Friday, June 17, 2016

Safe Breasts for Victory!

A lot of bizarre stuff happened here in the Land of the Big PX during the Second World War.

So I can't imagined armored brassiere cups were the most bizarre.

But...damn. That's pretty bizarre. What the hell was Rosie doing that put her lovely lady lumps so close to Industrial Danger?

We will never know.

Some ideas are too stupid to die and can't be killed.

Apparently there's a nutty little cluster of fuck buried in the U.S. State Department (from CNN via Pierce):
"More than 50 State Department officials signed an internal memo protesting U.S. policy in Syria, calling for targeted U.S. military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and urging regime change as the only way to defeat ISIS.
The cable says that U.S. policy in the Middle East has been "overwhelmed" by the continuing violence in Syria. It calls for a "judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process."

The memo calls on the U.S. to create a stronger partnership with moderate rebel forces to battle both Assad's forces and ISIS, which would change the tide of the conflict against the regime and "increase the chances for peace by sending a clear signal to the regime and its backers that there will be no military solution to the conflict."

It also warns that as the regime "continues to bomb and starve" Syria's Sunni population, the U.S. will lose potential allies among Syria's Sunni population to fight ISIS. Moreover, it says, U.S. failure to stop the regime's abuses "undermines both morally and materially the unity of the anti-Daesh coalition" and "will only bolster the ideological appeal of groups such as Daesh, even as they endure tactical setbacks on the battlefield."
It''s hard to tell where to start with this ridiculous level of horseshit.

Maybe here: "judicious use of standoff and air weapons"..? Judicious? How the holy fuck do you use a cruise missile "judiciously"? Tack a get-well card to the nose? Ensure that it has a jihadi-seeking sensor in the guidance package? Who the hell thinks this? State has seen a damn sight of war since 2001. It's been fifteen years of nonstop bombing and shelling and killing-wogs-in-kinetic-ways in the Middle East. Have these people learned nothing from all that so-far-prodigiously-unproductive bombing, shelling, and killing..?


If you can show me a "judicious" way of throwing high explosive long distances I will carry your rucksack from here to the Halls ofMontezuma and kiss your ass when we get there. about this one; "moderate rebel forces"? Moderate based on what metric? 50% less headcutting? 100% How many of their raggedy-ass "fighters" have read Atlas Shrugged? Where are these paragons of virtue? Can anybody find me someone, anyone, who is "moderate" in the damn cesspit of ruin and merciless hatred that used to be "Syria"? Can anybody tell me why I should trust ANYone there to tell the truth about their "moderation"? I mean, any State Middle East hand to believes any local between the strandline of the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf who boasts of their "moderate" credentials should have their fucking head examined.

According to CNN, "The 51 officials who signed the memo are mostly from the rank and file of the department, many of them career officers in the foreign service who have been involved in Syria policy over the past several years either in Washington or overseas." which, frankly, tells me a hell of a lot about why our "Syria policy" has been as fucked up as a football bat.

One thing I will give the last Adminstration credit for; in general it has resisted sticking this country's head further into the Middle Eastern tarbaby. I have often wondered why it has insisted in sticking to the ones it is already attached to. But this idiotic memo is perhaps a good reminder of why it's so hard to stop being stupid.

Because there's always people in critical positions who think that their contrarian idea is contrary because it's too clever for everyone else to recognize how clever it is and not because everyone else realizes it's completely moronic.

Shut up and sit down

Seems to be what the Republican voters in the state of Nevada told their lunatic gun-licking teabagger Michele Fiore. She lost the House District 03 to someone named Tarkanian who, since he is a Republican, is reliably spineless on the whole business of well-regulating the fucking militia but is less full-blown, bull-goose looney about armed sedition.

One can hope.

Mind you, she came in a strong third, garnering nearly 20% of the GOP primary voters. Which pretty much confirms what I've always suspected; that there's about somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of U.S. "citizens" who have no real idea what constitutes a polity, have no concept of (or interest in) a civil compact with their fellow-citizens.

As I've mentioned here before, Fiore represents the very, very worst of the greedy, stupidly chuckleheaded notion that there IS no social contract, that "I built that", that the entire idea of collective responsibility or community is not just impractical but iniquitous.

Needless to say I'm pleased that even the Republican primary voters in Nevada were unwilling to go so far into that fever-swamp as Ms. Fiore wanted them to. While it is reprehensible that some of these jokers let her get as far as she did, apparently sending her to join the poop-flinging Freedom Caucus in D.C. was too much even for Republicans, even in Nevada.
Enjoy spending more time with the family, Michele. Don't forget to keep the ammo out of reach of the toddlers, now, hear..?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The DaVinci Hoax (or; Sorry, Janet...)

A couple of years ago I wrote a little post about the possibility that there was a person who lived in 1st Century Judea named Jesus Josephson who wandered around talking about God and who maybe, possibly, got hitched at some point before he ended up (maybe, possibly) on a Roman execution device.

This was based on the controversy surrounding a scrap of manuscript supposedly detailing some discussion this guy had with his pals talking about his ol' lady. Nobody seemed to be sure whether this scrap was genuine or not, but the idea seemed interesting enough for me to run with.

Well, sadly, the whole magilla appears to have been a complete forgery that, unfortunately enough, the original author of the paper that began the speculation refuses to accept.

The story of the journalist that chased the scam down to its creator, though, is delightful in itself, including the East German STASI, a slithering con man, and


But I stand corrected; sorry, Janet. He just wasn't that into you.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The coveted Portland Public Schools Achievement Medal... know that there's a U.S. Army tradition called the "I-love-me" wall, right?

Since we can't get on-demand (or achievement-related) pay raises or promotions, soldiers get plaques or certificates or other gimcracks when we done good. These testimonials are usually hung up on the wall inside the platoon office, or in a barrack room, to remind us just how awesome we really are. Sometimes it helps when we suffer the inevitable fuckup and the First Sergeant calls us "oxygen-thieves". ten-year-old daughter - with absolutely NO prompting or example from Daddy - created this:
Her very own "I-love-me" wall.

I trust that she'll be bitching about the chow, goldbricking her way through detail (or "chores" as they're referred to in fifth grade...), and coming to me with ridiculous schemes to go on extended TDY any day now.

Sniff! I couldn't be prouder!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016


My Sanders-supporting friends, let me put on my "older than dirt" political partisan cap and say this just once;

You stand at a crossroads now.

You can continue to strive for a more progressive Democratic Party in the future, for a lessening of corporate and wealthy interests within that party (tho if you think you're gonna get anywhere near "social democracy" in a European sense within the next century you've been huffing glue...). You can build grassroots organizations to help push the "Overton window" back to the Left.

Or you can retire to your tent to sulk about unfairness and corporate eeeeevil and stacked-deck primary processes. And as such you'll have as much effect on the political future of this nation as...Ralph Nader has had after 2000.

I've been there. I campaigned for John Anderson (remember him..?) back in 1980. I was a Dean partisan. I've labored for progressive candidates since I was old enough to vote. And I've been frustrated again and again watching "conservatives" work constantly and successfully within THEIR party to hijack it. Look around. The Donald isn't a "rogue Republican" - he's the Climax Teatard, the ultimate expression of what these Chrisopaths and antitaxers and Tenthers and Segregation Now - Segregation Forever diehard Dixiecrats have been drooling for since Reagan.

Since REAGAN; thirty-five years. Thirty-five YEARS, friends.

You want a "Sanders" in the White House and a Democratic version of the "Freedom Caucus" in the House? Are you prepared to work patiently for thirty-five years rather than throw a massive tantrum in this one?

Because that's what it'll take. And you can take those first steps today that will take us there then.

Or not.

Your call.


Monday, June 06, 2016

The Cat Yacks At Midnight

So here's a thing; Nitty Kitty (the older of our two cats) is occasionally bulimic; she binges on kibbles then yacks them up. I always hope that this occurs on a hard floor - as she did when she was ill last night - and not a carpet or someone's (Sheadooooon..!) dropped clothing or schoolbooks.

So here's another thing; I've grown so inured to this cat-yacking that the night-sound of the furry pest horking up her chow no longer motivates me to get up and find the vile spew.

I figure what's done is done, and no worse will occur before morning. In the morning I drag my ass out of bed and go clean up the nasty eruption.

Unfortunately for me, our crew of sugar ants was much less lazy. The little bastards were all over the place this morning. Gah.

I'm not sure who to blame at this point, but I'm working on making it either the car or the ants rather than my own sloth.

However you look at it, it's still revolting.

Saturday, June 04, 2016


The moment I stepped onto the front porch I knew it would be a breathlessly hot day.

Friday had been very warm in the oppressively cheerful way the early summer days here are warm; in the sun the heat bears down like hot metal while the shady sunless patches are pleasantly cool. The real measure of a hot Oregon day, however, in just at sunrise. Today the sun rose on a flat, breathless sort of dawn. Pulling the air into your chest it felt dry with the scent of dust. Even the asphalt was still slightly warm underfoot.

It would be a hot day.

The Pearl District of Portland has, in the preceding decade, descended from being a rundown post-industrial hardscape of dreary warehouses and melancholy-looking duplex apartments to a shiny, happy bustle of steel and glass and carefully-hand-rubbed artisanry; cute little coffeehouses, precious retail outlets, many, many spas and salons.

The early-morning passersby were already in their hot-weather wear; shorts, brief tops, and sandals, for both men and women.

Why is it that a woman's feet in sandals look pretty and tended while men's just look...unkempt?

The same goes for our legs, unfortunately; most of the Pearl morning women were tender, neat, and attractive from the hips down...while we betesticled types ambled about in an ungainly shackle of knobby knees and hairy shins.

In my heavy boots and thick work pants I envied the gentlemen of leisure their cool shorts and open shoes, but not their bumptious look. I know my own appearance too well to pretend that I would look any less ridiculous in their abbreviation.

There was a single five-hour parking spot next to our work site, a city block being transformed into a wooden-slatted hole in the ground, now full of machinery and the debris of construction. I fiddled with the parking machine and then stopped to enjoy a lovely pedestrian, cool in her flowing white dress and (of course) tidy jeweled feet in tenuous sandals, her bell of iron-gray hair shining like a gunturret in the heavy sun.

She passed with a look, calm and pleased with herself and her morning, bound on who-knows-what errand or no business at all; perhaps merely "taking the air" on a Saturday morning.

I was what I call the "anchor nanny" today. It is, rather like highway driving, one of those appallingly awful tasks that combines the necessity of constant attention with a complete lack of intellectual or physical stimulation. It is bookkeeping, pure and simple; so many feet drilled, so much silt, so much sand, so much anchor length (how much bonded, how much unbonded..?), so much grout pumped.

Primary grout volume, secondary grout volume...the point of the exercise is simply to reduce the number of indeterminate variables when an anchor is tested and fails. That way the designer can decide whether it is the design that is inadequate, or whether the construction was defective, or whether - if both appear satisfactory - the failure was due to some sort of anomalous soil condition that no one could have anticipated.
The crew worked in the heat, roaring like their equipment, cursing and sweating. I moved, like one of those slow-migrating animals (a tortoise, perhaps, or a similar creeping reptilian thing), from west to east following the shadow of the superjacent building and the eastern wall until, finally I could retreat no further and the sun in its' loathsome splendor leapt overhead and I was sweating and cursing and stinking like the rest.

By midafternoon no one wanted to continue. One of the drills got stuck, the foreman breathed out one last fiery curse and shut the job down.

I still had an hour to go, completing my report for the day, but at least in the cool of the old mill building where my company has moved. There was also cold beer, and I could strip out of the heavy protective gear and into shorts, daring the empty office to laugh at my legs. It was late afternoon when I emerged to be punched; gasping, breathless, by the hot, heavy gold blanket of the dying day.

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit."

~ Ada Louise Huxtable

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

You're Welcome

I got a "friend request" yesterday on Facebook. She's a good person and I like her a lot, and I "friended" her. The first post I saw from her was something "thanking" GIs for their service and I thought, oh, fuck, yeah.

Memorial Day.

And I thought; y'know, I reeeeeeally need to be nicer when people "thank me" for being a GI.

I have a problem with that.

For one thing, I didn't do it for anyone other than my own selfish reasons. I certainly didn't do it for anyone's thanks. I did it for my own fucking entertainment and adventure, had a rollicking good time doing it (peacetime soldiering is kind of like that, if you subtract the chickenshit, the boredom, and the bursts of outright fucking goatscrewlicious fucktardry), was well paid in the process, and my time in the Army had about as much to do with your "liberty" and "freedom" as an extra in the Vivid Video production of Backside To The Future has with the Virgin of Guadalupe.

It's not easy keeping my piehole shut when someone "thanks" me for running around on the government's tab. The sort of reflexive soldier-tongue-bathing that has become customary in the Second Imperial era of the United States kinda gets up my wick.

It's just meaningless words, for one thing, like the "bless you!" after a sneeze, but it's not just the meaningless words. It's that most of the people thanking me - those I know, anyway - do little or nothing to actually thank those men and women whose service has left them damaged, as service in war tends to do. They don't help in VA hospitals, or help out homeless veterans, or seek to comfort the widow and the orphan or bury the dead or succor the living.

They don't try and learn anything about those who have died; who they were, why they served or where they were killed and why.

Don't get me wrong. They're lovely people. They just have other things to be and do and the actual effort to find out who these people were and why they were where they were when they died would be asking a lot of their busy lives.

But they want to "thank" someone without doing all that hard work.

So it's a combination of irritation at the emptiness of the gesture...and irritation at the sense that the person making the gesture is making it instead of doing the hard work to make it less empty.

I want to snarl something like "Don't thank me...I didn't fucking do it for you!" and then I feel like a shitheel for wanting to say that. These aren't bad people. They just don't...know. And I'm not sure I know what to do, either about them, or about the way I think about them

But I have a suggestion.

If you see a guy or gal with a service stripe - however you know they've served, and in whatever capacity - first thing; buy 'em a drink and drink to their continued survival. They're making it, day by day, and goddamn if that doesn't deserve a toast, regardless of whether they fought like Chesty Puller or never did anything but shoveled shit in Alabama.

Here's to us. Who's like us? Damn few, and they're all dead.

Drop around the local VA and see if there's anything you can help with.

Read a newspaper. Hell, read two. Check out a couple of websites - make sure you get a good variety of political opinion - and read up on the places where your country might send your friend, or your neighbor's kid, or the guy at the bus stop to fight, possibly kill, or die.

If you read all that stuff and come to the conclusion that it'd be stupid, bone-stupid, preternaturally box-of-rocks fucking-shoveling-water stupid to send any of those people to fight, possibly kill, or die in those places because of the immense likelihood that their fighting, killing, and dying will do nothing more than fuck up a place that's already fucked up fifteen something about that:

- Vote against the douchenozzles that try and stampede you and your neighbors into sending those Americans to those places. Refuse to be "terrorized" by nonsense about Islamic headcutters driving their pickups across the Atlantic Ocean to hide under your bed. That'd be stupid. If you want to thank me for my service? Don't be stupid.

- Find out if your Congressperson or Senator has voted for wars and rumors of wars...and at the same time cut funding for the VA, or for things like PTSD treatments, counseling, or military pensions. Find out if they're part of the MICC - the "Military/Industrial/Congressional Complex" that votes funding for ridiculously expensive weaponry or bloated military budgets without inquiring what all this tax money is going for (audit the defense budget? Why, yes, that's an excellent idea...)

- Vote against anyone who tells you that spying and snooping and warrantless searches and "national security letters" are crucial for "defending America". If you believe that what you end up with isn't "America"; at least, not the one the Founders and Framers had in mind.

Run for school board. Defend a banned book. Stand up for things like free speech, even if you don't like what's being said...hell, especially if you don't like what's being said. Insist on things like the freedom from people who want you to write their religion into law, even if it's your religion and you'd like it to be the law. Hell, especially if it's your religion. Church and state, remember..? That tree suit didn't have a cross or a crescent or a wheel on it, and our belt buckle didn't read Gott mit uns. Those were the fucking bad guys. Want to thank me for my service? Thank me by not being a fucking bad guy.

All this stuff is hard, I know. But, wanted to "thank me" for my service. That service was a lot of things...but it wasn't easy.

So "thanking me" should mean more than just meaningless words. It should mean taking some responsibility for serving your country, all the ways I've talked about. That's not easy, but being a citizen of a republic shouldn't be any easier than being one of its soldiers, and that means you - and I - still have lots of work to do; after all, the reward for work well done is...more work. Right?

You're welcome.

(And, as always on the day-after-this-least-beloved-of-all-holidays (I was busy kid-wrangling yesterday and didn't get to the computer, so today is my Memorial Day post, sorry...): this.)