Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Reflections on Vietnam

Thirty years ago today Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese, ending the Vietnam War. This has been the subject of much discussion since then, and the legacy of Vietnam still permeates our society, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

I'm too young to remember Vietnam. I was not quite four when the Marines left Saigon, and I know no one who fought or died there. To many people, it's a dead issue - it's in the past, and we need to move on. However, as a historian, it continues to fascinate me, especially because we really can't move on and break free of the past, no matter how hard we try.

Vietnam was a disaster in more ways than one, and I'm not going to talk about how it destroyed our national psyche, because I don't think it did. First, the war itself. Why was it fought so poorly? Why couldn't we beat this rag-tag group of guerrillas? The answer is easy, and it's one that good solid patriotic Americans don't want to hear. It had nothing to do with opposition at home, despite what many conservatives who don't like unwashed hippies want you to think. Sure, that was part of it, but there were protests for almost every war we've ever fought it. The reason we lost the war on the field is because the United States military had become too conservative and assured of its own invincibility. We couldn't adapt. We had become the British in the American Revolution, marching rank and file into the slaughter, unable to understand why those lousy rebels were shooting at us from the trees - it wasn't sporting! The Viet Cong knew what any good guerrilla army does - you don't have to win, you just have to not lose. They didn't lose, so eventually, they won.

The legacy of Vietnam is what's fascinating. The United States suffered because it had never lost a war before - even Korea was sort of a victory. All other countries have been able to move on from loss, because they have experienced it over and over - even England, probably the second-most successful country of modern times, suffered its share of setbacks. The damage to the American people was complex, because it manifested itself, I would say, in two radically contradictory reactions - a complete cynicism about government, and a yearning for a paternal government. These two reactions have defined American life since the 1960s.

The cynicism is easy to explain, and is the new paradigm of postmodern America. We were betrayed by our government, and now we can't trust them. I would argue that Vietnam was the first time in our history when the lies of government were publicized so widely, because of the new power of the media. The government had lied to us before, and people knew about it, but because that knowledge wasn't instantaneous, the blow was cushioned a little. Now the lies became obvious quickly, and people reacted against that. My mother voted for Nixon in 1968 because he said, in his campaign, that he would get us out of Vietnam. When he ran for re-election in 1972, she didn't vote for him, because he had lied - he escalated the war instead. The country had gone to war on the flimsiest of excuses before, as well - the Barbary Corsairs in the early 1800s, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Indian Wars, the annexation of Hawaii, the Spanish-American War, World War I, the dirty wars in Central America in the 1950s - but in all of those cases, the excuses were at least somewhat concrete. In Vietnam, the specter of Communism wasn't enough to sustain a decades-long war effort. Why do you think Bush and his gang tried desperately to sell the American people on Hussein's weapons of mass destruction? It's a concrete reason for fighting, while spreading "democracy" in the region is, for many Americans, not a good reason for their relatives to die. Vietnam began this trend of fighting a war for reasons that could not be articulated in simple sound bites, and while some might argue that defending the South Vietnamese against evil Commies and freeing the Iraqis from a madman are more "noble" reasons to fight, nobility tends to go out the window when your son or daughter is dying. If the Bush kids were in Iraq, don't you think our president would have a better excuse for the war than "it's the right thing to do"? If you don't, you're naive.

The problem with cynicism is that it easily leads to nihilism, and the American people aren't quite ready for that yet. Therefore, the second reaction to Vietnam, a counterrevolution of sorts against cynicism and a desire for "Daddy." Government became, in essence, a parental figure, more so than it was before, I would say, although I can't back it up with facts (sorry - this isn't a research paper, just a post on a blog). The successful politicians since Vietnam have been those that have said they would care for the American people, while those who want the American people to stand up and sacrifice and be adults have been sent packing. Gerald Ford never had a chance, but Jimmy Carter was a disaster as president, because he asked people to make sacrifices. America had just gone through fifteen years of sacrifice, and told Carter where he could go - back to the peanut farm. Reagan, Clinton, and now Bush II have all, in some way or another, claimed the "paterfamilias" role in politics, and we have responded. Reagan's avuncular style and determination to "stand up" to the big bad Russians soothed us at a time when we believed we were losing the war against Communism. Reagan said, "It will be okay, America - have a cookie." We did, and were rewarded with the fall of the Berlin Wall. That Reagan had only a peripheral role in the fall of the Soviet Union does not matter, because he was our dad - stern, distant, jocular when he had to be, tough-as-nails when it suited him, and he made the bad things go away. Bush I couldn't keep that up - he also asked, in his own way, for Americans to sacrifice, and we rejected him. Clinton was the polar opposite of Reagan, except he also told us that he would take care of us - the Soviet Union was gone, but the threat of recession loomed, and Clinton said, "Don't worry about it - you'll make plenty of money," and we did, and rewarded him. Bush II understands his father's failings. Without the war on terror, there is no way he would have been re-elected. It would have been a landslide, worse than the one his father experienced. Bush II is trying to be a father figure, and he has latched onto the war on terror, because the seeming randomness of terror attacks has made us children again - we want someone to protect us, and Americans believe Bush II is that person.

It's ironic that the Vietnam War ended with the triumph of Communists on the other side of the world, but drove this country much more in the opposite direction. The Vietnam War was one in which the American government attempted to thwart the will of the people by installing almost fascist dictators in puppet regimes, but the American people didn't rebel against this. They rebelled against the government involvement, true, but not against the policies begin carried out. I have mentioned before that America has never had a true left-wing government. In 1972, the time was ripe - Nixon had lied repeatedly to the American people about our involvement in the war, and the economy was slowly spiraling down the toilet. So what did we do? Re-elect him in a historical landslide. Since Vietnam ended, we have had only one left-leaning government, Carter's, and that ended in disaster. Conservatives may moan about the hippies and Commies who thwarted them in Vietnam, but they're really missing the big picture - those hippies and Commies managed somehow to deliver the country up to the conservative right. Since Vietnam, we have become much more isolationist, to the point that we're almost back to where we were before World War I (politically, that is - economically, we're going global, which may or may not be a good thing). We have become much more anti-union, anti-liberal, pro-big business, and pro-military. Much of this is Reagan's legacy, I know, but I would argue that Reagan wouldn't have been elected, much less re-elected, if he hadn't been able to tap into this fear we feel, this fear that stems from the shattering of American hegemony in the 1970s and the knowledge that some people in this world actually reject "American values." We don't like to think that there are groups of people in this world who don't like us. Therefore, we elect officials who will either ignore those people or eradicate them. Vietnam was a meat grinder, and it didn't have to be if we had had a more enlightened government. Ho Chi Minh, from what little I know about him (he does share my birthday, so I should learn more), was more than willing to work with the United States, but they rejected him because he cared more about making life better for the Vietnamese than for American business interests. However, had the government worked with the North Vietnamese and perhaps "rescued" them from Communism before they got involved in it, the history of American conservatism would have been a lot different. Bush II should thank that narrow-minded God he worships every day for Vietnam, because it has allowed him to push his agenda much more efficiently on a newly-docile population.

The solution, of course, is not to ignore Vietnam, but to understand what had happened as a result of it. We keep giving power to the government, because we live in fear of the strange people at our borders, trying to destroy our way of life. Viet Cong, hippies, Muslim terrorists - it doesn't matter who, they're here to upset us. The government can rescue us, but only if we hand over all authority to it. This is the lesson of Vietnam, and it's why today we "support our troops." If only we hadn't whined about Vietnam. If only we had treated the soldiers better. If only we hadn't questioned everything. If only ... then we would have won, and the soldiers of Vietnam would be treated the same way the soldiers in World War II are treated, and Tom Brokaw would write slobbery books about them. Today, we're told over and over again that the protests back home, not the imbecilic way the army ran the war, was responsible for the loss, and therefore, if you question the Bush Administration, we will lose, and the soldiers will feel bad. This is just like a parent telling a kid to do something, and when asked why, responding, "Because I said so." It's fine for parents (I plan on using it), but it's not fine for a democratically-elected government. Ironically, Vietnam made us question the government much more than we ever had while the war was being fought, but also exhausted us from questioning the government too much in subsequent years. Americans, I would argue, were growing up in the 1960s, and now, they have regressed back to childhood, because it makes us feel better. We're like kids who moved back in with their parents after college because the real world scared us too much. Bush II and his gang feel this, intuitively, and play on our fears. Wouldn't it be nice to stop being afraid of the dark?


Just like opium

Krys got a job! Woo-hoo!

I will keep everyone up to date about Smokey. He's doing well, and we think his eyesight is almost back. Thanks to everyone who wished him well.

Sign my GuestMap! Bruno from Portugal did! Hi Bruno!

Anyway, the point of the title: it's very cool being married, for any number of reasons. I have been married for almost 11 years, and each day is better than the last. One reason why it's cool to be married is because you develop your own coded language that only you and your spouse know. At least, that's the way it is with Krys and I. Here are just a little of the shorthand we use:

"It's around ... just like opium." Years ago I had to take a drug test to go to work at Blue Cross/Blue Shield. So I had to avoid eating poppyseed muffins, because I didn't want to test positive for opium. I mentioned this to my mother and said, "It's funny, because who smokes opium these days?" My mother, sage woman that she is (and apparently, a denizen of the underworld), said, "Oh, it's around." It made me chuckle. So now Krys and I say it when we hear someone say "It's around" or if something happens to be, you know, around. If Bush talks about those crazy WMDs, we would say "They're around ... just like opium."

A "Lumumba" moment. Krys and I were watching HBO a few years ago, and we saw a commercial for a biopic about Patrice Lumumba. Since a biopic about Lumumba can't really end well, Krys looked at me and said, "No good can come of this." So now, when we read or see something from which no good can come, it's a Lumumba moment. Just a silly example - when Rachel goes to tell Ross that she still loves him on the day of his wedding, that's a Lumumba moment.

"Theoretically, Communism works." We love The Simpsons, even in recent years, when its quality has declined a bit. We quote it quite often, and this line we use often. Marge says something (I can't remember what) works theoretically, and Homer, philosopher that he is, says this line. So whenever something theoretical comes up, we say this. Try it!

"What am I, Kreskin?" Another line from The Simpsons (the last one, I promise). I can't remember when Homer says this (help me out, Simpsons afficianadoes!), but it's funny. So now when either one of us asks us something the other doesn't know, we say this.

"Supposably." Okay, we watch too much television. Sue us. On Friends once, Chandler mentions that he may have dumped the girl of his dreams because she pronounced it "supposably." Joey later tries that out, to funny effect. We still use it.

"Cat fud." There was an old Far Side cartoon in which a dog tried to lure a cat into a washing machine with signs promising "cat fud." Everything in our house is now "fud." We actually have difficulty saying "food." Mia is going to be one messed-up kid.

We have some others, but I won't bore you. We have to find our fun somewhere! This is why marriage is cool - you can communicate with each other on levels beyond simple speaking. These things remind us of our lives together, and that's not bad. Anyone have any quirky things of their own?


Frankenstein Smokey is back and badder than ever!

As you can see from the three pictures below, our wonderful cat Smokey is back from the neurology clinic, and although he looks like a certain monster cobbled together by Victor Frankenstein (I actually thought of the Patchwork Man from that Alan Moore Swamp Thing issue years ago, if you're familiar with it), he's still our boy, and we're very happy to have him back. The tumor is out, and there's no reason to think he won't live a nice long life. The vet said that there's a vein running between the hemispheres of his brain, and some tumorous cells are running along the vein, so he couldn't remove them. What that means is it's possible the damned thing could grow back, but it would take a long time and he said Smokey might be dead by then. Our other option is radiation treatment, which would kill the cells. We're going to get him checked out periodically, and if it starts regrowing, then we'll do the radiation. Until then, he's fine.

He still has health issues, but the major stuff is over. He's moving around fine, and the vet said he might regain most of his sight, since the tumor was probably pressing down on his optic nerve. It seems to us that he's recovered his sight pretty well already. He's eating fine, and we're hoping he can find the litter box tonight - that would be nice. Our other cat, Zoe, who is part calico and therefore quite bitchy sometimes, is very suspicious of him. She has a love/hate relationship with him anyway, but now - he smells different, he looks weird - she's not sure what to make of him. She'll get over it.

We spent a lot of money on getting him help, and it bothered me that most of the people I talked to said it wasn't worth it. My mother said it, a co-worker said it, and most of my students said so (I'm back at my old school, subbing for the rest of the year - fun stuff!). They all said we should just put him to sleep and the students said we should get a new cat. Now, it was a crapload of money - I'm not denying that, nor that it would have been nicer not to spend the money. But I don't get people who feel that way about their pets (if they have them). We're discussing racism in one class, and I tried to explain the idea of racism to these kids - it's based on seeing someone as less than human. I said that people who are racist would have no thought about killing someone of a different skin color because they don't consider them human beings, and although the analogy isn't perfect, it's somewhat the same thing with a cat. I hate to get my philosophy from comic books, but it's like Grant Morrison said at the end of Animal Man - why do humans have any more intrinsic right to life than a cat? One girl in class said because humans can work and earn money. Hmmm. So what? It would be hard to decide exactly how much you would want to spend on getting a cat better, but we didn't have to make that decision. We watched him for a few days, looked at how he was doing, saw that after the initial shock he had regained his zest for life (he's weaker, obviously, so he's not jumping around like he used to, but he's still walking around, desperate for love like he always has been), and so we decided that it would be mean to put him to sleep simply because it cost some money to save him. Anyway - he's back, and we're very happy that he's better. Let's all celebrate!

By the way, I wasn't fishing for comments yesterday, although I'm happy you guys let me know what you thought. I read a lot of blogs, and I don't always leave comments everywhere to let the fine bloggers out there know that I have visited their fine sites. So that wasn't it - I was just jazzed about my GuestMap! Sorry, Woody, it didn't work - try again! I know you're in the Cincinnati area (at least I hope you are, since you're such a big Cincinnati fan!), but try again anyway! (I always liked Cincinnati - it's where I had my first, and last, White Castle's hamburger - man, they suck!) So check out my GuestMap - it's cool! And thanks for reading - I'm choking up with emotion, really!

Smokey really looks weird because his hair was so long, and now he has none on his head, so his head looks really teeny. Posted by Hello

Front view of Smokey. It's tough to see how freaky he looks (stupid Polaroid camera!). Posted by Hello

The top of Smokey's head. It's difficult to see the big scar, but it goes right down the center. I assume the yellow is iodine. Posted by Hello


Looking out across the vast wasteland that is television, plus other thoughts

I have a lot on my mind tonight, so bear with me. You shall be rewarded with a cookie.

Eins. Some of you scamps are quite reticent about leaving comments on my blog, which makes me sad. How can I have validation? I know you're out there, because I have a site meter. You can't hide! Well, that's fine, you silent majority, but check out my GuestMap! Tell me where you're from! It's totally neat-o. I found out all about the GuestMap from Erin.

Zwei. My excellent wife has become angrier and angrier, and you don't want to mess with that! Therefore she has jumped in the blogging pool with Angry Liberal Mommy, because she's, you know, angry, liberal, and a mother. Funny how that works out. She's only posted once, telling us how women are idiots. I'm not allowed to say that, but she is, apparently. Check it out! I will make sure she posts often, because she tends to hang out in the real world a lot instead of in cyberspace like us cool people.

Drei. Smokey had surgery today, and it was a resounding success. The surgeon was a little concerned, because he wasn't sure what kind of tumor it was, but after going in, he said all is well. He thinks Smokey might even recover some, if not all, of his sight, since the tumor was pressing down on his optic nerves, which may have caused the blindness in the first place. He's staying at the vet's overnight, but he should be back home tomorrow. He still has a ton of health issues, but it appears the worst is over. Of course, I have no kidneys left because we had to sell them to pay for it, but I don't need kidneys, do I?

Vier. Okay, I'm watching 24 right now, and I decided to write about the television shows I watch, for a number of reasons. First, I don't do it that often, and second, Thomas told me I should, and I must listen to him! And third, well, that's coming up under number funf.

24 is a great show. It's not as good now as, say, the first season, when it was a bit fresher, but it's still better than most of the stuff on TV. This season has been kind of strange, though. I'm really not comfortable with all the torture, because I have become a bit numb to it, and I shouldn't feel that way. In Season Two (I think), Kiefer cuts some dude's head off! That was shocking. Now, it's a joke - Krys and I look at each other and say, "Oh look, another suspect - time for torture!" It's like they don't even try to question people anymore - they skip straight to the torture. I also don't like the overall arc this year. In years past, the subplots were all building toward a big threat. This year, The Mummy has like eight different plots, all of which are relatively independent of each other and all of which come to fruition on the same day!?!? He's like a freakin' supervillain, for God's sake. And I hate the new president. And I miss Kim. Yes, she was really stupid and really annoying, but she brought some comic relief to the show, which it kind of desperately needs. I still love the show, because it's just excellently done action and all dramatic and stuff. And Kiefer RULES!

[UPDATE] What a cool fucking ending. They are good at ending episodes on 24.

I enjoy Desperate Housewives, and I'm glad it seems to be moving toward some resolution, but I HATE LYNETTE!!!! Fuck you, Lynette, and your fucking simpering ways. God I hate her. I feel so bad for Gay Matt. Lynette needs to go play in traffic or something. I also don't like the fact that the women are falling into stereotypes. Teri Hatcher is the ditz. WE GET IT! Brie is uptight. Brie rules, though, and it's actually interesting that we keep getting more into her character. Marcia Cross is the best actress on the show. Gabrielle is okay, but her fight with her husband is just boring. The mystery is fine, but I hope we get more answers by the end of the year. Not the whole thing, just more than we already have. I fear for Bebe's life - I love Bebe. And I HATE MARY-ALICE'S VOICEOVERS!!!! Please stop them. We know everything she says. She's freakin' dead - shouldn't she know more than she's telling us?

Arrested Development is over for the year. What a great show. I think it's coming back, which is fantastic. Watch it when it returns. Do as I say!

I won't go into the finale of Carnivale, because some people who watch it get it on DVD and haven't seen the last show yet, but it was disappointing in a Twin Peaks/X-Files way, where it seems like the writers aren't quite sure where things are going and simply want to keep things going. Shows like this should have a specific time frame to tell their story, and that's that. I think if Carnivale had added maybe three or four shows to the two seasons and not moved so ... incredibly ... slowly, they could have told the whole story and we would be talking about two amazing seasons. Instead, we have a third season, with incoherent plot threads that may or may not pan out. Sigh.

Deadwood is awesome. I haven't seen the latest episode, so don't tell me about it! This is a great show, one that is just wonderful to sink into, with the filth (both literally and language-wise) and the drama and the Shakespearean dialogue (in between the curses, of course) and the sudden, brutal, and sometimes inexplicable violence. Just when you think you have a handle on things, it changes you up, someone dies, someone acts nobly, and all sorts of things go topsy-turvy. Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant are excellent, but the entire cast is brilliant. Just a fabulous show.

I also still love Lost, but I do have issues with it. Yesterday I linked to this, because it does point out some of the logical fallacies of the show, some of which I'd like to examine. First, the number of people on the island. When I worked in a big company, I knew a whole hell of a lot more than 48 people by name, yet these people (the stars of the show, I mean), who have been trapped on an island for, what, two weeks (Lost time), haven't even bothered to try to learn everyone's name? WTF? I wish there had been fewer survivors of the crash in the first place, so that we wouldn't have unnamed extras wandering around. It's just annoying to think that there's all these people on the island who presumably know nothing of the drama being played out. And what drama it is. Clare gets kidnapped and no one looks for her? No one seems to be bothered that there are polar bears on the island? Everyone wonders why Locke and Boone are such awful hunters, but no one follows them to see why? Jack seems to have no set personality - sometimes he's a nice guy, sometimes he's a total dick, sometimes within a couple of minutes of each other! Charlie's heroin withdrawal lasted like a day? No one seems to care where Ethan came from? I know it's all very mysterious, but when people act contrary to basic human emotions just to service the mystery, it gets annoying. I always say I would never be caught in a horror movie, because I'm just not that kind of person - if my house told me to get out, I bloody well would, I don't care how cheap it was! However, this lack of curiosity about the kookiness on the island is frustrating. Don't they wonder what the hell is going on??? Still, Lost is a gripping show. It's absolutely unlike anything I've seen on television, and as long as the creative minds behind the show have a plan (see above) and don't just keep stringing us along, I'm there. It would be nice if next season was the last one. Everything gets figured out and everything gets resolved. These would two unbelievable seasons of television. If the ratings stay up, however, that won't happen - it will keep coming back, and eventually will suck. Sigh.

Funf (I can't do umlauts in HTML, so just visualize it over the 'u'). Now that I've gone over the shows I watch, I have a question. This was brought up to me many months ago, when my friend Frank told me I watch too much television. Maybe I do, maybe I do. But I would like to know - what the hell does everyone else do? What fabulous stuff are you people doing on weeknights that precludes television watching? Am I just a television-watching loser because I have a child who needs to be in bed every night at seven and I can't go out? Are you childless people going out drinking one night, dating some honey another night, playing mah-jong with your buddies another night, getting together with your volleyball league another night, and curing cancer on the other night? I'm not picking on you, you understand, I just wonder. My friend Frank has a kid, and I presume he's not leaving Frank Jr. Jr. at home alone while he and his lovely wife cruise around Bucks County looking for cheap thrills. Krys and I are exhausted by the time eight o'clock rolls around, and we're just happy to vegetate in front of the TV for a while. It's off now (24 is over), and it's not like it's on all the time - we don't watch anything on Tuesdays, so it will probably be off early tomorrow - but I just wonder about you guys. Give me some options so that I don't turn into a complete television junkie! I seek help!

Sechs. More updates on Smokey tomorrow. And Mia gets new medicine! Be sure to check out her blog for news on the big switch!

Sorry, no cookie. How would I give it to you?


Fun stuff on the Internets!

I've been gloomy recently, so today's links will be nothing but fun! I know there's crap going on with politics, and people are comparing Benedict XVI to Emperor Palpatine (more than one, but this is where I saw it), and your idea of fun might be different from mine, but let's roll.

Chris "Lefty" Brown is inviting bloggers to share music. Check it out here if you're interested.

Layne rules. He has found a blog about 1947 in Los Angeles. He also links to a site that tells you how you can get excommunicated, the Official God F.A.Q. (which is awesome), and the Skeptics' Annotated Bible. Fine, fine stuff.

Anonymous Lawyer! He doesn't post that often, but it's really interesting stuff. I love lawyers, by the way - the ones we have retained have been fantastic. I think they get a bad rap. It's not their fault people want to sue for everything, including fake fingers in chili! This was found via Gotham Lounge.

I love that Spaniards have nothing better to do than complain that Marvel is using a portrait of their king as a template for Magneto. I'd like to live in Spain, where they have no other problems.

A gay Republican blog! I have no problem with it, but when your Republican president thinks people like you are going to Hell, it's just weird that you support him. (I assume Bush thinks that, since he's a good fundamentalist and probably reads Leviticus to get Laura hot.)

Ian has a couple of fabulous posts about Marvel's Hitler comic. Here's the follow-up. You must check out the cover! (I would buy it, but someone wants $75 bucks for it. Sounds like Marvel needs to reprint it!)

The number of "Fucks" in Deadwood. If you don't have HBO, buy Deadwood on DVD - it's excellent. If you have HBO and don't watch it, I just don't know what to say to you. You're dead to me. This link is courtesy of Welcome to Blog, which is excellent simply because it's Portland-based. Portland is a wonderful place. I miss it.

Dark, But Shining is an interesting blog. All about horror, sci-fi, shit like that. I'm not even that into that stuff and I like reading it.

These guys hate Hummers. Funny stuff. Many thanks to the Disgruntled Chemist for the link. He does all the work, I just show it to you! He also links to the 50 most loathsome people of 2004. Better late than never, I suppose.

Buy the Cardinal Ratzinger T-shirt! And I'm totally sure you've already checked out Ratzinger's (Benedict XVI now) fan club!

A really nice essay about the Englehart-Rogers-Austin run on Detective Comics in the 1970s.

Erin tells us why she doesn't want to raise kids in the South. Scroll down a bit - there's some dead space at the top. This is just sad. (Whoops, I said everything would be fun today. Well, this is short.)

Danielle has funny "mama snaps. I would say them out loud, but I'm far too white.

If you watch Lost (and really, what excuse do you have for not watching - you're not a superhero out saving the world on Wednesday nights, are you?) then this will make you laugh. If you're not caught up with every episode, it does have spoilers, so beware! be aware!

Why "intelligent design" should not be taught in classrooms. If you hate evolution so much, home-school your kids. Don't punish others.

Great stuff about the late 1960s Wonder Woman, who ditched the costume and fought crime as Diana Prince.

Christ's miracles re-enacted on comic book covers. If you haven't bookmarked Tom Peyer's blog yet, I just don't know what I'm going to do with you.

The parallels between Jewish tradition and quantum physics. Mind-boggling!

Things you wouldn't think you'd have to say in a library. Sad but true.

Larry Young links to the Best Press Release in Human History. Wow! Well, maybe the best press release in COMIC BOOK HISTORY, but HUMAN??? Wow. Anyway, it's a good press release and all, but since Larry himself issued it, does he really get to title it "the best"? Just wondering, Larry - don't hit me! (I joke because Larry's fun.)

Will Pfeifer is back with a vengeance, with a post about BABES! Fun stuff.

All right, that's enough. See? I can be fun too. Smokey goes under the knife tomorrow, so pray to the kitty gods!


I'm tired

I don't often complain, because it's kind of pointless, but today I'm in a mood. So here goes.

I'm tired of all this shit happening to my family. This is kind of silly, because I realize we're still better off than probably 85-90% of the people on the planet, but still - I get it, God, you're pissed off at us for some reason! Actually, since there is no God, I don't get this. My fallback reason is that Arizona is cursed. We've lived here a few months shy of four years. Since moving here, we have had six major negative events occur - some true tragedies (the medical stuff) and some simply economic (both Krys and I have lost a job since we moved here - Bush's economy at work!). I'm tired of it. It makes me twitchy.

I'm tired of people like Ann Coulter and Michael Moore. Shut the fuck up, both of you, and your entire ilk. I started to read the Time magazine article about Coulter, but stopped before I threw up in my mouth. According to Coulter, a liberal is a person who want to abort a child as it's coming out of the womb and call it a constitutional right. That makes me sick. How is that solving anything, Ann? I guess a conservative is someone who thinks executing retarded teenagers is a great idea. Moore isn't any better. Once upon a time, he made interesting documentaries. I was with him through most of Bowling for Columbine, until he started badgering Charlton Heston. Now, Heston set himself up for it, but how is pestering an old man going to solve anything, Moore? Huh?

I'm tired of the media not doing their jobs. This includes Fox and CNN - I'm an equal opportunity hater. It's kind of sad that the two sources I trust for news are Jon Stewart and Steven Grant, neither of whom is a "journalist." Case in point: the whole Ward Churchill brouhaha. Here's the whole essay that caused the flap. Yes, Churchill called the victims of September 11 "little Eichmanns," which was a pretty stupid thing to do. But his point is vaster than that, and he is trying to interrupt the obnoxious chest-beating that took place in the wake of the attacks and show that maybe, just maybe, the attacks didn't take place in a vacuum. He could have used better words, but the only place I saw any reasoned discussion of the entire essay, rather than just two words, was in Steven Grant's column. The entire media simply shouted "little Eichmanns" over and over again until no cared about anything else.

I'm tired of George Bush and his stupid Healthy Forests Initiative and his Clear Skies Initiative. Is he fooling anyone? Please, someone explain how either of these makes our forests healthy or our skies clean. I'm not being facetious. I just don't get it. Obviously I'm stupid. Any Bush supporters out there? Please explain.

I'm tired of lots of people treating Patrick Haab like he's some kind of hero. Illegal immigration is a serious problem, as I've mentioned before, but this guy arrested people he only guessed were illegal immigrants, simply because they were Hispanic. The state attorney didn't press charges because it turned out they were illegal, but what's to stop anyone now from arresting Hispanics anywhere in the country simply because they don't like the way they look? Haab has said he's not prejudiced, but since his arrest, he's been on several talk shows and radio shows, saying illegal immigrants are turning the country into "Americo." Let's just call him what he is - a young punk soldier with a gun who has some racist ideas and got a little carried away. He's not a fucking hero.

I'm tired of the cult of celebrity in the country. I know it's not going away, but do we need entire sections of the newspapers devoted to it? One of my many dream jobs is editor of a paper, because it would cost a dime and be stripped to the bone. So much of what's in the newspaper is crap, and the celebrity section rules the crap heap ("I wear my crown of shit, on my liar's chair" - ah, Trent, where are you now?).

I'm tired of sports discussions when the sports being discussed are not in season. I'm sorry, Woody, if you're reading this, because you do an excellent job keeping up with all of this, but you know what? If sports talk radio went away tomorrow, we'd all be happier (well, maybe not the personalities on the shows, but the rest of us). I love the Eagles, but you know when I start caring about them? The first week of September, when the season starts. No, I don't care who they draft. No, I don't care when mini-camps start. It's just too much coverage, a function of this 24-7 365 cable crap we now have.

I'm tired of people supporting the troops. I'm really tired of "Christians" claiming you can't be a good Christian unless you support the troops. I've said it before, and I'll say it here - they're volunteers. Nobody held a gun to their heads, and most of them probably thought they'd have a nice tour somewhere in Germany and get money for college and some job training. Well, that's the chance you take, people. I don't support the war, I don't support our troops - I'm sorry if some of you have friends and family in Iraq or Afghanistan, and it sucks that they're paying for Bush's hubris, but they're there because they wanted to be in the armed forces.

I'm tired of moral relativism. Wait a minute, Greg, aren't you a liberal? Don't you think people should be able to get abortions on demand while smoking weed and allowing illegal immigrants into the country? Well, I'm liberal, but I still have morals. I'm tired of kids getting pregnant and nobody saying it might be a bad thing. I'm sorry, Yazil, because I think you're mature enough to be a good mother, but 17-year-olds without a high school diploma should not be getting pregnant, and if no one tells these girls that, they'll continue to think it's okay. So many of my students who were wonderful and had a bright future got pregnant, and although they all say they'll go on to college, the few I've heard about later are not going to college and struggling with the motherhood thing. Some things in this world are wrong. I may think the things that are wrong are different from what the fundamentalists currently taking over the country think are wrong, but some things are wrong.

Speaking of teen parents, I'm tired of bad parenting. Krys and I like to check out Nanny 911 occasionally, and it's always the parents' fault that their kids are evil. Parenting is a difficult job, but it's not impossible. So many parents are awful, and it's no wonder their kids are too. Here's a tip: if you don't want your kids to do something, don't do it yourself. Don't want your kids to curse when they're four years old? Stop shouting "fuck" to everyone within your vocal range. Don't want your kids to drink when they're teenagers? Don't take them with you to the Circle K to buy beer and then drink it in front of them. Don't want your kids to be hyper? Don't give them candy before they're old enough to walk. I'm not Super-Dad, but Mia has never had soda, and we're not in any hurry to give it to her. Bad parents, I think, don't consider how much work it is, and they give up to easily. Kids are persistent, so you have to be too. Krys told me about a co-worker who wouldn't let her 13-year-old buy thong underwear. She told her daughter this for three years (starting when the girl was ten) and the daughter finally got the message and didn't buy a thong when she had the opportunity. Parents have control over their children, and if you don't want your 12-year-old to dress like a whore, don't let her. Bad parents piss me off more than bad kids, because they're children - they have an excuse. Krys was reading on-line about a parent who put her kids to bed after nine o'clock because she (the mother) wanted to sleep in every morning. If you don't want to get up at five o'clock in the morning, don't have kids.

Well. Now that I sound like a grumpy Lili von Shtupp, I'll shut up. Smokey appears to be doing a little better, and he apparently has found his litter box, so that's a good thing. Surgery on Monday - fun!


More about Smokey

Well, Smokey got an MRI today, and he has a brain tumor. Of course, because the other option was a stroke, which would not have required surgery. The doctor is pretty sure it's a benign tumor, but either way, he needs surgery as quickly as possible, so he's scheduled to go back on Monday morning. Once the tumor is removed, the doctor said he has a good chance to recover pretty well, although his blindness is a concern. The doctor was surprised that it was total, since the tumor is on his right side, which would seem to indicate only the left eye going blind. We're not sure if it's total, either. He seems to be moving around a bit better, and it's possible he's learning how to move about when he can't see, but it's also possible he's seeing shadows and such. His appetite for both food and water are back with a vengeance, but he still isn't finding his litter box. That will be a test. We haven't talked to the doctor about how the patients usually live after surgery. We don't want him to be a big lump, because what kind of life is that? The other big problem is financial. I hate to think about that, but with neither of us with steady employment, it has to be a concern. If we go through with the surgery, it will cost upwards of six thousand dollars total for all the stuff he's been through. It's horrible to consider. We'll probably do it, because he's our boy, but it sucks that we have to think about it. We shall see how he does this weekend. If he starts adjusting well to his new circumstances, it's onward into surgery. This totally sucks, by the way. Thanks to all who chimed in with their well-wishes - it really does mean a lot to me.


Shit. Fuck. Damn.

Sorry for the vulgarity in the title, but I'm not happy. One of my cats (Smokey - the latest photo of him is here) went blind yesterday. Completely, suddenly, and inexplicably. Thus, my lack of posting - I'm just not in the mood. He has a possible urinary tract infection, tiny kidneys, renal failure, possible diabetes, and right now he's at the vet getting an MRI to determine if he has a brain tumor. Since yesterday he seems to have lost the will to live, which is shocking, because he has, since coming to live with us, been such a happy cat. He isn't interested in eating or drinking, and we don't know if he'll regain it. If he doesn't have a tumor, all the problems he has are treatable, but if he doesn't adjust to the blindness, that's a whole different issue. We may decide to put him down today - I don't know. Sorry for bumming anyone out, but that's why I've been silent, at least for yesterday and today.


Great songs, according to me (Part 4)

Usually I allow you to savor all my links, but I'm in a blogging frenzy, so it's time for more great songs! Read parts 1, 2, and 3.

Before I begin, I should mention that today is the second anniversary of my daughter's accident that left her brain-damaged. Read all about it on my other blog. Yes, it's a sad day, but not that sad - she's still alive, and working hard. And by the way, Mike Loughlin, if you're reading, I just noticed your comment on the second entry of that blog. Thanks for the thoughts - we're trying.

Okay, on to more trivial stuff! You come here for trivia, and trivia ye shall receive! Today we reach the 'B's! Exciting!

31. Asleep On The Motorway (by Jesus Jones on the album London, 2001): After the album Perverse, Jesus Jones kind of disappeared. They came back with some more albums, but they weren't anywhere near as popular as Doubt. However, they were pretty good albums, and this song is a sad ode to loneliness and isolation. The chorus is nice: "Asleep on the motorway, there is a world beyond the glare of these lights." A gentle tune with a bit of bite.

32. Baba O'Riley (by The Who on the album Who's Next, 1971): Do I really need to explain? Do I? Really? Oh, come on. I don't need to. Let's move on.

33. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (by Led Zeppelin on the album Led Zeppelin I, 1969): Led Zeppelin is awesome. Some day I'm going to do a whole entry about how awesome they are. You know they're awesome. You don't care that most of their songs are about, well, nothing. They're still awesome. This song is a fine first entry from Led Zep on this list. The lyrics don't really matter, because it's all about Plant moaning about some girl he's leaving or who left him. What matters is Page, with that gentle guitar that suddenly switches to the pounding drive, all backed by Bonham's drums. Bonham is the greatest drummer in rock history. Screw Keith Moon. Screw Neil Peart! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

34. Baby Can Dance (by Tin Machine on the album Tin Machine, 1989): Tin Machine was a weird band that, frankly, wasn't very good, but it gave us some strange David Bowie music that didn't sound like normal Bowie music. Bowie's a train wreck quite often, but he never stops taking chances, and you have to admire that. This is his heavy metal phase, I suppose, and if you've heard of Tin Machine, it's because of their controversial second album with the naked Greek statues that wacky conservative Christians protested. Anyway, this is a the only really great song off their debut album, and it has bizarre lyrics and screechy music. It's kind of disturbing, but neat. The rest of the album - meh.

35. Baby I'm A Star (by Prince and the Revolution on the album Purple Rain, 1984): This whole album is simply brilliant, but this song is so much fun that it rises above the rest of the songs. "Hey, I ain't got no money, but honey I'm rich on personality!" And the music at the end - such joy! And the Doctor with his keyboard! Remember when Prince was fun? Okay, he's still kind of fun. But on this song, he was REALLY FUN!

36. Bad Attitude Shuffle (by Cinderella on the album Still Climbing, 1994): I warned you that I am no snob. I warned you there would be Cinderella songs on this list. And guess what? This is the first of two in a row! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Phew. Anyway, Cinderella rocks. Seriously. They're better than most hair bands because after their first album, which was decent but nothing spectacular, they decided to listen to their old Zeppelin albums and start playing some blues. On this, the first song of their last (I think) album, Tom Keifer starts off singing through gauze or something over acoustic guitar, and then the blues guitar really kicks in, and Keifer starts growling, and it's all glorious. When, at the end, he sings, "And it's my life that I'm livin', wouldn't want to be no one else. So if you don't like how I do it, fuckin' keep it to yourself," you know he means it. And isn't that all you can ask from rock 'n' roll?

37. Bad Seamstress Blues/Falling Apart At The Seams (by Cinderella on the album Long Cold Winter, 1988): Long Cold Winter, Cinderella's second album, is brilliant bluesy metal. Just brilliant. And the ballads are great, too. This song kicks off the album, and Keifer and the boys nail it - again, it starts slow, but then blasts into orbit, and Keifer's lyrics, while cliched, are great for what he wants. Keifer is great at making you believe everything he sings, and he has a good heart: "Old friends seem much closer now, they stand the test of time somehow." Groovy goodness.

38. Barest Degree (by Midnight Oil on the album Breathe, 1996): "No matter what else you've been told, it's still all up to me, and everything you hold is mine in the barest degree ..." The final song on the last truly great Midnight Oil album (the two since have been good, but not great) is creepy and chilling and quiet. A nice send-off.

39. Barrel Of A Gun (by Depeche Mode on the album Ultra, 1997): Boy, you don't want to listen to this album is you're suicidal, because it might push you over the edge, but it's still good, and it kicks off with this excellent dirge in which Mr. Gahan rejects what people (his fans?) want him to be. Good stuff. Gahan has had a weird, rough life, and here he goes beyond it. Way to go, Dave! Depeche Mode is still crankin' 'em out, too, God bless 'em.

40. Bartender's Rag (by Thin White Rope on the album The Ruby Sea, 1991): I picked up a Thin White Rope album one day in 1990, and enjoyed it. So I bought this when it came out, and it was okay, but not as good as Sack Full of Silver. "Bartender's Rag," however, is great. It's honkytonk and bluesy, and works as a metaphor, and it's sad and funny at the same time. That bartender's rag, wiping away your blues. Pour yourself a drink!

So that's it for this installment. Angry comments are welcome! Questions about my taste, my hearing, my sexual orientation, whatever! Keep on rockin'!

Bonus! "Friends" is only occasionally really funny, but Chandler just had a priceless line: "The world is my lesbian wedding." What a great line.


Having fun with linkin' logs (I pun because I love)

There are new pictures of the most beautiful child in the world over at my other blog. Compare her beauty to the ugliness of her father! It's fun!

So it's Sunday, I'm sitting here listening to John Legend's album "Get Lifted" (which is pretty good, despite some weirdly misogynistic lyrics), and that means links, links, links! I will endeavor to save this bad bear a little more this week so that I don't lose the whole damned thing, and y'all can soak up the linking goodness!

First, let's hit the "Next Blog" button! Here's what we get:

1. Victor's Dream Lair. Not as interesting as it sounds, unfortunately. A Malaysian teenager talking about love and how he doesn't have a girlfriend. If that's your sort of thing.

2. Entwerp. I'm not sure what the heck this blog is about. Spacey ramblings about Chinese pop and finishing undergraduate work. Very sparse.

3. ????? Seriously. I don't even know the title of this blog. It's got a weird manga drawing on the front page and a weird set-up. Bizarre.

4. Dje in Australia. Some French dude in Melbourne. Nice pictures. I really miss Melbourne - it's a cool city.

5. Raed in the Middle. An Iraqi dude who still has connections in Iraq. Kind of interesting.

See? Sometimes the blogs you find are really cool, and sometimes ... not so much. Try it yourself!

There were a couple of articles in yesterday's newspaper that I found interesting. First, there's The Ad Campaign That Might Topple A Government! Those wacky Canadians. Second, there's this article about social restrictions being eased in Iran. The article itself isn't all that interesting, but the fact that Iran has "mobile flogging units" is too cool. Are they dressed like the A-Team? Do they all have matching but differently colored costumes, a la The Power Rangers? Do they have an "Avengers Assemble" kind of chant, like "Floggers Fall Out!"? These questions need to be answered! Mobile flogging units ... those wacky Iranians.

Greg Morrow initially brought this horrible story about the rape of a developmentally disabled 16-year-old to my attention. In today's newspaper, we get a this follow-up story. As the father of a developmentally disabled daughter, I can tell you that I would kill every boy involved in this crime. Kill them slowly and painfully. No jury would convict me. Bastards.

In more fun news, Fametracker is a fun site. Sections include Two Stars, One Slot, when actors are so similar they cancel each other out, and Hey! It's That Guy, which gives you names to all those character actors whose names you can't remember.

I can't remember which blog linked to Sam's site, Exploding Dog, but thanks. Send him a title of anything and he will draw it. It's truly weird.

Calendars through the ages. Calendars are fascinating. I'm so not lying. I own this book, and it's really excellent.

More goodness from McSweeney's, including The Philadelphia Flyers Have a Time Machine: Installment Four (with links to parts One, Two, and Three - this is for Frank and Dave, who miss hockey), and new lists, including Things You Will
Still Be Able to Do After the Collapse of Society As We Know It, Provided Your Postapocalyptic Vision Aligns With Kevin Costner's
and What I Learned Listening to AM Radio. Funny stuff.

Norm Breyfogle has a web site. Those of you who don't read comics won't care, and some comics readers might not know him, and my best friend Ken (if you're reading, Ken, give me a call, you loser!) hates his art, but for my money, he's brilliant. One of the best Batman artists EVER.

I'd say that Terrell Owens needs to shut up, but apparently he's decided to do that himself. Owens is going to lose if he goes up against Andy Reid. So, for that matter, is Brian Westbrook. I love both players, but they are going to lose. Reid doesn't put up with this shit. There's one player on that team who is close to untouchable. His initials are D. McNabb. Everyone else - Reid will ship them out of town faster than they can think.

I just found Erin's blog, Jesus Was Not a Republican. Good stuff. She just got an "I Heart Jesus" pin/eyeglass holder. Excellent. Jesus, as everyone who bothers to read the Bible, was a socialist is there ever was one.

Thanks to Layne for linking to this, which tells you what other people had accomplished at your age. It really makes you feel like you've wasted your life. Thanks, Layne.

More idiocy about our nation's drug laws. John has it all! Democrats do stupid crap like this too, but whereas Democrats tend to cost the American people money, Republicans tend to cost the American people our rights. It all depends on which is more important to you (and that's not a shot - some people honestly want to make more money and lose some of their rights).

From Heidi McDonald, we get this story about a Greek court lifting a ban on the sale of a comic book depicting Jesus as a dope-smoking, naked surfer who drank with Jimi Hendrix. So cheer up, everyone! You could live in Greece. I wonder if that comic has been sold here. Does George Bush know about it?

Heidi also links to unintentionally sexual comic book covers. Man are they funny.

Dr. Doom has a shocking confession to make!

Dave Fiore talks historiography. You may not like Dave Fiore (check out his blogs here and here), but he's always interesting. Isn't that all we can ask for?

I can't figure out if Catholics for Rick Santorum is a joke or not. If it is, it's pretty funny, in a Dada kind of way.

Good news from Iraq! There's a lot of it, too. I guess to offset all the Americans who keep getting killed. Oh, and the fact that Bush continues to ruin his own country. Soon good Americans will want to move to Iraq, because our country is such a shit hole. This link comes from Avi, whose blog is a weird mixture of comic book stuff and ultra-Zionist politics. A heady brew!

Tom Spurgeon always has interesting comic book news, but the real reason I linked to this is for the picture at the top. Awesome.

It might be the height of hubris to link to something I wrote, but I'm pretty proud of it. We're in the Golden Age of comics, people!

Dave finds freaky things.

The Disgruntled Chemist continues to be, well, disgruntled. Here he links to this story about conservative Christians launching a "faith-based" attack on those wacky activist judges (you know, the ones who misinterpreted the Constitution and gave Bush the presidency in 2000 - oh, wait a minute ...) and here he links to this story about researchers naming species of slime-mold beetles after Bush and Cheney. That rules.

Rob Osborne is funny, whether you read comics or not.

Greg Morrow (yes, I know I linked to him above) has a reasonable view of corporate anti-environmentalism and how to fix it. It's "reasonable," so of course it has no chance of ever going anywhere.

Zombie dolphins. Would I lie? (Okay, it's a comic book cover, but still ...)

Tim links to Mr. Winkle. Truly indescribable.

Joaquin Phoenix has joined Pat O'Brien in rehab. Funny, funny stuff.

Jay Pinkerton has a hard-hitting expose about why teenagers are retarded.

I think Basques are cool and probably deserve their own country, but it's kind of difficult when they can't come together in elections.

Danielle has to give up being black, apparently.

TV show jargon. Pretty interesting.

The Ohio Senate wants to limit free speech in classrooms. Isn't that the ACLU's job?

The bankruptcy bill passed the House this week, and Bush is sure to sign it into law. What a crock of shit it is. Read more about it here. This is why I'm considering going into politics. Politicians don't care about anything but lining their own pockets. So why shouldn't I join them?

I've linked to Pharyngula before, but it's worth linking to again. All your "Why Creationism Is Crazy" needs!

The most anally-retentive DC Universe timeline. From Mike, who got it from Tom.

How to Read Blogs 101. It can't hurt to know! The link comes from Woody in a roundabout way.

A ninth-grader was suspended for wearing makeup. Don't schools have bigger things to worry about, like how that kid probably can't read or write?

Justin, the mad genius behind That Pepsi Girl, quoted my rant about his blog and the publicity it's getting. I don't know if he was mad or not. I don't care - as I said, go ahead and blog about her. Her father's a comic book artist, so any publicity for comic books is good publicity!

Tom Peyer is back at it again, with the news as explained with comic book covers. Sheer genius. He also links to this, where you can enter your URL and find out who has been linking to you. Thanks to those very few people who link here. You're what makes this all worth it! (Do I get my Oscar now?)

First, Toner Mishap gave us this, which I linked to last week before Blogger ate my post, and then I forgot about it. Then, in response to the many people who loved it, we get the Chewbacca Defense (from South Park) as an explanation. Good stuff.

The Warrior responds to his appearance at UConn, which I mentioned last week. Courtesy of the Trash Heap.

Well, that's about it. Nice to end with a professional wrestler referring to himself in the third person. I really should start doing that. I'm sorry, Greg should really start doing that. Remember: my daughter is beautiful! You must look at her pictures! Have a nice week!


What I've been reading

I read my books in alphabetical order by author, so this book is by the same guy as the last book: Eric Schlosser!

Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market by Eric Schlosser
310 pages, 2003, Houghton Mifflin

Eric Schlosser makes me angry. And that's a good thing. Since reading Fast Food Nation, I have gone to one fast food restaurant. (It was Wendy's. Forgive me. I blame the wife.) I'm serious about not patronizing them anymore - it's just yucky. Now, Schlosser makes me angry about different things. Let's see what!

This book is not as good as his first book, simply because it's a little more unfocused. He wants to discuss the black market in America, and he does so, but he also wants to promote his agenda a little more than he did in Fast Food Nation, and although it's an agenda I happen to agree with, sometimes it gets in the way. I also think the book is poorly named, although Reefer Madness is a good "grab," I suppose. The book's subtitle more aptly conveys the scope of the book - only a short section is about marijuana; the other two sections are about strawberry pickers in California and the porn industry. It just seems a little misleading. A minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless.

As in his first book, Schlosser is very concerned with governmental hypocrisy, and this is when his writing is the strongest. He uses real-life cases to show how totally fucked-up our drug policy is, for instance. He begins the section on marijuana with some average sample prison sentences in the state of Indiana: armed robbery, six years; rape, eight years; murder, 25. All these figures are HIGHER than the national average. A typical murderer spends 11 years and four months in prison. If you think he's going to introduce a drug-related criminal serving far more, you're spot on, but the case he uses is excessive, even for a good, solid, Midwestern, God-fearing place like Indiana. Mark Young was arrested for brokering the sale of 700 pounds of marijuana. He had never before been charged with drug trafficking, nor had he any history of violent crime. He never distributed drugs, nor grown the 700 pounds of marijuana; he simply introduced the growers and the buyers. No physical evidence of any kind was linked to Mark Young - he was convicted solely on the testimony of the co-conspirators, who had made deals with the government. In 1992 Mark Young was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

It's those kinds of stories that make Schlosser's books so hard-hitting. He traces the history of the war on drugs and the problems with even studying marijuana's health effects, adverse or otherwise. Today, there is still no one who knows exactly what health risks marijuana poses (it's the same thing with steroids - no one knows exactly how bad it is for you, or if it's bad at all). It's an example of something being made illegal because of hysteria and then no one being able to examine it more closely. He also looks at the unbelievably stupid way marijuana growers are prosecuted. Often the government relies on the testimony of other people caught in the bust - and the more names that person can give up, the less he is punished. Mark Young didn't know anyone important, therefore he became the fall guy while the people who grew and wanted to buy the marijuana - who could give up a lot of other people - got off relatively easily. The government is also allowed to seize pretty much anything material in the wake of a drug bust, and this, unfortunately, factors into who they go after. Schlosser describes how a federal attorney went after two grandparents whose kid was growing marijuana in the basement. She (the attorney) took everything from these people and explained that they should have known what was going on in their own house. With delicious irony, Schlosser points out that soon afterward, the attorney's son was arrested for selling LSD from her SUV. Beautiful. This policy also leads to prosecutors going after people who can't fight the charges, and of course, leads the attorneys to scooping up cheap stuff at government auctions, since they know when and where the auctions will be held.

Schlosser revels in government hypocrisy, and he lists several "tough-on-drug" politicians whose family members have been involved with drugs. President Clinton is in his crosshairs, as marijuana arrests doubled during his presidency, with far more people being arrested on marijuana-related charges while Clinton was president than during any other presidency in history. John C. Baker, the son of future Secretary of State James Baker, sold pot to an undercover agent in Texas. Under state law, Baker faced a prison term between two and 20 years, but instead was fined $2000. In 1990 Congressman Dan Burton introduced a bill requiring the death penalty for drug dealers. Four years later his son was arrested while transporting eight pounds of marijuana from Texas to Indiana. While awaiting trial, he was arrested again for growing 30 marijuana plants in his apartment. Under federal law, the younger Burton faced a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for the shotgun police found in the apartment, plus three years for the pot. He was not charged under federal law, and he wound up with community service, probation, and house arrest. In 1996 Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham attacked President Clinton for being too soft on drug dealers. Four months later his son was arrested by the DEA after helping transport 400 pounds of marijuana from California to Massachusetts. He confessed to being part of a drug ring that had shipped as much as 30,000 pounds of marijuana throughout the U.S., a crime which could have led to a life sentence without parole, but he was only charged for the 400 pounds. Congressman Cunningham begged for mercy for his son, and his son got two and a half years in prison. He might have received a shorter sentence but for the fact that he tested positive for cocaine three times while out on bail.

It these sort of stories that make me angry, and should make us all angry. Schlosser points out the unbelievable costs of prosecuting marijuana cases, when there is no evidence that marijuana leads to other, harder drugs, no evidence that people who are high commit violent crimes, and no evidence that marijuana is even that bad for you. He points out that many countries have decriminalized marijuana use and possession, and there have been no adverse effects. He also points out that a majority of the people in prison are serving drug sentences for non-violent crimes. These people were non-violent offenders when they went into the pen with hard-core criminals. What are they when they come out?

Schlosser moves on to strawberry pickers in California for his second essay about America's underground economy. It's the shortest essay in the book, and covers a lot of the same ground as Schlosser did in Fast Food Nation - America's obsession with cheap, easy, and year-round food leads employers to seek out illegal immigrants who are paid shit and live in shantytowns right next to upscale developments inhabited by the very people for whom they are picking strawberries! It's very tragic. However, as usual with illegal immigration, it will never get better as long as the government doesn't prosecute the people who hire the illegals. Which doesn't seem likely.

The final and longest section of Schlosser's book is the essay "An Empire of the Obscene," which is about pornography. This is alternately the most interesting and weakest of the three essays. It's the most interesting because Schlosser goes over not only the history of the government's pursuit of porn dealers and its ridiculous ramifications, but also the story of Rueben Sturman, who until his conviction for tax evasion in the early 1990s and subsequent death in prison in 1997 was the king of American porn and one of the richest men in the world - but no one had ever heard of him because of porn's underground nature. The essay is interesting, but it's weakened by Schlosser's insistence on jumping back and forth from the Sturman biography to the other aspects of the porn industry. It gets a little jarring, although both parts are fascinating. Again, it's just a minor quibble.

Schlosser shows us again how hypocritical American morality is. Anthony Comstock, who started the drive against porn in the 1870s, had no problem opening mail (legally, although obviously unconstitutionally) of anyone he thought might be sending porn through the mail. In the 1950s, a young lawyer named Charles Keating founded the National Organization of Citizens for Decent Literature (CDL) to campaign against obscenity. Keating eventually got the government to look into porn, and the government found nothing wrong with it. Keating kept pushing until Reagan's government gave him the result he wanted. Keating, of course, stole millions of dollars from the Savings and Loan he owned to fund his anti-porn campaign, while another anti-porn crusader, Father Bruce Ritter, resigned from his position at a New York shelter for homeless teens amid accusations of using the shelter's funds to have sex with male prostitutes (Father Ritter, of course, was publicly an angry anti-homosexual). The hypocrisy isn't quite as obvious as in Schlosser's marijuana essay, since porn is such a private thing, but it's still there.

Schlosser makes the point that porn is a tricky subject, because unlike drug use, you can argue that porn does hurt others than just the person who views it. Of course, that's still debatable, and the stigma of porn makes it unlikely that studies will take place on how harmful porn is. For every girl who shows up in Hollywood from Iowa with dreams of being a star and eventually gets into porn, prostitution, and drugs, there's "Nina Hartley," who has become a porn superstar and uses her platform to promote AIDS awareness. Porn is also a tough subject because no one wants to be accused of denying someone their First Amendment rights, nor do they want to get into censorship, which is what used to happen when "literature" by writers like Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, and others was banned as well as "hard-core" porn. Porn magnates, like Sturman, are therefore often prosecuted for tax evasion, like he was, or for other offenses, and the government keeps charging the businessmen with crime after crime after crime, not because they believe a jury will convict (most juries have proven remarkably reticent about convicting people on porn charges - stupid juries!), but because the government has endless funds, and those they charge don't. The obscene amount (yes, that's a pun) of taxpayer money spent on prosecuting porn makes it even more ridiculous that we worry about this stuff. As Larry Flynt says in the book, porn is moving ever more into cyberspace (wait a minute - I can find porn on the Internet?) and the government is tilting at windmills if they think people are going to stop looking at naked people doing nasty things. You can call it an addiction (and many Christians do), but in a world where everyone's addicted to something, is porn that awful? Maybe, but do we have to spend so much of my money searching for it? As Schlosser points out, in the Netherlands, where porn is out in the open and has been for a long time, the demystification of porn was followed by a brief spike in porn activity, then a slow decline. Why? People get bored with it. Shocking!

This is a good book. It didn't make me as angry as Fast Food Nation, but it did make me think about what exactly the government is spending my money on. I don't mind paying taxes, but I do mind the inefficiency with which they are spent. Schlosser shows us how poorly the government is at running things and how we need to look at our attitudes toward some of the "forbidden" things in our society.


Savor it

This story in today's Arizona Republic would be innocuous except for one little sentence. Yes, it's a good law - as the story points out, in Arizona, refrigerators, but not children, need to be strapped in the backs of pickup trucks, which this law will change. Yes, it has a lot of support. But there is opposition to passing such a law. Toward the end of the article, we get this: "Opposition usually comes from two directions: Rural legislators who say some of their constituents can't afford any other mode of transportation [So they can buy a pickup truck but not a freakin' strap?], and [Wait for it!] Republicans who say the proposed law represents government interference with people's lives" (My emphasis).

Can you savor the irony? It's the best kind, too - the people who oppose this law probably don't even see it. That rules.


What the hell happened to Lost?

Does anyone know? Tonight was supposed to be "all new" (or, as they say on the WB, "fresh"). It was supposed to be all about the fallout from Boone's death. So why is it a rerun? WHY???? Does anyone know the inner workings of the ABC network? All night I've been telling ABC that they LIE whenever the advertise one of their shows as being all new. What's going on?

The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. It commemorates all thos crazy bastards who died at Gallipoli. You know, like Mel Gibson's pal in the movie. That killed his film career, too. And look what happened to Mel! The lesson: Always play the runner in war movies, never the guy who goes over the top. Posted by Hello


Why Greg doesn't write poetry

First, go to Slow Children At Play now. Okay, not now, because you might not come back, but soon. Choosing the new Pope with an American Idol format. I kid you not.

Okay, why I don't write poetry. I was cleaning out the garage and the new kid's room this weekend, and found the last poem I ever wrote. I wrote it at our faculty orientation in August of 2003, because our faculty orientation is just so freakin' boring that I was compelled to write poetry. (If you're reading this, faculty orienters, please make it more interesting! For the love of God!) I will now share it with you. Please don't hunt me down and kill me.

An arroyo snakes through the dust,
Beckoning, inviting, enticing
You, making you believe.
Triple-digit temperatures leech
Sweat from skin and strength from muscles.
There is no water in the canteen.

Flame licks calloused and blistered feet
And you stagger past saguaros as
Gila monsters flick tongues at you and
Eyeball you hungrily. Millions
Of pinpricks scatter across arm hairs.
The desert rises up and embraces you.

Somewhere, a fox pins a mouse.
Somewhere, a bat hangs in slumber.
Somewhere, two scorpions face off like gladiators.
Somewhere, Anglos wait in jeeps with rifles.

The sun blazes down on stragglers
Across a Statue-of-Liberty-less
Desolation, where there is no
Welcome for the huddled masses
Yearning to breathe free.

Sure, it's not T.S Eliot, but I don't think it's the worst poetry in the Galaxy, or even the third- or second-worst poetry in the Galaxy. You be the judge! (This is why I write prose. I'm pretty good, I swear!)

Rich kids in the vast north wasteland

I was doing some substitute teaching yesterday at Foothills Academy in North Fuckin' Bumfuck, Arizona (I thought I was going to die in the desert before I found it - look at where it is!), and I met some interesting high school children, most of whom had more money than they knew what to do with. I met the kid who designed this site for his father. I'd describe it, but it's best if you go there yourself. It's ... kind of indescribable. Much more fun to read it. I also had Jason Hervey's daughter in one of my classes. I had no idea who Jason Hervey is, but some of you might know. Nice girl. Anyway, it's just one of those random bits of trivia that I thought my vast audience might find interesting. The lengths I go to for you people!


I'm pissed, so I'll try this again

My wife is stubborn, my daughter is stubborn, but me - not so much. I'm like George Constanza - I'm a quitter. Well, not today! I'm going to provide you with links from all over the Internet, because I'm so pissed at Blogger that I will redo this entry that I lost (see the post below this), although there will be less linking goodness because I don't want to spend three. fucking. hours. on it.

I saw Sin City last night. It was okay. I didn't like it as much as Roger Ebert did, but it was worth seeing on the big screen.

I hit the "Next Blog" button on my lost post, and came up with five weird blogs for your viewing pleasure. They are now gone. However, it's still a fun exercise to find other blogs, including Portuguese one and German ones. However, I happened to remember the address to this blog. WARNING! Contains porn. I'm not kidding. Okay, "erotic images." Still, they're kind of weird and disturbing. Click if you dare!

The Tommy Westphal Project is devoted to the kid who dreamed the entire run of St. Elsewhere (sorry if I ruined it for you, but it's been off the air for a long time, so you should already know about this). More proof that I don't spend as much time on the Internet as some people, so Krys shouldn't bitch (it's not like she's doing anything - Mia's playing the harmonica on her lap - find out why!)

One of my former students has a blog. It's typical of a teenager - poor punctuation and grammar - but she's a smart girl and she's a teen mom, so it might offer interesting insights ... if she posted more often! Maybe someone at my former school can kick her in the butt and tell her to get to it!

College Republicans invite an ex-pro wrestler to speak at UConn and it blows up in their faces. When is inviting an ex-pro wrestler to speak at a university a good idea?

The 100 Greatest Comics of the 20th Century? You be the judge!

Gender-bending magazine covers. Via Mike Sterling.

Kevin has some interesting things to say about The Fog of War, the movie about Robert McNamara.

A comic book starring John Paul II as the Incredible Popeman is about to go on sale in Colombia. I know it's supposed to be a tribute, but ... wow. (Or, as he's called in Spanish: El Increible HomoPater. That rules.)

Via Greg Morrow we get a link to Pope names, listed in the order they were last used. It's actually pretty funny. The last pope to keep his name, by the way, was Marcellus II in 1555. Just so you know.

It's the Good Morning Houston section of the link post! First, he asks the tough questions. Then, he links to a story I was going to, except he did it first. Damn you, Thomas! Although he is reading Arizona newspapers, probably because he reads this blog and wants to know more about Hell! Then, he links to a story about Tom DeLay's ethics violations. Finally, he tells us about this story, which says that Tom DeLay's ethics violations are, predictably, a Democrat plot. How can I keep up, Thomas!

Photoshopped Star Wars posters. Funny stuff.

Van Helsing is on right now on Starz. If I went into how many ways that movie sucked, my head, I think, would explode. Of course, it's still not as bad as Batman and Robin.

Hey! Did you know that there was a real-life 'M'? If you're a James Bond fan or if you read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you might want to buy this book. I plan to as soon as one of us is employed again, since we have, well, no money.

From the Jumbotron 6000 comes a link to Found Magazine. They publish stuff that has been found. One of the picture on their web site was found in a dumpster in Auckland, New Zealand. Found by whom, is what I want to know!

John talks to God. Good stuff.

From Monitor Duty comes the story that the one-armed surfer chick is ripping off Cosmo Kramer! For shame, one-armed surfer girl!

The San Francisco Chronicle reports about the Unitarian Jihad. Since you all have your kung fu names (you do, don't you? of course you do), you can now get your Unitarian Jihad name (luckily, if you don't like yours, it changes whenever you click on it).

You know why we're not invading Nepal, despite news like this? Because the king doesn't like the Maoist rebels, and if there's one thing worse than dictators, it's Commies! Yay, President Bush!

There's a Howard the Duck discussion group. Just in case you're interested.

Fun links from Strike the Root:
Who would Jesus torture?
U.S. soldiers involved in drug trafficking in Colombia have immunity. Of course, this is from an Angolan newspaper, and I think if someone listed the worst places on earth, Angola would be ranked pretty high, so maybe they're just trying to make the U.S. look bad. Yeah, that's it.
A woman goes berserk when her rival shows off her new boob job. Only in England!

Tom the Dog wonders why he's the #1 hit for the search term "Misty May's ass." He links to the #2 hit. Be warned - it's very, very disturbing. You may feel unclean after reading just one comment on the thread.

Chuck Austen had a blog, but now it's dead. It's still fun to read a hack comic book writer trying to justify his hackness. Of course, I'm a hack blogger, so what the hell do I know?

The ad for this site says they have the funniest T-shirts ever. They're pretty funny.

There is a blog devoted to the girl in the Pepsi commercial - the one that first aired during the Super Bowl and featured all those people opening bottles and hearing music. She was the first person in the ad, and was in it for about five seconds. Now, go ahead and have a blog about her - she's pretty cute. But this guy gets mentioned on radio shows! Here I am, blogging away, providing valuable public services to my adoring public, and this guy is getting mentions on the radio. I'm so sad. Maybe if I did a blog about some obscure actor or actress ... how about a blog about that actor in the weirdly pornographic Brawny paper towel commercial? Or would that be too gay? Krys says I should do one about the old Brawny paper towels, with the 1970s porn guy. I dug him.

Anyway, this didn't take as long, but it also didn't have as many links. I hope this is sufficient for this week! Stupid Blogger!!!!!

I don't believe it

I worked on my usual Sunday link stuff for three hours, and then Blogger lost it while I was spell-checking. I don't fucking believe it.

Lots of good stuff too. Shit.


Great songs, according to me (Part 3)

Yes, two posts in one day, although the one below this is from yesterday, but Blogger sucks, so I couldn't actually post until this morning, and now I'm bored, so I'm posting again. How do you like that?

My musical journey of great songs continues! We're still in the 'A's! Here's Part 1, and here's Part 2. Now, onward!

21. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (by The Pogues on the album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, 1985): My friend Dave hates The Pogues. Just hates them. We were roommates in college, and he used to whine like a baby whenever I played them. But he's full of it, because The Pogues were an excellent band, and this is a great song on one of their best albums. It's such a quiet, sad song, with a great deal of bitterness in it, and it's a stirring way to end the album. How can you not love the last stanza? An excellent anti-war tune.

22. And You And I (by Yes on the album Close To The Edge, 1972): Yes is pretentious, sure. Some of their songs are interminable (have you ever sat through Tales From Topographic Oceans?). But some of their songs kick ass. This song has some of the problems all Yes songs have (indecipherable lyrics) but it soars to wonderful places, and the final chorus wraps it all up beautifully. Such a nice way to spend ten minutes.

23. Andy (by the Indigo Girls on the album Come On Now Social, 1999): I have liked the Indigo Girls since my friend Ken told me about them in 1989 and I thought they were a rap act (that's what the name made me think of). Once I actually heard them, I liked them even more (rap is fine, but I tend to like folk more). They have really never slowed down and have only changed a little, but when they do change, it's for the better. On this album, they rock a little harder than usual, but this song is a sweet, gentle ballad about a boy (I assume, although it could be a girl) who loves a woman he can never have while a woman who really loves him is right in front of him. Will these stupid men never learn? Such nice lyrics: "I have watched you watch an empty road, is it only her upon which all of you is depending to fill you twenty hour work week, while all the fences in this county still need mending." Oh, Andy. You idiot.

24. Angry Young Man (by Billy Joel on the album Turnstiles, 1976): This song starts with the frenetic piano playing on "Prelude," but it segues easily into "Angry Young Man," so that's where it falls on the countdown! Such a good song. The usual excellent piano playing, and the usual good Joel lyrics - he's really underrated as a lyricist. "And he's proud of his scars and the battles he's lost, and he struggled and bleeds as he hangs on his cross." Good stuff. It's a thoughtful song, too - is he really telling us to give up our causes, or fight for different ones? You be the judge!

25. Antarctica (by Midnight Oil on the album Blue Sky Mining, 1987): Man, I love Midnight Oil. Such a good band, such good musicians, such angry dudes. This song ends Blue Sky Mining, a fabulous album with some of their best songs. It's chilling (that's a bad pun) and dirge-like in the beginning, building to a triumphant climax. As usual, Peter Garrett is singing about the environment, but who cares when the lyrics and music are this good?

26. Any Way You Want It (by Journey on the album Departure, 1980): Journey is a good band. Really. Come on, what a great scene in Caddyshack, when Rodney Dangerfield starts playing this on his radio installed in his golf bag! Actually, this is a great song - a fun way to kick off an album. Excellent guitars, Steve Perry wailing as only Steve Perry can, a driving beat - what more can you ask for from a rock 'n' roll song? Answer: nothing!

27. Apathy ...Superstar? (by P.M. Dawn on the album Jesus Wept, 1995): Another band I love. This album was the follow-up to The Bliss Album, and while not as brilliant as that, it still has a lot of good songs, including this one. Rollicking piano in the background, Prince Be's supple voice and wacky lyrics, and that sadness that is so much as part of P.M. Dawn's songs. I like the band because they deal with their Christianity in their songs, and it's not always how wonderful it is. When Prince Be sings, "Almost everyone I know believes in God and Love," you wonder if he really thinks they believe it or if he's hoping against hope. He doesn't give you easy answers.

28. Are You Experienced? (by The Jimi Hendrix Experience on the album Are You Experienced?, 1967): Ah, Jimi. Everything he did could be on this list, because it was so revolutionary. This song just blows me away whenever I hear it - the scratchy guitar, the weird-ass lyrics (Jimi was doing some serious drugs, apparently) and that great chorus. It's actually a serious song about letting go of your past and being yourself, which is probably why it holds up today. Man, is this a cool tune.

29. Are You Gonna Go My Way (by Lenny Kravitz on the album Are You Gonna Go My Way, 1993): More fun from Lenny - from the opening guitar stomp, this song never lets up. The lyrics are just okay, but the enthusiasm of the song turns leads this to greatness. And that guitar solo at the end kicks much ass.

30. As Good As New (by ABBA on the album Voulez-Vous, 1979): If you don't like ABBA, I really don't know what to do with you. I mean, come on! Excellent music, excellent and often heart-breaking music, soaring melodies, some good disco songs - what's not to like? As Good As New is the first song on their "disco" album Voulez-Vous (very few of their songs are disco, which it seems is the reason most people don't like them) and it's a bittersweet tune of a woman who thinks she has left her jerky man behind, but finds it's not that easy. Agnetha's vocals are alternately gruff and sweet, and the music pushes it all along. Go now and listen to some ABBA!

As usual, comments questioning my musical tastes are welcome (just so I can get your names to know who to hunt down when I become world dictator - ha-ha-ha-ha!). Go here or to the official sites to learn more about these bands!