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Eyestrain: November 2004

Monday, November 29, 2004

As of this moment...

9 of 10 of the lovely little tetras (I bought 5 more the saturday after my fish blogging friday) I had in my tank are dead today. Last night I saw little grainy spots all over them (I knew it was ich), and so I turned up their water temp (gradually) to speed up the parasite life-cycle so I could treat them sooner, and now they've almost all died. I don't give the one remaining much time, either, to be utterly frank.

It was just the tetras. I also have one hapless glassfish (can't bring myself to get companions for it since the only kind you can get have dyes injected into them), and two dwarf gouramis in the tank. Oh yeah, it's a planted tank, too, so that means that treating them will kill off the plants most likely. I'm hoping that since tetras have to be given a half-dose of medicine that it won't be enough to cause the plants to die off entirely. They were just beginning to take off... I was planning on blogging my new and improved tank on Friday.

It's silly I suppose but I feel really awful about it. Those little fish were so sweet. I was their steward, and I failed them. They gave us all a lot of joy to watch them swim around in their little school. I would sit and watch them and wonder at them and their small perfections. Just by being the simple creatures that they are, they were amazing and fascinating, and much bigger than the sum of their tiny selves. Watching them soothed bad days into humdrum and surprisingly gave a sense of peace and continuity to this crazy life.

Some of the newer ones were just babies, and the older ones were about a year old. Ten years is not unheard of for these little fish to live, so I feel really bad. I was careful with their water quality; fed them a varied diet of flakes and brine shrimp and freeze dried worms. They had it good, really, but I think they were just too little to last once the ich got onto them. If there's a cause for the outbreak, the only thing I can think of would be the possibility of a water temperature fluctuation that either stressed the little guys and/or encouraged the ich to grow. It's possible the new fish came with ich waiting in the wings, but really, these things can just happen. Most tanks have some ich in them.

I'd been reading up on treating tetras for ich (and finding out how deadly it is for them) at work when I decided to call home to check on them and see how they were doing. My husband said they weren't doing well and told me 7 of them had died. By the time I got home it had gone up to 9. I debated going ahead and starting treatment on them last night, but thought it'd be better to wait for the spores to detatch before doing anything -- since when they're in that state the microorganism can't really be killed -- but I think the infection itself must've just overwhelmed them.

It's not only the death but also the expense that has me upset. Twenty dollars worth of fish and somewhere around seventy dollars worth of plants down the tubes in a day (and of course we're flat broke and looking at a bunch of bills that are going to make even having Christmas difficult for us this year). If the Dwarf Gouramis got a good series of munches in on their expired tankmates (and it did look like this was the case), that means that now they've actually injested the parasites, so that could mean even more dying (and money lost). My son sees us futzing around the fish tank and doesn't understand what's going on, so we're trying to distract him by moving his focus onto our behemoth goldfish that live in a tank I keep in our home office. I feel bad for him, too, because I know he really loved the little tropical tank. But since he doesn't understand, it's probably a little easier on him than it would be for a regular kid. It's twisted in a way to say that, but it's true. Truth can be one twisted, mean-assed bitch.

Here I was thinking I'd come home and write a full-bore diatribe/testimonial for the beneficial effects of medical marijuana (which helped me get through chemotherapy I am very proud and grateful to say), but instead I have this Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom death diorama going on in my living room...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Okay, I'm back.

I'm just getting too friggin' angry anymore to healthily blog about this utter, baldfaced spew that comes out of the Bush administration. Colon Powell has the GALL to say the Ukranian election was fucked? Really? Well, I suppose he knows a fixed election when he sees one, eh? Can't help but wonder whether or not it was an intentional gaffe on his part to make the White House look bad, because I can't understand how a sane man in his position could say what he said out of sincere outrage or concern for fair elections. Then again, Mr. Presumably-Sane went before the United Nations and told them ice cream trucks were weapons labs, so I suppose it's possible. All in a day's work for the Colster.

Monday, November 15, 2004

We all love life.

We all love life, whether we've got one that makes us happy or properly challenges us (as opposed to just beating us down) to excellence or not. Part of our nature as sentient beings makes us want this thing -- this simple existing -- in the most innocent and pure of ways. So when I look at pictures from Falluja, or when I read the accounts of bodies lying in the streets, families saying their last goodbyes to each other every night, just in case it is the last goodbye, I know I'm reading about the same kind of people. People just like me; people just like you... how different from us can we imagine them to be?

Tell me a child anywhere in the world doesn't want to be able to play and run down the streets of their hometown to the candy shop on a warm afternoon. Tell me a young mother isn't only dreaming of what her children will grow up to be. Tell me a student isn't on some level mindful of the life that they've been given; to study and better themselves so that they can have that good life that doesn't keep beating you down.

If soldiers came, and bombed your city; shot your friends in the dusty streets; kept out the aid organizations that might give you and your family just enough supplies to go on living this life you all love so much, in spite of all your pain and hardship -- you'd despise those soldiers. You'd swear vengeance against them, and strive for the rest of your days -- or hours -- to bring about their downfall.

And who are these terrible death angels, with their 500 lb. bombs and shells that can rip through a house like so much tissue paper? You know who they are. They're us -- they're our youth -- America's youth; whose trust and passion to protect this nation has been perverted and subverted for use as instuments of torture, brutality, and dishonor. Thrust into battle, in a war based on lies, how can they serve with honor, truly? Yes, they'll do what they're asked, and do it well, and risk and lay down their lives in the fulfillment of their obligations if asked to. But these are guys and girls that on any given day here, you'd find at the mall, browsing the CD's at Tower, protected and sheltered from the evil and ugliness they face every waking moment in Iraq today. They love life, too -- or at least they used to. I'm not sure how they feel now, with all the killing and fighting and scenes of dead civilians that you know they've seen. I don't know that there's any balm in this world to soothe that pain... forgetfulness, I suppose (if you can manage it). We took the bravest, boldest flower of our youth, and dirtied it with the filth and gore of war, and for what?

I also fear for what has been wrought upon American society by this. While our armed forces are over there, far away, and out of homes and stores and schools back here, we don't have to face them. But they'll be back here soon enough, and what will we say to them? What will they say to us? And what will we have done, in Iraq, that made it worth the effort to go there? What will we have accomplished that was worth the life, or the legs, of a child? What innocent cry of anguish is ever tolerable? Life is so fragile; so precious. It comes easily enough to us, but it goes just as easily. Sometimes, the brutal nature of our drive for power and control leads us into war and battle, and the prices are always high -- but what are we buying here? What do any of us in this world get out of this?

Not a one of us is getting out of here alive. Not a single one. To wreak the destruction and cruelty that we have, as a nation, in this war is an abomination of human capability. In the end, when we meet our ends, it will not soothe us, it will not comfort us. This war will not offer us a second chance. Death doesn't give do-overs, yet here we flatten cities full of civilians in the hopes of what? A better future? A better life? For who? For the Iraqis? How? How can a woman maimed beyond recognizing be improved in her condition? Do we do it for the rich? The rich are rich already -- how much more must they have? And do they really want to hand this burden of shame and guilt to their children? Don't the rich love life, and have dreams for their children just as we all do? Of course they do, of course they do...

But there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Saddam wasn't helping bin Laden. He had no connection to September 11th. There was no threat to defend against.

Just who do we do this for, and to what end?

Boy, can I call 'em or what??

As I posted below:

"'ll be someone singularly ill-suited in image and attitude to the job, and competent only at never letting go of an official lie."

People I do believe we have a winner in the ineffectual Secretary of State Mega Sweepstakes:

Ladies and Gents, your new Secretary of State. I think it's the charming demeanor that will win our alienated allies over, that and her invaluable expertise regarding Soviet history and policy (you know how much we can use that in this troubled world today).

Colon Bowel Bows Out, Cuts Loose, Relieves Self

Not one to stick around for the payback for the thankless job of lying to the U.N. for the Boyking's war, America's favorite perceived-moderate Colin Powell has given the resignation everyone knew he was going to for the last two years. This is the first time anyone in the Bush administration has done consistant with previous statements.

It's really too bad he's not the gossiping type, because I sure would like to read a tell-all book by him.

That's okay, when the war crimes trials are held (yeah, right!), he'll be one of the "lucky" ones, and probably only get 10 - 20 years. He'll have plenty of time to write his Albert Speer-inspired memoirs, and once he's out, he'll be welcomed with open arms into the Bush years documentary cottage industry as a respected eyewitness commentator. Not a bad deal if you can manage it.

Powell, the affable-seeming, ineffectual Yasser Arafat of the Bush White House... Trundled out for magic shows with pretty pictures and as a show of the moderate face of BushCo for the world to ignore from time-to-time; the only thing about his leaving that bothers me is who's going to replace him. Knowing the Faith-based junta, it'll be someone singularly ill-suited in image and attitude to the job, and competent only at never letting go of an official lie.

Meet the new boss, etc., etc.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A different sort of voting map.

From Daily Kos comes this post showing a different way to look at the demographics that may (or may not -- I'm still suspicious) have supplied Bush with his narrow victory.

This map breaks down American voters in a more sophistocated way than what we usually see (with the simple dualism of the red and blue states cliche). Because, if one looks at the way states vote in elections, you do see patterns emerge; but what you don't see is lockstep consistency vis a vis political parties. There's more to us than simple A vs. B choice-making, whether or not the media likes to admit it. It's pretty interesting...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Invisible people...

It's rare enough that our media lets us see what war does to a man, but we never see female soldiers with war injuries.

Why is that?

Do I really need to ask?

Friday fish blogging.

Four out of five little cardinal tetras I have in my 10 gallon tank.

Stupid judicial review! Doh!

Buh-bah, Crisco!

In his first remarks since his resignation was announced Tuesday, Ashcroft forcefully denounced what he called "a profoundly disturbing trend" among some judges to interfere in the president's constitutional authority to make decisions during war.
"The danger I see here is that intrusive judicial oversight and second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war," Ashcroft said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers group. ...

..."Courts are not equipped to execute the law. They are not accountable to the people," Ashcroft said.
Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, compared Ashcroft's remarks to those the attorney general previously made indicating that opponents of administration counterterrorism policies were assisting terrorists.
"It's entirely in line with his overt hostility to dissent, debate and judicial review," Romero said. "That further underscores the need for a wholesale review of Mr. Ashcroft's policies and a new direction in the Justice Department."

I certainly don't mean to imply that I think Gonzales will be one iota an improvement, but, well -- I think the eagle may be soaring on more than just Jesus' love, if you know what I mean...

Pagans get crackin'

I wanna see some circle-castin', binding, majick-workin', spell-castin' excesses to counter the energy these freaks are throwing at you.

For those who'd rather not sully their cache with that URL, here's a good old fashioned cut-n-paste:

Congratulatory letter to President George W. Bush from Dr. Bob Jones III

November 3, 2004

President George W. Bush The White House1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NWWashington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:
The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.
Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

Christ said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honour” (John 12:26).

The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you—that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

Best wishes.
Sincerely your friend,

Bob Jones IIIPresident

PS: A few moments ago I read this letter to the students in Chapel. They applauded loudly their approval.

When I told them that Tom Daschle was no longer the minority leader of the Senate, they cheered again.

On occasion, Christians have not agreed with things you said during your first term. Nonetheless, we could not be more thankful that God has given you four more years to serve Him in the White House, never taking off your Christian faith and laying it aside as a man takes off a jacket, but living, speaking, and making decisions as one who knows the Bible to be eternally true.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Cheese-eating Surrender Comfort Food

Actually, I've heard this is more of a Welsh thing. Maybe it's the European equivalent of baklavah, which everyone in the Mediterranean claims as their own. I don't know. I don't care. I just loooooove my ULTIMATE POTATO LEEK SOUP!

Ever since the election debacle/theivery, I've been hitting the comfort food (which beats the bottle or the crack pipe). It's winter anyway. My Michigander ways tell me: "Grow fat! Must grow fat! Winter is coming! You will die without fat!" So, I encouraged my dear one to make this. Following the ingredients are my instructions to him. Try it out for yourselves. It's delish!

You'll need:
2 1/2 to 3 lbs regular potatoes (your call, we just use the big 'uns)
3 big leeks
1 medium shallot (or half an onion)
5 oz creme fraiche (or a 1/4 cup cream)
basil - 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp dried
parsley 1 tsp
dill - 1/2 tsp dried
thyme - 1 tsp dried
tarragon - 1 tsp dried
butter - 1 tbsp
olive oil - 1 tsp
crushed garlic (no more than a very level teaspoon) - 1/2 tsp
cooking wine (white or rice wine or none at all) - a splash
5 cups stock (we use Better than Bouillon vegetable concentrate... you use whatever you like)
chives to make it purdy - sprinkles
a blender or a potato masher

Cut the leeks like celery stalks, so that they smile up at you, but thinly (get it? cut them thin. hah hah).

Stop when you see you're cutting more green leek than whitish-green. There you go. You've cut up the leeks.

Give ‘em a nice chop, so they’re not too bulky and mush up more easily.

Dice up that shallot real nice-like. Make it a medium-sized entire shallot.

Now get ready to sauté that shit. Go ahead and do it in the big wok pan. Or those of you in finer households, use your Le Creuset stonewear. Whatever. Use the thing you're going to make the soup in. Keep all that flavor in one place.

Put in some butter (a tablespoon), a teaspoon of that basil oil (or plain olive oil), a half-teaspoon of crushed garlic (that’s a portion for non-garlic lovers, so don’t skimp any further!), a teaspoon of dried tarragon, a hearty shake or four of that thyme I saved in the old parsley jar (somewhere’s around a teaspoon’s worth), a half-teaspoon of dill (again, non-loving-this-particular-ingredient portioning in effect), a half-teaspoon of dried basil, and a teaspoon’s worth of teenily-tinily minced up fresh flat-leaf parsley that you will find in the crisper or somewhere thereabouts.

Mmmmm. Let just the shallot sauté in that for starters. Let it go a little while. Oh! A splash of that “rice wine for cooking” would be nice at this point, in order to better leech out the flavors of the herbs. Don't go so far as to carmelize your shallot, though, because it'll burn by the time you're done with the leeks.


Okay, now you can put in the leeks. Let ‘em get kinda see-through, but don’t feel any sort of need to push it. The shallots have been going along for a while at this point, and you don’t want them to burn so you can have perfect leeks, do you? No. You don’t.

If I recall correctly, the recipe calls for 5 cups of broth. That means you can do some tricky Monica-in-the-kitchen shit. Take 5 slightly rounded teaspoons of the Better-than-Bouillon stuff and put ‘em in there with the shallots and leeks. Now put in a cup or two of water. Mix the brothy stuff in really well. Let that simmer for a bit. I don’t know why I would do this sort of thing. It just seems like a better way to introduce the broth and get the flavor really into the bulbous veggies…

Don’t forget to put in your potatoes. Yes, that’s right. 2 ½ to 3 lbs of potatoes, cut into portions roughly the size of the futon dowels the dog finds so tasty. I cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, then slice them into ½ inch thick pieces. That’s good enough.

Dump them into the “pot” and try to get the remainder of the 5 cups of broth (i.e. water since you already put in the bouillon stuff) to fit in there. Otherwise, simmer the soup until there’s room.

Simmer the soup for about 45 minutes. Those potatoes should be doing the mash all on their own by the time the timer goes “EEEE!”.

Fill the blender pitcher with the chunkiest of the chunky bits (Trust me! Dammit, man! Yes! Do it this way! You like the way I make it, right? Okay. I love you!). Fill it up. Blend it on the highest setting (get there gradually or the delicate motor may fry entirely) until smooth like silky cream. Pour back into the pot with the rest of the soup.

Alternately, you can mash the fuck out of what’s in the pot with the potato masher. If I recall correctly from the last time I made this, the blender died, so this may be what you have to do. You can mash it through the strainer (carefully) to get a nice, smooth consistency in addition to just outright pounding on it in the pot. Up to you.

Fold in the crème fraiche. Use half the container, or use all of it – most importantly: use your better judgement. It’s a thick soup, and crème fraiche is some tricky shit. It’s heavier than you think, but so tasty you could overdo it without realizing. I don’t care though. Overdo it. Fuck. You only live once. The whole fucking world is going up in dust and flame as I type this, and here I am concerned that the soup may be too rich. Make the fucking soup rich. What kind of wuss wants weak-assed soup when the chips are down? At least we have soup.

IMPORTANT: Don’t let the soup come back to a boil, or even a steady simmer after adding the cream. It will clabber (or whatever the quaint term it was my grandmother used to use to describe unappealing dairy product clumping). Eew.

Dust the top with fresh minced chives (they’re in the crisper), and voila!



I have five main memories of Yasser Arafat.

As a small child, I remember him as a terrorist -- a Palestinian Castro-in-waiting who would be happy to blow us all up and those Israelis, too... kinda true, kinda not true -- like a lot of things about him.

My next memory is from when the PLO fled Beirut in the early 80's. This one has some irony to it. My mom had a huge record collection when I was a kid -- all kinds of stuff -- yodeling alpenhorn players, jazz greats, lots of full opera recordings, symphonies, ballets, surf music, folk music, latin music, hit parade stuff; Mexican banda ensembles... Anyway she had this one record of traditional and "modern" Lebanese music. One side was the traditional stuff, the other was what you might hear in a nightclub circa 1964. It was called An Evening in Beirut. The cover art consisted of a lovely photo of Beirut -- "the Paris of the East," as the liner notes called it -- aglow in soft evening light. Truly a lovely picture, and my concept of Beirut before it was supplanted by smoky rubble and grainy photos of blindfolded men. It seemed the most exotic and yet modern place a person could go to. Then it became a joke.

My next clear memory of the man was the handshake with Rabin, and Clinton egging them on. Rabin -- there was a decent person lost to senseless hatred.

The Nobel Peace Prize -- that was amazing. Yasser Arafat, the guerilla leader, shares the Nobel Peace Prize with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. Gave you hope, that did. Oh well. Life goes on, hopes are dashed, young people blow themselves up, and soldiers shoot at kids throwing rocks.

My last clear memory, until now, was when he gave blood on September 11th. Remember that? Remember how we all felt such pain, and such impotence, all we could do was give blood? And remember how there was no need for all that blood in NYC or D.C.? Nous Sommes Touts Les Americans (now it's more like "Nous sommes tous les cliches"); flowers at the U.S. Embassy; and Yasser Arafat laying there gripping the cylinder thingy with tubes in his arm. Arafat tries to outspin the Arab world (whatever that is).

I won't pretend that Arafat was a saint, and perhaps his passing makes a just peace in the Israel - Palestine conflict slightly more probable than hell freezing over (i.e. where the process was 2 days ago), but looking back over his life -- the gains and losses and losses and losses for Palestinians-- I don't think this bodes well. I hope I'm wrong.

Realistic War Violence Too Much for FCC

The FCC doesn't want Americans to know what war does to a soldier. And your local broadcasters agree.

Personally I think that Saving Private Ryan is only a fair-to-middlin' movie. It has that famously shocking start, unflinchingly revealing the nastiness and brutality of all wars -- even those we consider 'just' -- but then it takes this weird turn into a predictable, maudlin action-adventure flick. We know (because we are all irrevocably postmodern movie-goers whether Speilberg thinks so or not) that everyone but a couple of guys we don't expect will be dead by the end of the movie. We know Private Ryan will live. We know the enemy soldier will come back to betray those who were merciful to him. He's the enemy, after all...

What the film does have going for it is imagery and great mis-en-scene. The beach-storming, the journey across the countryside; the phonograph in the ruined street playing Edith Piaf... but it's a Speilberg movie. That's where much of his talent lies, and people who are unfamiliar with war and just what level of sacrifice it requires of those fight it would do well to see this film.

But there are better contemplative, "American" war movies out there. Best Years of Our Lives, Black Hawk Down, Thin Red Line, Full Metal Jacket, Born on the Fourth of July, Platoon, Paths of Glory, ...

If you're blacked out of SPR, would like to watch a movie to commemorate Veteran's Day, and want to contemplate the horrific nature of war (from the soldier's point of view) even more than you probably already have been (um, okay... it's your mental health), I'd suggest seeing one of these aforementioned films (though since, technically speaking, Paths of Glory is about the Frenchies, it's not patriotically correct for our current climate).

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Meet The Architect of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib

Oh, don't think you will? Au contraire, mon frere!

He's Bush's A#1 choice for new Attorney General!

Excerpt from Daily Kos (with some AP reporting mashed in... you're smart, figure it out):

President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a Texas confidant and one of the most prominent Hispanics in the administration, to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, sources close to the White House said Wednesday.

The GOP is using Gonzales as part of their aggressive effort to continue wooing the Latino vote. I have no doubt Gonzales will be sitting on the Supreme Court by the time Bush mercifully relinguishes control of the White House.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about Gonzales on the issues -- he thinks it's okay to ignore US law and our international treaties against torture (Abu Ghraib can be laid to rest at his feet). And, he is the architect of the Guantanamo policies that have been systematically repudiated by mutiple federal judges.

A Voice Crying Out... the clogged city streets on a yucky, junky morning full of spitter-spatter rain. It says:


I feel like I'm going crazy with the public at large -- or the public at work, anyway.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: File dude, it's cool. If this insanity caused you to renew a political interest and for the better, I can't hold it against you. I'm being petty in that way office workers can be sometimes.

Today, the fashionably politicized, it-doesn't-exist-if-it-isn't-in-Salon, formerly disenchanted/blase/unopinionated filing guy is asking me "so do you think there's anything to the voter fraud stuff now that the experts are reporting on it?"

What. The. Fuck. The "experts"? Who's an expert on vote fraud? Someone who was disenfranchised? The people who rigged the poles? Oh! Oh, I see... you mean the "experts" who so kindly define our reality for us. Do you think I have to wait for conformation of all facts from a newssource? Do you take me for as big a fool as you, Mr. File Clerk? It didn't happen if a reporter with some kind of coolness factor isn't slavering all over the story? The experts can kiss my expertly well-molded ass. The "experts" are part of the problem.

Don't tell me about a story I knew about last week like it's "this just in!" current. Just don't. Especially if it's coming out of Salon. Any organization claiming to be a source of information that charges people money to read their veddy impotent stoh-rahs is not credible in my eyes. They are not providing a public service. They are a business selling you their product, and you are the consumer sucker if you can't understand that. Sure, some good reporting and writing comes out of Salon, but usually it's regurgitation of already cycled news.

You can probably tell I have a problem with this dude. It's no secret, really. Of the too many things to bother me about him, one is how I remember him in '02 telling me how he didn't read the news, wasn't interested in politics, didn't really care -- then when he started dating heavily again, right before the election, he tells me "oh you know how I've always been a very political person." No, no I don't. Not really. You can tell that to your dates, but you're no Republican spin machine. I remember what you said...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ah this is beauty...

Sweet, sweet irony:

Too much T.V. can give you eyestrain.

See, the eyestrain is real. Don't know how I got it, but my right eye gives me trouble sometimes. I'd make this a political blog, but don't know if that'd suit me entirely. Maybe it's more of a personal blog with political undertones, or vice versa.

Anyway, Ashcroft resigned today. Quelle suprise. I can't see how it helps anyone but Bush to put someone even worse in there. Then again, with their talent for finding only the best incompetents for any job, perhaps we'll get an even bigger, and more ineffectual, buffoon. But beware the rights you may lose while you sleep....

A curious shift is taking place in popular media. By way of my advanced commuter over-the-shoulder research techniques, I've noticed what I would consider an alarming rise in the portrayal of pundits and political figures as personalities worthy of fluff coverage in the entertainment press. This may seem innocuous, but to the paranoid-minded such as myself, it constitutes the first step in the ideological re-education of America.

We saw a little of this in the '80's with Nancy Regan on Different Strokes, and the like, lending legitimacy to the Religious Right as it rose to prominence. Now I expect the Right to go full-bore, however. They've already brought a large portion of the public that would ordinarally be pointing and laughing at their policy positions over to their side. How poor people would ever want to vote for someone like Bush is beyond me, but they did. Now this is not to say that I contend that the actual votes were in Bush's favor. This election was stolen like the last, just with a little more media complicity and finesse. Get a good horserace going, stir up interest in the election, and fix it so it's undeniably Bush's victory. But this time you make it a close enough one that liberals will give up thinking it really is the will of middle America to keep Bush in power.

Our political system has been married to the reality T.V. show -- where nothing is as it seems, the interactions are engineered by the producers, and the contests rigged to keep the contestants that poll the best in their focus groups in the game for the longest possible time. Even the environments are staged, with thin crowds made to look bigger by arranging them in tight, high rows, and large crowds of the opponent made to look smaller with tight camera angles and dampened sound systems (or tweaked out sound, to make a "yeah!" sound like a wild screech -- much the same way the movie studios of the early sound period axed the careers of stars they felt were passe by giving them bad sound).

These are all really old tricks. The only real difference now is that they're done with technological control and immediacy previously unavailable to political operatives. It's economically viable now. You can have potemkin crowds and Triumph of the Will rallies at the drop of an email. And people aren't savvy to it. I'd say that's for two reasons: 1.) We've been raised to be a brand-oriented, consumer society that responds to logos, jingles, entertainment and ad copy as though they were genuine forms of substantive information. 2.) We've been raised to trust what we see on the evening news. Combine those two factors, and place control of the media in the hands of the ruling class, and you get what we've been getting, and what we're about to get a lot more of for the next four years.

So, Calico Johnny may be soaring awayon his eagle into the sunset God made, but watch out for someone slicker, meaner, and quicker to take his place. I'd say someone with some media ties as well.