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Cheech & Chong concert “Get it Legal” tour: Mid October at Pikes Peak Center

Just a thought from the headline. You know how some people can get together and recite all the lines from say "Let's Make a Dope Deal" or sing Black Lassie complete with the lead in of "thish is Horrendo Revolver doing an esposhe of the mushic indushtry'... word for word even though it never got on the radio here in the states (I was lucky, I lived in El Paso, which was right across a nasty little creek from Downtown Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico and their most excellent rock station XROK 80, and Mexico didn't have the same censorship rules the yanquis do). And even though their dad had smashed their Big Bambu and The Wedding Album records after about the third time in less than an hour of hearing "Acting like a queeeeeeeerrrr!" (Actually "Earache, my eye")(I think). So much for the legendary effect of Da Wicked Weed that you have short term loss of long term memory or is it long term loss of short term memory? I forget... anyway, that doesn't matter. When I was stationed at Sheppard AFB (Wichita Falls) Texas in 79, one of the on-base movie theaters actually played "Up In Smoke".... and had the SPs with these really ugly German Shepherds standing around inside and outside the theater. Which could be gotten round, if you know how to do Robo. Doing robo gets you way higher than weed ever would, and when you're in the service nobody would be able to tell the difference. But I skipped the experience. I'm allergic to German Shepherd Bites. My doctor once warned me that a German Shepherd Bite could make me break out in bleeding and pain, mixed with a little bit of naked fear at the thought of being partially eaten, still alive, by a canine approximately the size shape and temperament of a Timber Wolf. Ordinary, non-brainwashed German Shepherds don't have the same effect. Good dog. Nice puppy. Anyway, back to the meat of the issue... Cheech and Chong are expected to sell out in less than a couple of weeks. That's impressive. The Pikes Peak Center, just how often DID they ever sell out? Especially three months before the event. Some people tell me, they say "Cheech and Chong are idiots" and I say "I know you are but what am I? Nanny, nanny Boo Boo, stick your head in doo-doo!" That works for PeeWee Herman non-fans too.

We live among gods and demigods

I know a someone who's studying Greek mythology. He isn't very impressed and told me so, probably baiting me. He fixed me in the eye and said "Put it this way, I'm not going to care about it in college." It was all I could muster to reply "Maybe." I feigned not being sure myself, which was puzzling, telling him that he would find that Greek Gods had an odd habit of popping up in almost every academic discipline, especially Western literature, as if that would have mattered to him. Then I made a bet that the names of gods had come up in his favorite reads, Calvin and Hobbes and the Far Side. Nope he said. He wouldn't have noticed, his mother chimed in, if he didn't know them. If he wasn't going to do it, I thought I'd write his paper. I thought about how content I felt having coaxed he and his siblings through attending a staged Odyssey, aided by a large and embarrassingly aromatic bag of m&ms. Surely Odysseus in the flesh was a head start I didn't have. And I thought about how to have explained the gods further. They were more than themed superheroes, they were Gods. Do you capitalize gods in the plural? We spell it He, but not Them. Do we have their like in the Virgin of Guadalupe or St. Francis of Assisi? The Saints I guess, were not long ago role models: St. Bernadette, St. Joan, St. Barts (just kidding), St. Nick. Of what import gods? As goes God, so too The Gods? How do you explain the meaning of the classic gods, their relevance to Greek and Roman lives, in this age of monotheism? We're not even that, we believe in a plurality of single gods. The best of us tolerate all, but believe that in their multitude of identities we're only talking about one. A singular omniscient deity would have been strange to the Greeks, just as a committee of squabbling immortals would seem horribly inutilitarian to us. My quandary extended some because in actuality monotheism was a framework I was imposing. In a single boomer generation, most of us now inhabit a secular universe, where religion is mostly lipservice to tradition. We may or may not talk to our consciences, God resides in us yada yada, but for the practical purpose of talking about God or gods, it's academic. So what's the difference, one god or three, I'm thinking of the holy trinity, or a last supper full, or a whole class of 300 BC, many of whom are no longer on speaking terms? Then it occurred to me that today's secular ungodly society probably resembles that of the Romans or Greeks more than I thought. We're an empire, as they, decaying into unholy fetishes. We're post-sacrilegious decadence. And we've gone this way before: I'm thinking of the gladiators and slavery, indifference to inhumanity and carnality, form over function and spectacle. Our consumer culture is the golden calf and very likely

Case of curious cellphone, bandana and Greyson Chance’s perfect microphone

PT Barnum would have been a terror on Youtube --I'm certainly sobered to see what fools America every time. Is sudden-tween-throb Greyson Chance's talent for real? Too soon to say. But the 6th grade sound man at Cheyenne School of Edmond, Oklahoma has unlikely genius. * What's hard to believe about doctors bandaging Bret Michaels' massive brain hemorrhage with his signature headband? * And my favorite, Oprah Winfrey recording a show performance with her cellphone to attest to her surprise at "the coolest thing ever!" Oprah It happened ages ago (in blog-years) but television talk shows bind these three example together. Do you remember Oprah's anniversary whatsit, taped like a big tailgate party in downtown Chicago? Oprah stood there on the outdoor stage beside the Black Eyed Peas and held her cellphone up, aimed at the audience, as if the dozen or more cameras on cranes, wires and rails weren't going to be enough. And the crowd erupted in spontaneous dance, although it was choreographed, and a concept swiped from a European video. But Oprah's deal went viral because, OMG would you believe it, and there was Oprah, OMG'ding herself, careful to record it to show her friends in case they wouldn't have believe her, or watched the show. Now how many of you believe the media diva even has her own phone, much less carries it or knows how it works? Watching the video again, an establishing shot before the music begins shows someone in the audience (who later would turn out to be a dancer) aiming their cellphone like a camera, in case the audience at home needed a reminder that's what normal people do today, and that's what Oprah would be doing, to confound your awe with hers. Compound. After the video had done its viral thing, Oprah had all the crowdsourced uploads removed, being unlicensed and all. I think it was really because her feigned incredulity wasn't going to pass muster. Better a memory gone viral than video evidence of Oprah taking her viewers for fools. Bret Bret Michael's blue bandana as he reclined on the hospital bed on the cover of People Magazine was just too silly for words. No doubt America wouldn't know him without his bandana wig, so it was definitely an art director's call. Alright, it wasn't a video, but the internet rumors went viral. Fans started to twitter about an oddly fortuitous recovery which put him back on the Celebrity Apprentice season finale, so now poor Bret is back in the hospital to prove it wasn't a PR stunt, this time for a hole-in-the-heart, probably something to do with a tatoo, in any case nothing to interfere with his headband. Greyson Brand-spanking-fresh-phenom Greyson Michael Chance wowed everyone on Youtube, and Ellen's people, reportedly before his views had even hit five-digits --are talent scouts that grassroots? He encored with the same brilliant performance on her show, thus certifying his authentic talent, based on the law that lightening can't be fixed twice. Although the equalizer setting, for lack of a

Speaking of books… Tim LaHaye.

Tim LaHaye. OK, so that says a LOT in just two words. I know what the Non-Christian opinion is, now for a Christian voice. The dude is selling a Study Bible with a fold out graphical timetable from the start of the tribulation to the Rapture to Armageddon, $49.99 on your credit card. The credit cards that many believe to be a form of The Mark of The Beast. Now, I've heard from somebody, oh, who was it, oh yeah, Solomon, hmmm... "Naked came I into this world, and naked shall I depart, I brought nothing in my hand, and shall take nothing away". "you can't take it with you" So, how does Mr LaHaye plan to transfer those funds to the Bank of Heaven? I'm pretty certain that his Visa is going to be rejected for insufficient funds. That and Visa will probably deny it anyway because they have a clause in the contract that you're not allowed to use your card once you're dead. And there's a list of allowed countries where they'll transfer funds, and I'm certain that Heaven isn't on the list. Once there's a Rapture, if we do get taken out before everything starts getting scary, then all his money would be left to whom, exactly? All The Believers Will Be GONE. Who is going to collect the unclaimed funds? Hmm... The Government, perhaps? The one that's to be headed by Beel-ze-bub in person? (they have to skip around in three separate books of the Bible to piece together the Rapture anyhow, it's not in the Revelation.) If there's no Easy-Way-Out Free pass and we all have to face the tribulation full on, then any money we gave to Mr LaHaye is like, Gonzo, dude. And for the exact same reason. One thing definitely going to be Left Behind is my money. And it's more than the Left Behind series, and a King James Bible that costs less than 5 bucks to print up (I know because there's a bunch of them on the market for $5) and no need to pay royalties for the contents either. He's got a bunch of books and the starting price seems to be $24.99. That means 20 of them would set me back a half grand. There's not much chance Rich Folks are the intended audience. So who does that leave (behind) to fork over the bread? Speaking as a Poor Person or at least Not Leisure Class person, I can confidently state that a half grand is not pocket change for quite a huge percentage of the intended audience. If he was pushing them onto people who DO consider a short stack of Benjamins to be Pocket Change then he's leaving behind substantially more than 80% of the people of the world. There's a recognized sin in every church called Simony. Named for a person in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles named Simon Magus, and is the buying and selling of the Holy Ghost or trying to. Perhaps Mr LaHaye

Three meals away from revolution

The phrase is oft quoted, but no one knows who originated it --or, even if it's true. It could just be an old pharah's wives tale. But Obama buys it: from the people who brought you hope.gov we've now come to ready.gov. Where the White House assures you there is no need to fear coming plagues and pestilence so long as you "Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed." and be sure to have food for three days. Is it three meals or nine? Is the consequence anarchy or revolution? The "truism" is commonly sited as being an old Russian expression, but it's so pithy, others guess it has a literary source like Dumas. A contemporary scholar placed it back much further: The Romans believed that civilization is never more than three meals away from anarchy. Of course, when Stalin or Trotsky are thought to have said it, the dire consequence for civilization is revolution. Which is where the saying catches the popular imagination. Internet sleuths are eager to credit the wisdom to a BBC situation comedy. "[Arnold] Rimmer said it in Red Dwarf." Although two decades before, Science Fiction authors Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote in Lucifer's Hammer, that civilization is "only three meals removed from savagery." Doubtless in earlier times, you ate well if you could rely on one solid meal every day, which no doubt holds true for the majority of the world still. In the developed nations of course, we cannot see ourselves subsisting on less than three. The makers of the documentary King Corn interviewed Senator Chuck Grassley about America's food supply, which is where the expression piqued my interest. Grassley explained: “A society is always nine meals away from a revolution. If you have people going without food for three days and there are enough of them out there, they will revolt.” Like the "300 pound gorilla" which has now become 900lbs, the units have indexed with man's inflated prosperity, likewise the vicarious sense that salvation from inequity might come by revolution. A better educated Briton is thought to have coined the nine meals abstraction. At the height of last year's food crisis, it was recalled that Lord Cameron of Dillington, in his capacity of head of the UK's Countryside Agency, coined version 2.0 "nine meals from anarchy." The distinction between anarchy and revolution was noted by Fredick Upham Adams in 1896, unearthed by Wikiquotes, who speculated on the veracity of the concept: ...I realize that the spirit of liberty does not exist in hungry men. People talked about a day coming when the people would become so hungry and desperate that they would rise in a revolution and sweep all before them. Such a day will never come. Hungry men may fight, but it will be for a bone—not for liberty. The perpetuity of liberty rests with those who eat three square meals a day. Of course, Maslow would later quantify this with his hierarchy of needs, but I think modern man clings to the revolutionary idyll over anarchy because it gives

Addict, pederast dies, much fanfare

But let's look past the innuendo and unproven transgressions, to celebrate the man's contribution to the cannon of Western popular music product. Please! I hear celebrities dismiss the allegations of Michael Jackson's pedophilia like too much water under the bridge, which would be true I suppose, if Jackson's victims were more like John Wayne Gacy's, buried under Neverland, instead of tucked into San Fernando Valley homes, divvying multimillion-dollar payoffs with their enterprising panderer parents. Will the confidentiality clauses stand between the public ever knowing which pederast was the more prolific? That innuended, I do concur those bottoms were small fry compared to Jackson's true sick imprint on America. The Michael Jackson TM projected a perversion of role models. Not even a cynical anti-hero, the self-crowned King of Pop was the nul-idol. Jackson rejected his skin color, his sexuality, even his place of belonging among mortals. Other than pathos for the sick dance-cyborg who never had a childhood, what humanity did Jackson share to communicate? To be fair, it wasn't Jackson who kept the spotlight trained on his black/white Icarus act, foisting the unnatural deception that man can soar with a single glove. Now dead, Jocko is heralded as among the greatest. But MJ was an internationally recognized poster child for enfeebled humanity, a glorified counter-renaissance man, resembling a human being like a drag queen pretends femininity. He may have channeled vinyl High Fructose Corn Syrup like no other, walking backward while dancing and such, but worth what legacy exactly? Jackson shares the ignobless of the Big Mac, the Lucky Strike cigarette, and DDT. Iconic and good riddance. Michael Jackson did nothing for black emancipation, or acceptance of homosexuals, or the plight of the children of poverty. The vast majority of the world's children are "robbed of their childhoods," you narcissistic rich dumb-ass, and that didn't stop you from amassing your vast fortune at their expense. Jackson probably did more to amplify the phobia against pedophiles, the single minority he did incarnate, by denying the preponderance of indicators, by vilifying his accusers, instead of taking his riches to Dubai right from the start, to show the world into what true debauchers wet their willies. He might even have championed sympathy for plastic surgery binge-purgers, but he lied about that worm-hole until his nose literally fell off. I remember when Jackson made public appearances in surgery masks, feeding the fiction that he was a germophobe. Meanwhile everyone in Hollywood knew from their own rhinoplasties about the actual face-saving purpose of those masks. Perversely, it was Jackson's least aberrant eccentricity that killed him. Drugs. Even as TV viewers watch Jackson's body pass from helicopter to ambulance, over a red carpet no less, Big Pharma makes sure that the talking heads refer to Jackson's narcotics as "pain-killers." Jocko was in constant pain, apparently, like Rush Limbaugh and all overachievers etc, hence their susceptibility to addiction. You'd think the alibi would eventually defy credulity. Prescription drugs circulate among the well-to-do, with the same ease with which the rich have access

TWILIGHT vampires resemble predators of the less mystical sexual variety

TWILIGHT- For those parents who have unwittingly encouraged their daughters to delve into Twilight, where our episodic fascination with Dracula lore is adapted for the young adult romance genre, be forewarned that author Stephenie Meyer may have fogged her rose-colored glasses with romantic nostalgia from her Mormon upbringing: old older men, arranged marriages, and, if you'll pardon the dropped pretense, date rape.   DESPOILER ALERT. Better you than your child? Old fashioned matchmaking First, Meyer's teenage vampires are generations-old men, stuck reliving their teens, repeating high school to prey on each successive year of students. Matthew McConnaughey played it, minus fangs, in Dazed and Confused: "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age." Off campus, some of the undead "imprint" on newborns. Want that explained? Meyer's succubus babies are born fully-conscious, if that's any excuse, but elders are able to perceive them as soul-partners, and claim dibs to pair with them later. When they are of consumable age, I presume. Perhaps you find these details to be inconsequential "vampire" technicalities protected by Meyer's un-poetic license. There's a zinger in the fourth book which you may find less palatable. Vampire sex Because your tween-ager should know to make the distinction? In book four, Bella marries the 117-year-old high school hold-back Edward Cullen, and finally he consents to consummate their marriage. He's been withholding his afflictions for fear that vampire sex would kill her. By the way, that's the romantic dynamic of the first three books, in case you wonder what's titillating your acts-beyond-her-age young reader. Typical of respectable novels, and the romance genre too perhaps, the sex scene is glossed over. Bella disrobes and joins Edward for a midnight swim, where he "leads her to deeper waters." The narrative returns as the sun rises the next morning. Classy enough for this lowbrow storytelling, except that Meyer earns no credit for obscuring the steamy bits, because the exact details are lost on her post-coital heroine as well. A fog of amnesia covers Bella as she spends the morning trying to reconstruct what exactly happened to her. With only her bruises for clues. Meyer describes Bella waking feeling as if her skeletal-structure has been crushed like a wishbone, "but in a good way." Bella discovers that she's covered in bruises which grow still darker in severity, obscured by a dusting of feathers. Nevermind the injuries apparently, why the feathers? Her ravisher reveals he had to bite "one or two pillows" to keep himself from eviscerating her. For this act of consideration, Bella, and the readers, find Edward all the more endearing. Since vampires kill humans, how sweet that Edward merely vampire-man-handled her. Bella survived the Twilight climax, and although she doesn't remember the act, she's feeling sexually satisfied. I'm open to the possibility that a gender gap might be confusing me. About what is Bella all aglow, if she doesn't recollect what happened? Conquest? Having hosted a smashing party? I'll tell you what I think has quenched Bella's desire, if the

Obama Madonna Sanjaya Brangelina

John McCain might be confusing his rival Barack Obama for a Britney- type celebrity for an obvious reason, his solo moniker. Obama's name recognition is not just a sound-byte, it's a single bite. Electoral product Obama makes a spiffy commercial trademark like many star brands before him: Elvis, OJ, Pele, Maradona, Oprah, (Evita, Imelda, Diana...) Obama also has the extra comfort effect of ending in feminine A. Obama will bring the single name phenomena to the White House. Is it just the uniqueness of his last name, like Nixon, Eisenhower or Hitler? I think Obama fits in a larger corporate identity trend, where everything needs a logo, usually a single word. It's a development of ADD limited memory spans isn't it? Americans focus better on simple single words. Even celebrity couples have to be dubbed into singular contractions: Bennifer, Tomkat, Brangelina. Not to forget Osama.

Product Obama

"At the time when the American military industrial complex is despised around the world, [Barack Obama] is a front man out of central casting which will buy it more goodwill and new room to maneuver in the first 15 minutes after being sworn in that John McCain could in the next 100 years."   Counterpoint columnist Joe Bageant was given the following essay by an unnamed political consultant: Life in the Post-political Age. Much has been written by political pundits in their attempt to explain the unexpected victory of Senator Barack Obama over Senator Hillary Clinton in this year's Democratic Presidential Primary. When looking at the results of this race, none of the conventional political math that would help one handicap the outcome would make one conclude that Senator Obama would win this contest. Inside a Democratic Party primary there is no demographic or political reason that a male first term African American senator from Illinois with an unorthodox name should come any where close to beating a white female senator, who happens to be the wife of the last Democratic President whose approval ratings are still above 70% with Democratic voters and who also happened to earn the endorsements of the substantial parts of the Democratic Party establishment. The conventional analysis focused on the poor quality of the campaign run by Senator Clinton, her vote in support of the Iraq war and her advocacy of the cynical center-right triangulation policies of her husband, which soured her campaign to many primary voters and especially to Democratic Party activists. Senator Obama's on the other hand was credited with running an innovative and inspiring campaign that excited primary voters and brought many new and especially younger voters into the electoral process. There is some truth to this analysis, but as a whole it misses the underlying social change in society that had already laid the groundwork for a possible Obama victory. To get a clearer understanding of the results, we must better understand what this social change is and how its impact is far more significant than the dynamics of the two respective campaigns. The underlying social change that led to the Obama victory is the unprecedented extent to which the narrative of popular consumer culture, and the media that drives it, has become the dominant influence on how Americans think, formulate their ideas and understand the world around them. The most important result of this process has been the steady and consistent depoliticization of American society, to an extent that we can make the case that we are living at the dawn of the post political age. The two primary features of the post political age are a politics completely drained of all its contents and ability or willingness to be used as an agent of change in social or economic policy, and its full integrations into the world of American popular, consumer and entertainment culture. To such an extent that there exists today a seamless web between our political, economic, media and consumer cultures wherein the modes and values

The Beatles were counter-revolutionary

Much as the world adores The Beatles, would it not be instructive to note that they led the forces of passivism, and lost, thankfully, to the urgent demands of passionate youth ignited by the imperative to upturn the old world order.

Raise awareness to the CAUSE of cancer

Look at all that pink respect for breast cancer! Breast cancer awareness, I mean to say. As Marie has pointed out, women's basketball over the weekend was draped in custom pink uniforms for the cause of cancer. "Cause" is an unfortunate pun, actually. No one's interested in raising awareness of the cause of cancer. I saw some coaches awarding Coach Yow a symbolic check for $10,000, to go "100% to breast cancer research" the announcers were happy to point out: "Not 93%, or even 99%, but 100% to research!" That's good. If it had gone toward raising awareness [through ad campaigns], that money would be going 100% back to the television network. About medical research, I have to wonder, if it weren't for private fund-raising efforts, would there be insufficient research for a cure for cancer? Without Jerry's Kids, or Walk for a Cure, etc, would it not be in the public's interest to cure diseases like cancer? Are the 50,000 women diagnosed with cancer each year going unnoticed? Is the Health Department not picking up on the trend? Whether our medical/industrial system wants to cure cancer is a matter of reasonable doubt. From a management perspective, can our society afford to stop this natural-seeming population trimmer? Breast Cancer preys generally upon women of post-reproductive age. Is our economy terribly concerned about the longevity of a less productive population segment? Breast Cancer awareness would appear to be more about remembrance, about honoring those women who've lost the lottery of industrial toxin exposure. What about awareness of what's causing cancer? We've researched causal-links plenty. Perhaps we should be raising money to go toward awareness of the cancer culprits. Let's see if the media talking heads will speak so glibly about that! Aren't we learning that cancer behaves like rust? Cancer is oxidation, it's, well, a cancer, in the figurative sense. Cancer is decay. It can be thwarted by proper avoidance of carcinogens, such as cigarette smoke, pollutants, or toxins. We know the sources of carcinogens: industry, chemicals, manufacture of plastics, poisons, toxic foods, etc. How does wearing pink make any of that more visible? We'll cure cancer when we arrest the causes. When we, literally, arrest the purveyors.

For dummies, morons or complete idiots

A friend of mine says the best guide to constitutional law among titles he's surveyed is The Complete Idiot's Guide to the U.S. Constitution. I'd prefer the 70's era light-hearted For Beginners incarnation as a recommendation. Not just because that series has the co-op recycled paper look compared to the cautionary yellow & black, distinctly generic (re. anti- aesthetic) packaging of the current self-hating imprimatur. I think the trendy For Utter Morons marketing attitude is a horrible acceptance of today's sorry anti-intellectual state of affairs. The American viewer-ship has shown itself as audience, gathering, or consumer group, to BE complete idiots. Or dummies, or worse, no question. But do we need to wear the sign? Why that indignity too? Rush Limbaugh can talk to us like we're idiots, make jokes which we'll laugh at like idiots, or have us applaud unknowingly at our own duping like idiots. But I'd like to draw the line at being called an idiot for the laugh. No, I'd rather a book "for the novice" or "an introduction to" or other healthy self-depricating sobriquet. Perhaps I am also put off by the condescension. Astrophysics in Plain Words would also disqualify. You say the "Complete Idiot" reference is just a joke, it's meant to be funny, to be catchy, to sell books. Being an idiot myself much of the time, I don't find it funny at all. Neither would I find amusing, Beauty for Ugly Girls, Etiquette for Poor People, or Landlording for Assholes.

Britney -just what big pharma ordered

No need to address alcohol or drug abuse, there’s a quick fix with psycho meds. Britney Spears could serve as an example for reform and rehabilitation or she can be a poster child for blaming our actions on ambiguous mental frailty.

Shtrength, Shtrong, Shtreuth!

Streuth! Where did an "sh" sound introduce itself into pronunciations of "str?" Is it Cracker Ebonics like "libary" or "aks" expecially? Who says "SHtrong" beside southern idiots like the current president? I now hear the god-awful mispronunciation on the lips of sub urban TV people, news reporters on location, even from the sports sidelines. Proper English is determined by usage, so nuclear will become nucular if enough yahoos say it's so. Today I noticed the hackneyed "shtr" coming from the pseudo soldier voice-over on the army commercials, talking about SHtrength: SHtrong, Army SHtrong. Have you seen it, the new ad which begins by saying: "Webster defines STRONG as" [etc, etc... BUT] "With all respect to Webster, there's strong and then there's ARMY STRONG." No, and he likely hadn't heard of Army SHTRONG either.

Build it [in SL] and they will come

There's an interesting trait of human nature I see playing out on the ever opening expanses of the Internet. It's evident in dramatic relief too in Second Life. I suppose it's the combination of man's entrepreneurial spirit and the Protestant industrial ethic that promotes work as fun. While the Internet and virtual worlds offer play of unlimited horizon, I find I am less likely to encounter a playful cricket than I am Aesop's ant. And here's where I see this dynamic playing out. In Second Life we're all building. Building, building. Mortgaging to buy more land, to terraform, to implement designs, the quicker to await the vast unwashed. Everybody's doing it, but that's the game, to build. Buy and build, actually. On the web everyone's building blogs, pages, platforms, venues, waiting for the bon-vivants and their big-spending ways. Build it and they shall come seems to be the prevailing assumption. Build it and they shall come only applied to the ghost of Shoeless Joe. In Second Life and on the Internet, we all want to be builders. There's something too I think of the Gold Rush spirit, this time wise to the adage that the real fortunes were made not panning for gold, but in selling the picks and shovels. So we lay siege online, squirreling away what we can, situating ourselves to better sell the tools as the public rushes in. But the incoming masses need not follow a trail west, nor flee lands of less opportunity. The virtual world expands for all. We can all homestead, we need neither rail nor city centers. Room for all. How do you make a buck, where's there's no need for a middle man? In Second Life what I see are new worlds unfolding, neighborhoods, theme parks, entire high concept environments, growing in all directions except more populous. I've even seen tract housing, like urban sprawl, except there's no burgeoning migration. The Second Life universe is a boom town on its outer reaches, without the resources which will eventually be needed to support it. In this case, even just others to show interest. Here's a survey for the Blog Reader Project survey. If you want to invest the interest.

Young people don’t bother going through the motions

The Gazette Christmas edition had a breakdown chart of El Paso County voting last election. It showed that more people vote from the morgue in this county than vote if they are aged 40 and under. Well almost! Half the voters were 58 or older! Only slightly more than 10% of voters under 40 years old bother with it. Why do voting patterns run in such a pattern? It would be wrong to say that young people are irresponsible and the older folk are not. Besides, people in their 30s are hardly young but still they are not voting in any numbers. There is another much simpler and real reason for people not voting in these election farces other than to point the finger at individual 'responsibility' or lack of it. Younger people do not vote because the political system in place simply seems like a charade to them. And you know what? They are right. So Old Folk, why do you keep participating in this nonsense? Until we do get some semblance of a real democracy in place, just stop participating altogether in the sham. Do the responsible thing, and do not vote! Stop just passively going along and try to at least publicize some the need for a real democracy, instead of pretending that we already have one. Unfortunately, that's what your voting now does, it just pretends to be meaningful when that is not the case. Do like the young people do and don't bother going through the motions. You need more than one corporate party (DemonRepublican Party) to have a democracy. We just don't have that yet. I filled out that ballot that was measured, let it sit in the house for several weeks, and then just said to myself 'What the Hell?' It still sat on the table the day after the election and I don't really care. I'd rather vote for college cheerleaders than what I had before me then. It was that bad.

Ugly Dolls more than skin deep

Do you remember several years ago, when Ugly Dolls crawled out of the Cabbage Patch like that season's Troll Doll? We have an obsession with fugly. Except they were trendy, hand sewn in someone's attic and sold at exclusive boutiques, but had the aesthetic sophistication of sock monkeys, sharing 98% of their DNA. Uglydolls were the must-have gift for those whose taste was thread-bare chic. These eclectic one-of-a-kind one-offs were, it appeared, sewn by a single hand, or at most by several one-handed cottage industrialists. The design called for single flat panels stitched together without too much care, with scraps fastened cockeye to form the features. Of course the price you paid for such deliberate off-the-wall on-the-mark anti-production-value plush toys reflected where you could get them. Melrose Avenue haute-suture or Ebay. I found an Uglydoll display at a local boutique and saw the burgeoning cast of character-actors and side-kicks the collection has become. Plus now, to spare the mythical not-so-nimble seamstresses behind the first batch, these new generation Uglies herald from China. There is no good reason I suppose to deny the mass market access to the fruit of playful creative ninnies. But lo, the price tags are still show-off high! Is there no consumer benefit to derive from 55¢/hr wages? Running shoes which are priced $150 at retail cost less than $2 to make. But we know Nike has to recoup an incredible amount for R&D. They've got us running on air for goodness sake, that technological leap had to be expensive. Plus someone's got to pony up for the clever ads. Nike CEO Phil Knight doesn't advertise just for the sake of his vanity. The only engineering required with ugly plush toys is how to inject into the factory process the "slight variations which enhances [sic] their appearance of uniqueness." Can you picture Chinese overseers enforcing deliberately sloppy -but fastidious- handiwork? So why would the prices be kept so high? Even if sold only through specialty stores which require a 100% Keystone markup, there would still be leeway. Can you do the math? Probably the labor expended to make one plush toy would remain constant over the varying production scenarios. Let's compare the options: Manufacturing wages in the US have declined sharply, but at $12/hour, for how much did they have to sell the original Ugly? If we were considering a sweatshop in Los Angeles, the wage would be $4-$6/hour. So now we've half-ed it. Contracting a factory in Saipan or Guam, among the US possessions, would mean half again as much, $2-$3/hour and we'd still get to say MADE IN AMERICA. Moving the production to Mainland China means a prison wage of $0.55/hour. That's less than 1/20th of the original cost. Unless we hear news reports of Chinese laborers landing dream jobs sewing Ugly Dolls from straw to gold, somebody is making quite a grotesque, not even fugly, mark-up.

Who doesn’t support the troops?

May I ask -who do you know doesn't support the troops?   Is there someone you need to encourage to show more support for the troops?   No one? Then why the sticker? Support the troops? You do. You want the very best for the troops. You hope they get home safely, you hope they avoid violence and don't endanger any being unnecessarily. You support them, not their mission. Do you put a yellow ribbon on your car, in mind that it's become a means for war supporters to claim a consensus? Who do you know doesn't love their freedom? Who doesn't cherish the privileges of citizenship? Who do you know needs encouragement to love their motherland? Why then the American flag? Does it differentiate your pride being more than another's? Those who think that dissent means not supporting the troops or not loving our country, those are the people pushing the flags and yellow ribbons. They are the supporters of war and American ass-kicking imperialism, and their accouterments suit them like swastikas.

Evolve in comfort of your own home

My friend Richard sent this Christmas gift tip for Heartland State families:   EVOLUTION BOARD GAME "Race around the board and up the evolutionary ladder as you draw, decode, decipher, act, mime and even read minds."

Let’s not save those ‘damsels in distress’ in Muslim countries…OK?

One of the great US excuses for occupying Afghanistan with troops intermittently flowing forth from the neocon-controlled corporate press, was that American civilization was liberating Afghan women from their cruel men of the Taliban. It was a propaganda crumb thrown to church going liberals to try to appeal to their humanitarian interventionist tendencies. Save the Damsels in Distress... Holy Moly! This 'We Are Always the World's Greatest Humanitarians' argument was part of the package deal that came with the 'Bringing Democracy' to the Arabs' routine. It was fed by previous routines about saving babies in Kuwait and stopping WOMD by Satan Saddam from being used against the poor Jews of Apartheid Israel, etc. and so on. These are long running themes by now in American 'dialog'. We are a great people indeed! In all of this, we Americans are supposed to see ourselves as saviours as we go about our daily business of allowing the corporate world to run amok in the world. Oh tax us more, please! But here is another opinion about all of this spoon fed nonsense. A counter opinion. So how did it slip in? From the Guardian: Muslim Women: Damsels in Distress? The west should stop using the liberalization of Muslim women to justify its strategy of dominance by Soumaya Ghannoushi

Jesus vs. Santa rivalry is nothing new

A holiday detente: As Easter sprung from fertility celebrations befitting the rebirth of spring, so Christmas originated from offerings of the season's greetings to the winter solstice. And while Christians might have taken over the party, they've had to retain the yule tree and other pagan party favors to ensure converts would still RSVP to the festivities. The struggle between Jesus and Santa is nothing new. The First War on Christmas happened in Oliver Cromwell's England when Christmas idolatry came to be forbidden by law. Popular merriment was deemed to have strayed too far from the Protestant message of the church, the Lord's Day etc, so Lord Protector Cromwell reined things in, for a time, until the reformer's dominance over the parliament and the influence of the Puritans waned. I heard this story on NPR, half of it actually. They described Christmas having been made illegal for a period, but curiously didn't mention which period, and who in England had done it. Puritans you say? Might these have been the same Puritans who came to America's shore? The same. Well, they shared forefathers (Our forefathers, if our WASP history books can be believed, emphasizing as they do our "Christian Nation" while minimizing Jefferson and the other 90% of our settlers). Thus religious intolerance, on the part of the Puritans, drove the rest of England to send them packing, post paid, to take their anti-everybody else's Christmas to New England, where it was thought there were no revelers to be bothered. The Puritans fled religious intolerance to THEIR intolerance basically. What BS to assert that English merry folk did not accord them freedom of religion. England wanted freedom FROM the Puritan's brand of religion. For some reason our historians seem content to leave open the suggestion that the Puritan party-pooper recount being expelled from the party because of his "wild and crazy" ways! Just as in Old England, the American puritanical pin heads every so often revive to prominence, usually in reaction to economic or social catastrophe, to prescribe austerity across the board, from no drinking to unhappy holidays. In their current incarnation they're Fundies aghast at what's become of their Christmas. The "true meaning" having become too commercial, too secular, not enough infant Christ worship, etc. We've got a nation of party-poopers, wanting to repo the universal Xmas holiday and its international message of brotherhood: Peace on Earth, Goodwill To All Mankind. Puritans aren't about being good, they're the fine folk who who accepted the turkey, then thanked the Lord, not the heathens. Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!

Iraqi Oil for Beginners

Iraqi Oil for Beginners is artist-in-exile Jon Sack's account of a century of Iraq history dominated by the fight over its oil. The 31-page comic can be ordered through the publisher Voices in the Wilderness UK or from Housmans.   Sack means his graphic novel to enlighten western readers about the real US and UK motives behind the occupation of Iraq, hopefully before Iraqi legislators are finally coerced into privatizing the oil industry and putting it all in US hands.

Support ‘Our’ Troops?

Let's say it up front and bluntly. The often heard litany that we must support the troops is really Code for those who say we must continue to support the entire Pentagon-founded corporate welfare system that the rich use to appropriate all for themselves from the wealth of our national society. In short, it is a phrase that effectively means that we should all support their robbing from the children, the elderly, the poor, the less fortunate, all to give profits to those who supply the uniformed with their weapons. Let the robbing hoods continue to be kings, so to speak. Look at countries that have roving gangs of armed men, robbing from the children and women that are left half starved. Is today's America really all that much different from that mindset? Our children, infirm, and elderly, too, often live in poverty while the people who join up in the lower ranks of this gigantic Military Welfare Complex are called heroes. More so when they come back dead where the bodies are always given a great and tearful ceremony to celebrate their heroedumb. We can see herds of these types of ground level 'heroes' in Colorado Springs riding around on their motorcycles that cost what 3 smaller cars would cost, with flags gliding in the breeze. The message of their supposed patriotism? I survived, but I'm a great hero, too. Well you're not, Chumps. You served a bad cause. But the true hero for the rich actually requires you to be totally dead, not just dead spiritually and morally numb. We have gone from a society where a Henry Ford once wanted to create a group of compliant workers at his factories by paying them slightly better crumbs than the typical US worker of his time got. He figured they would become cheerleaders for his excessive profit making. Today, the corporate elites have used the government to create a similarly privileged class of early retired military complex chumps to do it. They're proud to have 'served' to take our society's moneys away from the weak to give to the better off. Early Pension Life! The rest of you can rot in Social (in)Security Purgatory if you can manage to live that long? seems to be their mindset. Henry Ford's theory updated in actual practice. Ex-military grunts now waving flags for more militarism, more looting, more of the cult of the uniformed heroes. Support 'our' troops? How about supporting human needs instead? Now that would be true patriotism instead of supporting corporate and military welfare. These rich assholes and their flunky grunts have no shame. They not only want to loot America, but they want praise for themselves as they do it. They are not patriots, but merely criminal pirates that

We have met the neighbor and he is us

I love Spongebob Squarepants. The show and the person. I revere his inimitable optimism. Patrick I find likewise adorable for his straightforward ineptitude. Squidward would be the foil obviously, a sort of puritan Malevolio ill-joy, a neighbor like Mr. Wilson to Dennis the Menace, but I am determined that Squidward No-pants is something more.   Probably we're talking the usual protagonist, deuteragonist and tritagonist, as comedic trios go. But I chiefly mean to assert that as foil Squidward is no antagonist. Our main character may learn valuable lessons through his misadventures, we may see Squidward suffer over the course of his, but in the end it's the butt of the joke who sees the light. Spongebob's stumblings result from no more than a child's curiosity and enthusiasm. His tragic flaws are his strengths actually. Squidward on the other hand fails because of deep irredeemable character failings. What is the literary term for the audience's mirror? I don't feel too self-consciously a curmudgeon or bald self-aggrandized buffoon to say I see Squidward. And I refuse to believe it's because I may be an above average age viewer. With which Bikini Bottom dweller do you most identify? I know someone who'll say Spongebob, but we'd all like to say Spongebob. He is, after all, the heroic figure. But in terms of a plot proponent with thoughts in his head, with idiosyncratic prejudices and with human frailty, I'm certain we really know ourselves in Squidward. We know what it feels like to be persecuted, lampooned, belittled and ostracized, even deservedly so. I've seen poor Squidward horribly, near-irrevocably marginalized. But there are just enough sweet episodes, salvation in my sentimental opinion, to reveal that the Square Pants creative team favors Squidward as hero. When Squidward puts the lie to Krab's motto "we will not deny our guests even the most ridiculous request," when he ventures the impossible to pull together an orchestra to salvage his ego, when he conceals a newfound addiction to krabby patties, or when he decides, most unlike himself, to stir up a squid-only residential berg, we madly love ourselves. Am I wrong? How very Squidward of me.

Synergy to the Nth, where N is negative

A miracle of corporate cross pollination. What have we here? Lego Group cum Lucas Arts cum Nintendo? We might have celebrated this as synergy if the product didn't look like hillbilly inbreeding. Computer animation can do no better than smiley faces? If there will be a look that defines this decade, it will be featureless Playmobil and thumb people.   The data processing adage says: garbage in, garbage out. Multiplicative "synergy" has been the sales pitch for corporate mergers and collusions, but the less heralded consequence of sum greater than its parts still holds: crap times crap equals big crap.

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