Friday, April 17, 2009

A Chicken in Every Pot...
...and a Scrotal Sack in Every Mouth.

In the way that teabagging rolls so easily off the tongue of a lot of left-wingers you would not help but think that they had intimate knowledge of the taste of this sordid practice.

Who knew that aside from HOPE and CHANGE the word TEABAGGING would resonate so strongly with the American Left?

No doubt Axelrod is at this very moment devising some kind of Mandingo theme to turn on his electorate for 2012. Open up America and relax the gullet. Your government is ready to deliver....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Macaca Moments
It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.
-from NY Times

This revelation didn't surprise me. I've suspected that motivated sorts with malicious and/or humorous intent were working to game the system. And with a mainstream media staffed with J-school pretty faces determined to report the very latest bits that confirm their biases we're pretty much guaranteed rampant information corruption. Too bad our democracy hinges upon our consumption of this fetid stinking tripe.

I've thought about the potential for Macaca Moments. You know, those bits where new media is employed to call out politicians in unflattering moments. As such bits have become increasingly potent in there ability to drive the media conversation for lengths of time, engineering such Macaca Moments is imperative. Indeed, my suspicions were raised several weeks back when the issue du jure was the burgeoning "hostility" in evidence at McCain/Palin rallies where YouTube clips seemingly recorded spectators shouting epithets and threats. In such clips there's no way to vet whether the spectator shouting such epithets was in fact a McCain supporter. They could just as easily have been someone opposed to McCain who knew (perhaps even staged) that the camera-phones were rolling and let lose with the invective. Yet the media discussion revolving around the clips suggested that the McCain/Palin rallies had incited anti-Obama hatred. For practitioners of guerrilla media, having the MSM take the bait and froth at the mouth over such horrors (when it could just as easily be illusion) is indeed mission accomplished. Especially when the other side (the one favored by the guerrillas) stands to benefit from the media gnashing its teeth.

Clearly We the People need to be on guard for such as it will get worse - much worse. Will our democracy survive our media when our media is so easily gamed?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Book I Read:
At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay;
Theatre of Fish: Travels Through Newfoundland and Labrador;
Panther Soup: A Journey Through the End of the War

by John Gimlette

Good travel writing must have a bit of the Gonzo. Chances are, a place comes alive in the retelling if the author is brave enough to walk down dark alleys or strike up conversations with anyone - better if over a drink of the local fire water. A good travel writer has to be willing to turn over a bunch of rocks and see what scurries. John Gimlette has a knack for this kind of thing. He is by far my favorite of travel writers. His narrative is land looked at through a kaleidoscope - pieces of light and shadow, hints of time past and present, ghosts and beings treading the same space. Even in the heart of cities, his is a vision of the lost and the hidden. Perhaps not even the locals sense what he sees. Gimlette's narration is like that of some heaven-sent assayer - sent to catalogue all the untidy bits of life that most try to forget or refrain from acknowledging. A reckoning put into print. That's good travel writing.

Which is not to say Gimlette is not funny. In fact he is very funny. Very funny in a way that Americans always find funny with witty Brits. Gimlette's prose is parts sharp and oblique. He can sum up place and time within a sentence. Some places and events can never be thought of in a different way after Gimlette gets done describing them. Sometimes all it takes is a few words.

I post all three books of Gimlette's (Panther Soup, Gimlette's latest is the one I just finished). For the interested reader, I can't recommend which of his books to read first. All display in equal measure Gimlette's humor and wit. Panther Soup is perhaps Gimlette's most accessible work as it dovetails Gimlette's journey with an American WWII veteran through France, Germany, and Austria over ground that the vet battled through during the War. Gimlette intersperses his own present day observations of place with the vet's own recollections of same ground. As the veteran recollects a two-week leave to Paris granted him by the top brass, Gimlette uses this to launch into a chapter-length exploration of the WWII era brothels of Paris, underground bars, Moulin Rouge, and other examinations of French seediness. A great chapter. In Theater of Fish Gimlette tramps through the lonely and hardscrabble landscape of Canada's easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador (itself its own independent territory of the British Empire up until the mid 20th century). Sparsely populated fishing villages, wayward icebergs, wandering caribou, and healthy measures of desperation, desolation, and resignation - an interesting examination of daily bleakness. And then there is At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig - a bewildering catalog of Paraguay as told in snippets of hotel bar conversations, the lives of dictators, the palaces they lived in, and the ex-Nazi enclaves that sprouted up throughout the land. A funny journey through an improbable country.

Gimlette is great. I welcome to read his next journey.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

America's Best Idea
I have been anticipating Ken Burn's next documentary series: a look at our National Park system. As it is my own personal goal to visit all 58 National Parks (and as many of the National Historic Sites, Monuments, Memorials, Battlefields, etc as possible) here is a current tally of parks (in bold) that I have visited (with links to photos).

America's National Parks
(listed by geographic position East to West).

Maine: Acadia NP
Ohio: Cuyahoga NP
Kentucky: Mammoth Cave NP
Virginia: Shenandoah NP
Tennessee/North Carolina: Great Smoky Mtns. NP
South Carolina: Congaree NP
Florida: Everglades NP
Florida: Key Biscayne NP
Florida: Dry Tortugas NP
U.S Virgin Islands: Virgin Islands NP
Minnesota: Voyageurs NP
Minnesota: Isle Royale NP
Arkansas: Hot Springs NP
North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt NP
South Dakota: Badlands NP
South Dakota: Wind Cave NP
Texas: Big Bend NP
Texas: Guadalupe Mtns. NP
Montana: Glacier NP
Wyoming: Yellowstone NP
Wyoming: Grand Tetons NP
Colorado: Rocky Mtns. NP
Colorado: Great Sand Dunes NP
Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
Colorado: Mesa Verde NP
New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns NP
Utah: Canyonlands NP
Utah: Arches NP
Utah: Capitol Reef NP
Utah: Bryce Canyon NP
Utah: Zion NP
Nevada: Great Basin NP
Arizona: Grand Canyon NP
Arizona: Petrified Forest NP
Arizona: Saguaro NP
California: Channel Islands NP
California: Joshua Tree NP
California: Death Valley NP
California: Sequoia NP
California: Kings Canyon NP
California: Yosemite NP
California: Lassen Volcanic NP
California: Redwoods NP
Oregon: Crater Lake NP
Washington: North Cascades NP
Washington: Mt. Rainer NP
Washington: Olympic NP
Alaska: Glacier Bay NP
Alaska: Wrangell / St. Elias NP
Alaska: Gates of the Arctic NP
Alaska: Denali NP
Alaska: Kenai Fjords NP
Alaska: Lake Clark NP
Alaska: Katmai NP
Alaska: Kobuk Valley NP
Hawaii: Hawaii Volcanoes NP
Hawaii: Haleakala NP
American Samoa: National Park of American Samoa

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bet Against Me
I just realized I'm 0-5 with my votes for President. (Going back to 1992)

GraniteRants: Views you can count on.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Language Gets Taken Away
Of all of important news that took place on November 5th, the event I had the strongest reaction to was when I learned that the author Michael Crichton had died. Of all the worst possible moments for a thoughtful, skeptical, and original mind to fall silent, this was it. For myself, I think of his speech on complexity as a delicious antidote to the inanities at work in current dominant thinking. It's like suffering a punch to the gut.

I remember seeing Crichton interviewed (I think it was by Charlie Rose) where he was asked what new project he was working on. Crichton replied that he kept returning to examining the question why humans fell sway to totalitarianisms benign and malign. This was a few years back and every few months or so I made it a point to check back and see if Crichton had developed something (speeches, essays, other works) based upon this line of thought. Sadly, nothing has yet emerged and given his untimely death may never.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Vote 2008
This is my third time voting for John McCain for President (I wrote his name in on the ballot in 2000 and 2004). There's always been something about John McCain personally that I have found interesting. Certainly his biography. And even though maddening at times, his iconoclastic political style I find appealing. There's a touch of the classical with McCain, the way he reacts to personal affronts and slights to his honor. The way Bush, Romney, and Obama got under his skin and it was clear from his body language that he held these people in some manner of personal contempt. I liked his three Amigos routine with Lieberman and Lindsay Graham. There's something old-schoolish about it, like an old-time Senate when people of different parties could be friends. With more ideologues moving in to politics we'll probably see less of this kind of collegiality. Anyway, I digress. I'll have plenty of opportunities moving forward to complain about the state of things. My vote, to borrow a nickname from history, is for the Old Warhorse.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Strange Love: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and to Love Obama
I've asked myself a few times why it is I'm not on board with Hope and Change. At times I look at his Hollywood-esque production and wonder if at my core there is some kind of darkness that prohibits me from swooning to Obamamania. Near my work is one of those old New England mills with plenty of office space. Many of the tenants are artists and the collection of sensible cars outside (a sprinkling of Prius) all sport Obama bumper stickers. Hope and Change. There's some kind of cult like aspect to it. A real love-in. Some of it I think is related to the Left's yearning to resurrect JFK and the Camelot myth. A belief that this youthful president was ready to propel the country to vaulted Utopian heights, only to be cut down by dark forces. Today's leftist has anointed Obama as the Kennedy heir apparent (remember that stage show early on in the campaign where the Kennedy's all gathered around Obama?).

This enduring need for the Left to create such hagiography and wrap themselves up in it is at the heart of Obama's appeal. Specifics are secondary. The imagery, the passion, the mythologizing, and the style of Obama's political theatre work more directly to the heart of the Obama supporter and perhaps less to the brain. Reason would suggest that electing such an inexperienced and judgmentally dubious person may not be the wisest of decisions. But in these uncertain times, and faced with such an emotionally stirring candidate, reason may prove secondary to passion as being the ultimate and final arbiter over one's electoral decision.

A funny thing about our Presidents, each attains a mythology after their holding of office. In the case of Obama, his whole campaign is geared toward manufacturing his myth before his even winning the office in the first place. I think all other politicians must be jealous to the core of such audacity of spectacle. To have at one's disposal nearly a Billion dollars ready to spend on tv spots, infomercials, stadium sound and light shows, mailings, merchandising, souvenirs, artwork, etc. The expenditures spent on manufacturing the consent of the electorate are truly staggering. But not only is the public's consent demanded of, but to a much greater degree the public's love and worship.

Are we to worship out politicians? Do our mortgage payments get any easier if we are on the floor, knees bent, supplicating ourselves to Change We Can Believe In? Frankly, I am comfortable admitting that I am not smitten. Who knows what the future will bear and who knows whether my views will change. But perhaps in the distant future, gathered with people of my age all exchanging stories of where were you the day when Obama did .... I'll be fine then as I am now that I was not there for Him the day Obama demanded of me my vote and my devotion.