Wednesday, February 24, 2010


So that's how you get the actual screen to show in a blog! Wow, only seven-thirty and already it's a good day!

Music To Excite The Savage Beast

Slowly figuring out this new technology, with lots of help, I believe that this will show up as a real link.

"Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac" was the coolest Blues Band in second wave English rock. They were cynical, and boy, could they rock.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rockin' The Spot: You Tube Rhythm Explosion!

About forty years ago Reggae caught on big time, and that was as it should be. The Reggae guys had some advantages: they sang in English, and the beat structure was relatively easy to follow.

There was bigger excitement coming out of Africa, though, especially West Africa, Benin, Dahomey, even Nigeria. Check out these guys.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tea Bagging Running Dogs Of Corporate Crypto Fascism

Negativity Alert!!! Danger!!! Freddy's in a bad mood!!!

Let's see . . . lower taxes, maybe even no taxes, certainly no income tax; smaller government, certainly as little Federal Government as could be safely managed; lower regulation of business; let markets operate freely. Isn't that what the Tea-Bagging crowd is marketing as their agenda?

Who would benefit from this agenda? Not the Tea Parties, that's for sure. All that they would accomplish would be the further reduction of their own standards of living. No, this is the same agenda that the corporations have been pushing since the Reagan era, and the big, multi-national corporations would be the only ones to profit. Where did the Tea Parties get these ideas anyway?

I don't think that the Federal Government is perfect. In fact, I'm submitting the previous sentence for this year's “Understatement Of The Year” competition. I do think that the Federal Government is necessary, and that it has done a lot of good over the years, mixed in with the not-so-good. What? You don't think so? Do your retired parents live with you, having no income and no medical insurance? Then shut up, and thank the Fed's.

Most importantly, only the Federal Government has the gravitas to control corporate ambitions. The Federal Government has the power of the Constitution, the Commerce Clause, and it is the gatekeeper for anyone that wants to do business in the United States. Any reduction in Federal authority creates a vacuum that can only be filled by corporations. State or local governments cannot control corporations, they cannot effectively regulate business, they cannot protect their citizens from corporate pirates. This is true now more than ever before, because today it is not only interstate business that they must compete with, but international business.

This function of the Federal Government protects ordinary American citizens. Corporations want you to pay too much for products that you need, and to spend as much as possible for additional products that you don't need. They want to cut corners in production at the risk of your safety. If you are injured by one of their products, they want to tell you to go away, or, if it comes to that, to prove it. If you work for a corporation, they want to pay you as little as possible, and to provide as few benefits as possible. If you are injured at work, the corporation wants to tell you that if you cannot come to work tomorrow, don't bother. The Federal Government may not be your friend, but compared to corporations, it is like your best friend and your favorite rich uncle all at the same time.

So, all you Tea Party Patriots, all you cranky White Boomers from mostly Kick-Stump, think twice about trying to destroy the power of the Federal Government to help and protect you. Plus, you can thank me for treating you with such kid gloves herein, instead of tearing into you with the ferocious abandon that your ridiculous “movement” deserves.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

By Request: Dresden

Someone asked me if I'd comment on the Dresden bombing, it's in the news right now, the anniversary of the February, 1945 event. It was pretty horrific stuff, the point in WWII when strategic bombing gave way to terror bombing of civilians in Germany and Japan.

All such acts of war are wrong if they are considered in a vacuum, without any historical context. Many acts of war are wrong in any context that you could think of. Would the Dresden bombing be one of those? It could be.

I can tell you that the American powers-that-be at the time were beginning to get very worried about public opinion and support for continuing the war. The stated goal was “unconditional surrender,” but something less would enter the realm of possibility if there were not the political will to accomplish the stated goal. The longer the war went on, the higher the casualty figures climbed, America casualties, that is, there had never been a shortage of casualties in most of the combating armies, and most of the involved civilian populations. American casualties affected support for the war.

So those powers-that-be were willing to try anything to accelerate the ending of the war. By 1945 the entire thing was a forgone conclusion, the loving cups had been engraved with the winners' names. But the opponents still had great reserves of military strength, and their armies were still fighting very effectively. Even if the end was in sight, the dates and exact circumstances were unknowable.

I really have two points to make about the terror bombing phase of the Allied air war:

1.It's always hard to take things out of their historical context and try to make value judgments; and
2.Of all of the millions, let's say tens of millions of people who died horribly in WWII, how much sense does it make to break off little groups of them for the purpose of moralizing from a safe distance?

Oh, three points: placed in the context of a hugely destructive, worldwide conflict of long duration, decisions to try unproven tactics (like the fire bombings), or unknown technologies (like the atomic bomb) were really very easy to cast in the affirmative. They should not now draw excessive criticism.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things Going On.

There's a lot going on, but I don't have a lot to say.

I wonder about the “Enemy Combatant” controversy. Capture one: do you try him (or her) in a courtroom or a tribunal? What kind of treatment are they entitled to? What rules apply when all of the conventions of war and identity have been blurred beyond recognition?

“Enemy Combatants” are usually guys with machine guns who engage in straight up gunfights. Lots of them get captured, or surrender, in any war. They are held in POW camps, sometimes they go and work on farms or something, they are treated well, at least if they are captured by us (after an initial danger period), and when the conflict ends, they are allowed to return to their homeland. No one suggests that they should receive trials and punishments for machine gunning, or blowing up, American troops, it was a war, they were in uniform.

Then there are the “Enemy Saboteurs.” These guys are out of uniform, they operate behind our lines, and they try to raise some kind of hell to advance their country's military agenda. When they are caught, they are tried in military tribunals, stripped of their POW status, and put to death. They are treated with extreme prejudice; the treatment of snipers is fraternal by comparison. But they were out of uniform, and not engaged in conventional military activity, so the treatment that they receive is understandable.

I don't recall torture being part of the program for capturees in either category. It must have happened, though, the odds are good. People get angry, and they act out, war is a milieu of suffering and death. Plus, lots of prisoners never made it all the way back to safety and official POW status. They were instead herded into a ditch beyond the first bend in the road and shot. People get angry, after all, and things happen. Some American soldiers who did these things in the past were Court Marshaled and sent to Leavenworth; mostly it was glossed over.

What should be done with the new crop of unlucky gunsels who take up arms against us and then fall into our clutches? Good question.

It's an interesting question, and it will certainly be interesting to historians, and journalists, and writers of all stripes, bloggers even. After a war, much political hay is made about the fairness and compassion, or lack thereof, displayed by the various participating countries. America has always come out on the good end of these comparisons. Hopefully, our better natures will prevail in the current unpleasantness too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Million Dollar Movie Coming Right Up!

My New Year's resolution is to write more about the Million Dollar Movie. Everyone seems to love it, and there seems to be very little info available on the web, searches are pretty thin.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh! That IED Ruined My Makeup!

Saw a sensible woman Democrat representative the other day “debating” a Republican guy. Guess which one was totally against gays in the military?

The Republican was asked a sensible question: “so, when you served as a Marine in Afghanistan, you served with European troops, right? So, did it bother you that some of them were gay?”

His answer, predictably, was silly. He said he never saw any! Like he was expecting feather boas and cha-cha heels, makeup and fabulous uniforms! What a maroon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Continuous Fun

Thai is a continuous language. There are no spaces between the words. Itlookslikethisandyouwouldbesurprisedhoweasyitistoreadifyouknowallthewords.

Sometimes they get a little carried away and forget to put the spaces in their English. I recently passed a place that said this on the sign out front:


Thursday, February 4, 2010

What A Faggot!

More news this week about gay boys in high school. Still not a lot of tolerance out there, no surprise. Another persecuted fourteen year old, with a school administration tacitly approving of his persecution.

Back in the day, if anyone were actually gay, we didn’t know about it. It didn’t matter, though, because if you were “different” from the rough and tumble, sports obsessed, fight at the drop of a hat boys of the town, you were considered a faggot, and there was a price to pay. Semantically, faggot was not equivalent to gay. If you were gay, you were certainly a faggot, but not all faggots were gay. I’m sure that the same boys who bully the new crop of gay high-schoolers bully the mere faggots as well.

I took a lot of this kind of negativity in grammar school. I was younger than everybody in my class, and it was a big disadvantage. Other than that, I was quite normal. I was always out and about, I enjoyed baseball and stickball, I climbed trees and fences fearlessly, I expressed myself in the popular wise-guy mode. But I was younger, and I was mild-mannered and dreamy, polite and conciliatory, and I didn’t fight back when push came to shove. There was a lot of teasing involved, lots of rough joking around, and a certain number of beatings. I wasn’t exactly a faggot, but I was borderline.

I finally got sick of it. I got that hormonal rush when I was eleven or twelve and I took steps to improve my situation. My older cousin volunteered to “teach me to fight,” and it turned out to be very easy. Just keep your wits about you and hurt the other boy as much, and as fast, as possible, without regard to any pain inflicted on yourself. It can be reduced to a few simple slogans: first punch wins; balls and eyes; blood equals victory. I fought my way around the town for a year or two, very selectively, and managed to change my peers’ perception of me. I never picked on the helpless, what good would that do? I chose targets who were slightly tough, but manageable. I feel bad now, I hurt and embarrassed some boys who had not really provoked me. I just used them for demonstration purposes. I engaged in limited bullying myself.

That was the faggot thing. At least in school no one actually thought that I was gay.

In my twenties, I was thin, and neat, and I dressed semi-stylishly, and it happened sometimes that someone who didn’t actually know me wondered if I were gay. This curiosity could be casual or malicious. I didn’t mind, it was pretty funny really. There were quite a few gay guys who thought that I was one of them too. I was flattered by their attentions, but I politely declined their advances.

Childhood bullying is a big problem for the victims. There’s a continuing price to pay for carrying all that fear around, not to mention the relationship and trust issues that may persist into adulthood. And who should care what other people’s kissing fantasies are? Nothing better to worry about?

But, that’s life! “. . . at least until man by the slow processes of evolution shall develop into something really fine and high—some billions of years hence, say.” (Quoting Mark Twain in a closely related context.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Death Be Not Difficult

Could dying really be as easy as it looks? It seems as though any fool can pull it off with great aplomb. I myself, quite innocent of success in any area of life, expect to make a great success of dying, and an even greater success of actually being dead. That I expect to do as well as any human being in history.

I am referring to natural death, but suicide is also worth considering. Suicide complicates matters by adding the human element. As is always the case, thinking too much can be an impediment to success at suicide. The record is littered with reports of attempted suicides. In many cases, “attempted” suicide was the actual goal, so the failure to die in those instances would really be a success. Many times, though, sincere attempts at suicide run afoul of overly elaborate plans. Someone may throw themselves off of a high spot only to encounter a well placed tree; someone taking an overdose of pills may vomit, lose consciousness, and be discovered and saved; it’s amazing how many people shoot themselves in the head only to discover nothing important.

Elaborate plans are usually the result of a fear that the dying may hurt. This concern for comfort betrays a lack of desire on the part of the applicant. Sincere applicants simply adopt an aspect of repose and fasten a Hefty bag around their heads. It’s fast, cheap, and effective. Sincere suicides are not concerned with any pain and suffering beyond that associated with remaining alive.

But death, as an inescapable component of life, seems to be one of life’s easiest endeavors. Whether it is accomplished with great wailing and gnashing of teeth, or faced with a dignified and steely resolve, death comes over us in effortless fashion, we surrender to it much more readily, for instance, than Winter surrenders to Springtime.

You may say, well, I know a man with cancer who has struggled for many years and is giving death quite a fight! This is merely an aberration of chronology. At the hour of his death, he will be taken as easily as a dandelion may be taken from a field, and with the certainly of mathematics. In all of the countries of the world, everyday, 2+2=4.

Whatever, death is out there and when the time comes we are toast. We will be worse than toast. Toast is physical matter which will only trasmutate; we are more than the sum of our molecules, we are a profound accident of electrochemography, a wavelength on some cosmic radio that is uniquely us. When we die, that wavelength goes off the air. It’s over, Johnny! Elvis has left the building! It can be disconcerting.

One technique that I have found useful in dealing with this phenomenon is suicidal ideation. I’m not really considering killing myself, I certainly have no immediate plans to do so, but I just roll the whole concept over in my mind. What circumstances would warrant it? What methodology? Note v. no note? Does pre-planning have any merit? Or does it only render the exercise pathetic? Or more pathetic? Or merely poignant?

I’m sure that most mental health professionals would find this kind of thinking unhealthy, perhaps even pathological. But in my case, it’s just a control thing. What could be more out of our control than the inevitability of our deaths? Much more certain than taxes, I’m sure that you’ll agree. If I fight that loss of control with a little harmless consideration of the unthinkable, what’s the harm?