Thursday, December 6, 2001

Moxies Book of Farters

Here's the thing. I know for a fucking fact that, with the exception of a few deranged wannabe screenwriters around the country, nobody reads me. So I'm going to tell the truth here. This is dangerous truth. But nobody's going to notice. Except for you guys. And you're nuts anyway.

Osama bin Laden is absolutely right. We are, in fact, a threat to Islamic civilization. "We" meaning the West -- America, Europe, etc., etc. Our Big Mac culture of consumerism and cultural relativity. "Islamic civilization" meaning a theoretical society based on a literal, fundamentalist intepretation of the Koran and Sharia law. We are at war. Yeah. Duh.

But that doesn't mean we have to fucking admit it.

Back in the 1500s and 1600s, Catholics and Protestants used to kill each other. Now, with a few nutcase exceptions, they don't. But they used to.

By way of example, there's a book called "Foxes's Book of Martyrs." As the title implies, it's a who's who of Protestants who died for God. In one charming anecdote, some dude from England is vacationing in Spain. This visiting Brit sees a parade. A religious procession. There's a glass case at the front of the parade. A monstrance. A glass case displaying the consecrated Host. Said host, according to Catholic theology, has transubstantiated into the body of Christ. The Host, kids, is God. And so, the loyal believing Catholics are bowing and scraping before this sacred wafer. This really pisses the Protestant off. Such idolatry! He leaps to the front of the parade and smashes the monstrance to the ground. For his pains, the Catholics grab him and slowly torture the shit out of his ass. He KNEW this would happen. But he smashed the monstrance anyway. Because he believed.

This kind of stunt doesn't happen so much in the West anymore. We get along. We don't lose any sleep over whether the wafer is transubstantiated, consubstantiated, a sign, a symbol or a fucking cracker. We certainly don't piss off angry mobs over the question.

See, there's a reason Catholics and Protestants, for the most part, get along in most of the Western World. If you get right down to it, WE DON'T TAKE OUR RELIGION SERIOUSLY.

For the most part, we ignore the primitive, pagan, psycho shit that doesn't fit in the 20th century. In the Old Testament, admonitions to stone witches and adulterers to death. In the New Testament, advice like cutting off your hand and gouging out your eyes if it/they lead you to sin, giving away one coat if you have two, and taking infinite shit from any bully who wants to give you shit and never standing up for your rights. We pick and choose. The Bible is a fucking smorgasbord. We fill our plates with Peace and Love and leave the genocide, hate and end-times psychosis.

Hey, believe what you want. It's your business. God is a hairy thunderer. God is a cosmic muffin. Cool. Whatever. Who gives a shit?

This is the recipe for peace. That's what we're trying to sell to the Religion of Peace.

If Ann Coulter and Michael Savage and the rest of these CHUDs don't screw it up, that is.

The Right Wing nuts are salivating over the notion that we're not at war with Islamic extremists -- we're at war with Islam! It's the religion of jihad, goddamnit! They point to this passage or that passage in the Koran. They ignore all the kill-em-all-let-God-sort-it-out passages in our Bible. They ignore the fact ...

That, except for a few loons, wingnuts and idjit heads in militias, almost nobody takes the Bible seriously. This explains why nobody's getting tortured to death over wafers anymore.

Ultimately, the strength of the West is rationalization, bullshit, selfishness and hypocrisy. We say one thing; we do another. We go through the motions at church -- and forget it for the rest of the week. That's what's made us great.

The Islamic world needs to follow our example. We need to destroy their faith and turn it into a purely private affair that nobody takes seriously. Absolutely.

But, for God's sake, don't say it.

Monday, December 3, 2001

Awkard Segway

Evidently, "It" is a gyroscopic, two-wheeled scooter that makes you look like the biggest dweeb on the planet.

Saturday, November 10, 2001

Quote of the Week

"A big hand grabs you by the back of the neck, and you hear a voice saying, "You want to see the books? Okay, here are the books." And it pushes your face right down into all of your cruelties and all of your meanness, all the times that you have been insensitive, intolerant, racist, sexist. It's all there, and you read it. You can't take your nose up off the books. You hate them. You hate who you are. You hate the fact that somebody has been keeping track, just as you feared."

--Ken Kesey
interview, Paris Review, 1994

Friday, November 2, 2001

Anarchy Club

Speaking of anarchy, here's a news item I stumbled on. From the AP wire service --

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A judge ruled yesterday that a 15-year-old sophomore cannot form an anarchy club or wear T-shirts opposing the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan because it would disrupt school.

Katie Sierra was suspended from Sissonville High School for three days for promoting the club. She was also told she could not wear T-shirts with messages such as: "When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America."

In a complaint filed with her mother, Sierra argued her right to free speech was being denied.

Circuit Court Judge James Stucky agreed that free speech is "sacred" but he found that such rights are "tempered by the limitations that they ... not disrupt the educational process."

Sierra said she would pursue the dispute.

"I don't want war. I'm not for Afghanistan," Sierra said. "I think that what we're doing to them is just as bad as what they did to us, and I think it needs to be stopped."

Uh, maybe it's just me, but isn't an anarchy club a contradiction in terms?

Monday, October 29, 2001

Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit

OK. Checked out Donnie Darko with Andrew, my son and faithful sidekick. Something about that creepy fucking rabbit poster just made me want to see it. Creepy, metallic rabbits have that effect on me. Evidently, I'm an anomaly. The theater was jam-packed with people who weren't there. Pity the poor dude in the marketing department who made the demographic miscalculation. He's probably dressed as a giant weiner somewhere, bopping up at down at minimum wage in 110 degree heat attempting to get you to stop your car and bop into Nathan's Famous and bite one of their weiners.

The poster tells you nothing about what the movie's about. I've seen the movie. Twice. (Thereby doubling its ticket sales in its meteoric one-week run.) I still don't know what it's about. Hell, I even checked out their bizarro-world website and followed the clues. I still don't get it. But I still love it. If it was playing somewhere, I'd see it again.

As best I grasp it, there's been a hard-drive error in time. The universe is looping in on itself, replaying the same month, over and over again. Eventually, the system will become unstable -- and the whole shooting match will be destroyed. One kid -- Donnie Darko -- is the causeless cause of the glitch. For some reason, he's supposed to die -- when an airplane engine (ripped into that space-time address via a wrinkle in time from an alternative temporal vector) crashes through his bedroom roof.
The freaking evil rabbit warns him, so Donnie gets out of bed and cheats death. Eventually, he sacrifices himself, at the advice of the evil rabbit, who's actually a good kid named Frank. Time loops around again. Donnie stays in bed and the engine kills him. The time-skipping stops. Before it does, he lives more life than most of us ever will in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds.

Of course, if the rabbit hadn't warned him, Donnie would have stayed in bed and died: problem solved.

But, if he hadn't died, he couldn't have sent the engine through time ...

Ah, fuck it. Sorry if I made your brain bleed. Every time travel movie is a three-card monte game. Best not to think about it, as Austin Powers once said.

Forget the arc of sacrifice and the say-what logic to justify it. The movie isn't so much a Gaudi-like, overdone SF architecture of lost time. It is lost time. Within his arcane SF/fantasy structure, Richard Kelly has taken a slice of time from the recent past -- the late 1980s, which still seem like yesterday to me -- and then made it real again. The past recaptured. 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds of it.

Teens boil with sexual and spiritual frustration at a repressive school. The clothes are preppy uniforms. The music is all Duran Duran and INXS. The pop references are all C.H.U.D., Smurfs, Stephen King and the final battle between good and evil waged by Reagan and Dukakis. America's brand of Fascism Lite is in the air: reductive self-help programs created by a secret kiddy-porn lover and stuffed down the children's throats. The kids compete for Star Search. To the tune of Notorious, a girl group called Sparkle Motion wows the crowd with, well, dance moves that seem creepy when little kids do it. The good teachers are powerless and marginalized. They give good advice, but out of the corner of their mouths. Something very bad is going on, and they're powerless to stop it. Somebody, somehow, is stealing the children's future.

This movie about the 80s is told with a spot-on recreation of the look-and-feel of the movies from the 80s: the ouvre of John Hughes, and others like him. Michael Andrews' soundtrack brilliantly captures the synthpop, Minimoog feel of the time. And I like his cover of Mad World better than the Tears for Fears original.

Kelly's film (his first fucking film!!) is not an exercise in nostalgia. It's an attempt to express an inexpressible loss. Donnie Darko, heroically, does the Christ thing and give his life. He saves the universe. But, then again, Donnie Darko is dead.

Without being literal and allegorical, the movie's screenwriter/director is clearly saying some undefinable darkness was in the air. The adults left the children to deal with problems that children shouldn't have to deal with. Some of the children got killed. Some of the best children. The world was saved, but the world was diminished. We've lost something, some possibility of growth, human possibility, intimacy and freedom. The irony is, we don't even know what we've lost. Or who saved us.

At film's end, there's a montage where everyone weeps for their undefined loss. It could've been maudlin. But I think the director/screenwriter earned that scene.

I'm not sure where this last puzzle piece fits. But I'll drop it on the table anyway. Nobody seems to have caught the reference ...

In Butterflies are Free, Donnie Dark was the hero created by the mother character in a series of children's books she wrote to give hope to her blind son. Donnie Dark was a child, a superhero, and blind.

He saved everybody.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to put on my giant weiner costume and get back to work.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

The problem is ...

Overheard on NPR. Narrator -- classic BBC accent -- talking about US dropping propaganda leaflets designed by clever ad agency (copywriter = brainy lady behind Gillette razor campaign, I think) to win hearts and minds of Afghanis. A line worthy of “Monty Python”...

ANNOUNCER: The problem is what advertisers call sales resistance or, more accurately, acute hatred.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

We bombed in Kabul

How exactly are we supposed to bomb Afghanistan back to the stone age? They're already in the stone age.

Takes all the fun out of it.

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Obvious prediction

The X-Files/JFK crowd will come to the conclusion that 9-11 was a government conspiracy. No, seriously. Yeah, I know the fucking planes crashed into those buildings on national television. That's just smoke and mirrors.

There was a plane behind the grassy knoll, man.

Play the footage back, man. You'll see it.

This may sound like a joke, O faithful readers. It's not.

Wait and see.

Friday, October 12, 2001

Goofy Agonistes

There's this Disney cartoon from the 40s I remember. All about spreading panic. Goofy, I think, was involved. People whispering in each others ears conjuring visions of famine, skeletons, and death -- the visions getting worse as the rumors spread from ear to ear.

OK, I don't want to do that. But I have an intuition, a very strong one, and I want to pass it on. FBI doesn't accept email, goddamnit, so I'm passing it on here...

I think the current alert for this weekend is disinformation. I think the next punch to America's groin is set for Oct. 22.

I had a hunch Sept. 11 was significant, symbolic date. Then I heard on the radio -- NPR I think -- that Sept. 11, was an anniversary of some date connected with the 1917 Balfour declaration which set process in motion ultimately leading to creation of Israel. So I started digging for other dates. What I found on some historical database...

"Shortly after midday on Saturday, October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a concerted military attack against Israel. They had chosen to attack on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, a day when most Israelis were in synagogues praying and fasting.

On October 22, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 338 calling for 'all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately.' The vote came on the day that Israeli forces cut off and isolated the Egyptian Third Army and were in a position to destroy it."

That's it. Oct 22 -- date of Arab's disgraceful defeat in the 1973 war.

Heads up.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Operation Kill All Terrorists Everywhere

Wars are self-limiting and can be won. Police actions can never be won. It’s like the police thinking that, one fine day, they’ll win the war against crime. Dick Tracy knows better. You beat Pruneface, here comes Flathead. There's always another bad guy.

A commitment to a police action means infinite commitment -- A COMMITMENT TO PAY ANY PRICE FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME. If you pretend a police action is a war (with a finite, winnable “end”) you are setting yourself up to turn tail and run -- as we did in Vietnam, after the Marine barracks bombing in Kosovo, our aborted war in Iraq (where we stopped at the border and left Saddam in power), the savaging of the helicopter pilots in Somalia, etc. -- and, for that matter, the cretinous “war on drugs” or “war on poverty.”

We keep bashing our heads against the wall because we keep getting ourselves into wars that aren’t really wars -- either for shortsighted, pinhead economically motivated “realpolitik” or PR and empty symbolism. We wind up in open-ended police actions where the choice is (A) turn tail and run (B) stay forever and take the body blows.
Osama has observed this. His entire strategy is based on this.

He figures our commitment (willingness to suffer, sacrifice, expend resources) is not infinite -- that he can, ultimately, keep raising the stakes and calling our hand until we fold.

That is why the fucker deliberately provoked us into going to war in Afghanistan. He figures to stir up a Jihad in which his followers are willing to pay any price -- unlike us. Which is why he figures we’ll leave, he’ll win and become King Shit of a new Caliphate.

Now that we’re committed it is too late to walk away: but we have to create a definite, achievable objective. This needs to be Operation Manhunt, not Operation Kill All Terrorists Everywhere. If we try to do that, we will bleed ourselves white and fail.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Throw away the Vietnam era playbook! Cal Thomas says so!

Screw Cal Thomas for rejoicing on some dumbass Fox talk show that we can “throw away the Vietnam era playbook” with all it’s stupid lessons like, “Wars should have definite objectives,” or, “We shouldn’t keep sending guys out to die for no reason whatsoever.”

Somebody give that man an Agent Orange enema. Now.

2001: A War Odyssey

OK, so we're going to war. Look on the bright side -- what's the worst that could happen?

The end of the world.

OK, uh. What's the second worst that could happen?

The engagement grinds on. Try as we might to avoid civilian casualties, we're making an omelette and breaking eggs. TV Jihad flashes pics of dead Arab women and kids. The Arab street erupts (as I predicted and has already started to happen) -- the rulers of Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia get to play Anwar Sadat -- or drop support for America. While they're making up their minds, suicide bombers blow up most of the Middle East oil fields. Most of the leaders then drop us. The stock market crashes -- world opinion starts back-pedaling away from us. Then Ramadan hits and the Islamic mob goes nuts from Morocco to Indonesia. Our troops, meanwhile, are bogged down and suffering heavy casualties -- captives are tortured, used as hostages, executed in show trials, forced to mouth confessions. Nasty shit goes down in America from some of the sleeper cells dramatic, massive, ugly shit. American resolve weakens. Pakistan has continued to support us -- but goes down in bloody Iran-style revolution. The Taliban takes over, gets the H-bomb, threatens to blow up Israel or some target in Western Europe if America doesn't leave -- not only from Afghanistan, but the Middle East entirely -- and we do. We leave, as the Russians did before us. The true believers hoot and holler. We return, broken.

What's the best that could happen?

We get in there, kill Osama and some key officials, declare victory and leave. Once home, we launch a Manhattan project into alternative energy and do our best to sever dependence on Mideast oil as soon as possible.

An attempt to do anything more is idiotic, reality-denying suicide.

We are not going to eliminate terror, goddamnit. What's next? A war on anxiety? A full-scale assault on angst?

You can go to war against terrorists. You can't go to war against terror. Terror isn't an entity. Terror is a tactic. It's like starting a war against flanking maneuvers.

The modern idea of terror goes back to the French revolution. The notion: it's a rational fear based on an understanding of bad things that will happen to you if. If the loanshark cuts off your thumb because the payments were late -- that's terror. If Michael Myers knifes you for no reason whatsoever -- that's horror. Get it?

Obviously the French didn't invent this shit. It's as old as any bully in the world using intimidation to control. It's a fucking emotion. You can't go to war against an emotion.

The attempt is ludicrous, bound to fail. It's all there in the original name for the damn war: "Operation Infinite Justice."

JOHN WAYNE: Alright men, we're going to eliminate all evil everywhere -- let's go!

Tuesday, October 9, 2001

"2001" vs. 2001

The future we were promised: Portable, flat TV sets, PicturePhones, routine space travel, orbiting particle beam weapons, hotels in space stations, a moon base, sentient computers, and a Space Fetus who saves humanity from self-destruction.

The future we got: a conspiracy of Muslim fundamentalist terrorists who bring down Western Civilization with box cutters.

Sunday, October 7, 2001

Afghanistan, Afshmanistan

I suppose this is all historically necessary, but a verse from Kipling comes to mind ...

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

Friday, September 21, 2001

Last Day at the Office

Open, office somewhere halfway up the WTC north tower. It's still early morning. JEFF and TIM -- two guys in their early 20s -- are fooling around, throwing Nerf football. ANN, meanwhile, is trying to get the copy machine to work.

ANN: 47...47. I want one copy, not 47. Why's it stuck on 47?

She makes a groan of frustration. Turns machine off and on.

TIM: 53, 22, 47 - HIKE!

Just as TIM shouts "47" the machine blinks back on. The copy quantity readout says 47. It blinks on the exact moment TIM shouts "47." ANN notices this and makes a face.

TIM hikes the ball back to JEFF then makes run across the office. JEFF throws the Nerf football to him, a totally wild shot, no chance JEFF will catch it. The screaming purple foam football boinks off cute little King Kong display on wire shelf over copy machine. (There are King Kong dolls and posters all over the place. The big old ape has been the office mascot ever since the remake -- in which Kong climbs the WTC -- came out in the 70s.)

ANN reaches down and picks up football off the floor. She straightens up KING KONG display, talking to it, dusting him off.

ANN: Sorry.

Cut to KONG's eyes. In a weird way, he almost seems to react.

ANN: You guys should show some respect.

JEFF and TIM make ape noises.

ANN: You're so immature.

JEFF: Lighten up. It's Monday.

ANN: It's Tuesday.

JEFF: Well for me that's Monday. Could we have the football back.

ANN: No.

She says no but throws him the football anyway. Reflexively, he catches it.

JEFF: Jesus, I knew you're going to do that. It's like I've been having this weird sense of déjà vu all morning. Anybody else?

ANN: Yeah, it's weird.

JEFF: Like synchronicity, is that the right word?

TIM: That's an album by the Police.

JEFF: Yeah, but I think it's the right word.

TIM: Sting is such an asshole.

ANN: Like you said "47" right when the copy machine went "47."

TIM: That's called a coincidence.

JEFF: I knew you were going to say that.

TIM: I don't believe in that Miss Cleo shit...

The second he says that a TV comes on. We hear MISS CLEO saying "Hi, I'm Miss Cleo! The card can reveal..."

ANN runs over, turns it off. TIM whistles "Twilight Zone" theme.

TIM: Who turned that on?

JEFF: This is definitely getting creepy.

JEFF throws the football across the room. It lands, exactly, inside a King Kong basketball hoop which lights up.

JEFF: See, normally I couldn't do that.

TIM just kinda looks at him.

JEFF: Now the boss is going to open that door.

TIM: Yeah. Like he does that every morning.

BOSS: It's time people.

JEFF puts his fingers to his temples in a psychic see-all gesture. ANN laughs. TIM shakes his head, tries not to laugh. They all go into the meeting. TIM's the last one in -- muttering "Why can't we have a 9 am meeting like everybody I didn't say anything..."

Door shuts.

Go to -- INT, meeting room. BOSS, ANN, TIM, JEFF and BOSS's silent secretary are all sitting around a long conference table with panoramic view of New york skyline outside the windows.

BOSS: (gesturing with his hands) Wireless internet.

JEFF: (uninspired) Wireless internet.

BOSS: Come on, people, work with me. Wireless internet. How can we make that sexy?

JEFF: Put another hole in it.

BOSS: You're funny, you know that, you're pretty fucking funny, you should get a job as a comedian. (gesturing again) Wireless internet -- come on people, you had your fucking coffee yet? Free associate, OK? Gimme something.

TIM: (tiredly) Wireless...tireless.

BOSS shakes head in disgust.

JEFF: (looking out window) Jesus, that plane's coming in kinda low, isn't it?

TIM: Reddy Killowebb.

BOSS: Come on, let's focus, OK?

JEFF: Jesus, he's turning.

BOSS: Hey, stop looking out the window...hello! Focus! (he does an eyes front gesture with two fingers) Wireless web. I want everybody to really think about it.

JEFF: (turning away from window) Web, web...don't get tangled in the web.

BOSS: There's something there, but...

JEFF: You know, web, spiderwebs, wires, traps. Tangled web we weave. There's that whole association.

BOSS: That's clever, Jeff. Too fucking clever.

JEFF: (nervously stealing glances out window) But that's what people hate. Plugging in, wires, Ethernet cards, LANs and all that...Jesus, does anybody else see that?

TIM: Wireless sets you free like...

BOSS: (cutting him off) Don't anybody say butterflies. Gates already did the butterfly with that MSN thing.

JEFF: Anybody else see that plane?

TIM: (rubbing eyes) What, yeah. There's a plane there. So.

BOSS: (pissed) Enough with the plane.

JEFF: The plane isn't supposed to be there.

BOSS: Then it'll turn around. Enough about the plane. What about wireless internet?

JEFF: I don't know. Get wired? Got wireless?

TIM: Get unwired. The internet unbound?

BOSS: Somebody did that.

TIM: You sure?

JEFF: (looking out window -- can't believe what he sees) It's not...

TIM: Pinocchio with his wires cut?

BOSS: I like.

JEFF: It's not turning around.

BOSS: (curtly) It's got to turn around.

JEFF: It's not.

BOSS: Could we stay on topic here?

JEFF: It's coming right for us.

TIM: (mocking -- because this is a line on "South Park") 'It's coming right for us.'

JEFF: No, seriously, it's coming right for us.

TIM: (finally looking) Shit, it's coming right for us, shit. This isn't happening.

BOSS: Goddamnit, guys, it's not --

He looks out window, sees plane, shuts up, freezes.

JEFF: I dreamed this. I know I dreamed this.

TIM: This isn't happening. He's gotta pull up.

JEFF: He's not pulling up.

For a few more seconds they all sit there at the conference table -- all of them frozen, deer-in-headlights style. The plane gets closer and closer, coming in straight on.

Some authority-figure gene kicks on in the boss. He stands up, takes charge, starts barking out orders.


Everybody except JEFF runs out of the room. He just stands there, frozen at the window as the plane gets closer and closer. Then something seems to tug him. He turns around. Sees ANN watching them.

Seconds left. They exchange looks. Both know they're going to die. It's suddenly, blindingly clear to JEFF that he loves her and she loves him, one of those office undercurrent things, though they never admitted it. They knew it all along, of course -- but they danced around the fact, both assuming there'd always be time for the dance.

Less the last second left and the barriers fall. He smiles, she smiles back. Each knows what the other's thinking -- barriers gone now, not that they were ever real in the first place -- time for one last look, eyes exchanging infinite knowledge just like Bonnie and Clyde yeah, exactly like Bonnie and

Thursday, September 20, 2001

The Dead Elephant in the Room

Why do they hate us?

OK, here's the thing.

A pluralistic society, in effect, is like the breakfast cereal aisle at Publix. Man, so many choices, good and bad. Cap'n Crunch. Granola. Old School Oat Meal. Total. Except, instead of cereal, we have every flavor of philosophical belief system. Islam. Fundamentalist Christianity. UFO Conspiracy Theory. Atheism. Kabbala for the Stars. Leather Fetishism. Believe or not. Put whatever you like in your bowl. It's all there -- minus any government endorsement.

Basically, the principle implies that your belief system is either a private delusion or irrelevant. You're free to believe what you like -- in the privacy of your own whatever. You can't impose your beliefs on others. God says don't drink; don't eat cows; avoid transfusions; whatever. You're free to follow whatever internalized set of rules you like. God, as far as the state is concerned, is your invisible friend, like Harvey the Rabbit. If he doesn't tell you to hurt self or others, it's no problem. (The state may draw the line at, say, multiple wives or making bong hits a communion ceremony. You're free to obey, but only up to a point.) You can't claim to be God's spokesperson. You're not free to tell others to obey. (See David Koresh.) Obey God. Don't play God. That, for some, is the problem.

The separation of church and state directly threatens the authority of any earthly organization (and the holy authorities running them) claiming to be on a mission from God. It strikes at the base of their power: their claim to divine authority.

Aside from propping up dictatorial choads with our petrodollars, that's why they hate us.

Sunday, September 16, 2001

A futile plea for reason

OK, I'm going to make a plea for reason. It's futile, a waste of time, I admit it. Aside from the fact I've got, maybe, ten readers. If I had like, you know, more, it still wouldn't make any difference. But I like to hear myself talk. So I'll say this shit anyway.

America has a, well, psychotic attitude towards responsibility and blame. We basically think they're synonyms. Blame is responsibility. Responsibility is blame. If something bad happened, it's somebody's fault. Bad things should never happen! When they do, it's because bad people fucked up. We must find these bad people and punish them. That way, bad things will never happen again. Ever.

Seriously. That sounds like sarcastic, satiric overkill. It ain't. Americans think like that. When bad things happen, we want to find the scapegoat who fucked up and make them hurt. It's what we do.

Obviously, this leads to ass-covering behavior.

In the case of 9-11, we don't need that. We need to coldly, objectively analyze what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. We don't need scapegoats. We need facts.

As sure as eggs are eggs, there's a report somewhere warning about terrorists flying planes into buildings. (I seem to recall it was the premise of a Lone Gunman episode.) There are reports about Middle Eastern dudes taking flight lessons, warnings about Osama, and jeremiads about our lax airport security procedures. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, it'll be clear that people in the FBI, CIA, and airport security ignored those reports. Yeah, OK.

But I'm sure there are also reports about crazed Samoans with outrigger canoes stuffed with dynamite on the Potomac trying to blow up the Jefferson Memorial. They ignored those reports too. This shit didn't happen, so it's not a problem.

9-11 happened. It's ugly shit, along the lines of the Manson Family murders. Most sane, rational people couldn't imagine this shit would happen. We gain nothing by crucifying the people who were just doing their jobs and couldn't imagine the unimaginable. Scapegoats don't solve the problem. Facts do.

To get the facts, we need to make it safe for people to tell the truth and not worry about covering their ass. I realize this kind of blatant rationality is not the American way. In this case, we should make an exception.

My plea is probably futile.

But I hope not.

Saturday, September 15, 2001

WTC Pathology Report

Jesus, this shit is so sickening it's hard to think about it -- sorta along the lines of figuring which hand goes with which arm. I'm going to think about it anyway. If some of this shit is funny don't think I think this shit is funny, that's just the way I'm wired. "The Lighter Side of Body Counts"..."Slaughter, the best medicine!" Jesus.

Here goes...

Issue number one ...

Bin Laden did it. He's not just the photo on top of the scapegoat file. He really did it.


So this fucker was smart enough to blow up the WTC. Then what? What happens next?
What was he thinking?

The obvious answer is, he did it to provoke a response. He does that shit to us. Then we react. QED: The reaction he expects is what he wants.

OK. What did he think we'd do?

George W. appears on TV and says, "Now that we know you feel this way we're pulling out of the Middle East. Sorry."

Obviously not. He knows us better than that.

American is the testosterone-soaked pitbull of the planet. What he did is like slapping a sleeping pit bull on the nose. The pit bull does not run away. The pit bull takes a bite out of your ass. Obviously, OBL knows that.

What does he think we'll do?

Obviously, we bomb the shit out of Afghanistan and maybe get tangled up in an ongoing war. Is the rest of the Middle East going to care about our stockbrokers when we start killing towelheads and little Afghani babies? They won't - anymore than we care about the dead Palestinians and Iraqis we or our friends killed that made some Arabs mad enough to blow up the WTC.

The Arab world will think we're genocidal racist monsters.

Maybe the elites who own the oil will still want to support us. If they do, the guys in the streets in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. will turn against their masters.
He's figuring that even if we do go to war we'll pull out again. Even the badass Russians couldn't hack it after ten years. He's betting that Americans love war, but hate body counts. We like a war where we push a button and people die by remote control. We don't like it when we send in troops on the ground and Americans come back in body bags. I think he's figuring we won't go the distance. I think he's figuring to rope-a-dope us. We'll get involved then quit - "Ow, this hurts, my nose is broken, my eyes all swelled shut, fuck this Raging Bull shit, I'm going home." (And, after all, all GW's daddy did was chase Saddam across the border and STOP.)
He's probably also betting that the rest of the middle east (or fanatics therein) will cut off our oil supply or blow up the oilfields and grind our civilization to a halt.

So we go to war. He goes into hiding. We leave. After that he emerges as the dictator of a Pan-Arabic state stretching from Morocco to Pakistan. I think he's positioning himself for that. It may be nuts, but that's what he wants. That's the big picture.

In other words, I think there's a strategy behind the slaughter.

Even Charlie Manson had a strategy when he had all those people killed - he wanted to create a race war - namely "Helter Skelter" -- after which he and his followers would ride out of the desert in their dune buggies and take over the world. Bin Laden wants to create his own Helter Skelter for the same reason. He wants us to go to war. He wants to draw us into the Middle East in order to push us out again - permanently. It's a set-up. A trap.

I'm not saying do nothing.

But let's not give this fucker what he wants.

All of a sudden, everywhere I look it's flags, flags, flags. Eagles and flags. Support the President! United We Stand! A fucking overdose of patriotism. America -- rightface, march! Hut, hut, hut! Anybody else uncomfortable with this shit? We're one step away from martial law. The right has been a little too goddamn quick to use this as an excuse to clamp down and control the agenda. It's like all they can do not to start smiling. It's exactly what they want.

I picture a George C. Scott-type General appearing on TV and addressing the American people.

GENERAL CARNAGE: This has been a great tragedy for the American people. This has been a sad day for all of us. As a result, we're going to have to stop worrying about shit like "lock boxes" and math and two plus two equals four. We're going to have to beef up the CIA. All this shit like, "you can't kill leaders," "you gotta get search warrants" -- the bill of rights all that crap - we'll have to throw all that shit out. We'll need to send lots of money to the military so we can buy cool shit to kill people. Remember, if we'd had Star Wars we could've sold Bin Laden a missile and shot it down. But no! He was forced to use low-tech shit that worked! That's why we need more weapons systems, more military power, more spies, more finks, more surveillance, more police. It's been a sad day for all of us, but, together, the American people shall prevail. Thank you."

Then he goes to the next room and starts saying "YES...YESS!" under his breath. He's doing that little gesture where you pull back the fist. "YES!"

Meanwhile, the American people responds ...

"Let's lurch to the rightwing! Let's go to war! Let's support our leader!"

It's like there's a hypnotist with a watch on a chain. "Don't think about George W. Bush. Think about the war! See the pretty, pretty war! The president is not an idiot! You must respect your leader! Support the leader!"

America's like Homer Simpson with drool coming out of his mouth. "Support....leader. Must support leader."

Uh, you mean Bush?

George W. Bush?

HOMER: Support leader. Aggghhhhh.

This guy's a leader? Jesus. They're comparing him to FDR.

FDR was like "A date which will live in infamy."

That's a leader.

GWB is reading the teleprompter. "They did stuff to us so, uh, we're gonna do stuff to them. And to ourselves together. Or something."

He's an idiot.

Let's face it, if John McCain had been elected president nobody would've fucked with us. The terrorists were probably watching the election returns. "The wimp is president! They elected the wimp! Hahahaha! Not even the wimp - the son of the wimp!"

And, like any wimp, GWB will be tempted to do some dumbass thing just to prove he's not a wimp.

Like I said, it's a trap. We need to resist the urge to blow the shit out of people in huts with towels on their heads in some massively futile symbolic gesture. This is not a time for emotional retaliation. This is a time for cold revenge. We need to put a hit on Osama.

We don't need the marines. We need the Mafia.

This is what they're good at.

I think there was even a guy named Genovese who got killed in the WTC. This shit is personal. They fucked with us, now we need to fuck with them - on a personal level.
Subcontracting the assignment to the mob would be cost-effective.

Just call in Tony Soprano.

The government could say, "Here's the deal, you guys get to own Liberty Plaza. You get to rebuild the Trade Center, the Mafia gets to own it. We also let John Gotti out of jail. Just kill these fuckers. Stop 'em. Be creative."

So one morning Bin Laden gets out of bed and there's a camel's head under the sheets. "Ahhhhhh!" Robert DiNiro's in the tent. "Nice fucking tent you got here, nice fucking map. You think you're some big shit, huh? Let's dance. You want to fuck with me? No, you're not dealing with the army now, it's just me, you're dealing with me. You wish it was the fucking army. Hey - here's Joe Pesci with his pen. He wants to talk to you!"

So, just like "The Godfather," you wipe all the fuckers out no matter how long it takes. Ten years later somebody's falafel stand is blow to bits. That's OK. These guys can be very, very patient.


Why the fuck are we even in the Middle East?


Basically, that's the only reason we have any connection with these fuckers whatsoever. Their main natural resource is oil. After that comes adrenaline. After that comes sand.

If it wasn't for the oil we could tell them all to go fuck themselves.

That would be a good idea.

Because these people are crazy.

They're all a bunch of fucking lunatics who've been out in the hot sun too long.

I know what sun will do to you.

I remember when I worked at the concrete yard out in the sun all day. Everybody was constantly hostile. The Do-the-Right-Thing effect. "Where's the fucking drill fuck you where do you fucking think it was goddamnit you got fucking shit for brains". Fuck, fuck, fuck - every sentence was like that. There was a constant baseline of hostility. You figure that's what happened to the people there. All that sun fried their brains. Look at Lawrence of Arabia. Typical English closet queen.

Put him out in the sun for a year and he's like, "EAGGGHH! NO PRISONERS!"

These people have been out in the sun for hundreds and hundreds of years.

It's turned them into a whole region of Yosemite Sams.










We've tangled ourselves up with a buncha Yosemite Sams with centuries old feuds because they happen to be sitting on top of a sea of oil. It's like buying gas at Charlie Manson's filling station. CRAZY CHARLIE SELLS FOR LESS! "I'm Crazy Charlie! I'm slashing prices to the bone! I'm slashing everything to the bone!" America says, "Shit, I know he's crazy - but you can't beat those prices!"

We need to stop going to Crazy Charlie's. If oil is the reason we're involved in the Middle East in the first place, we need to find something else. We need to develop other forms of energy and let them eat sand.

Fuck them. Fuck the Middle East. Fuck Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Turdistan...

Fuck all of them.

If you had the best brains in the world developing efficient solar panels, fusion, whatever, we could say fuck them.

We need an alternative energy Manhattan Project.

We need to create a hydrogen economy. Get some cheap energy source - solar and wind at first, eventually fusion - and use the energy to extract hydrogen out of water. Use that to create self-contained hydrogen cells that don't blow up to run our cars and power plants. Create a society where you don't use gasoline at all and everything runs on clean hydrogen - that turns into water when it burns.

Sure, it'd cost a shitload of money.

But that money would be a fucking fraction of all the money we've spent since, say, the oil embargo of 1973 when we should've figured this out in the first place. All the money we've spent propping up various regimes, all the money we spent on the Gulf War, the marines killed in Lebanon, the destruction of the WTC, the money we'll spend on the next war, not to mention all the money down the fucking toilet creating a total surveillance society.

Like I said, these guys are boiling with adrenaline. If only the CIA could invent some kind of chemical that'd make people turn peaceful.

Wait a minute. They already did.

It's called acid.

They were testing it on college kids back in the early 60s. A few of them decided they liked it and started making their own. This is the source of the entire "Peace and Love" revolution.


Drop massive amounts of acid in the water supply of various hateful countries. They'd all be dropping their weapons and going, "Everything is so beautiful." Bin Laden would start shaking like a washing machine with a towel caught in the agitator. "That...that map isn't real. The pins. Killing people, not pins. I'm so full of...hate...ohmygodohmygod." He'd either explode, like the Nazi in "Raiders of the Lost Arc" who couldn't look at the face of the angel
without seeing death. Either that, or he'd fall on the ground and remain totally helpless until the Mafia got him.

PS: Yeah, I know this shit ain't funny.

Friday, September 14, 2001

Gimme Skelter

Here’s a fun quote from Ann Coulter. Her suggested response to 9-11.

“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

I’m going out on a limb here, but – aside from sounding a tad unchristian -- that strikes me as a bad idea. Here’s why.

Let’s start with a historical analogy.

Once upon a time, the Charlie Manson “Family” slaughtered some beautiful people in SoCal. The atrocity had a deranged, political motive. Manson tried to pin the murders on black militants, scrawling “Rise” and “Political Piggy” in blood on the walls. He figured there’d be white reprisals, then black counter-reprisals, and America would explode in a race war – aka “Helter Skelter.” He’d ride in on his dune buggies and take over when civilization was in ruins.

9-11 was, basically, Osama Bin Laden’s Helter Skelter. He didn’t fly a plane into Mecca and blame it on Christian/Jewish extremists. He hit us. But it amounts to the same thing. The intention is the same.

Like Manson, OBL has a deranged, political motive behind his atrocity. The same motive. He's provoking a war as a way to seize power.

It’s a strategic move. Before this incident, OBL, in his deranged mind, assumed the West was waging a de facto war to destroy Islamic culture. We support Israel, have bases in Saudi Arabia, back up petro dictators, sell pornography and blue jeans, and encourage women to get uppity. To OBL, that means war. The “Arab street” wasn’t as upset about it as he’d like. Our influence is everywhere. But it didn't hit most Muslims where they live. Western presence in the Muslim world was out of sight and out of mind. His basic assumption: “If we blow shit up in America, they’ll blow shit up over here.” It’s a safe bet, we will. That's what he wants. He’s bringing the war back home.

By provoking America and Friends to invade Islamic territory, he intends to make our presence tangible, visible, and hateful. Our upcoming invasion will demonstrate that the West is fundamentally at war with Islam. He assumes that will provoke the Muslim world to rise up against us as one. Our invasion would trigger his holy war. Just like Charlie Manson, he’ll come riding in from the desert when it’s all over. When the dust settles, there’ll be a Caliphate and he’d be running it.

The flaw in his strategy is the heinousness of his act. He burned a few thousand people alive. We’ve got to deal with it. In a month or two, we will. Most of the Arab Street will understand – if we do it right.

I didn’t vote for Bush. But I’m hoping he does it right.

As in the Colin Powell doctrine.

Basically, this is a hit. Some people fucked with us. We kill them. Badabing. We take them out before they know what him ‘em. Quick surgical strikes. We rain a shitstorm on the Taliban.

We attempt no nation building. We kill as few civilians as possible. We kill the enemy. Period. We minimized photo ops of dead or mutilated children and screaming victims in the Islamic world. OBL doesn’t achieve his objective.

We get in, get it done, get out.

We avoid creating the impression that THE WEST IS FUNDAMENTALLY AT WAR WITH ISLAM. OBL scripted a part for us. We refuse to play.

If we do that, we win. He doesn’t get his Helter Skelter.

Strategically, this is why Bush is bending over backwards to stress we’re going to war with Islamic extremists with a twisted brand of their faith. We’re not at war with Islam itself.

Ann Coulter isn’t helping.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

Ann Coulter

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

Yeah, that'd work. Brilliant strategy. That's what they want, stupid.

This is a sucker play to draw us into a Middle-East war to make us look like the bad guys on Arab TV, dumbass. American power is out of sight, out of mind. UBL wants to make it visible, painful, humiliating.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

The World Turned Upside Down

OK, kill the towelheads, yeah, yeah.

But, first ...

The question no one is asking is: WHAT IS THE STRATEGIC GOAL OF THIS ATTACK?

Obviously, they do shit to us expecting to respond in some fashion.

The response they expect is the strategic goal.

The POINT of the whole !@#$* attack.

It seems to me, if you're the Little Green Sprout and you kick the Jolly Green Giant in the nads, the Jolly Green Giant will stomp you. His response is predictable. QED: If the Little Green Sprout kicks the Jolly Green Giant in the nads, he wants to get stomped.

They want to get stomped. That's the strategic goal.

My cousin, disagrees. His assessment, they think we'll turn tail, the way we did after Black Hawk Down and the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut. I disagree. This is way too freaking big. It's attack on our soil. It's 2000-some people dead, could've been much more. It's Pearl Harbour all over again. We couldn't, reasonably, be expected to withdraw our bases from Saudi Arabia, apologize to the Arab world for supporting Israel and buying gasoline from their dickhead plutocrats. No, no, no. We're not pussies. We're not idiots. We're the cowboys of the world. We're gonna stomp their ass, think first, and ask questions later. They know that. They're counting on that.

So far, American support for the things they hate is an abstraction. Money and political backing to Isreal. Bases that nobody sees. Support for bastards in Eqypt and Saudia Arabia cause they're our bastards. All the $ we pay for that black sweet crude that goes to the bastards at the top. Yeah, the "Arab Street" is angry. But not angry enough.

If we send over wave after wave of troops and bomb the shit out of their cities, then there'll be all these nice photo ops of dead Afghan kids and blown up Mosques and we can really up our recruiting drive and get us a neat little Caliphate in 10 years.

That's what they want.

I'm not saying do nothing. I'm saying think long and hard before we do anything. Force. Hey, force is a force to be reckoned with. I'm all for force. But the intelligent application of force. Otherwise, our force we'll be turned against us. It's an aikido move. It's a sucker trap. It's bait. If we overreact, we do exactly what they want.

Friday, September 7, 2001

Why 2001 isn't like "2001"

I think we're like the first wave of Israelites. The ones who crossed the desert, looked over the mountains and said "Fuck, there's giants there." The ones God sent back into the desert to die.

We took one look into the 21st century and said "Fuck, we don't like the future, the future's scary." We panicked. The stock market crashed. We elected an idiot for President (or let an idiot steal the presidency which amounts to the same thing) so that idiot could build a bridge back to the 19th century.

So forget all the complicated horseshit the experts tell you. There's a very simple reason we're in the toilet now.

We lost our nerve.

But maybe a good war would fix things. Isn't war fun?

Correct me if I'm being paranoid, but it seems somebody somewhere is spending at least as much money rehabilitating the notion of war as they are propping up the sagging CD sales of Michael Jackson.

Tom Hanks a great idea: let's clog up the mall in Washington DC with a WWII memorial. Jesus, I don't want to sound like a fucking ingrate, but the WWII gen already has a memorial -- it's called the USA -- the whole fucking thing is their memorial, really, they don't need an additional neo-fascist handball court. Hell, they'll all be dead soon anyway...

And now here's this "Band of Brothers" thing on HBO. I haven't watched it because, uh, well, I don't get HBO. But, at least according to the teasers, it all seems nice, warm, fuzzy and throat-catching.

War is not warm and fuzzy. War sucks. This is not something to look back on with nostalgia, anymore than you'd look back with nostalgia on the time you had to fight off Ed Gein when he was attacking your grandma with a chainsaw. We're talking Dresden, Hiroshima, the Bataan Death March, V-weapons falling on London -- a world of shit. Goddamnit, I don't wanna live in interesting times. If the Gary Condit whodunnit and the Summer of Sharks is all the news they can dig up, that's fine with me.

One of these days somebody should do a study of first, second, third generation war movies. Re: WWII, seems like the first wave was obvious patriotism; the second wave was either cynical or anti-war ("Kelly's Heros," "Catch-22") or objective historical ("Tora, Tora, Tora!"); and we're now, again, in a wave of patriotism ("Pearl Harbor") -- except that, now, the folks doing the movies didn't live through the events and they're getting it wrong. (

Thursday, September 6, 2001

Michael Jackson: Rebranded

Is it my imagination, or is somebody spending a shitload of money to rehabilitate Michael Jackson? The evidence, if you'll pardon the expression, is mounting.

Seth Green shows up on The Daily Show with a Michael Jackson t-shirt. Not that I watched the fucking MTV music awards, but I saw coverage of same on two seperate fake news channels. Evidently, the sexless, ageless groingrabber made an appearance behind NSYNC. In both cases, the chattering blonde talkinghead babe referred to him as "The King of Pop." (In fact, come to think of it, that "King of Pop" phrase has been coming up repeatedly, lotsa little references here and there. Maybe I'm a chucklehead, but I don't actually remember hearing anybody refer to him as the King of Pop during the actual 1980s.) Not to mention some Gen-XYY Chromosome Band doing a cover of one of his songs. Not to mention some blurb I half caught on a zapped-through VH-1 plugging some kinda contest (Make your own music video! Michael Jackson will pick the winners!) in which the weiner gets to go to Childhumper Ranch, which is to say, Neverland Ranch with Michael. Second tube of KY jelly to the right and straight on 'til morning.

And no I don't think it's my imagination.

Forgive me for stating the obvious (I think not-stating-the-obvious is a kind of defense mechanism, like a cyst, sealing off more and more areas of our culture from satire, attention, thought) but Michael J. represents a ton of product. The machine says it's necessary to push this product, even if it means pushing the surgically altered mutant. The machine says "Rich Chocolaty Goodness, Rich Chocolaty Goodness" over and over so many times until we think that chocolate-covered cotton is cotton candy. We take it and we eat it and Milo Minderbinder goes to the bank. I know y'all know that, but I said it anyway.

I'm just pissed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Fox: We report, you die

The Fox news channel blows my mind.

So why do you watch it then, huh, huh? Why do you...

Because it’s on TV monitors where I work out. Because I flip through channels and some horror grabs my attention like a carwreck grabbing the eyes of a passing rubbernecker. You happy now?

OK, Fox ... where was I? Why Fox freaks me out. OK.

Back when Pearl Harbor first came out, the talking heads on Fox started yapping about it on one of their morning talk shows. These bloviators weren’t bothered that this flick was a mega-million-dollar piece of steel-plated, steaming shit. What bugged ‘em was how this flick was retrofitted for Japanese sensibilities in its Japanese-release version. Some DJ called “Mancow” opining on this. “What do you expect from the criminal, liberal media?” sez Mancow.

”Criminal liberal media.” Cute little phrase, ain’t it? All it lacks is “who should be lined up against a wall and shot!”

Imagine an alternative news channel as far to the left as Fox is to the right. Some leftist DJ who says shit like “What do you expect from the criminal, corporate elite?” as a regular feature on a morning talk show. The People’s News Network! Imagine that.

Yeah, right. I can’t either.

So, last night, on earnest talkinghead show, Fox pitted some econut (I forget his name) they’d found under the skankiest, dankest, algae-covered rock imaginable against founder of the Guardian Angels, of all people. Econut’s argument: animals good; people bad; people should die. This walking, talking strawman was actually advocating the voluntary extinction of the human species, yep. We should all just quietly sterilize ourselves and leave the poor animals in peace. DeSilva, meanwhile, was coming on like Cheech. “No, man. Human beings is like good for animals. All those animals in zoos get like free peanuts and shit. I wish I was a fucking animal!”

Now, I know all you misanthropes out there are just lining up to say, “I agree with him! People suck, we should all kill ourselves.” Fuck that. Fuck death. It’s an idiotic argument. Kill your own damn selves and set a good example for others, OK? Let’s stick to the main point...

This chucklehead is not a representative of the “green” movement. Putting this fucker on television and seriously discussing his chucklehead ideas is the equivalent of my hypothetical People’s News Net having a debate on gun control where the guy taking the anti-gun-control position sez that all school children should be required to pack firearms in school, and also sez that the Second Amendment guarantees that every US citizen should have the right to stockpile tactical nukes.

Stacking the old deck, in other words. John Q. Public sez, “These people are nuts,” and that’s that.

What makes this cynical tactic so sickeningly abhorrent — to do it, you have to give high-end media coverage to deepfried lunatics. All the better to say “these eco-freaks want you to castrate yourself” to a mainstream audience, natch. But the price Fox pays for this smear is letting twisted loonies have their twisted say on a primetime national news channel. You’re spreading their fucking message — and legitimizing them at the same time. Whether you like it or not, a few pinheads will be saying “Hmmm...collective human suicide. This guy’s really on the beam!”

12 Monkeys, anyone?

Monday, August 6, 2001

The economic system crash

OK, the following is not a yuk. Some musings, is all. What the fuck do I know? I dunno. But here’s what goes through my head...

Every now and then an obvious idea taps you on the shoulder like your lost little child in the supermarket. You’re thinking, Jesus, almost lost the kid. How could I do that? Am I blind?

Here’s the idea...

Something is wrong. Something is wrong with the economy. Once proud, it has turned into a permanently limp dick. Can’t get it up but we don’t know why. The dismal scientists go yattayatta but they don’t know either.

OK. Here goes...

For the last ten years we’ve been “downsizing.” Bigtime CEOs get bigtime points for slashing lots of people. Less people working longer hours — that spells productivity! ATT cans the equivalent of a few Titanics and the stock market applauds.

At the same time we’re inching up on the next economic paradigm, poking our Kilroy noses over the cliff embankment just to look at the promised land (fuck, look at them giants) — the specifics are shadowy, broad outlines clear. A decentralized, distributed system. The PC becomes the next TV; mass media turns into on-demand targeted media. Manufacturing does the same thing. Smart micro-factories crank out the car, computer or whatever you want when you want it.

Think “Snowcrash” or “Neuromancer.”

I’m not selling this shit. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. Like any wave of change, it’ll be both good and bad (depending on how it affects you). But it’s where things are going. The next evolutionary handhold on the long vertical cliff...

Any idiot can see it, hence the internet goldrush. Some idiots oversold it, hence the consumer burnout. For the last year or so I figured that’s why the crash. Until the little lost child tapped me on the shoulder...

And the child said...

Each wave requires an infrastructural investment; trains need tracks, cars need roads and gas stations, bulbs need wires, phonelines need wires, etc. In some cases, as with railroads, some corporations with deep pockets (or free government land) build the infrastructure first. Often what happens is early adapters get the technology before the infrastructure really exists — people bought cars before the roads were designed for cars, people bought TVs before there were all that many TV stations. All those early adapters forced the infrastructure to catch up.

But the early adapters had money. (New technology is very, very expensive). To get to the next wave, your stuff has to come down in price — but your buyers, still, have to have SOME money even so. And, looking at the system as a whole, your buyers are also your workers. (As Henry Ford put it, he paid his workers a decent wage so they could afford to buy his cars. Bastard that he was, he knew it was his self-interest.)

But today’s corporate bastards aren’t so smart.

So here’s corporate America in the 90s — investing in and hyping the internet with everything it had while at the same time downsizing its professional class as fast as possible. Cutting ‘em off at the legs..

The same people who’re supposed to BUY the goddamn cable modems and flat HDTVs; a wave of consumer demand that’d pump some money into the next big paradigm — and push the “digital economy” to the point it’s not the equivalent of a bunch of rich people driving their brand new motorcars over dirt roads a faddish, new hobby.

Add to the mix that, thanks to deregulation, price fixing and general bullshit, the prices on shit like electricity, cable TV and gasoline went up up up in the 90s. If your electric bill is pushing $300 bucks or filling a gas tank costs you $25, that eats into what’s left to buy digital vidcams or cable modems.

In other words, all the downsized people couldn’t afford all the new shit.

The “lack of consumer demand” spooked investors.

The stock market tanked.

The economy tanked.

Everybody got scared.

No investment money, no risks, no R&D.

No next wave.

That’s what happened.