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  • Friday, June 29, 2007


    Searches Leading to This Lost Blog

    A perusal of recent searches which resulted in people clicking through to posts on DemiOrator are always interesting and disturbing. I'm not going to provide links to the actual searches or my posts. The awful thing: by re-mentioning them, I'm essentially kicking myself up the search ranking for these subjects. C'est la vie.

    1. I get very regular hits from "men are assholes" or "why are men assholes" or variations on this theme. Sadly, despite my generally misanthropic demeanor, I would hardly call this a central theme of DemiOrator. Here's what they find if you're interested.

    2. Then there's a search for "Neurotic lassitude" which led to this entry. It's from this word: "psychasthenia, n.: neurotic lassitude, indecision; doubts, tics, and phobias." OK, I don't get a lot of searches for this in particular but I like the phrase.

    3. It continues to hugely amuse me that searches for "FAQing" find my blog, possibly/probably a phonetic misspelling of "fucking". Many seem to come from Saudi Arabia.

    Ciao, baby!



    Random 10 Songs: "New Age, Easy Money" Edition

    OK, I admit these random 10 songs posts are more filler than substantial in nature. After such a long semi-demi-hiatus of very sparse posting here, I'm rusty. When I do approach a serious subject, I note that I'm lacking in ability to fully explore it. I'm a little off in my writing style, not well focussed. Thus I find these throwaway posts helpful in realigning my mental state to current affairs. In other words, I'm feeling stupid and mentally dull.
    1. Thunderbird by John Hiatt
    2. The Leader by the Clash
    3. Reel Ten by Plugz (from Repo Man soundtrack)
    4. Planet of Sound by The Pixies
    5. Easy Money by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
    6. Waiting for the Big One by Peter Gabriel
    7. Hot Sun by Adrian Belew
    8. Ah Wuv Ooh by Larry Coryell
    9. You Don't Make It Easy Babe by Josh Ritter
    10. New Age by The Velvet Underground
    Bonus track: Dogyard by Lunachicks

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    Thursday, June 28, 2007


    Impeccable Feminist Analysis

    It never fails: Reading I Blame the Patriarchy invariably gives me a warm feeling in my heart, a comforting glow to know that excellent and unstinting radical feminist analysis thrives on the internet. I know I regularly gush over Twisty's posts and general perspective but apparently I can't help doing it.

    Current amusement comes from recent posts on marriage: The post on marriage and The post on the post on marriage. Ascerbic and astute and funny. Recommended.

    Update: Don't pass up the post titled Pose of the week.

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    Who needs context?

    On page 12 of the current Newsweek (July 2-July 9, 2007) is a short piece titled Iran: Broken War Drums? Framed by comments by Joe Lieberman and associates is this sentence:
    Another [intelligence] official said U.S. government experts were also concerned that any American cross-border raid into Iran might produce an unintended escalation of violence between the United States and Tehran. [emphasis decidedly mine.]
    I'm trying to imagine a situation where border incursions by one country into another would not produce "escalation of violence." Unintended? I know of quite a few historic situations where one country deliberately provoked another country to violence as an excuse to invade.

    The more I read that sentence the more I'm curious about the editorial choices behind it. And, yes, I understand the concept that tensions and conflict between countries can get so bad war is, for practical purposes, inevitable. But this sentence embodies an attitude, a throwback to Cold War brinksmanship. It assumes that major nation-state players/actors are the sole considerations for such jockeying for position. That really isn't true for many situations.

    Perhaps my naïveté is showing through.

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    Sunday, June 24, 2007


    Will Geek for Words 15: Queered by Q Words Edition

    Being 15th 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 15 consists of the letter "Q" words. "Geek" is used here as an intimation of the eldritch horror existing before our ancestors were even apes, before the first ocean creature crawled from the sea. These Elder Geeks saw a different reality, bathed in cosmic rays and illuminated by colours beyond the visible spectrum seen by mere mortal humans. Down through 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 metamorphosis 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 someone's 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 churn prose.)
    Thus endeth the "Q" words of interest. Quack, quack.

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    Freecycle and Bookmooch

    Two resources I've found useful recently.

    Freecycle is an exchange site where people list things they want to get rid of. From their front page: "The Freecycle Network was started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. The Network provides individuals and non-profits an electronic forum to "recycle" unwanted items."

    Bookmooch is a method of passing books along. "BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want."

    Over the years I've accumulated an outrageously large book collection. I've reached the point where I can no longer unpack the whole bunch at one time. Boxed books are wasted books. (Although I reserve the right to keep some of them in storage.)

    Check these folks out.

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    Random 10 Songs: Zombie Seagulls and the Shapes of Things Edition

    Another in the series of my personal and cultural identity delineation through musical lists. And by these signs you will conquer. Popular culture scars me with its beautiful idiot savant conjunctions. These are my sensual byproducts, so tease me not.
    1. NYC by Interpol
    2. Sway by Shriekback
    3. Classifieds by Bob Mould
    4. We Will Fall by Iggy and the Stooges
    5. Crying Her Messages by D. Clarke
    6. Shapes of Things by Yardbirds
    7. Call of the Zombie by Rob Zombie
    8. Sing Sing Sing by Benny Goodman
    9. Barney from Killarney by De Danann
    10. Seagulls by PJ Harvey
    Bonus track: The Gift by The Velvet Underground

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    Tuesday, June 19, 2007


    Don't Try to Confuse Me with Logic, My Mind is Made Up

    Reading a recent blog entry titled The Nature Editorial: Either Intelligent Design is Science, or Senator Brownback Got it RIght from the Center for Science and Culture, a Discovery Institute program, I was struck by the weakness of rhetoric, lapses of logic, and what appears to be deliberate reframing of information in order to create a falsely constructed "either/or" presentation.

    See if you can pick out the problems with this paragraph:
    The editors assert that the emergence of the human mind without intelligent design is an ‘unassailable fact’. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this claim, aside from the problems with their interpretation of the scientific evidence itself, is the admission by the editors that the question of intelligent design in biology can be adjudicated by the scientific method. If the evidence for or against intelligent design can be evaluated scientifically— as the editors at Nature firmly assert that it can— then intelligent design is a real scientific inference, albeit, according to the Nature editors, a mistaken one. And if they are asserting that intelligent design is mistaken from a non-scientific standpoint, then the editors are advancing an atheistic theology, as Brownback pointed out.
    Particularly note the logical twist/substitution that makes "intelligent design" into "a real scientific inference" when that is not necessarily what the editors of Nature said. In essence, this is a fancy word play intended to assert that ID is a legitimate, valid and scientific theory with evidence. I've yet to seen any evidence that this is true.

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    Saturday, June 16, 2007


    Queers Read This

    Back in June of 1990, I picked up a copy of a broadside with the bold title "Queers Read This" (.PDF version) I seem to recall picking it up at Boston Gay Pride that year but I might be wrong.* It's sometimes referred to as the Queer Nation Manifesto. The only credit on my copy says "Published anonymously by Queers". The links above are to the complete text but I'm reprinting some of it here. (I've made a few minor changes to bring it in line with my copy of the original text. All emphasis and caps in original.)
    How can I tell you. How can I convince you, brother, sister that your life is in danger: That everyday you wake up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being, you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and functioning queer are a revolutionary.

    There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects or encourages your existence. It is a miracle you are standing here reading these words. You should by all rights be dead. Don't be fooled, straight people own the world and the only reason you have been spared is you're smart, lucky or a fighter.

    Straight people have a privilege that allows them to do whatever they please and fuck without fear. But not only do they live a life free of fear; they flaunt their freedom in my face. Their images are on my TV, in the magazine I bought, in the restaurant I want to eat in, and on the street where I live. I want there to be a moratorium on straight marriage, on babies, on public displays of affection among the opposite sex and media images that promote heterosexuality. Until I can enjoy the same freedom of movement and sexuality, as straights, their privilege must stop and it must be given over to me and my queer sisters and brothers. Straight people will not do this voluntarily and so they must be forced into it. Straights must be frightened into it. Terrorized into it. Fear is the most powerful motivation. No one will give us what we deserve. Rights are not given they are taken, by force if necessary. It is easier to fight when you know who your enemy is. Straight people are your enemy. They are your enemy when they don't acknowledge your invisibility and continue to live in and contribute to a culture that kills you. Every day one of us is taken by the enemy. Whether it's an AIDS death due to homophobic government inaction or a lesbian bashing in an all-night diner (in a supposedly lesbian neighborhood).


    I'm angry. I'm angry for being condemned to death by strangers saying, "You deserve to die" and "AIDS is the cure." Fury erupts when a Republican woman wearing thousands of dollars of garments and jewelry minces by the police lines shaking her head, chuckling and wagging her finger at us like we are recalcitrant children making absurd demands and throwing temper tantrum when they aren't met. Angry while Joseph agonizes over $8,000 a year for AZT which might keep him alive a little longer and which makes him sicker than the disease he is diagnosed with. Angry as I listen to a man tell me that after changing his will five times he's running out of people to leave things to. All of his best friends are dead. Angry when stand in a sea of quilt panels, or go to a candlelight march or attend yet another memorial service. I will not march silently with a fucking candle and I want to take that goddamned quilt and wrap myself in it and furiously rend it and my hair and curse every god religion ever created. I refuse to accept a creation that cuts people down in the third decade of their life.



    I have friends. Some of them are straight.

    Year after year, I see my straight friends. I want to see them, to see how they are doing, to add newness to our long and complicated histories, to experience some continuity.

    Year after year I continue to realize that the facts of my life are irrelevant to them and that I am only half listened to, that I am an appendage to the doings of a greater world, a world of power and privilege, of the laws of installation, a world of exclusion. "That's not true," argue my straight friends. There is the one certainty in the politics of power: those left out of it beg for inclusion, while the insiders claim that they already are. Men do it to women, whites do it to blacks, and everyone does it to queers.

    The main dividing line, both conscious and unconscious, is procreation ... and that magic word --- Family. Frequently, the ones we are born into disown us when they find out who we really are, and to make matters worse, we are prevented from having our own. We are punished, insulted, cut off, and treated like seditionaries in terms of child rearing, both damned if we try and damned if we abstain. It's as if the propagation of the species is such a fragile directive that without enforcing it as if it were an agenda, humankind would melt back into the primeval ooze.

    I hate having to convince straight people that lesbians and gays live in a war zone, that we're surrounded by bomb blasts only we seem to hear, that our bodies and souls are heaped high, dead from fright or bashed or raped, dying of grief or disease, stripped of our personhood.

    I hate straight people who can't listen to queer anger without saying "hey, all straight people aren't like that. I'm straight too, you know," as if their egos don't get enough stroking or protection in this arrogant, heterosexist world. Why must we take care of them, in the midst of our just anger brought on by their fucked up society?! Why add the reassurance of "Of course, I don't mean you. You don't act that way." Let them figure out for themselves whether they deserve to be included in our anger.

    But of course that would mean listening to our anger, which they almost never do. They deflect it, by saying "I'm not like that" or "Now look who's generalizing" or "You'll catch more flies with honey ... " or "If you focus on the negative you just give out more power" or "you're not the only one in the world who's suffering." They say "Don't yell at me, I'm on your side" or "I think you're overreacting" or "BOY, YOU'RE BITTER."

    They've taught us that good queers don't get mad. They've taught us so well that we not only hide our anger from them, we hide it from each other. WE EVEN HIDE IT FROM OURSELVES. We hide it with substance abuse and suicide and overachieving in the hope of proving our worth. They bash us and stab us and shoot us and bomb us in ever increasing numbers and still we freak out when angry queers carry banners or signs that say BASH BACK. For the last decade they let us die in droves and still we thank President Bush for planting a fucking tree, applaud him for likening PWAs to car accident victims who refuse to wear seatbelts. LET YOURSELF BE ANGRY. Let yourself be angry that the price of our visibility is the constant threat of violence, anti-queer violence to which practically every segment of this society contributes. Let yourself feel angry that THERE IS NO PLACE IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE WE ARE SAFE, no place where we are not targeted for hatred and attack, the self-hatred, the suicide --- of the closet. The next time some straight person comes down on you for being angry, tell them that until things change, you don't need any more evidence that the world turns at your expense. You don't need to see only hetero couple grocery shopping on your TV ... You don't want any more baby pictures shoved in your face until you can have or keep your own. No more weddings, showers, anniversaries, please, unless they are our own brothers and sisters celebrating. And tell them not to dismiss you by saying "You have rights," "You have privileges," "You're overreacting," or "You have a victim's mentality." Tell them "GO AWAY FROM ME, until YOU can change." Go away and try on a world without the brave, strong queers that are its backbone, that are its guts and brains and souls. Go tell them go away until they have spent a month walking hand in hand in public with someone of the same sex. After they survive that, then you'll hear what they have to say about queer anger. Otherwise, tell them to shut up and listen.
    *Since every reference I've found to this document online says it was first circulated at New York Pride and Boston Pride has almost always been the weekend before NY Pride, I'm not sure whether my memory is playing tricks on me or whether its first appearance was a week earlier than generally documented. Update: I've been reminded that I might actually have gotten the flyer as an insert to Gay Community News (GCN). My bad.

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    Sunday, June 10, 2007


    Intelligent Design is Neither

    The links between old school Creationism and the shiny modern version known as Intelligent Design (ID) are not difficult to trace. While I am loathe to throw stones at anyone's religious beliefs, when articles of faith are pushed as "science" into the public arena, I'm ill-disposed to be tolerant of blatant ignorance.

    I found a blurb about a recent position paper is worth following up on:
    The Center for Inquiry released a new position paper, "Understanding the intelligent design creationist movement: Its true nature and goals," on May 29, 2007. Written by Barbara Forrest, the paper (PDF) examines "the ID movement's organization, its historical and legal background, its strategy and aims, and its public policy implications," arguing that, "In promoting 'intelligent design theory' -- a term that is essentially code for the religious belief in a supernatural creator -- as a purported scientific alternative to evolutionary theory, the ID movement continues the decades-long attempt by creationists either to minimize the teaching of evolution or to gain equal time for yet another form of creationism in American public schools. Accordingly, the ID creationist movement threatens both the education of the nation's children and the constitutional separation of church and state, which protects the religious freedom of every American."
    Well worth a look-see.


    Friday, June 08, 2007


    A Short Musing on the US Constitution

    When originally written, the US Constitution only gave voting privileges to a very small subset of the population of the American colonies. From a little list of factoids comes this:
    The Constitution does not set forth requirements for the right to vote. As a result, at the outset of the Union, only male property-owners could vote. African Americans were not considered citizens, and women were excluded from the electoral process. Native Americans were not given the right to vote until 1924.
    One figure I've heard estimates only 5% of the population of the period was eligible to vote.

    However, something I find more interesting is that there is no "right to vote" built into the US Constitution. Apparently I was asleep when they taught this in school. Or maybe I just didn't draw the right conclusions about the Women's Suffrage and the African-American Civil Rights movements and Constitutional Amendments.

    Connected to this are the laws in various states disenfranchising felons, barring them from voting. No other industrial country has a such laws. All of this seems designed to confine voting to those people who benefit from the established power structure.

    I guess this is less a musing about the Constitution than a few bits I find interesting.

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    Random 10 Songs: "Conspiracy of Buzzcocks" Edition

    Another in a series of random songs. These posts remain more a brew of confabulated concepts than straightforward and linear argument. Various projects on the home front are interfering with my ability to present thoughtful spews on current events. Yet I'm gaining much material from stimulating conversations which I hope to post here soon.
    1. Can't Afford to Do It by Fleetwood Mac
    2. Evening Mass by Willard Grant Conspiracy
    3. You Tear Me Up by Buzzcocks
    4. Anyone Alive? by Chameleons
    5. Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes by Black Sabbath
    6. Rock on the Moon by The Cramps
    7. I'm a Rocker by Bruce Springsteen
    8. Sweet Jane by Mott the Hoople
    9. The Return of Jackie and Judy by The Ramones
    10. High Priestess by Uriah Heep
    Bonus track: The Guns of Brixton by The Clash

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    Sunday, June 03, 2007


    Tin Foil Hats Keep the Forces of Evil at Bay

    It's become a common rhetorical trope for politicians to use the phrase "forces of evil". Mostly it's the Repubs but Dems are not immune to the impulse to use the it.

    With labeling any targeted group as "evil," the (often unspoken) corollary is that Americans and/or the politician are "good" and kin to angels. It's a neat trick which is probably why it's such a popular soundbite device. Fred Thompson is today's user to politically capitalize on the phrase.

    "Evil" is such a wonderfully useful concept for politicians. Who's going to stand up and defend evil? I don't think it's going to generate mass appeal for protests and pro-evil demonstrations. Of course, evil is an entirely moral term, a blanket condemnation of someone/something without any redeemable qualities. It's also a completely unquestioning term, imbued with absolute judgment without ambiguity or subtlety. There's no ten percent evil; it's an all-or-nothing value.

    The trick in using "evil" is that it generally allows the most extreme tactics to battle it. What's a little torture when you're battling EVIL!?! What are you, a wimp? You want EVIL to win? EVIL will use any tactic, so we must not hesitate to do the same! You can't coddle EVIL!

    The second trick is to use it to tar an entire group without differentiation. Thompson used the current favorite: "Islamic fundamentalists like nothing more than a mushroom cloud over an American city," he said. It would be useless to point out that there are huge numbers of "Islamic fundamentalists" who don't give a rat's ass about attacking America. However, the generalization is important in designating and targeting a large group as "the enemy."

    There's also a level at which such rhetoric is used to create enemies rather than to merely identify actual threats. Does the USA have real enemies who wish to attack? Yes. But I'm partial to being very specific about who such people and groups are rather than generalizing about large populations. It's inaccurate and a form of demagoguery intended to incite passions rather than reasoned discussion.

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    Saturday, June 02, 2007


    Random 10 Songs: "The Stooges of Revolution" Edition

    Another selection of random songs from my computer jukebox. I confess I cheated this time: I didn't like the top ten of the random 100 songs originally selected so I shuffled the 100 songs again to get the current selection. However, I liked my post title I came up with for the original selection: "White Zombie Cramps Pansy Division". (I obviously use the random songs selection as a version of the cut up technique when I create titles for some of these posts.)
    1. Out of State by Frank Black and the Catholics
    2. Beans and Cornbread by Louis Jordan
    3. Character by Iggy Pop
    4. Johnny Porter by Ry Cooder
    5. Love is Only a Feeling by The Darkness
    6. The Revolution Starts by Steve Earle
    7. Fashion by David Bowie
    8. Anne Boleyn/The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended by Rick Wakeman
    9. My Dark Side by Mike Scott
    10. Rubber Legs by Iggy & the Stooges
    Bonus track: Guardian Angel by Human Sexual Response


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