Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mister 2000

Well. I've got there. Two thousand posts.
Two thousand. Makes my typing fingers tired just to think about it.

But I've been slowing down quite a lot.

As I posted here back in 2012:
The first five hundred posts took more than two years; from 17 JUL 2006 to 19 AUG 2008, or about 763 days.

The next five hundred took three months less; from 19 AUG 2008 to 8 JUN 2010, or about 660 days,

Then I took 737 days to go from 1,000 to 1,500. That was a total of 2,160 days for 1,500 posts. About a post every 1.4 days.
It took me more than 3,000 days to get here from the beginning: 3,117, to be exact, which means I'm down to 0.6 posts per day or a post about every one-and-a-half days. Which makes sense when you look at the interval for the past 500 posts: 958 days, the longest interval for 500 posts since I started blogging.

I won't pretend I haven't thought about hangin' 'em up and that that is one reason things have slowed down around this joint so badly.

U.S. politics today - and politics in this country is what I wrote and write about a hell of a lot (something like 400 to 500 of my posts are labelled "politics", "U.S. politics", or "war") - sickens me when it doesn't just disgust and irk me. The liberal and relatively-sane lack confidence whilst the reactionary and teatard are free of doubt, and I don't see any point in writing more about that; it just pisses me off and scares the horses. We also seem bound and determined to ram our collective dick back into the Gilded Age meatgrinder and I've said everything I need to say about that.
But the narcissitic delight in the sound of my own voice seems to drive me back here from time to time, albeit a sparser and less productive time than when it seemed that I had something of value to add to our "public discourse".

The truth is that what I say here will be neither much noted nor long remembered and that's not especially bitter. Were I a better writer I'd be writing in a grander place, and I'm largely here to entertain myself and those of you who are foolishly fond enough to be entertained, so this little shebeen is appropriate for me.

And let me say that I do enjoy our sort of epistolary friendship and hope that we will continue to meet here for as long as Calliope, Muse of epic poetry, gives me the words to write and Thalia, Muse of Comedy, give me leave to continue this peculiar, ridiculous jest of mine.


And it was at that age...Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

~ Pablo Neruda

Monday, January 26, 2015

Women and leggings and...well, Carlos Bocanegra NOT wearing leggings

My friends Lisa and Labrys reminded me that looking at attractive bodies is not a gender-specific thing. So here's some eye-candy for the female readers; U.S. Soccer's Carlos Bocanegra:

If you knew that this body was under baggy sweats and a ballcap, would it matter whether it was tight shorts or baggy sweats, or a bare chest or a hoodie?

I mean, certainly less clothing is more scenic...but what is unseen can still be seen, if you're thinking about it.

As Lisa said; the brain is the real sexual organ. What can be imagined will be imagine, whether it be by man or woman. We men may be a trifle more visual, but we were all designed to respond to each other's (or our own gender's, for those of us hardwired that way...) bodies. As Labrys said; we may be married, or in love, or committed, but we're neither blind nor dead. We respond to those bodies as our own minds and bodies tell us we should. And that's just fine; if we are truly civilized people we can surely find ways to dealing with our desires in civilized ways.

The fact that religious zealots - whether fundamentalist Christians, ultraorthodox Jews, Wahhabi Muslims, or every other flavor of God-bothering asshole - can't seem to do that is their problem, not ours, frankly.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Men and leggings and living with them both.

So I open the digital version of the World's Worst Newspaper this morning and there's this:
"Why I Chose to No Longer Wear Leggings...(Veronica) Partridge, a 25-year-old Christian, felt conflicted about modesty, she writes in the post, and talked with her husband about whether or not leggings are appropriate as pants. He told her that it's hard for him not to look at other women wearing the tight athletic wear. She wrote: "And at that moment, I made a personal vow to myself and to my husband. I will no longer wear thin, form-fitting yoga pants or leggings in public."
And I thought, oh, Ronnie.

Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie...

You and me, girlfriend. We need to have a little talk.
Well, OK, first, let me admit; this wasn't the first time I'd heard of this leggings-deal. I ran across it the other night skimming Fred Clarke's blog Slacktivist, where he kinda slammed you not for your obsession with "modesty" but for your misprision of the central tenets of your Christianity:
"For white American evangelicals, religion is always about sex — about other people’s genitals, but when Jesus spoke about modesty of dress it was never about sex and lust. It was about money and greed and self-indulgence at the expense of those in need. If you’re striving for “biblical modesty,” that is the core and the whole of what the Bible itself has to say about leggings and yoga pants: “Whoever has two pair of leggings must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."
Which is in itself all well and good from a religious-good-doing sort of perspective. Though I should note that I tend to agree with Fred that Dale's comment was sort of a dick move. Sorry, Ron, but he was implying that it is haaaard to be faithful to you with those darn sluts prancing around in yoga pants. But that's a whole 'nother thing.

Thing is, sorry, I'm not a Christian like Fred (who is a pretty insightful guy and a fellow Jesus-pesterer; you might give him a read, just sayin'...) I'm just some random atheist. So I can't really help you on the whole "Christian morality" thing.


I, like your husband Dale the "serial entrepreneur", am a guy. Dude. Vato. Hombre. Mensch. Fella. Goombah. We're both members of the He-Man Chest-Beater Club, sharers of the descended testicles, and we have a lot in common, saint and sinner the two of us.

And I thought we should reeeeeeally talk about this whole thing you said Dale said to you. Accoring to your blog "...he told me, “yeah, when I walk into a place and there are women wearing yoga pants everywhere, it’s hard to not look. I don’t, but it’s not easy.”

And, Ronnie, love ya, sweetie, bless your heart, but I'm here as a guy to tell you; Dale's lying his dear little Christian ass off.

"Looks?" Of course he looks. We ALL look.


Because we like you.

Sure, he loves you as a person, as a wife, mother of your kids, helpmeet, companion, lover. But...he's also a heterosexual guy. So he likes you as a woman.

Meaning he likes women. Women, plural. Women in general.

We're like that, us het guys. We may like some women as individual friends. We may love some - or, one, hopefully as in your case - as our inamorata, our one-and-only, our Bride, our Delight. But those are personality things, emotional things, spiritual things, individual things.

But we also like women. Physically. Generically. Generally. En masse. As a class of beings. We like how they look, how their voices sound, how they move, how they stand. We like how their faces fit together, how their hair falls, how they look hipshot, or sitting, or dancing, or sleeping. We like the high curve of the tops of their breasts, the slender taper of their fingers (or the square sturdiness of their hands - women come in a delightful assortment of sizes, shapes, and proportions, and that's another thing we like about them). We like the swell of their hips, and the roundness of their bottoms, the intricate curve where their belly meets their thigh.

We like how they laugh when they're silly, the frown that furls their brow when they're thinking. And...I hope this doesn't shock you, dear, but we like making love to them and we think about that from time to time when we look at them.

We don't really think about having sex with them when we see those women in their yoga pants and leggings.

Because, I'm sorry to say, dear, we don't need the yoga pants and leggings to think about having sex with them.
We don't need leggings...or yoga pants, or pantyhose or high heels or pushup bras or bustiers. We don't need accessories or special outfits or fetish wear. We're guys, Ronnie. Guys! We can look at a cool stylish matron in a chic suit and think of lust in the back of a limo. Or a ponytailed jogger in Nikes and imagine sweaty gym sex. Or the tattooed barista at the coffeeshop and picture wild lovemaking in a loft full of modern art.

Hell, don't even get me started on burkas or habits or granny shoes, darlin'. We're men and all of life is one ginormous Rule 34 for us. We look, and we think, and...if we love you, that's all we do.

Just looking - and thinking - doesn't mean we're going to tear off their yoga pants in a mad frenxy of lust. It doesn't mean that anytime we see a woman in a cute outfit, or a bathing suit, that we're gonna screw the poor girl to the wall. We may think about how pretty and sexy they are. We may get a little thrill of excitement looking at them.

But then we take all that home and if we're lucky get to feel and think the same way about you.

My own Bride, who is a very sensible and pragmatic woman, has a term for it: "You go ahead and work up an appetite wherever you want, big guy. Just come home to eat."

She knows we look, and she knows we know she knows, and she's okay with that. She's a smart woman and she knows that if what we have is good, and strong, and right that the looking is no more than enjoyment, and that she will reap the benefits.

And so can you so long as you remember this simple little rule: Guys Are Gonna Look - It Doesn't Matter What You Wear

So you pull on those Carharts, Ronnie dear, if it makes you feel better. But just remember - it's not about the leggings. It's about the legs, and he's gonna think about those legs - yours, hers, your Aunt Louise's - and probably will no matter if you and every other woman within sight are dressed in goddamn garbage sacks.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Gott mit uns

Not that I'm in a big hurry to see this (loathing 99% of all "war films" as I do...) but can someone explain how making a 2015 flick about the occupation of Iraq glorifying a dude who is a stone killer, who is working as a sniper with an invading army fighting an aggressive war ginned up by lies and propaganda, who considers his targets subhuman "savages", is different in any meaningful way from remaking the 2001 Stalingrad film Enemy At The Gates but only making the German sniper the hero..?
I mean...I get it. I get that we think of ourselves, of the U.S. troopers we send to do our dirty work, as "the good guys" regardless of where and why we (or in this case, "they") fight. After all, millions of Germans thought they were the "good guys" in 1943, just like Romans thought they were the "good guys" against the Carthginians and the Stone Tribe thought they were the "good guys" against the Clam Clan - that shit's as old as human nature.

Still. I marvel at the human capacity for looking at bloody facts and seeing pretty lies. I think it comes from our natural desire to be the hero of our own stories.

We don't want to think of ourselves as cruel, or vicious, or wrong, because we've learned that "evil people do evil things". So if we admit we've done evil then we have to admit we are evil. And we hate that.

We're NOT evil. We love our kids, we give alms, we go to church, we help the needy, we're kind and loving, decent, humane people. Right?

You'd think that we would have learned that all sorts of lovely, decent, otherwise-humane people can do the most apalling evil when properly prepared, usually through a combination of innocence, ignorance, prejudice, and a carefully decanted mixture of bullshit and praise from people they respect.

But, no.

So lacking that we have to keep screwing our eyes shut tighter and our fingers deeper into our own ears to keep out the thought that we and all our yellow-ribbon magnets might just have been accomplices in a horrible, unspeakable evil.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Losing my religion

I've got a much longer post up at the Milpub on this subject, but suffice to say that the shootings at the Paris political magazine just reminded me of what a goddamn toxic thing religion is when you throw it into the political stewpot.

And, first, I want to throw out the idea that somehow this is "Islam", that somehow Islam and Muslims are uniquely violent.

Think about it. For hundreds of years Europe was torn up by Protestants killing Catholics, Catholics killing Protestants and everybody killing Jews.

Don't even get me started on atheists and witches.

Where you went to church (or whether you did..) was a killing matter in Europe for centuries. Google "Thirty Years War" sometime and read up on what it did to Germany, among other places. Wasteland. Total fuckstory. Trust me on this.

Believing you have a pipeline to the Almighty makes a hell of a great reason to kill people who are piped into a different Heaven, and that was enough reason for Christian Europeans to do some of the world's most enthusiastic killing for centuries.

And then we stopped.

We booted the preachers the hell out of our politics - most of us - and, though we may kill each other for secular reasons, decided it was louche at best to go crusading.

Sure, some idiots still want to return to the Good Old Days when killing infidels for Baby Jesus got you into Heaven. But for most of us where our neighbors go to church - or whether they go to church or not - is a matter of massive indifference. The notion that someone is scarey because he might be Catholic and take orders from the Pope (as was said of JFK) or a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon or a Hindu or a Sikh seems ludicrous as the Blood Libel to us today. Outside of the Balkans (determined to be perverse as they have always been) religious skepticism, ignorance, indifference, and sloth is the rule in Western public life. It's considered rude (outside the Issa household) to parade your religiousity in public, let alone so much as upbraid anyone else for their infidelity.

We just can't be arsed to kill our neighbors or the random stranger anymore because they don't love our God not because we're better or kinder people but because we just don't give enough of a shit. Who cares what the Johnsons are doing Sunday morning? The fuckin' Vikes are playing, man!

As a whole, as a society, the West seems to worship - if it worships anything - sex and money and prettiness and fame. And while that in itself is a whole 'nother cluster of fuck it doesn't seem to be as lethal. Nobody seems to shoot somebody else over Hooters girls' tight shirts.

The occasional abortion doc, maybe. But, still.

So the last religion standing seems to be Islam, at this point. Which is pretty bizarre when you consider that in 1945 the idea of "political Islam" seemed like the height of lunacy.

All over the Islamic world secular governments were replacing the old colonial regimes. In fact the heartland of the current IS and AQ shenangans - Iraq and Syria - was largely run by "Baath" parties which were overtly and fiercely secular. The exemplar for the emerging Arab states was Turkey and the anticlericalism of the Young Turks.

But between the Western powers and Israel these secular states were shown up to their populations as either venal, weak, or both. Secular dictators were suborned with Western cash and weapons, or defeated by Israeli arms. The only groups that seemed to actually fight back effectively were the jihadis. The U.S. and the West also helped coddle a Saudi regime that nursed the Wahhabi madrassis that produced so many of these jihadi vipers. Charlie Wilson & Co. turned them loose on the Soviets which seemed like a damn fine idea at the time...and then cut them loose when the Soviets ran for cover.

The the world's deadest tall Saudi had the brilliant idea that if he goaded the American bull it's smash up the Middle Eastern china shop and it worked like a mechanical ass-kicker and and here we are.

It seems to me that the BEST answer to the jihadi problem would be the same thing that provided the solution to the Western Wars of Religion; indifference.

Everytime some TV preacher or some fatuous GOP fucktard starts ranting about how my country needs a healthy dose of Jesus or a return to "biblical values" my first thought is "Yeah, like witch-burning, adulterer-stoning, and crusades? The fuck we do."

We want to return to the Wars of Religion? We want to return to forced conversion and prosecutions for heresy and blue laws? My ass; the West voted with its feet - out the church door - a long time ago and it seems to me for all the flaws in Western civilization I can't but think that decision was a damn good one.

It seems to me that a big fat dose of fuck-you-preacherman would do the whole Islamic umma a hell of a lot of good, too.
But I have no idea what the hell you, or I, or anyone else on our side of the problem can do about that.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Dead to rights

I'm sorry, but this little morality play doesn't seem (to me) to say anything nearly as much about "gun control" or "Second Amendment rights" as much as it does "You're never as fucking smart as you fucking think you are so you need to plan for that".

Because there's really only two ways I can see this playing out:

1. Li'l Jocko reaches into Mommy's "specially designed" pistol-carry purse, extracts her hogleg, jacks back the slide, releases it, takes up a solid, two-handed firing position and puts a round into Mommy's brain housing group (all without Mommy either seeing him do all this or hearing the sound of the automatic pistol action being worked - an unmistakeable noise for someone who was supposed to be all Miss Idaho NRA as the mommy-target is said to have been) or

2. Now-deceased rocket scientist was wandering around Wally Mart with a freaking round under the hammer in violation of every common-sense rule on firearms safety ever thought up and Rule Number Zero for any sort of firearm, thus allowing her sprog to simply slip the bullet-launcher out of her clutch and put one in her ten-ring, easy-peasy.

Believe #1 if you dare, but I gotta go with #2. Which pretty much goes to show you that you can be a valedictorian, scientist, wife, mother, and firearms aficianado, and if you fuck up Rule Number Zero for a tenth of a nanosecond chances are you'll wind up dead as mutton.

Which, in turn, reminds me again that waaaayyyyy too many people can get their little paddy-paws on firearms who shouldn't go out in public with anything more lethal than a fucking licorice whip.
That's my real problem with "Second Amendment Solutions"; because the First Amendment of Not Getting Fucking Shot is that you never forget that the most dangerous weapon is the one closest to you, i.e., the one in your own hands. You ignore that, or forget that, or pretend that it's not true and you become more dangerous to yourself and everyone around you than the maddest lunatic jihadi suicide commando who ever graduated magnum cum madrassi.