Cobalt Skink went to Tybee Island. She has a wonderful, lyrical, comic, meditation-inducing drawing of a Talking Fish she did while there. Plus some musings on the trip, Sand Idles, with their vivid centerpiece a woman in a sari building a Hindu temple sand castle on the beach. Eventually, she walks into the waves, the waters of Tybee having become the universal Ganges. Unpretentious and beautifully poetic. Instead of flooding one with superfluous words she leaves just the right spaces where the unsuspecting tourist wakes to find contemplation long previously settled and waiting.
When we first got goldfish, it freaked me out that we had pets that didn’t blink or close their eyes when they slept. They just stared. What were they thinking? Marty still sometimes stands by the aquarium, regarding, and asks, “What are they thinking?”
I don’t believe a single cartoon has been able to handle the fact that fish don’t blink. We’re so used to blinking as a response. Closing eyes and opening them. And so people describe sharks as having lifeless eyes because they don’t blink. Snakes, too.
Insects don’t have eyelids and don’t blink but they’re too small for us to be consciously bothered by it. But, as with fish, when we blow them up large and make them characters in cartoons and movies, we give them eyelids so they can blink and show emotion. If it blinks and shows emotion you may be able to attempt to reason with it. Whatever doesn’t blink is lacking “soul”, without feeling, having no ability to reason as we reason (or even as a blinking cat reasons), “blindly” motivated by only its own mechanical sense of instinctual justice and therefore not subject to personal, passionate plea and argument. Except for god. Many people think of god as having a kind of All Seeing Eye that doesn’t blink. If that god’s All Seeing Eye blinked, then all the lights would go out. So, god doesn’t blink. Yet people don’t think of god as lacking soul. Indeed, people think of god as being the god father of soul. But they’re wrong. James Brown was the god father of soul.
Inspired by the movie, I reread Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly and finished it last night.
At the wheel of his slow car, Bob Arctor forgot theoretical matters and did a rerun of a moment that had impressed them all: the dainty and elegant straight girl in her turtleneck sweater and bell-bottoms and trippy boobs who wanted them to murder a great harmless bug that in fact did good by wiping out mosquitoes–and in a year in which an outbreak of encephalitis had been anticipated in Orange County–and when they saw what it was and explained, she had said words that became for them their parody evil-wall-motto, to be feared and despised:
IF I HAD KNOWN IT WAS HARMLESS
I WOULD HAVE KILLED IT MYSELF.
That had summed up to them (and still did) what they distrusted in their straight foes, assuming they had foes, anyhow, a person like well-educated-with-all-the-financial-advantages Thelma Kornford became at once a foe by uttering that, from which they had run that day, pouring out of her apartment and back to their own littered pad, to her perplexity. The gulf between their world and hers had manifested itself, however much they’d meditated on how to ball her, and remained. Her heart, Bob Arctor reflected, was an empty kitchen: floor tile and water pipes and drainboard with pale scrubbed surfaces, and one abandoned glass on the edge of the sink that nobody cared about.
The novel’s even more brilliant than I’d remembered it to be.
Because I’m Worth It has a Mysteries blog post up and yesterday I made a couple of silly comments on it, in which I speculated the object in question was a “sentient life being”. I’d intended to write “sentient living being” but was eating ice cream and was conversing with Marty so was distracted. Playing around, meaning to correct my comment with another comment on how I’d intended to write “sentient living being”, I instead questioned if “sentient life being” was redundant, though I was thinking, no, not on certain levels, at the same time already bogging myself down with now we’re getting into questions on how to absolutely qualify sentience when all I’d intended to do was make a stupid joke with Kate Moss as the punch line. I’d this fantasy going that the metallic sphere in the picture was some alien being and the tube or nozzle down near the grass was its one eye. Sucked in by the celeb columns and using them as its only information source about Earth, the creature had fallen in love with Kate Moss and had come to Earth and landed in this out-of-the-way lawn behind a nowhere building and was waiting for Kate Moss to pass by, its one lonely eye inspecting all that passed and no one even knowing it was sentient and stopping to welcome it to Our World. Certainly, as it was in England, Kate Moss should pass by at any time, the creature had at first believed. But the days and weeks passed and no Kate Moss. Eventually, Because I’m Worth It comes along and takes the photo, wondering what is this thing, but failed to recognize it was a sentient living being as the creature, despondent, sunk in hopelessness, too long ailing over both the loss of its dream and its foolhardiness, was scarcely aware of her presence and so didn’t even bother to squack and buzz in greeting. And because its one eye doesn’t blink as ours blink.
Yeah, I know. But that’s my story for the creature and I’m sticking by it.
Returning to reading A Scanner Darkly, I came on this passage about an hour later.
“Imagine being sentient but not alive. Seeing and even knowing, but not alive. Just looking out. Recognizing but not being alive. A person can die and still go on. Sometimes what looks out at you from a person’s eyes maybe died back in childhood. What’s dead in there still looks out. It’s not just the body looking at you with nothing in it; there’s still something in there but it died and just keeps on looking and looking; it can’t stop looking.”
No, no. I’ve been tagged again on the Eight Random Facts About You Meme. This time by Lavonne at Born Famous. I’ve done it before but will give another shot at randomness, supposing my mine of randomness hasn’t been exhausted.
1.) I keep on my desk what used to be a nice Orchids of Hawaii, made in Japan, surfer girl “mug”. I always thought it was a vase but I found info on it online and it’s described as being a mug. I don’t care what they say online about it, I still think it is a pottery vase. At one point it was knocked over and broken and is now badly glued back together.
I read that kids who win spelling bees Google their names like crazy. If that’s the case, to this year’s winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Evan O’Dorney, congratulations! But I hope he never Googles this page and that his parents have some child filter on their computer because man I wouldn’t want Evan to have to go through reading what’s being said on the internet about him.
First, though, a few facts. He’s 13, a math wiz, studying calculus, composes piano concertos.
Continue reading Hey, you! The ones who were properly, socially adjusted in school and think homeschoolers are "overly rugged individualists who lack the impulse or skills to mix in as collaborative members of everyday society!"
Where’s the picture of the new fucking huge American embassy in Iraq I saw a couple of weeks ago. This isn’t it, or maybe it was. Never mind, the image will have to serve as there seem to be almost no photos of something so big.
Some AP photo
At 104 acres and $592 million dollars, this complex moves a few steps beyond BIG. You’d think they’re trying to outshine y’know, what is it, Iraq’s, what da ya call it, bigness in ancient history, words like monumental come to mind, Mesopotamia, Fertile Crescent, Akkadian, Assyrian, those bad Babylonians. Whatever, I seem to recall reading something about it over the years, a smidgen here and there, and a few pics of the Gate of Ishtar. Anyway, the impression I was given in high school, the few paragraphs we read of it, was that the Fertile Crescent was the seat of ancient civilization out of which the rest of the world poured eventually. Except for American Indians and the Chinese and other people like that, who lived way off the beaten track. But the image I came away with from middle or high school, of the Seat of Civilization (which was quaintly pagan, but big, and gave us farmers and builders and successive empires, but not as big as the Romans ultimately, whom we could better understand as they had a Senate, I think) was that they had big sand colored walls. They liked walls. So did King Arthur, didn’t he? All those castles! Lots of walls. Only those were gray because Europe is misty gray whereas Babylonia was all glaring sun and sandy walls.
Continue reading So when do we get that hot new Broadway musical where Alec Baldwin and J-Lo somehow represent the new Camelot and George and Laura never waving from its turrets because it’s not that kind of brave new world?
T Rex at Fire Dog Lake describes what it’s been like here in Georgia with these out-of-control wild fires. Incredible that they’re causing problems up here in Atlanta. Playing hell with my allergies, sinuses and lungs all week. Though we’ve no current air alert, I can swear I smell a hint of acrid smoke. Some times it’s just suddenly there. H.o.p. will be doing something and stop, perplexed, and say, “I smell smoke!”
Earlier in the week it was very bad. So bad that on Tuesday evening there was black soot on the windowsill under the air conditioner.
Coming inside, I glanced at the windowsill, which I’d just dusted a few days beforehand. There was black?? Indeed, black gritty soot all over it in front of the window unit.
Wild fires 250 miles away, down in South Georgia, caused by drought, are leaving soot on our windowsills all the way up here.
No, the black, gritty soot covering the windowsill on Tuesday wasn’t my imagination, nor am I exaggerating. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported:
By 6 a.m., soot levels in metro Atlanta had set another record, making 2007 a year to remember in the 20-year history of poor air quality. In Henry County, the soot clogged the filter of an air quality monitor after recording off-the-chart levels, shutting it down for four hours. The haze was so thick across much of the region the sky looked like a dark gray, winter day. Occasionally sunlight would streak through like a bullet.
On an ajc.com blog, KB joked “I might as well have brought a sleeping bag and tent to work, it smells like a campfire in the office in Midtown. I think we may make s’mores in the break room at lunch …”
This apartment isn’t very airtight. We’re talking a real old building with old windows. On Tuesday, though I’d just dusted my Wacom tablet a couple of days before, the bottom of my mouse was suddenly covered with gunk so thick that it stopped working. A byproduct of the smoke?
There is more soot today on the windowsill, but not as bad as earlier this week. Pockets of soot must collect in here. Dust intensifies. I dusted three times this week (at least) and you couldn’t tell it. I vacuumed several times. Friday evening I shook out a blanket that had been resting in front of the window in the bedroom. Immediately, I started coughing and sneezing, nose running, eyes burning and itchy. At first I couldn’t imagine what had caused the reaction, then realized soot must have settled on the blanket.
We cleaned the AC filters last week. We should clean them again. Need to clean the air filters as well, just occurred to me.
I can just imagine what it’s like in South Georgia.
The weather forecast presently reads, “Partly cloudy with areas of smoke…” Memorial Day will be “Mostly sunny. Haze and areas of smoke.”
They forecast this could continue all summer, until we get some nice tropical storms.
For a while the smoke smell went away. Now it’s back. Just a bit of it, and my sinuses slightly burning again. It smells like someone’s having a cook-out, only it’s a heavier, more acrid, almost greasier smell. Marty, asleep, starts coughing. Several seconds later harshness enters my nose and hits the back of my throat, and I start coughing.
Saying Yes informs that The World’s Fair is wanting to know what kind of mug you drink from for the purpose of interpretations of the cultural and environmental philosophy of your mug. The World’s Fair has a set of questions and well, sure, why not.
1. Can you show us your coffee cup?
Sure. They’re not secret, sacred grails that produce coffee spontaneously. As you can, see they’re perfectly mundane cups. I have to show three rather than one because I have an outside the apartment cup and a pair of in the apartment cups that I use depending on how I’m feeling. For me, the indoor cups are a pair and meaningless without each other. In other words, if I lost one, they would cease to be MY CUPS!@#! Not yours, but mine.
2. Can you comment on it? Do you think it reflects on your personality?
See that dent in the side of my Caribou cup? The Caribou cup is about eleven years old (maybe ten going on eleven) and was a gift from Marty. It reflects my personality in that pre-H.o.p., when I was walking home from work and crossing one of Decatur’s scarier intersections, on foot, at night, I accidentally dropped the mug. Despite the fact it was night and the intersection was dimly lit, and traffic had begun to move (one of those several point intersections that gives you two seconds to haul your ass across the road which means I was running) I stopped and flung myself back a lane to grab the mug and race off the road. “This is stupid,” I thought when I was doing it, but I counted on fleetness of foot and adrenaline to preserve my hide. This reflects my personality to the degree that I’m a dedicated and loyal sort, some times ridiculously so. And kinda stupid. Because it was stupid to retrace my steps and grab the mug (which was dented by its fall that day). But it was an important one to me, a gift from Marty during really strenuous and impoverished times. I had the same sort of ambition to preserve the mug as I had the day Tuesday, when a new puppy, slipped her leash and ran into a busy street with oncoming traffic. I could tell I’d a split instant opportunity to race into the street and grab her and keep running, but only if I kept running. I was running even as I was thinking about it and scooped her up without stopping and I couldn’t have been more right on target in my estimating the safe outcome of this risk, thankfully. I’d just lost my dog, Vanessa, to illness, and I wasn’t ready to lose this new puppy which I’d just pulled through Parvo (we’d been told she had been vaccinated but she came down with Parvo immediately).
I would totally kill H.o.p. or Marty if they ever ran into the street, unless it was Marty running after H.o.p., who knows better as I’ve taught him since he was knee-high that streets are dangerous places and demand great respect. If either one of them stopped on a busy street to retrieve a mug I’d scream at them about it for the next ten years. And these days if I lost my Caribou cup in the street I’d let it lie there, because I wouldn’t want to be a bad example to H.o.p., plus it’s eleven years old and you can’t expect a stainless steel mug to last forever. Anyway, this reflects my personality in that I might damn you for things that I do or have done.
The other two mugs are my indoor ceramic mugs, about four years old. Some times I’m Marvin the Martian and sometimes I’m the Tazmanian Devil. I need no others, except for the cup with snowflakes on it that a sister gave me for Christmas with a bag of cocoa and so I always drink my nightly Winter cocoa in that mug (because I’m a dedicated sort that way). Anyway, I purchased the Marvin and Tazmanian Devil mugs myself and I suppose they also reflect a certain impact of animation on my psyche preceding H.o.p., and certainly augmented by H.o.p. I used to be able to mimic the voice of Marvin the Martian dead on, and entertained H.o.p. for quite a while with this. H.o.p. is the only person in the world for whom I’ll do Marvin the Martian. Because I’m shy.
3. Do you have any interesting anecdotes resulting from coffee cup commentary?
Do I have any interesting anecdotes resulting from coffee cup commentary? No. I’m only now giving my coffee cup commentary and not enough time has passed for interesting anecdotes to accrue.
Oooh! The World’s Fair means do I have any interesting anecdotes to do with anyone else ever looking upon my cups and feeling moved to say a few words on them.
No. No one has ever made any observation on my cups. Not the Caribou one that I carry with me everywhere outside the apartment, nor my inside the apartment cups.
I do have a fun caribou story though. As in real live caribou.
3. Can you try to get others to comment on it?
Sure, I’ll do so by placing all this on my blog.
P.S. I just realized that nothing I’ve related has anything to do with “for the purpose of interpretations of the cultural and environmental philosophy of your mug”! How self-serving and thoughtless of me!
Uhm….I had no environmental philosophy working behind the acquisition of any of the cups. I’ve held onto them a while and that has to do with sentimentality and also a belief in using something until it’s all used up and it’s time for something new. This has its drawbacks in that there are very fun cups out there that I’ve never considered purchasing only because I didn’t really “need” them.
Japanese national public television gave the Japanese Domo-kun in gratitude for their contributions.
I can’t locate a pic of her right now, but Georgia Public Broadcasting most frequently gives us someone named Karen thanking us during the telethons and cheering us on to give and give more. Karen is fuzzy in a Southern drawl, hairspray and big fake eyelashes kind of fuzzy way, but she’s no cute and cuddly Domo. Try getting Karen to pick up a toy snake and fart green gas. It ain’t gonna happen.
Domo is the latest stop animation treat around here.
Wow. There’s a microcar museum in Madison Georgia and it has an incredible website. Check it out. The museum is open Tuesdays through Thursdays, 1 to 4 pm but is closed through June and July (noting this for myself as I’m thinking it would be a cool place to visit). But…the website is open 24 hours, and it has gorgeous photos with multiple views of one car after another after another afer another, with descriptions and histories.
I have on my desk, Kate of Broken Window’s “Sky/Map, an Earth Work Diary”.
It is on Indian Burial Mounds. Beautifully presented and filled with beautiful photographs. The entry below the first photograph reads,
The birth of the universe was slow and arduous. The sky swelled and swelled over decades and centuries, as stars were born and died, and born again. Eventually it burst, but not with a loud noise or giant spectacle.
The universe was born slowly, as the sky’s swollen belly let it out with the patience of a rock’s erosion by gentle waves at the bottom of a river.
I’ve not have an opportunity to delve deep into it yet, just having returned from vacation, but I look forward to reading it, which obviously will be a pleasure.
Thanks, Kate. This is special.
Note: Excuses for all the graphics. But that’s what this post is about.
Sheldon Rampton’s War is fun as hellarticle, posted at AlterNet, begins…
Years of writing about public relations and propaganda has probably made me a bit jaded, but I was amazed nevertheless when I visited America’s Army, an online video game website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). In its quest to find recruits, the military has literally turned war into entertainment.
“America’s Army” offers a range of games that kids can download or play online. Although the games are violent, with plenty of opportunities to shoot and blow things up, they avoid graphic images of death or other ugliness of war, offering instead a sanitized, Tom Clancy version of fantasy combat.
I went to the America’s Army website, which as of last night has 170,764 registered users, to grab some screenshots and look at the fare there.
If you want to see how you might return home from the Middle East, they do have a game of some sort called “Combat Medic” where you learn how bloody warfare gets.
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.