Saturday, August 21, 2010

From lawn jockeys to bottle bombs

Used to be that a lawn was a middle-class person's version of a farm. Now it's becoming a battle ground.

Click on link below:


I read B.F. Skinner, Walden Two somewhere around 40 years ago. I liked it. It's an easy read and fun and interesting for a youngster. I picked up a copy a few years ago to use in a post, so far unwritten, comparing Skinner to Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning. I posted this piece above sometime this afternoon, rushing out the door to do some work on my latest effort, A Genealogy of Left Dhimmi Fascism, a history of ideas. I got out the door with a stack of books, Walden Two being one of eight. I piled in to them when I got to the diner for coffee. I looked over 1960s copy of Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf, and some other books, before I gave a few moments to skimming over Walden Two. I got to page 15 and suddenly stopped dead. I'll quote it here. I find this amazing as a coincidence.

"We wanted an expanse of cropped grass in our front yard," Frazier explained, "but it's too close to the buildings for a regular sheep pasture. It's used a great deal by the children. In fact, we all use it as a sort of lawn. By the way"-- he turned particularly to Castle and me--"do you remember Veblen's analysis of the lawn in the Theory of the Leisure Class?"
"I do, indeed," said Castle. "It was supposed to represent a bit of choice but conspicuously unconsumed pasture." ...
"That's right," said Frazier, with a slight smile. "Well, this is our lawn.

And so on.

Which I think is an amazing coincidence. How often do I write about lawns and Thorsten Veblen's idiot ideas about anything? Or about B.F.Skinner? Today, writing about Veblen just in passing, I reread Skinner on Veblen after I'd written above about lawns. Amazing.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Flood-stricken Muslims suffering horrors worse than death.

Pakistan, a nation that blew the budget on making nuclear weapons to threaten their neighbours, a nation that pissed away all its cash and brain power on weapons rather than maintaining its irrigation systems and is now facing mass death from floods causing dysentery and other water-born diseases, is refusing relief money from India. But the story of the day? Some folks in Florida are going to burn Qur'ans. It's the end of the world. Christians! OMG.
[Photo probably of a mob of Floridian Christians burning Qur'ans.]

John Feeny, "World Outreach Center Denied Permit - Will Burn the Quran Anyway." August 19, 2010

The Dove World Outreach Center, a Church in Gainseville, Florida, is planning to burn as many Qurans as they can find on September 11th of this year. The city of Gainseville has denied them a fire permit, but the Dove World Outreach Center will go ahead with their plans anyways.

[Photo probably of the Pope.]

The City of Gainseville says that an open burning of books is not allowed. It does not matter what book is being burned. But that isn't going to stop the Dove World Outreach Center.

The Dove Center released this statement in an email. “City of Gainesville denies burn permit -- BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS.”

Did anyone expect a simple permit violation to stop the Dove World Outreach Center from burning Qurans on September 11th, this year? A group that far on the fringe isn't going to let a little city ordinance stand in the way of the "greater good."

According to the Gainseville Sun, the Dove World Outreach Center will be fined if they go ahead with the burning.

[Photo probably of a board of international capitalist fat cat Christians.]

Mayor Craig Lowe, called the Dove Center a “tiny fringe group and an embarrassment to our community.”

I have a stack of Qur'ans, none of which I'm going to burn. I use them for reference. If I find a copy of a translation I have, then I might well burn it just for fun. Or maybe I'll cash it in for some money to donate to Pakistan flood relief. Who'll start bidding at one dollar?

Addenda, thanks to Blazing Catfur.

Now, the Christians are outrageous in their Qur'an burning, but it doesn't stop there: they also tossed a marijuana-tee-shirt wearing guy from an amusement park in Montreal.

Montreal's La Ronde amusement park is defending a security guard who ordered a man to cover up his T-shirt depicting Bob Marley and marijuana because it violated the facility's family-friendly dress code.

The T-shirt owner, Brunaud Moïse, said he is filing a complaint with Quebec's Human Rights Commission against the amusement park, alleging he was a victim of racial profiling on Aug. 6.
It doesn't stop there, though. There is some justice:

It's hardly unusual to hear small-business owners gripe about licensing requirements or complain that heavy-handed regulations are driving them into the red.

So when Multnomah County shut down an enterprise last week for operating without a license, you might just sigh and say, there they go again.

Except this entrepreneur was a 7-year-old named Julie Murphy. Her business was a lemonade stand at the Last Thursday monthly art fair in Northeast Portland. The government regulation she violated? Failing to get a $120 temporary restaurant license.

Turns out that kids' lemonade stands -- those constants of summertime -- are supposed to get a permit in Oregon, particularly at big events that happen to be patrolled regularly by county health inspectors.

But then, as soon as we turn our backs and think the world is safe from the terrors of lemonade stands, we find injustice leaping on our backs outrageously again to a point it's unbearable: Polish refugees in Canada are stopped from using "agricultural land" to promote "freedom."

For 10 years, libertarian activist and scholar Peter Jaworski has thrown an annual summer seminar and party on the Clarington, Ontario property owned by his parents, Marta and Lech. The Liberty Summer Seminar typically features speeches from libertarian activists and scholars followed by live music and food. This year Peter's parents, who fled to Canada from communist Poland in the 1980s, face a $50,000 fine for violating local zoning laws.

Peter Jaworski said the local health department called him a few days before the event and he thought he had addressed its concerns over food being served — he decided to cater — and the three portable toilets on site.

But the couple received a summons to provincial court on Sept. 28 on a charge of using land in an agricultural zone “for a commercial conference centre” contrary to a Clarington bylaw.

From the Toronto Star

But the worst is that the government won't arrest people because they're "disabled." Yup, you can't even get arrested. What an outrage.

According to CTV news: 11 people were taken into custody. Two were released shortly afterwards while the remaining activists remained in custody overnight."A small group of OCAP members forced their way into the offices and refused to leave," police said in a news release. Nine people between the ages of 23 and 64 were arrested and charged with mischief interfering with property and forcible entry.


Now you'd normally think most people would be happy about not having to spend the night in jail. But not Ms. Abbott. Rabble reports the following statement from Anne Abbott:
"They questioned everybody except me, and I felt they thought I was incapable of giving any valid information. With the examples of the abuse on disabled people during the g20 and my recent experience, it's obvious that ableism is running rampant through the Toronto police."
Right. The evil Toronto police are practicing discriminatory "ableism" by not throwing her in jail.

Oh, those Christians. I'm scared. Someone should call the government and have them stopped.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The best dreams I ever had

When I leave a place, pack up what I can and toss the rest, give it away, sell off some, let it go and shake my head; when all that I had and all that I did is on its way out in place of going; when I close the door and turn to the future unknowable, fraught with killing pains and terrifying dangers and, one hopes, grand epiphanies and deep loves; I turn inward as I leave it all, closing off the lost and opening up the joy of what I think of as freedom to stuff yet more learning about this world and our lives into this life of my own. Another tie to humanity is cut, though, and I wander among people who belong somewhere, have meaningful lives with the familiar and the known and the accepted. Leaving is a kind of suicide. I'm letting go of this life in Canada relatively soon. It'll be over for me. There is much to regret in the loss. People die. We lose them. I lose them. I leave.

When I was younger my friends often expressed some hostility toward me leaving. They sometimes say, more often just wonder openly without asking, "Why are you leaving this place where we live and have our good lives? Is there something wrong? Something wrong with me? Am I missing something I should have that you are going to find that I won't?"

I say good-bye easily. I have deep attachments to some people, and yet that depth is not so deep that I don't yank myself up and say good-bye anyway. I watch old movies, and all those people have had their lives, and they are dead now. Silly of me, I say good-bye to them when the movie ends. All the old people I knew as a kid, they're all dead, too. Good-bye.

This voluntary giving up of life is suicidal in its way; it's also living a new life in another realm, as it were. It ends. It's a mad world. I'll probably miss it when I leave it for good. But not yet, I think.

A friend is dying, maybe only weeks, could be months. We all go sometime. I'm going sometime too, though to a different place, I think. I give up what I have here for something else elsewhere. I've never been anywhere that I didn't like. I smile at the thought of leaving, and I smile at the thought of arriving.

I think I can maintain this blog when I go. I'll retain some of you as friends in this aethereal space, being no different man there than I am here, and you being as god-like in authorial voice as always. I hope you'll join me in my travels, wherever that might take me. We'll see in a few months or so. I have people to say good-bye to, childish things to put away, plans to make. I'll take a few things with me. I sit, will sit, too, in some place, a supplicant at the Gates of Mystery, wondering what this is all about, why I couldn't have stayed home. I'll leave this place. I'll leave this girl. I'll remember.

I remember, at the edge of the tomb, the milling of the quick, her shy, sly grin as she glanced, "Is it me?"

Old, old, old. She was old. Her neck had slid down her collar and her eyes had sunken into sockets, her lips shrivelled, her hair stiff and yellowed. She was beauty in the cold sunlight on the brown grass. "And I remember 30 years ago when you said...." Her eyes shone. I remembered 30 years before, and I saw her then. I saw her in her aged beauty. My old hand on her old cheek.

Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack'd with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam A.H.H.," Section 50.

To look at an old lady and see the smiling girl inside. To know the life of a girl. That life ends, and that we cannot help it. Everything passes; beautiful girls age and sicken and leave us helpless in regret. To look at a girl and see a whole life coming to an end among the roses. To know the gods have no pity on the sick. Life is very long if we count by the departed. It keeps getting longer the more often I depart.

My friend, be near me when my light is low.

Hello, J., I must leave.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Iranian resistance?

The Iranian government is going to organise a gang of guys to stand around throwing rocks at a woman's face and head till they kill her. In Arabic this is called rajm. In English we call it stoning to death. Where I come from, we call it grounds for killing anyone doing such a thing. I kid you not. Where I come from, anyone pulling a stunt like that would be shot so many times by so many people you'd never be able to put enough bits together to figure out who was shot. But I don't come from Iran, where the government organises gangs to bury a woman and throw rocks at her face and kill her. What Iranians do in Iran is pretty much out of my control, not something I can do anything about. I can complain. I can support those who would kill the people involved in killing women like that, or any woman on grounds of "adultery." But it's more or less up to Iranians to overthrow their government. Unless they're all too stupid or too cowardly to do it themselves, which is how I'm leaning in my understanding of things there and the people.

If Iranians won't overthrow their government, what are we supposed to do?

If Iranians are intelligent and sophisticated people, where is the terrorist organisation working to overthrow the government in the way we saw in Uruguay, for example, in the Tupamaros? Where is the Iranian IRA? Where's the Red Army Fraction? Where are those men and women who are willing to take the fight to the government? Where are those who are serious about overthrowing the government in Iran?

If anyone were to suggest that the Iranian government is more brutal and sophisticated than the Argentine government of the 1970-80s, I'm not going to take that person seriously. I don't think Iranians are serious.

Show me I'm wrong. Where is the organisation assassinating government officials, robbing banks to support the cause, bombing "moderates" to sharpen the conflict? The Basij thugs are not more powerful than the Chilean DINA. They're no worse that SAVAK. Who's fighting? Am I missing it? Who's terrorising the government to the point officials are afraid to show their faces in public? Who is randomly killing people to the point the government collapses from the chaos? Until I see this, I don't take Iranians seriously.

I'm not suggesting that the Iranians should overthrow their government. If anyone were to attempt that it would not only be illegal, it would also cause people harm. I'm just asking where the serious people are there, if there are any. I don't see them. It means I would have to support instead an outside force overthrowing the Iranian government. Let the Israelis do the Iranians' dirty work and take all the harm that comes from it. If Iranians were to do anything violent, that would be a bad thing, of course. Just so we're clear here that I'm not advocating anything bad.

No, let's leave all the work to the Iranians. If these folks aren't serious, then what is there to do? Pretty scary people, this lot. But not as scary as successful people.

The graphic at the link shows the heads and penises of two peasants who upset the Algerian FLN, the victors in the war against France. DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK if you're squeamish.

Serious people don't get upset at this kind of atrocity so long as it's directed against ones enemies. I can hear already, "If we do that kind of thing, we're as bad as they are." I'll write again: We have to be far worse than our enemies if we're going to win. Either that or we let the Israelis do the dirty work. Will Iranians clean their own out-house nation? I doubt it, but the opposition to the government sure has a nice looking web page. That's got to be worth something.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Obama's Smiling...

When Obama's smiling, you know an American just got hurt.

Bitter clingers should be herd, not scene

One of the less than obvious costs of having spent a life-time travelling around the world is that, in my case anyway, it has been a life of homelessness. It doesn't mean I sleep under a bridge. I have a nice apartment, filled with some pretty nice things, some fairly expensive. But I don't own this place, and I don't even really live in this country. It's a foreign place where I happen to reside for a while. As it turns out, I'll be leaving this country soon for some other foreign place to stay. I don't have a home. I just live in places. Prior to Obama winning the last election, I was looking seriously at buying a house in Arkansas. It was a beautiful place with lots of land and a lakefront. Maybe it was an abandoned farm and had a falling down house on acres of wilderness. It suited me just right. It could have been my place, my home. I watched that dream burn to the ground when Obama got elected. If that's what we have, then I found I wouldn't go home at all. I prefer staying homeless, wandering the world with no place to be.

[Graphics from A Clockwork Orange.]

But being restless is a far cry from nomadism. I go to a place and often enough I stay there and live. I like being settled. I like the idea of a house of my own. I would love to have a place all of my own that no one else owns, that's mine and only mine. I could go outside and look at it and tell you a lot about how it's made-- because I know some about carpentry, having built many dwellings over the years with others-- and about architecture-- yeah, I studied the history of architecture at university! I love buildings. I want to own one of my own and I want to call it home. I don't care what it's like, I can make it my own in my own fashion. If it's just a little box like any of a thousand others all around it in the suburbs, that would thrill me. It would be my home. I don't care if Al Gore has a mansion for his home. I don't care if politicians have houses they can't even remember how many. I don't care about that at all: I want a home of my own. Tiny? I don't care. A little box and silly to look at? Cheap? Who gives a damn. It'd be my home.

But that doesn't suit some people, they despising me for wanting such a place. They, some folks, don't want me to have a little box of a place. What should I have instead, according to them? I guess I should live in a workers' hostel or on a commune so I can live "authentically" like a peasant, eating organic food, if the worms don't get it all first, and if it's in season, and if it grows close enough for me to walk over to try to find it, and so on. They want me to live like a farm animal. I can live in a barn and they can feed me. They?

"Little Boxes" is a song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963. The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It refers to suburban tract housing as "little boxes" of different colors "all made out of ticky-tacky", and which "all look just the same." "Ticky-tacky" is a reference to the shoddy material used in the construction of housing of that time.[1]

Malvina Reynolds is a ticky-tacky little Communist who sneers at me having a home of my own. I want to choke that shit-head. I want to kick Pete Seeger down a flight of stairs. I hate these people. I don't need a $7.million yacht. I want a home of my own. If I had one like those little ones in the suburbs, I think I'd be pretty damned happy with it. But Communists like Reynolds and Seeger don't want me to live like that. Why? Because a peasant with his own home is a free man. They really hate that. A free man with a beautiful home of his own? They'd have me shot for upsetting their aesthetic experience of the landscape, dotted with colourful farm folks waving as the lords pass by in their carriages. Neo-feudalism, I call it.

1. Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes, little boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

2. And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there's doctors and there's lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
I truly do want to hang these people who insult me like that. Who do they think they are?

I'll be on the road in a few months, moving around, looking for a home somewhere. I hope to find one with a nice old tree for hanging Communists from. I'll sit in the rocking chair and smoke a corn-cob pipe and blow smoke rings and watch a creepy, sneering Communist dangle and stretch and twist, slowly, slowly in the wind. Lemonade, the neighbours leaning on the fence, kids throwing apples at the hanging fool on the branch. ...It looks in my mind's eye like home.