It's time to Bail

In the fall of 2002 I warned everyone who was willing to listen that the President's threats to invade Iraq weren't threats but promises and that it would turn into a disaster of the Good Old U.S.A. I even protested against it right up until the time the bombs started falling. It's a little too late to try and stop a war that's already started. Rather than protest what I felt was an amazingly stupid decision it was time to go home and root for the home team. It was time to hope that I was wrong, and my pessimism unjustified.

Turns out I was right all along, but then how many Middle Eastern specialists came out and backed what the Administration had planned? Can you name one-- except maybe the New York Times' Tom Friedman and he was reacting to what he saw as an inevitable spiral into Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. The Bush Administration is probably the most clueless in history. Want proof? They sent Condoleeza Rice around the Middle East to try and isolate Hamas and they announced her intentions beforehand! Even if they didn't like Hamas no self-respecting Middle Eastern politician is ever going to back the U.S. against a democratically elected Arab government, particularly when they're seen as Islamist! Quiet diplomacy might have done a teeny bit of good, but the public pronouncement guaranteed equally public rejections of Washington's positions wherever she went. Which proves that 1) the Administration still doesn't get it 2) they're still much more interested in their poll numbers than peace on Earth, or 3) all of the above.

At the same time pulling out isn't exactly an easy thing to do. First of all, it's an open admission of defeat. No country likes doing that, and few political leaders long survive it (a notably ironic exception being Saddam Hussein). If victory still seems possible, even if that possibility is dim and fleeting then you quit at a time when it can be argued you still might win. Or at least find a face-saving exit. Soldiers especially hate pulling out, for they have paid so dearly to give up now. It feels like abandoning the dead. But if you don't pull out and lose anyway a whole lot of additional capital and lives will have been spent for no reason whatsoever. George W. Bush's poll numbers aren't worth the life of a single soldier. He'd say that too even though he wouldn't mean it.

That time has finally come. The destruction of the Golden Dome in Samarra and the widespread retaliatory attacks and murders that have followed have pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war. And we're getting the blame for it even though America in no way wanted or sanctioned such attacks. We'd have stopped them if we could. But the Shi'ites-- who have up until now been very accepting of what we have done-- have turned against us. Increasingly they blame us for the destruction of the temple, and although they're wrong, they also have a point. As Colin Powell warned George Bush before the war, "You break it, you bought it." We broke it, and so we bought it as well. The temple would be standing today if we had not invaded. So in a way we do deserve some small degree of blame.

Of course one might hope that the chaos of the past few days might lead everyone to take a deep breath and step back from the brink. I'm sure some people have. But I'm not hearing it. Sunnis and Shi'ite leaders call for calm and then turn around and threaten each other. Sunnis still haven't owned up to the bombing. Shi'ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has called for calm at the same time his own militias have been burning Sunni mosques. Even Ayatollah Sistani has begun forming of his own militias. The worst part is terrorist tactics in effect gives any small group of cranks a unit veto on peace. if it only takes a few guys to blow something up and they do, well retaliatory bombings can't be far off.

You see, the nuts are running the hen house. They people who want peace the least are in control of events. And there is no way whatsoever to take it back from them. No way but blood. We can't do a damn thing to stop it. If we intervene anywhere, even to separate them we'll be seen as favoring one side or the other. In effect, we will become partisan combatants just like we did in Lebanon back in 1983. Or has everyone forgotten about that little misadventure?

Folks, we're toast. The grand experiment is over and it's a failure. Iraq will divide into three, an oil-rich Kurdish state to the north, an oil-rich Shi'ite state in the south. and a dirt poor and pissed-off Sunni state in the middle that's used to ruling and has lots of guns. If we're not careful our soldiers will have to fight their way out of Iraq.

Democracy will not flourish in Iraq. War will flourish, war and hatred. At the end I bet much of the hatred will be directed at us.

Don't Node While Sleep-Deprived
The young Cameron Meets Lester

"Yeah, you’ll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle. Your writing is damn good, it’s just a shame you missed out on rock ’n’ roll. It’s over. You got here just in time for the death rattle, last gasp, last grope."

So I've been hanging around with these kids lately. Kids... right. I call 'em kids when they're five years my junior at a healthy 21 years of age. Does that make me an old man, naive, or just a cantankerous, cynical shell of a person? Surely, at the very least, not the last. sigh

They spend the kind of time at MySpace that I used to spend playing video games or reading books. We're talking excessive here. And in the media I'm being deluged by fear-mongering outlets and fear-addled parents about the dangers and evils of the site. I don't have an account, but I feel secure in saying, "Parents, please calm the fuck down." I see nothing at all revolutionary about the site. It certainly is not original enough to allow for the evolution of some new virtual evil, and if we're just talking about the same old traps, what's everyone getting so worked up about?

To the MySpace obsessed, I can with no clear conscience warn you away from spending an excessive amount of time on an internet site. But then, conscience has rarely stopped me before...

Please, please, please stop creating MySpace "sites!" They are an affront to every sensory experience the computer can emulate. No, that low-quality, mangled clip of a Sublime song does not neatly encapsulate who you are or make me want to know "who you really are." In fact, it's just pissing me off as it causes my browser to crawl in loading your page because the song is served through a neat little plugin that accesses an ad-clogged, low-bandwidth server in The Czech Republic. Anything worthwhile that you might have written is nearly impossible to read contrasted against the dark, grainy and TILED(!?) pic of you and the love-of-your-life. But, I do appreciate how you've explored every color of the rainbow in selecting your fonts.

But the rant dies with less gusto than it began as I hear the hollow whine of hypocrisy in it. Rational voices prevail. This is just one more step along the path. The internet meanders, capitulates to communal demand, and even sometimes creates a rare but inviting cream atop the crust. This infitesimal goodness that seems to self-spawn out of only ones and zeros is not as inviting or popular as the depths that lie below, but it is nearly as magical as mother nature's own machinations. At least, it should be sought out and treasured. Treat it with respect lest it become soiled by mass consumption. The catch in this scenario is that you never really know if you're dining on cream or with the masses. You can only believe that you are superior, for to validate it to proof undeniable will necessarily invite spoilage (as the only way to prove what is essentially opinion is consensus), and ruin what could've been a very good thing.*

While this scenario allows for arrogance, and an entitled sense of superiority based on ability, it neatly provides this usually narrow experience to everyone. Really, this vein of thinking is way too socialist for the real world. It also certainly exposes me as someone who has been up way too late, listening to too much ripped music, and musing quite pointlessly about the recent experience of a consciousness that refuses to ignore its desire to write. Chastisement now becomes the responsibility of the reader.

"Smart kid. I used to do speed -- and sometimes a little cough syrup. Stay up all night, writing and writing, like 25 pages of dribble about the faces of Coltrane, just to fucking write…. Alright, it’s been nice to meet you. Keep sending me your stuff. I just can’t stand here all day talking to my many fans."

* For an example of a deceptive very-good-thing, please click here to be taken offsite.

From the New York Times February 24:

Sectarian Bloodshed Reveals Strength of Iraq Militias

The sectarian violence that has shaken Iraq this week has demonstrated the power that the many militias here have to draw the country into a full-scale civil war, and how difficult it would be for the state to stop it, Iraqi and American officials say.

I am afraid I believe civil war in Iraq is an inevitability. The battle of ideologies is being waged in the United States, too. Only it is more subversive. At least in Iraq it is as simple as Shiite versus Sunni. In the United States, we have the religious right, the liberal left, and everyone in between. Right now, the political climate is full-on conservative, which generally follows a perceived era of liberalism responsible for the "moral decline" of the country. Apparently, some people really did care that the last President got a blowjob. But because our current President has "found God", his actions are sanctioned.

Does anyone really care whether two people of the same gender are able to marry? I have yet to read an intelligently formulated and rational argument for opposing same-sex marriage.

Does anyone really think that intelligent design is an actual theory? I have yet to hear anyone give a plausible explanation as to why an unsubstantiated, untestable belief should be introduced as an alternative to evolution in a publicly-funded science class.

I am weary of partisan strife and political placation. That in this day and age people would rally around a figurehead for no better reason than nationalistic ballyhooing is demoralizing. That some would justify disregard for the rule of law, rationalize the intrusion of civil liberties, and still call themselves Americans at the end of the day! "Do as I say, not as I do", is evidently the motto.

Take abortion, for example. Most people I talk to are unaware of the very obvious attempts to illegalize abortion. Because it is not a right set in stone, you see. It is an "expanded" right implicit in the right to privacy, predicated by regional tolerance and, on the national level, defendable only if the current jurisprudence is in the right mood. Which doesn't seem to be now.

Don't get me wrong - I entirely support an individual's right to a belief. You may believe that abortion is wrong. You can believe in the tooth fairy, for all I care. Just don't tell me that I have to behave a certain way or live by a certain rule because your belief dictates that it be so. As much as I hate knee-jerk reactivism, at this point I really want to slap a huge Darwin sticker on my bumper.

A good mood, life-update daylog.

I've said before, and I'll say again, that daylogs are one of my favorite parts of E2. There's no better way to start the day than to read about the last 24 hours of several noders' lives. I love the random nature of daylogs; the fact that they contain the things that don't fit, or may not be accepted anywhere else within the nodegel. But I particularly like the ones that simply tell you the truth about a noder's life. Yes, it's a bit like reading someone's personal weblog... but so much better.

With this in mind, I'm gonna do a "life update" daylog...

It has been over four months since I last daylogged (when I ended my pitiful attempt to stop smoking) and I've been through a particularly large amount of changes since then. I've finished at university, got a proper job and moved house.

That's right; I now have a proper job. This is probably the main reason why my noding activity has waned somewhat recently. The really cool thing is that my job - doing web development for an FE college - is so similar to what I'd be doing anyway if I was at home that it's not like working at all. Except I get paid for it. I'm even using eCore, so it's just like noding. Happy? I should say so.

While I'm on the subject. eCore is such a great system, I don't understand why it's not more widely used. Even with things like Ruby on Rails and Catalyst I find I can implement stuff on eCore so much faster than anything else while still being flexible enough to do whatever the hell you want with it.

Back to me, then. I also have a proper house. Not a shitty one-bedroom flat with a resident rat and a mouldy bathroom (really!) This is a house, with a garden and a patio and a garage and.... central heating! Oh, the wonder of waking up in the morning and finding frost only on the outside of the window. Also, instead of having my phone cut off like the last place, we have ADSL and WiFi. I can sit on the toilet, having a dump and kicking arse at Mario Kart DS at the same time! I'm in fucking heaven.

Now, here comes the bad bit: Smoking Ban. "Bastards!" Um. Yeah. I totally failed in the attempt to give up smoking. So much so that I don't even want to any more. However, many noders gave me help and support during my anguish and I never really took the time to thank them. So thanks muchly to karma debt, inlet, golFUR, vorbis, Lometa, isogolem and Master Villan; and I am very ashamed. Thanks also to joes3029 who tried to persuade me not to give up, and whose How to quit Not Smoking node is fucking great. Go upvote.

I've also just discovered I've made level 4. If you're on my Super Secret list of nodes to C! when I get that power, I have, expect a ching at any point (I'll be picking them randomly). Anyway - I'm gonna wrap this up now and think of a proper node to write. Needless to say, my life is so cool at the moment you'd have to cut my legs off to annoy me. Please don't cut my legs off.

/me calms down

You want to be a writer. You have to have something to say. Sometimes there's nothing.

I get random flashes. Sentence fragments in photographic clarity. A form of psychic channelling, I suppose. It comes from outside.

No one asked Hemingway where he got his ideas from. Everyone figured it was the war and elephant hunting. Sure, those things busted holes in the walls. What came through, even he wasn't expecting.

There are no polar bears in Antarctica.

If you were me you'd have that in your head, a meaningless truism uttered in psychotic repetition. It's going to be there until you write it. Ok.

There are no polar bears in Antarctica.

I can't write you. I can't feel you I can't know you--don't look to me for answers. I have no magic hats. No rabbits.

I'm playing jazz piano now. Dminor7+9 goes to G13 goes to Cmaj6+7+9. The last one requires seven fingers to play. All of one hand part of the other so I'm not writing and besides, it's safer not to let people know what you're feeling all the time. Open books are easier to burn. Two-five-one. The simplist jazz progression is everywhere. You hear it and it feels good.

Yes. This is the way music is supposed to sound, you think. It's probably encoded in our DNA. Even a mboutu bushman would understand two-five-one. This is something human.

Within winter's colorless death we fell in love to the flickering of aurora austrailis.

Even though I have been to their land I have never seen an aurora. The people there moved their hands through sweeping arcs over their heads, gazing upward as they spoke -- when it comes it's here to here, green and yellow and sometimes red and rarely blue. The green is the common, a field in the sky. The yellow is the sun unborn. The red is the night's soul but the blue, when it comes, is religion to existentialists.

There are stories of great things witnessed. You wish you were there. Then you'd be inside the story, instead of a listener. We all want to be stories people want to live.

Please forgive me, I'm an engineer. I don't understand your body language.

When I was a young boy I wondered what women looked like under their clothes. I had dreams. My imagination invented insectile appendages.

I saw my first naked woman as a scheming grammar school kid. Walter Washburn discovered the dumpster behind the liquor store over on Lincoln Highway, next to the Jewel/Osco. In those days if they didn't sell magazines, the magazine people didn't want the unsold merchandise. So the store people ripped off the covers, sent them in, and got full credit for each.

One humid summer day Walter discovered the dumpster behind the liquor store full of unsold issues of Playboy and even Penthouse, which showed everything. If you're going to experience revelation - then know everything. No holds barred. Reality in total.

Walter kept the coverless magazines like treasure. He carried them under his t-shirt, stowed them behind the furnace in his basement, and showed them only in hiding, only in strictest confidence. Not even the NSA could keep such secrets. There was everything in print, purloined, sealed under multiple layers of camo, locks and keys, puzzles upon encrypted puzzle, displayed only to the priests and acolytes like the Ark of the Covenant.

In those days there was no Photoshop, so whatever we saw in a picture had to have been real at one point.

I remember thinking: "This can't be true. Nobody looks like that."

This can't be real. But it is human. All parts of us.

I'm human: to a shark, a fine source of protein.

Alas. And therein the source of problems since Helen of Troy. Was it her face that launched the ships? What was Achilles thinking?

Everybody knows. Testosterone yearns for massive war. It's not happy without the pain that renders us senseless. It seethes. There in the name of love is blood, as she bleeds so do we by the sword. By human hand. The blade that cuts her was made in the wheels of heaven.

We have a real problem with the difference. So easy not to want see that we're all flesh and blood. We're supernatural so we'd rather be protein than human. Better life after than life living.

This can't be real, so it isn't. I'm extrasensory. I'm extraterrestrial. A child of God headed out of this mess, climbing the stairway to heaven.

What of love, then? A strictly human construct, or the material manifestation of angels?

Excuse me, I'm prayerless and I can't map your God. Excuse me, I'm snowblind and I thought you were Athena.

I'm sorry, I fell in love and thought you were my salvation.

Excuse me, I'm a scientist, I don't comprehend your aggression. Excuse me, I'm an atheist, I don't understand your disdain. Excuse me, I'm a Catholic, I don't understand your Zen. Excuse me, I'm Italian, I don't understand your pastaless ennui.

Excuse me, I'm human and my extrasensory powers are dormant.

Excuse me, I don't believe in your deity but he loves me anyway.

Excuse me, I'm an archangel. Do I qualify for the senior citizen discount?

I'm human and I rely on passion to find food.

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