Thursday, July 30, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My grandfather and my father were both cops. I barely remember my grandfather. He was a big Irishman who smoked cigars and threw his blackjack at me when I tried to lift it off his belt. I was six or seven. I gave him a wide berth after that, and he died of a heart attack the next year.
My father and mother were divorced right after I was born. I spent time with him on weekends and vacations in the Summer. He was cynical and suspicious, and I don't remember him ever accepting anything I said at face value. He assumed I was lying. Maybe it was the job made him like that, or maybe he was like that and found the perfect job. I'm sure he was the kind of Southern cop who hated black people, except for the little kids. He thought the kids were "cute."
When I was four or five, my mother and I were walking home one night, and we were attacked. My mother threw me at the attacker, ran to the house and let our dog out. He was a big dog and very protective. They used to have to put him outside if they were thinking of spanking me. When the attacker turned up at the emergency room later, my father and his friends were waiting for him there.
My wife was a mid-career artist when she got the idea it would be interesting to document how institutions imprint themselves on people. She started the project in Seattle and almost joined the Seattle police, but she got a fellowship in Houston and ended up completing the project down there. She went into the Houston Police Academy right before her 35th birthday. She recently gave me permission to talk about that year from my point of view. I didn't experience it myself, though I heard some of it on the police-band radio I kept by my bed, but I have some idea of what women run into in that world. I've heard what it's like to chase a car load of kids across Houston at high speeds -- I actually listened to this one -- and then have to race on foot to get to the kids before the cops in the other cars can beat them up. I know what happens when you turn a fellow officer in for putting his gun to a kid's head. And I have an idea how it feels to go into buildings without being sure your backup will be there if you need it. I know about the three kids and the kitten with diarrhea, cooped up all day, watching television in an apartment on the East side. And I know about the helicopters that circle poor neighborhoods all night, but never go near River Oaks.
I'm sure all that personal history plays into the way I see the Gates, Crowley, Obama flap. But for the life of me, I can't figure out how.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
From a young designer/musician friend of Subject of Science's. It's pretty amazing that young people are listening to things like this and passing them on. We were at a pool party. I'd been doing my Julia Child imitation and passing on my roast chicken recipe. I mentioned my daughter's music teacher had told her a little exercise she was playing would be exciting when she started "connecting the notes," but he hadn't explained what that meant.
More than a fair trade for a roast chicken recipe.
NASA says they can't keep piddling around and get to Mars, too.
I wish there was a better planet within reach. No wonder the predators come here. We've got the jungles. How can you have an adventure without a jungle, or at least a dense forest? Guess we'll have to go underground on Mars. Middle Mars. Maybe find some of those things wrap you up in their arms and all that's left of you is steaming guts.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
But, if we're gonna go back into space, this time I want those assholes from NASA and their consultants and PR people to all shut the fuck up. Not one word about how we're creating valuable technologies that industry can use. That crap has to be shit-canned.
I want ADVENTURE, goddammit. Big brass-assed stories with thrills, chills, back-stabbing, REAL heroism, white knuckled fear and great big missions to be accomplished on behalf of God and History.
And, frankly, if you fucking Americans aren't gonna get back into the Adventure and Excitement and Big Paul Bunyan kinda thing, then you better just piss off and get out of the way. Because it was the one thing you were good at, and damned if I can think of any others these days.
I want American astronauts who piss tobacco juice into a tin can tied to their leg, who wrangle an extra buxom blonde on-board, who get liquored up and take potshots at the left-over lunar landers, who've got hooks for hands and insist on unscrewing radioactive jars with them, who climb down onto Mars and bust off the ladder behind them so that other prick has to stay in the lander, who secretly bring their own mix tapes and play 'em back to Houston for hours on end while refusing to answer THEIR questions, who make up stories about fighting 3-eyed space Martians, and then laugh at their naivete, while saying nothing - not one word - about the slimy 1-eyed Martian bastards who actually appeared and ate that other guy you never liked much. Or maybe the Russian guy, if it was a joint mission. Yeah, fuckit. Eat him.
I mean, what the hell happened, America? Frat boys got yer tongue? It's like it became all about the money - and nothing about the adventure. When did "live free or die" turn into "park free or pout?"
I wanna see Astronauts with degrees in etymology AND entomology. One-eyed quarterbacks that like to unscramble alien genetic codes. Unhappy kids named Charles from Nebraska who enjoy guns and dislike other species. A super-genius who can't get girls, Siamese attached to a super-duper genius who can. That sort of thing.
America's Martian Adventure.
I'd pay to see that.
quinn the eskimo
Monday, July 20, 2009
The Apollo crew is pitching an expedition to Mars to Obama today.
In the meantime, we have to get past the solar eclipse on Wednesday, and get over the shock of finding out that our wiley old Obamaman isn't doing as well as we thought with the electorate. It's his economy now, his war in Afghanistan, his health insurance reform and his very existence that's being challenged by three old men today. If he can't get it up for Mars, what good is he?
Friday, July 17, 2009
If any of you engaged in this kind of torture, it's the vats for you. Stinging prisoners is against Hive policy and will not be tolerated.
I remember when they used to bury people up to their heads in ant hills. The modern version of that is a couple of fire ants in a motorcycle helmet. My thought is a couple of people from the '68 Nixon campaign must have worked their way up the ladder at the CIA.
Summer's almost gone.
I thought it would be fun to recall some of the great conspiracy theories of my lifetime.
The Kennedy Assassination
The Lunar Landing
Alien Abductions and Encounters of all kinds, including Venusian infiltrators
9/11, particularly the attack on the Pentagon
It seems to me that all of these conspiracy theories have an element in common. Mistrust of government. They are, essentially, anti-government myths, spawned by people who oppose the administration in power or government in general.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
It's bound to be compared to Obama's delivery on campaign promises, his stimulus package, health insurance reform and any number of other instances of this President not quite meeting expectations.
Worse, the Obama delivery is already being compared to President Bush's first pitch after 9/11.
Of course, it's hardly fair to compare Obama's athleticism to the chimp-like agility of George W. Bush whose simian reflexes were the hallmark of his Presidency.
Not only that, there are already calls for Hillary to throw out the first ball next year in addition to returning to center stage in foreign policy as soon as her elbow heals.
Finally, I can't resist commenting on President Obama's tennis shoes. Impressive. Here's the brilliant Sidney Poitier in A Raisin In The Sun. It breaks my heart to think about who Obama might have been.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Turns out the program, hidden from the Congress on Vice President Cheney’s orders, was aimed at finding and killing or capturing al-Qaida leaders at close range rather than targeting them with air strikes.
Now, I have often been critical of Mr. Cheney. I’ve even accused him of not being man enough to waterboard prisoners personally, and I’ve wondered what might have happened if Cheney and Bush had given that a try.
But I can’t fault Cheney for wanting to kill al-Qaida leaders at close range instead of with missiles. While we might avoid American casualties by using missiles, I doubt impersonal and indiscriminate killing does a lot for our reputation in the Muslim world.
I do have two questions, though. Why keep the program secret from Congress?
And why did Panetta kill the program? Why not brief the Congress and go ahead with it?
David R. Jones, president and chief executive of the Community Service Society, which lobbies on behalf of low-income workers, said he did not “think this recession has gone out equally.”
Low-wage workers and workers who lack skills are really getting hit hard,” he said. “These are the workers who are sort of fungible. They lose their jobs very quickly, particularly in retail, the people who move boxes and do unskilled work. There are large numbers of African-Americans in that sector.”
Manufacturing, which has shed more jobs than any other sector of the city’s economy, had become a mainstay for black workers, Mr. Jones said. Government jobs had also become a prime source of solid, stable work for many blacks in the city, he added. But lately there have been cutbacks there, too, as falling tax revenue has forced the paring back of budgets.
That sounds a lot like trickle down economics to me.
The Times notes that the jobless figures among blacks became enough of a national issue that at a White House news conference last month, President Obama was asked what he could do to “stop the bloodletting in the black unemployment rate.”
The president said that to help any community, whether it be blacks, Latinos or Asians, he needed to “get the economy as a whole moving.”
“If I don’t do that, then I’m not going to be able to help anybody,” the president added.
Friday, July 10, 2009
The Pew Research survey released today found most Americans value the nation's scientific achievements, but not as much as they did a decade ago. That's probably because the scientists are pushing wierd ideas like global warming, stem cell research and childhood vaccinations.
As I recall, there was a study done during the Democratic primary that showed a significant percentage of the Democratic base couldn't find Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran on a map, even if the countries were labeled. Nobody seems to have bothered to study the Republican base.
Amazingly, he failed to take credit for the fact that the swine flu has turned out to be less lethal than we feared and that colony collapse disorder, while always imminent, has not devastated The Hive yet. He also neglected to remind us that we weren't hit by an asteroid this year.
Only a matter of time before we find images of the Obamaman in tree trunks, water stains, peeling wallpaper and burned tortillas.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
According to UNESCO, U.S. troops and contractors inflicted considerable damage on the historic site of Babylon, driving heavy machinery over sacred paths, bulldozing hilltops and digging trenches through one of the world' most important archaeological sites.
Sacred paths? Sacred to whom? Ishtar? That has to be the worst movie ever made. Who cares if the paths they moved their dollies over when they filmed it were damaged? And what's so precious about gardens where people got hung? Hell. Nobody I know was hung there. Saddam Hussein wasn't even hung there, even after he screwed up the ruins of Babylon, trying to restore them.
As for that Ishtar Gate, as our readers know, the Iraqis are lucky we didn't just up and haul it back to New York City and put it up where the twin towers used to be.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Now, when I'm driving my daughter to swim meets or wherever and she's reading the google directions to me, she does a pretty good job of imitating Honey. Turn left on Shawnee Drive, she says in a slightly robotic voice.
Today she had an interesting idea. What if people gave you samples of their kids voices, and you programmed Honey to sound like the kids? You could have your daughter's or your son's voice giving you directions, keeping you company on your trip away from home. Sort of a personality module downloaded into any Honey. Turn left on Shawnee Drive, Daddy, the little Honey would say.
I like it. Hell, you could even give the personality modules personalities. Instead of just the wife, you could have the nagging wife. How many times do I have to tell you to turn left on Shawnee Drive, Bonehead? Or the husband who refuses to ask for directions. That turn is around here somewhere. Give me a goddam minute, will you? Old guys could ramble. Old ladies could talk about the grandkids between turns.
The possibilities are endless.