Archive for March, 2011

The Way Things Are, part three – “Ignoreland”

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2011 by darryl zero

If they weren’t there, we would have created them; maybe it’s true.

But I’m resentful all the same. Someone’s got to take the blame. -Michael Stipe

I occasionally wonder if Republicans and other ersatz “conservatives” actually think they’re doing the right thing for the country. I mean, I know they’re all about making money–few politicians are about anything other than that–but then I see shit like this CNN article and I have to laugh. I was hoping that the election of George W. Bush in 2004 (I don’t consider the illegal atrocity in 2000 an “election”) was a fluke of post-11 September 2001 pseudo-nationalism, that the notion of a country embroiled in a war we couldn’t fully understand caused the voting public to do the only thing they could think to do in times of a grand conflict and rally behind the ostensible “leader.” But evidence increasingly points to a complete lack of sense.

In short: this country has lost its goddamn mind. And it’s your fucking fault.

No, it’s not religion’s fault, despite some evidence to the contrary. Religion’s just a symptom. Black, Native, and Asian Americans have seen white people selectively interpret the principles upon which this nation was ostensibly founded since before the States of America were united, so it comes as no surprise to me that the Republican Party demands the guaranteed right to freely practice religion in this country–unless that religion is Islam. That the GOP is so batshit crazy over the prospect of non-Christians (particularly ones belonging to the second-most practiced religion on the planet) exercising their freedom to be non-Christian shows how shortsighted they really are, and how frighteningly racist/xenophobic their voter base really is. To put it another way: during the height of IRA-related violence, no one in this country panicked over conservative Catholicism (or even Protestantism, really) as a means of perpetuating violent extremism. Shit, when conservative Christians become terrorists, the GOP goes out of their way not only to support them, but actually make it fucking legal. Still, it’s not religion itself that’s the issue. You may remember that religion and I are not, to wit, buddy-buddy, but I can stand by the idea that a belief structure may be helpful when determining how to best serve society, family, and self. And, I truly think that, in their heart of hearts, most people at least see the value in not forcing others to believe exactly what they believe, regardless of what their religion supposedly tells them. I suppose what I’m getting at here is that it’s acceptable to posit that religious extremists represent a minority of religious people, and a minority who’s getting it wrong at that.

Speaking of getting it wrong…believe it or not, it’s not rich people that are the source of the problem, either. Don’t get me wrong–rich people are definitely profiting off of the situation, partially because they’ve rigged the system to guarantee that they invariably will make their money–but the bastards, whether it be Bernie Madoff, Ronald Reagan, Albert Haynesworth, or any other six-figure-plus salary asshole “fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage” (thanks, Jim Cameron), are really little more than parasites taking advantage of a weakened beast. If you want to break it down, the rich were evil bastards even before market Capitalism helped evil bastardry “go public,” so you can’t blame them for something that went sour so recently–although the only people who seem willing to overtly blame them are people who are close enough to beingpart of the problem themselves.

For that matter, speaking of part of the problem–you can’t blame white people for our collective insanity. You may want to, especially if you’re indigenous American or of African descent, and you’d be right inasmuch as the problem occurs in a civilization largely run and owned by people of European descent but, much like the rich, white people seem to have always considered themselves superior to everyone who isn’t white. That goes back so much further than history can tell us with any accuracy it’s tempting (albeit racist) to assume it’s innate. I have no extensive links archive nor any complicated historical context for this other than examination of the development of racial identity in the country–that white people in this country have been so desperate for someone to persecute, they even persecute themselves (roll call: Irish, Polish, Jewish folk? Thanks for riding the marginalization train) just for the practice, although that’s something people only really like to remember when it’s convenient for them to do so, and even then, the details are often lost in a haze of white guilt-inflected revisionist history or flat-out stupidity.

Which brings me to my final acquittal: even the dumb, as much as they are and will forever be the absolute fucking bane of my existence, aren’t really ultimately to blame for the beginning of the end of U.S. American society. Stupid people are annoying, yes, and a frightening drain on resources, be it through bogging down the education system by requiring everyone else to cater to them or through the creation of what can only be classified as an Idiocracy by their persistence in clogging the filters of the gene pool with the turds of their endless stream of offspring, but they’re quickly being surpassed by the desperate as the population continues to skyrocket. And, to be fair, there are still enough kids for whom the problem is nurture rather than nature that there’s always the chance that a logical society could train them to be something other than the destined failures so many end up being.

With that, dear ones, I come to the culprit. So, of whom do I speak? To whom, I guess, since I did take the time and energy to directly call out a specific population–who constitutes the “you” I hold responsible for society completely abandoning all logic and reason?

The answer is just that: exactly you. The normal, average, every day person, getting up, going through your lives without any attempts at significance of thought or deed, keeping your eyes on your own insignificant goals and only taking enough time to ponder politics or philosophy when you criticize anyone that wants things to change outside your comfort zone–you are to blame. If you immediately think of things in terms of political party or overt ideological classification, vote party-line, or speak entirely in buzz-words. If you allow the philosophical fringe to hijack any train of discourse without pausing to rip the logic of their insanity to shreds, you are to blame.

If you don’t care about details, or facts, or the means by which you assimilate information to classify things as “facts” or “constructs,” if you look only at the information you need to accomplish your daily tasks, and not the little things that often expose the truth of those tasks; if you dismiss any knowledge as “trivial” or “irrelevant” because it is impractical or not useful within your current operating paradigm…if you aren’t taking the time to notice anything more than once, if you are content to let others do all of the generalized thinking for you while you isolate yourself in your own fiefdom of whatever it is you do to pass the time or make a buck, you are to blame.

If you don’t read album liner notes, film credits, billboards, street signs, ingredient lists, or any part of a newspaper other than the comics or the box scores, if you don’t watch Jeopardy! or read a book/watch a film/listen to a record by some fuckin’ weird person you’ve never heard of until that day, if you place your trust in the intelligence of others to define your entire existence, you are to blame.

If you’re too myopic to realize that one can be uncompromisingly philosophical and still understand the importance of dissenting opinion, and if you’re too stubborn to do anything other than disagree simply because you think who’s right isn’t as important as simply ending the debate–you are to blame.

You’re the ones that let government resources be exploited by anyone willing to work the system for it. You’re the ones that allow people to invent reasons not to adhere to logic out of fear of being viewed as inflexible. You’re the ones that refuse to admit that some people are more capable than others, or allow people to look at one narrow view of capability and use that to determine a person’s capability, thus creating a system in which no teacher can ever be allowed to hold someone accountable for their inability or refusal to work. You’re the ones that let common sense in government take a back seat to political posturing decade after decade after decade, lest you make some form of political gaffe, letting people lull you into believing that greedy bankers that don’t pay taxes are somehow worse for the country than teachers and janitors that pay a lot more than nothing.

You’re the ones stripping the will to want to be right from the American people, and I mean really “right,” the kind that maximizes the use of all available details and requires the ability to work with others to fill in the blanks of knowledge one doesn’t possess. The “right” that understands that a nation whose infrastructure has been bought and sold by people whose sole skill is to have money and watch it grow will forever be hamstrung by the limitations of a system in which currency whose value is completely subjective.

And, I fear, you’re the ones who will keep this country and probably this world from ever breaking free from that yoke.

8:14 (72) – “How Things Are, Part 2: Trick”

Posted in eight fourteen with tags on March 10, 2011 by darryl zero

Rather than actually dedicate an extensive amount of time to rocking out on this subject, I choose this topic to resurrect the 8:14 exercise.

It makes my skin crawl when I think about how the Left is, essentially, perpetually emasculating itself. I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment that the Left is constantly concerned with “fair play” while the Right has essentially no compunctions about whether or not the facts of a given situation match up with their interpretation of it. I think factual inaccuracy has something to do with it, but it’s not the beginning and ending of the situation.

I think the real issue stems from the fact that moderates on both sides of the political spectrum operate under the expectation that everyone ought to be so middle-of-the-road, that the safest place to be on any issue is to be determinedly noncommittal. I always like to say that moderates are no better than Conservatives, because, really, that’s all they are. It’s the moderate viewpoint that keeps people afraid of straying too far to the left, which is ultimately the Left’s greatest failing: we allow people to dictate the terms of discourse through implying that straying to the left invariably leads to its ultimate extreme. Pushing the left into defending the indefensible (Anarchy), along with keeping the different factions of the movement at each other’s throats by harping on the little, irrelevant details is the prime thing that keeps the left from being able to do anything.

I have yet to figure out what trick of far-right anti-thought fairy dust resulted in moderates somehow being able to grasp and accept the existence of the Extreme Right while simultaneously demonizing the Extreme Left. Treating racist, xenophobic, homophobic chauvinism as a quirky-yet-inevitable component of an otherwise logical society while keeping Anarchy out of the discussion…that’s a great trick.

Time’s up.

The Way Things Are, Part One: Wisconsin.

Posted in emo, nerdiness on March 10, 2011 by darryl zero

I left work today to discover that Wisconsin’s Republicans had decided democracy just didn’t suit them today.

When I first heard about Scott Walker’s quick and easy plan to fuck over a significant portion of his constituency (directly or otherwise), I was actually pretty low-key about the whole thing. I do think public workers’ unions (some of them, anyway) have been allowed to establish precedents which are approaching unfairness to a degree not heard of since the dark pre-labor union days–gods know I encountered enough bullshit as a low-level but high-ability school bus driver to sour me on one specific union–but what Walker was proposing struck me as little more than a Bush-level stupid idea perpetuated by the usual shortsighted neo-conservative dipshit. While I don’t think the election of Barack Obama signaled a turn toward a post-racial America, I had hoped it had at least suggested a turn back toward days of logic and reason, and that the Tea Party movement would be written off as little more than a bunch of angry white people that would calm down when they realized Democrats had their best interests at heart as much as Republicans did.

And then the bill was actually submitted, and even then, I took a pretty even-tempered, rational approach. I wasn’t any more irritated with Wisconsin Republicans than I was with other people–namely, an egotistical, extraordinarily self-centered group at one of my former employers, trying to use the plight of Wisconsin’s public workers as a galvanizing tool to help sway workers there into unionizing unnecessarily. When the issue became so contentious that people took to the streets (as they should have), I thought the whole thing would eventually work itself out, that the Republicans, in the absence of logic and reason, would inevitably place the importance of the democratic process over their own childish need to be right.*

*I have to stop a moment to go off on a tangent relative to my former employee: I find it interesting that, despite the specific actions being diametrically philosophically opposed–unionization vs. union-busting–I notice the tactics being employed by both my former colleagues and Wisconsin’s GOP State Senators to have the same overall motive. Both groups are taking an issue of their own invention, further fabricating it by ascribing to it a misguided sense of importance, and demanding upon a single, broad, sweeping solution–in essence, creating a problem they want to solve so they can avoid the real problems whose solutions may not work out for them personally. And whether it’s Republicans cravenly running from the truth that not all taxes are a bad idea or Massage Therapists/Nail Technicians who hate having to meet sales requirements within an organization that assumes all business risks they’d have to face alone otherwise, both groups have one thing in common: getting their way has become more important than whether or not what they’re doing is actually best for everyone.

Getting back to the Wisconsin thing: so, when I read the news today, I actually couldn’t believe it. I mean, even after the Bush Junta went gun crazy in Iraq back in ’03, after they railroaded all kinds of liberty-raping provisions through with the Patriot Act, after Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, John McCain and their über-rich colleagues somehow used their far-right-wing truth-evaporating fairy dust to somehow position themselves as fucking populist icons, after the last vestiges of what little faith I had in the American democratic process following Bush’s 2000 appointment were completely obliterated by a group of corporate-suckling whores in Wisconsin, I was actually surprised, if only for a moment.

That surprise has given way to something different. Something resembling fear, kind of. It’s more a grim, detached disgust. And yes, I know, all the directly financial-related portions of the bill were excised in order for the Republicans to try to use the loophole they used. Yes, I’m pretty sure there’s a chance someone could eventually sue the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and then, there’s a hope that the high court would declare it unconstitutional. But now, right now, we’ve seen it again, blatantly and overtly, that Republicans are more than willing to take the left’s need to adhere to things like logic, dignity, morality, law, and order, and completely and utterly ignore it.

Which leads me to another rant. But that’s going to come later.

For now, I hate to lapse into cliché but, in a way, we are all Wisconsinites now, in the worst possible way, and I’m quickly coming to think this is the beginning of something that can’t end good.


Posted in emo on March 1, 2011 by darryl zero

I was perfectly content to go to work on Sunday, grouchy and childless (save for my own inability to grow up) when the toddler, not quite two, paused a few feet away from the ice cream case. A five-year-old boy stood in front of it, clearly concocting whatever reason he could think of to con his father into buying one of the Ben & Jerry’s pints situated right at his eye level.

An expression crossed the girl’s face, one similar to the ones I occasionally see on women in moments in which what they’re thinking about clearly takes a backseat to that carefully practiced secrecy all women develop sometime after the age of eight: the inescapable curiosity one feels when they see someone and just get a good feeling about them. The girl stood there for almost a minute, completely enthralled, an enormous smile on her face. As the recipient of such a smile from girls not that much older, I understood it perfectly: freed from the usual biological/emotional complications which destroy every adult interaction, this little girl was experiencing that kind of instinctual infatuation everyone these days seems to want to forget or minimize as “immature,” the kind in which time slows down and the only things that matter are the person in front of you and the blissful unknown of what they could be like, the kind that completely immobilizes you and transports you to a universe in which the two of you are the only things that exist (or, at least matter), the kind that isn’t cheapened or undermined by sexuality or social expectation.

As if to reinforce my point, Best Coast’s “Boyfriend” began playing over the PA, and the perfection of the scene was enough to make me get over my loathing of the song and chuckle to myself, simultaneously feeling the ache–I hate to use such a melodramatic term as a “hole in my soul” but it’s as appropriate as it gets–that I feel every time I think of Cori, Joe, and all my other friends who’ve settled down and had kids. It’s getting to be a good ache, though, if only in that it’s motivating me to stop for a moment and make real decisions about who I am, where I’m going, and what I want. Not that it gives me any concrete answers, but the more moments like these I have, the more confident I become that I’ll find them.