Thursday, February 05, 2009

Two-Way Funhouse Mirror

'For whom is the fun house fun?'
John Barthe, Lost In The Funhouse

The waddling crowd,
silver glossed uneasy smiles.
Flashes of beauty wished,
glimpse of deformity cursed.

Behind the smoke mirrored,
The beautiful and the grotesque,
disgusted and vengeful, removed by
thin silver optics fractured and twisted
by the hot sea of blank eyes.

The crowds unease builds to resentment,
In the dark, unseen disgust builds to cruelty.

Cracks spider web and universal panic spreads.

The self-proclaimed heirs to
the pre-dawn builders of mirrors,
the ambitious repairmen of all sides,
go about their quiet work unnoticed.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On The Mountain Top

Was this the mountain top the good doctor spoke of?
Lonely but always the steep sides his friend.
Standing alone, without even the granite as comfort
Cold wind and a precipice on every side.

A memory of this fear from the foot hills years ago.
Now the precipice is real not imagined.
Self doubt a nearly unaffordable luxury
The sleeping and fearful tyrant in everyman’s heart stirs in his
The soaring heart of the hopeful hero in hopeless fight
Now a fond memory.

“Humility tempers the tyrant
Love steadies the feet upon the crest”
He whispers, half believing
half hoping it’s true.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

word rainbow running round skulls

word rainbow running round skulls
death-boring fingers and this tree
myopic diatribe, a caricature of red wing toys
the sadness of willows and babys
in trees' eye lids heavy with out the flavor of summer
covered in flourenct lights, gummed neck joints
thoughts of "here"
this launguage uses me i dont
comand nothing, to choose a word
the thought may be mine but the word is not
and here we always end
up at the bottom of the gutter
far from the stars

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blame Fat People?

The BBC Reports "Obese Blamed for World's Ills".

"Obese people are contributing to the world food crisis and climate change, experts say."

Wow, I thought. I was thinking it was all the criminals running the White House. Guess not, its fat people! Now, I hate fat people as much as anybody but blaming them for the coming Apocalypse? A bit of stretch, no?

I do believe people should take responsibility for their own health. Just because that mystery meat burger at the golden arched bistro is a dollar doesn't mean you should buy it. But there is another side to the issue. That 99 cent miracle of argo-chemical engineering shouldn't exist in the first place. And why does it? In this lazy BBC reporters attempt to fog over the issue we find a clue.

"First of all the increasing demand for food, drives up production.

This means that agricultural processes are using more oil to meet demand, which contributes to the rising cost of fuel."

Which came first? The insatiable appetite that drives up production, or the incredibly sweet, salty, fatty garbage on the shelves at our grocery stores? My guess? The Twinkies came first. How could I want a Twinkie if I never had one?

Its kind of like cocaine. I know I will love it if I try it. Thats exactly why I stay the fuck away. But just like the Twinkie somebody had to bring cocaine across our borders. For Twinkies, the border between real food and agro-chemical Frankensteins. So why did these agricultural George Jungs do it? For the money, of course.

Just like blow, they take cheap commodities, do a couple of chemical cart wheels then bam! mark it up a thousand percent, sell it to poor ignorant people and walk away millionaires, with a wake of destruction behind them.

To the millions locked up for drug charges we say "Hey, you had a choice. You chose to shoot up" And thats right. They chose to consume a dangerous chemical that we've decided was so dangerous that we need to spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives on stopping its production, importation, and consumption. And despite all our efforts people still smoke crack, do line of blow and, god forbid, smoke a doobie.

Unlike the politically unpopular drug traders, the incredibly politically popular "Big Agro" actually receives money from the government to produce the garbage that pollutes our grocery stores, destroys our environment and kills us one gram of high fructose corn syrup at a time.

Here is an example of the kind of legislation that is causing these problems.

But thats another issue (A Really Huge Fucking Issue) but not as the other big issue glazed over by our buddy at the BBC World Service, read again.

"This means that agricultural processes are using more oil to meet demand, which contributes to the rising cost of fuel."

As detailed by the brilliant Michael Pollen in "The Omnivores Delimma" The world experienced a seismic shift in agricultural production when it became possible to turn petro-chemicals into fertilizer. Before this, we were dependent on the time limited energy of the sun to produce the energy we need to grow our plants. Over a given period of time, only so much sunlight can be absorbed by plants that turn those rays into the chemically bounded energy that fuels all of life.

But with the advent of petro-chemical fertilizers we had a huge supply of cheap easy to produce instant energy to fuel the growth of our plants and to fuel the expansion of our waistlines.

The sun was no so last millennium. Who needs it?

Coupled with terrible government policies we can now produce monstrosities like Twinkies for dirt cheap. I don't have the facts but I would guess that the total cost of the basic material that goes into a Twinkie is less then 5 cents. Five cents of flour and corn syrup and some chemical that mimic "flavor" Mix together in some shiny machine, wrap it up sell it, get rich. Then take your excess capital and invest in Lane Bryant stores and get even richer.

People are not starving because fat people are eating to much. People are getting fat in well-off countries because garbage food is dirt cheap. People are starving in poor countries because they can't even afford the cheap garbage.

The problem is not an unequal distribution of calories. It is a massively unequal and unjust distribution of wealth.

While we should all agree that people should take personal responsibility for the size of their own ass, some extensive reforms in our agricultural policies would go a long way to solving both the world food crisis and the obesity epidemic.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Three Words

I kiss you on the brain in the shadow of the train
I kiss you all starry eyed, my body swinging side to side
I don't see what anyone can see in anyone else but you

~ The Moldy Peaches

Three words float
in my cupped hands

A dandelion's clock
grasped slowly from the late summer breeze

The setting sun's rays through
the gaps between light fingers
turning white feathers into warm gold

Peaking between thumbs
every other moment
with the excitement of child

With those three words

To write you a song
and sing to the world

To open my hands, my arms wide
and blow the golden seeds to the world

I am not a musician
I know two chords

I am not a song writer
I sing only three words

So, talentless, in my hands
these priceless seeds
light as air and warmed by the sun
and watered by my skin
will grow

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston Dead

I was in a coffee shop one day, the day William F. Buckley died. Not that Buckley dieing was very significant. Well I guess thats the point. This guy in the coffer shop talking to his buddy goes:

"Hey, did you hear William F. Buckley died?".

"Yeah, thank god".

Thank god? I asked myself. Who the fuck cares about William F. Buckley? He is some blow hard right wing intellectual, not some Fascist dictator. All he did was write in a magazine and had a show neither of which I read or watched, nor very many other people.

Of course as a budding left wing intellectual I have heard of him, have actually read some of his articles on the web through the Yahoo News service. And I knew he was the patron saint of right wing conservativism here in the US. Well lets be clear, the patron "intellectual" saint of conservatism. Conservatism in the US has many patron saints but not many intellectual ones. And that brings me to why I had an interesting reaction to what this guy said. I found his comment stupid and cruel.

He is a human being, sure you may disagree with him because of his "conservative" viewpoints but he is just a human being and one of little consequence to most people. Sure he is a major influence to major people like Ronald Reagan (according to the New York Times in their obituary on Buckley) but is his death worth celebrating because you disagree with him on some political and moral positions? I find myself feeling shy about comparing Buckley to Socrates but I bet many people celebrated Socrates' death. And for what? Because of his ideas. I would hope whatever our philosophical foundations might be, wishing someone dead simply for their ideas is universally distasteful and unjustified.

Remember that I am discussing an off hand comment made by a guy in a coffee shop. If he knew Buckley personally he wouldn't say something like that, regardless of any philosophical disagreements. But you see? Thats what bugs me about the guy's comment. His celebration, as inconsequential and limited to so few words as it is was is simply based on this guy having a disagreement with Buckley ideas. The comment further bugged me because this guy was on my team. I, as a fellow mid-west semi-intellectual lefty(1), was no fan of Buckley's stance on the issues. Did I reserve for Buckley the level of hate required to celebrate his death? No I didn't. If Buckley caused me offense it has been injury due to ideas. Injury due to ideas is a never an offense worth any resentment toward it's author. The things other people do with those ideas, or what the author himself does with the ideas may lead to offenses worth resentment and celebration upon their death. But not ideas themselves.

When I saw a head line from the New York Times that Heston had died I recalled his starring role in Bowling for the Columbine, the movie made by Michael Moore that brought the lefty film maker into a wide audience. Before seeing Bowling for Columbine all I knew of Heston was that he was a has been actor from the 70's who played Moses. But after seeing Bowling, I knew him as a right wing gun toting lunatic. Well that may very well be true. However that comment by the guy in the coffee shop makes me sure that someone is celebrating Heston's death tonight. I find that idea to be repulsive. To celebrate the death of a human being because he is right wing gun toting lunatic who played Moses seems to me a bit of an disproportional response to someone with whom you have disagreement.

Have I celebrated the death of people with whom I disagreed? Yes I have. Like my fellow lefty in reaction to Buckley, when Reagan died a few short sentences of minor celebration escape my mouth. Through that man's comment and my reaction to it I've come to realize why a disagreement based on ideas should never lead to a celebration of death or lead to death itself. And my minor and inconsequential celebration of Reagan's death? A celebration of man's death because of his ideas. Some may disagree and I may not fully understand what Reagan did while in office but in the society I wish to live in a President is a man of ideas and my disagreements with him are based only on ideas and thus my celebration is fully unjustified. This is a Utopian vision I suspect.

I don't want to live in a society where anyone would feel compelled to celebrate the death of anyone with which you had a philosophical disagreement. Nor would I want to live in a society in which anyone would feel compelled to celebrate the death of someone who believes in certain ideas and acted upon them. And of course this is not the world we live in. People have ideas which lead to injustices even if those injustices are not truly compatible with the ideas from which they came. This is not the world we have but this is the world we should want and should create.

(1) (Note: The author has determined that if you are on the left and have even heard of Buckley, this qualifies one as a "semi" intellectual.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Piece of Pi

Over an excellent martini at Moscow on the Hill...

I love that place

Yeah, its pretty cool. Anyways, a good friend tells me that there is no such thing as a perfect circle. Sure, we have an idea for a perfect circle. A perfect circle will have a ratio between its circumference and diameter equal to Pi. If you recall, Pi, is the symbol for that number that starts out 3.14 and goes on forever with out any pattern. Well, the problem is there is no such thing in the universe as a circle with that ratio. It doesn't exist. Why? Its pretty simple; try creating the most perfect circle in the world. If there is one more atom on the left side of circle then the right, sorry, you don't have a perfect circle. Even if we could create a perfect circle, we wouldn't be able to measure it to see if it was, in fact, perfect. If our caliper is off one atom our measurements will show something not quite a perfect circle.

So we have an idea of something which does not exist. I can have an idea of a tree that does not exist, but trees do exist. Circles do not.

Well, circles do exist, they are just not perfect.

I argue that there is no such thing as an imperfect circle, an imperfect circle is not a circle, its a loop or maybe an ellipse.

Ok, fine, in the physical universe circles do not exist. Big deal, what's your point?

Right now, all I'm trying to convince you off is that we have an idea for something which does not exist. We have "knowledge" of something which does not exist in the physical world.

Like I said before, big deal. George Lucas dreamed up Star Wars yet Tie Fighters and Darth Vader don't exist.

Well, actually they do. Prior to George Lucas they didn't, after him they did. I dont think anyone believes Darth Vader has a social security number, they understand he is a character. He does exist, as a character with a real physical presence at least at one time on the film set.

Christ, whats your point?

Well, I really don't give a damn about circles. I do give a damn about things that we have ideas for and supposedly have knowledge that actually don't exist. Take WMDs in Iraq for instance.

What the fuck does this have to do with Iraq?

Nothing, never mind. I'm just saying, this isn't about circles. William Carlos Williams said there "No ideas but in things"

I love that poet, his is brilliant. What does that quote supposed to mean?

Well a circle is an idea which is not a thing. I think what Williams is getting at is that all ideas come from things, things that actually exist. So if thats the case, what the hell is a circle?

A circle is just a mathematical abstraction of something that approximatily exist in the real world.

Ok, yeah, I agree. You're following me now. I guess what I am interested in is that line between mathmatical abstraction and existence. You agree that perfect circles don't exist, but we know what a perfect circle is, right? Well do think there are other things for which we have ideas which do not actually exist?

Ghost. I don't believe in Ghost, a complete crock of shit.

Yeah, I don't believe in ghost either, but, they have real affect. Ghost regardless of whether or not they actually exist scare the shit out of people.

Just like Pi is used in math but doesn't actually exist. We launch rockets with it, make computers with, everything.

Exactly! Well I am trying to get at something on the edge of my mind, so bare with me. I think there something really important about this phenomenon of ideas of things that do not exist having a real effect on the material world. Some mechanism allows our minds to experience reality, and recombine it our minds and create things which do not exist. I think most of its pretty harmless. Like Santa Clause or twinkies (well, they do, but they shouldn't)

Hey, I love twinkies.

But there is something special about the idea of a perfect circle. A perfect idea, Pi, that we cannot truly know, that we don't fully understand and which, if you buy it, doesn't really exist. There is a lot of human emotion invested in Pi. People spends year memorizing as many decimal points as they can. They have competitions to who can recite more. I suspect that number fills them with a sense of mystery and power. Its something perfect and perfectly unknowable and by memorizing more and more decimal places that can get closer and closer to perfection. But it doesn't exist.

Whoa, you are losing me. Why are you looking at the ceiling?

To a caveman Pi wont fill his stomach but a crude and imperfect sharpened stick will. I think there something connected between the idea of a perfect circle, a perfect abstraction and the idea of a perfect and omnipresent god.

What the fuck dude? What does this have to do with god?

I dunno man. I mean, if there is a god and we have eternal souls and those souls have some innate knowledge about perfect forms and the one and perfect god then bam, no problem. It means there is something beyond the reality we see. But start with the assumption that there is no god or soul or any of that stuff. What the fuck is a circle? How did we arrive at the idea of god? Well I am saying that whatever in our minds, and our experience on this planet allowed us to conceive of the idea of a circle that is the same thing that allowed us to conceive of the idea of a perfect god. I just don't have the knowledge or skill to look under the sheets to see how exactly those ideas are connected but I have more then a hunch that they are.

I don't really get the point. Pi is just a symbol for an idea.

Which doesn't exist.

So God is a symbol for an idea that doesn't exist?

Maybe, but thats not the important part.

Huh? What the fuck? I thought we were talking about god.

Well yeah but...

(Stairs off at the slow rotation of ceiling fan in the distant corner)

The important part is that human being have the capability to construct abstracts idea removed from reality that motivate people to do very real and very terrible thing. And yes good things to. It's not just about god. Look at the Communist, atheistic by definition but believed to much in their ideas they were willing to starve and murder and start wars. Thats a bit of broad stroke but still, I think the point is relevant.

And Pi?

Pi is just an example of something totally abstract and irrelevant which I think illustrates this capability of human beings to construct abstractions which no basis in material reality. Pi is apolitical and godless, a pure and universal abstraction. Which does not exist, like WMDs in Iraq. Kidding...

You don't make any fucking sense.

I'm working on that.