Ongoing confession of a long-standing party-pooper pessimist

Back in the early 80s, there was a lower economic area of Buckhead that began to eat itself in the hopes of attaining glory. We lived in the area right before it began to chow down. The name of the apartment “complex” may have been Oak Hill. My husband thinks it may have been Oak Hill. I don’t have a clue. And he’s not certain because that isn’t how it was known. Its common name was “Viet Cong Villa”. The buildings were dark red brick, each consisting of, if I remember correctly, 4 to 6 townhome type apartments (upstairs and down), either two or three bedrooms, probably built in the 40s. The Emory family-student housing complex was in the same style, the one they tore down and replaced around the time of the Olympics.

The name “Viet Cong Villa” should clue in as to the neighborhood. I don’t know why but a large number of Vietnamese families had settled in the complex. Extended families of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. There was also a significant-sized “hispanic” community and a number of other nationalities. In our little cul-de-sac we were the only household with English as the primary language. The two apartments on our left were Vietnamese. The one on our right was Hispanic. The next building was all Vietnamese with the exception of one German family. The complex was probably close to 90 percent Vietnamese and Hispanic.

Between 1975 and 1984 about 8000 Vietnamese arrived in Georgia as refugees, poor, bewildered, struggling to cope with new culture. One set of my grandparents lived in southwestern Missouri and a number of Vietnamese had landed there as well, not quite so easy to overlook, seeming like a wayward flock of birds blown off course by a storm, about as inobvious as if if you were watching Shirley Jones and Robert Preston in “Music Man” and suddenly there was this group of Vietnamese extras in the background who you could swear weren’t within two worlds of the parade your last viewing. But there are a lot more buildings in Atlanta where the roads snake around and about instead of squaring off in neat orderly blocks, and those faces disappeared into the fringes in the midst of the city, hidden in the nicks and tucks of those roads, such as at Oak Hill, the entrance to which was deftly hidden in plain view at a stop light at an imposing RR trestle that served as a gate to Piedmont Road’s ascendance into Buckhead. Most people we knew or know never realized the apartment complex even existed.

Continue reading Ongoing confession of a long-standing party-pooper pessimist

A Radiant Botanist’s Primer: Lesson one, on the weeds and the flowers

From the NY Times which I see today has an article on megachurches (a subject I brought up in Friday’s post).

When you ask people how Radiant has changed their lives, they will almost invariably talk about how it helped open their hearts. But there’s a kind of narrowing going on here as well, which became clear a few minutes later, when Tom flipped to another passage from a recent sermon. ” ‘Some seed fell among the thorny weeds, and the weeds grew up with them and choked the good plants,’ ” he read, quoting Luke 8:7. Then he added his exegesis: ”We’ve had friends who were not Christian, and for me they were like the thorny weeds,” he said. ”We’ve had to commit ourselves to friends who could help us grow spiritually.”

Continue reading A Radiant Botanist’s Primer: Lesson one, on the weeds and the flowers

And she stole all the curtains and the dresser

Consider this two posts in one.

Happen (yesterday morning now) across the story at Pandagon. The IMAX movie, “Volcanoes of the Deep Sea”, banned at venues in southern states (GA, SC, NC and TX). Why? Because it mentions the dreaded big E word. Even the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Texas has declined to show the film, not wanting to spark controversy.

More here at Edpolitics and then at Panda’s Thumb.

A spokesman for the Science Museum in London described the development as worrying: ‘It is a very tight market in the Imax business and we would be extremely disappointed if this sort of pressure led to a narrowing of the market for popular Imax films.”

So march on the Creationists who are endeavoring to “take back” America from the terrorist nonpuritans who threaten to destroy holy capitalist industry with irreverent speculation on bipedalism.

Continue reading And she stole all the curtains and the dresser

Techniques that profit nothing and fantastic invasions

Billmon’s left sidebar shows he’s reading Robert Gellately’s “Backing Hitler, Consent & Coercion in Nazi Germany”. I would post too in side bars what I read but the things I’m most influenced by I’ve been reading for 20 years, so wouldn’t be “things I’m reading” but “here’s my flesh and bone, looks suspiciously like paper and print, dunnit…”

Rolling along to the next death bus stop, “Natural” death in Afghanistan at Body and Soul brings up again how the FBI criticized “inhumane” interrogation practices at Guantanamo Bay saying they also accomplished nothing and revealed no more than what the FBI got using simple techniques. The Justice Department, reviewing the memo for “national security secrets” before releasing it to “a civil liberties group in December, redacted the part about the intelligence information being “suspect at best” and also blocked out an assertion that the military’s interrogation practices could undermine future military trials for terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay. It did this after the Defense Dept expressed its own opinions on what parts of the letter should be redacted.

The FBI was so concerned about the interrogation practices that they went to William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon’s chief attorney. However, Att. General Alberto R. Gonzales, is skeptical on the reliability of the FBI’s accounts.

Sneeze, kerchoo! (Finally over winter colds and now into the damned Atlanta pollen season and no matter what I do I’m blowing my nose like crazy again but at least I had almost two weeks respite). And now returning to Billmon, he writes here on a revelation he had before the election:

And that’s when it hit me – as if, to quote Col. Kurtz, I’d been shot in the forehead with a diamond – that Kerry was almost certainly going to lose the election, that the American people really were going to ratify torture and murder as instruments of state policy, and that all the facts and all the rational arguments and all the moral outrage in the world weren’t going to persuade them otherwise.

What I finally had to confront was the fact that truth alone is impotent in the face of modern propaganda techniques – as developed, field tested, refined and deployed by Madison Avenue, the Pentagon, the think tanks, the marketing departments of major corporations, the communications departments of major research universities, etc. To paraphrase Hannah Arendt, the peculiar vulnerability of historical truth (which means political truth) is that it isn’t inherently more plausible than outright lies, since the facts could always have been otherwise. And in a world where the airwaves are overloaded 24/7 with the mindless babbling of complete idiots, it isn’t very hard to make inconvenient facts disappear, or create new pseudofacts that reinforce whatever bias or cultural affinity you want to cultivate – particularly if the audience is already disposed to prefer your reassuring lies to discomforting truths told by strangers..

It was depressing but Billmon eventually accepted the futility and resurrected his blog, though approaching it differently.

I read others stopping writing with that sense of overwhelming futility, and some come back and also decide to approach their writing (blogging) differently.

Futility has as way of making one rethink the relationship between action and result, endeavor and reward..

There are differences, but America is waging much the same kind of war in the Middle East that it did here with American Indian Nations and is still ongoing, unsettled. I keep wanting to quote from George Tinker”s “Spirit and Resistance'” on how deeply rooted in the expansion and dominance, the policing and bringing all to conformity (for its own good, though in accordance with western priorities) is a peculiar theological mix so taken for granted that different camps may not recognize how similar is their food and ignorant of the why of the taste for it, a theological mix often at odds but has as its driving force the notion of individual greed being what motivates individuals.

But I’m not going to go there because I’m looking at the cover of the book “Backing Hitler, Consent & Coercion in Nazi Germany”, I’m looking at Billmon’s statement of futility in the face of the knowledge that “the American people really were going to ratify torture and murder as instruments of state policy, and that all the facts and all the rational arguments and all the moral outrage in the world weren’t going to persuade them otherwise…the audience is already disposed to prefer your reassuring lies to discomforting truths told by strangers.” I am considering how many Germans responding to Hitler as Father, how many Americans responded to Reagan as the consoling Father who raised their spirits and made them proud again after what they viewed as a decade of defeat and humiliation.

And I’m reflecting on this account of the trip of some Otoe chiefs to Washington in 1873:

STAND BY: If you have a piece of land and I sell it, you would not like it.
COMMISSIONER: If you are my Agent and sell it, it is all right. You must remember there is a difference. You are the child of Government, and it must take care of you.
STANDY BY: If you have children and they want money, they have it. They do as they want to.
COMMISSIONER: No, they do not. My child does as I want to have her. If any child wants anything and I want her to have it she gets it. But if I don’t want her to have it she don’t get it and she does not turn around and ask me how I would like it if she had my money and would not let me have it.

I am thinking about modern responses to these accounts, the speeches of the politicians of the day toward the American Indians,. There are those who accept the paternalism as they see the American Indians as having been barbaric, child-like and in need of the progress their Anglo-European superiors were supposedly offering them. Then there are those who recognize the paternalism for what it is. How many recognize in this language the coercion and anticipated consent that predisposes people to hearing and accepting reassuring lies?

But of course that language wasn’t dreamt up only for coercing, in this case, the Otoe. It is a way of thinking and dealing with people that the Commissioner expected the Otoe to bow before and respect, to not question, because his general experience of it in his own society was positive and rational argument that purchased desired result. That he refers to his child here as “her” perhaps has nothing to do with his child’s actual sex but is part and parcel of his acknowledging his child as an inferior (just as women were subordinate, inferior) who has been taught not to question how the world responds to her, how authority responds to her. Americans may not like to think of themselves as living in this manner, but then when one grows up always knowing that a square house is the perfect shape for a house then one is predisposed to think of modifying domicile according to one’s needs and desires in the manner that a square teaches it may be modified. Or even subverted.

“Apocalypse Now” is about Anglo-European sensibilities in the same way that “Heart of Darkness” is about Anglo-European sensibilities.

I glance through a few pages of “Heart of Darkness” and come upon the lines where it’s acknowledged “I am not disclosing any trade secrets” that Kurtz’s methods had ruined the district, and there had been nothing profitable in them (I glance back up to the FBI saying there was nothing profitable in the investigative techniques used by the military), they only showed a lack of restraint, marked a deficiency found out early by the wilderness, and “had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion”.

A congregation of harpies

So, I went from Alas, a Blog’s postings on Schiavo to Trish Wilson’s posting on Schiavo, after which she promised it would be a Schiavo-free zone.

I commented and am now back here.

I, too, hadn’t intended to blog on Terri Schiavo. Even last night after reading the latest at the NY Times, the argument that the politicians are going with, that it would be violating Schiavo’s constitutional rights with the withholding of nutrition needed to keep her alive. Enraged after reading this, I wrote on how if they believed at all in what they said they’d be doing something about health care and pharmaceuticals out of reach of those who need them because of the costs, and wouldn’t be penalizing those who go bankrupt due to the high cost of health care. Enraged, I wrote how I can sympathize with the concern of disability rights groups who have banded together in support of the Schiavo bill, but that there’s nothing to do with compassion here, and political intentions are stinking rank. And before I wrote and as I wrote, accompanying me was this image of Harpies, gigantic dark Harpies who, drawn to the Capitol by this audacity, clung by nightmare talons to the gutters, eerie wind rippling feathers, and screamed and shrieked down the politicians with their rage. Unable to explain the why of the Harpies who just would not let go, the largest of which kept her eyes on me as if I should be able to hear and explain, I erased the post, incapable.

Continue reading A congregation of harpies

The Sound of Music, i.e. "That’s Mary Poppins?"

Image from Wikipedia

Still too much in a flu (well, stomach bug) haze (my pregnant sister landed in the hospital with it Wednesday-Thursday, and thank goodness she’s OK) and staring at the wall being still not an option but an occupation, I am pulling out of Bigsofa archives a blog of “The Sound of Music”. Note that several things now associated with Homeland Security were in the film the explicit territory of Nazis.

The Sound of Music

Directed by Robert Wise
Julie Andrews – Marie von Trapp
Christopher Plummer – Captain von Trapp
Eleanor Parker – The Baroness
Richard Haydn – Max Detweiler

Released 1965
Rates: Good movie but really twisted politics

I read “Sound of Music” is the most watched movie of all time, which means it must be blogged. After all, the most watched move of all time must resonate deeply with a host of people.

Continue reading The Sound of Music, i.e. "That’s Mary Poppins?"

Spring is when Jesus dies. I remembered this Sunday because the billboards were up

Spring is nearly here. Virtually here. In the south, in Georgia, spring arrives early. One day in March you open your door and stumble over spring into summer. For the next couple of weeks summer and winter play badminton over spring’s head then send her off. Once a decade an ice storm will sweep through forcing the issue of winter a little longer.

Sunday we went hoodified out the apartment building door. A sleeveless woman immediately jogging past, I made an effort at casual as I took off the hoodie and stuffed it between the van’s dashboard and windshield. “Ah, spring.” Down the street, I was reassured to see others as slow as I or reluctant (which I am as well) to concede summer. Fifty percent of the population was sleeveless and in shorts. The other fifty percent was in heavy jackets and knit beanies. Those in jackets looked weary. Exempting the homeless (who have nowhere to stow the heavy coat) they looked destination-driven, either walking home with groceries from the store or looking like they were on their way to the bus stop to go to work. Those who were sleeveless were laughing, jogging, running.

Spring is when Jesus dies. I remembered this Sunday because the billboards were up. There are no billboards advertising his death downtown and midtown. One doesn’t hit them until out closer to the Perimeter, stationed for those who drive-in for work, drive-out to the far-reaching satellite suburbs for living. The Perimeter, a loop of 18-wheeler meth-fueled race track which circles Atlanta, is the snake that bounds the edges of the orderly world, beyond which is chaos, Atlanta having grown 10 percent geographically for every 1 percent growth in population, and I read that in the past 30 years Atlanta has grown faster than any human settlement in history. Seems to me there should be a relativity disclaimer but why bother. The Perimeter distinguishes in-town from “beyond”. The areas we’ve opted to live in have always been within the Perimeter, multicultural and Baxter Bunny Vermont maple candy diverse as in mom-and-mom and pop-and-pop households didn’t mean, while the next door same-sex couple passed from home to car, hiding the kids so life wouldn’t prospect you with explaining whatever until they were old enough to fully inculcate the horrors or leave home . Whenever we neared the Perimeter it was time to turn around and go home. So I’m rather shamed that Son was born outside the Perimeter, courtesy of the not-so-hot group insurance I luckily had at the time, at a hospital a later in-town gynecologist I saw said he didn’t even know existed. Not that the in-town gynecologist scored anything but negative points with me when we were talking about perimenopausality and he qualified menopause as a disease that should be treated with hormones. I said I found it hard to believe that nature’s design was that all post-fertile women should be observed as diseased. He spoke down to me saying disease was the body not operating properly and thus menopause was a disease. I didn’t return.

I believe we were on I-285 when I saw him, Jesus, now ? percent bigger than thou’s god, looking out over the many lanes of traffic. He was bearded, his head turned down. I looked twice because I’m always startled by a two thousand-year-old synthesis of Greco-Roman Dionysian mystery cults, Jewish mysticism and Gnostic pessimism surveying traffic from on high, can’t help it. I looked twice because there was something wrong with this year’s medium close-up of god’s son on the cross. My first thought was geez, the toymakers who do the gory dinosaurs had gotten him.

Last week my son, in the third year of his search for the ultimate dinosaur toy, was showing me desirables from a toysite hosting dinosaurs that were all curiously distinguished with having a chunk of flesh bitten from their breasts, a window on their rib cage. The curious distinguishment was small enough to not be too demanding, but I had to wrestle with it. Other than that hunk of flesh gone exposing red meat and bone, they were like any other toy dinosaur. Reason shooed away my brain’s first-response that these must be dinosaur models, like break-apart modular human mannequin chests, used by high schools and colleges for teaching dinosaur anatomy to prospective dinosaur doctors. I stopped wrestling with the dinosaurs and became distressed over my brain.

Back to I-285 and Jesus on the billboard. Whose midsection was covered in blood. Not his muscled chest or arms. Where his stomach should have been there was instead lots of red paint and my brain’s first response was that the toy dinosaur makers had chomped a hunk out hoping to boost sales. That’s what the electric running billboard that is my mind offered first as it began presenting possibles. “You gonna pick me?” No, pass on the dinosaur. The next choice was Jesus a la Mel Gibson. I became a fly in the mobile phone of a preacher talking PR and dollars. Who do we love? Mel Gibson. Who showed the passion like it really was? Mel Gibson. What had people laid down a lot of dollars for? The Mel Gibson model. Go with it. Only forego the lashes for a flood of blood. That’s what the folk are interested in. Bloody Christ.

I can’t compare Mel Gibson’s Christ to this version as I didn’t see Mel’s movie. The idea of part of god condescending to experience suffering “when He didn’t have to” in the form of that part being a sacrificed son and just how much guts that took doesn’t much impress me.

Because I didn’t see “The Passion of the Christ” and no one I know saw it, I have to depend on reports of the public stir over the film, one camp complaining it was a near pornographic display of violence while the other insisted it had to do with exposing everyone the reality of the torture.

Because I couldn’t closely examine the billboard I’m depending also on an impression of it. I figure that’s OK as that’s what the billboard is designed for, overseeing the interstate where only a quick glimpse is afforded, unless one is stalled in traffic.

As a child I was for a brief time RC and the church I was exposed to during that time had a crucifix that on weekdays I would ride down early morning on my bike (just turned nine and able to bike around town) and visit. On Sundays I studied the Stations of the Cross hung on the walls and the peculiar figure of the infant ruling Christ dressed in that Sunday’s colors like a little doll. Alone, on weekday mornings I would visit the crucifix. I remember this one wasn’t mass-produced and that a craftsman had made it was something I thought a lot about. I’d sit in the pew thinking about the person who had carved the figure, comprehending that each personally carved Christ was going to express its creator, and that is what impressed me more than anything else.

Considering the times, thinking of the emphasis of some churches on the passion of Christ, I was reminded of the pictures of the tortures at Abu Ghraib, torture being torture, humiliation being humiliation, regardless who experiences it. I was reminded of military photographed laughing over dead individuals. Discarding any mystic content to the Christ, approaching the Christ as a historical individual as literalists do, I considered how the tortures of Jesus did not include sexual humiliation, which is convenient as passion plays would have a hard time dealing with that. No dehumanizing, identity-removing hoods. It would be difficult to enter a theater of war carrying the cross of such a Christ as one’s hope and testament of strength. No, instead, the billboard Passion Play Christ is god as contest of wills, a visage of blood contest intended to terrify the enemy, the eternal warrior never subjected to feeble old age. A young man, he is at the peak of his strength when he dies and rises anew to continue battling on. In this aspect he is the god’s son of no conflict between god and state, saying give unto Caesar what is Caesars. This is the prevailing internet interpretation I read of Jesus telling Peter to replace his sword, to let the government do god’s will. That the state’s will is god’s will, there being no state which doesn’t draw it’s rule from god. This is not a pacific Christ teaching non-violence, I read. Instead he is taking the sword from the hands of the individual and putting it in the state’s hands. One is to submit to the authority of the state.

Which is perhaps why Bush reportedly told a group of Amish that God spoke through him, he was sure of that, or else he’d not be able to do his job.

Christianity has been for nearly two thousand years a religion of war, of conquering, of bringing the heathen world within the dominion of the right god, subjugating and destroying other cultures by excuse of spreading the word. The Jesus on the billboard is the War Christ so popular among Xtian Fundamentalists. The mystery of the ancient symbol of the cross isn’t deliberating upon, nor the mystery of an empty tomb. I think one reason the idea of the Rapture is so popular is because of insecurity in the idea of resurrection. My suspicion is though they speak of their god being one who has brought the promise of resurrection, they fear death, they don’t want to lie in the ground where the body decays , flesh falls from the bone. The Rapture is a better alternative because that way you don’t have to risk the uncertainty of resurrection. What accompanies the Rapture but the End Times, so is it any wonder too that many wish those End Times would hurry up and get here before they die. In this way, Fundamentalist Xtianity, which offers no reward in examining actions and consequence into the 7th generataion, is not only ever ready for immediate catastrophe , there are also some who wouldn’t mind helping it along so that their god will return.

Over at Stone Bridge is a rumination on Karl Rove’s rapture:

There is a lot of schadenfreude hidden in the message of the Rapture. Why is that? The message has been around since a preacher named Darby invented it in the 19th century, but it seems to have caught on just as red state residents got more unhappy in general. And why indeed shouldn’t they get more unhappy? The bottom 2 economic quintiles in the country (heavily represented in red state America) have been getting steadily poorer for 30 years, the middle quintile is getting steadily more uncertain that they won’t be next, and thru the genius of Karl Rove the Republican wurlitzer has provided a steady menu of scapegoats for whatever is troubling you. Liberals. Homosexuals. Feminists. Muslims, since 9/11. We are all familiar with this. But why are fundamentalists in particular so susceptible to this stuff?

Having lived on the edges of a Fundamentalist family (my husband’s) for a long while I’ve thought about this a long while, and observed how it plays in the strangling of more moderate churches, such as the tearing apart of the Southern Baptist Convention, which was founded for the purpose of preservation of slavery among its missionaries, was staunchly conservative but permitted individual choice in interpretation of scripture as literal or not, and with the Fundamentalist takeover was finally even abandoned by President Jimmy Carter after 65 years of membership.

My husband’s parents remain members and would be considered liberal by his mother’s side of the family who were/are Assembly of God.

A common thread in Fundamentalism seems a contempt for other, for education, for learning. American Indians of different nations went to D.C. and Europe and returning home many said, “No thanks”. They were exposed to Anglo-European culture with the hope they’d be cowed by its magic. Instead many speak of the slavery of the Anglo-European culture to its desires, its effects, and the harsh treatment of its people. Fundamentalism seems frequently unable to afford investigation into “other”. The rejuvenating, circular, tail-devouring Ouroborous which contains the known and outside of which is terrible, menacing chaos, is threatening, and also as enticing as it was to Eve who tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Duality, the dark side as evil in opposition to light, is essential to Fundamentalism which can’t tolerate incorporation of nature’s ambiguities into the self, has never considered seeking a path of balance rather than elimination, the White hats sentencing the Black hats to death or vice versa.

If Fundamentalism can’t afford investigation of “other”, it’s unlikely to be able to afford much self-scrutiny. Convinced of self-righteousness, their Christ is he who claimed to be bringing, rather than peace, a divisive, discriminating sword. I read somewhere the astute observation that the Passion Christ leaves his Fundamentalist followers in a tense position of waiting the return of god. The wording was particularly adept but I can’t locate it now. That tension lived daily, flavored with a literal interpretation of Revelation and its condemnation of the bulk of humanity, their reality the center of the universe, the devil lurking at the door seeking to trick, to deceive, to wrest salvation away, the vigilance required to be ever ready for transfiguration and to keep their personal devil away from Rapture’s door, must leave very little energy left for anything but sharpening the sword of division. Their concern is global, knowing whole countries are doomed to Judas Iscariot perdition as agents of tyranny used by god to remind his people when they are out of step, which means that war is fought not only to rid the world of evil but to prove a quickly recovered spiritual superiority with every victory. The saying “We are all related” tends toward an all-embracing affinity (when interpreted as not only referring to family), and this understanding is certainly there with Fundamentalism, but the relatedness is threatening, is shaped to point toward Rapture and End Times. All events and people being directly concerned with them, a matter of their concern, it’s impossible to leave others alone. Personal and national sovereignty mean nothing. Though they understand they are ultimately the victors in all, their god describing himself as hated by the world makes them also always victims. Those who do well in the world are aided either by god or the devil depending on their profession of faith. Those who do not do well, if they are not Xtian, are paying the penalty of the heathen. Those who do not do well, if they are Xtian, may be seen as some way deficient and that god’s teaching him with the rod, or they may be hated victims just as their god is both hated victim and victor. That’s a great amount of flexibility and judgment often relies on who claims to serve as a mouthpiece for god. Support is fickle if even in a tight-knit community individuals may be abandoned as suffering hardship for sake of divine instruction. Outside the community? There’s likely to be little compassion for the suffering if one can’t count on their own people for support.

The Passion Play Christ on the billboard will likely be said to be a loving Christ who serves as channel to god. But that love, with Fundamentalism, is severe. A sword of which the prophecy is taken literally that it will divide family according to belief or non-belief, eschews the sacred ancestral beliefs held in many cultures, adopting members of the faith into one tree that is not inclusive, which is nothing but the obliteration of the history of other cultures.

March 19, 2003 is when the U.S. chose to start the war on Iraq. Right before the Spring Equinox.

When my son was six he saw a crucifix for the first time and thought it was an odd totem pole. To me this meant we’d managed to get through his first six years, in the Deep South, relatively unscathed by Xtian imagery. His father’s parents have been respectful of our views and not, to my knowledge, attempted to instruct him, though they have routinely given him Xtian books.

When he was one, I insisted he meet his father’s mother’s mother before she died, though we had for years been told not to visit because of, well, who we were. She still lived in the house the decent wages of her paper mill union husband had purchased decades previous. There were many pictures of Christ. No books. I think she softened toward me for the first time, crying when she saw me breastfeeding, saying no one she knew breastfed anymore. This meant a great deal to her. She repeatedly pled that he be saved so that she would see him in heaven. She was in her 90s. I said she didn’t have to worry. Some may think I was deceiving her, but I didn’t feel I was. For no, I didn’t and don’t think she needed to worry.

Not long ago my son, it having been the first time in his life he was informed, by a peer, he was bad for not going to church on Sunday, I think perhaps in relatonship to this pointed out to me the crucified Christ on a Seven African Powers candle . “What is this?” he asked. I told him it was a person who had been hurt and hung on a cross to die. Puzzled, he demanded, “Who did this? Why would they do that?”

He’d asked the same when he’d glimpsed an image of a hooded man being tortured at Abu Ghraib, clothed as if in sackcoth, standing on a box, arms held out to his side dangling wires.

Spring. “There’s more light now,” my son said a couple of days ago.

Road to Stone Bridge

The below is from Stone Bridge.

So in any case I went to college in 1959–maybe the problem was education–and quickly became a an activist in anti-segregation demonstrations, then soon enough a little bit beyond liberal, and by the end of the 60s a full-tilt revolutionary socialist. Though I have long since mostly reverted to the sanity of mild liberalism, I believe to this day, in my heart, that my utopian values of giving ordinary people a fair deal, including good value for their taxes, do not include letting the elderly forage in dumpsters if their private accounts have worked out badly. Self interest, perhaps, since I am approaching an age that could be called elderly, myself.

The point of this is meandering diatribe is that nowhere in this fairly typical southern liberal trajectory–for a southern liberal of my generation at least– is any habit of condescending to people who have to shop at Walmart. I know, from experience, that most of them (us, actually) would be perfectly happy to buy better stuff, and buy it in stores less renowned for screwing their own hired help than Walmart, if they could afford it. One wonders when was the last time Brooks bought a cheap pair of shoes made in China at a big box store.

When you visit Stone Bridge, be prepared for a longer visit than you anticipated. This is sit-down reading, not a quick news and opinion scan. Though both shorter commentary and longer stories are there. By the time I reached Dante’s parking garage I was following behind in our battered van.

Not true, I was there much earlier on, at the Texas farm, several generations of my family having been farmers in KS on the border of the Osage Nation, in Chautauqua which was Osage up to about 1873 and had mixed-bloods on the census as white but enrolled Osage. I didn’t grow up on a farm but if my house has several back doors onto places of influence, the prairie is toward the top.

A piece on Homeland Security. I was already holding the birdcage with the parakeet that expired with its first whiff of Homeland Security. But reading “Stone Bridge” I am back to thinking again on it and children who grow up hearing, from birth, “Homeland Security.”

I breathe easy reading Stone Bridge.

Why the bass player cried that night

Five or six years ago I tried blogging. We lived across the RR track, right next to the RR track, our too picturesque view of the world being the RR track and beyond it the large warehouse of a large dry cleaning establishment into which I never saw a single customer walk, which let the letters of its neon sign evaporate into the ozone one by one before closing up shop, and as part of an old edition of Bigsofa I made a page called Across the RR tracks then decided to convert it to a blog. I had worked up a nice graphic of a RR track and a decent layout. I set up the blog at Blogger. I got up maybe two or three mundane posts with great difficulty as Blogger didn’t like to work for me, and then couldn’t get it to work again, which a number of people were complaining about at the time, that Blogger had completely broken on them or they could only get it to work occasionally. It was then a fairly unreliable service. I tried again for a little while but was uninspired also by the blogging community. Either I didn’t know my way to certain parts or what I was looking for just wasn’t there yet. If there was a progressive political closet I didn’t find it and six years ago there weren’t many doors to knock on. Saying I was unimpressed sounds judgmental when the situation was that the usual subjects weren’t any I felt moved to link to, or follow or comment upon. I see a couple of the same voices out there doing politically-based blogs now but they weren’t blogging politics back then.

Who were the archibloggers in progressive politics?

Continue reading Why the bass player cried that night

When I was seven I was told all about savings and interest

I make rounds through the blogs, or start to. Alas a blog is down for the moment. “Permission denied” error. Seems an upgrade or change and PHP/MySQL is taunting them with it. Making note because this morning I was amused. Working with PHP pages can drive one nuts, especially when you grew up on HTML and you’re used to all your errors being a private affair that you work out before putting up a website, instead of flying by the seat of your pants where a visitor arriving at the wrong time at your website will witness your test of your site just as you are witnessing the test of it, and may see the same thing that has you scrambling in the background to get it back in working order. I hated this when I started blogging/working with PHP and was working on design and plug-ins etc and little hacks Really bothered me. I installed a local server because I thought it essential I work kinks out on my machine first. (Though there things that can go wrong when working on your webhosting server that you won’t experience locally, different environment.) The local server worked with the next-to-last WordPress release. Got it up on the webhost (for some reason I decided not to so a local install first), and feeling all confident I set out to upgrade WordPress locally. I could not get my local server to work with it after that and was back to testing on the web where everyone could pass by and see through my open front door the mess on the floor at the moment.

This no longer irks the hell out of me. Now I’m amused. I am amused when I visit another person’s blog and get to see through the open front door that they’ve been back there tooling around in the shop and something hasn’t met expectations. Not amused at the pain, no. Instead, it feels part of a flying by the seat of your pants intrepidness and risk that seem fundamental quotients of blogging.

Again, the other day I happened by Rox Populi’s when she was in the middle of an upgrade. Already she had the message up that here was the upgrade “for Matt”. It was a confusing upgrade. Layout had changed but the pic was the same and her head had disappeared beneath two columns on the right. Being a person who tries to understand things that I shouldn’t, I thought back to when it was recently bouncing around the bog why women bloggers didn’t get more attention and up on a blog goes a picture of breasts. Breasts in a bra. But breasts. Got lots of attention. Then here was Rox Populi become an internet Aphrodite. I wondered if it was a reference back to the breasts. No, later a new photo had appeared that went with the new violet-purple color scheme.

After a brief argumentative interlude with husband over one of the mudpits of life (not so large as to trap a dinosaur) I check back at “Alas, a blog” and they are still down. Maybe I should stop being amused. Seems they are having troubles in earnest. And there’s nothing online quite like PHP/MySQL troubles in earnest.

7-year-old son walks up right around now (exactly now) and holds the gone end of a tin bank in my face and says, “You want to know something? That’s a monster called ‘hole’.”

How astute of him! The bank part. Though I believe that was an unintentioned part of the joke.

But I’ve been thinking about blogging this past week. The nature of it…