Saturday, December 18, 2004

Anonymoses' novel (excerpt)

Dead Earth Society
group of yahoos from beyond the blue oasis of Mecklenburg had formed a group called Dead Earth Society which they claimed “provides a alternative to all the world’s bullsh*t.” They believed in a flat earth. They wanted all poets dead. And they thought the earth to be dead, and free for our taking. The Dead Earth Society had finally crystallized their ideas into a newly released book called “Yourn Kampf”, which promised to be the hick version of Hitler’s classic misanthropic exhibit-A.

To celebrate the publishing of the book, the Society has rented out Buford’s Fireworks Shack and were holding a bonfire, replete with hot dogs, marshmallows, and hand-wrapped baking taters, which you could toss into the fire and fish out later with a stick. If you don’t mind lobsterpicking minute boluses of edible starch from bituminous coal swaddled in blackened aluminum, you’re in for quite a culinary surprise.

I was there to cover the event for my blog, which was dedicated to such things. I called the blog “Southern Picaresque”, and it was pretty much true to the name.

“What’s so picturesque ‘bout dis dam place I don’t know…” said Susie Sue Tanner who had motorcycled in from Gaffney with her boyfriend, “Meatstick”, who had gone to take a leak behind the dumpster.
Shaking his wang as he walked, Meatstick, who had overheard our conversation, reiterated his bitch’s concern. “Yeah. You cawl dis picturesque? You outta see ire trailor community back in Gaffney. Now dat dair is some eye candy ryt dair. Don’t git no purdier dan dat.”

Adoringly, Susie Sue wiped the tobacco off the sides of his mouth, and gave him a big ol' bear hug. “Yeah, we liv’n in heb’m. Hell, the seb’m eleb’m zonely a pisspot away. 24 ires! Don’t git no more uptown dan dat!”

“An thair coffee. Shuuuweee! I’d crap a half mile in cubic parallelographs to piss my mornin lips across the warm oceans o’ dat sh*t, I’ll tell ryt nah!” Meatstick slapped his knee with one hand while gymastically mining boogage with his other, pinky extended as propriety dictates.

As in a swoon, my enthrallitude was bisected by the sudden tonitruation of conflatulence. And any scientist knows that conflatuation is strictly verboten around fireworks, as there have been incidents where smoking lounges have gone up in a puff after some Mexican beanfood produced an incidence of conflatulation, and coupled with the tight quarters, and faulty air circulation, produced conditions ripe for such a conflagration. And the flashpoint created a whoof! that could be heard for miles around. Dogs went nuts. Cats were no where to be found. Those close were rendered impuberal, hair flown south, by the shear heat of the blast. It was a wonder that the only people who died were those trampled in the stampede of fearful hominidae. Nothing worse than fearful hominids. Nothing to fear but fearful hominids. Fear creates enmity. The need to react. Self-control suffers. Stampedes occur. Unwise retaliations. Love does not retaliate. Fear is not love. John says, “Perfect Love casteth out all Fear.” We should cast out all fear-mongers.

Then another explosion. Then another. And another. Then a series of explosions. Suddenly I could see that something had gone terribly wrong. A chain reaction of explosions erupted as boxes of fireworks submitted to the surmounting heat and fire. Chaos and confusion broke out. Hominids began panicking.

“Well, I ain’t staying around here!” I thought, and quickly ran back to my car and drove off. Ten Years After was playing on 95.7 “The Ride”.

“I’d love to change the world…but I don’t know what to do…”

“What am I doing? Once upon a time, I wanted to change the world, but I didn’t know what to do. Here I am in a situation where I can change the world, and I do know what to do. And yet I am driving away from the problem, not toward it…
“F*ck it.”
Changing the channel. “I’ll yell at Foolwell instead.”

Foolwell was a wingnut wacko, sometimes called “The Prick in the Balloon” because of his weird habit of air ballooning overtop festivals and such, and preaching the gospel according to Foolwell…which always seemed to emphasize the “giving him money” aspect. And one often wondered whether or not he had done what Ben Franklin once did, which was to insert his own bogus book into the Bible, print it up, as he was most able, and then argue points with people, then show the proof from the bible which he would then produce, then open to the Book of David, the Book of Jedidiah, or some other such concoction. Foolwell was not above such antics. In fact he might do it for purely selfish, financial reasons. Foolwell loved his Mammoney!
And now Foolwell had a radio show. Why it’s on now!

“My brawthers and sisters. Prey with me now that we might wunst and for awl end the scowerge of Liberalism from our Gawd-given Nation. And may the bell of Nationalism ring out on Tuesday in that voting booth, when you vote for every Republican in sight, and if you don’t know which ones Ima talking about dear sinners, please cawl in, or visit our website at dubya dubya dubya (Aw Gawd I cannot get enough of that blessed name!) then ya punch in Gawd’s 'Merkin Patriots dot com, and we’ll send you a list of people with whom you can trust. Good Americana stock. Men of bone. No Frenchifried girlie men or metrosexuals neither. Stout men. Meat eaters. Men who like sports and Nascar. Gawd’s kinda men.
So to help our cause I need you to help me. You see I have been a-tawkin' to Gawd and he told me that you can help me expand his voice by expanding his mouth, which is my mouth, since he talks through me, and the way you do that is... you pay for it. You stretch that mouth. You stretch open that wallet. And let Gawd out. Let Gawd outta yer wallets, good folks, good clean Christious folks, I know you wanna do it! Do it for Jaezus.
I’m praying now. Praying that you feel Gawd a-talkin’ to ya. And he’s a-talkin’ to ya. And he’s saying, he’s saying…I’m getting his signal now…he’s saying:

Ana nathrok, oefess bethod dathial thaienveigh.

My Gawd! What the...?

Suddenly commotion could be heard coming through the radio, and Foolwell seemed strange, disjointed, in shock.

A voice is heard, which sounds to be a voice in the control room. Undiscernable.

But I didn’t say that, Bobbie. I mean, it was coming through me.

Anonymoses was amazed that they hadn’t cut the signal. But he was even more amused by the fact that Foolwell, who professes to having God speak through him, totally freaks out when God actually does!
Nonny heard voices too, but they were from the deepest, most inbred backwaters of Appalachia. He thought back to that Emergency Room visit in Stumptown…overhearing talk of an implant.

Gomes: Polls tell us where we are, not where we ought to be.

While perusing the forums at Sojourner, I was pleasantly surprised to see my old professor, Peter Gomes, who had written a post about the Iraq War...

'Patriotism is Not Enough' by Peter J. Gomes

POLLS SHOW that most Americans, frustrated, alas, by the ephemeral character of the "war on terrorism" and still angry and confused about Sept. 11, 2001, want to do something. As we know, however, in angry, vengeful moments, the desire to do "something" is easily translated into the will to do "anything," and that "anything" may very well be the wrong thing. Bombing Iraq into oblivion as payback to those who have done us injury at this moment seems to me to be the wrong thing to do. Polls do not get at the truth. Thirty-five years ago, most polls showed significant majorities in favor of whatever it was we were doing in Vietnam, and eventually the majority in favor concluded that the minority opposed were, in fact, right. Polls simply tell us where we are, not where we ought to be.
The gospel, however, does tell us where we ought to be, tough, untenable, and difficult as that place may be. Love, justice, and righteousness are superior to wisdom, might, and riches. How often do we have to be told that? "And these are God's words," says Paul at the end of Romans 12: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head." Don't allow yourself to be overpowered with evil: Take the offensive and overpower evil with good. That is what Paul is saying: Take the offensive: Overpower evil with good! Now that is a radical foreign policy. That would scare the bejesus out of a lot of people, to know that with all of our power we decided that we were going to overpower evil with good—and what a topsy-turvy world this would be! That should give all the hawks in Washington something to think about, that if they want us to be noticed, the world would notice us if we took seriously the idea of overpowering evil with good.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Some Ivy League Blogs

After I had been graduated from Harvard, my (then) wife had been accepted into the U. Penn doctoral program. As we had planned on living in Philadelphia, I figgered I may as well see if there were educational opprtunities that I could wrap my mind around. As it turns out, The Wharton School has, or had, a doctoral program called Social Systems Science (S3) which was one of the most innovative I had seen, and which was home to the very bright Russell Ackoff. Designing governments, macrosystems and such. Apopemptoclinicism, however, took hold, and by June of that year, the divorce had kicked in, thus sparing me from a lifetime of riches.

Here are some Wharton blogs, as well as a few others.

Philosophy of the Void
Wharton Tech Blog
Snapshots of Aileen's Brain
Experiences at Wharton, 03-05
Confessions of a Sheltered Mind
Vele's Thoughts
Wharton Diary Blog
Ivy League Portal

Monday, December 13, 2004

Paying it Charlotte

Charlotte Observer journalist, David Perlmutt, has a series called "Paying it Forward", where he solicits example of people who do not pay a good deed back...they pay it forward.

This is based on the true story of a young lad who had come up with the idea of returning good deeds NOT to the person to whom it may be thought to be owed, but rather to three other people. And there are some criteria involved, like: the person must need the help.

There is an excellent movie on it, called "Pay it Forward", and which stars the new Bobby Darin, Kevin Spacey. The boy is played by that feller who can see dead people, and whose name does not end in Culkin. Although a sad movie, it is also redolent with meaning, and has sense spawned a movement.

HERE is today's offering by Mr. Perlmutt. And HERE is the Pay it Forward Foundation's website. For more info on the movie, see HERE.

In today's Charlotte Observer, a gentleman from Harrisburg wrote the forum and said:

Thanks for examples of `Paying It Forward'
I have really enjoyed the "Paying It Forward" series. With everything that is going on in the world today, it is wonderful to hear about such unselfish acts of kindness. This series stands apart from the rest of the news in that it offers a hopeful and positive perspective on the human condition.Thanks for taking the time and space to publish this series, and I hope to see more. Others are bound to be inspired by the acts of generosity that the Charlotte Observer has covered. My hope is that this will contribute to additional examples where local citizens find ways to "Pay It Forward." I know I hope to.
Steve Strother

Have a Story?

If you know of a good deed paid forward, reach David Perlmutt at (704) 358-5061 or or write him at The Charlotte Observer, 600 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202. WHEN GOOD DEEDS MULTIPLY

Shed a tear for Scott Peterson

On Mondays, my aging and beloved parents like to have their kids over for dinner and conversation. This is usually performed pretty early in the evening, or late in the afternoon, as that suit's my brother's schedule, and I am flexible.

This late afternoon found us all performing a rare task: Paying attention to the Scott Peterson trial. His recommended sentence was to be handed down. And so, by saying it was a rare task, let me also admit that I know very little of the case.

Most of the folks on TV wanted Scott to die. And when the death sentence was handed down, there was cheering outside the courtroom.

Half of us had left the table and were staring at the TV as the verdict was reiterated with each "yes" of the jury, meaning "death".

There was no cheering in our house. There appeared to be watery eyes. I know my own were growing more brackish.

But why? I silently wondered to myself. Here's what I think. I think it is sad that there will likely be yet another death inflicted. It is sad that Scott parents have to suffer the shame and sadness at the second loss of the same son. It is sad that people cheer such events, which will only cause more suffering, and which is little more than hindbrain animality.

It is also sad to speculate that Scott may have done what he did because of some drug he was on, or was needing to be on, and going through withdrawal. We hear of younger folks on one of the lastest pharmaceutical "cures", who, upon taking it, or upon being withdrawn from it, do opprobious acts, often to family members. But even in these cases, few ever blame the drug. The lobby is too powerful; they spend too much money on ads and such.

So was Scott Peterson on one of these drugs? I don't know. It is not even my main point...which is that killing should never be something to celebrate. As the ancient "Book of Changes" says: "A victory is a funeral"...and should be treated as such.

It is sad that society seems to be coarsening and hardening, as I think it is a move away from Life. Sometimes shedding a tear is all that is necessary to re-soften the heart. Save the cheering for Sports.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Benjamin Zander on Bill Moyers' NOW

Benjamin Zander

David Brancaccio speaks with world renowned conductor Benjamin Zander on finding possibility in our lives. Zander and his wife, psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander, are the authors of THE ART OF POSSIBILITY, which coaches readers on transforming their professional and person lives.

More than this, Maestro Zander offers the wisdom of exuberance and possibility.
on PBS' "NOW"
Benjamin Zander's Web Site