Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Too. Tired. To. Blog.

Sorry. You know how it is. And if you don't, well, then screw you.

Anyway, if you're looking for something intelligent to read (which begs the question, why did you come here?), go there and think of kicking the standard rightwing Europe-hating, laissez-faire-loving, lying sack of fecal material -- let's say, Niall Ferguson's -- metaphorical ass with the information provided.

If you're looking for something with a little more spleen, go here or here.

An excerpt from the last link:

George Bush's second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnant as I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in 1804.

The little Corsican corporal had a few decent victories to his escutcheon. Lodi, Marengo, that sort of thing. Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand theft from the American poor, and his rape of the environment, and his lethal conviction that the world must submit to his Pax Americana or be bombed into charcoal.

Difficult to know what was more repellent: the estimated $US40 million cost of this jamboree (most of it stumped up by Republican fat-cats buying future presidential favours), or the sheer crassness of its excess when American boys are dying in the quagmire of Bush's very own Iraq war.


But restraint is not a Dubya word. Learning nothing, the dumbest and nastiest president since the scandalous Warren Harding died in 1923, Bush is now intent on expanding the Iraq war to neighbouring Iran.

Ahhh, now that's more like it.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Friday Night Turtle Blogging

I took these sometime in July or August of 2004, while on the farm. My cousin's employee had scooped up this alligator snapping turtle in the bucket of a trackhoe just before quitting time, and was displayed as a curiosity until the next day, when I believe the people who owned the land released him into a muddy slough.

A real monster, I managed to measure his length from nose to back of shell as nearly two feet. I wasn't Jim Fowler enough to wrestle him out of the mud to make a better measurement including tail.

Who needs Jurassic Park when these things are still around?

A few weeks earlier, while disking a field to be planted with soybeans, I caught a smaller specimen which had wandered out into the open. It was probably two-thirds the size of the one in the pictures, and, I'd guess, weighed about forty pounds. I did get "Jim Fowler" with it, kept it for a day so that my cousin's children could marvel at it, and the next day my cousins and I turned it in to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, who told us that it would go to a nature center in Jonesboro which often took various creatures to elementary schools as living exhibits. So, I felt good about that. (I'll post a pic of it as soon as I can find it.)

These things are threatened, and it's a shame.

They are foul tempered and incredibly strong; they can bite off several fingers if your hand is in range, and inflict a nasty wound. Like an alligator, they dont let go easily, and it's morbidly fascinating to watch them sever thick sticks at a single snap.

The turtle in the picture had evidently been injured by some heavy equipment before (notice the irregularities on top of the shell), but when in pristine condition, resemble something truly prehistoric. Their eyes are encircled with spikes, which also ring their necks in several rows, and their shells extrude heavy spikes from from to rear, which then continue all the way down their relatively long tail. Awesome. Like a degraded ankylosaurus, in a way.

*Revised for clarity.

The "Lacerates"!!! Even Better Than "Internets"!

PeterofLoneTree at Blondesense asks what moron could possibly write.. well, let me quote it:

His mother had drilled it into him that it was wrong when writing to repeat words already used. Having employed "tears" once in the essay, he sought a substitute from a thesaurus she had given him and wrote "the lacerates ran down my cheeks".

Answer and some background here.

Who Would Cry For Me? Argentina?

The always compelling Majikthise, whom I had the good taste to link to even before James Wolcott did, mourns the "death" of Giblets, and I confess I'm almost persuaded to "shed" a "tear"...

If not for the fact that Giblets and his comrades at Fafblog! (Fafnir and the Medium Lobster) actually murdered me several months ago, in a vengeful rage because I had revealed their secret identity/identities!

And who mourned me, then? No one (ignore the comments, if there were any Haloscan ate them), that's who.

My ghost inside this machine continued to blog for a little while, but then eventually it had to move on to mundane ghost things like slimings, saying "boo", and avoiding total protonic reversals. This blog is now maintained by a clone, properly called RETARDO 2.0, and I bet you couldn't even tell the difference, huh?

So what was I, RETARDO 2.0, doing in the meantime? Well, resting and reconnoitering, hibernating, showing around a very yummy visitor to Amerika, reading, eating too much and drinking too little, dealing with college bureaucracy, and shopping for books.

But now "I" am here again. "I" always come back.

While I was gone, General Glut and Rodger A. Payne dropped me from their blogrolls, while Seb dropped me along with his whole template in becoming, briefly, Sadly, Nude (but he had a great rack! [inside joke]).

Only digamma was concerned enough to look for me; in vain, alas. What he did find, however, would scare* the bejesus out of everyone but a few teenage nerds and a rare group of batshit adults whose social ineptitude and delusions of grandeur inspire a bystander to a strange mix of feelings vacillating from pity to species-shame revulsion.

* I mean scare in the same sense as discovering that your old school had been renamed Lieutenant Worf High -- i.e., the disgust in knowing that some loser had devoted a huge amount of effort to memorialise such a pathetic creation.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inaugural Bawl

Recapping a truly awful day:

Here we see Jenna mime her preferred method of Jack Daniels binging: deep-throating the bottle; whilst Not-Jenna gazes straight ahead into nothing (or her father's head; same difference), glazey and hazey and no doubt mentally constructing the perfect bong.

Text containing Ozzie snark is here.

Then there is this picture and caption, an alltogether more honest appraisal of not only the state of the inaugural but the state of the country than what the television has shown throughout the day:

And then there is the AP's recap, some parts of which I'll quote and, as necessary, translate.

WASHINGTON - George W. Bush embarked on an ambitious second term as president Thursday, telling a world anxious about war and terrorism that the United States would not shrink from new confrontations in pursuit of "the great objective of ending tyranny."

In his deliberate way, he's saying that tyranny will end in the United States exactly four years from today.

"Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon," the president declared in the first wartime inauguration in more than three decades.

"I've fucked shit up in a way that's difficult for the country to pay for and impossible for me or my cronies and hacks to defend."

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, 80 years old and frail with thyroid cancer, administered the oath in his first public appearance in three months — a gesture Bush called "incredibly moving."

Only if one is also moved by seeing a decrepit and elderly Palpatine administer ball lightning charges to prone defenseless figures, the closest analogy in fiction to the sad state of the facts today. More moving, to me, is the story of a younger Rehnquist's penchant for accurate self-parody, as when he'd jump up on the SC's cafeteria tables to address the clerks with a throaty fascistic "achtung!"

It was the first inauguration since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the capital was enveloped in a security blanket of thousands of police and miles of metal barricades. Snipers lined rooftops, while bomb-sniffing dogs toiled down below.

In case of a huge protest, and/or in rehearsal of the fantasy martial law sequence Republicans envision by which they declare theocratic dictatorship and an official end to the election charade we've had for the past two political cycles. That, or just because seeing a lot of cops, SWAT teams, and automatic weapons are about the only things that can help a Republican achieve an erection.

Entering his second term with one of the lowest approval ratings of any recent two-term president, Bush was unapologetic in his speech about the course he had set over four tumultuous years.

"I did it my way, and you got the highway."

He challenged critics of his quest to spread democracy across the Middle East, saying that now "is an odd time for doubt." And he voiced eagerness to confront oppressive rule around the globe in the name of spreading freedom.

"All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore oppression or excuse your oppressors," Bush said. "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."

"It's an odd time to doubt what I say, what with me installing a death squad enthusiast to rule Iraq to replace the one we kicked out, palling up with Yeltsin who has pretty much destroyed Russian democracy, and with me giving a perpetual economic blowjob to the Chinese dictatorship, as well as with my unabated love-fest with the Saudi dynasty; also, it is my position that democracy is not to be exported to places like Florida and Ohio, and is to be repealed in Venezuela. Guhuhuh. Thankee."

With his oath, Bush began a new chapter in a presidency transformed by the 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. What was an unremarkable presidency to that point, preoccupied by tax cuts and education initiatives, found its purpose.

This is okay save the last word, purpose, which needs to be changed to "excuse".

He said U.S. efforts have lit "a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world."

I confess this execrable oratory perplexed me until I realised he was speaking in reference to his proposed renewal of nuclear testing.

** SMH link courtesy of Poly.
*** Updated: More on inaugural security at TBOGG's.
**** Another Update: I beat The Maestro to the punch!

Devil's Dictionary

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note is having a little fun in helping the editors of The Nation compile A Republican Dictionary.

Here are some examples:

HARD WORK, n. What Republicans say when they can't think of anything better.
HEALTHY FORESTS, n. No tree left behind.
HONESTY, n. Lies told in simple declarative sentences: "Freedom is on the march."
HUMBLE FOREIGN POLICY, n. The invasion of any sovereign nation whose leadership Republicans don't like.
HUMBLED, adj. What a Republican says right after a close election and right before he governs in an arrogant manner.
INSURGENT, n. Armed or unarmed, violent or non-violent Iraqi on the receiving end of an American rocket blast or bullet spray, regardless of age, gender or political affiliation.
JOB GROWTH, n. Increased number of jobs an individual has to take after losing earlier high-paying job.
JUNK SCIENCE, n. Sound science.
MORAL VALUES, n. Hatred of homosexuals dressed up in Biblical language.
MANDATE, n. What a Republican claims to possess when only 49 percent of the voting public loathes him instead of 51 percent.
THE MEDIA, n. Immoral elitist liberally-biased traitors who should leave Republicans alone so they can complete God's work on Earth in peace and quiet, behind closed doors.
MODERNIZE, v. To do away with, as in modernizing Social Security, labor laws, etc.
NEOCONSERVATIVES, n. Nerds with Napoleonic complexes.
OBSTRUCTIONIST, n. Any elected representative who dares to question Republican radicals on the issue of the day.
OWNERSHIP SOCIETY, n. A society in which Republican donors own the rest of us.
PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION, n. A non-medical term invented by anti-choice zealots that refers to a broad class of abortion procedures; employed as a first step in reversing Roe v. Wade.
PHILOSOPHY, n. Religion.
POLITICAL CAPITAL, n. What a Republican president receives as a result of a razor-thin margin of victory in an election.

Very nice, and Mr. Clemons has received a few new gems from his readers, as well. But both his list and that of Ms vanden Heuvel (to whom I offer, in all modesty, my services as pool boy and/or expert gardener) are wanting not at all in wit, but in the sort of withering language that Republican depravity demands. This, therefore, is more to my preference, but a synthesis of the two would be very welcome.

Am I Not A Man? No! I Am A RETARDO!

..except I cannot find the right flower pot.

Yes, this is me in all my DEVO-esque seriousness. Is my photo as smarmy and pretentious as Michael J. Totten's? Yay or nay in comments, please.

Also feel free to insult me. Feel even more free to insult Totten -- or any other gorgeous rightwing nutcase.

At any rate, if there's a next time, instead of wearing an admittedly and intentionally stupid vintage snap-button rockabilly short-sleeve, I'll wear a suit, since dressing like a real estate agent (yeah, you know what Onion article I'm thinking of) makes those who propose to saccharinise colonialism and pat euros on the back for being the world's greatest killers (oh but only in the case of demographic armageddon!! wink nudge) ever so much better salesmen -- assuming, of course, that I'd wish to sell such nasty things.

** Edit: correction of fashion error. hehndeeed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

For The Anal-Retentive Home Librarian*

Anal-retentives in certain professions are no doubt funnier, if more useless, than the ARist hobbiest, even though ARs of any stripe have their moments of hilarity, as in the case of this guy I know who frets over his carpet having a consistent grain.

The side of the spectrum from obsessive-compulsive to anal-rententive to simply super-organised is often a blurry one, but for people who collect things in great quantity, being in that cluster of neuroses is to a large degree an inevitability.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm a sloppy person, but there is ocassionally method in my madness; there was with my stamp collections as a child, with my baseball cards as a pubescent, and in my books as an adult. With an urge to organise, there comes a point where one needs help.

Which is why I'm pleased to recommend Bibliophil, a site similar to Guzzlefish, except for books rather than dvds and music cds.

I've only catalogued about 250 titles so far, which is barely a scratch, but it seems to work fine. The site is loosely affiliated with amazon in the sense that it uses their ISBN system and their images. So far I've come up with no match with several older titles, so collectors of antiquarian books are pretty much screwed. But, assuming your stash is fairly modern, for keeping track of what you have, and what you loaned out (which is a really good feature), this site is pretty nifty.

This post is dedicated to T-gun, fellow bibliophile and all purpose Literature Girl.

* -- Surely a redundancy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The King Is Dead; Long Live The King

The greatest purveyor of violence on earth is my own government. -- MLK

Today -- or, rather, yesterday, as I'm blogging very late -- is Martin Luther King Day in the United States, and as such it is a time for reflection if one is decent, a time for theatrics if one is not.

The popular notion of Dr King is that of a benign tribalist, of a man who lived and breathed only the Civil Rights issue and nothing else. While indeed this is the millieu from which he came, at his triumph in 1963-64 he did what truly great, dynamic men always do: he went farther. MLK was always more or less a universalist (and the Civil Rights cause was and always will be a universalist, humanist issue), but after many victories of the SCLC and in reponse to the escalation of the Vietnam War, Dr King broadened not only his goals but also his targets; the color-blind society was no longer enough, a just society in all forms, with regard internally to race, creed, and economic condition, and with regard externally to peace, was the obvious goal. In all ways Dr King was the exact opposite of and enemy of what is now modern Republicanism, which then had already taken form in Nixonism, but was later to, perhaps counterintuitively, weld Dick's Southern Strategy with Goldwaterism's ideological, vaguely libertarian, "fuck the poor" mindset. General Glut's post at the American Street emphasises Dr King's commitment to economic justice.

There are precious few blots on Dr King's character, but whatever there is gets predictably magnified by his enemies. For one, there is womanising, his infidelity to Coretta Scott, all in all a fine rightwing rehearsal for the Clenis hysteria of the 90s. Second is that he allegedly told dirty jokes and used foul language in private. Third is that he was a plagiarist. All these, even if factual, amount to squat, and are rightfully consigned to the Who Gives A Shit? bin of history.

Dr King was of course a minister, and as such infidelity and coarse language is not the instantly laughable charge it is to a secular target. But Dr King was not a fire and brimstone preacher, nor was he the sort of prudish moraliser that wingnuts are so wont to follow. If Dr King had regularly bellowed against "threats to the family" like "loose morals" and foul language -- in short, if he had mournfully refrained in a Jimmy Swaggart or Helen Lovejoy way -- he'd actually be open to the charge of hypocrisy. But he didn't, and his private life is of no concern to us. Add to this the fact that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI sent Dr King letters urging him to commit suicide (a sentiment far more than less shared by the whole rightwing, which was convinced along with Hoover that Dr. King was not only a negro that didnt know his place, but was also a "communist"), and one can surely forgive a few private vices that were between him and Mrs. King.

The charge of plagiarism is not as well known, but is probably more superficially serious to those naturally weary of "sex scandals". Christopher Hitchens, when he was human, easily dispatched it. After swatting T.S. Eliot, Arianna Huffington, George Harrison and Senator Joe Biden, Hitchens abruptly shifts tack and says, even in these cases Don't Be So Sure. Then to his penultimate example of "plagiarism":

What, then, about Dr King? His various academic dissertations have been found to be honeycombed with other people's property, and he seems to have had some very indulgent professors in college. It has even been alleged that part of the peroration of the "I Have A Dream" speech -- the part about "from every mountainside, let freedom ring" -- is lifted from, of all things, an address to the 1952 Republican convention by a black minister names Archibald Carey. But, of course, that line comes from "My Country, 'Tis Of Thee", which King quoted more or less completely.

And do you know how the closing passage of King's speech was supposed to have begun? If he'd followed the typed script provided by a virtual committee of do-gooders King would have said, "And so today, let us all go back to our communities as members of the international association for the advancement of creative dissatisfaction." With the whole world watching, King realised that it wouldn't do, threw away the text in mid-stream, called on all he'd ever read, including the prophets Amos and Isaiah, and changed everything for the better -- and for the good. He may have done a lot of borrowing in his life, but he synthesised the borrowings into something higher.

Amen. So if MLK was a "plagiarist" or even a plagiarist when he was a young man, who gives a shit? In his most public act, he tossed aside his -- much less anyone else's -- script and delivered, impromptu, the finale that is still to this day the only oratory that can move me to tears.

Orwell was right to say that one must presume the worst of sainted figures. But Dr. King, in public, where it matters, passes the test better than any American in history that I can think of. He was that rare Christian who was not a hateful sectarian; he was that sort of tribalist, rare until the advent of multiculturalism, who did not presume whatever supremacy of his own tribe; he was a patriot who was not a nationalist pig; he was exactly the right sort of anti-anticommunist when the country was full of and run by the sort of anti-communists that would break any law, moral or otherwise, to fight commies real and percieved. All of which amounted to a death warrant for a man who so antagonised a rotten rotten system. And it was executed.

One would do well to remember who Dr King's enemies were, who not only opposed him but smeared him unmercifully. They are still with US, and, when one considers the implication of Dr King's economic ideals, they are Legion. It's a fairly easy thing to suppose where Dr King would stand today, and The Rude Pundit makes it as plain as day. It's a pleasing irony that, confronted by the general cowardice of the Public Left today, our best and most inspiring role model is a pacifist from our past. But then the only kind of courage that matters is not physical but ethical courage, both of which Dr King had in abundance.

[The United States has] no honorable intentions in Vietnam. [Its] minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and maintain social stability for our investments. This tells us why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and Peru. Increasingly the role our nation has taken is the role of those who refuse to give up the privileges and pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment. -- MLK (for fun change Vietnam to Iraq, Columbia and Peru to Iran, and dedicate to Dick Cheney, Allawi-master puppetmaster, economic imperialist extraordinaire and, by the way, lover of racist Apartheid South Africa.)

** Revised one sentence for clarity; apparently much time off didn't improve my sloppy writing.

Viz MLK Day, see also the The Snark Master, Mr. Norbizness, and a certain Mr. Fred Douglass, guest-blogging at Prez Martin Van Buren's.

*** Another Update: See, of all people, Sully slap around Jonah Goldberg (an authentic racist) for a pathetic attempt at an inside-out slander on MLKIII.