a compelling cause to do so. Skepticism doesn't oppose holding well-honed and plausible belief or disbelief. Skepticism doesn't oppose leaning towards what you have strong reason to call plausible, implausible, probable or improbable - so long as you have eyes open for its further proof or disproof. Skepticism - to suspend judgment on what's not compelling - doesn't result in "open-mindedness" about what is compelling. It doesn't result in open-mindedness towards what's contradicted by what we know. Given what we don't know, all things are possible! Just as given what we do know, some things aren't plausible.

Skepticism is not a rejection of knowledge. Believing in certain things means disbelieving in other things.

Thought of the day that made sense at the time

"It's like riding a bike off a log!"

(thoughtful pause)

"You could never learn to forget a thing like that."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Random Exchange of the Day!

A: "You know, there's been a lot of talk..."

(thoughtful pause) (thinks better of it)

B (sitting next to C): "About what?"

A: "I don't know. I wasn't listening."

US Ambassador: Antisemitic Flyers "Chilling"

~ Another in the ongoing hard-hitting unvestigative journalism series: "Ripped Off A Headline" ~ Wherein we here at Consider Your Ass Kicked! snatch a headline right from the very headlines and write an article to go with it without so much as a glance at the actual article. ~

OK, I tried to write an article about this but it wasn't really coming to me. I read that headline like ten times, trying to figure out what it meant! It was the quotation marks, I think. I could only read it as the colloquial use of "chilling." Like the US Ambassador was like, oh, those two amateur pilots whose swastika-blazoned plane was impounded this morning? Yeah, they'll get their rights in the matter. We've got 'em in custody but they're comfortable. They're hanging out in the rec room, playing pool sipping coffee. "Chilling."

You know?

Anyway, this was a TV headline with the sound off at the breakfast counter, so they kind of messed me up on the core "Ripped Off A Headline" concept. I couldn't help but glean a gleam of the real context. Apparently they mean paper flyers. Like leaflets. Which could also for that matter, be made into paper airplanes! Leave that aside. Point is, the US Ambassador (not pictured) was referring to the nazi-like anti-jew content of the leaflets being circulated. This was what was "chilling." Once again, the Ukraine.

You know, for all my life for decades plus I've heard these fucks in Germany, France, Russia, every European area you could ask for and they all talk this big game about what a fluke Hitler was. It's a load of bull's shit! All those European fucks are a bunch of jew-hating jew-haters! I knew it! We all knew it! Who were they trying to kid? Come on.

It's plain as hell these people are all sitting over there in their countries, talking about their traditions, their languages, all quaint and shit like it's harmless. Meanwhile, in their hearts and minds they stoke the fires and prepare the next holocaust! THIS time will you stand by and say nothing, world? THIS time will you stand by, say nothing?

Please note: like anything else, not everybody is going to be who it applies to. Any given country is not a fucking monolith OK? Please don't be stupid about the obvious. Sure, plenty of the people who have been protesting so much about how non-antisemitic their fucking country was, plenty of these were legitimately naïve and ignorant of the deep sentiment around them, up to their fucking ears in most cases. They probably didn't talk about it much, never raise the topic - the other people weren't talking about it, so these naïve souls were like "WHAT antisemitism!? Not in my town, there isn't any! People haff not so ever much ass introdoosed ze topic!" Just like in America, see, the bigots can generally sense who of us is like, really anti-bigot and they don't pal with those guys. They have a feel for who has the stick up their ass over human righteous issues. So that person is going to be somewhat bigot-shunned. They are the last person to have the topic raised in their presence! Because that's a surefire bigotry buzzkill, they don't want to get into it with that guy. Waste of time anyway! You'll never convince him.

But meanwhile, if he's on the oblivious side ("if!"), he's probably walking around all indignant, "People keep saying racism abounds, well god damn it I haven't seen any! I say we've made great progress!" It's understandable. Who needs colorblind when you've got blinders on? But like I said, even in America where we speak pretty damn free on topics, that still happens and people may still be ignorant of the bigotry. Let alone in Europe, where the problem is far, far worse. Culturally. Ethnically. In all ways.

So leaven the yeasty dough of the initial seeming accusations of hypocrisy and monolithicism of jew-hating among Europeans up there with this bland, self-evident caveat: not every European longstanding loud-voiced denier of antisemitics is a liar and a hypocrite. Or even an under-rug-sweeper! Not necessarily. Some of them are just legitimately ignorant of what's going on blatantly all around them. So it is you, you the ignorant ones, you the oblivious, to whom I must ask now: now that the lid's blown off on this thing, you still in denial or what? Because it's not going to just stop at flyers! And when it starts gearing up again for real, for business, THIS time will you stand by? And do nothing? THIS time will you stand by? Tip: Hint: don't.

Here in the U.S.A. we fucking love jews. Can't fucking happen here. Should Jews be capitalized? Sometimes I like to lowercase all lesser groups because: Homo Sapiens Sapiens, motherfuckers!

I try to put that priority out there, you know. Meaning no offense all ye christians, islamists, et cetera, jews, et cetera, libertarians. Atheists. It's not a hard, fast rule or anything, and I'm hardly consistent about it because it's more a file under who gives a shit? But it's a nice gesture when it occurs to me. When I think about it I do like to lowercase the groups. It makes a certain subtle point.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


The title of the article alone is appalling. But it is our culture, with its continual belittling and marginalization of any female who scores less than 18.7 on the Miens-Hulmer Scale of Objective Attractiveness (itself skewed heavily towards cisgender and heterosexual biases), that we should truly scapegoat. Disgusting: this poor woman, who caught flack enough during her parents’ presidency over her genetically-excusable synthesis of most of her mom’s and dad’s looks, and who found that even after leaving the national spotlight behind, the snide knocks and sneers kept on coming all through her relatively low-profile undergraduate collegiate career – despite loud cries from the gallery that this or that person found her to be perfectly fine, even adorably gawky or appealing in some other way – deserves better. It’s bad enough to have had that stink-cloud hanging over her during her formative years, and young adulthood. Must we now continue to take every opportunity to track and disparage her physical attractiveness as she ages?

The woman is almost thirty-five. And if you must insist on that anachronistic, ever-nasty principle of measuring a woman’s worth by whether she can attract and keep a male, step off: she’s married. She’s been married for almost four years.

She’s married!? Such ostensible “defenses” of Clinton (the transition to “Clinton-Mezvinsky” having been savvily-eschewed) are themselves pure insult! Yet another debasement of female dignity, no better than basing a woman’s value (or rather, debasing it) on whether she has had a child, or children, by a certain age (Clinton hasn’t). Can we all agree that a woman’s dignity is equal to a man’s? That a woman has every right to political, legal and economic standing equal to what a man enjoys?

No. We can’t. Sadly, it seems we can't.

It’s because you shallow mother fuckers are constantly making, tolerating, and/or enjoying cracks about this or that aspect of a woman’s appearance (and don’t even get me started on the use of the word GIRL!). Classing women based on weight, length, width, volume, area, or even height - that's just plain invalid. Wrong. Bad. Don’t. And as to other so-called criteria - Chelsea Clinton is not Asian. So what?! Would you use even that against her? Racist!!

Why should that even come into it? How can that ever even be an issue?

I am sick of people like you, continuing to read an article like this long past the point where its complete moral and intellectual bankruptcy has been established beyond doubt. Is this how you get your thrills? Are your thrills sick? Don't even answer that, it was a rhetorical question. What, do you get your sick little rhetorical thrills by answering other peoples' clearly-rhetorical questions? And you STILL continue to read! The title alone should have been enough to warn you off - yet still you read! YOU are the one who, by your idle curiosity, by your permissiveness, your apathy – YOU aid, perpetuate, support, ratify, validate and otherwise in other ways put your stamp of approval on the culture of manifest female disempowerment.

Wow. "The culture of manifest female disempowerment." I think I just made that up! You like it?

YES. YOU DO. Or at least you sit by and do nothing, passively supporting it as it runs amok. Hence the problem.

Don’t go looking around the room! It is YOU who does it. Yes, YOU. You do. It’s a horrible world you make for future generations. Maybe consider jumping into the fray with the rest of us! We need you. We need your help. "But what can I do," you ask? As if you didn't know! You are the one missing from the movement! Your voice is the one that could complete the chord, a harmony that rings out loud in hard-edged, no-business tones telling Big Culture “No! We do not take this! GAME OVER.” Picture yourself, striding and swaggering down the street of some third- or second-world metropolis in company with Bono, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Faith Hill, Usher, P!nk, the lead singer of The Maroon Five, and probably one of the more prominent or at least one of the closer to critically well-regarded American Idol champions. You would all be trading verses, zooming in to mug at the camera - joining in en masse on the bouncy, hard-hitting chorus! It would be a great big multivocalist tour de force, decrying the everyday humiliation and degradation of women in a feel-good global smash hit! Which is very much more than only appropriate, considering all the women, all over the world, who are being forced constantly to undergo, at the hands of comments like these we've seen about their appearance, torment and discomfort. For what? Why?

Maybe you should be asking yourself that question.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In-Depth Aspects #16: The Diamond

The diamond. The only substance hard enough to cut glass. Scientists tell us that gold only forms in the heart of a supernova. You could say the same of a lot of elements, but every diamond you see was formed deep in the heart (or bowels) of an active (or inactive) volcano, or to be more precise, deep down in the magma flow of the earth’s mantle far under the crust where volcanoes are wont to make their appearances, which is the same thing except less extroverted.

The pressures and temperatures present in that environment are extreme in the extreme. In real life, Superman would never be able to form a diamond by manually compressing a lump of coal ("manually" = “by hand”). This is because in real life, no accumulation of solar radiation in the yellow portion of the spectrum of visible light could possibly imbue the cells and tissues of Superman’s body with anything like the resilience and compression power depicted, yet leave said tissues subject to reversion to mere human-level strength and durability under prolonged exposure to red solar radiation, or an instantaneous reversion upon exposure to the specific radiation emitted by fragments of his home planet! It takes more than that to form a diamond, friends.

Diamonds have been known for millennia, although presumably for much of that time, they were known primarily as particularly hard and not particularly shiny or interesting pebbles. It was only relatively recently that human culture evolved to the point where diamonds were being cut, set, and used as jewelry.

Today, such use is prominent. Diamonds are seen featured in precious metals settings as a gift item, often to commemorate an occasion, an apology, and in some cultures, to signal a willingness to receive oral sex. For less important occasions or recipients, small diamonds may appear as grace notes arranged around a lesser stone. The diamond is April’s birthstone, though some people will try to cheap out on you and say sapphire. Don’t get me wrong: sapphires can be lovely.

Yet the cultural significance of the diamond goes far beyond that. For example, it would be hard to argue against the traditional engagement ring as the most central cultural association diamonds bear today. For many people in that situation, "diamond" is so intrinsic to "engagement ring" as to approach synonymity. Think hard before taking that last leap to manhood, boys: and when you think hard, what do you think of? That's right: the diamond. Either the diamond is the chief bling-bringing agent in that ring-box you palm so sweatily, or else there had better have been a discussion beforehand to the effect that the prospective recipient absolutely abhors diamonds and opposes the gigantic and bloody industry, equally rapacious of the earth and of its workers, that has rested comfortably upon the bended knees and raised hopes of generations of young (or not-so-young!) men, often right there in the restaurant in front of everybody, during what was expected to be just a nice night out for once! If not, get ready to receive a cool, noncommittal response.

Diamonds also occupy a prominent place in fiction, whether film, television, literature, or more than one of these. In Michael Crichton’s novel Congo, the plot centered around a lost African mine where special diamonds, critical for certain hi-tech military and communications satellite applications, were believed to be found in plenty. The resulting action was confusing and ludicrous. In truth, the humble diamond must come in for its share of the blame!

And yes: I said “the humble diamond.” Do you think diamonds aren’t humble? Because if you do, I don’t know man, I don’t know where you’re getting that. They seem pretty humble to me.

The diamond.

A Story So Far: Some say a stranger came, dealing death before the end...

"Some say a stranger came, dealing death before the end..."

So opens the story, as reported in a series of sensationalist articles in 1890's Placerville Banner-Standard, or the "Hangtown Rag," as it was known to staff and readership alike. These tales come to you almost as luridly reported as they were then by editor and chief newspaperman on staff, Hiram Jr Bowles. He'd spent a week's self-paid vacation looking into what became known as the "Tin Rink Massacre" - the rumored abrupt and mysterious end, a decade or so prior, of Tin Rink, Wyoming. A frontier town, once thriving in its vulgar, squalid way; transformed almost overnight into a ghost-town with most of the ghosts yet hovering over their still-warm corpses and the survivors - if there were any survivors, accounts differed - scattered in every direction they could. Fleeing as if from demons.

One man, so the legend went, was just about single-handedly responsible.

A stranger.

Or so some say.

The full story of Tin Rink, Wyoming, of what happened there and why, the story of the stranger and the woman of enigmatic repute who was seen riding off with him, away from the bullet-dilapidated wreckage, may never be fully known. But for those of you who have caught at least part of the saga, or who might care to, let me bring you up to speed with where we're at so far!

I went with a pretty straightforward numbering on these. I wanted it to be easy for interested readers to see which episodes were "untold," at least as yet. I wanted it plain where the gaps lie, where you just have to fill in your imagination as to what must have happened during the blackout. It goes 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 13 so far. We see the stranger show up in Tin Rink, Wyoming and meet Rose Althea, get her all huffy and follow her upstairs with his eyes in Pt.1, but we don't know precisely what they did to get the entire town up in arms against them by Pt.3's frantic siege of their by-now well-shared bedroom.

In Pt.5, they've left the town miles behind, into the desert on the stranger's old nag, with Rose Althea's thoughts making it seem likely there hadn't been much town left to leave behind. Skipping ahead to Pt.8, we piece together from later episodes that there's been a recoup in their fortunes, a caper planned and carried out but...something must have gone horribly awry, leading to a terrible taut standoff with Rose Althea holding a worse-for-wear stranger at gunpoint...and pulling the trigger on him, all the way. Cut to pt.10 and then Pts.12-13, we've got ourselves a long, slowly-developing chase scene odyssey with Rose Althea far out in front, and a sense of the stranger closing slowly but implacably behind.

We know the stranger survived Rose Althea's wrath, we pick up a lot of hints and ambience as to the caper they'd tried to pull; not much concrete detail, but we know enough to imagine the rest. We know Rose Althea either failed her attempt or relented, sparing the stranger's life. We don't really know which it was. But either way, she definitely stole his horse (which gave out and died between episodes), his boots, his gunbelt(s), his clothes, and left him with nothing but his hat and her discarded ball gown. We know she was damn sure he was after her, and we know she was not looking forward to the reunion if she could possibly R.S.V.P. her regrets. It seems clear that some near-miss between the two of them must have occurred on or about pt. 11. Somehow the stranger got his pants back, but somehow Rose Althea managed it so that was all he got back.

The gunbelts and guns appear to have vanished from the narrative.

I'm really digging and grooving on this story! I'll be interested to see how the future scenes end up tying in together. I want to see the stranger and Rose Althea in San Francisco, crossing and doublecrossing each other as they vie to prosper in dry goods, dueling proprietors of the well-run general store they'd managed to finagle ownership over. I want to see the stranger, forever unconcerned about the prospect of his deeds catching up with him, Rose Althea forever on the verge of or threatening to turn him in, and any authorities forever adopting the principled stance, "Tin Rink, Wyoming? Never heard of it."

I want to see their comic farce of a wedding! Presided over as a favor by the accommodating jailer slash justice of the peace of a half-built one-cell Nevada hoosegow, where they were being kept on ice until the United States Deputy Marshal got around to finally coming to get them. I want to see the stranger Lido's angry, unwilling return to Tin Rink years later. His furious coming to terms with what was done to him there - and with what he done. I want to see Rose Althea putting her foot down, insisting that if their 3-year old son says he wants to go to college, we are planning accordingly and that's final. I want to watch these two clash and renew enmity, chase each other over all creation, dive out of windows, toss lead and sharper objects, only to swoop back in for each other like mutually avenging guardian angels, jealously beating off every competing threat to the other's life or soul. Each living as if in a competition to save and to betray the other just as many times as you'd care to lose count. Two cheerfully grim rogues, sizing each other's capabilities up forever, coming up with audacious plans suited to each other's strengths and pulling them off; two desperadoes against the world, then each other, then against the world again, then falling back against each other exhausted, in one of those sweet, peaceful moments of truce, where even the world seems agreeable to a cease-fire.

The full, almost-unbelievable story of what happened in Tin Rink and after may never be known. All we know for sure are some of the highlights of what happened. But you know what? Sometimes, that's all you need to know, to be able to fill in the rest. Sometimes, there's just no other way it must have happened, so it must've happened something like this.

Some say a stranger came, dealing death before the end...

Miley Cyrus Does The Unthinkable In A Bikini Pt.5!

So you know what? After the other four parts of this "Ripped off from the headlines" in-depth series of articles (further down the page, or click the 'headlines' tag), I ended up clicking on the actual to see what it was really about, and guess what?

They were just being jerks! It was supposed to be clever. The "unthinkable" thing she'd supposedly done was to wear a decent bikini. Meaning, a bikini designed with decency in mind, rather than indecency. That was the "unthinkable" thing.


Well, I sure showed them where they could have taken the story, had their journalism hit remotely so hard as mine, or been anywhere near so uncompromising.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love: For Real, People.

Love is not bull shit! Love is for real, people. Love is for real. Love is five real. Love is what makes your heart wonder stuff your head could care less about. Love is what makes you jump in front of a speeding plane, "Baby don't go!

- we got to make a better ending for this movie we're in, this is depressing!" Love is what could put you in a diabetic coma, metaphorically, but you can not get enough of the sweetness regardless. Love is the stuff that makes you DO that shit like that. When you think about love, better be sitting down because love can put you on your ASS. It's an epiphany when that happens. Love is the thing that goes bump bump bump in the night. Aw yeah you know what I'm saying. Love is also the thing that gives tender shushes, and a perfect caress you didn't know how much you needed 'til just then that moment when.

Love makes your tongue stick out, or want to. Depending on configurations. Love is the road not taken, that makes you run all the way back to the fork and screech around that corner, scattering yellow gold leaves in your wake. Love is a splendid thing, or many of them, and love doesn't mind your diddling and dithering. Love's kind of shy, too you know. But love can't help it sometimes, though: it will break out in a shout for all the world! Hell yes!

Love don't mean a thing, except your whole life.

Love's not bullshit folks. Love's the real deal. Love makes people smooth back their hair from their brow. Love makes somebody want to grab an ass that they've been told they're perfectly entitled to grab, at any time and place, yet even with the full set of permission there comes scant if any loss of the thrill involved - in fact, it might more than double that thrill because how can you not but go about thinking about that all day? All of what you've got perfect and as far as we both know, permanent. Love is everything you ever wanted permission for. Oh wow. Love is like shooting fish in a barrel with a water pistol. Just that easy! Yet to get it and to miss it and then to feel the lack can be one of the hardest things ever to go through. To endure. To be at peace with.

Life without love cannot be peace; it must be war. Either way all is fair.

Love's the most impressive force on earth.

A love song sweeps all other songs aside.

A love song tells you what you want to hear.

That's why I'm here.

To sing this song.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tips On Writing Autobiographical Stories #3: Does Memory Help or Hurt? Should I Use It?

Autobiographical stories: you'll be walking along and then something happens to you. Maybe it's wonderful! Maybe it's fucked up, but either way you write it down right then, you draw it out in colored chalk, on and along the bumpy cobblestone curbs and surfaces of your shade-dappled sidewalk mind. So years, decades later, it's still there. You're not sure what street or town this is - except it's summer. It always seems to be.

Why is that?

Most every rough draft of your memory seems to gravitate towards those days of hot red blood, mostly from stubbed toes, leaving your poor toe with a jaunty hat of a skin-flap, still attached but throbbing, stinging and cocked at an angle. Later, running over more forgiving ground, the bay shore sand sticks all over, the scab-sand composite making a gritty bandage - clotted and covered, clean. Your brother slapping you smack across the back with a live jellyfish flung sidearm through the air without regard to possible consequences to his own poor hand. And mosquitoes. Not even worth slapping at! Not in those days.

Because even if the old suburban wives' legends about them sucking the itch back out with the last of their blood meal (if you leave them alone) wasn't true, you secretly loved to scratch the scattered welts. Ah, your own blood! How you used to be such close friends with it. And memory! Memory, a popsicle. It could never fail to shock, and usually in a good way: so technicolor cold; at first your lips stick, your tongue sticks; so cold you can't really tell the flavor, only the color because you saw it. You suck blind on a memory. You'd unwrapped it - hoping for red! No. Damn: grape. Still good! (Anything but green.) Soon, with sucks, slurps and licks, your mouth pulls the cold off and your tongue starts to taste the bright and artificial flavor that had been trapped in ice, and is now being released. Icky, sticky sweet on your palms and fingers, and fingertips, dripping through and between and off them, off you, to fall in space, the first drops of rain from a storm that could only have blown in from Oz. Purple, or red, or orange, or Green god forbid. The sidewalk behind you drip-dyed as you walk. What color's your tongue? You know full well.

So you write it down. Right then. You write it in memory, because who can be bothered with pencil, pens, papers? Homework? It's summer. Use colored chalk.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Miley Cyrus Does The Unthinkable In a Bikini!

This article is part of a continuing series: "Torn From The Headlines," or perhaps "Beneath The Headlines" or even "Above The Headlines?" It doesn't really matter what we call it. Just click the 'headlines' tag in the footer! Those posts will come up, and the concept is pretty obvious. Basically the idea is to tear a headline straight from the news and write an article under it, without reading the real article or doing any research. This is pretty much what comedy writers do to furnish talk show hosts with most of their opening monologues. Not exactly original or hard to understand!

But damn it. I've totally derailed the thing. I had a pretty good headline, here! Well, too late now to do anything but forge ahead. Collect one's self and charge once more into the bulge and breach it! Yeah! Let's see what happens, anyway. Miley Cyrus does the unthinkable in a bikini!

First, let me say I have no problem at all with Miley Cyrus. I always thought "Cyrus" was a cool last name, even back in the days when it was famous solely due to dad's pop country line dance exhortations. And when I heard he had a daughter, and that she was a star on Disney, I said "this I've got to see!" I don't recall whether I actually did or didn't see it, but am I remembering rightly? Did she used to look a little like Chelsea Clinton when she was younger? If I'm thinking of someone else, so be it. Who cares.

Because I can tell you this: I have seen still pictures of Ms. Cyrus since, and in abundance. People seem to be giving her a lot of flack for acting like a slut. Well first, guess what people? She's an actress. You shouldn't be judging her because she acts like a slut. You need to be judging her by how well she acts like a slut. Is she convincing? Did she convince you? Well, then, step off.

Secondly: I hate to call it like it is, but isn't the whole brouhaha just one of those teacup deals? So to speak? Aren't all these tempestuous cries of so-called sluttery basically the same thing as slut-shaming? It seems very much like borderline slut shaming to me, pure and simple! And if you haven't heard of this "slut shaming" phenomenon, let me tell you it is developing into one of our culture's cruxiest clashes, a social justice controversy on a scale similar to school bullies. Remember that one? And in fact, when you consider the parallels, there are some. Let me bring you up to speed on "slut shaming." I'm kind of an expert.

I've read more than one article written on slut shaming. From a pretty strong "social justice" standpoint, I can tell you that to a lot of folks, arguably, to more and more folks, from what I can tell "slut-shaming" is the new being a slut, in terms of being able to be shamed over it. Or else if it isn't, it soon could easily become so! I mean that from what I've been given to understand: where you used to be able to be shamed by others for being a slut, nowadays or very soon in the future, you might be getting shamed by others for shaming a slut. From one perspective, you might call that a sign of the shocking moral decay of traditional prudery and puritanical values in our society. But from the other perspective, there's no denying this reversal has a distinct element of poetic justice all over it. There's no reason we should be surprised by that. Almost all the things people characterize in terms of "poetic justice" involve a reversal of some kind.

So I guess basically I'm saying watch it, because if you lick your finger and stick it in the air with a quizzical look on your face, you might feel the wind shifting on this one. It's an issue, no-doubt.

Miley Cyrus Does The Unthinkable In A Bikini Pt.2!

I don't know, it kind of makes me sick to see people alternately castigating and fawning over these hypersexualized young stars. Or any "attractive celebrity" really! Why is mass voyeurism and a zero-privacy policy presented as harmless entertainment? Are we not harmed, by the damage done to human dignity in general? When we can't concede that a person - any person! - ought to be given enough shade to live in? When we run things so that for some people, the spotlight's got to bleach and blast every inch of life, from the moment they step foot out the front door? Isn't it sick and sad how we've let the combined weight of our own, mere, idle curiosity be used to fuel, drive and justify an insatiable un-called for Intrusion Industry? "Un-called for," I say, but under the weight of the idle curiosity of millions, we've retrained ourselves to where we are the ones calling for it.

It's a vile industry, an industry that has set itself the task to trivialize and commodify as many peoples' lives as it can interest us in. When you elevate and magnify the small moments and inconsequential choices of what would normally be someone's private life, when you blare these moments across headlines and photo-slide-show articles, you trivialize and denigrate all human life. Every small moment and every little choice that any us can make is warped and distorted by the reflected focus. Life is made simultaneously too large and too small: too small, because our lives shrink to insignificance in light of the glorious shine of celebrity; too large, because such trivial acts have absurdly been inflated to Macy's parade balloon proportions and accepted as fit topics for national news. A woman's choice of a simple and tasteful frock while taking her own mother out to lunch is blasted across headlines, and the occasion is used to excuse commentary on her previous day's yoga pants.

To be clear: I'm not talking about anyone's rights, here. Grow up. There's no such thing as a right to privacy in public. But do you recall reading about a day when the Great British Public (for instance) could rise up in indignation, a nation appalled over some nasty and demeaning trend, practice, or incident, a nation determined to bring to bear every pressure, censure or condemnation that was necessary and permissible under the law to redress or correct it - even if the appalling thing was not in any sense a crime?

It's a shame we've lost that fighting instinct. There was such a time when the public in general had stones, metaphorically, and they didn't need the law to feel free casting the first one, the last one, and every one in between. And all perfectly legal: no lynch jobs, no censorship, just the free exercise of speech as used to express condemnation, revulsion, disapproval. It was all perfectly legal, that sort of thing. It still would be, technically. Perhaps in Europe.

Miley Cyrus Does The Unthinkable In A Bikini! Pt.3

Americans are complete and utter moral cowards. We're such moral cowards we can't take a mass stand on anything wrong unless it's also something we can criminalize. Anything that bothers us, we either need to outlaw it, or we'll throw our hands up in claimed helplessness: "Can't say anything about it! It's not against the law! It's a free country!" Coward. The fact it is a free country means you are free to say everything about it. But you're too timid and wishy-washy to even state why a thing is wrong! Unless you can say either "Because it's illegal!" or "God said it! Don't blame be blame God!" As if well-cowed submission to authority could possibly stand as a reason that an an action is wrong. It's wrong...because it's illegal? That's why it's wrong? Think that one through, sometime.

Sometimes we'll even go so far as to pass laws criminalizing things no just government organized on principles of liberty can prohibit! Then when the Supreme Court throws it out, we grouse that the Supreme Court is the guilty party on that charge of moral cowardice. Even though everyone involved passing the law knew damn well it was doomed! Incredibly, we'll pass an unconstitutional and doomed law, purely to make a statement. Our constituents will be happy we tried, and mad at the Supremes, and everyone distracted by the vast wasted expenditure worming its way through the courts, and everything happily back to status quo by the end of the episode. Cue laugh track?

How about next time we want to make a statement, we do it by telling people why the fuck a thing is wrong. Can you do that? Can you do it without invoking an authority? Because if you can't, if the only way you can call something wrong is by reference to authority, you have no fucking idea why it's wrong.

Actually in that case, people being "moral cowards" is not really the problem, so much as people being "moral imbeciles."

Americans are fucking cowards and imbeciles. Fuck. Me too, I guess. I'm an American! I share the stigma and I will exult with the rest of us when we finally knock it off, when we one day overcome (and perhaps even pay some long-overdue reparations to ourselves over all the damage this attitude has done to us all!). From prohibition of alcohol all the way up to classifying speech as crime because there is what - hate added into it? Hate itself is legal, idiot. If someone incites a riot, if someone uses their free speech to perpetrate a con job, a fraud, if someone uses their speech to rile a bunch of people in a room up to go out and grab and kill a guy, if their speech goes to betray state secrets - these are crimes already. It's not "freedom of speech" that makes the idea of a hate crime idiotic and untenable. It's the fact that hate is legal. Me telling you how I judge human beings I don't even know - me telling you what a fucking idiot I am and how little my opinion should count to you because of the way I judge on bias - that's legal. Quit pussing around passing laws that are only put on the books to make a statement when you know damn well they're going to get struck down the first chance we get to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and wasted time working it all the way up through to the highest courts. I hate that.

(Perfectly legal!)

Anyway. All of that's just a side note. What I mean to emphasize, re: my whole problem with Miley Cyrus Doing The Unthinkable In A Bikini, is just that my objection is nothing to do with any violation of any right of privacy. Like we said, your right to privacy doesn't exist in public - even an idiot or a libertarian can see that. What I'm talking about here has simply to do with rising up in indignation. And when something is just wrong, with saying what's wrong. Saying why it's wrong. Exercising your right to free speech, which when you see something horrible going on - especially, going on all around you - includes a right to excoriate and revile. A right to lay out in no uncertain terms what is so wrong with what's going on, whether it is legal or not. And if I may be so bold, anyone who claims to care about right and wrong is a liar and a dipshit if they cannot state why an act is wrong without reference to authority.

Now that's just wrong.

But mind you, though! If you think I may be insulting you, consider what an ugly, disgusting shoe I've just laid out for you to try on. Does it really fit? Because if you claim to care what's right or wrong, then contemptible actions should provoke rebuke. Yet actions and attitudes can change. We can't strip a person of dignity or have contempt for them forever. My contempt is for actions only, and only where I am able to say exactly why the act is contemptible.

It's a high mark of esteem in humans, or it ought to be, that we're capable of caring so much what is right that we'll tell you where you're wrong - despite the risks. These risks would diminish into an infinitesimal if only each person recognized their ability to condemn the wrong thing without condemning the wrongthingdoer! And where's the harm in that? Outside the context of the criminal justice system, where can it ever do anything but harm to condemn a person? Yet to condemn an act as wrong is valuable in almost every case. At worst it will bring differing ideas of social good into relief, and shed corrective light all around. At best, it will underscore the importance of fighting together against a harmful thing. In every case it gives us opportunity to emphasize the distinction between contempt for an act, and contempt for a human being.

Even a contemptible act is no cause to treat someone as less than human.

Miley Cyrus Does The Unthinkable In A Bikini Pt.4!

So. What's the fucking problem then? Since I seem to have so big a problem with it!

Look, buddy. To dehumanize any person is to dehumanize yourself. To strip one person of their essential dignity is to strip yourself of dignity. And that's not even getting into crimes. In all likelihood, such acts are not crimes! You know very well how many horrible, horrible things fall within the law that you could do to discomfit, humiliate, wound and destroy another human being. Probably, you don't do them. Probably the reason you don't do them is because you know cruelty and contempt are wrong. Even where they are legal, they are wrong. When you see a society steeped in cruelty and contempt, when you see a cruel and contemptible trend, is there some reason you do not speak out? Is there some reason we do not rise up in indignation, as what I've called the "intrusion industry" feeds off our passive demand and drives all the air out of the little bit of room life needs, just to be able to breathe? Even out in the open, a person needs to be given a little bit of room to breathe in!

And even if you're not a celebrity, you should be appalled at how perfectly happy we seem to be watching all that's being done to human life, and to human lives. The public sanctions the intrusion industry as it takes each human life it can get its hands on and slights, slices, shrinks, humiliates, belittles, dips in chocolate, gobbles up, digests, shits out and shits on, and if possible, if it can possibly be arranged, strips it utterly buck fucking naked and pornographs it as thoroughly as possible. For us. Every human life it can possibly lay its hands on, for money. Every human life it can possibly raise the slightest interest in, from you! Or if you don't happen to be interested in that particular human life, anyone else's interest will do. We're happy to cluck and tut tut as it sinks us so low. Because oh, we would never presume to rise above our station, we would never presume to tell others what's wrong or what to do, we'd never raise understandable protest over it, as if it were we who could say what's right, and what is wrong.

And would you care to drag out the old and standard justification? That celebrities get no ordinary human dignity or regard, because whether it's now or just once long ago, they made money off being in a spotlight? I wonder if you've noticed how easily a person can be snatched up by a spotlight, lately. Just by being caught in the right spotlight. You don't have to do anything spectacularly right, or even very wrong! You just need that one right (or very wrong) moment, where suddenly the spotlight settled, and you were of interest. You don't have to make a cent off it, anymore. Stripped and thrown to the ravening crowd.

I'm not saying it's wrong to do whatever unthinkable thing Miley Cyrus has done in a bikini. I'm not saying it's wrong for Miley, and I'm not saying it's wrong for you. I'm even not saying it's wrong to get the unthinkable thing on camera! I'm saying it's wrong to make a mass practice of feeding off and encouraging the glorification of the trivial and the deification of the unthinkable. It's wrong we encourage all those within leaping distance of the camera's range to leap, to go ahead! Do something unthinkable! Because if once you catch our eye, you've signed the release! And we'll feel free to feed off you for life. Or at least, until that sweet and dirty little human life of yours is all sucked out.

Please, by all means, however young or old you are, however fit, fat, fucked-up or tragically crippled: do the unthinkable. In a bikini. We need your meat, fresh and nubile or un-cut and aging most shamefully, to keep feeding this vicious demand.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Anyone Else Have This Problem? #1: Cute Passwords

I have a knack for coming up with really cute passwords, catchy ones that I will remember but that bear no real relation to any detail of my life, history, interests or acquaintances. But the problem is, I often realize I've accidentally said the password out loud as I typed it in! Because it's so cute! I can't help but say it out loud. It's a matter of delight.

Then I have to figure out if anyone noticed. If I think anyone noticed, I have to decide whether they caught the fact that it was a password, or if they did, whether they noted which site or service it was for. I have to do some big painful risk analysis so I can decide whether I can keep my beloved cute password! Or else I have to bite the bullet and come up with a new, even cuter one!

Which isn't so bad I guess.

Anyone else have this problem?

Does McDonald's Ever Show Ronald Eating McDonalds?

I'm either blanking on this or they just don't do it. Is it because of the heavy makeup? Do they ever show that clown eating his own food?

I don't think they ever do! That by itself would make a great commercial! Ronald, walks into frame carrying his McTray, sits at a little in-store McTable and just unwraps and eats his whole meal. In silence - not a word spoken!

I'd guess he's a Quarter-Pounder-with-Cheese man. He strikes me as that. The whole commercial would be just him, eating. Serious, absorbed, enjoying it. Not regarding or acknowledging the camera in any way. This is his lunch break! Sipping Coke. Chewing fries. Maybe perusing a NY Times, or something. He strikes me as a NY Times guy. Maybe a Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, the rest of the customers are all just chillin'. "Ronald comes here all the time! We try not to bother him while he's enjoying a delicious lunch."

Great commercial!

Happy Belated Thankstaking!

Wait. Huh. Actually, I'm early!

Every first Tuesday of May, we celebrate the feast of Thankstaking by taking a moment, or as many as necessary really, to consider and celebrate all the things throughout the year we've given others. Big things and little things; gifts, blessings, services - all the things we know should be acknowledged and commemorated, but maybe there just hasn't been time in this busy life to do so. So often, we forget about the gratitude that is due!

And so, Thankstaking: a special day set aside for it. Celebrate that gratitude by joining in with all those we know have cause to be grateful. Help them celebrate Thankstaking by various observances, reminders and greetings! Whatever we can festively do to make sure all the gratitude that should have been celebrated is well celebrated, that's what the day is for. Because so often we forget, or they forgot, or maybe they just thought they were entitled and we let it go without comment. Maybe we didn't want to make a big thing over it at the time. On Thankstaking, you have a free pass!

And now, some tips and advice on celebrating a satisfying and festive Thankstaking Day:

1. Start your cards early! In fact, buy a good stock of Thankstaking cards and keep them handy as the year flies. Every time something happens that you know you're going to want to remember on Thankstaking Day, take a moment in the moment. Don't wait, write out the card right then! Thankstaking Day is one holiday where if warranted, it is perfectly appropriate to send multiple greeting cards to the same person.

2. Put thought into those cards. Make sure your Thankstaking cards are on-point and always appropriate. This is no time for jokey novelty cards that make fun and undermine the occasion. Gratitude is important and Thankstaking Day is no day to hint around. Why confuse people with subtext? The front of the card should look cheerful and put it simply: "Happy Thankstaking!" or "Happy Thankstaking For A Very Blessed Year," if the person is religious or something. The inside of the card should contain a simple, sweet, sincere message: "You're Welcome" is pretty standard. Then you can write in whatever details.

3. It's perfectly all right, all day long, in any instance where gratitude should occur: just call out a "You're Welcome," right there and then! On Thankstaking Day, this couldn't be more appropriate.

4. Also perfectly appropriate: a belated or "catch-up" you're welcome. Call out a thankstaking for any prominent past event that you neglected to mention at the time, or didn't send a card for. "Hey Bob - you know what? I've been meaning to tell you, you're welcome for all of the help I gave you on the SmartMart presentation." I can't emphasize enough how very appropriate this is, on Thankstaking Day.

5. Plan a pretty good feast. Thankstaking is more a holiday than a feast, really - but like all the good holidays, Thankstaking is a good excuse to "pig out." There are no hard, set, "traditional" dishes involved, which is your cue to get creative! Calling together a gathering of all the people who have had the greatest cause for gratitude, and serving them an appropriate feast - what a great way to celebrate the day, if you can pull it off. Plan out a menu where dishes subtly allude to various reasons and causes for particular peoples' gratitude. The feast is one aspect of Thankstaking where subtly is savored and prized! For example, if you've been mowing a neighbor's lawn frequently without any acknowledgement, for starters you might serve him...I don't know, a delicious long-blade wheatgrass salad in a bitter vinaigrette? Things like that. Use creativity here.

Look, these are just ideas, and you get the idea. Celebrate Thankstaking Day in the manner that seems fitting and appropriate to you! You know what great good cause there has been in the past year for gratitude, and you know what chances were missed. One day a year, we can all come together to catch up on every chance we can, and bring all that gratitude to the fore.

You're Welcome.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Desirable Possible Is Inevitable.

~ A heavily-cut version of an older, much longer post. ~

Human ingenuity is not important.

No one's invention is a necessity.

Genius is inconsequential.

Geniuses confer no ultimate benefit, add nothing to humanity's ultimate potential.

Whether or not we have geniuses available to shout "Eureka!" and slap each other's backs as they induct each other into halls of fame, survival and competitive pressures on a mass scale will determine the desirable direction, and we get there: not by dint of brilliance, but in an endless dumb rubbing up against things, an inevitable wearing away of the sludge that conceals from us how it all works.

Out of the soft and hard terrain of limitations, we carve ever deeper channels and canyons into the possible.

We erode the softer limits of ignorance, and we find courses through the harder physical limits we uncover. All soluble obstacles are intrinsically toast.

The assembly line. The transistor. The integrated circuit. The microprocessor. Solutions to problems that were toast to begin with.

What do innovators actually get us?

What importance does any one of them have?

What importance, the individual of genius?

When adherents of rival geniuses stand hollering over who got there first, it becomes clear that crowded fields of people were all going that way at the same time anyway. Face it: we were going to get there.

Innovators are worthless. Innovators are the impersonal, interchangeable agents of an inevitable wearing away that is proceeding apace with or without any one of them. Our species is nothing but water downhill: a great endless wash of blind, dumb progress towards the possible, driven by the combined weight of all our needs and all of our minds.

No individual droplet in that coursing stream matters. We just like to pick out one droplet towards the front of the surge, and drop a medal and a ribbon on it.

It's because we're individuals ourselves, no doubt.

It is true that not everything we can envision will end up being possible. Some obstacles may end up being foundational aspects of reality. We'll work within those or work around them, in the same blind, dumb, downhill-coursing fashion, and we will get where we can.

The lesson here is more than hope: it is a crimson and permanent assurance. Ignorance is soluble. Anything that can possibly be done, or that can be done meaningfully better, one way or another way - the sludge of ignorance that conceals it from us will be worn through or worn clear, and reality's potential will be found out. Exposed.

True, not every possible idiosyncratic method will be discovered. There are, after all, nigh-infinite redundant solutions to most problems. Better and better solutions are likely to make their headway eventually, but just as occurs with selection-driven speciation and adaptation to a given ecological niche, a particular solution to a given physical problem will appear and predominate. This will hinder the explosive proliferation of competing solutions that occur later, even if one is marginally better. The individual solution won't matter, any more than the individual innovator matters.

None of us, not even the most brilliant of us - no genius, no trailblazer, no innovator no matter how colossal - makes a real difference or a meaningful contribution, not when it comes to achieving what was simply, finally, physically possible to begin with.

The desirable possible is inevitable.

Well What Should People Be Arguing About, Then?

So some say no one should waste their time arguing about this, that, or the other, where "this" is typically religion, "that" is politics, and "the other" is - if I'm not getting this confused - the broad topic of the nature of reality, how we can establish it, how we can know what is known, and to what extent we can say that we share or do not share a reality. People say it's a waste of time to argue about these things. Well I have to ask: "What then should people be arguing about?

I say we should argue about demonstrable scientific fact! No wait. Demonstrable scientific fact is repeatable. We shouldn't argue about it. We should simply impugn the parameters of the experiment that we believe have spoiled the results, redraw the experiment with more rigorous design, then run the improved experiment and write up the results! Why argue about it when we can experiment about it? Satisfying.

Maybe we should argue about whether earth cycles slowly through stages of extreme global melt and extreme global freeze or humanity controls the weather? This is dumb, though. There's no either/or there - false dichotomy alert! The answer is yes. Earth cycles continuously through freeze and melt. And yes. Humanity controls the weather. "Controls" in the sense that Ralph Hinkley flies. We haven't got the supersuit instructions down yet, but we know dozens of heating and cooling factors, and several of them are demonstrably strong factors, capable of exerting meaningful effect to heat or cool, on a global scale - and subject to human manipulation. Where we can influence, we can study that influence. Where we have effect, we can understand that effect. Effect plus understanding equals control. All it takes is huge government funding for pure research in these areas. Done! Next.

So I'm not sure what it is really that we should be arguing about. As far as people in general go, what's really worthwhile? Of course for individual people and situations, we can argue about who was rude when by doing what, and whose meaning wasn't really what they later claimed it was. Those are perennials! Nobody ever seems to think that kind of argument is a waste of time.

Should people be arguing about what to have for dinner? Where to go on vacation? What to do for the weekend? The specifics of a bet? Who looked at who else's body part(s) how, and/or why that is/isn't demeaning or offensive? Whose fault this last patch of unsatisfactory sex has been? Whose turn/responsibility it was to do specified onerous chore (not necessarily an unrelated question to the preceding)? These are also all areas people seem to believe are well worth arguing.

Perhaps we should argue about peoples' clothes and hair!

You know, I've noticed something about people who think it's a waste of time to argue about politics, religion, or reality in general - which we can easily call "subjectivity" if it will make you, you specifically I mean, happy. The people who call these kinds of argument a waste of time tend to fall into three broad types. They are generally either the confused/inarticulate who can't put together/get across a cogent thought, and don't enjoy being embarrassed on that count; the decisively-convinced, who have a permanent opinion and who know from experience it's certainly a waste of anybody's time to argue against it; or the reformed bad arguers, who have learned the hard way that the way they do it (or did it), argument just causes bad feelings, and never does create a valuable understanding.

Now that sounds like something to argue about! Potentially!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ask A Question Get An Answer #8: Other Than Death and Taxes (Naturally), On What Do You Rely?

Well, simplest answer: I rely on the Other. I capitalize the Other here, because it looks cool.

I rely on the Other as a corrective! Between you and any Other you know well, you will usually find means to fruitfully evaluate the reality that lies between you. But it goes so far beyond that: there are so many of the Other! Taken together, all the Others in your regular experience form a huge resource pool. Where their observations and opinions conflict, you will find broad basis within which to compare, and from which to gauge the relative worth of any individual Other's input.

Between you and any Other, you have reality, and a reality check that cuts each way: each of you has the reality between you to work from, as observed by you each. Each of you can use the other to compare observations and potentially, offer any perceived inaccuracies for correction. Each of you serves the other as a check! In dealing with any particular Other, you will very soon get a sense of how reliable their observations are and/or how much their opinion is worth, making it easy for you to adjust the relative weight you assign to that Other's take "on the fly." With only a small amount of practice, you will find yourself doing this automatically!

So in sum: I rely on each and every Other, to the degree they come into my experience, and in proportion to the proven worth of their observations and/or opinion, in order that my own observations and opinions can be corrected and refined as desired.

If you care to give it a try, you'll find that when you start this process, your desire will be huge! You won't be able to get enough correction and refinement to how you've been viewing reality. It will quickly become almost addictive, the giddy thrill as opinions proven bad and useless drop away in favor of views better suited to reality as observed, and consequently, more useful for negotiating it. You will feel like some kind of superhero after about a year of this! Temper your enthusiasm, though: as your opinions grow in utility, as they become better and better descriptions of reality, as they become more refined and finely-adjusted and as your observations become more astute, you will probably find less and less to correct. This is only natural, and no cause for sadness. For in place of the initial thrill and rush, you'll find that each increasingly-rare correction you can wrest from any given Other will become a cherished prize.

Shorter answer: I rely on reality. Same thing. I'm just dropping hints as to how you or anybody else can get to it.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Fragments from Random Drafts #1: IMPORTANT

Emergency baptisms must be reported to a priest immediately for record-keeping and other purposes.

True exchange. Unpremeditated!

Friend: "Hey! How are you doing?"

I: "Pretty good I guess."

Friend: "You guess?"*

I: "I like to keep myself guessing."

*in a tone suggesting this isn't good enough, or that I should not be satisfied either living in or copping to such a state of shabby affairs

Hyperbole and a Half: a Relatively Recent Book by Allie Brosh NOW WITH AN IMAGE

Folks, it occurs to me, articles with an image get much better results social media-wise than articles without one. Accordingly, I'm republishing this piece but with an image added. Knowing that famous photographers and publishing houses are frequently loathe to lend their copyrighted images to hard-hitting, no-compromising think-piece criticisms such as the one you may be about to read, I commissioned an artist. Otherwise, the post is just as it was.

This book is droll. Droll, I tell you. For those of you who don't know what "droll" entails, without looking it up let me say I believe it means humorous in an off-kilter, oddball sort of way.

Author Brosh has long-ago delighted legions of online fans with her web-log (also called Hyperbole and a Half), an award-winning episodic amusement featuring purposely-crude drawings that illustrate the hilarious and often hapless author's lack thereof, her adventures, or her probing insights. These insights are primarily directed inward: her own scathing self-diagnosis, equal parts ruthless and grandiose; a scrutiny that is as much funhouse-mirror as microscope and that scans from a very young age to her current still fairly young age. The book collects several of these previously published web issues together with much new material of similar quality. It should not fail to please fans.

For those who are not fans, especially for those who have never heard of Brosh, the book serves as an introduction to a peculiar sort of raconteur, one of indisputably unusual talent. Brosh is young, blonde, and gawky in an appealing sort of way, but her chief attraction is her mind, and her ability to mine its rich veins of delirium-flecked memory to confront the reader with rude vistas equal parts disturbing and absurd. Some of the episodes she presents, we enjoy out of sheer fascination with how far Brosh strays over paths outré, bizarre, grotesque and arabesque, beyond anything one's own mind could have produced or recognized as common to the experience of humanity. Yet in some cases, a shock and thrill will proceed from our realization that we, too, have felt so, we too have thought such - yet surely never would we have related things precisely thus!

The shock is one of recognition: we, too, are freaks in our own way. With this awareness, perhaps we soothe and humor ourselves to believe that we, like Brosh, may have experiences within us worth the adulation of a multitude, awards from various internet authorities, and a book deal. This is pure escapism on our part.

Hyperbole and a Half, the book, is highly recommended by many - a fact which I wholly confirm and endorse. This review has been understatement, minus one-fourth.


Friday, April 04, 2014

When Cons Go Pro, the Pros Go...I dunno, I thought that would go somewhere.

Speaking about the whole "Pro vs. Con" Pro. Seriously, all the way! It's the pros in a walkover, and I don't care how much you want to claim everyone over to the con side because we're all infracanineophiles, right? No. Pro. And not because they're the overdogs.

You need to begin to get realistic on a thing like this. You might even find you develop a taste for it. The Pros go rolling over those poor Cons like they were all secretly and unbeknownst to each other paid to take dives, only it was like the beginning of the third act of a sports movie or something and somehow some nerve got touched off and they all got super-furious at their own integrity and just said "Fuck the consequences, fuck the spread. We won this game the moment they fucking tried to bribe us," because the Pros don't play that! That's a big part of why they're not Cons in the first place. That's shit's criminal, Mr. Holmes.

Yes. We all know you'd like to extol the tough mutha blood and tumble scrape the defender into the tarmac on the way to the goal ethos that the Cons espouse, or at the very least, front as if to espouse so as to avoid being perceived as somebody's pretty decent bitch prospect. Grow up. No matter how many Dallas Cowboys smoke how much cocaine, they don't send those guys to those jails. The kind of prison they send those guys to has about maybe only prison league polo or any equally high-posh criminally incarcerated sports equivalents you might care to name. Prison league croquet? Why certainly. Will we have time before tea? Or what sports we were even talking about playing, come on? We knew the ones. The big ones! The ones where inmates versus rippling bloodthirsty scorehog divamonsters even has some frisson to it. The sports that matter, rough tough and bold!

There isn't a single sport that even has a major league dedicated to it where the top level top flight top paid athletes are not going to wipe those guys destroyed and humiliated off the face of the playing surface, oh with tender pity and regret I am sure. Condescendingly of course. Because that's a mismatch. It's not even fair - the best-ever all-history all-star nightmare team you could assemble from your pick of every prison league that ever ran one in or knocked one over, those hard luck men are fucking children next to our pack of ravening tiger-eyed charging bulls, bears, lions or whatever else have you.

It's not remote. The chance your prison leaguers could bring enough game to tame that brutal performance-boosted elite pro beast. You know it. I know it? The odds makers know it! So, you know, why not quit trying to act like a little pouty kid reading comic books pretending living hard and romanticizing horrible experiences gives you superpowers. "Well, he's survived four years of the hardest time you could clock without breaking the hands! He's got to be way tougher than these so-called pampered superstar millionaire athletes. And just look at the fucked up way he's sharpened those points on his cleats...! His whole team has tattoos of people they haven't killed yet and mean to! These men fight dirty! That's why they'll win. Dirty!"


No, no please. Thank you.


A walkover.

Very clean.


I don't know what I'm going to do, now. I don't know what I'm going to do now, but I'll tell you, I know what I'm going to do later!

Figure it out.

That's my crack double-down ace of spades over seven-eighths of a double flush tactic. That's what I do every. Single. Always have. Always will. And always do: ACT NOW.

Figure it out later.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

If You're Reading This, I'm Probably Smarter Than You

Think about it.

A Stray Thought On That Last Post: "Neil Finn?"

Wouldn't that be funny if there were no such guy and I had just made the whole thing up?! Wow.

Wow. Actually. If there were no such guy...I would be coming out with a shitload of albums of his, stat. Because, you know, nobody else would have even ever heard of him, and I can still remember every one of those songs! But how sad would it be? He's a sweetie! I shook his hand once, and he made me look real good in front of my then-girlfriend.

He's a little on the short side, five-three I think.

"Neil Finn?" or, "A Scathing Indictment of Other Peoples' Artistic Integrity"

Neil Finn has still got it. He just doesn't particularly care for it, you know? It's not a priority right now. It's right where it's always been if he cares to whip it out. No use claiming otherwise - the proof's in the projects and the turns they've each taken. Neil is exploring modes, and doesn't he have every right? I hope so. He's earned it.

2008 witnessed Finn spinning out a glittering spate of his usual standard-issue seemingly-effortless catchy and winsome soaring chorus snap jangle pop rock songs, in a tour whose concept was giddily ridiculous: a world tour devoted not to flogging product, but to exposing Finn's creative process live onstage in conjunction with his then-never-hotter band Crowded House. It was a leap without a net, but the result proved to be no stunt. The band had gelled the previous year, over the course of a fairly brilliant and gorgeous (par for the course, yes I know) tour in support of 2007's whelming reunion effort Time On Earth. Then that tour wound down, and the announcement came that (we could only presume) the band hadn't got enough of each other, of the road and of the show upon which they were getting it on. You liked that tour? Here comes another one!

It proved to be no mere stunt, as I've said. It was more a lark wrapped in giddy whim wrapped in a dream-come-true of sorts - because the lemon-mouthed old and overly-schooled contingent of Finn's fans had been making grumbling noises for years about Finn's increasing wanderings into less obvious pop constructs, and away from what you (or rather, they) call the "accessible." "Mister Finn," went a fairly representative complaint letter of the period, "We've supported you all these years and I feel sure we all still will; we're sure you will not let us down! But doesn't a songwriter have some obligation to the audience to write songs in such a way that the one part, which is great, demonstrates some marked difference from the other part, which probably ought to be fantastic, or arresting, or simply catchy, in a way that lets us know, 'Hey now, which part of this song is meant to be the refrain?' A clear difference is so important, here! A difference marked out in melody, and/or syncopation, and/or dynamics, and/or chord progression (and with fewer or's in with those and's for preference) - you of all people know the infinite ways these things combine, and you've been so dependable landing the beast in a way that sees all of crying out as one 'Yes! This is the stuff! These pieces fit, somehow, and yet they contrast agreeably with each other, in fitting ways.' Please rest assured we applaud your experimental bent: in at least five of your songs that I can think of, you've shown your daring, bucking the established trend and presenting us I with a verse that sounds like it's meant to be the insanely catchy part, and a refrain that is comparatively subdued. Subdued yet of course, fantastic! And it goes without saying, the music and the flourishes and the optional extras you almost always lavish on and in and through your oeuvre. Bridges and such - the famed 'middle 8,' greater than which the mastery of few can claim (yours, I mean). Point is: we can't write like you! But you've proved you can, and the fact is that's exactly what we want! Please continue doing that kind of fine work, forging your way through whatever vicissitudes each verse entails, just so long as we get through to the release of the refrain in a way that everyone finds comprehensible, and reassuring. Indeed: not merely reassuring. Transcendent. Capische?"

These entreaties, very common (indeed, tiresome to some) in those days, did not fall on deaf ears. I think. Or if they did, we all sort of had it pegged as a sort of an evolution, a period, a phase - something he would go through, in any event! And we felt there were reassuring signs of a return to recognized form buried like nuggets of pure buttermilk fried chicken all throughout the fine platters of nu-theory cuisine Neil kept insisting on serving us, spinning out dish after dish for our delectation in the meantime, in those days: Try Whistling This (originally where the grumbles began, as I recall - now an undisputed brass-chased gold-standard classic), One Nil (some people were like, "whuuuut?" - yet who now can in retrospect admit to having resisted such piercing highlights as "Hole In The Ice," "Anytime," "Rest of the Day Off," and "Wherever You Are?"), I'm Not Naming The Finn Bros Albums As The Tim Collaboration Seems To Have Moderated the Unwonted and Increasingly Unwanted Tendency Towards Subtle Hook-Stinting Somewhat (although individual tracks still came in for their share of being carped-upon), and eventually Time On Earth, about half of which was looked at askance by fans who saw it as far more of a piece with what they'd been frowning at in his solo stuff.

Then came the '08 tour. All of a sudden.

A pre-tour for an as-yet-unworked-upon album-to-come, of all the unheard of things. A forming and deforming and reforming of songs in progress, in process. Prospective tunes being taken apart before you! Pieces traded maybe, put back together behind your back like either the misdirection or the magic trick (and you're not sure which!), eventually destined or at the very least, intended to make up a good portion of the followup to Time On Earth. And this incarnation of the band was, by now, a powerhouse. They had new songs their back pocket to try out for you tonight, songs that were mostly spry, simple, pure and classic stuff - their perfect and tight-fitting material! And the band was greater than or equal to it. They put those songs across with such strut and evident joy created fresh each night, you had to be in the room to believe it! "Twice If You're Lucky," "Isolation," "Either Side of the World," all came in for especial praise from fans whose ears had seen the light, like a blind man struck dumb with wonder because he maybe can't see, quite, but suddenly he's come down with synesthesia and he can hear it. Hear the light. What else could it have been but proof positive? Our man Finn has every bit of it!! And he always has, and it's pretty much a snap for him as we can all quite clearly now see and hear. Proof positive there's no other man on earth who shall write songs like these.

"Twice If You're Lucky," as they planted it smack square in the middle of my fucking forehead two nights running at the SF Fillmore, was immediately the best song I'd ever heard. If I could only quite hold all the words! It remains the best song I've ever heard. Neil is confessedly my favorite songwriter living, and it's my favorite of all his things. A matter of taste, to be sure! A questionable judgment, as I'll own. And I'll admit for balance's sake, the song I here praise also came in for some pretty harsh critiques from those self-same hard-core fans, most of whom were by this time close to forty years old. And some of them were not amused. Because you see, this song, it may have been almost, well, dopey! Giddy? Silly? So ran the criticism. Others put it "corny," others put it "trite." All those critics missed some kind of point, I suspect, but it's hard for me to put my finger on it for them and frankly, not my responsibility. How could I find the words? Because how do you describe a monumental marble garden angel breaking its pedestal moorings and floating away on a helium high? Is it a bird, is it a baby, if we create something magical, honey? It's a reaffirmation of a breaking epiphany, by means of some sleight of déjà vu, arguably, but who can argue with God and Fate armed only with magic and honey, a scent and a chemistry, one college-level intro course in philosophy and not come away from the exchange looking a bit silly? Neil mother fucking Finn, that's who fool!

Well, perhaps you couldn't even say that, but I sure can. So if somehow in this song and I'd think for the first time, Neil sort of did come away looking silly, well can I get a so what? So what! He was looking silly and as if he didn't care! And he rocked the look, even with that haircut and godawful moustache. Fool grin on his face, waltzing in 4/4 around stage (which was very confusing to follow with your eyes, I assure you) and everybody in the band doing kind of the same, catching everybody else's eye, eye to eye and grin to grin, until the same contagious dumn-fool look is passing from mind to mind like some supersneaky Vulcan emotional meme all around and throughout the whole auditorium. You think people mind looking silly with a thing like that happening? These guys up there wore silly like a hat, and for one song cocked it in dashing fashion and proceeded to make rock sound like it technically, actually, always fucking should have. Or better. "Unsophisticated" you say? I say "EAT ME."

When the album Intriguer came out, only one of these three songs was really what you'd call recognizable. The others had been transformed. The album was, by and large, full of good and great songs, including transformed versions of the ones that had once wrung so resoundingly, instantly perfect in our bell-like ears. The "Twice If You're Lucky" that graced the album remained, in its new incarnation, a great song yet. In fact, I would say if I'd never gotten to hear the album version of "Twice If You're Lucky," I wouldn't have known what I'd missed of course, but I'd have been cheated of something valuable. I love that song, in that form, also. But it can't come close to even the bootleg somebody made of the Washington D.C. show's take of what wasn't quite what it would become by Frisco!

I want to back and fill, here. That last sentence was incomprehensible. I wrote the thing and even I had to read it three times! But even beyond that: I don't regret or second-guess the artistic decisions made on Intriguer. Nor would I! Unless they, you know, legitimately did suck. But no, I uphold them and the right of the fricken creator to fricken create the fricken creation he fricken wanted to at the time, according to whatever's fricken tickling his fancy in those moments. I mean, that's what it's all about, right? If that weren't what it was all about, nobody would have ever even written "The Hokey Pokey." Let's not kid ourselves. That song is a tour de force of somebody doing their own thing (while simultaneously being a very neat little satire on conformity, obedience, and how easily people will stomach being told exactly what to do if you can sell it to them as being "what it's all about"!).

Still. I do voice...wait, I mean, many fans do voice a certain wistful wish that the pure and perfect undiluted hundredproofthermonuclear simple syrup Neil used to sweeten the sweet tea of our everyday dreams with didn't always have to be adulterated and muted these days with things like excessive subtlety, subduedity. Many fans voice that same complaint! Many fans have said that. They did. You mark my words or words to that effect! Those of us who heard the earlier '08 incarnations on that tour, especially - that thing we had heard and rejoiced to hear, it didn't show up. We knew then, "Neil's still got it!" Because, you know, he clearly had had it, but what he had had, he hadn't ultimately elected to put that on the finished platter. I guess we all sort of concluded that the mode those songs had "on the night," by the time the band was messing around in the studio in the light of a later day...well, that mode must just have become old hat, by then, to Neil. Or silly hat. Perhaps it became silly hat. And one suspects silly hat only works in a certain perfect moment, on the night that it's somehow, working for you. Working in your favor. I've had nights like that! So have you. Everyone has. So what we finally got, what we get on the delivered and official product: a respectable plate loaded with choice songs, from good to great. Maybe muted with a touch of cardamom, or the addition of some unidentified spice, or some herb maybe, in there (shizandra??), all of which combined makes the final concoction - bubbling, fizzy, interesting, sure! But somehow not what we'd woken up with ringing in our heads for that past six months. That glorious thing that had had us jumping out of our beds, excited for the future again.

The point is: this is a man in full possession of his powers, and probably yours too. Don't be fooled and don't fool yourself. He's still got it. He's basically just fucking with us. Grow up! He's allowed to. It's his music, "go write your own if you think it's so simple," to quote every talentless fan who has no idea of their own what creation entails, takes it like a black box God-carven stone tablet from on high, and can't grasp the concept that criticism is in fact, both art and literature - and as legitimate a form of either as anything it examines. As legitimate a form as any you'd care to get all sulky and pissy over, or defensive on behalf of. As the wits always wag: yeah, let's see you do it! Hah. You're criticizing my criticism?! And yet you suck at it you hypocrite! "Don't criticize if you can't create" - that's the motto? How about taking the far more directly applicable version of the statement: "Don't criticize if you can't criticize," mate.

That's right.

I swear. It's like that time Robert Evens walked up to Roger Ebert all pissed off and said "don't write movie reviews if you can't fucking produce a film!" The parallels are exact.

So give a grown man his due, and let him roam down the paths he cares to, at this juncture. Listen to the new that comes out, if you want! You're not obligated. It's cool. I'll tell you it's worth getting into, and that you might like it. More, you might also catch that gleam, wink and a tease here and there, and there - that lets you feel kind of excited about the next evolution or revolution to come. WHICH MAY BE ONE OF THOSE U2 ALL YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND RETURN TO FORM DEALS, OH MY GOD CAN YOU STAND IT? It's a possibility, distinct and tantalizing. But if you want to tell me the man has run out, hasn't got it any more, well you can comfort yourself with that old saw, I guess. Drag out the old tired refrain, again: "decay takes all," but no. Not in this case. Or at least: not yet and not remotely yet. Folks: Neil Finn is at the top of his game. He's just pursuing various interpretive sports moves while he can, up at that game-top. It's his game anyway! Nobody else was in the league. So you know what? I'm game to play along. Count me in, Neil. I'm right there with you, as usual. As always.

Partly because, you know. I secretly know, come on. I know Neil's got to be so close about now, so due, so pregnant with a big burgeoning retro fetus of celebratory full-circle-coming to blow our minds with that same old shining moment, with that holy hell hallelujah old school classic Finn gold. You can't not know that! It's pretty much just up to him, and how and if he cares to do it. He's sitting on, basically, a...I don't know. Leave metaphor suggestions in the comments there, for that one.

But trust me. The man's not only got it, he's holding onto it for the given moment, unfortunately, until he feels the time's come round to right, for that old mode of gift he's given us and given us endlessly to be taken out, rubbed bright, and taken for granted again. I've got a particularly specific feeling on this one.