Saturday, February 26, 2011


I was cooking up Chinese-style pepper-steak and I needed peppers, so I went out to the store while the beef was cooking up. There was once a time when this would have been unheard-of for me. In college I stuck to a vegetarian diet. I balanced my amino acids, took vitamin B-12 supplements, and did everything I thought I should have and I still felt lousy, so after about four years of that I quit and added a little animal protein to my diet.

We buy beef and pork from The Meat Shop here in Phoenix. Grass-fed Angus beef and grain-fed Yorkshire pork. It's good to shop local whenever you can. Besides, it's better.

Anyways, I was standing at the checkout and the clerk asked me "How are you today" and I replied "Fine, thank you."

There was a man behind me who chimed in with "Then you must not need a heart transplant."

"It's funny you should mention that," I said, adding that I was a transplant nurse at a hospital in this region.

"You probably won't be doing many of those now," he said, in reference to recent controversy regarding our governor's removal of transplant coverage from the Arizona state medicaid program. The powers-that-be are continuing to go back-and-forth on this issue. A couple people have died; they were initially eligible for coverage, then died after they had it cut by Governor Brewer. It looked bad politically so some AHCCCS transplant coverage has been renewed, I think.

"Well," I said, "They have insurance." Meaning that you don't get transplants without insurance.

"You must be a Republican then if you think everybody has insurance," he said.

"FUCK YOU!" I replied. "Don't EVER call me a Republican!" I was bristling.

The clerk asked me to cool it, but I had already mopped up by proclaiming "Patients have DIED because of Republicans!" About fifteen people stopped what they were doing to watch. Time stood still.

I guess I had misunderstood the guy. He was really of the same mind as me.

I took my bag and went out, but I went back in and apologized to him. He took me to his car because he wanted to show me his bumper-stickers. He opened the driver-side door of his Camry saying "I have to take this one off or Republicans will scratch my car," and he produced a normal-sized but rubber-magnet styled bumper-sticker that read "AZ GOP = KKK." We shook hands and made up.

He was an older dude. He explained that he was a small-business owner who was familiar with the problem of providing insurance for his workers. He seemed like a salt-of-the-earth pretty nice guy. Lifelong Democratic sort.

Then I went home, sliced up the green, red, and yellow bell peppers, some onion, cooked the rice, and finished making dinner.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fasciculus Murrae Dilectus Meus Mihi

“Scott: Once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time,” says the caller identified as David Koch.

Walker replies: “All right, that would be outstanding.”

That's Governor Scott Walker, conservative Republican whore, putting the "pro" in Quid Pro Quo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"But At Spring Mending-Time We Find Them There."

We are like this: (holds two fingers crossed together.)

Teen's new expression: "Go die in a hole."

I swear to god, that crossing-guard came out of nowhere!

Ouch. You're on my hair.

Men are lemurs.

Taupe is so not tope.

If somebody starts to say something and they begin with "I remember when..." that means you do not have to continue listening. Nothing of importance ever happened in the past.

They should put it in the water. (Guess what: they already do.)

"Let the sky rain potatos! let it thunder to the tune of Greensleeves!" (Bardish skirt-lifting and hugs.)

"Well you see," explained the Chicago-school free-market economist, "There's birds, and then there's birds."

Quantum particles and fields are to your hand as your hand is to the expanding universe. Your hand is "in-between." The blackbird sitting on a wire is also "in-between." Try telling that to Wallace Stevens; you can't. He's no longer "in-between."

How to tell good salt from the bad or merely mediocre: Good salt is sticky.

Pepper-spray somebody. I don't care who. Just go out and do it.

It is rather easy; indeed, almost impossible not to, to imagine any number of people saying one of the above things.

There's a point in The Iliad, about the middle of book fourteen, in which Hector attacks the giant Ajax by throwing a spear at him. The spear hits Ajax square in the chest. But that's where the thick leather straps are crossed, the straps which hold Ajax's weapons, so the spear just bounces off. However Ajax gets seriously pissed by this so he picks up a rock, a really big one, and tosses it at Hector, hitting him in the throat and nearly killing him. Hector collapses and his weapons clatter about him. His fellow Trojans surround him to prevent the Achaeans from finishing him off, forming a phalanx with their shields while others pull their fallen leader out of the fray.

Does heaven (in the unlikelihood that there even is one) contain evidence?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An End to Borders

It always seemed busy when we went there, which was weekly. Sometimes more often. Usually we go on Tuesdays because that's when they put out the new books that have just been published. My child's school had an early dismissal yesterday so we went then. I got a copy of the Fagles translation of The Iliad.

I read the Fitzgerald translation in highschool, then the Lattimore version in college. That one was something else. Recently I became re-interested in classical Greek literature and philosophy and I plan on reading Homer again, so I wanted a new translation.

The story of the Trojan War is amazingly relevant. It was fought over the most specious argument. Nobody really gave a flying fuck about Helen and Menelaus. He was a crappy leader. They thought the war would be a cakewalk. It wasn't. It consumed too many resources and probably was the beginning of the end of Mycenaean Greek culture. (Sounds familiar?)

Being of a tender age my child presently prefers age-appropriate fiction, but they also have recent books on the Romanovs, ocean waves, Lucy, and other items of non-fiction. Yesterday they got Angelire by Courtney Allison Moulton.

Last week they got I Am Number Four, which they read in a day.

I do not know where we will go to buy new books now. All of the Borders in Phoenix proper are closing. I am familiar with all the local used bookstores but they have far less to offer. And the local Barnes and Noble outlet on Camelback road also closed a few months ago.

I do not blame this on Al Gore for inventing the Intertubules. Of course technology has changed the way a lot of us read. It has augmented the media of written words. I am thankful for that. My kid has an iPad and occasionally downloads books but they mostly read pages on paper. I read an awful lot of stuff on this laptop. But it's not the same.

I love books. So does my child. And my spouse is a writer.

The problem, I am quite sure, is not changing technology. It is rather a general lack of interest in reading, period.

From Orange Crate Art, who got it second-hand from links which he denotes:

Only 32% of the U.S. population has ever been in a bookstore.

42% of U.S. college graduates never read another book.

58% of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school.

70% of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.

And on an ironic note:
81% of the U.S. population feels "they have a book inside them."

Mr. S. is a Borders employee. He is a writer himself and he is also widely-read; has been all his life. He recommended "The Outsiders" to my kid. He is a stroke survivor. The doctors initially told him that he would never recover, but now you'd never know he'd had one. He was brilliant in his little under-emplyed niche at Borders.

Where will he work? 140 local jobs will be lost when these Borders stores are closed.

Hypatia. A great and widely-known teacher, philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer of ancient Alexandria. She was associated with the great library there. An estmated 600,000 scrolls were housed in it, along with another 40,000 at a smaller branch.

Julius Caesar was the first fucker to really have at go at destroying the great library in 47 B.C.E. The next major blow to all the world's accumulated knowledge came at the hand of the Christians under Theophilus in 391. That's when Hypatia lived. The branch library at Serapis was destroyed then.

Later in 415 C.E. Saint Cyrille's deranged army of five-hundred monks/enforcers killed Hypatia by flaying her alive with clamshells. Then the tore her limb from limb and burned the remains. All because she was an uppity woman who knew more than they did.

I will *never* forgive Christianity for killing Hypatia.


Rachel Weisz. You must see this.

All of Hypatia's works are now lost, as are many many others, having at last been destroyed by that dumbass motherfucking Caliph Omar during his invasion of Egypt in 645 C.E. Tradition has it that he said "If the books agree with the Koran, they are not necessary. If they disagree, they are not desired. Therefore, destroy them," though this is probably a legend created much later.

We may not be destroying books, databases, and computer files in their entirety now. But we are certainly somehow ensuring that the wide distribution of knowledge is relegated to lower rungs of importance. There's virtually no science in daily newspapers anymore. Television news does extremely little to cover science. Literature itself has all but disappeared from the public sphere.

Without that local Borders, where will we buy new books? Where will I buy copies of The Progressive, The Nation, and Acoustic Guitar magazines? At the drugstore? No.

It will all be washed into the tawdry and undiscerning sea of the internet. And the internet can be turned off. Instantly. Capriciously. Maliciously.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nunc dimittis

Art Pepper
Steve Coleman
Jane Ira Bloom
Jan Garbarek
Steve Lacy


Pierre Boulez
Andy Partridge
Kaija Saariaho
Anthony Braxton
Bela Bartok

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Recordatio Fallibilis

Reagan was an idiot. He betrayed his own stated principles. His administrations created greater deficits than all other presidents that came before him, combined. He raised payroll taxes after ranting against tax hikes.

His grip on reality was ever loose. His verbal gaffs were embarrassing to the extreme. He held no love for the American people; at least not those who were unfortunate, and he regularly mischaracterized and demonized the poor.

Even his own economic advisors now admit that their "trickle-down" theories were utter nonsense. He talked a good game about downsizing government, all the while growing it. He lived in his own world of cartoonish fantasy, and he had the numbers to prove it. He based his economic policies on a hump drawn on the back of a napkin: the infamous Laffer Curve.

He was our Brezhnev. As if we really needed that. Soviet kitsch with Alzheimer's dementia.

Cal Thomas, in a column I have unfortunately read just this morning but refuse to link, continues to fluff Reagan. We can anticipate more due to Reagan's upcoming centennial on the 6th.


Ron junior's new book will likely have no surprises in it for me, having read Patti Davis's autobiography. I already have some idea how dysfunctional the Reagan family was, and much of that stems from Reagan the man. He was remote, uncurious, and inconsiderate of others. Michael, the (adopted) son who now habituates one of the outer rings of the rightwing hate-radio inferno, slept on the couch of the Reagan home. Patty distanced herself from the others by flirting with addiction. Her rebellion likely saved her. Ron himself was fortunate to be born homosexual, for that helped him to distance himself from his fucked-up father. Maureen died of skin cancer some years ago, after attaining some status as a conservative munchkin.

Ron will have his moment, but it will be drowned out by mythologizing, authoritarian canonization, and rank stupidity fostered in our corporate media. Just as Patti experienced when she came out with "The Way I See It" back in 1992.

We do not want to know the "real" Ronald Wilson Reagan. Collectively, we never will. Truth does not become us. We prefer ignorance. That's how Reagan got elected to begin with.

Behold, his legacy continues. Reagan, our Ozymandias, our Brezhnev, our naked emperor.


Addendum: There's a lot more rancor and vile, or what we on the left like to call "the truth," over at The Exiled: click here, and at Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread here.


One final thought from Neponset over in "The Crack Den:" From a completely selfish perspective I'd like to thank the Egyptian protesters for helping blow Reagan's birthday off the front page. If it weren't for Egypt blowing up it would have been Ronnie 24/7 all week on the cables. If you have a choice between pictures of Reagan clearing brush and guys on camels charging a crowd, the camels win.

Though, in the very literal sense, I will be disappointed if the camels do in fact win.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

O Quam Gloriosum

Hat tip to the most wonderful Digby on high.

Seattle now has permanent tent cities. Digby rightly suggests that we now have a permanent underclass of homeless and unemployed individuals and often entire families. Reagan's fabled "morning in America" has arrived. And it sucks.

I told you so.

Addendum: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread has a nifty run-down of Reagan's "folksy fascism" that sums things up very nicely.