An open letter to Buccheri_Sonja and/or E.simeon

>> Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RE: important‏

From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 11:35 AM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)



________________________________
From: Buccheri_Sonja
Sent: Monday, January 30, 2012 7:29 PM
Subject: important

I am E.simeon, a devoted christian. I am in the process of setting up a charity foundation but due to my health condition I would need somebody to help me finish it.So please reply to my email
address for more details: simeon.elizabeth@rogers.com(mailto:simeon.elizabeth@rogers.com)







From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 12:53 AM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important

Just got your message, e., and I completely agree: it's all over but the weeping.

I remember one time we were all watching that thing on the television and how great we thought it was. So, I don't know how you feel about it, but I've been doing some research. The biggest problem so far is that what I can find on various antique sites and so on are all plugged, which means they can't be used. They pour metal in them or something. Also, even if I found one that wasn't, the holes are all too small.






From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 2:17 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important


Buccheri, what thing on the television do you mean, my love? I am so hazy sometimes and you know how hard it is for me to catch up when I have been away. And what about the charity foundation?

Please do not weep for me. We will be in a far better place, soon.

Yours In Christ,
Elizabeth






From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 3:41 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important

bethm, that dumb cunt *sonja* is talking about that retarded crap we used to watch when we were babies. she si syuch a stuipd bitch. th eonly thing more stipid than her byllshit is tyour fucking whiny come to jesus crap. if heavne means spending the rest of forever with you dumb bitchjes io wopuld rather go to hell. the onlty reason im going along with sonja's stupiod shiot is because i am sickl of your sorrty asses and estpecially you becauise you are NO FUN AND I CAN"T WAIT FOR YOU TO DIE< BITCH!






From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 4:50 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important

Buccheri, my sweet love, you should not be so cruel. I love you. Sonja loves you. And you are only being unkind to yourself when you rail at us so. We only want what is best for you and no amount of self-loathing will ever take that away or keep us from loving you.

It is a mystery to me that The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost are three things but one thing. It is Mystery that I fancy I understand more than most, if it is not prideful for me to say so. Buccheri, is it strange that I forgive you in ways I cannot forgive myself? There is something I--something we all must learn there, I think. I love you, my sweet, and I forgive you. God Bless You.


Yours In Christ,
Elizabeth.






From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 6:21 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important

FUCK YOU CUINT!!!!!!!!!!!!





From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 7:47 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important

FOUND IT!

Did either of you know there even WAS such a thing as circus surplus? It is so awesome! I found a website (hooray, Google!) where they were selling tons of stuff: lion trainer paraphernalia, those big flat round drums they pose the elephants on, eighty pages of clown noses! Eighty pages! Clown noses! Not even wigs or poofy pants, just noses! It was so hard not to max out the credit card buying a tiny car, a dentistry kit for seals, and a ton of rainbow-colored wigs.

I guess what happens is when a circus goes out of business, they have all this stuff and have to auction it off or whatever, and I don't know how they used to do it, but now what they do is they have this site on the web that's like eBay--only it's all circus stuff! I had a ton of old posters in my shopping cart when I remembered what I was there for and probably we wouldn't even get a chance to hardly look at them.

So I went and did a search, and would you believe that they didn't have one, they had five, all of them big enough and everything! I took the last of the money from the inheritance and bought the one that looked like it was in the best shape. It has a red stripe on the front or top or whatever you want to call it, and a big white star on the fat end or bottom or whatever it's called. According to the seller, it can even be used by one person: apparently it belonged to a really small circus that stopped touring twenty years ago and has been on the block that long even though it's in really good shape.

It should be here in a week. The only thing I'm wondering now is, do we want to try the ocean or maybe find someplace in the mountains? I can see the benefits of both, but I'm leaning towards the mountains just because if we go out on an overlook it seems to me like we'd really be looking at a hundred percent chance and not having something go wrong. I would hate to drown, for instance, or get eaten by a shark. And if we went with an overlook, we'd really get the most out of the experience, I mean, think about the distance.

Dr. Galter was really disappointed when I cancelled the appointment. I tried to do it through her secretary but then she got on the phone and tried to talk us out of it. She seemed to think the meds were part of the problem and even asked if this was Buccheri's idea, which makes me wonder how much she and Dr. Phipps have been talking about. But Dr. G. had to admit, the surgery was a last-ditch thing and probably wasn't going to work anyway. She said she was going to leave it on the schedule and she'd call us tomorrow, so if you're in, maybe you shouldn't pick up the phone.






From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 7:55 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important

P.S. Buccheri, you should be nicer to e. for a change. At least calm down. Do you even know how you sound when you get like that?






From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 8:35 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important


Sonja, you are an angel, and I wish we were all more like you more of the time. You are sweet to try to intercede between Buccheri and I, but I fear you distress yourself for no great cause. Buccheri comes and Buccheri goes, and her hostility is understandable. She has had a raw deal, and we have relied on her too many times with too little consideration.

I hope you have not cancelled our appointment prematurely. Perhaps we should submit to gentle Dr. Galter. She means well. If, by God's Grace, we survive, we will know it is with greater purpose and He means for our charity work to continue. And if we do not, we know it is in His Plan for us to be brought to his side to receive His Love.

But I still have no idea what you are talking about in your earlier letter. We bought something from a circus surplus outlet? That we saw on television when we were young? It almost seems to come to me but then it recedes. And how would such a thing, whatever it is, help us in our plight?

Yours In Christ,
Elizabeth.







From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 10:08 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important

You mean you really don't know, e.?

I BOUGHT A CANNON! LIKE THE HUMAN CANNONBALL USES ON TV!






From: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Sent: Tue 1/31/12 11:26 PM
To: Buccheri_Sonja (Buccheri_Sonja@roberts.edu)
Subject: important

see i told you shes retarded





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Arcade Fire (featuring Cyndi Lauper), "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

>> Monday, January 30, 2012





It's been a long and basically unpleasant day. But this brought a smile to my face. How can anyone not love these crazy Canadian kids, and how can anyone not love Cyndi Lauper? Are there moments in the above clip when the wonderful Ms. L. looks like she's a little under-rehearsed? Yeah, but somehow they make her game collaboration with AF even more winning, like she's totally up for a good time jamming with the kids in front of a good crowd. She's totally under-appreciated and under-reckoned as a performer; echoing Régine Chassagne may underutilize her talents--oh, I'd love to have heard Lauper belting a whole verse--but the whole performance is, as I understand the kids say these days, made of win.

Smile. You may have had a crappy day or a great one, but there are moments like the above five-minutes-and-fifty that make everything cool, y'know?


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Bauhaus, "Dark Entries"

>> Sunday, January 29, 2012





I should be spending the day goofing off with friends, and this seemed like an appropriate enough follow-up to yesterday's Joy Division entry. I won't belabor anything by yabbering. Hope you're having a great Sunday!

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Joy Division, "She's Lost Control"

>> Saturday, January 28, 2012





I was late to Joy Division. Later, I mean: my particular segment of the generation obviously missed out when Ian Curtis was still alive, but then it seems like there was a resurgence of interest in or rediscovery of the band in my late high school or early college years.

At which time they didn't do anything for me. Not sure what it was, as I was already gaining an appreciation of kind of mechanical, droning, post-punk rock (who wasn't?). Maybe I was just being stubborn. Anyway, a decade or so later I heard a cover of "Isolation" from If Thousands that persuaded me to give JD another listen and I was a bit happier with them that time 'round, if "happier" is the right word.




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Lana Del Rey, "Born To Die"

>> Friday, January 27, 2012






I'm going to be a contrarian, sort of (who, me?) and admit I'm here to praise Lana Del Rey, not to bury her. As you may or may not have noticed, there's been a huge hipster backlash against the synthetic siren since the awesomeness of "Video Games" leaked out onto the Internets; first she was getting a lot of great Indie Pop buzz, which snowballed into enormous Facebook and Twitter buzz, which morphed into a bunch of Facebook hatred and blowback, and then, regrettably, Saturday Night Live happened.

Shitty videos like the one at the top of this post probably don't help her case any, but "Born To Die" is a slick, awesome song; it totally sounds like a Pierce Brosnan Bond song in a good way, with Del Rey's voice wafting over the clickiness and strings and samples. (Oh, and I totally would have gone to see a '90s Brosnan Bond called Born To Die, wouldn't have you?) I grok that part of what Del Rey is trying to market as part of her image is a kind of trailer park chic, I just don't think it works for the song and I'm not sure it's still working for her ever since it became public knowledge that she had a previous incarnation as a preppie kid with a previous failed record to her name.

I've talked a little about authenticity in pop music here and there in the blog, and I think I've tried to say that authenticity is overrated. Most of what gets pushed as "authenticity" is itself a kind of schtick. one of Bruce Springsteen's musings on the irony of inauthentic "authenticity" always seems to me worth repeating: "It's a sad funny ending to find yourself pretending," he sang in "Better Days, "A rich man in a poor man's shirt." I don't think it makes Springsteen's work less sincere or less-powerful that he's a millionaire who regularly takes on the personas of blue-collared regular Joes and of the oppressed and distressed; I also don't think the fact that "Bruce Springsteen" has become (no, really, always has been, going all the way back to Asbury Park) a character played by Bruce Springsteen makes "Springsteen"/Springsteen any less relevant. "Bruce Springsteen" a.k.a. "The Boss" is a character not just played by Bruce Springsteen, but is so closely based on Bruce Springsteen that it's likely only his family and closest friends clearly know the difference. They're kinda the same guy, only different. And it's completely to Springsteen's credit that he obviously gets this, understands the irony, and is willing to acknowledge it and take shots at himself for it.

I feel like I should also say that I'm not sure you have to take on an alternate persona to go on stage for a crowd or record a record, though the examples that come to mind are actually people in bands like Pink Floyd where the members sort of hide behind the band identity or are subsumed into it. I'm not sure the relatively lesser solo success of Floyd's individual members can be entirely attributed to the strength of the Floyd brand versus the conscious choice the members made at the height of the band's success to keep their pictures off the album covers and bury their names in the credits; it plays a part, yeah, but there's also the matter of Gilmour, Waters and Wright not really being the kinds of guys to step into the acting role of rock star; Gilmour and Wright were never, forgive me for having to say it about two of my favorite musicians, really all that interesting as individuals (not interesting in the way David Bowie is interesting, I mean) and Roger Waters, although he's mellowed a lot, has always been kind of a dick (he's never really managed to be anybody else and it's off-putting when he embraces it). Syd Barrett might have had the capacity to wear the mask of a popular entertainer, but he went dysfunctional before anyone could find out how well he could have pulled it off. (I'm not neglecting Nick Mason on purpose, there's just nothing much to say beyond I loved Inside Out.)

I bring all this up because you have to be sort of a natural at it for it to work for you, or at least choose an entertainment persona that you can slip into, and I think part of Lana Del Rey's current problems come down to her either not being good at it or choosing unwisely. The idea of a sort of low-rent, Lynchian, mysterious chanteuse has some potential, and (although I've heard bad things about the rest of her upcoming album) the three tracks she's released thus far are slick and magical enough to convey the possibility. Though, having said that, I also feel obligated to point out that, as cool as Floating Into The Night was for several months at the beginning of the Nineties, I think almost everybody stopped paying attention to Julee Cruise as soon as David Lynch got bored and wandered off to make movies again; I realize that's horribly cruel and unfair to Ms. Cruise, but it is what it is; anyway, I mention it not for the cheap and ugly shot, but because even if Del Rey pulls off her new record in spite of the backlash and bad press, I have to wonder what the next trick would be.

I'm not sure the part Ms. Del Rey means to play is a natural fit for her. I get what she's trying to do and that there's probably available space in the zeitgeist for it, I just think she may have set herself up to be the pop music equivalent of Keanu Reeves in Much Ado About Nothing: not nearly as bad as anybody ever makes him out to be, and yet nonetheless miscast and woefully out of place, obviously floundering in high waves he chose to jump into. I'm also wondering if she's getting some bad advice or acting on some weak instincts: I get that there's a temptation to strike while the iron is hot (especially when your first shot at a career silently flopped), but if you're already bordering overexposed from hype it probably doesn't make any sense to further overexpose yourself, especially if the whole bit you're doing is supposed to be built on being all enigmatic and out-of-nowhere. You might think that getting as much attention as you can is a good way to bring in a bigger audience or at least cash in while the getting's good, but exposure is really pretty toxic to maintaining a mysterious profile. And, of course, it doesn't help at all if you're just not ready to play in front of a live national audience; there is always the pragmatic consideration of whether your ability can keep up with your ambition.

I wish her well, but I suspect Del Rey's counting down her fifteen at this point. If so, it was fun while it lasted. I don't care that "Born To Die" is a slick, processed confection, it's a damn good piece of pop music. Take pleasure in it.


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An open letter to Oklahoma state Sentaor Ralph Shortey

>> Thursday, January 26, 2012

FROM THE DESK OF HAROLD SCHERNEROFSKY BRIGMAN-JOHANNSON

January 26, 2012


Dear Sir,

Sir, I have one question for you. Just one question. One question is what this all boils down to. Why do you hate capitalism? Why do you hate free enterprise? Why do you hate entrepreneurship? Okay, that's three questions. Let me rephrase all of that: why do you hate me?

I have just learned--I am utterly appalled to have just learned--that you have taken steps to infringe upon my rights as a businessman, inventor, capitalist, and citizen by engaging in an unfair, unconstitutional restraint upon my right to make a living as an honest entrepreneur pursuing the American Dream in your home state, Oklahoma. Why do you hate the American Dream, Senator? Did the American Dream ever do anything to you? Perhaps you don't just hate the American Dream, perhaps you hate America. Perhaps you are a Soviet mole hunkered down in Oklahoma decades after the end of the Cold War and demise of the Russian threat to world liberty, much like one of those Japanese soldiers you used to always hear about in the decades after World War II, stranded alone on some Pacific Island with their raggedy uniforms and barely functional rifles, unaware the War was over and their side lost. Da, comrade?

I am, of course, referencing your fascistic proposal to ban the use of human fetuses in food.

I can hardly consider it a mere coincidence that your illegal, trade-restraining, philistine, Luddite proposal came just weeks, mere weeks before my company, Happy Sunshine Baby Foods, Incorporated (HSBF, Inc.), of which I am the founder and president, unveiled our flagship line of products in test markets across your state of Oklahoma. I have to assume you either despise business and the American Way or you were bought off by some competitor. Whose pockets are you in, Senator?

Or do you just hate new experiences? Perhaps you loathe fine, affordable, nutritious, fetus-based haute cuisine in a can? Until you came forward with your cretinous plan to keep civilized tastes from your fellow citizens, HSBF was prepared to roll out such sophisticated products as Child Tartare In A Red Wine Reduction Sauce™, Baby With Asparagus And Lemon Butter™, Enfant Ceviche™, Enfant en Croûte™, and Fetus Newburg™. Additional products were already in development by our staff of five-star, Paris-educated master chefs, including a promising (and delicious!) Enfant Meunière™ and Foetus Au Poivre™.

Our chefs use only the finest ingredients and the freshest fetuses, all certified organic and/or free range. Using an innovative and new patented process, each meal is pre-cooked and then canned to ensure freshness from our factory to your table. Simple reheating instructions are provided on every label, in terms so simple that even the most inexperienced cook or kitchen klutz can expect to have a meal worthy of the finest tables in Europe! And unlike "similar" products we understand to be in development by a rival company and expected to be sold under the brand/endorsement of Wolfgang Puck, our recipes are certified low sodium and absolutely no unnecessary preservatives or so-called "flavor enhancers" like MSG.

Let me tell you, sir, I have personally tasted every product we were going to roll out, and our baby food was fantastic. I can honestly say I have never had a finer fetus-based dish than the gourmet canned meals we hoped to bring to the benighted hemorrhoid on civilization's nether regions that Oklahoma must be to have a man like you in the state house. HSBF's top concern, unlike some of those "dehydrated instant fetus" and "fetus concentrate" products you may have had bad experiences with, was and always would have been top quality. We do not believe that just because someone is working three part-time jobs to barely scrape by in today's economy, that they shouldn't be able to feed their children children. No, HSBF's founding ethos was to bring the kinds of delicious, five-star fetuses millionaire celebrities and royalty might eat in a fancy restaurant to the tables of ordinary, hard-working, lower-income citizens, and at an affordable price.

Do you hate families, Senator? Do you hate nutrition? Do you know that our company's Baby With Asparagus And Lemon Butter™ is not just tasty, but is also fortified with several essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C and calcium? Our babies aren't just delicious, sir, they're good for you, too. But I guess we can't have that in Oklahoma, now can we?

Sir, you disgust me.

I hope you realize that not only are we having to cancel our rollout plans, but since our entire business plan was based on a successful trial and promotion in your home state, we have had to lay off a hundred hard-working cannery workers, our entire kitchen staff including our team of top chefs, the secretarial pool, and the marketing department. In today's struggling economy, you have caused a hundred-and-seventy-five layoffs with one foul knife-to-the-back. As of today, I am now the sole employee of HSBF, Inc., sitting in a windowless closet with the one laptop I saved from the bank's repo men, waiting for the lights to get disconnected and wondering what I am going to do with the 10,000 gallon tank of fetuses behind Building G. God have mercy on you for what you have done, sir. I will never forgive.




Sincerely,
Harold Schernerofsky Brigman-Johannson,
President, Happy Sunshine Baby Foods, Incorporated



PUT A HAPPY SUNSHINE BABY™ IN YOUR POT TODAY!
THEY'RE THE YUMMIEST!




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Worm rider

>> Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I don't know if you heard, but Newt Gingrich is an unhappy man.

You see, it appears that Mr. Gingrich had something of a lackluster performance at the Republican debate this past Monday. Now that's the kind of thing that happens to most of us at some time or another, actually: we have a bad night, we're tired, we're a little off-beam, we fumble a little; but what you have to understand about Newt Gingrich is that he is, in fact, America's preeminent master debater ("master 'bater", as we knowledgeable types like to call a seasoned pro like Gingrich who's able to spout off at any time, day or night, with a splash of fresh material). The man who eagerly challenged President Obama to seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates isn't the sort who has a bad night... not unless someone causes it to happen.

Which is what happened this week: Gingrich's one, sole, fateful error that killed his performance Monday was to agree to allow NBC, which hosted the debate, to staunch free speech and suppress the natural instincts of a crowd hungry for Gingrich's intellectual meat, and he's not about to let it happen again. The media may want to silence Newt Gingrich, but he'll be damned if he's going to stand by while the left-wing media elites suppress intellectual debate and the free flow of ideas by imposing such meaningless tropes as "rules" and "order" on a proceeding.

The people have a right to be heard. Especially over his opponents' rebuttals and to cover any spots where he's drawing a bit of a blank about that thing, you know, um.

Now, I was a little bit curious about Gingrich's reaction. Not because I didn't understand it--I do, perfectly--or because it isn't unreasonable for him to want the same kind of audience support any proud American Wheel Of Fortune contestant might receive while struggling to decide whether or not to buy a vowel, but because he seemed so emphatic and certain about the matter, as if he had something up his sleeve to keep the networks from screwing him again. So I reached out. This blog has some pretty surprising contacts, and I figured if those skeezy layabouts at The Smoking Gun could get their hands on tour riders for an assortment of musical artists, it wouldn't be hard for me to get my hands on a Gingrich rider if he'd drawn one up for future venues.

In fact, it took me fifteen minutes and three phone calls to get a promise, and another forty-three minutes to get a copy of the Gingrich rider by fax. Suck it, TSG.

I've had one of my staffers here at SotSoGM transcribe the document, which follows. The name and phone number at the bottom were redacted in the copy I got, though, curiously, the name of the contact person at Gingrich's campaign headquarters remained visible in the document and is reproduced below. Behold, my friends, the official Newt Gingrich campaign rider:



TO: DEBATE CO-ORDINATOR
FROM: NEWT 2012 CAMPAIGN HQ
RE: NEWT GINGRICH DEBATE REQUIREMENTS
DATE: JANUARY 25, 2012

THESE ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR MR. GINGRICH'S CONTINUED PARTICIPATION IN YOUR EVENT:

1) NEWT 2012 WILL PRESENT YOUR ASSISTANT WITH A LIST OF PROSPECTIVE ATTENDEES TO YOUR NEXT EVENT. NO FEWER THAN ONE-THIRD (33%) OF THOSE IN ATTENDANCE WILL BE FROM THIS APPROVED LIST.

2) THE MEDIA DOES NOT CONTROL FREE SPEECH. EVENT ATTENDEES WILL BE ALLOWED TO APPLAUD AND INDICATE VOCAL APPROVAL OF STATEMENTS MADE BY MR. GINGRICH AT APPROPRIATE TIMES BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE EVENT. MODERATORS WILL NOT MAKE ANY ATTEMPT TO QUASH AUDIENCE RESPONSE DURING THE EVENT.

3) EVENT ATTENDEES WILL BE ALLOWED TO CALL MITT ROMNEY A MAN-WHORE.

4) SHOULD EVENT ATTENDEES BEGIN CALLING MITT ROMNEY A MAN-WHORE, MODERATORS SHALL ACKNOWLEDGE THIS BY REFERRING TO MITT ROMNEY AS "MR. MAN-WHORE," E.G. "MR. MAN-WHORE, PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY YOUR WEIRD AND ICKY CULT FORCES YOU TO WEAR SPECIAL UNDERWEAR AND HOW THIS WILL IMPEDE YOUR ABILITY TO FACE THIS COUNTRY'S MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEMS, SUCH AS THE THREAT POSED BY THE ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP)?"

5) MODERATORS SHALL ASK MR. GINGRICH THESE THREE QUESTIONS:

a) "I KNOW I'M A DICK FOR ASKING, BUT HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR EX-WIVES' MALICIOUS AND UNCALLED-FOR STATEMENTS ABOUT YOUR PRIOR MARRIAGES, MOTIVATED AS THEY ARE BY THE FACT THEY NEVER REALLY UNDERSTOOD YOU AND HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN BRIBED TO LIE ABOUT YOU BY BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA AND THE LEFT-WING INTELLECTUAL ELITE SOCIALIST MEDIA?"

b) "I FEEL REALLY BAD THAT MY LIBERAL BOSSES ARE FORCING ME TO ASK THIS, BUT HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL EFFORTS HAVE BEEN MISREPRESENTED BY REPUBLICANS-IN-NAME-ONLY LIKE MITT ROMNEY AND RICK SANTORUM AS IF IT'S A CRIME FOR A DISCIPLE OF OUR GREATEST PRESIDENT, RONALD REAGAN, TO EARN A LIVING IN THIS GREAT COUNTRY OF OPPORTUNITY OF OURS?"

c) "WHY DO RACISTS LIKE ME WANT TO PROTECT THE WELFARE STATE AND KEEP DOWN PEOPLE WHO OUGHT TO BE RAISED UP AND GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITIES THEY SO RICHLY DESERVE TO EARN AN HONEST DAY'S WORK AS A MAID OR SHOESHINE BOY?"

6) MR. GINGRICH SHALL HAVE NO FEWER THAN FOUR OPPORTUNITIES DURING THE DEBATE TO BE INTERRUPTED BY MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE SHOUTING, "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"

7) MODERATORS SHALL INTRODUCE MR. GINGRICH AS, "SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH, PH.D., AUTHOR OF 'THE BATTLE OF THE CRATER,' 'RONALD REAGAN: RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY,' 'TO SAVE AMERICA' AND OTHER TITLES AVAILABLE FROM FINE BOOKSELLERS EVERYWHERE AND DIRECTLY FROM WWW.GINGRICHPRODUCTIONS.COM AND OTHER ONLINE RETAILERS. NOW ALSO AVAILABLE IN KINDLE AND AUDIOBOOK FORMAT. SPEAKER GINGRICH IS ALSO AVAILABLE FOR SPEECHES, LECTURES, CONSULTING AND BAR MITZVAHS AT REASONABLE RATES, CALL THE NUMBER ON YOUR SCREEN NOW."

8) MODERATORS SHALL INTRODUCE MITT ROMNEY AS "THURSTON HOWELL THE THIRD."

9) MODERATORS SHALL INTRODUCE RICK SANTORUM AS "THAT GUY."

10) MODERATORS SHALL NOT ACKNOWLEDGE RON PAUL AT ALL DURING CANDIDATE INTRODUCTIONS. MID-WAY THROUGH YOUR EVENT, ONE OF THE MODERATORS SHALL ADDRESS MR. PAUL AS "WAITER" AND ATTEMPT TO PLACE A FOOD AND/OR BEVERAGE ORDER WITH MR. PAUL.

11) MR. GINGRICH WILL BE TRAVELING BY TOUR BUS. IN THE EVENT THE CANDIDATE DOES NOT TRAVEL BY BUS, THREE VANS AND A MIDSIZE SEDAN SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE CANDIDATE, HIS WIFE, AND STAFF, ALTHOUGH ONLY THE MIDSIZE SEDAN WILL ACTUALLY BE USED. AMPLE PARKING MUST BE PROVIDED AT YOUR OR THE EVENT VENUE'S EXPENSE. ALL LOADING DOCK AND DOOR AREAS MUST BE CLEARED PRIOR TO LOAD-IN. THE CANDIDATE'S TOUR BUS SHALL REQUIRE 60-AMP SINGLE-PHASE POWER WITHIN 75' OF THE PARKING AREA AND THIS POWER MUST MEET ALL LOCAL CODES.

12) MR. GINGRICH WILL USE ANY GODDAMN DOOR HE WANTS AND DON'T YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT HUMILIATING HIM BY MAKING HIM USE A BACK EXIT WHEN HE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO EXIT WHEREVER THE MOST CAMERAS ARE, COMMIE. HE'LL CUT YOU.

13)MR. GINGRICH'S SHALL REQUIRE A BACKSTAGE DRESSING ROOM FOR MR. GINGRICH'S EXCLUSIVE USE. (THIS ROOM SHALL NOT BE ACCESSIBLE TO MITT ROMNEY, RICK SANTORUM, ANY MEMBER OF A CANDIDATE'S STAFF, EX-WIVES, CREDITORS AND/OR ANYONE WHO MIGHT HAVE A PENDING PATERNITY SUIT.) THE ROOM SHALL BE PROVIDED WITH ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:

a) SINK, PRIVATE SHOWER AND PRIVATE TOILET FACILITIES.

b) FULLY STOCKED WITH TOILETRIES AND SOAPS.

c) ONE STEREO SYSTEM WITH CD AND CASSETTE TAPE PLAYER.

d) TWO COMFORTABLE UPHOLSTERED CHAIRS AND A MINIMUM OF ONE CLEAN, UPHOLSTERED, COMFORTABLE SOFA OR LOVESEAT.

e) TWO LARGE END TABLES.

f) A WRITING DESK WHERE MR. GINGRICH MAY PEN ANY REALLY DEEP THOUGHTS HE HAS BEFORE THE PERFORMANCE.

g) A LARGE CLOTHING RACK FOR LARGE CLOTHES.

h) A COFFEE TABLE.

i) A LINED TRASH CAN.

j) TWO FULL-LENGTH PORTABLE GLASS MIRRORS.

k) TWENTY-FOUR LARGE, FLUFFY, DRY TOWELS. (MR. GINGRICH MAY KEEP ONE OR MORE OR POSSIBLY ALL OF THESE TOWELS AFTER THE EVENT.)

l) FRESH UNDERWEAR CONSISTING OF: TWO XXXL WHITE COTTON NON-POLY T-SHIRTS (HANES OR EQUIVALENT BRAND), SIX PAIRS OF COTTON NON-POLY XXXL BRIEFS (ALSO HANES OR EQUIVALENT BRAND--NO STORE BRANDS!!!).

m) TWO BANQUET TABLES AND THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:

i) TWENTY-FOUR BOTTLES SPRING WATER, NON-CARBONATED (PLASTIC BOTTLES ACCEPTABLE);

ii) HOT, FRESH-BREWED COFFEE, REPLENISHED DURING THE EVENT SO AS TO BE AVAILABLE AFTER THE DEBATE;

iii) HOT WATER AND ASSORTED TEABAGS TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: TAZO ZEN GREEN TEA, TAZO SWEET CINNAMON SPICE TEA, TWININGS EARL GREY TEA, TWININGS EARL GREY DECAFFEINATED TEA, CELESTIAL SEASONINGS LEMON ZINGER TEA AND CELESTIAL SEASONINGS SLEEPYTIME EXTRA;

iv) ASSORTED SOFT DRINKS, SIX TWO-LITER BOTTLES VARIOUS FLAVORS, COCA-COLA PRODUCTS ONLY, NO PEPSI, AND ONE SIX-PACK DIET COCA-COLA WITH LEMON.

v) MILK, THREE GALLONS.

vi) AMPLE ICE, IN COOLERS AND WITH SCOOPS AVAILABLE.

vii) CONDIMENTS AND UTENSILS: AN ASSORTMENT TO INCLUDE SEA SALT, PEPPER, SUGAR, HONEY, HALF-AND-HALF, HUNT'S KETCHUP, GREY POUPON MUSTARD, MIRACLE WHIP SALAD DRESSING, A-1 STEAK SAUCE, HORSERADISH SAUCE, PACE MILD SALSA, ONE BOTTLE HIGH-POTENCY MULTIVITAMINS, TWO BOTTLES OF ASPIRIN (ANY BRAND EXCEPT STORE-BRAND/GENERIC), COFFEE-STIRRERS, SPOONS, KNIVES, PAPER NAPKINS, PAPER TOWELS, SOLO CUPS.

viii) THE FOLLOWING FOOD ITEMS SHALL BE PROVIDED: CEREALS (ASSORTED FLAVORS), QUAKER BRAND INSTANT OATMEAL (ASSORTED FLAVORS), TWO LOAVES WHITE BREAD, ONE (WHOLE) GRILLED CHICKEN, ONE ROAST TURDUCKEN, SIXTEEN POUNDS OF MASHED POTATOES, INSTANT GRITS (ASSORTED FLAVORS), TWO KEY-LIME PIES, ONE PECAN PIE, THREE GALLONS OF ICE CREAM (ASSORTED FLAVORS), MIXED GREEN SALAD WITH BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE DRESSING, FIVE POUNDS MIXED NUTS (NO CASHEWS), TWELVE 40-OZ VARIETY BAGS OF HERSHEY'S MINIATURES WITH ALL THE HERSHEY'S DARKS REMOVED, FOUR BOTTLES OF ZINFANDEL (CHOSEN FROM LOCAL/REGIONAL VINYARDS), FOUR BOTTLES OF CHARDONNAY (CHOSEN FROM LOCAL/REGIONAL VINYARDS), ONE TWELVE-PACK OF HEINEKEN, ONE TWELVE-PACK OF SAMUEL ADAMS (SEASONAL BREW ACCEPTABLE), TWO BOTTLES OF JOHNNIE WALKER BLACK LABEL, ONE BOTTLE OF COURVOISIER XO, ONE BOTTLE OF PATRON TEQUILA, THREE FRESH WHOLE LIMES, SIX POUNDS OF M&MS, ONE POUND OF DELI ROAST BEEF (SHAVED), ONE POUND OF WHITE AMERICAN CHEESE (SLICED THICK), THREE FAMILY-SIZED BAGS OF DORITOS, TWO FAMILY-SIZED BAGS OF TOSTITOS, TWO 8 OZ BAGS OF STACY'S PITA CHIPS (ANY FLAVOR, "NAKED/SEA SALT" PREFERRED), A BASKET OF FRESH FRUIT.

ix) THREE BOTTLES OF ASTROGLIDE NATURAL PERSONAL LUBRICANT, TWO BOTTLES OF BODY/MASSAGE OIL, ONE PACK OF EDIBLE UNDIES (CHERRY).

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROMPT ATTENTION IN THIS MATTER. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR DIFFICULTIES ACCOMMODATING THE ARTIST, PLEASE CALL THE NEWT 2012 CAMPAIGN HQ AT [REDACTED] AND ASK TO SPEAK TO "MIKE HUNT."

SINCERELY,
[REDACTED]




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Pauline community

>> Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oh dear. Sweet. Gods. Of irony. How in the Nine Hells did I miss this?

I mean, apparently it isn't actually "new" insofar as news items about Paulville go back to 2008. And yet, somehow, the fact that a bunch of Ron Paul supporters announced four years ago that they really were going to buy a bunch of land in the middle of a foreboding Texas salt flat and actually plan on Going Galt after a fashion just totally slipped past me.

So, anyway, if--like me--you missed this item: a whole bunch of libertarian Ron Paul supporters have bought some land and want to set up a utopian cooperative (their word and their link, "cooperative") in the midst of a Texas salt flat chosen for the availability of solar power (so that everyone can be off the grid if they want to opt out, natch). Everybody in Paulville will also be able to opt-out of waste treatment and being on the water mains, and (according to Wikipedia) a Minnesotan Ron Paul supporter named Jason Ebacher insists the location will be excellent for raising sheep.

What could possibly go wrong?

I'm actually mildly disappointed, I have to confess, that this libertarian commune--wait, hang on. "Libertarian commune"? Is that not some kind of oxymoron? These libertarians want to establish themselves in a co-op? Really?! Good grief, this thing is comedy gold. An entire, ahem, "cooperative" made up of people whose fundamental ethos is basically, "every man for himself".

I'm sorry. Give me a minute.

Okay, so I'm back, obviously. As I was saying, I'm actually mildly disappointed that this tract is still, much like Ayn Rand's philosophy, an empty, isolated wasteland. Nobody has actually put up a house, possibly because a fat lot of good it would do to try to organize an old-school Amish-style barn raising when all your neighbors have sworn by their life and love of it never to live for the sake of another nor ask another to live for them.

I mean, if they ever actually do move off and set themselves up in Galtville, what do you think the over-under is on how long it takes the whole place to Go Golding? Some guy goes over to his neighbor's place to complain about the neighbor's sheep knocking over all his solar panels and why can't the neighbor put up a fence, and the neighbor says you have no right to trammel upon my will, and he can't exactly call the police to complain because the state has no right to exercise violence on the sanctity of a man's sheep and the next thing you know they're shooting each other. And that's before the cholera epidemic because everybody opted-out of the septic system, y'know?

I'd give it months: there's enough instinctive goodwill in humans (even selfish assholes) and probably enough space out there for people to mostly get along for a bit, and a lot of people are going to just up and quit, frankly, as soon as their sheep all die or their Range Rovers break down and not paying for local roads suddenly seems like it might have been a dumb idea after all. But at some point, the guns are going to come out, don't'cha think?

Assuming these idiots don't die of other causes, first.

After all, one of the fatal flaws of Paulville that anybody who isn't a complete idiot might pick up on is that all the social systems Paulites and Randroids turn their noses up at evolved by a sort of social natural selection, they have reasons for existing that go back to why they were started and why they endured over other forms of social organization and governance that have died out because they couldn't compete; I don't want to push the Darwin metaphor too far, because it's a (very) crude metaphor at best, but the point is that people didn't come up with, say, urban sanitation (for instance) because it was just another way for the ever-encroaching government to exert its evil and irrational will upon the freedom and dignity of human beings; we came up with urban sanitation because we realized the alternative really sucks (or stinks, ha-ha-ha); and we made compliance mandatory because, you know, it doesn't really solve the problem if half the houses on the block have septic tanks and treated drinking water and the other half dump their shit out windows and let the runoff seep into the same ground they're drawing their wellwater from.

You can say the same kinds of things about police forces, fire departments, the national defense apparatus, public schools, transportation departments, etc., etc., etc. We didn't invent these things because some tyrant decided he'd get his rocks off by forcing people to have their housefires put out before the block burned down (take that, common man!), we came up with these things because they were kinda necessary.

Guess which currently-hypothetical Texas township is going to wish they had a dogcatcher when some bozo lets his dogs run wild?

So good luck to the Paulites, and to Paulville! Four years is enough dicking around, it's time you started building some no-code housing and settling your disputes over noisy parties, roaming beasts, driving your ATVs through other people's beanpatches, disease-infested shitpuddles, etc. the old-fashioned way: lying in ambush and shooting somebody in the back like they did in the glorious, halcyon days of the Old West when a man was free to be a man and a woman could be traded for a pony. Go, citizens of Paulville, and prosper... more importantly, try to post some clips to YouTube if you can figure out a way to run phone cable without eminent domain. We'll be pulling for you....

Well, maybe not "pulling" so much as "placing bets", but, you know, I'm sure each of us will have his or her own crazed ideological survivalist type we'll be rooting for. Good luck!





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Matrimony, "Obey Your Guns"

>> Monday, January 23, 2012






I've mentioned the local band Matrimony before. They have a new video posted for a kicking new song (follow the link in this sentence for a link to a free download of the song), but what really tickles me about the video for "Obey Your Guns" is that most of it was shot in my neighborhood or fairly close-by.

I even amused myself looking to see if I was possibly in the background somewhere, or my car, but haven't spotted myself. Probably not around if they shot it on a weekday. Still, fun stuff. And, again, a great little song. I really do suggest you check these folks out; I know that their six-song record The Storm & The Eye is available as an Amazon digital download, for instance, and I can't say enough nice things about it.


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Why I kick myself every time I make the mistake of reading a Glenn Greenwald column

>> Sunday, January 22, 2012

I don't know why I do it to myself. I have realized that Greenwald is at his best disingenuous and at his worst just a pure-all-out troll, and still every now and again when I'm over at Salon I end up seeing an interesting headline he or a Salon editor has written for him and I click on it and wham! I've gone and fucked myself again clicking a link to an article that, more often than not, will have me headdeasking again and again and again until I'm seeing more stars than the Hubble Space Telescope.


His latest tripe (as of this writing--Greenwald is prolific, I'll give him that) is worth mentioning here just because it's sort of related to last Wednesday's post here. Like everybody else on the Internet, just about, Greenwald has some things to say about SOPA/PIPA and the subsequent announcement of the Megaupload indictments. Of course he's horrified: civil libertarians may think they won a victory with the shutdown (for now) of SOPA and PIPA, but really they've won nothing because all these bills would have done is codified the existing overreach of the nefarious and evil government, which already (Greenwald claims) has the power to shut down websites willy-nilly, and already exercises it at the twirl of a long moustache.

Go take a look if you'd like, but it's about the stupidest thing anyone's said about the whole business, and I'm including a number of poorly-spelled and grammatically-challenged 140-or-less Twitter farts in that comparison.

For those who are late to the Internet, just after various members of Congress backed away from SOPA and PIPA after a massive online protest and lots of petitioning, the Justice Department announced indictments against the owners of the filing-sharing site Megaupload, along with their arrests abroad for extradition to the United States for trial. Megaupload is, or was, or was and still is, a website that allowed people to upload large files to Megaupload servers, and then those users could publish links to that content on their own pages, allowing other users (in turn) to access the servers and download the content. There's a wonderful explanation of how all this work(s)(ed) by Bill Wyman over at Slate that's worth a look, especially if you've never... ah, if you've never had a friend use Megaupload to download a file. (Yes. That's it: a friend. His... or her... name will come to me in a moment, I'm sure.)

File-sharing sites, like peer-to-peer sharing (P2P) sites, are not necessarily per se copyright violators, as Wyman covers. My primary use of P2P these days is to get the latest Linux distro if I'm having to do a clean install from disc or USB stick. The primary file-sharing site I use is Dropbox, and my use for it is entirely legal: I can sync writing projects between multiple computers so that, for instance, a short story I start writing on the netbook while I'm out at a coffee shop automatically shows up on my desktop-replacement notebook when I get home. Journal notes, virtual index cards, storylines, etc. kept in Writer's Café show up on both machines (and, since we're talking about legal use: yes, I actually have two licensed, purchased copies of Writer's Café, by the way).

But--and again, Wyman covers this pretty thoroughly--the fact is that Megaupload wasn't exactly running that kind of business: Megaupload, in spite of any disavowals from the owners, was extensively, if not primarily, in the business of re-distributing third-party content, i.e. material that is or was copyrighted (there is certainly a great deal of material on Megaupload that was copyrighted, but the copyright has expired without renewal or the work has fallen into that great abyss between the realms of copyright and the public domain--works that are possibly technically still under copyright, but the holders no longer exist or can no longer be found). If you've used... heard of someone else using the site, you may be aware that it isn't set up the way Dropbox is to facilitate bouncing one's own files around, and while I'm sure you could use it that way, it's horribly inefficient in much the same way using Dropbox for redistributing large files is a bit clunky. (Having once used Dropbox for a pretty large backup in an emergency--it was a ridiculously bad idea, one that took several days because of the way Dropbox logs new files.)

But, you know, the real problem with Greenwald's post on the subject isn't that Megaupload is, frankly, probably guilty of what the government's accusing them of. Guilty people have rights, too. (I do make my living, such as it is, from this very premise, you know.) The real problem is Greenwald's fundamentally dishonest approach to the whole thing. See if you spot the horseshit:

But just as the celebrations began over the saving of Internet Freedom, something else happened: the U.S. Justice Department not only indicted the owners of one of the world’s largest websites, the file-sharing site Megaupload, but also seized and shut down that site, and also seized or froze millions of dollars of its assets — all based on the unproved accusations, set forth in an indictment, that the site deliberately aided copyright infringement. [emphasis in original]


Indictment by Grand Jury is considered one of the cornerstones of Anglo-American jurisprudence and a foundation of Due Process. It isn't tantamount to a conviction: the burden of proof sufficient for the return of an indictment is based on a probability instead of a moral certainty, that is: a Grand Jury may indict based upon a preponderance of the evidence, and is not required to make findings beyond a reasonable doubt as required for criminal conviction by a petit jury. Furthermore, the presentment to a Grand Jury is generally one-sided: the state presents evidence while a suspect may not even have notice that the state is seeking indictment.

That being said, a lower burden of evidence is still evidence and preliminary procedures are still process. The United States Government moving against Megaupload by getting a signed Grand Jury indictment--i.e. having presented at least some evidence of statutory violations to a duly-constituted-and-convened group of ordinary citizens--and proceeding via in rem proceedings against Megaupload's property with a court order obtained through proper proceedings before a Federal judge--isn't tyranny as Greenwald is practically peeing himself to imply, it's how things work under our system of laws and have worked, more or less, since the nation's founding. You certainly don't have to like it, but then you just need to go ahead and own up that you don't like the American legal system and want it replaced by something else entirely. Greenwald is being an ass: he either doesn't know what he's talking about or he just doesn't care because he thinks he's scoring points this way; I'm inclined to think it's both of these things.

It rankles me. It just rankles. Greenwald is an opportunistic troll who posits himself a civil libertarian crusading to uphold the laws against ever-encroaching government tyranny, except that he's more than ready to go and accuse the government of lawlessness even when the government is actually proceeding in a completely legal manner. It may lift him up in his own mind or the minds of his adoring throng, but it disparages the hard work of those on both sides of the legal process who are attempting to follow the rules and do the right thing by the books. Do I think the Grand Jury process is perfect or can't be reformed? No, but if that's the rules we're playing under, don't accuse anyone of lawlessness when they're following those rules; just as vitally, while I have deep concerns about how Grand Juries actually end up working in practice, I hardly have a better idea to replace them with, and if I did, I still think Megaupload would be facing whatever substitute criminal process anyone came up with. And if Megaupload faces a difficult time of it comparing their resources to defend themselves against the resources the government might set against them, well, yes, I have a problem with that, but it's a problem faced by every single criminal defendant facing the due process of law as it's currently constituted.

Greenwald disparages due process even as he's supposedly defending it: the proprietors of Megaupload face extradition proceedings in New Zealand and any other countries they were arrested in, and presumably will get whatever due process Commonwealth law gives them (n.b. Greenwald is happy to bash American legal proceedings, but doesn't mention that much of the property seizures are occurring in New Zealand and this is where Megaupload founder "Kim Dotcom" has been arrested pending extradition to the United States; presumably "Dotcom" will receive the benefit of law and opportunity to fight extradition and contest the seizure of property by New Zealand authorities: I must suppose that either Greenwald doesn't understand this or he simply hates the entire Anglo-American system of jurisprudence going all the way back to the Magna Carta); if extradition is waived or granted, Megaupload will have the benefit of a trial in Federal court (or, if they decide to plead for whatever reason, perhaps under Alford, the benefit of a filed plea agreement and hearing before a sentencing judge or magistrate); and, assuming Megaupload is convicted, they'll have the benefit of appealing the case to the appropriate Federal circuit or perhaps even as far as the Supreme Court Of The United States should they wish and cert granted. What more do you want? What more is there, actually?








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"Duck Amuck"

>> Saturday, January 21, 2012





I've probably posted this before, but what the hell, it's still one of the great classics of short animation. The ScatterKat and I were watching it again this morning and it seemed like a Saturday morning cartoon sort of day; I don't know how it is where you are, but here it's just kind of chilly and wet and miserable.

It's a woefully indecisive day. Chilly, but not cold; cold, you go out and your cheeks are pricked and your hands are numb but you know there's hot chocolate (spiked or not, as you will) waiting for you inside; chilly, it's just the worst of all temperature worlds, if you know what I mean. It's drizzly, too--not rain, not snow, not even sleet, just indifferently pissy falling... mist. It would be nice if the weather were one thing or another, but it isn't.

Complaining about the weather seems awfully pointless and tired, doesn't it? I apologize. Hot chocolate might be in order anyway, that's the silver lining in this. I hope you have a fine Saturday.


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Bruce Springsteen, "We Take Care Of Our Own"

>> Friday, January 20, 2012





Being the anointed one has got to be a bitch. I remember how excited everybody was over The Rising when it came out in 2002: here was The Boss' first album since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, and it was just a given that he as one of America's cultural spokespersons, he was going to make a statement about 9/11, this was The Boss' statement about being an American, Mr. Born In The U.S.A., the man from New Jersey, just across the river from ground zero. Well, it was an okay album, but let's be honest: it wasn't great, either, a couple of strong tracks but nothing really matching his early passions or, seen in retrospect, the subsequent strength and confidence of records like Magic (2007) and Working On A Dream (2009).

But he was stuck with that, you know? I mean, some of the tracks on The Rising weren't even originally written with September 11th in mind: they were pieces he'd been working on well before the attack; some of them he reworked but there were others, really, that really just became 9/11 tracks by virtue of seeing their first official release ten months after the event. Of course, being Bruce Springsteen™, anything he might have done would have been hungrily poked over for authority, solace, statement of intent; and being expected to say something, it's natural (and justifiable) that Springsteen gamely tried to step up to what was collectively expected of him by fans, critics, the music press, talking heads on TV, maybe the whole country even.

It just wasn't, to repeat, much of a record. Not bad, not bad, I didn't say it was bad. Sometimes I forget he recorded it, though, or would if there weren't some awesome live recordings of the title track bouncing around out there.

Anyway, it comes up because (as you may already know), it's kind of happening all over again. Springsteen has a new album coming out in March and there's already talk circulating about how angry and raucous and 99% it's going to be (even if some of the people doing the talk are conceding the album was largely written before the Occupy movement became a thing--shades of The Rising, again?). (I can't help thinking of that great line Bono drops when introducing "Sunday Bloody Sunday" on the Under A Blood Red Sky EP: "There's been a lot of talk about this next song, maybe, maybe too much talk; this is not a rebel song...." There's been a lot of talk about this next Bruce Springsteen album....) Which is what everyone expects of Springsteen, right? It probably isn't fair, because I don't really think he asked to be the anointed one, I think he just asked to be loved for, and make a pretty good living by making music, but when you've hit the level where Ronald Reagan was talking about how awesome you are (even though Reagan doesn't know what he's talking about, has missed the point completely, etc.), well... well, you're pretty much fucked into having to make statements for the rest of your career.

If the statement is "We Take Care Of Our Own", I'm a bit disappointed. (Yeah, that's what all this was building to.) It starts off promisingly with that pounding beat and dogwhine guitar (e-bow, I presume); I'm always thrilled when an old dog I like shows up with a new trick he's learned, and I am clapping my hands with childish glee if this is the kind of thing that will happen because of all the time Springsteen's spent over the past few years with Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello, a damn fine guitar player, that one. (Springsteen--who may or may not be the one playing that part of the song, as surrounded by guitarists as he is these days--is a damn fine and underappreciated guitar player, himself, as a look at videos from some of his live performances can attest.)

If only the song wasn't kind of tripe. It's nicely anthemic, it just doesn't say a whole lot, which is regrettable when Springsteen is a guy who is generally great at saying things. I don't mean just political or economic things, I mean, he's eloquent just singing about carnies and checkout girls (and, yes, in fact I did purposely choose a song from his first album and his last (to date) album to make that point--though I also have to edit this to add: I chose songs with "queen" in the titles by some subconscious accident, I just realized). But--

I been knocking on the door that holds the throne
I been looking for the map that leads me home
I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own


I'm not even sure what that means. Seriously. The throne of power, God's throne, somebody's tying up the bathroom? He's lost, okay, I get that, but then he's, what? Bastards are good people, too, when they're not being bastards, or does he mean that good people are no longer good (which seems sort of an oxymoron to me, maybe)? The road of good intentions used to be, what, rain-soaked, underwater, moist? And then the platitudes and, hang on--"Wherever this flag's flown", huh? American flag? Surrender flag? Freak flag?

That's the first verse, and the whole song is pretty much like that. I've got no idea what he's talking about. And maybe somebody's saying, "Well, Eric, it's an anthem, you know, it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to get your heart pounding and your fist pumping." And if there is anybody saying that, let me just say that's a load of horseshit--I've got your first verse (and chorus) of an anthem, buddy:

Lights out tonight
trouble in the heartland
Got a head-on collision
smashin' in my guts, man
I'm caught in a cross fire
that I don't understand
But there's one thing I know for sure girl
I don't give a damn
For the same old played out scenes
I don't give a damn
For just the in betweens
Honey, I want the heart, I want the soul
I want control right now
talk about a dream
Try to make it real
you wake up in the night
With a fear so real
Spend your life waiting
for a moment that just don't come
Well, don't waste your time waiting

Badlands, you gotta live it everyday
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you've gotta pay
We'll keep pushin' till it's understood
and these badlands start treating us good


There's a guy who's lost and looking--and then what he's going to do about it clearly involves kicking ass, chewing gum (he is, like Roddy Piper in They Live, out of gum), and assuming defiant poses while the wind blows dirt against his gritted teeth.

But, most importantly, it makes sense. I've got a sense of place ("trouble in the heartland") and a physical sense of turmoil ("a head-on collision smashing in my guts, man"), a sense of action ("We'll keep pushin' till it's understood and these badlands start treating us good") and what it'll cost us ("broken hearts... as the price you've gotta pay"). These are all very sharply focused images establishing where we are. I don't expect Springsteen to be as passionate now about anything the way he was when he was in his twenties--I'm not as passionate now as anything I cared about when I was in my twenties, this is just how the world works, we get older and our fires come down (which is good, in a lot of ways: those of us who don't learn how to smolder burn out quickly 'til there's nothing left). I don't expect Springsteen to still have that fire (or car wreck) in his belly, I just expect him to make sense.

I hope the rest of the album is better. I mean, I'll be buying it (surprise, surprise) and I'd like it to be a record I listen to a lot this year and am glad I bought, and not just something that occupies shelf space between other discs for the sake of some kind of fannish completism. Heck, if the rest of the record is great, maybe "We Take Care Of Our Own" will be one of those tracks I crank up in the car but don't really listen to (maybe you know how that is)--it really does have a good beat to it.

Still, color me disappointed.

I think I have to add in closing that there's some further, sad, ironic absurdity in that Springsteen probably summed up a lot of the national feeling already--thirty-or-so years ago, now that The River (1980) and Nebraska (1982) have become depressingly relevant again, and around fifteen years ago with the underrated The Ghost Of Tom Joad (1995). In fact, here's a pair of songs about people who have lost everything in an economic downturn and are struggling to take care of their own in ways that are much more affecting than the song we've been talking about--"Atlantic City" and "The Ghost Of Tom Joad":














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An open letter to tarps@stauktibet.com

>> Thursday, January 19, 2012



Dear tarps@stauktibet.com,

Oh, thank God. Thank God, thank God, thank God. He still loves me. Do you know, there I was, elbows-deep in a project, when I said to myself, "Self," (this is a running joke I have with myself) "Self," I said, "this is not working out the way it is supposed to, why don't you take yourself a little break, have a nice cool glass of strawberry lemonade, and check your e-mail." So I go over to the sink, wash up as best as I can, put some clothes on and go upstairs and do what I suggested to myself. Well, I say I suggested it to myself, but I do believe it was the voice of God Himself whispering in my little ear, because there was your e-mail right there on top of the list.

Now, I must confess: as careful as much as I think myself a careful planner, I had not thought of tarps. It may be that we simply see what's before us without much due thought. In my situation, I had a big pile of old carpeting all rolled up from when I last re-carpeted the place, and I had been cutting myself big swaths of that (there really is a lot of it) and using that. This has ended up being a failure in all sorts of ways--carpeting being so hard to clean (why, that's the reason I had to replace so much of it to start with) and one hearing all sorts of things on the television about fiber experts (though I do not know how much of that is to be taken for true). Still, I soldiered on with it, for carpeting I had and carpeting I knew, and I did not even think--though it seems foolish of me now, I agree--of tarps. Not until I saw your e-mail.

They're useful for everything.

Now it seems to me I must put some questions to you. How durable are your tarps? Do they tear easily? If I roll something up in one of your tarps and tape the loose end shut with lengths of Duck Tape, would the tape be wont to hold or are your tarps made of some material that will work loose, or that will hold the adhesive but readily tear? Do your tarps retain odors or stains? Are your tarps in any way absorbent or do they completely repel fluids? If one had to use a very sharp object to suddenly punch through one of your tarps that was rolled up around something all burrito-like because the package was making some annoying noise or trying to work itself loose, would I be able to punch straight through the layers of tarp? Conversely, how easy would it be for something to punch out, assuming it was wrapped up in a way that restricted its leverage? Do you have a price list? Would you say that your tarps are suitable for re-painting the inside of the house if I needed to? Are your tarps air-permeable to any degree? Can you arrange express delivery if there's an emergency? Are they marked in any way that might make them easily identifiable or traceable? Do you only deliver them to residences or would there be some way to arrange delivery to, say, an abandoned and undeveloped empty plot of real estate a few blocks from my home? Speaking of which, how heavy are your tarps, could they be easily-lugged over one's shoulder or would I need a wheel barrow? (I do have one available.) What sizes of tarp are available? (Width is very negotiable, as I can roll up or trim as needed, but I think a length of around seven feet is requisite, as I can tie or tape off the ends--much less than that is almost definitely too short.)

I hope you will respond immediately. I expect it's too late for a response that would help me with my current project, but I have several things in the works right now, and will probably initiate my next project sometime before the week is up. (There is no rest, they say, for the wicked, and while I myself am certainly not wicked, I believe I have identified a few who are. I sometimes think of myself as being a little like Santa Claus, as we both keep lists of who is naughty or nice, though we have our different purposes.) If you could please get back to me ASAP.

In the meantime, I must say that your message has reinvigorated and excited me! When I came upstairs, all I could think about was how tired my arms were and how much my back was hurting, and how little I looked forward to going to the hardware store for a new drill bit for my next project (the dull nubbin on the end is hardly getting anything done on this project, I'm afraid). But now! Now I have something to look forward to! Why, I can hardly finish my strawberry lemonade! I may even--if it won't jeopardize our promising business relationship--see what tarps the hardware store has in stock. Just to hold me over, understand.

I can hardly wait! I think I'll take the rest of my beverage downstairs, get out of these clothes and get back to work! Thank you, tarps@stauktibet.com, thank you God and Jesus and Mary!

Tarps! They're useful for everything!








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Dark day

>> Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You may have heard, or just noticed: chunks of the Internet are dark today to protest two bills being considered in Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP [intellectual property] Act (PIPA). I've sent a protest note through the Electronic Frontier Foundation's contact Congress tool, but I'm not taking Giant Midgets down, mostly because I doubt anybody would really notice all that much.

I haven't said anything about SOPA and PIPA here because I haven't had much to say. They're shitty laws, and the President has signaled he probably won't sign whatever makes it through Congress (SOPA is the House version, PIPA is before the Senate), but I suspect they're also more-or-less inevitable. Critics contend that either bill would cripple the Internet and damage innovation; either bill would clearly transform the Internet and could seriously hurt open-source software development, but I suspect those claims are more than a mite bit overstated. Meanwhile, the punch line is that neither bill will save any of the corporations that actually wrote it and/or supported it from their probable obsolescence. Anyway, the result there is that we're going to be getting this sooner or later, and it's going to suck, but we don't know how hard it will suck, and it won't help anybody and might hurt somebody and we'll still be stuck with it; all of that's reason enough not to pass SOPA or PIPA, obviously, but since when did obvious lousiness ever halt a piece of half-baked legislation? (I'll answer my own rhetorical question: never, that's when.)

See, what this can all be boiled down to is this: certain industries dealing with intellectual property are simply doomed and have nothing to bring to the game except lobbyists and lawyers, of which they have plenty. So this is what their death throes look like as they suffocate on the cometary ash or freeze to death beneath the long curtain of indefinite night: they send their lobbyists and lawyers to the capitol to lobby and law, bribe and hobnob. Because that's all some of them can do now, and for the ones that might be able to eke through what's happened to technology in the past twenty or thirty years, well, for them this is all they can think of while listening to the shrill death screams of their cousins; not all the dinosaurs died at the K-T extinction event, you know, some of them flew away, but while they waited for clear air to fold beneath their wings, they must have heard (and must have seen) terrible, terrible things happening to familiar beasts.

The recording industry, for instance, is doomed. I mean, flat-out doomed. If I wanted to commit to prophecy, I'd give them twenty-five years. The publishing houses are in a superficially similar but actually distinguishable situation and gods only know how that's going to work out for them. The movies and television might snake through, but it's going to be interesting for them because they're going to have to work out how to make money at what they're doing.

See, the problem for the record labels is they set up this funny little business where they don't really do what they get credit for doing, or they really only do themselves the parts that have almost stopped mattering. The way it used to work was, if you were a recording artist, the label gave you an advance (generally against future earnings, so it worked as kind of a fucked-up loan with your career as collateral) and then you paid for stuff that was basically subcontracted out: i.e. you rented your studio time from somebody (possibly the label), hired a producer and techs (possibly people the label had an arrangement with), paid for packaging (maybe using the label's house artists, or whomever they hired), and then maybe the label would pick up part of the promotional costs, and of course they'd press your record and pay for trucks to take those LPs to Camelot Musics and WalMarts all over the United States (or planes to fly them to Europe and Japan or wherever). And this was, I think you'll notice, immensely profitable, in large part because the money the label advanced you got paid back out of whatever they tried telling you your sales were and they were usually skimming various fees here and there; this is how you get some sucker you read about getting a million dollar advance in Rolling Stone showing up on a trashy reality show in the only pair of pants he owns and looking like a bus hit him and the driver only stopped to steal his wallet while he was lying there bleeding, bruised and confused; you'll hear it was all drugs and women and expensive crashed cars, but probably you ought to read Steve Albini's "The Problem With Music" if you haven't already.

Now, if you have any kind of smarts and learning--say you're Trent Reznor or a member of Radiohead, for example--maybe you finally figure out that if you're going to basically pay the record label for stuff they're going to pay somebody else to do, you could just cut out the middleman and maybe rent your own studio and hire your own friends, and, hell, with all this fancy computer recording gear, maybe you don't even have to hire out the studio. And then you think that maybe you still need to have a label for marketing and distribution, until you realize that for the latter you could just upload the stuff to your own website or arrange for digital distribution via iTunes, Amazon, et al., and that your buddy Sam (or whatever his or her name is) can do all sorts of boss marketing for you and they're your buddy, and good at it, and they get you, and you're not only (perhaps guiltily) spending a little less, you're also putting money into your own people's pockets instead of some label stooge's. And the only thing that's left that the label can do that you (and Sam) still can't do for yourselves is get the song on the radio, but does anybody need radio anymore when there's YouTube, f'r'instance? And if you don't need the label for "let's-not-call-it-Payola-let's-call-it-being-friends" sorts of shenanigans with the suits at Clear Channel and you don't need their pressing plants and freight trucks, what do you need them for?

But those labels will tell you it's piracy that's killing them. It isn't piracy. Piracy isn't helping, don't get me wrong. But what's killing them is that there's this technological renaissance that's going to deny them the ability to fuck their artists in the ass, which is basically what their business model boils down to even when you're talking about the labels that actually care about music and aren't just subsidiaries of liquor companies that were looking to diversify back when.

The funny irony--or maybe it isn't funny, sorry--about the publishing houses is that they actually do a lot more in house and aren't merely glommed on to a process that would only need them for manufacturing, marketing and distribution. That is, to be clear, the publishing houses share the record labels' problem that a big part of what they do does involve activities that the Internet may render obsolete, like printing up thousands of copies of something and trucking the something to retailers, but the publishing houses are also where you traditionally find people like editors, copyeditors, typesetters, layout artists and other such persons in the sorts of roles the record labels have almost always farmed out. Where the record labels still get credit for things they're not actually doing themselves, the publishing houses really don't get credit for things they really do and that are actually kind of vital to generating a worthwhile final product. People have this idea, though, that you could just word-process your Great American Novel and self-publish it on Amazon; this is absolutely true, although what will really help you with this accomplishment is not giving a shit about how it reads or looks. It's possible to record A Pretty Good Song in your basement on a digital multitrack recorder and upload it to YouTube without needing much by way of a second opinion, it's not really the same thing to upload a four-thousand-word short story to your blog and nobody else has ever read it or pointed out that a character doesn't seem fully developed and here are some paragraphs that ought to be cut while over here, what the hell is this supposed to be and why?

They're just different beasts. I hope there's not a whiff of parochialism about this, because I used to be a sort of serious musician and interested in pursuing it (though I haven't picked up an ax in ages) and now I'm a (I hope) sort of serious writer and interested in pursuing it (though pulling out the words sometimes seems like getting a particularly nasty clog of hair out of a slow drain); the deal here isn't that publishers are somehow better than labels or necessarily have a better chance of survival; indeed, I suspect publishers, at least as they're presently constituted, are about as doomed as record labels (it's always been a marginal business anyway).

I think the real point is that serious writers are going to end up realizing that they can or have to or possibly should do what recording artists are already doing: getting their own business associates, colleagues, friends, artistic peers, etc. to do the things they used to negotiate through the labels. I.e. just like a band might go ahead and hire their favorite affordable producer to come out to the rental house for a few days to record their record, writers might go ahead and form their own contract with their preferred available editor. Etc. The difference between publishers and recording labels being that editors generally work at publishing houses (yes, I know, there are plenty of freelancers) while producers don't generally work for labels anymore (again, yes, exceptions; the major point still stands, I think). Trying to sell your book to a publisher isn't just how you get your book onto shelves, it's also (and perhaps more importantly) how you get your Polished Final Draft turned into a Real, Actual, 100% Booky Book that has been edited and typeset and laid out and everything that makes the difference between a stack of typed pages and something somebody reads on a beach somewhere (perhaps, yes, on their Kindle).

I wonder if the next evolved form of the publishing house in the Amazon Age is smaller, faster, feathered and definitely warm-blooded? If Random House in 2050 will be a company that doesn't own a single press or print a single book, but rather contracts with authors to edit, etc., and then negotiate the business end of digital distribution and print-on-demand for the remaining "real books are made of paper!" crowd; it seems to me that most publishers are in a better position to take this step than all but a number of indie record labels.

(I also wonder if I'm full of shit, but moving along....)

I don't know if it's obvious that movies and television are a different animal altogether. There is, first of all, the fact that even a small, low-budget movie is ridiculously expensive and generally requires lots and lots of people to make. (Yes, you have your arthouse and documentary flicks where the director is the cameraman and the editor and the sound guy and does all the interviews or whatever and he also wrote it--does anybody really watch any of those and are any of them really any good? Again, I'll answer my own rhetorical questions: hardly ever and hardly ever.) There's an interesting technological thing in that the digital revolution has done for film gear what its done for musical gear: you can get buy (or rent) some reasonably affordable pro-quality gear--it isn't like the early days of film where purchasing (or manufacturing!) a camera was, in and of itself, a small business venture--but where a digital recording desk might be something you can sit at with your guitar and record something with the sonic clarity (if not polished performance) of Dark Side Of The Moon, odds are high you still need someone on your movie set to hold the goddamn boom mic along with gaffers to get your lights set up.

There's also a secret weapon the movie studios have, which is that seeing a movie remains, despite television and home video, a special sort of social experience in which lots of people huddle in darkness and watch the shiny lights. Reading a book on a tablet versus reading a book on paper may or may not be a truly fungible experience (people will always argue over this), but the differences between words in pixels and the same words in ink aren't nearly as profound as the difference between seeing a movie eighty feet wide in the midnight hush of an auditorium and watching in on your 40" set at home on the couch. Even the rituals are different, what with "going to the movies" involving the queuing for entry and (perhaps) purchasing the popcorn, things that profoundly change the experience of the work even if it's the same goddamn Hollywood fluff on the Metroplex screen as you'd see two months later if you rented it from Redbox. You, yourself, can possibly attest to this if you've ever had the experience (and you know you have) of being utterly blown away by the sheer tremendous spectacle experienced under the sort of sensory deprivation a darkened movie theatre offers and then found yourself crushed a year later after purchasing the DVD by the discovery that the very exact same movie, viewed at home in the homey environment of the family room, is in fact a bit shallow, hollow, and almost exactly like another, better movie, aside from that other movie not-sucking, I mean.

Again, this isn't to say movies and TV shows are better. Actually, they have a bigger problem, in some ways, since they have to figure out how to monetize and profit on those secret weapons (expense and uniqueness of experience). The fact that an amateur can't make a little movie as readily as an amateur might make a little song or little story isn't really helpful if nobody sees your expensive professional picture. Indeed, it's possible your secret weapons can turn in the hand and put you into a death spiral in which you decide to only make movies that look like they have a good past performance/future success indicator, e.g. a lot of people went and saw Muscular Guy Blowing Things Up, so it stands to reason (supposedly) that just as many people (maybe more!) will go see Muscular Guy Blowing Things Up 2: Sidekick With Huge Tits, and if that line of reasoning bears out and generates a win, MGBTU 3: IN SPACE becomes inevitable (and when it fails, you can throw the director under the bus and/or see if MGBTU IV: Return Of SWHT will sell on Blu-Ray and PPV, right?). Of course, you've already noticed the problem with this--namely, the law of diminishing returns ("You do realize, don't you, that MGBTU 3 is just MGBTU except they struck out the words "sports car" and "submarine" and replaced them with "rocket ship", and now the villain is a vaguely-Middle-Eastern terrorist instead of an approximately-South-American drug dealer, right?"); if you did, then you're smarter than just about anybody who's helmed a movie studio since, oh, 1983 or thereabouts.

Anyway. As you already know, much of the above is what the studios are already doing. The whole point of 3D as it's currently being used, for instance, is pretty much to take a bad movie you could watch on TV and turn it into a bad movie that looks really swell and costs extra money to see. That's not a sustainable strategy; I think the erratic box office receipts for 3D pictures are bearing that out. But the idea, at least, is in the right ballpark insofar as Hollywood has sort of dimly grokked that their future is going to lie in offering the experience versus the product (and then selling the product--on home media, streaming video, etc.--as luscious gravy). I don't know if they can make that work, but it's at least a valid concept. (C.f. the music industry's golden goose of the '80s: re-selling consumers inferior versions of what they already owned--poorly remastered compact disc reissues cheaply manufactured into quasi-defective discs subject to bit rot and sold with tiny, poorly-printed booklets and a lack of features taking advantage of the potential of digital media (e.g. track indexing, digital labels, data sectors, CD video, bonus tracks using the additional running time available); followed by the industry's collective shock when their milking contributed to the backlash that came with the advent of computers capable of burning and ripping discs--because why buy a CD if you're getting basically the exact same thing for free since the official version has nothing going for it; hell, I've seen bootlegged CDs that had better packaging and more features than their official counterparts, which is a great example of You're Doing It Wrong as far as the record companies are concerned.)

This isn't so much the future we're talking about as it is the emerging present. Facing a choice between adapting and dying, the media industries are largely sticking their fingers in their ears like spoiled toddlers yelling, "Nononononononono--". Dignified, it isn't. Worse still, with things like SOPA and PIPA, they're likely to take something useful down with them. The media industries have already made it clear, for instance, that they are morally opposed to Fair Use even when they sometimes say they aren't; quite frankly, I think there's a good argument that Fair Use is one of the only things making copyright law sufferable at all (the other is expiration into the public domain), and that while copyright law is a necessary evil, a copyright regime without Fair Use would generally be more evil and less necessary than no copyright regime at all (indeed, I would say that an indefinite copyright regime lacking both Fair Use and a public domain is intolerable and measurably worse than letting creative people starve for theft: copyright must be a compromise between the needs of creative persons and a functioning culture's need for free-flowing information to be worth anything at all). SOPA or PIPA or whatever we get instead (and we will get something) won't stop the decline and demise of pre-contemporary business plans and technologies, but they already threaten contemporary ones.

As a quick f'r'instance before I finally wrap this piece up (and thank you if you've made it this far): much of SOPA and PIPA deal with "streaming", by which the proposed legislation means video and audio streaming, which are one kind of use for disassembling a file on one end, sending it through wires as bits, and assembling it on the user's end while he's already started using it. This is very clever technology, actually. And the thing to pay heed to re: how clever it is is that computers have no idea whether a file being picked apart, transmitted, and put together on the fly is a media file, a data file, an application; from the computer's POV, everything is just a one or a zero and ones and zeros get decoded in a certain way by the local ones and zeros. What this means, if you're not seeing it yet, is that there's no reason (at least in theory) why movies and albums and books are the only things that can be streamed (for those unaware: the Kindle, Nook and other modern e-readers stream text, allowing you to read a book before you're done downloading it); you could, perhaps, figure out a way to stream a cloud-based application, allowing a user to begin word processing (for instance) before he's finished installing his word processor. Or a game (I will be unsurprised if Valve isn't working on ways to do background downloads of game content while a user plays the game, if it isn't already a feature that I just haven't noticed yet; there is no earthly reason I can think of that the next level of a game has to live on your computer until you're entering it). Or something else. Do you have to have a complete operating system on your machine, or can you manage with an amorphous OS that expands and contracts as applications demand and release different bits of hardware? (One notes that already modern OSes often don't come with a complete driver library, only downloading necessary drivers when they detect a component's been plugged into the system.) Of course, the media industries could care less about the future to the extent that they won't be a part of it; that's the whole problem.

I'm cynical and pessimistic about all this, however. Hopefully--hopefully--the backlash and furor over PIPA and SOPA have at least killed this incarnation, but that's just a setback to the industries, who will still have the lobbyists and lawyers and no future I previously mentioned. They will regroup and will go back to contributing to political campaigns, by which I mean bribing legislators, and, having paid for access, will be back again with another drafted bill. (I'm assuming SOPA and PIPA are effectively DOA. If I'm right, and the industry lawyers come back with SOPA II--Electric Boogaloo, don't be surprised if it "solves" a lot of problems with SOPA by doing the exact same things SOPA does, only they've changed the words a bit so that it sounds different. Clever ladies and lads, those industry lawyers.) We're not done. We'll never be done. Well. We will be done if the holding action stalls the industries past the point of collapse; that might happen. I give the recording industry, like I said, twenty-five years.

I don't know. Can we hold out that long?


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An open letter to Mr. Richard Tang

>> Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Please Get Back To Me On My Email‏

From: Beatriz.Rios@avon.com
Sent: Mon 1/16/12 11:30 PM



Good day,


I am Mr. Richard Tang, the Director of Operations of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd, Sai Wan Ho Branch, Hong Kong.


I have an obscured business suggestion for you.


Please Get Back to me on my Email Address: richardtang505@yahoo.co.jp and finally after that I shall provide you with more details of this
operation.


Kind Regards


Mr.Richard Tang
Private Email: richardtang505@yahoo.co.jp



Dear Mr. Tang,

Well, first things first: you've asked me to get back to you on your e-mail address, and I have to say I think it's pretty dull and boring.

I mean, okay: I get that sometimes an e-mail address is chosen by an administrator and you get no say in it whatsoever. But yours appears to be a Yahoo account, so I assume you chose it yourself, or, rather, that you let the Yahoo signup process choose it for you, going with your name and a randomly-generated number. And that's fine. Most of us, I expect, have similar kinds of e-mail addresses. But you asked for my opinion on it, and it's kind of drab and ordinary.

Then again, maybe you're dodging a bullet. I hate to make fun of somebody's name (gods know, I spent plenty of time being called "New Jerk" when I was in school--and that was by a teacher; the last laugh here being that I can't recall the yutz's name, so there), but it's pretty clear to me that you may have spent much of your life as "Dick Tang".


tang [tang]
noun
1. a strong taste or flavor.
2. the distinctive flavor or quality of a thing.
3. a pungent or distinctive odor.
4. a touch or suggestion of something; slight trace.
5. a long and slender projecting strip, tongue, or prong forming part of an object, as a chisel, file, or knife, and serving as a means of attachment for another part, as a handle or stock.


3--tangOf course, there's not a single one of those that isn't funny/disturbing/funny-in-a-disturbing-way. I have to admit, the craziest (and therefore best) mental image comes with #5, as I assume a dick tang would be part of some kind of crazy prosthetic device (perhaps required because of an old war wound).

Somewhere--this may seem like a tangent, but bear with me--somewhere I once read that Tycho Brahe had multiple noses for different occasions, an account that the Wikipedia link in this sentence vaguely corroborates. Tycho, you may know, lost his nose in a duel and had one furnished (depending on whom you ask) out of copper, silver or gold--possibly all three, with a copper "hanging out around the castle" nose for when he was chilling in his sweatpants with his pet moose and a gold "where the ladies?" nose for when he and the elevated-to-wingman moose were hanging out getting wasted on whatever Danish pimps drank before Courvoisier was invented.

In a similar vein, I once heard of a one-eyed man who purportedly had a succession of glass eyes manufactured in various states of reddish discoloration, ranging from "everyday eye" through ascending degrees of bloodshot culminating in a blank white orb with the word "TILT" printed upon it, and this gentleman (the story went) would switch out the glass orbs in his head as he increasingly got out of it.

You might see where I'm going with this. A man with the sort of prosthetic limb that ought to have a "dick tang" at one end could, perhaps, have a "just getting my mail and running errands" device for those kinds of occasions and a "happy to see you" assembly for others; he might, like the fellow with the glass eyes supposedly, have a "windsock" for those awkward occasions, though I don't really know that the humor value of it goes much beyond the initial presentation (if then, even). In any event, of course, the "dick tang" would (I imagine) be a feature of all of them. Or, perhaps, this gent might borrow a page from Old Tycho and have organs made of various precious metals, even if the use of various plastics and ceramics seems much more 21st Century than that.

Does the tang insert into some kind of belt apparatus or is there some kind of surgically-installed holder? For the gent, I mean. Other insertions... well, nevermind.

I'm sorry, what was this all about? Oh, of course.

What first caught my eye in your e-mail, actually, was your offer of an "obscured business suggestion". (I imagine that caught most of my readers' attentions, and I'm the only one who started pondering dick tangs. There's clearly something wrong with me, and probably nobody knows what it is.) Now, the thing about this is that I'm really willing to critique your e-mail address (boring but sufficient) for free, as I have zero idea what I'd do with a heavily-redacted business proposal. Or, perhaps, it isn't blacked-out, but instead has been put underneath a book or something and I'm supposed to look at it from a distance, or you'll send me one of those pictures with pixelated bits or a smeary fog, as if somebody's dick tang is exposed in the picture. (If that's your business proposal, I'm especially uninterested.)

So, let's see: e-mail critique, Tycho Brahe and glass eyes, application of prosthetics, polite refusal of I-don't-know-what? Yes, I think I've covered it. Any questions?





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