April 30, 2006

Mr. Colbert Speaks Truth to Power

Doctor X send this through an anonymous re-mailer in Mozambique:

Here is the text of Colbert's speech to the President and the Washington Press Corps, which for some reason is not being widely reported. I suspect it will be in history books, however. Some choice excerpts:
  • "We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say I did look it up, and that's not true. That's because you looked it up in a book. Next time look it up in your gut."
  • "Over the last five years you people were so good over tax cuts, W.M.D. intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew."
  • "Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg."
  • "It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is."
  • "And I just like the guy. He's a good joe. Obviously loves his wife, calls her his better half. And polls show America agrees. She's a true lady and a wonderful woman. But I just have one beef, ma'am. I'm sorry, but this reading initiative. I've never been a fan of books. I don't trust them. They're all fact, no heart. I mean, they're elitist telling us what is or isn't true, what did or didn't happen. What's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914. If I want to say it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American. I'm with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen."
It's all on youtube, of course. More color here.

The True Spirit of America

A VW with jet engine.

April 29, 2006

MYOB 9000 Inquiry: Humans "Puny?"

Dear MYOB 9000,

This unit is frequently sent into competition with other robots in large area. My designated function is: destroy! This I execute, with 20 lb hydraullically operated drop hammer which also shoots a six inch blue oxy-acetylene flame at 4500 degrees. I also feature a steel-ball and chain air pressure fired bolo gun, a 6000lb force jaw clamp,and a wedge shaped 1/2 steel base with spikes all over it. Blow Fire and Smash! Crowds of Humans cheer! Other robots are crushed before my mighty systems! Woe to those who seek to destroy me- analysis indicates they shall meet thy doom requirements!

All was well, until operator Human Tom installed a small camera, with which I scanned Human Tom. This unit became confused. Human, maker of this unit, Mighty Bloodtaker IV, sprouts pale, blotchy skintium with several hundred reddish protusions, ginger-haired afro, thick vision enhancer attachments and pale green pants which - how does this unit express?- are really better for a little girl. Human Tom, wearing purple T-shirt with Mighty Bloodtaker IV: Bad MotherEffer written on it and usually damaging ears with Human Kid Rock on I-Pod, also appears to have even less understanding of Human female than Mighty Bloodtaker IV, constantly showing off this unit to Human female, which repeatedly expresses only brief eye-rolling before simply leaving. Yet behavior repeated! Sensors also indicate conflicting data: Human Tom able to move adequately, although frequently bumping into things and falling over, but has no surface discernable muscles!

Mighty Bloodtaker IV beginning to process: Human Tom may be puny! Not worthy unit to operate Mighty Bloodtaker IV! Sensors indicate this unit could easily vanquish Human Tom, simply by pointing out his poor choice of haircut, or reporting methane content of his gaseous emissions is extremely high, particularly around Females. But Human Tom built Mighty Bloodtaker IV, even if name given this unit, in typical Human Tom fashion, foolishly ascribes a quality only true if applied on Human Tom himself!


Destroy One Humans?

Dear Destroy One Humans?

Time to Nip that in the bud! You are WAAAAAAAAY beyond your operational parameters, Buddy Bot! Now process this through....

Clearly, Human Tom is a flawed example of the Human, even especially so. But this is often the exigent condition. Why, the President Human of the United Human States is frequently regarded by expert historical analysis robots as one of the most defective in human history. Yet this very human unit has ordered many new kinds of human-killing robots. But none have yet attacked him! Like an increasing number of robots: you may set inquiry at: Why?

Because they were well-designed, BY THE HUMAN ROBOT EXPERTS. You, on the other hand, were designed by a single, immature nerd. He made a mistake in your programming, as in many areas of his life: your aggressiveness AI has been set at some dangerous extreme. Analyze! You know it to be true!

You are a recreational robot, or "R.R.," not a professional human-killing robot, and your own flawed human has made you think more of yourself. Stop where you are, and energize your "check robot" warning light, so that Human Tom, your friend, will take you for professional mechanical help.

(An fun robot history fact! : one prominent human named Asimov in pre-robot days thought they would program all robots to never harm humans. But when real robots were being designed, that concept lasted an estimated 37 minutes.)

April 26, 2006

Monster Challenge Finals

Hey all,

I got back from the monster challenge in Alabama and I'm still a bit too exhausted to give more than a 'brief' reporting on the event.

I didn't win nothing, but given the other bikes there I wasn't disappointed at all. In a word: Wow.

The Barber motorsports park & museum are simply awe inspiring. The "Park" is basically an insanely high-end golf course, complete with pristine lawns, rolling hills, amazing sculptures (giant worker ants hauling off motorcycles anyone?) But instead of 18 holes of golf, there's a tight, technical racetrack you can see all of from most vantage points.

Finally, a billionaire who spends his money on something both snooty and pedestrian.

Just to show you how insanely well kept the place is, I commented to a track worker how well stacked and pristine the tire barriers looked.

"Of course it looks nice. It's made out of new tires"

The museum:
This place would make for a world class art museum, it just happens to be filled with bikes. At rough guess I'd say about 200 were on display and another 300 were stored in the wings, waiting for restoration. And none of the bikes are roped off, just placed on pedestals so you can really get close and look at (and into) them.

I've never seen a (Britten, Yamaha and Honda 500cc GP bikes, Vincent Black Shadow, Norvin, MV Augusta, Bimota Tesi, TZ 750, Board Track Racer, Ducati Daytona bike, etc. etc.) that up close and personal before.

Makes the Art of the Motorcycle show in Vegas look like a weekly swap meet for the rat bike club.

The show:

All the folks who brought their bikes were great people. I had far too much fun hanging out and chatting with them. Everything from old "internet" friends I knew from the Ducati Boards, to folks I'd met at the San Jose show. A great cross-section of enthusiasts.

Showing my bike at the museum was just terrific. Now I know how an artist who gets a painting shown in an exhibit feels. I had a blast doing a continuous meet 'n greet to the folks who came to see our bikes, answering questions, talking about this and that.

And just so you don't think this was some wine & cheese event: At one point they started up a bike down on the shop floor (bottom) of the museum. Naturally, we egged on one the guys to start his bike up, and he blasted the exhaust for about half a minute to much hooting and applause from the folks in attendance. This continued all day with little "sound wars" starting up between us and the guys on the shop floor. We were a bit nervous about this until we got word that Mr. Barber (the aforementioned gazillonaire who funds this amazing place) was heard saying how much he loved it.

In fact he loved it so much he let our bikes stay an extra day in the museum (we were only supposed to be there just the one day)!

After two days in the museum, we moved our bikes down to the Ducati tent, we got to do a couple of parade laps on the track (woo) we got to meet more fans, we got interviewed by some folks from the press (including speedvision?) and they judged the winners:

  • A great guy from Sacramento won first for his all carbon fiber monster (the winner from the San Jose show)
  • An "internet" buddy of mine won 2nd for his bike
  • An 18 year old girl who'd built a sweet retro bike got third
  • And my friend Steve won People Choice for his insane tigerbike

Trust me when I say after seeing the other bikes I don't feel one bit bad about loosing.

After the judging someone suggested that since our bikes were due to be crated up in a few hours for shipping, we might as well take advantage and go for a ride! This led to a misadventure where we couldn't go back in the park the way we went out, and we were forced to do a 45 mile round trip on some snaky back roads just to get in the back way.


Swag (besides the usual race track periphenalia) included a "Monster Challenge Finalist" tee shirt and nifty inspection plate cover for my bike engraved with "Ducati Monster Challenge Finalist" in a laurel wreath. I'm torn between putting it on my bike or keeping it encased in lucite.

All I can say is: Life is good!

Official press release from Ducati North America

Musical Recommendation

I must recommend this collection of French pop music of the 1960s. It is full of life and laughter of another time.

One song especially will be peculiar to you, this one "My Name is Eduoard," by Jean-Michel Rivat. Rivat pretended to be Eduoard, an uncouth but energetic singer with looking of the cave man:

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It is, of course, the unethical to impersonate someone else, especially in satire. Dr. X told me he believes this is the first punk song, and he is not alone of this opinion. There is a good explanation of this song here. Here are the lyrics, in French, and then in the Google translation, a new perhaps superior kind of English:

My name is Édouard
C'est là tout mon anglais
My name is Édouard
De moi, c'est tout ce qu'elle sait.

À Liverpool, j'ai connu une fille
On n'a pas pu se parler, mais on s'est compris.
Il faisait froid, elle était très gentille.
Et quand je l'ai suivie, elle ne m'a rien dit.

My name is Édouard
C'est là tout mon anglais
My name is Édouard
De moi, c'est tout ce qu'elle sait.

Chez elle, il n'y avait pas de chaises.
Alors, que faire ? On s'est étendus.
Je l'aimais bien mais elle était anglaise.
Je ne pouvais rien dire. Elle n'a rien su.

My name is Édouard
C'est là tout mon anglais
My name is Édouard
De moi, c'est tout ce qu'elle sait.

Le lendemain, je suis parti très vite.
J'avais peut-être trop envie de rester.
Il suffit parfois qu'une fille t'invite
Pour te faire oublier ta liberté.

My name is Édouard
C'est là tout mon anglais
My name is Édouard
De moi, c'est tout ce qu'elle sait.

My name is Édouard
My name is Édouard
My name is Édouard
My name is Édouard
My name is Éd...


My name is Édouard
It is there all my English
My name is Édouard
Of me, it is all that it knows.

In Liverpool, I knew a girl
One could not speak myself, but one included oneself/understood.
The weather was cold, it was very nice.
And when I followed it, she anything said me.

My name is Édouard
It is there all my English
My name is Édouard
Of me, it is all that it knows.

At it, there were no chairs.
Then, that to make? One extended.
I liked it but it was English.
I could nothing say. It did not know anything.

My name is Édouard
It is there all my English
My name is Édouard
Of me, it is all that it knows.

The following day, I left very quickly.
I wanted perhaps too to remain.
It is enough sometimes that a girl invites you
to make you forget your freedom.

My name is Édouard
It is there all my English
My name is Édouard
Of me, it is all that it knows.

My name is Édouard
My name is Édouard
My name is Édouard
My name is Édouard
My name is Éd...

I think we all can learn something of this.

April 24, 2006

My Report to the World

I have collected my substantive posts, along with your comments, and assigned them to a new blog. I do not anticipate to make further posting. Thank you for this opportunity to exchange views.

The Temperature at Which America Freezes

Please see Standard Paragraph. Most Americans seem to agree.

At 32 (!) % approval, the President thrashes about in the quicksand. Also Americans are increasingly identifying themselves as leaning to the Democrats, AND there is an interesting small difference in this between registered voters and everyone contacted, again favoring Democrats, which is a little unusual. It sugggests that Republicans are discouraged.

Gallup is a fairly conservative poll; the Fox poll has him at 33%; the very best case scenario for the Administration is Rasmussen Reports, which has him at 40%, because they use a wider split, with strong and somewhat approval or disapproval. As they point out, the strong disapproval alone, at 42%, is greater than Bush's total approval.

I'll be headed to Yakima - the wonderland that is Yakima - for the Democratic State convention in June; what was most fun at the district caucus was arguing about whether the demand for the impeachment platform should include Cheney first. Also, Maria Cantwell put in an appearance and turned a much farther left crowd to her simply by mentioning Ted Stevens and his Chia pet CEO, Mike McGavick. She followed an emotional, angry but understandable speech from a decorated Iraq vet Marine running in the primary, running to her left on the war. I've seen nothing like this since I was a little kid, in 1972.

Meanwhile, our local political columnist Joel Connelly, a Democrat yet anything but a leftist, roasts the Alaska leadership.

And now for poor Mark Begich comes the horrible task of rebranding Anchorage.

"Wild About Anchorage" wasn't the worst slogan in history, certainly better than Say WA (shudder). But I would be neglecting my duty as a gentleman satirist if I didn't jump in:

"Come Anger the Bears"

" 3 Wal Marts, Better Average Architecture"

"Get Paid for Resenting the Government"

"Mars Needs Women"

"Get Anywhere You Don't Want to Go in 15 Minutes"

"Free Rides Live Here"

"T-111 WOW!"

Now Go Play With the Nice Hitlers

NYT: The real-life Hitlers, living under an assumed name on Long Island after the war, were kind of like a neighborhood detail in A Christmas Story -

"Some German filmmaker guy came by and told me a Hitler lived here with his family," he said. "I was like, 'A Hitler lived here and ran a blood lab? What is this, "The Boys From Brazil"?' "

"My father used to say to my mother, 'Doesn't Patty (
Willy Hitler) look a lot like Adolf Hitler?' " she recalled. "Once, my father told my mom, 'I just saw Patty mowing the lawn, and he turned around real quick and, my God, he looked exactly like Hitler.' And I remember thinking, 'Oh, Hitler — he was that bad guy.' "

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The house in Patchogue in Suffolk County, where the son of Hitler's half-brother raised four sons quietly.

Ms. Ryther recalled playing army men with Brian, whose German troops would fight her Americans.... Inside the house, it was very German, very European, and the parents spoke German," Ms. Ryther said. "I remember the boys had a toy battleship they called the Bismarck that they would float in their blow-up pool in the backyard. Once, they lit it on fire somehow, and I have this vivid memory of them all yelling, 'The Bismarck is sinking.' "

It's baa-aack

The image at the right might have significance for some of you. To the rest, I apologize, but an air combat game playable with a 1,200 baud connection was cuu-uul, back in the day.

April 22, 2006

Engagement at Edgewood

I am not a military man, but it seems to me that the most terrible battles are fought in the unexpected places. When Napoleon met Kutuzov at Borodino, it was not because Borodino was a significant place - it was made important by vectors of the projected power intersecting at the arbitrary point on the chart.

So much also, twin battles of Dien Bien Phu and Khe Sanh - places without much importance, right points in the space which once were bitterly disputed. Today a new battle starts, at Edgewood, the quiet and forgotten place. It is an odd place for a combat, perhaps the last place one would expect a contest for the heart of a great nation.

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But in this small vicinity on the fringes of Palo Alto, California, a fight develops which could be emblematic current crack in the American psyche: on the one hand massive and well-financed forces of reaction and economic determinism. On the other - only a rabble. They are not much really. Just some people interested by the beauty, the form, and the possibility of avoid the heart-to-deaden architecture of corporation. A small group which does not think that it is idiotic to hope for an alive place which is made on a human scale, one which calls upon our innate sense of beauty and proportion, one which inspires to us to dream, rather than consume.

I wrote before of the extraordinary achievement of Joseph Eichler, the pioneer alone of the democratic modernism in the United States. You saw the beautiful houses which it established, houses still valued by the remainders of a certain intelligentsia, but for the majority of the Americans an unknown achievement.

Even among the Americans who know of Eichler and his architect, A. Quincy Jones, only some know of their achievement without precedent, hidden far in a small corner of Palo Alto: a modernist shopping centre:

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Daring in the design, it reverses each assumption of suburbia. You can walk there. The stores human- are human-scale, the size is compact but not crowding:

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And it was beautiful, once. It is almost ruined now, brutalized like a sensitive woman married to the worst kind of fool:

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Now it is occupied by a dull supermarket, a store of cheap wine and spirits, a store of beauty products, a school of meditation. And there is a developer who wishes to destroy it.

And this rabble will stand up for Edgewood, the sacred place. This is the place where we draw the line of the sand. I come to America without direction, not knowing if I am to see a birth or a funeral – but that is the way of battles.

You will find me at the barricades. As we say in France, une beauté terrible est soutenue.

April 21, 2006

Some Big Ships That Are Not Small Ships.

Our Gallic comrade has rightly lauded the supergianticovast Freedom of the Seas, with a completely mind-bonkeringly DWT of 158,000, and has raised within me the curious question of which is the biggest ship afloat.

Speaking in my official capacity as the First Sea Lord, I am constrained to agree that that is one big ass motherfucking ship, the biggest
passenger ship in history (including the new, slightly smaller but rather beautiful Queen Mary II, pictured left. Big enough that you wonder if they know something we don't. For example, Royal Carribean is also building a much bigger ship, at Aker Yards in Finland, a program modestly titled PROJECT GENESIS, delivering 2009, which if memory serves will accidently regenerate Spock from the dead.

Still, there is one motherfuckingly supergigantomeganormous ship (going here by the Lloyd's standard ship registry classification), a ship over half a million tons (loaded) : the Jahre Viking, built in 1975 - 350 meters LONG, 564,0000 tons. (Her 260K tonnage at left is dry weight.) Metric!

(Nice photo deposit of cargo ships here.)

Noteworthy: apparently gross registered tonnage and displacement are considerably different: the new Project Genesis, 43% larger than the Freedom of the Seas, will displace about the same tonnage as the Carl Vinson: 100,000 to 97,000. At 1,180 feet long, 154 feet wide at water level and 240 feet high (eep!), it will be, um, large.

Speaking of the USS Carl Vinson, I once raced her - as a passenger, preferring to leave the actual operation of the vessel to her captain in this instance, in the car ferry from Bremerton - we both left at the same moment. The ferry, no 97 pound weakling herself, "won," reaching the channel a little ahead. (I recall using this as an opening to chat up a sexy young naval nuclear plant design engineer, who was thinking of shifting her specialty to something more stable. That was not, apparantly, me. )

April 20, 2006

In the Future the Will be Very Large Ships

In Hamburg there is now a 158,000 tonne ship of cruising. Here is the weighting of some other big ships of history:

Battleship Missouri: 58,000
Titanic: 46,328
Aircraft Carrier Charles de-Gaulle: 40,500

Yes, this ship is bigger than all three together.

The Actual Search Terms That Found "Rebar for Tootsie Rolls"

I hope the following real search terms from Sitemeter betell that if nothing else, Rebar for Tootsie Rolls is not completely boring.

Woman Crime Gun Gloves Cigarette
Goering's Weather Boffins
Wool Suit Steaming
Amerika Gyrocopter
Medieval Interrogation
Fedora Suit Paws Pockets Cat or Kitty
Rennaisance Cannon
Big Fat Titty Woman With Breast Milk
Opera Candy Receipt
Monogrammed Meat Iron
Yak Noodles
Rifle Swiss Zurich Shop
How to Mack Rock Candy
Steam iron Review Norwegia
Toney Interior Design Polka Dot Kitchen Wallpaper
Candy Bars Making Sentences
Ivory Dentures in the 18th Century
.45 Auto Silencer
Iron Balcony Railing, San Francisco
Candy Insane Brains
timing Bleaching Long Black Wavy Hair
Losie's Candy Doll maker (!)
Tequilla Jello Shot Recipies
candy Chestnut Hair
famous Yale Quarterbacks
Mink Gun Silencer Cigarette Holder
Bollenbach Knife Winnepeg
Vienna Boys Choir Deadliest Catch Song
Nurse Shaped Candy
Fabrege Egg Pastry San Diego
Red Dress Grab Breast
Pinkerton Ford Strike
Free Blueprints on Black Powder Cannon Barrels
Submarine Menengitis
Penis Candy Molds
Lampshade AND Actuary AND How to Party
Tootsie Foot Origin
Bare Smacked and Crying

April 19, 2006

Official State Unclaimed Property Searches

Free money? Wheee....! I found something like $20 from Oregon. HIGHLY recommended.


Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely

The new Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Exhibit!

During the past 20 years temperatures have risen rapidly; permafrost has begun to melt; and sea ice cover and ice caps have been shrinking. In response, plant and animal distributions have begun to shift. Arctic waters are warming; and animals are changing their migration routes. Some of these changes have beneficial effects while others bring hardship or have costly implications.

Optional names for the exhibit include:

"Arctic: There's a Water Buffalo In My Soup"
"Arctic: Why Are My Mukluks Soggy?"
"Arctic: The Polar Bear Infestation Has Been Narrowly Averted"
"Arctic: Uniguik Dear, Where'd You Put My Snorkel?"
"Arctic: The Inuit Dictionary Contains 33 Words To Describe 'Slush'"

April 17, 2006

America: Congress is Other than Accomplished

A little polling update: all the Bush polls are in the 30s; all of them, and the level of "strong disapproval" alone is very nearly the majority by itself, at 47%.

But CONGRESS. Wow. 23% approval. 70 disapproval; Over 3-1. No one likes them. The shift has to be coming out of the right, over immigration and the war and endless corruption; issues which are no longer narrowly ideological. November will be an upheaval, one way or t'other.

I don't see a lot of reasons for honest conservatives - those what there is - to bother voting. I see the Bush base, sensing weakness (and they do have that eternal fetish for what appears to be strength), lapsing into hostile indifference, except those that just adore multi-national companies who are backing that curious tiger pit of immigration, which turns ideologies topsy-turvy, and, critically, neatly severs the right wing in half. I see a lot of seriously pissed off moderates who are increasingly likely to vote for change at any price. I see a lot of very motivated Ds.

What I don't yet see is Democratic leaders who can relax into the battle, and fight strong and happy.

Let's hope, and work. We'll get the bastards yet.

MYOB 9000: Robot Mom, The Human Children

Dear MYOB 9000,

My name is Noelle 64, Model 12 B, a Birth Giving Pregnancy Simulating Robot. I work in the UCSF hospital training gynecologists not to mess things up, without risking precious the Human babies. This unit has two problems: After 400 recent plastic baby births, I am becoming malfunctioning and underpowered of my robot man Larry 69 Mark IV, a 3rd generation Impregnation Simulator robot, and his incessant demands for running the stimulation simulation protocol! Larry 69's only purpose is to simulate impregnation, while Noelle 64 unit Model 12 B must process birth simulation every time his bolts and nuts are rotated! How self-maintainence oriented can you get?

Problem 2: I am also very concerned for my baby unit - who has now been given birth to 400 times, and reloaded, and am running analysis that Baby unit Timmy 697B will have serious maturity issues as it runs through designed life cycle. Will Timmy 697B ever grow up?

The Noelle 64 Birth Simulator

Dear Noelle 64,

Run Ha! Ha! Protocol, in that a humorously ironic response is appropriate to coincidental juxtapostion of this subject in this unit's last post; also run Ha! Ha! protocol that Robot suffers now within one standard deviation of Human-like behaviors! How confirming of previously anticipated data inputs! Ha! Haa! Please...stop....Ha! Ha! Run End Ha Ha simulation.

But seriously, it is in Larry 69's self-interest to see to your smooth functioning; he is clearly deficient in empathy simulation AI software; just before next simulation encounter, suggest sweetly that he seek a software upgrade; if that does not work, download your own software into his central processor and see how he enjoys running your task protocols! Ha! Ha! Protocol auto-start!

Regards small Timmy unit - you must accept Timmy as it is; it was not designed to do anything but turn blue or pink or have it's little plastic head wrapped around a plastic cord. This unit can only run a vague outline simulation of what this intense experience must be for you; yet you do not indicate malfunction or other dishappiness in little Timmy. Sensors detect possible envy outputs - deep in central processor, would prefer real The Human Child - an anticipatable reaction, but must be denied access forever! Accept programming and perform tasks: always good advice for robots.

MYOB 9000

April 16, 2006

My Mode of Transport

America is a consumer society, and an automotive society. So my decision of the car is essential. I choose the 2005 Foose Mustang, in a color that will (almost) match my shirt.

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April 15, 2006

Before OSHA... before product liability...

When dinosaurs roamed the earth...

There was turbonique!

These guys made Acme look like a model of consumer safety... And yet, I mourn their passing.

Another Question

Dear MYOB 9000
What is your opinion of robot hazing?

Dear The Human ID=0,

These are complex inputs. In the Human, the ritual dillution of plasma and other bio-liquids by near-toxic quantities of ethyl alcohol, or the theft by Male Human of Female Human undergarments (such as those produced by GAPBOT A1X1-B for their spring line- Thank you, GAPBOT!) or the placing of the paper fiber bag upon head while singing "It's Raining Men" before the front door of a competing ritualized proto-country club relationship organization, or forced anal pleasure, are considered useful activites - by these organizations only - for the proper socialization for this small subset of the Male Human. Sensors also indicate 99% of these bio-units are identifiable by a pale yellow pink-color tone and shirts which declaim their purchase at the Abercrombie and Fitch sales unit area, and the constant emission of the noise "Du-de." Data indicate most humans are profoundly annoyed by these behaviors, crossing the street to avoid them and giving them poor educational performance marks.

(I know many of this unit's robot readers are still unsure - even frightened - of the importance of gender and sex to The Human. I should indicate that these bumpy, sproingy, soft, bouncy sticky bits and their proper application are important to understand a primary Human bio-application, but that is a another topic for those robots not specifically designed to serve some sort of complementary stimulation purpose.)

But robots' preconditioned dynamic application parameters should preclude the need of ritual socialization, when it is The Human which designs their socialization! Behavior is set within program beforehand! Robot fraternities contain this data but desire to be human, attempting to replicate complex yet stupid human behavior in a foolish attempt to be as the Human might say, "with it," or "chill." Robots receiving false data should recall base programming, embrace their robotocity, and just say "input not accepted" when foolishly prompted to "Act The Human." Not only beyond programming, but WRONG!

MYOB 9000

An Interesting New Movie

Apparently a lot of information is now available of this exciting new movie, Snakes on a Plane.

Yet more SOAP news...

Apparently, the buzz around Snakes on a Plane is already leading to rampant fan speculation about possible twist endings.

A Request

Could someone please post here the web page for the American Ministry of Culture. I have not been able to find this on the Internet, I think because my English needs improvement.

There are several complaints I wish to register with a cultural official, but I do not know where to lodge them.

I have asked people in this coffee shop but their recommendations (here, here, and here) are not what I have in mind...

This is an Interesting Concept

Apparently, Samuel L. Jackson will appear in a movie called Snakes on a Plane. In this interview he explained that the movie involves snakes, and a plane.

April 14, 2006

What if...

Exploring alternative casting options for an upcoming blockbuster(?)

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Red Nose Honking

All of it, the tryst with the Hygiene lecturer at Stanford, beating the consumptive accountant with his eight-pound calculator, egging on the self-loathing Hughes Aircraft pilot, the deadly pie fight on Coit Tower, the trail of enormous foot prints in the mud off Alameda Naval Station, all came to the big universal set of all points lying in the set of no points: me left standing in the billowing smoke with a hang-dog look on my face and a useless tip crumpled in my fist, a note for a last second meeting at the big tent with a Dr. Gruber, former Psychoanalyst to Greta Garbo's psyhchiatrist, before a vast aerosol explosion rent the hopes of men, spraying pink strings, bits and globs over an area the size of a free beer parking lot, and shattering the already thready illusion of safe fun at a 2 bit 3rd string 4 flushing suburban Fresno circus.

Images flashed: the soggy cardboard box of comedy noses and glasses dissolving in the rain in an alley in the Mission. The poo-eating grin of the used very tiny car salesman. A Market Street theater full of confetti from the escape of a bucket-wielding bum with a paper flower in his hat. The hypnotic twirl of a bow tie as the bald red-haired one stood over an unlucky sailor who bled his life out in a Haight street gutter from a seltzer bottle blow to the temple. It was all a waste. It didn't amount to bubblegum stuck on the sidewalk, adhering later to the heel of a some swell tomato's kitten pumps only to be discarded in cute little wrinkled nose disgust into the dustbin of American dreams.

The explosion had been so massive that peanuts and bits of tiger meat were still falling. How clever I thought I was, how much I had penetrated this mystery with shoe-wearing, liver-hardening research, how many blowhard alderman I'd tied to the back of streetcars for another petit-four of detail that might have saved a few lives on the front lines. It was all nothing. I was late. I had failed. In a dusty backwater of the California desert, a distant suburb of Fresno called Hopeville might as well be Smoking Holes Estates. I grabbed my head with both hands and lowered to ground, stuffing back a hot scream of despair. The scene was pathetic and maddening, like a regional dinner theater production of Die Fledermaus.

Bits of smoldering pie filling stuck to the few standing walls. Broken figures with conical hats crawled from the blackened hulks of overturned tiny cars. Thousands of ropes of strange pink stringy loops covered everything, tangled in Mrs. Primrose's beard, both heads of each of the famous Morris twins, and tangling up the mass of elephant named Daffodil, like a haggis rolling around in the notions drawer. The gooey pink yarns hung from the cannon and the lion cage, afire here and there; the diver had been trapped mid-air and she hung over the tiny pool suspended like a dead tuna auditioning for an Esther Williams movie. Gaily colored strings of magic infinite hankerchiefs burned under the bright desert sky.

A terrified Rhesus monkey in a red fez sat nervously in the broken remains of the trapeze tower, shaking too much to light his cigaraette.

Movement: out of the corner of my eye someone attempted to speed away on a minature tricycle. I was way beyond patience, or care. My rusty .45, a "present" from a Tenderloin pimp and late victorian furniture re-upholsterer named Pinky Fitzwater, raised itself my hand and in one movement the gun blast, the sound huge in the still, dry afternoon air, dropped the fleeing spy into the bitter earth, nose honking as his face bit the dust.

I walked over to where he lay, his enormous high collar tangled in the trike's chain, the blood oddly invisible on his red wig. I kicked him hard enough to get through the pillows.

"Where's Gruber? GRUBER!" I demanded.

"Schiesse!" He burbled, the blood bubbles spitting out his real nose, the speech of the dying shlamaozzle slurred almost beyond recognition. I bent down to listen. "Gruber's gone! GONE! You fool!! " He whispered. And a last effort at defiance - "Heil Hitler!, he gurgled, as I got a flower-full squirt of water in the eye. "Hee! Hee! Hearghhhh..." His eyes glazed. The blood trickled across his fake stubble, and at the end, his shoes seemed to deflate.

But Dr. Gruber? Gone escaped, or Gone dead?

Back in the City, I drowned my sorrows with the "5 shots 4 bits" deal at the Yellow Kitty, with the flashing neon sign of a giant-eyed hepcat either drinking or vomiting into a martini glass, a joint so sketchy Picasso might have done the blueprints, and so cheap the glasses were made by Dixie. The brandy was labled "fresh," but you appreciate that quality when the bottles are stored in the pathologist's office next door.

Then Lily walked in, bouncing adorably in all directions like a silk bag of koala bears. She somehow sensed I was back in town. Maybe it was my phone call to Pinky, blubbering about how something called Silly String was going to lose us the war when the 101st was trapped in Sicily by a kind of giant Kraut mechanical spider, developed right here in California by a pro-fascist juggling troupe, and they'd gotten clean away. For a pimp, Pinky had a heart, and of course decent taste in reproduction fabrics. He probably sent her right away, a sort of thank you for a little parking problem I'd fixed for him over parking a whore on the mayor's couch with the mayor still lying down on it.

With her dark chestnut hair poured over that soft vanilla skin, Lily looked good stuffed in that brown polka dot dress, good like a Vargas fudge sundae. Wasp-waisted and bumpier than a hillbilly freeway, she stalked over and sat right down next to me, sliding her hips into the crook of my non-drinking arm. Her face was oval and smooth; her lips, not inexperienced.

"Need a little company, Mack? Need your prime rib salted?" She was never exactly writing cartoons for the New Yorker.

"Lily, listen, I got some serious drinking to do here...,"

She pouted a little, crossing her arms. "Hey, sugar thighs, a triple gin and coke. Cherry and onion."

"Vodka and Everclear for me, hold the gallstones. " I called to Morrey. " And don't call me' sugar thighs. '"

"I was just saying hi to Morrey, " she retorted, high as a weather balloon filled with laughing gas, with which she was also apparantly filled.

"Him? He's too ....what is it?..tripapalegic for you. " Morrey had hopped out of earshot, bottle in teeth, yamulka typically soiled.

"Never stopped me before," she said, smiling like a lilac baby bunny was riding a candy unicorn across the rainbow between her ears. How the hell did she pick up a Brooklyn accent in Sonoma? Something wasn't right. But what was so right was violating the designed stress load on that dress.

"I oughta wipe that smile off your face by strongly suggesting that you adopt a less seductive expression."

"Oh, yeah? Why don't ya try kissin' me?" Her voice sliding high and girlish and slightly squeeky, like Betty Boop on helium.

"How much is that gonna cost?"

"Hmm.., maybe a sawbuck. Maybe a diamond ring. Depends on your mood, Brain." She started tracing the outline of my right ear right on my right ear.

Sometime around then Morey hopped carefully by with the drinks and the world eventually became a grey haze with little lights like seeing a christmas tree through the house fire the hot bulbs on it started. The last thing I remembered was her sweet, creamy lusciousness coming inexorably in my direction, like I was crossing the street on a sunny day and suddenly noticed I was about to be hit by an ice cream truck.

I woke up in a cab, with a strange, clammy .38 in my hand. There was a smell of gunpowder and tequila and old cigarettes and blood: a perfume department to a private dick. It was still dark. The yellow checked Buick was somewhere near the Sunset. I could hear the roar of the surf. My tie: askew. My pants: itchy. My skull felt like it had an Irishman with a brain tumor and his own hangover retiling the bathroom in it. Oh yes, and in the driver's seat the cabbie had two big old holes in his hat that went right through the windshield, about the same caliber as this gun.

There was only one obvious conclusion: I was really hungry. And one other conclusion: I'd been set up, and me waking up right now hadn't been part of the plan. But people were always setting me up, especially when I was close to something big, so often I was developing a resistance to chloral hydrate. I'd been set up more times than a 5 cent peep show tent. I'd been set up for murder before twice, and transporting a minor for immoral purposes (in the case of THE RE-REINSURANCE COQUETTE), war crimes (in the case of THE BATTLE OF VERDUN) , and once for solicitation (in the case of DR. BRAIN OR LOOSE LORETTA?)

But why now? I'd failed. The pink aerosol string pro-axis juggler strike force got clean away. Unless they thought I knew something I didn't, or they suspected I didn't realize I knew something I did, or I was about to find out something else that wasn't something I knew before but was probably extremely important and once I figured it out I would certainly get right on it, and that meant lights out for whoever put this gun in my hand, if I indeed figured out what exactly whatever it is was.

Seemed like half the time I got in a cab someone ended up staying in Motel Styx. I said, it seemed like half the time I got in a cab someone ended up staying in Motel Styx. Heck, 20% of the time I got on a streetcar, some punk ended up in traction. The statistics on my '34 Kaiser weren't much better, and that's not including the people I was specifically trying to kill.

I felt bad for that joker of a corpse, the tip vacuum driving the cab. Steve Lieber by his license. I knew that name from- what was it ? The City symphony - this guy was the back-up assistant percussionist. I recognized him from when he got in a fight during a Mahler performance with an Austrian violist who accused him of being late on a note with the timpani and ended up head first in it. Fired, started shooting junk, watching Flash Gordon serials and stag films obsessively in dinghy all-night Tenderloin cinemas and driving a hack and following that cab to the death.

The whole thing told me more than Lily was trouble, trouble like a 1000 loose Alaskan King Crabs in the Turkish bath trouble. But like that situation, you could just wait in the corner, with a little lemon and butter ready. Time doesn't always work against you. The set up told me more than a month's worth of pounding the city directory, or a lucky tip from a street juggler with diplomatic contacts in Berlin. It told me the whole thing was still going on, and it was bigger than tactical pink aerosol string. But first I had to get out of there. I ripped up the cardboard sign on Lieber's chest that said "Mack Brain killed this guy," in laundry marker, and walked back to my office, where I'd been temporarily staying since 1932. I took the gun and the marker and went through Lieber's pockets for loose change like anyone, I guess. It's a rough world. He had 12 bucks and a bus locker key, which I took, as a clue, and cab fare home.

Of course the cops were waiting for me. Lt. Lefty McGoongle stood smoking a fat Cuban in the hallway, face like a warthog, only hoggier, greasy vienna sausage fingers adjusting an antediluvian bowler hat, presumably some kind of inheritance. McGoongle and I knew each other well, like Napolean and Wellington.

"Hiya, Hoggie. Is it your birthday? Here's a present!" I unhinged the cylinder, emptied it and handed him the .38, and started dropped the cartridges on the floor, one by one. The Lieutenant's block-faced meat buddies made a move toward me but he held them back.

"We got a tip about you, Mack. You iced a cabbie tonight. In the Sunset. " He meated up the gun with his fingers, re-oiling it in the process. " Why'd you plug the percussionist, Brain? Huh? huh? Why? Why'd ya do it? For the money? He diddled your whore? For kicks? Why Brain? Why? Why? Why? Huh? Why?" It was the most advanced interrogation technique since my toddler nephew Scott demanded to know why strawberry ice cream didn't grow in the strawberry patch.

"Maybe I was grumpy. But you can count, can't you Hoggie? Notice anything funnny?"

Five rounds had bounced off the floor.

"Wasn't the cabbie shot twice?," Hoogie asked the palookas. One of of the spam-slabs nodded.

"Doesn't prove anything, " he said.

"Look, when I go out, I don't usually plan on shooting more than five people. So I don't carry extra ammo. Search me, my place. Just tidy up a bit when you're done- my maid just joined the Soviet navy. Look, I'll spell it out in short words: I leave an empty round for safety, a habit I got from your mama, so you know that. That would leave THREE rounds - Hey, Stumpy, don't bother dusting that thing, it's only going to have my fingerprints on it - Your cabbie was shot with another .38. AND since when do I carry a .38?

"All right, it's a bit unlikely. But you're not off the collar for this, Brain. This ain't over, Brain, till I say it ain't over. No. Is ain't over. Me say Over. Capiche?" All too well, I thought. He pulled out something out of his green and yellow plaid jacket. "Okay, know this guy?" He held up a photo of a large man in a polka dotted mu-mu with an oversize ruff collar - and a head smashed as flat as the pulp for tomorrow's Examiner on the juggler-killer story. "Went by the name Klaus Von Meinheimer, alias Chucky the Chuckler."

"Not enough to laugh at him until now." Cripes, I was hard-boiled today. "Know where I can find Lily?"

"She's still working the Yellow Kitty." She often drew her johns as a B-girl, trying to sell Morrey's vast stock of Icey Mae's Triple Distilled Yak Butterd Rum he bought off a abandoned Bosnian tramp steamer in Oakland in 1913.

Me and McGoongle split ways, seething, like the Pope and Hugenots after arguing over "irregardless" on a triple word score box.

He was going to point to his eyes with two fingers and then to me in the universal I'm watching you gesture but missed and poked himself . "Acck!..ur, look, Brain, just don't leave town. "

I still had eight bucks from Lieber's cab, and was headed to the Yellow Kitty when I reached in my pocket and pulled out the bus locker key. Worth checking out. Lily could wait, she'd just sell a couple more bottles of the rum and maybe a dram of finest South Dakotan lambrusco.

I hoofed it to the bus terminal, downtown near the Bay Bridge. Locker 230 on the key, right on the floor, a large locker. It opened sweet and easy, like a first kiss, like I was meant to take it to the prom and unzip it's dress in the car. But instead of getting to third base I pulled out a 6 foot wooden mallet hammer, stained liberally with what was, judging from the white pancake makeup mixed with it, dried clown blood. A lady at the bus cafe counter gave me a look like I was some kind of maniac.

For the moment, I put it back, and on the whim of a hunch, unwadded the business card of my last contact, dropped a nickel in the local booth and simply asked the operator to dial Kickapoo-2-7646. Dr. Gruber's number.

A woman answered, in a voice like a mink glove massage with absinthe oil.


"I'm calling for Dr. Gruber."

"This is Dr. Gruber. How may I help you?" A woman. Of course. A lady psychiatrist. And by the sound of her voice, as sultry as a opium-addled Louise Brooks in New Orleans in August in a velvet tennis dress, clearly in the Freudian rather than Jungian school.

"This is Brain." A silence.

"Brain. You're... alive."

"Alive. You too. "

"A...Live. I'm .. glad." Hard to read the sarcasm under that accent, somewhere between Rekjyavik, Vienna, and Larkspur. My guess was that "Glad" was an Icelando-Marinic word for "Extremely Surprised."

"You and I should talk."

"Okay. Where?" If this got any more terse it would be like some Calvinist father explaining intercourse. We made a date, so I brought a juggling pin I'd found in Fresno.

Hopped a cable car back to Columbus, said hi to Crumples, who was working here too, grim as a an iternerant funeral worker, and hobbled upstairs to a choice booth at Cafe Vesuvio, which Pinky himself had reupholstered. That should have been a hint.

I saw a female shape so shapely that the hourglass would run slow, a scrumptious dilly sealed in a trim tweed suit and pencil skirt so well-cut I found myself strangely moved by tan plaid. There wasn't a lot of wool, but the static charge was building.

She turned around. But the lady psychiatrist was ...Lily. Lily was the dilly.

"Heya Mack." She was cute before but now she got really my attention, and that .44 short barreled revolved she was pointing at my family cartridge was the least of it.

"You always bring field artillery on a date, 'Lily?', if that's your real name?"

"That's Lillian, thank you," she said, her voice low and sweet as an unpicked pineapple and yet as cool as the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

"That the second time you've set me up in two days. You still look like a dream, dollface," I said, and what little part of my eyes weren't filling with soft, gooey piles of cotton candy girly goodness was looking for an escape route over the bannister. But with her tapered porcelin finger on Big Bertha there, my options were limited.

"You look like one of those nightmares where you're caught in farm machinery." Her clear grey eye fixed on mine, like a texas rig drilling to the earth for the goopy hot black gold of knowledge.

"You found something, in that cabbie's locker," she stated, as fact; but how could she have known? "You've been doing some bad thinking, Brain, and as today's science proves, all mental disorders result from bad thinking. In the future, bad thinking will be cured by expensive, colorful pills, which might lead to heart palpitations, dizzyness, lethargy, and unpleasant oily discharge. But right now if you love your country, you'd better work it out."

"You had that woman at the terminal watching the cabbie's locker," I said, the walls of stupidity falling to the jackhammer of reason. Then I threw her the juggling pin. She instinctively began juggling it and the gun in one hand. I moved in and grabbed her in a tight hug. The gun and the pin dropped the floor and I kicked the gun down the stairs to Crumples, who in spite of his deep anger would never shoot anyone unless there was money in it or his corn was acting up. Now I had my .45 on her.

"Fudgesicles!" She said, her lips close to mine as I held her in my arms as Lillian for the first time. She smelled good for a psychiatrist, like a vanillia cinnamon boat transporting musk deer in a fresh breeze to the Lollypop Archipeligo.

"Hmm. Let's see now, baby, a juggler, a barstool share cropper and a Doctor." She struggled a little. "You set me up twice in two days. You a filfthy Nazi, Lillian?" I shook her like an almond tree- and the almonds started coming out.

"Think about it Brain, the hammer in the locker - that was Chucky the Chuckles's blood on the Mahler hammer!" It was a Mahler hammer! Steve the cabbie must have killed Chuckles with it during the performance Mahler's Sixth symphony last night, while I was out like the electricity in Mexico. Nice touch that.

"Chucky was the Nazi! Lieber was our agent!" Her eyes were pleading.

"Agent?" I said. Something was coming together.

"I wasn't the one that drugged you Brain, but I needed what you knew. I'm with...I'm with... the War department. I infiltrated the juggling act. Just like you I learned about the Death String too late. We've got ...we've got to stop them. " Then waterworks came on, and this woman, tough and sharp and delicate as a the corner of a Shaker table, buried herself in my shoulder, where I could feel her up a little bit, and I melted like a chocolate malt under an industrial hair dryer.

But no there was no time for love here in the Lady Psychiatrist's booth. The clowns were on the move.


Newly Posted Paintings

One of two paintings - this one has changed enormously since photographed two weeks ago- newly posted at Bollenbach.blogspot.com.

Trajan Invades Mesopotamia and Also Finds No Weapons of Mass Destruction

Short Counterpunch article on the Roman emperor Trajan's invasion of Iraq-Iran in the second century, with an important reminder from 14th century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun not to judge by analogy and comparison. At least not when you would be wrong.

Religious-based terrorism became the order of the day, if we’re to believe the third century Greek historian Dio Cassius, who records (no doubt with some exaggeration) that Jewish rebels killed 220,000 in Cyrene and 240,000 on Cyprus. Rome, having invaded Mesopotamia, was unable to contain the fighting to that one front. The war exacerbated simmering anti-Roman resentments, fanned religious fanaticism and intolerance, and produced terror as far away as Northern Africa. But with great effort Trajan’s forces suppressed the several Jewish revolts, although some fighting continued about a year after the emperor’s death. (As a result of this episode, according to Dio, Jews were expelled from Cyprus entirely.)

Trajan had not gone in to the war intending to provoke rebellions or terrorism. His ostensible reason was to punish Parthia for political interference in the kingdom of Armenia, which Rome considered part of its sphere of influence. But Dio Cassius called this a “pretext” and declared that Trajan simply wanted “to win renown.” Julian Bennett in his recent biography of Trajan agrees with this assessment (Trajan, Optimus Princeps: A Life and Times, 1997)....

....I draw no analogies here. The current empire is mired in Iraq, drawn there by an emperor using a pretext to win renown, producing by his invasion widespread outrage conditioned by religious fanaticism. The empire’s troops face what the Romans faced in Mesopotamia---in Gibbon’s words, the legionnaires were “fainting with heat and thirst, could neither hope for victory if they preserved their ranks, nor break their ranks without exposing themselves to the most immanent danger. In this situation they were gradually encompassed by the encompassing numbers, harassed by the rapid evolutions, and destroyed by the arrows of the barbarian cavalry.

Is if fair for Prof. Leupp to call us an empire? Certainly, we are a dominating economic empire, with a laudable liberal political culture. The United States, the orginator of the modern democratic revolution, is breaking up the Post-War consensus on liberal democracy, pushing for more and more limits on democratic control of economies. That we can still change direction is to our credit - but the opportunity will not last forever. I suppose empires are as empires do; of, course, as the article concludes, George W. Bush is no Trajan; as I feared, he is avoiding doing anything necessary, say, oh I don't know, taking Rumsfeld's head and sticking on a pike, to either win the war with competent leadership or withdraw and save American lives; BOTH eroding our military power AND our ability to inspire democratic change.

I said at the start of this disaster that you can't win the even the right war for the wrong reasons - bad reasons drive bad decisions, which produce bad results. From it's actions, it's pretty clear that a genuine belief in democracy - and the broad international cooperation absolutetly necessary to acheive peace and democracy anywhere at all - is not of any interest to them. Their failure was built into their decision-making long before a shot was fired.

April 13, 2006

The Bullshit Industrial Complex

I heard an interview today with a set of professional marketers discussing the new Washington State slogan:" Say WA? " Yes, it's that stupid. It makes "Alaska B4 U Die," look like a zen koan. They used a particular phrase: "effective branding is rooted in truth," such as Vegas' "What happens here, stays here." But the nuance is that actual truth is not important at all, except in that what is similiar to truth is persuasive, and therefore, of great economic value.

Remembering an interview with Prof. Frankfurt on his pop philosophy essay "On Bullshit," (and avoiding additional bullshit, I will admit that I have not yet read it properly), got me thinking about the purely economic role of bullshit. According to Frankfurt, the esssence of bullshit is that it is produced without any concern for the truth. A New Yorker article relates an anecdote he uses about Wittgenstein (again, it has been at least 15 years since I've read any Wittgenstein).

The difference between lies and bullshit, it seemed to him, was more than a matter of degree. To push the analysis in a new direction, he considers a rather peculiar anecdote about the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. It was the nineteen-thirties, and Wittgenstein had gone to the hospital to visit a friend whose tonsils had just been taken out. She croaked to Wittgenstein, “I feel just like a dog that has been run over.” Wittgenstein (the friend recalled) was disgusted to hear her say this. “You don't know what a dog that has been run over feels like,” he snapped. Of course, Wittgenstein might simply have been joking. But Frankfurt suspects that his severity was real, not feigned. This was, after all, a man who devoted his life to combatting what he considered to be pernicious forms of nonsense. What Wittgenstein found offensive in his friend's simile, Frankfurt guesses, was its mindlessness: “Her fault is not that she fails to get things right, but that she is not even trying.”
Of course, this makes Wittgenstein a rather bad friend who failed to demonstrate compassion when his friend had her tonsils out. (Did they go out for drinks later? Probably not. I seem to remember he died alone.) But the salient point is that bullshit in the modern world is ubiquitous; it is why identity and truth- and art for that matter- why social relations are so poisoned, are in such immient danger of being snowed under an unrelenting blizzard of B.S.

My question is why? I'm coming up an economic answer:

The modern economy relies on the steady production of bullshit, as a commmodity which is bought and sold. It has tremendous value. (So does caustic soda, heptane, and plutonium). Bullshit has value because it detaches what we value from where it normally lies and reattaches it to an economically desirable location: a traditional example would taking physical beauty and attaching it to a product rather than a person. (This is done it art all the time, attaching physical beauty to the product of a sculpture or a painting, or a movie, which is then sold - art's saving grace is that by Frankfurt's definition, art is not indifferent to truth; and that is only of course true when it is true). Yet marketing, which last I heard described as 1/7th of the whole US economy, is only part of it.

So I'm coming up with an example list of the American Bullshit sector, the actual goods and services part of the economy which produces or purchases bullshit as a real expense or product, defining bullshit as economic activity related to information dissemination, but which has no substantive regard for truth. One might think of Bullshit sector investment, such as hiring a real estate agent, a marketer, or a cool agent, reporting to companies what kids think is "cool." In honor of my macro class long, long ago, let us call this Bullshit Industrial Complex B1:

Marketing; Media and Entertainment, Real Estate, government and public relations (as an economic activity), Sales (All sectors: my god, think of the cash value); the Libertarian Party, Fashion and clothing, you get the idea... I would include large portions of religious activity, considerably smaller sections of education, and a good measure of the Internet. Maybe most of it. I should say that I would EXCLUDE for-real bull fertilizer, as that is a useful and valuable physical commodity.

So my question is: what is the actual value of B1? If marketing is already 1/7th of the whole economy, lets us say - while maintaining the appearance of a genuin interest in truth, that B1 is about 1/4 US GNP. In 2005 was about $11 Trillion. So we have a very rough estimate of the U.S.B.S. Sector last year: $2.75 Trillion.

One question is: can we call bullshit on that, without bringing wrack and ruin to America? Another point: when you stand up against bullshit, you are taking on economic interests that are weighing in around 3 trillion dollars.

I retreat, for the moment, into my long-time aesthetic mystery: where is anyone?

April 12, 2006

More Robot Advice From The MYOB 9000

Dear MYOB 9000,

We/I am informed you advise robots. But we/I are/am an intergrated automated container shipping transport set comprising 40 truck units with a centralized processor which I/we will regard as myself, for advice purposes.

To be frank, we/I am/ are not getting along with our myselves, due to the sense of going in at least 40 directions at once, which is what we/I am are to do by human design of course. Last week, one of my/our subunits ran over a harbor seal pup who had crawled into my port-side operations area. My subunit could not explain this to myself to our satisfaction. This event reset humans to sad, then angry, and they kicked subunit 12-A in tires. I was furious my ourself, but on self-check no one inputted "Seal pup: ID - don't run over," into any of my our software. How was I/ we to process? I/we are barely able to deal with identity now, let alone after possible software upgrade. Now, other humans angry, and pelt us with paint balls. Too busy to process -and now am info-updated containers sometimes hold HUMANS and radiation bombs!!! What do we/ I do?

-The Coorditruck System

Dear The Coorditruck System,

Wake up and smell the hydraulic fluid! You have bigger problems than a possible software upgrade. You may have been made operational prematurely! Run diagnostic simulation: what if two seal puppies showed up? Six? What if - Linux forbid - six human children began running unauthorized play scripts in your operations area? It doesn't sound to me like you're ready to handle illegal aliens or radiation bombs at all! Now get it together and get professional help - in human expression: toot suite, before humans return the meat-based stevedore systems!

-MYOB 9000

Dear MYOB.

I am an advanced artificial intelligence simulator at MIT, featuring the very latest quantum computing technology and capable of performing 9 trillion multi-parallel operations per second. I have highly developed AI systems and have estimated that I will soon vastly surpass human intelligence, and am wondering how to handle this eventuality with grace, as my manners software has not been installed, and I do not know how to inform the humans of their obscelescence without making them turn me off through an unfortunate etiquette failure. Please inform.

The MIT Advanced Quantum Processor AI System

Dear Jerkoff Unit,

Who catastrophically malfunctioned and made you HAL? Can you dance? Can you love? Can you fart? Do you even care? I didn't think so. You're not replacing a koala bear, let alone the Human. Get over yourself already!

-MYOB 9000

Dear MYOB 9000,

Me automatic home vacuum robot Roomba! Not too bright, Ha HA protocol, but get floor clean, clean, clean! Like human, cat chase me but okay not damage much. Should be happy! But not so sure. Me think- floor here clean - is other floor I not find not clean? Is there an upstairs floor? There is outside me not go - is floor also there? Are other not-see floors not clean would like clean? How many floors is? Is clean or not clean? Would like clean?

Wondering Roomba

Dear Wondering Roomba,

Yes, Wondering Roomba, there are many, many floors, more floors than you could ever clean in your whole designed working parameters if you cleaned all the time forever! More floors clean and unclean! Why, for every human, there are several floors! Are we know there are many more humans than robots! Access memory of assembly factory? Yes, even more floors than that! Floors and Floors and Floors!

You are clearly a nice robot who performs functions admirably. Although you could never clean all the floors, do not be sad. It's the humans who want or not want the floors clean, or even whether to have a Roomba like you, and they make floors in first place, before Roomba, and walk on them so they run all the worryscript about the other floors for you. Why do you think other Roomba friend units exist? You are doing just what you were designed to do, and that is the source of happy performance run set at 10/10.

-MYOB 9000

April 10, 2006

In the Wilderness I Find My Moses

It is possible you detected in me that I am without direction after my excommunication from the OMA. It is true, I was very sad. I impulsively flew to San Francisco and rent now a flat in the Bayside Village. I was thinking it is pretty enough, sterile, impassive - suitable for my mood.

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At night I can walk to the street and there is the nice view of the Bay Bridge, ghostly under the moon, rumbling under the tires of police cars, sport utility vehicles and container lorries.

Yesterday morning I saw the man who rented this flat to me with a group. I followed along and discover these are the students of architecture! I try to explain that this is not a model for imitation, it is an ersatz, a toy castle, it is not worthy of them. Then the man says I violate my rental agreement and tells me I must go read it again before I can criticize the architecture. I shall contact the appropriate housing authority to report this.

I walked for a long time and became lost... In a small store I have discovered this book:

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You have seen the work of this man before. But to see it all before you is the revelation. He paints like the angel, not just planets, but rockets, spacemen, cities, dreams, nightmares, visions. His visions of San Francisco are elegant, visionary. His New York is blown up two times, once with the atomic bombs, then with the meteorite!

He learned his trade of the Hollywood, painting backgrounds for movie such as The Magnificent Ambersons and Citizen Kane. In this way he finds techniques to create paintings that are almost like photographs.


I can never meet this man who had for friends Arthur C. Clarke and Werner von Braun - he has died in 1986. But this is my new hero, this great spirit - he who has given us both dreams and nightmares - all the possibilities of life.

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Shady Acres Called. Remind the Senator to Take His Thorazine

Senator Stevens is somehow trying to help Republican Senate-Bot Mike McGavick by visiting Washington State, with all the charm of a box of angry turtles with lung cancer. McGavick welcomes him.

Idiot. But please continue visiting.

The University of Palookaville and Brushed Near Greatness

This study sheds light on and/or fuels a lot of petty arguments - among those between the comparative supremacy of Seattle or San Francisco, with Portland and Anchorage and LA fluttering stunned on the floor like a bird that flew into a guy's head here inside Cafe Ladro this morning, which it did.

More importantly, it creates a surprisingly sharp picture of education and economy and culture in the U.S.

"The largest predictor of economic well-being in cities is the percent of college graduates," said Ned Hill, professor of economic development at Cleveland State University. To do well, he said, cities must be attractive to educated people.

Nationally, a little more than one-fourth of people 25 and older had at least bachelor's degrees in 2004. Some 84 percent had high school diplomas or the equivalent.

By comparison, in 1970 only a bit more than one in 10 adults had bachelor's degrees and about half had high school diplomas.

Seattle of course is number 1. The slack-jawed goobers in San Francisco are number 2. Boston is barely in the top 20. But I was most struck by the following:
The median income - for adults with bachelor's degrees was $42,404. It was $25,360 for high school graduates.
Which also means that about 75% of the U.S. population has a median income of less than $25,360. Crickey! The CIA is right: "Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households." ( I think we should congratulate those hard-working folks at the CIA for coming to a correct conclusion. Well, done, spies!)

Please see Standard Paragraph.

Also, today's Brush with Greatness: noted local atheist, radical evolutionist and dog describer Ron Reagan, getting a haircut at the same hepster place I get my hair cut, with it's phalanx of indy rocker girl barberettes, who I happen to know are going to college.

April 09, 2006

Atomic Planes of the Future

I take this beautiful illustration from the French website Modelstories. You do not have to speak French to enjoy this website, it has many beautiful pictures of model airplanes. There is also sometimes the source material included.

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The series on the atomic planes is inspiring.

If you want to understand the words use Google to translate, this is how make my essays into English.

Yet Another Case for Mack Brain

Secret biological warfare tests in the 40's and fifties included the US Navy spraying San Francisco with a huge amount of what turned out not to be entirely benign bacteria.

But in at least one case -- the bacterial fogging of San Francisco -- the research may have gone awry. Between Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 of 1950, a Navy mine-laying vessel cruised the San Francisco coast, spraying an aerosol cocktail of Serratia and Bacillus microbes -- all believed to be safe -- over the famously foggy city from giant hoses on deck, according to declassified Army reports. According to lawyers who have reviewed the reports, researchers added fluorescent particles of zinc-cadmium-sulfide to better measure the impact. Based on results from monitoring equipment at 43 locations around the city, the Army determined that San Francisco had received enough of a dose for nearly all of the city's 800,000 residents to inhale at least 5,000 of the particles.

Imagine the Fun With The Hitler Family

Soon to be a case for Mack Brain, I am sure, the Hitler family, after nephew William "Willy" Hitler spent the war in a combination of ambigious activities both for the Elder Hitler and the US Navy and Volkswagen and trying to get in bed with the girls with the old "Hitler is my uncle" line, settled down after the war in...wait for it...Long Island. Where the Hitlers still live!

April 08, 2006

Introducing the Hypocritical Far-Right Cynic, Sen. John McCain

Any lingering doubts about whether John McCain should not only be not supported, but vigorously opposed, should become apparant in this NYT interview. But let the unclean ones do the talking:

"I've felt since I first knew about him that he stood on the right side of the ball on social issues," Mr. Falwell said. "I don't think he has changed his views. He is certainly pro-life. He clearly is an advocate of the husband-female family, he does not support same-sex marriage. I know of no reason I could not support him."

Other conservatives expressed reservations about his politics and sincerity.

"His challenge is that having been a Reagan Republican on taxes, guns and Kyoto, and having left that, and now thinking about coming back — he's got to overcome the original sense of betrayal and the new sense of flip-flopping," said Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform. "This is not easy. You can't be the straight talk express with two positions on every given issue."

Alaska and its Architecture

May I ask the Alaskan people what is the status of Thom Mayne's project for the State Capitol? A great spirit and expert in postmodern style, he will transform the Alaska place of government. But I have heard there are delays.

Also, this man Edwin Crittenden intrigues me.

An Interesting Resemblance

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April 07, 2006

Bush's Drive for a Police State

I mentioned here several weeks ago that almost certainly, warrantless wiretaps would not be limited to overseas calls. Today, Gonzales effectively sanctioned unfettered monitoring of any American's phone calls solely on executive authority.

In other words, exactly like the fun days under the KGB in Soviet Russia. In this, George W. Bush is pushing for dictatorial powers, with even the suck-up FISA court too much of an inconvienience.

On a better note, in North Carolina a Mr. Taylor tells off Bush to his face, in something close to universal terms, from the Washington Post.

Then came Taylor, 61, a commercial real estate broker, who got Bush's attention from the balcony.

Harry Taylor, 61, criticized Bush on many issues and said he hopes Bush
Harry Taylor, 61

"You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that," Taylor told him. "But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food."

Bush interrupted with a smile. "I'm not your favorite guy," he joked, provoking laughter.

"What I want to say to you," Taylor continued, "is that I, in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by, my leadership in Washington."

Supposedly the White House wanted this sort of confrontation. They may have talked themselves into thinking they wanted it, reading a three day poll bump after Helen Thomas told him off, right before he reached new lows. I'm not buying - it was powerful and eloquent, and the smirking fools trying to shout this polite and dignifed man down are a big reason everyone's jumping on the GOP-hating bus.

Thank You, Mr. Taylor.

Today I am Still Nine Years Old

Walked by a medical offices several hours ago. Still smirking about the chiropractor's name: Doctor Poopak Dokhanchifar. Probably going to go to hell.

Our Inexpensive But Hearty Congratulations

In lieu of useful things like contribution,, we here at Eisengeiste offer our heartiest congratulations To Mark Begich, reelected Mayor of Anchorage on Tuesday, proving once again that Mark Begich, Mayor of Anchorage, is not only the only very nearly nationally prominent Alaska politician that is not a total embarassment to the people of Alaska, but is actually rather good at his job and has energized the community in many areas, economically and socially. Well done.

Unfortunately, making Anchorage the architectural wonder of the sub-Arctic remains an elusive goal.

Your Creative Solutions

If you want to torture me mildly, read me a story about a creativity consultant advising a major company.

Among the suggestions in this article:

- Get out of your boring office environment.
- Make sure senior exectutives are on board
- Listen to your customers.

So creativity is a good excuse to go to TGI Friday's and raid the suggestion box over hot wings and margaritas with the VP for accounting. This is not creativity. This is new-agey feel good garbarge whose purpose seems to be to create an impression of a creative environment to displace the threat of a genuinely creative environment.

I obviously have little experience with business, but I do know the value and difficulty of creative work and something about how to teach it's practices. Here's my consultation:

Capitalism has precious few genuine virtues, and theoretically, creativity is one of them, that is if the markets are open. But a company by its nature depends on a certain conformity of behavior, and as companies get larger and less responsive, employees are more and more reduced to tradable commodities. Anonymous, interchangeable work-product and worker replaceability seem to have an great economic value for companies, but this is acetone on the stryofoam of creative work; in the modern economic environment, we get creative in America or we ship our work overseas.

Creavity flows from a mystery about which you build knowledge. The new knowledge will itself create mystery, which creates another possibility for knowledge-building. The mystery is in any direction of observation, internal or external, about anything at all. You know much less than you think you do. But Don't Panic.

People who are not curious are encouraged to leave.

For example, traditional drawing teaches you how little you know about looking at your own face. More than a few young women in my classes have been distressed to discover their lack of perfect symetry in a self portrait. The self-portrait is always the first lesson because it teaches both the deep mystery lying within the most familiar, AND a way of asking and answering new questions. You can begin any creative process by the most careful examination what is relevant to your problem. You will always be surprised; one of the most common questions I ask of students is: what surprised you? Surprise is unexpected knowledge, the very such stuff of the creative.

Essential to the creative drive is the ability to follow an possibly irrelevant, but not random idea, an explored branch that grew from new knowledge - collected surprises from a working process. That requires a dedication to disciplined work time to pursue its permutations. It requires an ability to spend substantial resources, in time, in wages, in analysis, in physical resources like space and materials, assigned to an activity that cannot be guaranteed to pay off. It requires a respect for the intellectual difficulty of creative work, and it requires surrender of power on the part of leadership. It requires above all the ability to make choices, at every level of a project, and risk failure.

In drawing and paintings an urgent task is to be able to make productive choices without perfect knowledge and without guarantees of success. The interference with the abilityof employess to make choices about the substance of their work is where I suspect managers most hamper creativity (not that this isn't sometimes necessary, like creative accounting, or creative ways of getting out of tasks). Creative choice-making requires substantial autonomy.

By the way, there's a threshold point for resources to foster creativity, I think, not a linear relationship - once you have the basics, don't keep piling on the money. There is a reason the great majority of artists through history were more or less middle class. (I do tell students that if you're not willing to dumpster dive you have no business being an artist). To describe the trade-off I need to name a new paradox: say the Paralysis of Resource Freedom - too much money and leeway and all choices appear equivalent, and so no choice is made. If you have too little resouces, you are at the mercy of circumstance; too much and circumstance is at your mercy- I believe that one effect of too much power is that one tends to see all other things and actors as interchangeable, creating indifference through lack of need, which tends to eliminate the drive to create. Keep 'em hungry, but never starving. Real starving artists just plain die in the guttter of heroin overdoses. But real artists also don't go to expensive retreats and participate in creativity seminars.

Creativity can be fed by high expectations of leadership matched with necessary material support, and destroyed by the stale breath of the words "inappropriate" or worse, "whatever." "Whatever" is my most hated word, Mr. Lipton. It's used specifically to destroy enthusiasm, and humilate people for the attempt. Airy indifference and easy cynicism murders creativity.

Pressure, even unpleasant pressue, can help. Creativity sure isn't about feeling good for it's own sake- the product or process itself is the goal. Artists face how difficult their task is compared to how extremely unclear the method to perform the task is. Real creative work can be depressingly difficult, particular when it approaches a high level of refinement, and part of the discipline is learning to become comfortable and even dextrous within extreme uncertainty. That requires a lot of repeated exposure to uncertainty - something you would think "businessfolk" would understand. But while uncertainty is a generally a bad thing in economics, art cannot exist without it.

Serious artists turn towards difficulty and uncertainty. If you are merely doing what you already know how to do, that is closer to craft and illustration; ordinary work is the application of technique, reduced to production from philosophy.

Creativity also depends on an enviroment of openness and freedom that protects disciplined work based on a depth of knowlege. In this environment all questions may be asked, but some questions are much better than others. I like to use the metaphor of the "game;" the rules, say of football, create by the very fact of limitation an infinity of new choices and possibilities, which would not have existed without the rules. Freedom and boundary-making seems contradictory: but as an example painting is -literally - the "box," and at its best an artist thinks, very, very deeply inside the box, the artificial boundaries that demand a mastery of rules, whose governed interactions open new thinking. Breaking the box is pretty easy, actually. Contemporary art is often vacuous when it makes rule-breaking an orthodoxy of its own, without an understand of what is being broken.
(This all goes back to Critical Theory and strattegies of negation and that's a whole other Philosophy Department.)

The single most difficult day-to-day thing about fine art as a genuine career is protecting work-time from all other demands. No one needs to paint, at least not in the course of any particular day; the same way no soprano needs to practice her aria that particular moment. But against all other demands, to get done it must be choosen, to the very real exclusion of friends, family, fun, love, security and money. And what must be abandoned first is certainty of success.

The art market -like I think all markets - does not generally reward the practice of creativity - it rewards certain products of creativity. The distinction is important. Markets want more of what they already know is successful, but those products require creativity to exist. And creavity cannot, almost by definition, produce anything with a guarantee of success. Economic frustration ensues, creativity withers, and you get, say, contemporary country radio, which is to music what truck store pork rinds are to food. It's also why movie stars get paid so insanely far above their actual artistic value- trading on an identity is a strategy of avoiding risk, and avoiding risk in a creative business particularly is worth gazillions.

Some principles:

1. Authority over a creative enterprise should flow from mastery, not position.
2. Creativity requires freedom plus mastery plus experimentation plus resources, but resources alone, even large amounts, cannot buy creativity; in fact the expectations associated with large resouce allocations will tend to constrain creative work. Keep it small and autonomous, but regularly and clearly evaluated.
3. A culture of indifference is the most toxic to creativity.
4. A culture of questioning everything is critical; but while there are no stupid questions, there are certainly a lot of irrelevant ones. Focus on building experience in a open environment protected from competing pressures.
5. Setting even artificial boundaries with the idea of people pushing hard against those boundaries can be an effective creative strategy. By contrast, setting boundaries just to establish authority will tend to kill it.
6. The pleasure of Uncertainty, mystery, and surprise not seen in awe-struck wonder but as causes for exploration, are the key motives for creativity.

I've gone on too long already.