"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

More Alarm

Frank sends in this gem from the bowells of the US Trust slavetemp-worker dens:

Have you checked out any of the photos from this NY Times article. Dude, just from the outset, it looks like young republicans just never get laid. It's as if they gave up on trying to get poontaing and just decided that they'd try getting rich instead. Young lefty's are much much hotter. I think there should be a contest.

Also, I actually got a legit email today from the USA Flag Balloon people I talked about yesterday. I belive it was Terri, the wife in the couple/duo which run the operation. She was quite cordial, and asked why I thought they were about hot gas. Here's what I sent back:

About the hot gas. I'm into the constitution, have been for a while, but I find the recent wave of patriotism to be somewhat vacuous and ergo disturbing. Seems too much like nationalism, full of empty gestures and grandiose posturing.

I mean, if you're serious about furthering interest in the roots of the country and the precepts on which it was founded, I think there are better ways to use your money than to have a giant flag balloon.

It all kind of reminds me of how my stepmother is sometimes: really ardently into right-wing America mainly because she's never stopped to deeply consider the issues beyond what she learned in college economics (free market == good) and the O'Rilley talking points. We usually debate, and since she's actually pretty smart sometimes I can get her to see how some of her beliefs are a bit unresonable.

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Slippery Slope

Just so we don't loose track of why it's important to be involved in these times, here's proof that America can stand some improvement: Judge baselessly accuses a Lebaneese woman of being a terrorist, she faints in courtroom. He's trying to pretend he was joking now. And all this just up in Westchester!

What the hell is this? Why, it's the USA flag hot air balloon. Oh, man... what can I say. The subhead: symbol of empty patriotism, full of hot gas, manages to satirize self.

In further realms, the Dixie Chicks were booed again at the Country Music Awards, and jingo-singer Toby Kieth came away a big winner, but (gossip gossip) wasn't there to accept, even though he and Willie Nelson played a duet earlier in the evening.

Which brings me to the important issue. What the hell is Willie Nelson doing playing on stage with Toby Keith? First the GAP ad, and now this. Willie, if you need money, just ask, ok? Nobody wants to you debase yourself like this. Have a little pride, man!

And finally, a question. Why can't Stephen Hawking dance?

He's white.

(it's a joke. s'posed to be funny, yo)

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Domino, Muthafucka

This is possibly the most gratifying thing that's come of my adding politix to the mix here on the old blog. A man named Mike (in Memphis no less) read my comments on Daily Kos, clicked through to my Dean endorsement and went all the way to drop $50 in the campaign coffers. This gives me some bigtime warm and fuzzies.

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Hack Heavern

Enjoying the fruits of being moderately literate in technology, the new Radiohead album on the hi-fi and a new whisper-quiet 120GB drive in my cube. I'm rebuilding my development environment and gettng ready to get back to work on some kick-ass social software.

Last night played some scrabble with Sasha. She kicked my ass by virtue of her preternatural ability to place three letters and make four words simultaniously: 30-point bonanzas made of words like "pa" and "at." I bang out "tarrif" and "query/zesty" for 18 and 36 points respectively, go down in flames in the endgame. Afterwards we talk about life, the universe and everything. It's interesting, she being on the tail end of Generation X -- sarcastic, ironic, not too hopeful about things -- and me being something different alltogether. Our parents are about the same age, so we figure it has a lot to do with gaining political awareness in the age of Regan vs. Clinton, respectively.

In the course of my trying to explain emergence and railing against corporations and other inhuman forms of organization, I struck what I think might be a deep new vein of thinking ore. Institutions pervert ambition. That's the summary. Maybe more on that later.

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Bush Gets Some Tax Cuts

Well, the tax cut was passed, with so much amending and addendums that I'm sure Bush will claim it was Democratic meddling that ruined his voodoo spell to revive the economy. The number is $350 billion, but taken out to the 10-year level, the cost looks more like $660 billion. That's on top of our existing deficit, and before we've had the parade of military spending increases. Even mega-tycoon Warren Buffet thinks this is a bad idea.

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Daily Dose of Dean

More food for your Dean-hungry mouths. Check the interveiws with Liberal Oasis (a good blog) and Newsweek. Also, dean was in Iowa today at an important little event called "Hear it from the Heartland," which Senator Tom Harkin -- undoubtedly one of the good guys -- organized to expose Iowa voters to all the dem hopefuls. You can read writeups here (ap) and here (reuters). There's video from CSPAN too, which I just started to watch. Motherfucker uses Led Zeppelin as his intro music. When the Levy Breaks. Contrast that with Clinton/Gore and their namby pamby Fleetwood Mac. Here's a couple more videos too. The Democratic party is back.

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Truth 2004

There's a fantastic post over on Daily Kos by RonK entitled 28 Words You Can't Say on Television. I suggest giving it a read. It cuts to the heart of the bullshit rhetoric which permiates every aspect of our environment -- and gives a few props to my man Howard Dean for his willingness to speak a few truths currently verboten in the national media.

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Matrix Reloaded

I was reading a little more about the Matrix Reloaded and having seen it on Friday, thought I might throw my opinion your way. No spoilers, I promise.

There were a lot of little things I liked about the movie. It was pretty good as comic book action goes, though some of the action sequences -- like some of the dialogue -- seemed to belabor the point a bit. I also liked all the sexuality and the idea that in the future black people are in a lot of leadership roles. I really like all the strong style choices, the different color schemes for different parts of the universe, the mix of high tech and low life. But the plot was a bit thin for 150 minutes of screen time, and without any of the great surprises of the first. The "intellectual" aspects of the film felt forced at times, even redundant, the whole ball of wax perhaps a bit too stridently zen at the expense of story.

Still, I think it's an interesting step in film-making, and it was entertaining. Also, if it makes a lot of money, it might open the door for other pop-culture artifacts about Big Ideas. That could be cool.

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Blogging gets more mainstream press all the time. Two articles today in the NYT on blogging. Thanks to my mom for sending them both my way.

One, "As Google Goes, So Goes The Nation," by Geoffrey Nunberg, is a rehash of the googlewashing debate, and a general continuation of the antagonistic journalism-blogging confrontation that's been going on for the past few months. Doc Searls has a nice rundown of the whole situation, so I'll spare you my $0.02 other than to say that it seems that there are a lot of entrenched powers within the realm of culture, media and journalism who feel very threatened by the blogging phenomena, sometimes rightly, but more often highly irrationally.

The second piece is a little more juicy, a "style and fashion" article on blogs by Warren St. John, focused around people revealing personal details and private opinions on the web and having parents/lovers/friends unexpectedly find them. While not quite as factually debatable as the Nunberg piece, this saucy little missive also substantially fails to get it.

While it's clear that the whole realtime autobio endeavour can put you in sticky situations -- outing views and experiences you may have otherwise kept to yourself for the sake of decorum -- this is hardly news. I just had a taste of that with Sasha and this page. Justin Hall took this to the extreme way back in '98 with his exploration of how posting nude images of himself online cost him a few jobs. It's something that requres a certain amount of fortitude and sensativity. Sometimes we make mistakes.

However, the generally cautionary tone of St. John's article ignores the fact the personal-publishing revolution is leading to a more fully disclosed, transparent and diverse society. Putting your shit online cuts both ways. As I've noted before, having a blog proves that you're in some ways "for real" in the virtual world. Further, while there will always be the question of what should be public vs. private, for many people it seems that blogging provides an outlet for suppressed ideas, feelings and emotions. That's important. The truth always feels better.

When I read about a 27-year old woman from Utah publishing a scathing indictment of her Mormon upbringing and then having to explain herself to her parents, I think, "that's fucking great! What a huge step forward for everyone involved, and all because of blogging." She could have gone her whole life without ever talking to her family about the problems she had with her childhood, taken that resentment all the way to her parents' funerals.

Here's something I'm convinced of: secrets and silence are the seeds of madness. All dischord, disconnect and dissonance in interpersonal relations have at their root something hidden away and secret inside someone's mind, something malignant and perhaps even shameful. If these dark spots are not brought out and shared, they will grow, poisoning anything that touches. Things that relate will become attached, memories colored with secret unspoken meanings, until finally the one doing the hiding is more or less unable to meaningfully interact with other humans because so many actions, words, thoughts, feelings and memories have the clandestine taint upon them. If it actually gets this bad most people can't handle it and they break down. I've seen it happen. Secrets and silence.

Anyway, I think publicly blogging can help avert that sort of thing, and more generally help people fully become and express themselves. People need to talk about shit, and posting online is a good exercise in this. There's a certain amount of egocentricity involved, but this doesn't need to exceed the bounds of a healthy self-esteem -- and really it's about sharing when you get down to it. This doesn't excuse people who insult others or blog with malicious intent, but that's a maturity problem (c.f. most high school website forums). Still, much better the bad apples publish their juvenile sniping on a blog than talk behind people's backs. Get it out in the open. Deal with it. Be accountable. Grow.

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Mall Wart/Cuture Wars

Thinking a lot about culture today after hanging out with Andrew last night and seeing The Matrix sequil. The more I'm exposed to mainstream culture, the more I realize how foreign and alien it is to me. So here are a few things on that note.

There's an interesting and unsettling article in todays NYT about the impact of mass retailers like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Costco on popular culture in this country. Since stores like Wal-Mart regularly account for 20% or more (much more) of a best-selling album, DVD, book or CDs sales, the buyers for these stores have an incredible amount of influence over what publishing houses choose to promote. Most of these buyers -- most likely as a result of the corporate culture and upper management within these companies -- are either conservative or christian, and often both. More of my thoughts on that here.

While thinking of culture wars, I did a little search for counterculture resources, and stumbled across this: ChristianCounterCulture.com, which is pretty fascinating and interesting.

Finally, back to the NY Times, the style section officially declares foam hats (they call them trucker hats, I've know them since my youth as "meshbacks") to be over. I think I called this about a month ago. On a similar note, I've been noticing more and more the silver and white earbuds that signify the owner is listening to an iPod. Apple was smart to make them so distinctive: I see them all over as of late. Wonder how long before some knockoff electronics maker like Coby starts making look-alike earbuds for $10. Something appealing to me about having those iPod-signifiers hooked up to a walkman.

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