Dispatches – Save a Job, Save the World

December 24, 2016

The Braindead Megaphone Cafe has gone nationwide, so there are many new opportunities to overhear new conversations on the state of the nation and the world. The following exchange was between a man and woman after Christmas shopping:

“I been out shopping for the kids. I got lightsabers for all of ’em because Walmart had them in this giant bucket for 4 bucks.”

“That’s ’cause everything’s made in China now.”

“It’s a damn shame. We invented lightsabers. If anyone should be making ’em, it’s us.”

“Trump’s gonna stop all that. He’s bringing back the jobs, and four years from now we’ll all be buying American lightsabers.”

“He can do it in three.”

“Maybe. But all those liberals are gonna try to stop him. Remember the owls?”

“Yeah, yeah… Which owls?”

“The owls of Oregon. The greenies put the lumber industry out of business to save an owl. Now we have to import our wood from China.”

“Trump’ll fix that. Hell, if it saves one job, I’d shoot all the owls in Oregon.”

“We could pay a guy to go out and shoot all the owls in the woods. That’s one new job right there.”

“I know a guy who would do it for free.”

“I know a guy who would pay to shoot owls.”

“Then we’d have to pay someone to collect his money.”

“We just made a job.”

“We just saved the whole damn economy. More than Obama bin Lyin’ ever did.”

Think about it, AJ

December 9, 2016

Of course Alex Jones was titillated by the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory—it is exactly the type of lascivious fiction that draws him in for a wallow. By comparison, the 9/11 conspiracies are rote, with nary a salacious angle, unless you count the virgins promised to the suicidal terrorists, which you do not because, according to the Truthers, they don’t exist (the terrorists, not the virgins).

In fact, I suspect AJ doesn’t think much about those 9/11 conspiracies anymore, wherein Truthers believe a mix of U.S. government entities and New York commercial property owners conspired to blow up the Twin Towers through plane impact and controlled demolition. The latter part of the conspiracy is where the NY property owners necessarily get involved because how could they not know about construction workers deployed throughout the WTC buildings to plant explosive charges? Heck, Trump peer Larry Silverstein uttered the telling words “pull it” about his property WTC 7.

And therein lies the rub because, in AJ’s world, how could D- Trump not know about the 9/11 conspiracy? In fact, since D- Trump, for whom AJ campaigned, is the most prominent and hence most successful property owner in New York, he had to be part of the conspiracy, right? How could he not?

It is the question that should keep AJ and his Truther ditto heads up at night. But it doesn’t.

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Should have seen Drumpf coming

March 14, 2016

Infinite Jest has many layers of awesomeness, tough in places but always worth the price of admission, which requires true commitment given its 1,000+ pages and 300+ endnotes. Among its most prescient passages are observations on the trends in U.S. politics:

“A President… who said he wasn’t going to stand here and ask us to make some tough choices because he was standing here promising he was going to make them for us. Who asked us simply to simply sit back and enjoy the show.” Pg 383 of the Abacus edition

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“I’m not politically correct…”

January 2, 2016

Republican candidates Trump, Carson, Cruz, et al, follow the Ricky Bobby philosophy of discourse in framing their dialogue, meaning you can say whatever you want so long as you preface any comment with the proper qualifier…

For Ricky Bobby, you can say anything as long as you say it “with all due respect.” As in… “With all due respect Mr. Dennit, I had no idea you’d gotten experimental surgery to have your balls removed.”

For the candidates, you can say any inane, insulting, or horrible thing, so long as you preface it with a declaration such as, “I am not politically correct, but…” As in… “It’s not politically correct to say, but all Mexicans are rapists.” Or… “It’s not politically correct to say, but prison makes you gay.”

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Slipping into Solipsism

December 12, 2014

Rand Paul strapped on a pair of opaque ideological blinders when he posited that Eric Garner died because of taxes. Seriously, he must have matching black holes swirling two inches from his temples, from which no event—past, present, or future—can escape the twisting, contorting force that bends all things to fit within his very narrow and pathetic worldview.

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A War on “Casual Violence”

March 23, 2014

Something about the phrase “casual violence” really tugs at my backbone. I think because it seems to exist in that first, early stage of literary writing, a buzz phrase from embryonic Nabokovs who feel they are flirting with profundity. Perhaps they feel they are venturing “outside the box” when they say someone is imbued with an attitude of “casual violence.” Such as “…this man who carries in his limbs the promise of casual violence…” in the short story “Summer Boys,” by Ethan Rutherford (pg. 31, The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories).

Not to pick on Ethan, his was just the most readily available example. I probably have reams of my own story drafts tucked away that abuse this pseudo-significant phrase, as if it can decode the enigma that is humanity. So, in this year of 2014, let’s do what we can to divest our language of this overused, hackneyed, and now ultimately meaningless phrase.

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The Confused Kryptonian

July 3, 2013

There are some good parts to Man of Steel, but overall the movie stands on some really shaky reasoning. For one, if Jor-El’s consciousness controls Zod’s ship, why doesn’t he fly it off into a black hole? That might have a few (thousand) lives.

But a more egregious logical violation is the confused state of Kryptonian biological philosophy. On their home planet, the Kryptonians developed and then mandated a process of genetic engineering. Following the planet’s explosion, Zod, ever the good soldier, loaded up all the materials to get it started again in the “Genesis Ship,” which itself is a curious choice of names for an alien (non-Christian) race.

Now, as anyone who’s seen a sci-fi movie in the 1970s knows, genetic engineering is the sign of a morally bankrupt society corrupted by elitist tendencies, so as Zod goes to the mat to protect this way of life, we already know who the bad guys are. Zod’s soldier Faora-Ul is by his side and therefore must also be an advocate of this social structure. So it is truly baffling when she says the following to Superman:

“You have a sense of morality, and we do not. And that gives us an evolutionary advantage. And if there’s one thing that history teaches us, it’s that evolution always wins.”

Now, there are many issues raised by this statement. For one, what does evolution win against? What exactly is it fighting?

But those are mere puzzlers to the larger issue. The whole Kryptonian Genesis project actually subverts evolution. What the Kryptonians are doing is not evolution in any sense. Evolution is messy and unguided. If I were to give a name to their process, it would be more like “intelligent design.”

Perhaps Faora-Ul spent her formative years on Bizarro World. Or her statement is simply an indicator of the poor state of Kryptonian schools. Faora-Ul must have had to join the military to get out of her jerkwater hometown but not before an underfunded public education system taught her that evolution is the opposite of what it is.

Or maybe she was home schooled…

I’m probably over-thinking it. I shouldn’t expect too much from a director who can’t keep his tripod steady or find the correct speed settings on his camera.

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Cheerios Appreciation Day…?

June 10, 2013

As we approach the first anniversary of Chick-fil-A appreciation day, when right-wingers boasted their bona fides by tweeting pics of fast-food orgies, another large corporation – General Mills – is being attacked for exercising its right to free speech via a commercial showing a biracial couple and their daughter.

General Mills has been the subject of innumerable “vitriolic assaults” due to this commercial, the same types of attacks on “corporate free speech” that got Mike Huckabee so worked up in the Chick-fil-A case. Now, Mike Huckabee (aka the Huckster to anyone who knows him well) took some very public steps last year to turn what and where we eat into an overt political statement. He hasn’t said anything yet on this General Mills case, that I can tell, but I would assume he is waiting till we are closer to August 1, the actual anniversary date, to proclaim his support for General Mills, to encourage everyone to buy Cheerios in a show of opposition to its intolerant detractors.

To do otherwise, wouldn’t that be the “Biblical definition” of hypocrisy?

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So I can get a Second Wife in Iowa?

April 7, 2013

The renewed debates on gay marriage have uncovered a desire by some to relegate (or promote, as Rick Perry would characterize it) marriage to a states’ rights issue, namely that each state should be allowed to determine what is and isn’t a marriage – and I think that’s an awesome idea.

Marriage should be up to the states. I mean, if I get married in North Dakota, why would I expect South Dakota to just “accept” it? If I plan on breathing South Dakotan air, then the state’s wedding planners, priests, and city clerks should also have a say in who I can and cannot marry.

What better way to solidify a social institution than to force people to do it 50 times (or 51, if they ever go to Puerto Rico) in order for it to be legitimate throughout these “United” States?

Then again, we would also have the option for up to 50 spouses, one for each state, because in America, it is all about freedom and choice. Either way, it would provide what I assume would be a much-needed economic boost to the wedding industrial complex.

Of course, divorce would also have to go to the states. Just because a man splits with his wife in, say, South Carolina, that doesn’t mean your state has to recognize it. I could imagine a world where, if Mark Sanford ever visits your state, you could have him arrested for bigamy. Now that’s something everyone should be able to support.

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Changing Places

April 6, 2013

E-books, tablets, iPads, they are flipping the concept of an ending. With DVDs and Blu-rays and VOD, all movies now have trackers, slide bars, countdowns, to tell you when the end is near, how close we are to completion. Used to be, we would sit in a dark theater, and you would have to guess, through the course of the narrative, when the movie would end. And some movies were really good at giving false indications, or no indications, when the the credits would roll. For example, I was fortunate to record my thoughts during the multiple climaxes (and not the good kind) for Face/Off

“Awesome, they are going to have the final shootout in the church. This should be great. Ok, now they are in a graveyard. Good, good. Slight change of scenery isn’t bad for the big climax. And this should be the… wait, holy s*&t, now they’re chasing each other in boats. What the hell, will this movie never end…?”

Really, I could still be in the theater, waiting for the next reel of Cage and Travolta beating on each other (and again, not the good kind). Both would probably like to go back to that point in their respective careers and live the rest of their lives in a perpetual chase scene.

For books, it was the opposite. Back in the day, you could feel the heft of the pages, and as that stack got thinner, you knew you were getting close to the end.

Jane Austen even comments on this circumstance in Northanger Abbey, noting that the reader can see the end is coming. David Lodge plays with this concept later in his novel Changing Places. But now, when you are reading on a digital screen, the end of the book weighs the same as the beginning. This screen is replacing the physical reality of a book, and we no longer count pages to the end. Books and movies, they have changing places.

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