Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Sunday, July 31, 2005

It’s not that I’m busy...

...I just gave up giving a shit for a few weeks. In the meantime, here’s some sound bites.

Rick Santorum: OK, now we know this is just another psychotic asshole on a book tour.

Mitt, I love you: comedy lives. All we need now is for someone to pants this guy and see if he wears his holy undershorts!

Looking for a show of hands: how many people really expected Dubya to nominate a progressive to the Supreme Court? The words were hardly out of the Shrub’s mouth when several progressive organisations had their hands moving towards my pockets. Let’s just wait up, Pilgrims, and see how Roberts plays out. I’m more interested in what will happen when they carry Rehnquist out of the court feet first. Save a little energy for that one, eh?

Speaking as someone with relatives in the UK, I was interested to note that the American media weren’t able to drop the hand-wringing for five minutes and actually publish casualty lists. Thank you, BBC; thank you, Guardian. My relatives are safe.

On the same theme…what a revelation: the stiff upper lip is an act! Of course it’s an act: it always was. The point is how you choose to play the role. I’ll take the stiff upper lip over the American whine any day.

Still wondering why I’m back, after a week in rural Ontario. It was past wonderful to kayak on a 20 square mile lake, within 90 miles of Ottawa, with maybe 200 cottages on 100 miles of shoreline, and vast stretches where the loudest noise was one’s own paddle. It was superb to spend time with people who didn’t act like it was an imposition to be pleasant to one another, and to know one could buy decent beer off the rack.

Oh yeah…I kinda like looking up a flagpole and seeing the Maple leaf or the Red Ensign there: must be the tug of Empire lost.

Post-Jamboree note to the Boy Scouts. Maybe it’s time to drop the merit badge for homophobia and get back to basics?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Hmm: We'll See

Somewhere back in these ponderings, I suggested that god is no longer on the side with the biggest battalions, but on the side withthe fewest morons.

The moron quotient has once again shifted in favour of the Bush-Blair axis.

It is past time that we stopped endowing our adversaries with the attributes of godlike invincibility, and began appreciating them for what they are: idiots. One can natter all one wants about the logic of terrorism when considered through the lens of game theory. We aren't dealing with mathematical super-geniuses here. We are dealing with people whose hindbrains have taken over.

Care to advance another explanation for bombing a population that is all too familiar with the experience, in the hopes that it will scare them? Or perhaps one would like to explain why, if these people are so smart, they didn't realise that packed human bodies will muffle any explosion? My own explanation is they aren't bright enough. If they were, they'd appreciate that terrorism of this sort has existed as long as portable explosives have existed, that the terror effect of such explosives has always been overrated, and that no one, ever, has achieved any policy objectives with bombs of this sort. That, I suggest, is rational choice applied to terrorism.

I confess to subjectivity. I have relatives in the UK, London commuters, from whom I've been estranged for many years. I find that estrangement doesn't reduce anxiety very much at moments like this. I hope that they are all well. I hope that with somewhat more intensity than I hope for the appropriate extinction of the fools who have done this evil deed.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A little more on Piper

From a discussion I had on another list, updated:

>But what if this person hadn't been the football

>captain in high school? Or came from some poor
>community that couldn't afford such a show of

Chris Piper was 43, in a town where football has been a joke for so many years
that only people my age
remember when it wasn’t. "Football captain" is one of those
factoids that impress the out-of-town media more
than anyone in town.

The "rich town" didn’t put on Chris Piper’s funeral, either: the townies did.
They’re the people whose
families have been here for 300 years. They don’t
on the Neck and live off stock coupons. They fix cars, build and paint
houses, work for the town, run stores,
and some still fish for a living:
THEY put the funeral
on. I know far more about this than your media ever will,
because my wife is a town employee, and I hear
what the media never hear.
I expect the VFW will be
raising money for some of this soon, and although
not fond of the VFW, I’ll pitch in.

There will be a benefit in September to pay for the festivities. I'm putting in my share,whether
I end up going or not. This may have been the "Townie's" last hurrah, but they did it with style.

The "rich town" of Marblehead still has the first dime of Federal money it ever received: they
wouldn't put on a
funeral for God. When the rich of Marblehead hold a benefit
--when they have to--it's at the Boston or
Corinthian Yacht Club, or over to Salem
at the Peabody-Essex Museum.

The benefit in honour of Chris Piper will be at the Gerry VFA. Out-of-towners never
heard of the Gerry.
It's a concrete block building on the once-unfashionable West Shore.
Its abuttors are a grocery store to the south,
and the town dump to the rear. The Gerry's
official reason for being is as home to one of Marblehead's two
surviving hand-pumped
fire engines. In the old days, you were either "Gerry's" or "Oko's." (Oko's still exists, and
its original engine house, but the Gerry has a dance floor and much better food).
The food, in fact, is as good or
better than the yacht clubs'. The "residents" gravitate to
socials at the yacht clubs. You find the natives and
Old Marbleheaders at the Gerry,
and social events that matter only to them are at the Gerry.

I went on, in that discussion:

It is in my mind that if you’re going to die, it’s good to be the first from
your town. When my friends came home in body bags many years ago, the caissons
and colour guards had grown a little stale. Some of them had been sports stars,
too, and just a couple of years earlier. It didn't help much. And just to keep
he record straight, I served in the Vietnam War. I can’t fully explain to you
the conflicted feelings that come from seeing this new generation get showered
with such praise. I'd prefer it if people could spare some of their outrage for the
fact that veterans must wait three years for VA medical treatment, if they get
it at all. I'd rather they could spare some change for places like the NE Shelter
for Homeless Veterans than spend it chasing religious nuts all over the landscape.
However, I know sick old men and women aren't as sexy a topic in this world
as dead young ones.

>These people are showing-up at military funerals all
>over the country. I understood they recently
>mobilized a fair large group at a funeral at
Arlington >National, and were so loud that the
occasionally >drowned-out the Chaplain, spewing their
hate at the >top of their lungs.

I heard this afternoon that every time this lot tried to do their shouting
act in Marblehead, the police
bagpipe band broke into marches: the rich
people didn’t orchestrate that, either....
never...forget that veterans
mere targets of opportunity for these people, which makes their
actions that much more revolting. If the
administration were issuing
hunting licences for
perverts ...which is pretty much what Westboro
Baptist wants...they wouldn’t have a word to
say against
dead service personnel.

>I'm just hoping in this case, the veterans groups out
>there can mobilize to "take care of their own", and
>find a way to muzzle these people, whenever they
> need people physically at the funerals
whenever >they happen. Veterans groups, with their
members >everywhere, have a much greater reach.
I still like >the idea of thinking of this as a form
of "Honor >Guard" for the veterans.

Part of me (my Dark Side) wants these people out there, sorry as I am
that they pollute families'
sorrow....The more people have that experience,
the more they come face to face with the hate beneath the smooth slogans
against equality, and the better
chance tolerance will have.

Nor do I think that traveling contingents of counter-demonstrators can
do anything but add fuel to
the fire. What Marblehead did succeeded
because it
came from the nearly-invisible heart of the town, driven by
the pride of ordinary people who happen to
share their town with rich
people, and whose families
happen to have lived here a very, very long time.
There were counter-demonstrators in Marblehead yesterday: bikers.It was
pointed out to them that
they weren’t needed and, unlike the
Westboro baptists,
they took the hint.

Now, that really is all I have to say about that.