line -->
  • Saturday, September 30, 2006


    Feminism and Masculism, Part IV: The Bataan Death March Edition

    While Masculist Man (MM) seems cheerful about debating me, I've become less than eager to continue to engage him. He would probably attribute my attitude to the indefensible nature of feminism but it's more that I can't seem to find common grounds for exchange. The last straw for me was his view that dating between men and women is a form of prostitution. That is, men pay for food and a movie solely in exchange for sex at the end of the "date". If sex is not forthcoming from the woman, MM thinks the woman is essentially stealing from the man.

    This left my mouth hanging open. It's not that I haven't seen or heard of this attitude but it is so demeaning to women, so baldly nasty, I was stunned. Speechless. The reduction of female/male interactions to sexual/economic terms implies such a poverty of soul, such a meanness of spirit, such a dearth of respect for women, that I am left dazzled and disheartened.

    This could have been predicted from the first exchange probably. Perhaps I was foolish to even begin a discussion with MM. There was always a certain trollish sense about his assertions, more concerned with declarations than substantive argument. And, despite the courtesy I normally extend to guests to my blog, I succumbed to temptation by basically calling him once-removed from a racist through a rhetorical association.

    I've always harbored hopes of having good discussions in my comments section, something that hasn't come to pass much over the years. Perhaps that hope has left me a little desperate, a little too eager to encourage anyone interested in posting. I'm actually not sure I could handle the time and maintenance a lot of comment traffic would require from me so perhaps it's for the best.

    Still, live and learn. You may note that I haven't reproduced these last few exchanges between MM and myself in this post. I've been able to mine the experience for some observations and reflections but I think it's about played out now.

    Thursday, September 28, 2006


    On teh internets, no one can tell if you are joking

    Here are some more unexpectedly high search engine placements leading people to this blog. (My previous post is here.) And I swear these searchs (or slight variants) frequently show up on my site meter. These aren't just blips, they are steady sources of traffic here. It makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

    I am Jack's misunderstood artistic expression.
    And this one is just funny. Not that I haven't typed searches as stupid...

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006


    Un-Wired: Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

    Of late, I've had a rather troubled relationship with Wired magazine. There was a time I enjoyed the pop-tech orientation and its almost aggressive pro-technology editorial voice appealed to my inner science fiction fanboy. Then came the dot-com bubble bust and the mag, previously fat with advertising pages and content, slimmed down considerably.

    Now when I pick up an issue on the newsstand, there's an even chance that I will be extremely pissed off by something I read in it. More often, I'm merely annoyed beyond reasonable levels. I still find some interesting and worthwhile content but I'm questioning whether the aggravation is worth the cost.

    The current annoyance to me is titled "Good, Green Livin'" on p 62 of the October, 2006 issue. Purporting to show that the "green" decision is not always obvious, it compares things like the ecological impact of a ceramic mug, paper coffee cups, and polystyrene cups. The text reads "Which coffee cup sips the fewest resources? Before you get all high and mighty about your brand-new coffee mug, consider: You could use 294 paper cups or 1,800 polystyrene cups before their energy and pollution debt exceeded that of your mug. Verdict: If you already have a ceramic mug, use it."

    There is something about this that reminds me of the saying about "knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing."* There is a hint of hypercapitalism about this blurb and the rest on the page, the sense that anything and everything can be reduced to energy and resources and cost. It plays to a capitalist perspective, a calculating and weighing of value in purely material terms. In this view, if it doesn't have economic significance, it has no significance.

    So here are a few questions I ask. What does throwing away 1,800 cups do to you? What does it signify about your relationship to the world? Like doing exercise repetitions, you're building and strengthening an attitude of disposability, not just about cups, but about all sorts of other things. Can you quantify the value of this attitude? Can you choose to only sometimes apply this attitude?

    This is the core of our consumer culture: use it and throw it away. This is the pattern we repeat and ingrain in ourselves over and over. That's what annoys me: I consider this sort of cost/benefit analysis very shallow and short-sighted. What would our civilization look like if we were to think about our descendants a thousand years from now? How would we use our resources? Hell, our society doesn't even think twenty years into the future with our social and economic planning. And this stupid little Wired blurb can barely look 294 paper cups into the future. That is a pathetic attitude. It's pitiful.

    Sometimes doing the "right" thing has a poor ROI (Return on Investment) in economic terms. Then again, we are individuals, able to follow our own moral compass. We don't have to satisfy stockholders by our actions. Yet.

    *"The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." -Oscar Wilde

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006


    Be tender, sweet demagogue!

    If only I could shape sharp blandishments with my pen and persuade with a tongue honeyed and dulcet. Alas, I am not keyed to the tones of these times, these many brash and bold barks of confidence, informed only by vicious moral certitude. Words are wielded only as edged weapons to score the point, the debateable point. And I? I only know how to hum softly and craft phrases of pretention. Compared with the loud and cutting tongues, I am a tyro and a mooncalf. Or so it seems.
    Sick, sick, sick
    in the dumpster, baby
    Sick, sick, sick
    of your lies.
    -- Iggy Pop, lyric from unlisted song on Beat 'Em Up which I call (what else?) "Sick Sick Sick"
    In other news, I'm working on some new banners/title graphics but because I'm working in Illustrator, I'm having trouble making them do what I want. Here are some variations. The thick black top/bottom on the first one is a mistake but it makes for a nice effect.

    Saturday, September 23, 2006


    What you probably didn't see Chavez say was...

    When Hugo Chavez of Venezuala recently appeared at the UN, you might have seen clips of his melodramatic referral to Prez Bush as "the devil". What you may have missed was his lead-in.

    I took the following text from The American Empire Project blog (with a tip o the mouse to The Dark Wraith.)

    "Representatives of the governments of the world, good morning to all of you. First of all, I would like to invite you, very respectfully, to those who have not read this book, to read it. Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious American and world intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, and this is one of his most recent books, 'Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States.'" [Holds up book, waves it in front of General Assembly.]

    "It's an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century, and what's happening now, and the greatest threat looming over our planet. The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads. I had considered reading from this book, but, for the sake of time," [flips through the pages, which are numerous] "I will just leave it as a recommendation.

    It reads easily, it is a very good book, I'm sure Madame [President] you are familiar with it. It appears in English, in Russian, in Arabic, in German. I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is right in their own house. The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house.

    "And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here." [crosses himself]

    "And it smells of sulfur still today."

    Friday, September 22, 2006


    Fantasy and Reality, Self-Image and Self-Indulgence

    A blog is a strange refraction of ourselves. It's a constructed personality, a segment of our interests. I doubt most people are completely represented by their blog entries and conversations. This is both a strength and weakness. At every juncture, I ask myself "Is this a topic for this blog?"

    DemiOrator contains a fairly specific segment of my interests. It contains information and things I find interesting and think deserve a wider circulation. As time has gone on, I've relied less and less on cues from fellow bloggers as to what I showcase here. Again, this has pluses and minuses. As a minus, I feel removed and distanced from the community of bloggers. As a plus, I don't think my topics are typically part of the "echo effect" common in many of the blogs I like, where a news item or subject propagates through the blogosphere, creating a chorus where it's difficult to pick out specific voices.

    Part of the blogging experience for me is the disconnection between what I think I'm projecting and creating in DemiOrator and what my hit counter statistics tell me about my newest visitors. I have a basic hit counter that only shows the last 100 visits. This is fine because I still get well below that number per day. Searches leading to DemiOrator always provide me with puzzling material so I'm going to list a few that consistently show up. I'm going to link the searches with the term and also link to the post found on DemiOrator. This is pure self-indulgence on my part but, as the saying goes, it's my blog and I'll be boring if I want to.
    So the image that could be built up about me, based on the popular searches, is that I'm a misanthropic Catholic activist in the military with a penchant for hitting women into unconsciousness during sex. (I've mentioned previously that "Catholic statistics" is also a popular search.) Is it any wonder that this disturbs me?

    I am Jack's schizophenic alter-ego. Fear me, worship me, forget me.

    Thursday, September 21, 2006


    Feminism and Masculism, Part III: This Time It's Personal

    I can't help but share my continuing and charming exchanges with Masculist Man in the comments of this post. I wrote them up as a post yesterday. Alas, the pleasure of intelligent give and take, argument and counter-argument, seems rather thin between us. He probably views me as a dupe, hoodwinked by the feminist conspiracy, blind to the truth of the masculist perspective. Still, I'm proud to be a "gender traitor" since it's one of my most appealing qualities.

    So, Masculist Man said:
    Demiorator's comments in "".

    "Perhaps you are right and reading the book you recommend will change my perspective. I am doubtful because all the "masculist" material I've read contains conclusions based on data easily shown to be factually incorrect. Please note how carefully I've worded that last sentence. It is only based on my direct experience with the writings and my own research
    into statistics presented in these writings."

    I've found a lot of feminist propaganda to be "factually challenged" to use one of your PC phrases and it has been refuted by a lot of masculist writers. Do you know who Dr. Warren Farrell is? He is probably the only man to ever hold the title of president of NY NOW and he even sees the situation that men are in and not of they're own making either. A lot of masculist writings that are not the author's opinions or reflections are facts and we do back up those facts for our detractors to examine for themselves,if they are going to honestly do it.

    "It's true that I presented no substantial arguments in my last post but, again, read it carefully and you'll see I did not call you names. I note that some of your points about the "entitlements" of women seem highly conjectured opinion not congruent with my personal experience or knowledge."

    Yes,you did. You basically incited hatred by comparing me to racists,which I am not and you also tried to tar me with "hatemonger" brush that you liberals love to broadly paint people who disagree with your views of the world. I base my arguement on women having this power and my source of this information is from the book "The Myth Of Male Power". My evidence is not is not subjective so don't get that impression. Just what masculist sites have you been visiting?

    "Generally, the masculinist view has struck me more as a thesis in search of substantiation rather than an obvious, easily proved, truth. Perhaps I am failing to appreciate the validity of the argument because of my feminist-leaning bias. Perhaps. But a few of your statements totally contradict crime statistics I'm familiar with. "Women are also more violent with men while men are conditioned to treat women with respect no matter how said women act."? I'd love to see your statistical evidence for this statement."

    Yes,your feminist bias is very apparent as is my masculist bias but then again I'm upfront about hence my handle. Like I said,what masculist information are you having trouble with? Yes,our FACTS will contridict FEMINIST LIES but isn't that the purpose of truth. To not only inform but clear away the lies and distortions as well. I've seen misandry in commercials such as a soap commercial,a major brand,that depicted men as apes thus being less than human (isn't this what the nazis did to the jews,the dehumanization process). There was the Geico radio commercial that depicted the woman as more informed than the man and there are a lot of commercials that take this formul
    His comment was truncated there by the software; I'm not editing his words. My reply was also truncated so I added the last two intended words in brackets. I don't think that's a misrepresentation. I said:
    *sigh* This exchange seems to be spiraling into nasty territory but let's keep going.

    I did *not* call you a racist. I said what you wrote *reminded* me of racist screeds. Your litany of what feminists and women had done to men seemed based on information not obvious to me. Without some supporting documentation, I'm afraid it just looks like so much hot air, not a valid argument. The loudest shouter is not always right.

    In the post above that I was talking about, when I mentally replaced "women" with "mud people" or "Jew", it reminded me *exactly* of such literature. Am I calling you a racist? *No.* Is it an unfair comparison? Yes, but there's a reason this example sprang to my mind: What you were saying sounded so irrationally prejudiced, so unsupported by the world I've seen, and so unsubstantiated by my reading, that comparison was the closest I could come in my experience.

    I wasn't familiar with Dr. Warren Farrell until you brought him up here. I did look up some reviews of the book you mentioned (pro and con) and read through the bibliography. I saw a few titles among his sources that impressed me but many of them are mytho-poetic or psychological rather than factually based. To judge whether his conclusions are good, I need to know whether his sources are good. If I get a chance, I'll look at it.

    The question to me isn't whether *some* men have experienced injustice for being men; injustices happen all the time regardless of gender (or class or race). For me the question is: Do men as a group face constant injustice *because* they are men? I don't see it.

    Am I brainwashed by the feminists? Possibly, but nothing you've offered here has been very convincing or persuasive. You just say things like "My evidence is not is not [sic] subjective so don't get that impression." That's not an example of an argument or statement of fact. That is empty rhetoric, bald declarations without substance that I can see. Give me some substance. Don't just *tell* me to read the book, give me a *reason* to read it. Dr. Farrell may have presented evidence but *you're* not passing along any of that.

    "My feminist-leaning bias" wasn't a hypothetical; I *do* have a feminist-leaning bias. I was admitting it. I've been member of a feminist publishing collective. The compliment I treasure most is when a feminist called me a "gender traitor". So I'm unlikely to just roll over when you refer to "feminist lies". I want proof. I won't just take your word for it, particularly when I see what appear to be obvious distortions or misstatements.

    I've undoubtedly insulted you with this rebuttal but you also insulted my intelligence with your rather rabid denounciations of women without offering the slightest concrete evidence.

    I've posted our exchanges to my blog under the title Masculism and Feminism, Part II with some [additional commentary.]
    So what have I learned from this fruitful exchange? That my patience can wear thin in this kind of back and forth. My comment about "racist screeds" was not intended to bait Masculist Man but, of course, it did exactly that. It would have done the same to me if someone had said it to me. But I couldn't help noticing the similar nature of the prose: the scapegoating, the lack of rational causes and effects (to me), the rage. These are all there. Do some feminists do the same thing? Shockingly, I'd say yes. But, at base, I can see the rational for feminist rage. I just don't see it with masculism. Masculism still strikes me as men who have been thwarted in some way, their gender power challenged, and that makes them mad. Really, really mad. But anger does not a philosophy make.

    I also see a bit of misdirection (in the stage magic sense) going on with some of the "facts" I've seen masculists use. In the process of attempting to look at information from the perspective of how it reflects on men's experience, there can be a willful denial of women's experience. So when these masculists note that, historically and until relatively recently, almost 100% of all military casualties in war have been male, a converse experience might be that the civilian casualties are predominently female and children. It could also be argued that, for whatever reasons, many of the military men chose to be there; the women and children did not. I'm sure the masculists will point to society's pressures on men to perform certain roles which is why men enter the military in the first place.

    I'm not trying to set up a hierarchy of "who is more oppressed than who." Yet I tend to see women's oppression as palpable and quantifiable. Generally, I see the masculists complaints as being about avoiding personal responsibility for their actions and blaming women for their problems on the most specious and tenuous grounds.

    It might be strange for my readers to know that, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was part of the "men's movement" which was essentially the ancestor of masculism. This was before Sam Keen and Robert Bly turned out books on "men being men together," drumming and grunting in the woods, and getting in touch with your inner hunter. When I was in the men's movement, it was a progressive, pro-feminist movement. It was about finding ways to stop oppressing women, personally and socially. Like the feminist movement in the sixties, there was a lot of "consciousness-raising" group work, trying to dismantle sexist attitudes and finding ways to work with feminist women without perpetuating toxic gender roles. I dropped out of participating when a new influx of men began focusing on their anger, distant fathers, and men's "natural" aggression. I saw the seeds of masculism at that time and wanted no part of it. I considered it a retrograde tendency, a nurturing of sexism and oppression.

    So masculism considers itself an antidote to feminism, a revolution against some fantasy of dominant women but I have to say it looks just like the old sexist ways done up in different drag.

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006


    Masculism and Feminism, Part II

    A recent exchange in the comments under a post I did on Masculism and Feminism makes me think that revisiting the subject is in order. Sorry for reproducing the exchange but it provides a basis for my following remarks.

    Masculist Man wrote:
    Where do I start first? First of all women have enjoyed privileges that men have never had. During the 19th century women have been exempt from paying for crimes they committed by not going to jail (if they were convicted their husbands would end up doing the time,not the wives). Women today are exempt from signing up with Selective Service and women are not expected to maintain the society in which they live in in fact they don't have any responsibilities at all. For instance if a new mother doesn't want to keep her child she can drop it off in safe havens in various cities. On the other hand if a new father wants to reliquesh his responsibilities he can't. Why? Because of the laws that feminists have pushed to hurt men have done their job rather well and we are fighting back. There is misandry (hatred of men) in courts (criminal,civil and family) that reward women for whatever behavior they engage in while punishing men more severely and when men and women commit the same crime the man usually gets a more harsh sentence. Women are also more violent with men while men are conditioned to treat women with respect no matter how said women act. This disease is called "chivilary" and I'm glad I do not suffer from it. As I was saying women do treat men worse than how men treat women. Women hurting men seems funny while men hurting women is not and this is a double standard and it is something I am opposed to. Thanks to feminists such as yourself this is a MATRIARCHY not a patriarchy like you wrongly claim. These are just a few examples of how women have it better than men. You know what? Feminsim is the biggest con job during the 19th-21st centuries because women were never oppressed as they had more entitlements (they still do) than men have ever had,no matter how much those men may deserve them such as serving his country in time of need or that equivilent. No,women get these entitlements just because they were born with a vagina and that doesn't sound like much of a justification to me. Women were never oppressed in the western world and probably not much elsewhere either. Men are the ones oppressed not women. Feminism is reactionary. Masculism,on the other hand,is quite revolutionary and I hope to see it implemented real soon.
    My response:
    It's difficult to argue with your points because they mostly show a complete lack of recognition of the basic humanity of women. You seem to believe all women are absolutely immoral and unethical. Reading it reminds me of racist screeds and rationalizations as to why certain "races" were inherently inferior.

    Your perspective is illustrative of a patriarchal mindset moving towards an extreme, of the oppressor positioning himself as the oppressed. I'd also suggest that you might be projecting your motivations, the options you are able to take advantage of onto women.

    Perhaps I'm wrong but that's how it strikes me.
    Masculist Man responds:
    I suggest you read The Myth Of Male Power by Dr. Warren Farrell before you state that men had all these so-called privileges that women never enjoyed. Read this book and then try to refute what I'm saying because so far it's been name calling and nothing of substance.
    And my final rebuttal (I've edited this a little from my original):
    Perhaps you are right and reading the book you recommend will change my perspective. I am doubtful because all the "masculist" material I've read contains conclusions based on data easily shown to be factually incorrect. Please note how carefully I've worded that last sentence. It is only based on my direct experience with the writings and my own research into statistics presented in these writings.

    It's true that I presented no substantial arguments in my last post but, again, read it carefully and you'll see I did not call you names. I note that some of your points about the "entitlements" of women seem highly conjectured opinion not congruent with my personal experience or knowledge.

    Generally, the masculist view has struck me more as a thesis in search of substantiation rather than an obvious, provable, truth. Perhaps I am failing to appreciate the validity of the argument because of my feminist-leaning bias. Perhaps. But a few of your statements totally contradict crime statistics I'm familiar with. "Women are also more violent with men while men are conditioned to treat women with respect no matter how said women act."? I'd love to see your statistical evidence for this statement.

    Most of what I see written under the "masculist" banner is angry and empty rhetoric. By "empty" I mean with very little supporting documentation. I can, to some extent, understand those feelings of anger as anger but don't expect me to equate it with logical argument or proof of the thesis.
    So once again I find myself in the slightly uncomfortable and odd position of being a man defending feminism. I'm never quite sure whether I should be making these arguments as a man. The tricky thing is that other men will often give more credibility to a man making exactly the same arguments as a woman. In essence, other men's response to me provides a general proof of sorts to the central tenets of feminism.

    Without reading Dr. Farrell's book, I'm unable to critique it. Reviews of it on Amazon are so polarized, I don't think I can fairly assess it without actually seeing it. Feminist reviewers indicate it is poorly researched, facts are cherry-picked, and straw arguments are set up and knocked down. Supporters of the book think it is a radical re-interpretation of what they say is an overwhelmingly dominant feminist paradigm within our society.

    I did find part of a manuscript online titled The Masculist Perspective: A Masculist Response to Feminist Claims by Craig Conway of UKMM and FNF, December 1998. I don't know if it is a good example of masculist rhetoric but it reflects what I've seen as typical so I'll use it as an example here.

    The first thing I noted was the author's use of quotations around phrases he claimed were the feminist positions. No footnotes, sources, or bibliography accompany this use of quotes. From the way these "quotes" are phrased, I'm fairly certain they are the author's interpretations of feminist positions and views, not from feminist source documents. Why does this matter? Because the feminist positions he is purporting to describe are usually not accurate or consistent with feminist arguments I'm familiar with.. This is what is called a "straw argument" (or previously known as a "straw man"). In other words, he sets up a position phrased ideally so he can provide the most effective counterargument. The problem is, by misstating the actual feminist arguments, his rebuttals are so far from them as to be almost unrecognizable.

    This framing probably sounds good to men unfamiliar with real feminist theory and dialectic. They can feel intellectually superior to feminist views, like they've found the obvious faults with feminism as a philosophy and an agent of change in our society. In this scenario, masculists become Heroes valiantly saving society from destruction and decay through their insight and visionary ability to see beyond the obvious.

    The masculist writings I've seen have a tone of the "true believer" to them, of creating a structure to support their pre-existing belief that feminism is bad for men. The anger and rage the pours almost palpably off these masculist writings seems misdirected somehow. I can't seem to grasp a logical connection between the anger itself and the declared cause or source as being feminism. I can't see this connection and the arguments made do little to illuminate the connection or convince me it's valid.

    I come to no conclusions. I'm just skeptical about the basic premise of masculism and nothing I've seen written has swayed my opinion.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006


    Graphic: Invest in Invasion, Buy Halliburton

    Another in my series of Photoshopping experiments, surely a sign of my boredom. A little funny but, unfortunately, too close to the mark.

    It reminds me of someone I know who has tobacco company stocks in her stock portfolio. Why? Because they make money. And, while "ethical" and "green" investing has a certain cachet in some circles, financial conservatives will still go with the companies that have a good returns.

    The bigger question is: how do I know someone with a stock portfolio at all? Some of my family members seem to save money.

    You can always find interesting tidbits of info on patriotic war profiteer Halliburton at Halliburton Watch. Such as the finding that Halliburton's subsidary KBR served spoiled food and contaminated water to US troops in Iraq.

    And to prove how patriotic Halliburton is, they promised to get one of their employees who was wounded in Iraq the U.S. Defense of Freedom medal. Well, as long as the employee would sign a document releasing them from liability. Real princes of capitalism, Halliburton.

    Monday, September 18, 2006


    The Selling of the United States

    In the process of "privatizing" segments of our national and local governments, we are dismantling property and rights formerly held as public commons for the public good. Often, these government properties are sold at prices well below fair market value. The connection is clear to me: Who gets to buy these items and rights? Those who have the money to get them, usually corporations and very rich people. Do the large mass of people in the US see a benefit from these sales? I don't think so.

    Arguments are made that the government uses the money to finance parts of itself rather than raising taxes. Do the average person's taxes go down? No. Tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that already benefit from these sales? Yes.

    Capital and property which have accumulated to the government over generations and decades and centuries is being sold at a loss. These have been held, not just to enrich the government, but as a public trust. They are held for the benefit of all the people of the US. Instead, they are quickly being sold to the corporations.

    I believe we are seeing our common heritage and property sold only to enrich the already rich. I call that mismanagment. I call that plutocracy. I call that a form of enclosure.

    Our future is being sold. Hell, our present is being sold. Soon I expect to see a resurgence of indentured servitude, a contractually limited form of slavery. Watch for it.

    Sunday, September 17, 2006


    War Profiteering and "Iraq for Sale"

    Robert Greenwald has produced a new film documentary on war profiteering in the Iraq War, Iraq for Sale. He's done quite a few docs over the last five years such as Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Unconstitutional, and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.

    With not a trace of irony and without even seeing the film Iraq for Sale, Halliburton began defending themselves.
    While we have not seen Brave New Films’ privately-funded production regarding civilian contractors in Iraq in its entirety, we can deduce that its content regarding the Company is nothing more than a theory in search of a conspiracy.
    I'm no better than Halliburton: I have not seen the film either. But I can say that the text following the quote above seems very selective. To use the the term du jour, I'd even say Halliburton cherry-picked the information to make themselves look good.

    I've seen the other three films I mentioned at the top. I thought Outfoxed was overrated but still a good doc. Wal-Mart didn't tell me much I didn't already know about that corporate behemoth. I quite liked Unconstitutional. Yes, the films all have very definite points of view that they promote but I don't remember seeing anything I thought was factually untrue in them. I'm not an expert but I do read news about FOX and Wal-Mart. So, even without seeing the new film, I'm willing to give Mr Greenwald the benefit of the doubt for the moment.


    Moral Failings of Military Recruitment

    A recent story, "The Pentagon's 12-Step Program to Create a Misfit Military," points up the problems with maintaining a military while prosecuting unpopular wars of aggression such as the one in Iraq. Are the low recruitment numbers a result of generally lowering levels of "patriotism," of people unwilling to sacrifice for US democracy? I don't think so.

    I think the problem is a direct result of the misuse of the military by politicians intent on accomplishing non-defensive goals. Politicians dress up the actions in defense-oriented military drag but I sense the ground troops eventually begin to see through this facade. And these troops, when they are released back to the US, undoubtedly tell tales not entirely in keeping with a "guts and glory" image.

    When the military begins calling back up soldiers who have rotated back to civilian life, it is particularly problematic. Of course, soldiers have, for a very long time, had the possibility of being called back by the military if needed even after they've been discharged. But the uncertainty this now raises about what work a discharged soldier does after leaving the military probably doesn't help. Semper Fidelis is difficult to maintain when one partner lies or is inconsistent in how they treat you.

    The problem with lying or dishonest military recruiting tactics is that it probably creates ill-feelings among the very people the military relies on. And that spreads.

    Friday, September 15, 2006


    Will Geek for Words 14: "P" Words, The Sequel: Return of the Princox

    Being 14th in an irregularly posted series of carefully selected words from the Word Lover’s Dictionary: Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words by Josefa Heifetz (New York: Carol Publishing, 1974, 1994, ISBN: 0806517204). For beginning entries in this series, please see Part 1 and Part 2. If you want to find all posts in the series, search on the title "Will Geek for Words" on this site. Eventually I add them to the sidebar listing. Part 14 is continuation of the letter "P" words begun in Part 13. "Geek" is used here in the ancient sense of eldritch horror, existing before our ancestors were even apes, before the first ocean creature crawled from the sea. Geeks saw a different reality, bathed in cosmic rays and illuminated by colours beyond the visible spectrum seen by mere mortal humans. Down throught the years, they have muttered and shouted "Cthulhu fhtagn!" If you value your sanity, never, never feed this sort of geek seafood; your mind could not stand the metamorphasis which follows.

    No kickbacks are involved and this is not a promotional stunt. I am not paid to plug this book yet here I am, mentioning it at the top of each of these posts and linking to the Amazon page for it. I am still half-expecting and awaiting a "cease and desist" letter from their lawyers. ("Tick-tock, Clarice, tick-tock.") I'm sure it's "fair use" to include excerpted selections in a non-commercial venture. Did I mention that I'm poor? (This intro keeps getting weirder, stranger and sicker as time goes on. When the words turn weird, the weird turn prose.)
    Thus endth these "P" words.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006


    Will Geek for Words, Part 13: The "P" Words, Phobophobia Edition

    Being part the 13th of an irregularly posted series of carefully selected words from the Word Lover’s Dictionary: Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words by Josefa Heifetz (New York: Carol Publishing, 1974, 1994, ISBN: 0806517204). For beginning entries in this series, please see Part 1 and Part 2. If you want to find all posts in the series, search on the title "Will Geek for Words" on this site. Eventually I add them to the sidebar listing. Part 13 encompasses the letter "P" words and their definitions. "Geek" is used here in the older, carny definition of a sideshow actor who acted like a "wild man" and often bit the heads off chickens at the culmination of his act. Does this actually explain my use of the word for this series of posts? No, but I burn with a desire to experience the romantic lifestyle of these geeks, these precious degenerates. I love words in a very, very special way. Don't I have a charming and sophisticated way of showing it? (No chickens were harmed in the creation of this post.)

    No kickbacks are involved and this is not a promotional stunt. I am not paid to plug this book yet here I am, mentioning it at the top of each of these posts and linking to the Amazon page for it. I am still half-expecting and awaiting a "cease and desist" letter from their lawyers. ("Tick-tock, Clarice, tick-tock.") I'm sure it's "fair use" to include excerpted selections in a non-commercial venture. Did I mention that I'm poor? (This intro keeps getting weirder, stranger and sicker as time goes on.)
    I'm breaking the P words here. There are an awful lot of them.


    Meaningless Surveys and False Polls

    I received a "2006 Grassroots Survey of Democratic Leaders" from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) a couple of days ago. It encapsulated so much that is wrong with the DNC, its approach and its relationship to people that I thought I'd share a little about it. Another blogger, Ronny Max, seems to have written out the "survey" and her answered questions if you'd like to look at it.

    It's obvious this "survey" is merely a front for the fundraising pitch at the end. Mostly, it is a way to cement views to the standard dichotomy of arguments between Democrats and Republicans on these subjects. In all cases where the choice is between a "yes" or "no" answer, the "yes" answer articulates the basic Dem position with strong and affirmative phrasing. The "no" answer describes, usually in bland terms, a relatively standard Republican argument.

    Only one question seems even remotely useful in actually soliciting "grassroots" input. The first question asks you to rank 10 issues in the order of importance to you. It even includes an "other" answer that you can fill in. This assumes, of course, that any "surveys" not containing money are tabulated at all. I doubt there are any laws that require the Dems to actually tabulate the answers at all. Oh, they probably do but, again, nothing says they need to pay the slightest attention to the results.

    On the last page is this statement: "To put your contribution to work immediately, please call 1-877-xxx-xxxx or visit". Yes, this says very clearly to visit the web site to put your contribution to work, but you might be excused for thinking an address ending in "/survey" might allow you to take the survey online or have some results of the survey. But the address redirects to "", a secure donation page to take credit cards and such.

    I perceive a strange oxymoron at work in the title as well: a grassroots survey of Democratic leaders? I am not a Dem leader or much of a grassroot. I'm only on their list because I donated $10 or $20 in 2004 to help defeat Bush. (Yeah, I wanted to beat Bush so badly I gave money to the Dems. It's not my proudest moment but I did it.)

    My point is that this is obviously a calculated appeal for money hidden behind a survey not intended to actually solicit opinion but dupe the reader who participates into investing time and energy and, hopefully, money after they've gone through the trouble of filling it out. The flattery of calling the reader a "local Party leader" seems cynical and false.

    I'm angry. I'm angry that the Dems, on a national level, are the only alternative to the Repubes (sic). I'm angry about the hollowness and cynical nature of the Dems. I'm angry that, so much of the time, they hold positions only marginally different from Repubs (and sometimes not even marginally different.)

    Monday, September 11, 2006


    Remembering 9/11 Is Not The Same As Putting It Into Context

    When I heard that CNN was going to stream their original coverage from Sept. 11, 2001 on their web site, I instantly thought "That's right, reinforce the trauma. Do not provide context or analysis that would help people understand the reasons why it happened."

    Mainstream analysis has been astonishingly shallow over the last five years. Most Americans seem satisfied with the idea that these Muslims are crazy zealots, pushed by extremist leaders and pulled by the promises of houris in Paradise. The idea that Muslims and people in Middle East countries might have legitimate grounds for hating us appears difficult for many Americans to grasp. American benevolence in foreign policy is accepted without question by many Americans despite huge amounts of evidence to the contrary.

    Were innocent American lives lost on 9/11? Yes. But sanctifying them and raising them to the status of martyrs is useful only in fueling the PR campaign for the "War on Terror." Were some Americans heroic on 9/11, particularly the first responders? Yes. I remember and mourn for them but my idea of honoring their memory is not using it to falsely justify military action against other innocent people. If you want to call any parts of this series of events evil, I would certainly include the cynical manipulations in the aftermath by Bush, et al.

    As an aside, I think it should be noted that the number of Americans who died on 9/11/01 is less than the number of Iraqis who have died in the last two months. Interestingly, the US is claiming a reduction in the number of Iraqis killed in fighting because they recently decided to not count those who died in car bombs or mortar attacks. A nice solution: redefine the problem and things look sooo much better. This is a typical Bush Bunch solution.

    So this post is just my little plea to look around and read some things that challenge the mainstream views of 9/11. You may decide they are bullshit but at least you'll have an idea of what other people are saying. Reality is rarely as simple we would like it to be.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006


    Porn and Confusion

    A recent comment to my post on why I love feminists asked my about my opinion about porn. This was signed by "pornstudent" with a link to a "Porn Studies" site ( (I refuse to post a hyperlink for them. Technically, a work safe link since it is a text page of links with no graphics and no explicit words. Subpages on the site seem to be text-only as well.)

    Sexually explicit words and pictures in modern (American) society constitute a strange and multifaceted conundrum. I have no facile analysis or solutions but here are a few items I consider in relation to public viewing and accessibility of such images and words.

    First, many adult Americans have a taboo about the naked human body that borders on the pathological. The equating of nudity with sex and sexual acts in the American psyche is, to my mind, an illness. The forbidden nature of nudity in public creates a state of psychological anticipation and curiosity. The comparative rarity of complete nudity in mainstream media and day-to-day life functions to create a "market" for such images. And capitalism will always find a way to sell to an underserved market.

    Generally, while I don't believe images or words are, ipso facto, "wrong", the process of their creation and the business of pornography in America is very wrong. Cheery testimonials from allegedly happy female porn stars doesn't change my opinion that the predatory porn business destroys many more participants than it fulfills. And the participants/proletariat are overwhelmingly women.

    I think the taboo nature of the curiosity mentioned above also creates a ripe mental attitude for obsessional collecting and viewing of porn by some men.

    As far as I am aware, there is no scientific evidence that viewing porn instigates or develops criminal sexual and/or violent behavior. But it's a bit of the chicken or the egg, though, in how to structure experimental criteria or analysis. I've heard some rapists have large porn collections but I don't think there is a clear causal connection between that fact and the rapist's violence against women. Or which came first: the porn or the violent feelings towards women. Saying this is not going to endear me to some feminists.

    As I see it, our society is immeasurably misogynist and actively encourages objectifying women. This is the baseline. The creation of porn is an industrial assembly line embodying these values more clearly than almost any other in America.

    Of course, now I feel stupid for having approached this subject at all here. I'm thinking of all the aspects/points I haven't gone into and can't really in such a short post. I'm unhappy with the tone of the post which feels a little anti-sex and prudish. Not my intent. I didn't touch on where the profits from porn often go: to the mob or other criminal enterprises. Almost all "adult" theatres and porn bookstores were fronts for Mafia money not too long ago. The business hasn't changed that much since then.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006


    Getting the Fear Good

    I sometimes wonder exactly how weak and fearful I sound on DemiOrator when I reflect on my feelings as in my last post. My guiding principle is that if this is an emotion or state of mind I'm experiencing, then I'm certain there are other people who are affected the same way by these events. To crib a line from Fight Club, I am not a unique snowflake.

    If VP Cheney or Sec. of Def. Rumsfeld says my dissent against my government's actions is tantamount to allying myself with "the terrorists," that affects me. It affects me psychologically and intellectually. If highly placed government officials conflate my perfectly legitimate actions and protests with bombings and killings, there is a less-than-subtle message that I could end up in a camp without any rights, detained indefinitely as an enemy of the state. The message is: "Shut up and enjoy the freedoms we allow you. Speak up and you'll find out the world of hurt you could inhabit."

    If all this sounds rather paranoid and overly-full of myself, you're missing my point. The point is not whether I actually think the government would be interested in the slightest about what I write in this small blog or the petitions I sign. I do not expect the government to break down my door and arrest me for sedition. The point is that, through their proclamations and threats, they want to scare Americans into silence. The point is that they are fearmongering and Red-baiting. They want Americans to stay separated and afraid of each other.

    When everything is reduced to black and white, to good versus evil, to "you're either with us or with the terrorists," we are lost. Then the purges start, the demonizing of independent thought and speech, the witchhunts for those with different views.

    When I was in NOLA, a member of my family was watching some of the political shows on TV. She thought, because Dems and Repubs were exchanging opinions on the show, that there was the full spectrum of opinions being represented. I looked at these shows and thought the views only covered about 15 degrees of the 360 degree circle of possible views. I think 15 degrees is being generous. And, actually, the views are on a much larger continuum than a measely 360 degrees. Am I a dreamer, a Don Quixote tilting at illusions, to think of larger possibilities?

    As Frank Herbert wrote in his Dune books, "Fear is the mind-killer." So I express my fear here, hoping that I can gain strength through bringing it into the light.

    Friday, September 08, 2006


    The Fear That Binds

    So I get an email from Congressman John Conyers urging me to write ABC concerning the upcoming miniseries "The Path to 9/11". Advanced viewings apparently show a skewed presentation of the information, settling the blame on the Clinton admin. and lifting some of it from the Bush admin. Conyers co-signed this letter so I'm pretty sure he's serious about it.

    Time was I'd sign on to such an appeal without question or hesitation, particularly if I had confidence in the source of the appeal. There are certainly supporters of this action, on Eschaton and elsewhere. But I find myself pausing for a moment, thinking about the wonders of the post-9/11 security world we live in. It's the little things that eat at me. Where will my name appear after I send this form letter? Will ABC perhaps turn the list of received names over to the FBI for domestic terrorism investigation? Paranoid? Or realistic?

    Perhaps it's because what you do on the internet can be accessed and cataloged so easily which gives me pause. I wonder when the number of times my name appears on "suspicious" lists will reach a point that triggers some low-level alarm?

    When all dissent becomes grounds for fear, fear becomes second nature. Dissent and public protest become reasons to fear government action or retaliation. We live in the time of fear but I fear terrorists much less than I fear our government. Some say I have nothing to fear if I've done nothing wrong, that the innocent should trust the system. This doesn't take into account that the government's definition of "wrong" shifts and shifts and shifts. We've seen it over the last five years with the creation of caged "free speech zones" and the redefinition of non-violent protest groups as "domestic terrorists". The US is becoming a country where you can freely speak your mind but if anyone actually hears you, you can be charged with sedition.

    I will still sign and send the letter. But these are the thoughts I have. These are the doubts I harbor. These are the fears that bloom. I don't believe this is the result of some natural timidity or lack of courage on my part. I believe my government has tainted me with a sickness, touched me with an electric shock of aversion, caused me to flinch from speech and action. This is the Bush legacy: a false pretense of security wrapped around us as we look with fearful eyes, not at outside threats but at each other.

    Welcome to Oceania.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006


    Absence of Evidence?

    The lead of a Christian Science Monitor story goes like this: "In the five years since the 9/11 attacks, President Bush has made good on promises to protect the nation from terrorism. But this success has come at a price."

    What I find interesting about this is the assumption that the Prez has "made good on promises to protect the nation from terrorism." This does not seem borne out by the evidence as I far as I know. The number of publicized foiled attacks and/or legal actions against terrorist suspects in the US is remarkably small over these five years. Only one case that I can recall offhand has progressed through the courts. If you are under the impression that there are many more prosecutions or intercepted plots, join the club. Perhaps it could be said that there have been plots interrupted that have not been publicized. Perhaps. However, this administration has no hesitation or shame about tooting their own horn. Hell, they like claiming other countries' achievements in this area. If there were more, I think the specifics would be repeated endlessly, notchs on the admin's CV.

    There have been some very publicized busts/arrests in the US but these have almost all turned out to be less of a threat to the nation than, say, an angry, violent teenager with access to firearms.

    Just because there have been no more attacks is not a proof of the effectiveness of the Prez's efforts. Are there still people committed to striking at the US with large-scale acts of destruction? Yes, I'd conceed there are such people. However, the why of the absence of revealed or successful strikes remains unclear to me.

    I don't like people pissing on my head and telling me it's raining. And if there is one thing the Prez likes, it's a pissing contest. I suspect Tony Blair knows a little about this.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006


    Tribal Affiliations in Modern American Society

    Here are a few preliminary notes for an essay tentatively titled "Tribal Affiliations in Modern American Society." It will undoubtedly languish unfinished. Aren't you lucky to be able to see this rough faux academic meandering...

    As the breakdown of social cohesion progresses, people become obsessed with creating, finding or allying themselves with new tribal groups. Thus there is a proliferation of symbolic items and signs to indicate the individual’s affiliation with particular aspects, objects, trends and prominent individuals in the popular culture.

    As a strange result of attempting to be a unique individual, many Americans become a matrix of particular memberships and adopted symbols. These symbols are displayed consciously and unconsciously, from clothing to colored bracelets to bumper stickers. We declare our support of breast cancer research through a pink ribbon pin. Politicians declare their patriotism with flag pins on their lapels. Teenagers wear whatever clothing is in vogue among the peer group they wish to join.

    Personal stylistic choices become a personal collection of identity signifiers, of tribal connections. Americans often shed childhood and family tribal affiliations to religion, class, ethnicity and others as they grow into maturity and independence from their parents.

    Individuals will find ways to publicly declare their chosen tribal alliances, sometimes with great aggression.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006


    A Small Tour of a New Orleans Neighborhood, Part 3

    This installment of the tour is more of a mixed bag than Part I and Part II. It may even be a little redundant in places. That's the danger of reading a blog: It's not always a professionally polished product.

    See that second floor room up under the eaves near the back of the house in the foreground? With three side-by-side windows? That was my room when I was a child in 1965. It's a corner room and there is another row of windows on the side around the corner. The house also has an above-ground basement apartment so it's actually three stories up. '65 was the year Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans. In NOLA, hurricanes are always measured by the worst ones in recent memory. Before Betsy, it was Hurricane Audrey in 1957. After Betsy, it was Hurricane Camille in 1969. These are the hurricane epochs I remember hearing about in my childhood.

    Back to Betsy: Because of the exceptionally exposed nature of my room, I stayed in my sister's room for the night. The two corner walls had a lot of glass which was likely to blow in during the storm. The next morning when we looked into my room, none of the panes of glass had broken. One had cracked but that was all. However, the roof had leaked into the ceiling, soaking it until a huge section of the plaster had given way and fallen directly onto the head of my bed. Wet plaster is heavy. Would its fall have killed me? It's hard to say for certain but it's quite possible. I never thought much about it afterwards. It was just part of the hurricane experience in NOLA.

    Why tell you this poignant story of my youth? Because it illustrates the adaptive nature of NOLA residents when it comes to hurricanes. These were the shared historical markers, the communal experiences. Like the deaths of JFK, John Lennon or Kurt Cobain (depending on your generation) on the national level, people of NOLA remember the hurricanes of their lives and what they were doing when they hit New Orleans.

    When I first toured the Broadmoor area, it seemed like there was a lot of garbage on the curbs. I wondered how often the city was picking it up. Over the course of my stay I discovered, at least in the Broadmoor area, the garbage was being collected regularly. I would see collections like the one here. Then they would disappear, only to quickly build up again. The detritus of stripping houses and remodeling would go out whenever and stay there for days. There was no sense in waiting for a specific garbage day; stuff was taken out when the muscle and people able to lift it were available. It would then sit on the curb. There were specific trucks that came around and got the heavy stuff like appliances, lumber, sheetrock. Bobcat loaders accompanied them to shovel up the stuff and put it in the big trucks.

    Many/most corners in NOLA sport signs like these on the electrical poles with ads for mold removal, roofing, renovation, etc. You can see another blue tarped roof in the background. There are services that will print up hundreds of these things. They are made of a rigid plastic, thicker than "For Sale" or "Closed" signs you can buy in hardware stores.

    It's these little things I notice. Like this temporary stop sign on a corner in an Uptown residential neighborhood almost a year after the hurricane. Of course there are other priorities, much more important items needing to be taken care of than the replacement of a few stop signs. Yet it's just another reminder of the very lack of normalcy permeating the environment.

    I didn't really get to all of the photos I wanted to share here but maybe I'll upload them to my flickr account. Yeah, I'll put them all there under the title "New Orleans, August 2006". So click through if you want to see more of them.

    Monday, September 04, 2006


    Washed on My Shore: Books about Post-K NOLA

    The last night of my recent visit to NOLA, I went to a potluck gathering at a residential home on S. Carrollton Ave. My sister and her husband had attended two or three previous meetings and were impressed. This group gathers about once a month to listen to speakers and writers talk about the past and future of NOLA. The group has a long name but I wasn't attentive enough to catch the full name, only it's first two words: Huddled Masses.

    There were 35 or so people at this gathering to listen to Mike Tidwell speak. His most recent book is The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America's Coastal Cities. Mr Tidwell has a bit of the evangelist in him and his presentation strongly pointed to two things that must be done to save NOLA and, indeed, all coastal cities.

    First, southern Louisiana has lost a million acres of marsh/delta land over the last century due to overcontrol of the Mississippi River. The remedy is to allow the river itself to deposit it's silt in the areas needing shoring up. A detailed plan already exists called Coast 2050. The delta area has lost 3 ft of practical elevation: 2 feet from subsidence (the settling and compacting of the land) and 1 foot of ocean level rise.

    His second point was that taking such measures to restore the wetlands won't do much good if global warming continues to raise the ocean levels. Sea level will rise in the near future will undoubtedly severely impact many coastal cities. Few people seem aware that Manhattan is one such area as well as the city of London. There is no engineering miracle when the storms come. Sea walls are breached and the water comes in. NOLA is the "canary in the coal mine", the first but by no means the last of such events. Even if production of all greenhouse gases were stopped today, this instant, the momentum of warming and sea level rise will probably carry on for decades. And I really doubt we will stop producing greenhouse gases in the near future.

    What really startled me about the "Huddled Masses" meeting was the number of local authors in the gathering. There were at least three other published authors at the gathering. One had penned Tubby Meets Katrina, a detective story I believe. I was very impressed with this group.

    I have only read a couple of the many books about Katrina but I've seen a few authors on BookTV on C-SPAN who have impressed me. Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City by Jed Horne is one which I'm very interested in reading. Another is Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security by Christopher Cooper and Robert Block. A snippet I heard in an interview was so unbelievable I really doubt I heard correctly: among the "lessons learned" from Katrina was for Homeland Security or FEMA to focus on having communities all over the country prepare for hurricane emergencies. Not an natural emergency like a hurricane but specifically a hurricane. So Los Angeles and St. Louis should give priority to hurricane preparation response as opposed to, say, emergency preparation for earthquakes or tornados.

    I reiterate: I must have misheard this. I can't imagine incompetence of this magnitude, even among Bush political hack appointees. It's too staggering. Do NOT quote me on this.

    Sunday, September 03, 2006


    Lies, Damned Lies and the Bush Administration Opening Its Mouth

    Spinning information is almost integral to politics today. Politicians always give positive and hopeful names and frames to their programs. Opponent's programs, not so much. The amazing thing about the Bush administration is that they don't just spin, they lie. They lie a lot. They lie so often it's astonishing to me when they actually tell the truth in public forums. I figure in those instances, there was some screwup and the person didn't get the talking points in time. Or the spokesperson was confused or perhaps seriously ill.

    The most recent Mother Jones mag (Sept./Oct. 2006) has an excellent Flash timeline about the Iraq war. It has a nifty little legend categorizing many of the items with labels like False Intel, Civil Liberties Eroded, Torture and others. They plan on continuing to update it as new information comes to light.

    The overall gist is not surprising or new to me but the details are fascinating. It couldn't be clearer exactly how much the administration people knew privately yet publicly claimed exactly the opposite in order to promote and market the war against Iraq. Again, not really new but the scale and breadth of the "on-message" lies is monumental.

    On a slightly different note, I'm now convinced that this administration (and probably subsequent ones, Dem or Repub) will not withdraw from Iraq no matter the cost. I had heard about the huge US "embassy" being built in Iraq but the scale takes my breath away. The print version of "The Hightower Lowdown" (Sept. 2006) details some of the costs and specs. (Online version here but I don't think the following info is available there even for subscribers.)

    This "embassy" (and I think the word deserves quotes) will cover 104 acres. It's being build by an affiliate of Halliburton at a current cost of $500 million. 8,000 people will work there. It is a self-contained city with its own power plant, water system and 600 apartments for inhabitants. And just to make sure the Iraqi government doesn't miss the message, it overlooks the chambers housing the Iraqi government.

    The US is not an occupying force. Right. Wait, where are all those flying monkeys coming from?

    Saturday, September 02, 2006


    I am Jack's Puzzled Brain

    The life of a blogger is full of contradictions and strange connections. I am consistently bemused by searches which lead to my blog. I write about anti-pornography actions and the very items I'm protesting become keywords leading to my blog. A good thing perhaps but still confusing to my self-image.

    I write about the Bush Administration "screwing women" on birth control access and I find myself on the first results page of a Google search on "women screwing". My company in the top ten results is mostly less than stellar except for the heretik, who is, of course, brilliant.

    I am Jack's tertiary syphilitic brain.

    Now, I wait for the search containing that phrase to find me. Hope is all we have these dark days.

    Friday, September 01, 2006


    A Small Tour of a New Orleans Neighborhood, Part II

    Let's continue through the neighborhood I began describing in Part I of this little travelogue. I'm doing this because the media shows the most graphic scenes of widespread destruction in NOLA; this is good TV. What you don't see as much are the details of destruction and disruption in the "recovered" areas of the city, the parts with the least amount of damage. This is an uptown area near Audubon Park. There's a map of where the photos were taken in Part I.

    This first picture shows an innocuous rectangle of dead grass next to a blue house. It was obviously the recent home of a FEMA trailer. The next photo is of a small FEMA trailer park a couple of blocks away with 12-15 trailers. The long building you can barely see behind the trailers is, I believe, part of the Army Corps of Engineers offices up on the levee of the Mississippi. It's been there as long as I can remember and probably since before WWII.

    At least this trailer park is in the city. Many displaced NOLA residents have been put in trailer parks so isolated and far from the city to have been likened to detention camps rather than locations from which to recover lives and homes. Democracy Now! was kicked out of the Renaissance Village Trailer Park when they tried to film and interview residents. "Security" allegedly threatened residents with eviction if they talked to the media while inside the park. "Renaissance Village" (a Bush administration Newspeak name if ever I heard one) is located near Baton Rouge (a few hours from NOLA) and is in an isolated field next to an Exxon oil refinery. About 2,000 people live there, with limited access to transportation or services other than what FEMA provides. Crime and drugs are problems because, surprise! They are miles from the nearest town and lack cars to go elsewhere. Then, to encourage the inhabitants to move out of the trailer park, FEMA begins removing essential services from this "temporary" village. The catch-22s are myriad: No land lines are installed for phones so FEMA gives them cellphones with the first 300 minutes free. Then they have to pay for the minutes. FEMA said they would pay for propane for 18 months then began reneging on that promise after 6 months.

    This building with the pastel green facade seems to have been a local bar. You can see a blue tarp has been attached to the roof. As one writer put it, NOLA became "the city with blue roofs" because of the number of tarps used to temporarily protect them in the aftermath. The detail is hard to make out but the second story wall facing us is quite damaged with boards ripped away. As far as I could tell, this bar didn't show any signs of having re-opened.

    I have a few more pictures I might post later but for the moment this is the end of this little tour. Bon chance, NOLA, bon chance.

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?