Friday, November 16, 2007

Game of Fools

So after all that, Portland's answer to the Long Parliament voted to change the name of Portland's City Hall's address.
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The new Calle' de Cesar Chavez will be SW 4th Avenue, the downtown street that runs from the old Chinatown through the heart of Portland. This after a last-minute "compromise" that left everyone pretty sore. The Mayor, who had mortgaged his influence on some sort of backdoor deal with the Chavez committee, was shown to have all the influence of an undersized gerbil in a pit bull fight. The Chavez committee (two of whom are shown here mopping the bitter, bitter lees), who for reasons utterly opaque to me decided to make this all about themselves - their passion at the Council meeting Thursday was all about the "insult" and "disrespect" shown them by, well, pretty much everyone, for not considering that their boneheaded display of intransigence might just have turned and bit them fatally in the ass...
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The Council itself, which proved splendidly inept in all aspects of governance.
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Steve Duin sums it up pretty well here: if you're going to break your own rules and govern by fiat, then you might as well get over wanting to be liked or respected. Feared, maybe. But if you want respect, follow your own damn rules. Maybe it was the sneaky passage the Portland Boulevard-to-Rosa Parks Way change slipped through that made our City Hall Solons so cocky. Well, gee, guys, did you got your dicks slammed in a door over this one? Unh huh? Maybe you won't be so quick to try and pull this stupid stunt the next time some racial or political group with an agenda tries to sandbag you...
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While the public and our city "leadership" were fulminating over this idiotic deckchair arrangement, over at Big Pink the folks at Portland Public Schools were standing around with their hands in the air as the reality that is Portland's increasingly poor, increasingly resegregated schools burned around them. PPS open transfer policy - in large measure forced by the damn "No Child Left Behind" farrago - allows the best motivated, best parented kids to bail on the "failing" (read: poor, read: black/hispanic) schools for the loverly white, white, white schools in Portland's Southwest or in darkest suburban Beavertron or Aloha.
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Here's a nice little map (from this cogent discussion page) that shows graphically which schools are losing funding (by the zip codes of the schools) and which gaining. Hint - the red zip codes? Don't be no rich people livin' up in St. John's (97203) or Interstate (97217), where Roosevelt HS and Ockley Green MS are hemorrhaging students as families flee. 97232? The Benson and da Vinci magnet schools. 97201? Lincoln HS, alma mater of the doctors' and lawyers' kids living in the West Hills.
This sort of foolishness isn't just local. We're seeing it at the national and international level, too.
The seemingly endless campaigning for 2008 has brought us endless and endlessly moronic public clamor over John Edward's haircut, Hilarys laugh, Fred Thompson's trophy wife (ohgod! My eyes! eeewww!), gay marriage, gay sex, sex in general, Republicans looking for gay sex in men's rooms...
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Sweetfuckingbabyjesus, the stupid - it burns! It we want to get all worked up about something, how about this?
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I'm not John freaking Wesley Powell, but even a stupid geologist like me can do simple math. It takes somewhere between 1,000 and 1,000,000 years to turn organic matter from organic hydrocarbons throgh kerogen into liquid crude petroleum. It takes about ten years to go from preliminary field exploration through well drilling to production, refining and combustion.
We're gonna run out of fucking gas, folks. And our government (remember them?), the folks that are supposed to be taking the long view, securing our future as we keep our noses pressed to the daily grindstone? They can't even be bothered to kick the nation's automakers to remind them that, yeah, duh, since we've got folks, y'know, like, dying right now to keep the Iraqis pumping our gas, ummm, the least you could do is figure out a way to squeeze an extra mpg or two out of next year's Hummer, fuckpoles.
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My dread - not as much for myself as for the Peeper and Little Missy - is that we have managed to create such a reality- and consequence-free existence for ourselves that most of us just don't care about this stuff. I've talked before how, like the Roman Republic before us, we have managed to combine greed, luxury, sloth and lust - quite a concatenation of Deadly Sins! - and abandoned the active role the Founders of this country believed its citizens would need to assume. They gave us a republic.
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The fact that Dick Cheney and George Bush are not impeached, disgraced and in prison reminds us every fucking day that we have not kept it. The fact that we carelessly accept that some kids get a decent education and some are just screwed reminds us that we have not kept it. The fact that we contnue to drive heedlessly into a post-petroleum future worrying more about how much we pay at the pump and less about what happens when the pump runs dry...
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We could have acted with the wisdom of adults, made the hard choices, dealt with the REAL problems. We have chosen, instead, to talk of foolish trivia, to believe lies and follow those who have lied to us, and continue to lie, and have not punished them for their lies. We have chosen to embrace those easy lies and rejected the hard truths and those who have tried to tell them to us. We would rather live in easy dishonor and careless foolishness than take the savage beating that our stupidity, our greed and our ignorance have earned us as the first step out of the darkness where we're playing our game of fools. And yet we haven't evaded the beating; it's still out there, waiting for us, and the longer we put it off the less pleasant it will be when we receive it.
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"Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity."
R. Heinlein

1 comment:

Mrs. Vandertramp said...

Tell me about it - the gas/oil issue should be front and centre, right beside the whole climate change discussion - it is going to be one of the most influential factors in how our societies and indeed planet will function in years to come. But instead... silence or worse - misdirection.