Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Smiling Dogs

He was a carpenter who was finishing up the installation of a custom-made door. He had been bending down with his eye to the level of the new doorknob, when a coworker opened the door from the other side.

The doorknob slammed him in the eye straight on like a hard jab, and he developed the classic black eye. Just as if he'd been punched, only he hadn't.

Similarly, this patient, a prisoner from a small low to medium security unit, had the typical bruising and fracture of his left occipital. He had apparently "fallen out of his wheelchair" at the place he had called home since Johnson was president.

I didn't buy it. Somebody tee'd-off on the old bastard. And he was a bit of one. The previous shift nurses had haldol-ed him and four-pointed him too, due to his wild and dangerous behavior.

See, that's all we do in a hospital.

You get way out of line and physically threaten people, and it causes us no anger. We just restrain you, for the safety of all, and load you up on drugs that might help you take that nasty psychopathological edge off for a little while.

If you do the same thing in other enviroments, like say your local meth lab... well, they shoot you to death. Or you do this in prison, they sock you in the eye and push you down three steps of stairs while you're in your wheelchair.

Or you do the same kind of garbage only magnified on a scale that affects hundreds of thousands of people and you are a member of the Bush cabinet, you get a medal hung around your neck live on Fox Television.

When I was in college one of the local bars we hung out in was called "The Smiling Dog." The walls were covered with full book cases, the jazz was fine, the couches old and comfortable, the other students open and accomodating, and prices were student-friendly.

The Smiling Dog. Well, my dogs are smiling now. Perhaps they know that the earth will soon be all theirs, after the humans have sufficiently destroyed one another.

My dogs love me and my family, but I suspect they would suffice quite well under freedom.

Postscript on edit:

The patient was a family annihilator. Four decades ago he slit his wife's throat and then killed his pre-teen son and daughter. He even killed the dog. Several of his subsequent attempts to end his own life have been unsuccessful.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Just Saying

Things I Will Never Write About On This Blog:

The Arab/Israeli conflict. No winners. Bad real estate. Religion.

My neighbor's vagina.

My neighbor's other thing that sounds like a motorcycle. Tiny motorcycle with "Hello Kitty" designs on it.

Food that comes in round paper buckets. Trapezoidal paper buckets and actual metal buckets are OK, though.

This blog. Except this one time. You see the logical conundrum.

Foghat. I just have absolutely nothing to say about Foghat, and so should you.

Canadian francophone television humor. One simply cannot discuss that which does not exist.

Lite beer. Really. Look at me. Does anything about me say "lite beer?!" Heck no.

Small dogs. Except that I despise them. Dogs are supposed to be BIG. Capiche?

People who say "Capiche." If I discuss my relations with them I will surely die a violent death at the hand of close relatives.

My old lovers. I've already smeared them enough in college literary publications. And besides, they're all old and can't get it going anymore. Not me, though. I'm literally a marathoner. But I'm not proud. That's just the way it is. 2:46 best. 33.29 in the 10K on the track. Sheesh.

Celtic step-dancing. The fiddles are way OK though.

Arizona pizza. We have the best pizza shop in the world down at Copper Square. But I will not discuss it here. Instead go to his sandwich shop up Central a little ways.

Actual medical stories. Federal law requires that I fictionalize everything I say about my job, which does not actually exist. Ever. Anywhere. Period. So I will never discuss things that occur at The Great Muffin Factory where I allegedly work if I even had a job, which I probably don't, since these are quite scarce.

Nail care. I have my ideas, you have yours. Mine are better, but these require asymmetry and a lot of various files and papers.

Cedar versus Spruce. I'm leaning towards spruce, but then again there was that old Ramirez I played in college. Loud and dark, but not so easy. OK, spruce has it. Heck, why not both?

I don't count guitars anymore. It's rude. Really.

Episodes. I have a general rule in life just to never discuss Episodes. Ususally it's embarrassing to somebody, and we don't go for that here. Unless you're a Republican. Then, as we like to say, it sounds better in metric.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gore (Al, That Is.)

One of the most interesting things about "An Inconvenient Truth" is that in it we see Gore as Gore, not as the media wished us to see him in the 2000 campaign.

The media lied back then about Gore. He is not poll-driven. He is not a flip-flopper. He is not a stuffed shirt. He is not robotic. He never claimed to have invented the internet, though it is well-established that he supported political initiatives that led to its widespread use.

He is well-spoken and he presents an easy intelligence that comes off as common-sense, which of course is exactly what he suggests we use in our confrontation with global warming. Common sense, because this issue affects all of us, rich and poor.

Perhaps this was an underlying impulse for the creation of this movie: it shows us Gore, and his primary issue, unfiltered through the media bullshit grinder.

By sidestepping the media and viewing the movie, people can actually see the threat of global warming for what it really is, and see its best spokesman for what he truly is: an expert with a Carl Sagan-like ability to communicate scientific concerns to a wide audience.

Even people who are too thick-skulled, propagandized, or just plain unable to understand spoken words can just look at the pictures and see that Gore has a good point.

We were fools not to have elected this man.

It was also just a fine example of movie-making. To take what was essentially a college lecture and make a great film out of it reminded me of, say, 'Stop Making Sense' or perhaps another wonderful concert film by Jonathan Demme, 'Storefront Hitchcock.' The film-making facilitated the message and the messenger with a breezy competence and clarity.

I knew I'd like it, but it was even better than I expected.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This is one of the most important poems in American literary history.

Why? Got me swinging. It questions identity, obviously, a universal and yet American cultural concern.

I just love the playful irony of it. "Then there's a pair of us." No doubt even more than that!

"I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us--don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!"

I've visited her house, and for this I feel blessed.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Serpent Uncoils

"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," by fave Dylan Thomas, was rolling around in my mind this morning as I walked the dog around the neighborhood. Like the last poem I put up, "Mad Girl's Love Song," by Sylvia Plath, it is a villanelle. Though these two poems are modern examples of an ancient form, their popularity likely outstrips that of any earlier examples of the format.

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

You may have already guessed what I am about to tell you, the secret of a new interpretation of this classic: it's about peak oil.


So that is how I read the poem over in my pointy little head today, as I strolled the local streets with one of my trusty black lab pooches. How will this corner of civilization survive after the era of cheap petroleum ends? How will we each react to this change, so intense it can be compared to a kind of death?

It's mostly irrigated, this neighborhood, because in the immediate past it was primarily orchard land. Citrus, pomegranites, olives, date palms, pecans, avocados, and peaches. With a little effort every available inch of the open properties here could be harnessed into production of merchandisable local produce.

Your roof is a solar collector. Ours here could be put to use with PV cells to produce electricity during the day, allowing the use of power tools and electronics on a modest scale.

The canal which runs along the northern edge of the neighborhood provides a defensible border as well as reliable a source of water one can expect in a desert city.

There are small schools within walkable distances, local retail spaces, and no big-box stores.

A highway borders the neighborhood on its eastern edge, also providing a defensible boundry and perhaps allowing some remnant of mass transportation in the future.

Enough of the apocalyptic fantasizing and back to the poem: I suppose the stanza that now applies best to my thinking is the fourth one, pertaining to "wild men:"

"Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night."

I am fortunate enough to have lived in times which were amongst the luckiest of any earthly generations, with ample cheap energy and all the luxury that came of it. And now I'm shouting from the rooftops that this era is closing, and the grieving process comes to fore.

But there's hope. Civilization has a good chance of re-creating a post-industrial sort of society somewhat along the lines of the pre-industrial communities that produced Haydn and Mozart, the Pont du Gard, brutally simple and elegantly accurate lunar calendars, and even good-old American lawn-art.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Oh freakin' my. We need to keep things moving here in Arizona.

Like what "things"? Sprawl? Fake urban lakes? Substandard-of-living-wage jobs? What exactly does Arizona produce that must be moved, either within, or out-of-state to create income for us?

A few microchips, maybe. Some turquoise jewelry, I suppose. The occasional college graduate.

Anything else? No, not really.

The only thing we need to move is food, produce, and cheap plastic crap from China into our geographically fantastic state, and in return we move out our mortagages, to the same Chinese that just sold us the $10 computer keyboard, American flag, and genuine Mexican pinata.

We don't make anything much here. Goldwater Republicans, and there's little market for them.

But we consume like crazy, thanks to cheap oil and easy motoring. Isn't that what tourism is all about? How many New York and Japanese tourists hike here to visit the wonders of out state? None. They drive or fly.

"On Wednesday, at a transportation summit sponsored by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, business and government leaders talked about the need to build freeways faster to keep our economy humming. "

Drive cars and fly planes. In a generation or two nobody will be doing much of either. So why call highway construction "planning?" It's not "planning." It's stupid. It's obsolete. It's a continuation of a great misallocation of resources at the behest of The Great American Nightmare: to own a suburban lawn that requires petrochemical sustenance and mowing regularly.

Lawns, you see, not naturally occuring on this continent, are simply a manifestation of cheap oil, which sponsors their growth with fertilizer and machine maintenance. (So is mid-plains industrial farming.) Even if you hand-mow it with a mechanical person-powered mower, the likes of which I haven't seen in 40 years, and nourish it with organic animal droppings. I bet oil had something to do with production and transport of the foods you need to feed your pets. Even the offal in the litter box is therefore beholden to cheap oil. Funny, that.

It just keeps going on and on.

We could make electric energy, with the abundant sunshine here. But we don't because the center of the earth is full of magically self-replenishing oil reserves, which unfortunately lay under the sands of Araby.

Black Equals White So Blue Is the Truest Color (except green)

The night shift nurse was still giving me a one-on-one report when Abe, the certified nursing assistant, bent over the station counter and held the glucometer up to us and said "5-B." It read 55. I've seen people reading a glucose of 30 and up walking around so I got there when I got there.

The patient wouldn't take juice. They just kept saying (for lack of a better word!) Meh, meh. A little blood oozed from their lips, and some brown-green emesis was spread a little down the hill of their upright head-of-bed. Fish in my koi pond were more verbally appropriately responsive.

We checked their temperature and they were hot, about 102F., whatever that is in centigrade. They looked post-ictal to me. They'd been incontinent too, and an embarrassed resident, who was obviously uncomfortable at the sight of a patient who'd messed all over themselves, asked if I "could clean the patient up."

Of course.

But first I wanted to give the patient a dose of D50 and an acetaminophen suppository and maybe Yankauer the crap out of their mouth, while the resident stood there like a pigeon on a wire. Then I checked my other patients, as yet unseen, just to make sure none of them were blue and lying on the floor.


They weren't.

I do not mean to run down the resident. He's a real sweetie, and one of my favorites. Usually he's all over medical issues like wet paint on a bench, but poop scares him. He's not a parent yet, I think. Diapers to him are like braille maps to NASCAR racers.

In college I particularly studied, after music, Surrealism and Zelda Fitzgerald. Whenever I find myself saying "blah-blah-blah is like so-and-so" I cannot help but recall those heady days. But mostly I studied early music techniques and free jazz. It's all of a piece, really, once you get there.

Imitative modal counterpoint. Free association poetic constructs. Adult diapers. Pharoah Sanders. Anime. There ya' go.

The other patient in the room was not of an acute situation. More chronic. Thrown from a vehicle in a motorvehicle accident, they had four broken limbs and a closed-head injury. Freakin' brain stitches, right?

More of a long-term situation here.

In an hour or so the room-mate was awake and oriented, fever and blood-sugar issues resolved, tegretol levels within normal limits, skies clear with gentle breezes out of the west.

In the meantime roomie had an episode of tube-feeding loose stool rivers of flowing crap down between the legs and over the edge of the bed, cascading out of the room out into the halls like the Slime From the Video.

Cleaned, turned and positioned, tube-feedings checked, IV sites clear, we joked a little with the patient and although they could not speak, due to the closed-head injury, they smiled and with the hand they could move a little, signalled a clear "thumbs-up."

Man, that was the best. What a grin. Cheshire cat-like. Cheesecake to my eyes.

We got there. We did something for them that they recognized and appreciated, even though they couldn't speak. They blinked it.

The other patient was basically out of the woods. Theirs was an acute situation and they'd go home soon, back to their normal life.

But this one would never be themselves again. The accident robbed them of speech, mobility, and control of their bodily functions. We wondered when the docs would finally get a PEG tube placement ordered. Some thought that maybe the patient could get through a swallow study, but I had doubts.

If you can't turn your head much voluntarily, then you probably can't swallow without dropping a bunch of crap into your lungs.

That is not a Surrealistic comparison.

It's more of a Republican comparison. You see, both of these patients are the same. They are both hospitalized. They have the same needs, politically, because neither of them are likely to vote. And they have nobody but family to advocate for them. No political lobbies shovelling millions into campaign coffers. No casinos. No churches. No Scottish golf junkets.

This is nothing.

These people are no-accounts.

And I love them with all my heart and soul and I will devote my working days to them as rainbows are devoted to the sky-waters that foster them, because I am just a normal person just like you and you'd do the same if you were me.


Do you know these people?

I Wedge Allegiance

Trolling through today's reliably insane ramblings in the Arizona Republic's editorial page, I had to set down my coffee and think for a moment after reading this:

"However, let's be clear about something:

The schools and the classrooms belong to the taxpayers of this country. It is not the letter writer's classroom."

Hmmm... Well, I am certainly a taxpayer. So I guess I'm a shareholder in this classroom business. But supposing that the original letter writer also is a taxpayer. That seems likely. So though all taxpayers have an interest in public classrooms, it seems not all taxpayers agree on the appropriate expression of mandatory flag-worship in the school setting.

But he wanted to be clear about something. I wonder what?

Rhut-rho, Rheorge.

Conflict. Perfectly expressed in the ironically fumbling rant of praise for the flag-idol.

But wait, there's even more on the same page:

"If the letter writer disagrees with a requirement that a flag be displayed in the classroom, then he should exercise his right to dissent by resigning his position as a teacher."

That's right, dude. Bow to the flag, or move your sorry butt to Iran.

Those clever Republican political geniuses just can't ever pass up an opportunity to find a stupid and irrevelevant but intensely divisive wedge issue to motivate the mouth-breathing red-staters and their fabulous regimentarians of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders.

This has nothing to do with the flag. Bush and Cheney, having never served, really don't give a damn about some stupid piece of cloth, just as they have little use for that "it's just a piece of paper" old Constitution of ours.

This is about dividing America.

If the kids are kept busy spitting at one another then they won't notice that daddy has robbed their piggy banks and he's out on another drunken spree. Again.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Such a Kidder

From the ever-reliable pages of the local fishwrap kool-aid dispenser comes this delusional gem:

"Eleven years ago my father died at the age of 92 after a lifetime of hard work as a house painter. But through savings and investments he accumulated an estate just a little under the amount we would have had to pay death taxes on, thank God."

Allow me to translate: "Daddy and mommy worked their asses off for almost a freakin' century and they still didn't develop enough upward mobility for estate taxes to affect them."

The estate tax doesn't hurt anybody. It causes no pain. Trauma causes pain. Disease causes pain. Hunger and poverty cause pain. Having $600K left over after Uncle Bush takes his slice does not cause anyone any pain.

So please stop calling the taxation of the very rich "hurtful." It's an abuse of language.

Some economic demographic information for Arizona can be found by clicking on the portion of text I have so consid(a href)erately highlighted.

Hey, if I can do it, you can too.

The estate tax might affect about 2% of the households in the entire state, and chances are it's far fewer than that. Probably more like 0.3%.

"About 99.7 percent of Americans are not rich enough to be affected by the estate tax. The existing exemptions allow their heirs to get whatever is left to them without paying any taxes. But that other 0.3 percent increasingly find themselves in the role of "the deciders."

The repeal of the estate tax is not about the middle class, for whom shrinkage is a much greater problem. The estate tax is not hurtul to anyone. The estate tax affects a tiny fraction of a minority of the children of the very richest people.

The repeal of the estate tax is class warfare.

Say it again, Molly:

"If Mr. Bush has his way, we are going to fight an unprovoked war with Iraq without the financial aid of any allies. The health care system is falling apart in front of our eyes, schoolteachers should be paid at least twice what they make now, lack of low-income housing is making life hell for the working class and now the right wing wants to cut taxes for the rich yet again?

That's class warfare."

Whose side are you on? Your own?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Rocky and Bullwinkle Predicted the Future of America

It happened on every show, when Rocky and Bullwinkle did their little patter-dialogue:

"Bullwinkle: Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
Rocky: Again?
Bullwinkle: Presto!
Lion: ROAR!!!
Bullwinkle: Oops, wrong hat.

Instead of a docile rabbit, a viscious lion, tiger, rhinocerous, or something-such would scream out of the top-hat and Bullwinkle would quickly stuff it back down.

Wrong hat. Well, that depends now, doesn't it?

The hat is what's the matter with Kansas, so to speak.

This is how the game goes down. The "rabbit" intended to spring from the hat is protection of the fabric of society. Sure. That's the ticket.

"The attack on marriage by rogue judges and renegade public officials has congealed a coalition of evangelicals, Catholics, Muslims and Jews to defend marriage by seeking passage of a federal marriage amendment."

Hmmm. Well, not to pick the Catholics, let's just start there by noting that they have a divorce rate of 21%.

"A recent study by the Barna Research Group throws extreme doubt on these estimates. Barna released the results of their poll about divorce on 1999-DEC-21. 1 They had interviewed 3,854 adults from the 48 contiguous states. The margin of error is within 2 percentage points. The survey found:

11% of the adult population is currently divorced.
25% of adults have had at least one divorce during their lifetime.
Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significently higher than for other faith groups, and for Atheists and Agnostics."

Interesting. Since they cannot even legally marry in most places, I am sure that the "divorce rate," so-to-speak, among gays and lesbians is probably statistically zero.

I will let a bit of this second letter speak for me, but first I must call attention to the fact that both the above LTTE and this one occured on the same editorial page on the same day, as counterpoint. Remarkable, compared to the many days, as noted by becca, when they just spray-pepper readers with multiple slime-blankets of similar rotting viewpoint.

"The Constitution is supposed to grant rights to all Americans. It should not now be used as a vehicle to restrict and diminish the rights of Americans. A constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage changes the fundamental role that our Constitution is designed to play."

So Bush intends to dazzle his audience by pulling a rabbit out of a hat, thereby producing a constituional amendment to discriminate against gays. Of course this is doomed to fail.

Any assertion that "marriage is between a man and a woman" is ultimately derived from religion. There's no civil reason to assert this. That's reason number one why such an amendment will not succeed. It's establishment.

Of course there are churches that will marry gays and lesbians. But the civil benefits unfortunately do not proceed from these ceremonies. If religious freedom is really at the core if this, then the marriage-protection antagonists must dispense with their hypocrisy and allow civil recognition of all church marriages, even gay ones.

But they won't.

The second reason such an amendment must fail is the Constitution itself, which makes amending it very difficult, especially for issues that do not have super-majority support.

But, the whole idea is for the issue to fail anyways. Then it's win-win for Bush. He gets to pull yet another bait-and-switch on his base of religious strangers. Instead of a rabbit, a lion pops out of the hat: another tax cut for Paris Hilton! That's his intention all along.

And when the amendment fails, the base gets to go (again) into its oh-aren't-we-so-persecuted-by-popular-culture mode. They eat that shit up. It rallies them. And it works almost every time.

Bush is our Fearless Leader, and we're Pottsylvania now.

"Fearless Leader: What does Pottsylvania have more than any other country? Mean! We have more mean than any other country in Europe! We must export mean."

No doubt.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Thank you Monica_A: Freedom Fried

Maybe someday when I grow up daddy will get me some of my own trolls to play with. But in the meantime, here's some fun and games from the Comments section over at Eschaton:

"The sagebrush folk, the swamp people, the cowboys (and girls), the hash slingers, the grit dealers, the station attendents, the truckers, the diner Dons, the floating waitresses, the roadside drifters, the hardworkin’ flag flyers, the mountain diggers, the Western desert grifters, the hay sellers, the coal miners, the preachers and teachers of the Word, the ranchers and farmers, the river men (and women), the dam builders, the interstate sojourners, the shotshell reloaders, the cartridge collecters, the shooting club cabals, the cornfield clans, the barroom brawlers, the BBQ queens, the picinc kings, the tom cat trappers, the trailer park Romeos, the hunting lodge Juliets, the poker jacks, the bric-a-bracs, the Caterpillar prophets, the clay pigeon muppets, the little Miss Muffits, the railroad men, the pickup truck ramblers, the midnight gamblers, the mountain pass pilgrims, the hard-armed lawmen, the good-hearted con-men, the welders, the melders, the managers in the smelters, the sheetmetalers, the drywall stackers, the over-time riverters, the pipe fitters, the country club dissers, the back-alley pissers, the melon-head mashers, the grain-grippin’ gashers, the gospel graspin' speculators, the parking lot Platos, the desieled-up Davids, the eighteen-wheeled Marys, the Sugarland Samsons – the peoples, the folks, the dirty dozens, the masses, the eternal cuzzins, the heartland: all of us are poised, get ready libs - we won’t let you win, EVER.

granmda's own cooking | 06.02.06 - 2:41 pm | # "

The dam builders? Does grandma not realize that we don't really build dams anymore? All the good spots have already been taken.

Maybe she meant "damn" builders. But I have a feeling that's not the case and she perhaps just forgot to include rich white suburban tract housing developers on her partial list, as a sort of incidental oversight.

Then again, she can't spell her own name.

Good-hearted con-men? Well, heck yes, if they're any good at what they do, they're likely to be Republican, but good-hearted? Not bloody likely.

Back-alley pissers. Yes, we all know how essential that demographic is to the continued success of the NeoCon agenda.

As well they should, almost all of the regular Atriots ignored this... whatever this is.

However, grilled troll was still on the menu, thanks to this:

"I have a graduation to attend so this will be my last post on this subject. Let me make it as clear as I possibly can for Grandma and her ilk:

1. Abortion will never be outlawed. It works against the Rethuglicans to outlaw the biggest rallying point. You may think the Roberts' court will give you what you want, but you'd be sadly mistaken.

2. Everytime you vote Rethuglican, you vote against your best interest. You think you're going to be rich someday so you want tax cuts. Let me bring you back crashing into reality: YOU'RE NOT RICH YET AND AT THE RATE YOU'RE BEING RAPED BY THE GOVERNMENT, YOU WON'T BE ANYTIME SOON! Look up Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs". Until one need is satisfied, you will never progress. Unless you have an education, you will never make a decent salary. Grow up!

3. The rich, white men who run the Rethuglican party will never accept you as one of their own. You are no more than hicks who can be tricked into voting against your best interest because of a pipe dream. I don't remember reading anything about Lil Boots inviting the good citizens of Crawford to his ranch to show his appreciation for their support. I wonder why? Oh, now I remember: because he is a Connecticut Brahmin playing a role.

That is all!

Monica_A: Freedom Fried | 06.02.06 - 3:20 pm | # "

"What's the Matter With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank should be on the required reading lists in all red-state highschool social studies classes.