Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Redaction Redux

Ok, well, Monique read my farts blog AND my farts redaction blog and...

She pointed out yet ANOTHER failure in my perception:

Fact is, because of her efforts, our home, inside and out, is a veritable garden; we have plants everywhere and plenty of 'em. Some, even inside, are large enough that it can be said that we coexist, rather than just "Have plants," and yes, one of them IS named Seymour and yes, he is taking over the kitchen, (I wondered about that escalating food bill and where a few of the 17 year olds friends had gotten off to...).

In any case, I am required to point out that these efforts of Monique's definitely counteract any and all emissions on my part and therefore have already rendered me environmentally neutral.

neutral, not neutered...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Letter to a Friend

OK, buddy, time to explore politics: It may be the one place we differ, (And then again...)

I am an independent, FYI - Not with a capital I, but independent because I think American politics especially is grossly fucked up, inefficient, out of control and beyond ridiculous. I find most politicians interested in self preservation and self aggrandizement and little else, with a few worthy exceptions. I find few who really understand and care about what we should care about: If and when I do find someone like that, I'll support them. If they turn out to be not who they said they are and end up joining the Greater Miasma, I'll do all I can to tear them down again. I watch, play, and partake in politics only within this simple framework: I learn enough to understand what my genuine place within the system is; if I don't like that, I change it. If an issue or a person is important, I learn all I can about it or them so that I can make an informed decision; then I vote. If it or they are not important to me, I don't vote, because I believe that a vote in ignorance is worse than none at all. It comes down to this: If you want change, (Or to maintain status quo, for that matter), then work for it in some way shape or form; if you're not willing to do that, then shut the fuck up...

Socially, I'm very liberal. I believe that we are called to love and care for one another, regardless of political, social, economic, racial, or any other differences. I think that a government's privilege of existence is granted first and foremost to care for humankind: beyond that, they should butt the hell out. I don't believe it is ever government jobs to dictate morality. Ethics and morals are things I rarely see reflected in government, so how and why they feel they can or should tell me how those concepts work is beyond me. People, (AKA, families, communities, schools, faith and social groups) are the institutions wherein morals and ethics are taught and learned; the government needs to mind their own fucking business...

I'm very much pro-environment, in that I know that we've been steadily fucking up the earth for our gain pretty much since we became 'civilized', (And I use the term loosely). In my book, we do not have carte blanche to do or take anything and everything for profit; we should first and foremost sustain or better what we have - Anything less is condemning future generations, and if that ain't fundamentally wrongheaded I don't know what is. I have great faith not in technology, but in humankind's ability to create and foment change, for the better as well as for the worse - We need to focus much more on the former and much less on the latter.

I'm legally conservative, but not in the sense most folks apply to that label. What I mean by it is this: "The Law" should actually be a much narrower term than it is. Many things that become law should not be so, (See the paragraph above). Law should apply to basic common law and be based on common sense; it was never meant to be used as a political football. To me, true legal conservatism means "Small Law" in the sense that the original Republicans spoke of "Small Government". They need to be seriously reined in and reminded what they're really here for, pretty much across the board. I believe that this is yet another branch of government that has lost its way; they need to be powerfully reminded that they are here to assure consistent common sense, not to wield ridiculously broad ranged powers cantilevered directly from the Executive branch; remember the scales o' justice boys? That implies check and balance, not piling everything up on one side and wondering what the other folk are doing way up there...

I'm economically conservative in the most common sense use of the word. As the son of a Harvard/MIT Econ Prof who was raised during the Great Depression, I believe that you work hard, and for that, receive a fair wage and some security in exchange. American greed is manifest in the clusterfuck we have before us currently, (Wait for it, I saved best for last, I"m gettin' warmed up...) Nowhere does it say that it is right or even remotely OK for 1% to 2% of a population to have vast wealth while everyone else lags far, far behind. Anyone who knows of the age of the Robber Barons knows what that got us last time, (After all, it was called The Great Depression for a reason). I am a bit of a student of history, but you don't need to be to see that the current state of our nation is terribly, terribly close to that dark time. The euphemism, "Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it," is ringin' pretty loud in my ears right now. Why did certain small U.S. and some European banks fare far better in this latest crisis? Because they weren't so wholeheartedly, outlandishly, completely fucking greedy as the ones that are eating the big one right now. Shoot, even some of the Robber Barons did good works with their money, (Granted, we have a few who are doing so here and now too), but the fact remains that outlandish greed and economic excess, repeated about every generation or so, is the primary cause for the mess we're in. It blows my mind that these companies who have progressively and repeatedly fucked their workers and ignored the people they supposedly serve come screaming to the government for help as soon as they see that they're startin' to circle the big drain... (And along that line, how smart do you need to be? I was in sub-prime mortgage banking and got out 2 years ago, in December of '06 because I could see it comin', and I ain't no Bernanke...) Economics is not the science of how to best fuck the most people over; it is, by definition, a branch of the social sciences, and deals with making, moving and using stuff and the management thereof: I say again, it is a branch of social science, meaning it should first and foremost be dealing with people and their needs, not with the needs of a few blowing the many off the face of the earth - Time for these fuckers to come down to reality as well.

Oh, and just on the odd chance you didn't intuit my take on all this current economic crisis via my rant, I say let them motherfuckers fail and hang the repercussions - They created it, they need to fix it - Necessity breeds innovation; I know of no greater necessity than one's ass hanging off the ledge to foment a good solution to that dilemma... I am frankly not scared at all - I am and always have been a very, very capable survivor - I will always find a way to care for me and my fellow humankind, so frankly, I feel not the slightest twinge of charitability toward these horses asses at all. I find this whole situation disgusting and at the same time maddening - It galls me to be stuck around such a bunch of completely mindless empty suits...

So, whataya think; am I nuts?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sarah Palin, Categorically and Thoroughly Defined

Dan Quayle with jugs.

"What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rectraction and Redaction

I actually just really like the word 'redact'...

No, after writing my expose on the nature of the bilabial fricative and my history therewith, I was consumed with guilt. I must admit here and now that I was basking in the past and not thinking properly as a thoughtful and sensitive 21st century guy.

The reason for my self-loathing should already be obvious to you. My shame in not seeing it before I spouted is great, indeed.

Two words: Global Warming.

Yeah, I'm an ass for not even considering the methane thing, let alone releasing any gas at 98.6 degrees into an already fragile environment.

I hereby renounce farting and all things fartage.

I am undertaking a serious study of meditation and body awareness, and shall hereinafter endeavor to turn what formerly were farts into harmless belches. I figure if I can reverse the gas flow prior to it percolating away in the intestines, I can release harmless air, still make a funny noise, and do my part to save the planet.

I apologize not only for the vulgarity of my topic, but for my obvious ignorance and lack of consideration in not seeing the bigger picture view. Hopefully this sincere apology will keep the Greenpeace, Earth First, and other assorted ecoterrorists away from home in the wee hours.

I got a wife and kid to think about.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Farters of the World, Unite!

I am a farter. In fact, I am an inveterate farter, a professional farter, a farter par excellence… Yup, I fart, and I am proud of it!

There'll be none of those foofy euphemisms for me, either, (Not to discount Denholm Elliot’s great line from Trading Places though; “No son, it gives me wind, something terrible.”), there’ll be no “Did you toot?” or “did somebody poof?” here; they’re farts, I farted, I am a champeen fartist, and that’s that.

I am also an avowed public farter. I believe in farting on the street, in stores, at work, pretty much wherever I can get away with it and some places I can’t.

I ripped an excellent reverberating fart on a wooden pew, in church, on Christmas Eve in 2000 that sent my then 7 year old son into paroxysms of laughter and prompted Father Brian to lean in as he passed during the processional and say, “I heard that!” That was a very good fart, indeed.

In my early days, when I pretty much lived on beer, eggs, cheese, and Mexican food, my farts had true power; knee buckling, eye squinting, room clearing power. They were a weapon of terrible purpose that I used with relative abandon...

In 1987, while performing a runway inspection at Bellingham International Airport, with an MD-80 turning base to final, I ripped a legendary Death Fart, causing my partner to bail out of the truck, on the runway, going 15 miles an hour; his last words were, “I don’t care, I’ve got to get out!” That too was a fine fart.

My boss back then, who was a bit of a milquetoast, took the brunt of many an SBD, or Silent But Deadly fart, (Not it’s real name; I’ll explain further on). I’d walk into his office, ask how he was, remain long enough to release the Death From Below and leave, and then wait gleefully for the eruption. Wait for it, wait for it… “Godammit Atwater! That’s awful, damnit!!! Priceless…

In the late 80’s, I personally destroyed the Leavenworth, Washington Safeway store with what was undoubtedly the best Death Fart of my illustrious career. It was released in the beer section. I knew what I had done, and quickly grabbed a six pack of pukers, (16 oz. Rainiers in bottles), and moved away from the rapidly expanding green cloud. The first victims were a little bandy rooster of a logger guy with a wife who easily ran 300 pounds and obviously would not be able to move quickly, even if her life depended on it. He hit the cloud first and I watched as his head snapped back and a look of pure revulsion washed over his shriven features; “Jesus Christ, somebody died!” he croaked, right before it got him. His poor wife never had a chance. I paid for the beer with tears streaming down my cheeks, and in response to the cute cashier’s question answered, “Oh, nothing, just don’t go back there for a while.” I understand that six died in that event, including two would be rescuers who were overcome by fumes before they realized they’d need SCBAs…

Nowadays, I eat better and carouse less, so I don’t very often have the piquancy I used to wield, but what I’ve lost in power I’ve compensated for with musicality. The best part of the public fart, of course, is getting away with it, even when it’s a real rumbling faduka of a blast. An ex of mine was an excellent farter, and she was also cute and had big blue eyes. She could rip one in public, turn and look at me and say “Eben, really! That lacks charm!” wink, and walk off. Everybody heard it, and of course, everybody believed her. Having never been cute, I’ve had to resort to sneakiness and humor, and they both work fine for me. The humor I borrow unabashedly from Steve Martin’s old routine; you know, you’re with the family at Applebee’s, the dining room is crowded and boisterous on a Friday night, you’re packed into a table next to a typical north Texas family with the cute little Texas mom right behind you, so you lean into the middle of your table and ask, “Hey do you guys mind if I fart?” and then you let fly: When they say “No!” you smile and respond with “Too late…” and everybody but the cute mom gets a good laugh. As far as sneakiness goes, if one considers harmonics and the directional aspect of sound, one quite quickly realizes that aiming the nozzle, as it were, gives one some control over where the fart sounds like it’s coming from. It’s really just a matter of a quick scan of the immediate area, a smart cocking of the hip and lettin’ ‘er rip. You really should try it some time.

As for the classification of farts, regardless of what you’ve heard previously, there are really only three varieties of fart: There’s your Suppression Fart, Your Exclamation Fart, and your Question Fart; that’s it, just them three.

Your suppression fart is any fart that makes little noise – They are never silent though; a silencer for a gun is not a silencer, it’s a suppressor. Just as you can not completely silence a weapon, you can’t completely silence your fart valve either; there is always some sound, it’s just that some of them are so quiet that you’d have to be quite close to hear them, and, for personal safety reasons, we just don’t do that, so take my word for it, OK? And despite the SBD misnomer, they aren’t all stinky. Most people probably produce farts from within this category, since they live under the fallacy that farts are rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. Purposefully suppressing a fart is ill advised and possibly dangerous: I won’t go into detail herein, but in so many words, you didn't really think that humans actually spontaneously combust, did you? ‘Nuff said…

Exclamation farts are just that. This is a fart that announces its presence with gusto and authority – Poot! You know ‘em when you hear them; from the thundering shorts, to the aforementioned rumbling faduka, they are all exclamation farts. They are a very manly fart, but certainly not exclusive to men; I have known some lasses who were fully in touch with their Y chromosomes and could belt out a fine exclamation fart. Most of them are of Scandinavian heritage...

A question fart is more reserved, a bit more hesitant perhaps, maybe a bit more polite. The question fart, (Poooot?), is asking if it’s OK to make itself known, seeing if there’s any more of its kind out there it might hobnob with, just checkin’ the scene rather than blasting out and stopping all conversation; kind of a fart mating call, if you will…

And that’s it, for most folks, that’s all the farts they will ever produce in a lifetime of farting. Now, there are a few people, a few artists, who rise above this level of fartage, but they are rare indeed. My sister recently told Monica and I about the beautiful French flower girl who works in her home town; at a party, this lovely creature actually farted out a coupla measures of Les Marseillaise, and apparently did an unabashedly damn fine job of it. My sis found it somewhat humorous, but she is not a farter; to her credit, she had the wherewithal to realize that she was in the presence of an artist, and to relate the tale to me.

Ah the French; they really know how to party!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stop, Look and Listen

I came home to my youngest blasting tunes from his room; I heard Three Dog Night, a bunch of new stuff I don't know, The Who, and Kelly Willis. He's 17. I'm blessed.

What was your first music you bought?

For my generation, you say, what was the first LP you bought? The next one, I guess you'd ask them about cassettes, then CDs, and now online/streaming/MP3/digorama.

As a working musician, I don't have any nostalgia for the sound quality, but I do for the whole experience of records: Going to Stop, Look And Listen to browse and buy... That store, a seventies stalwart if there ever was one, was in the Concord train station, which was still a train station, but didn't need anything other than the platform upon which Budliners disgorged weary commuters in early evening.

I remember going in and knowing I was going to buy my first album, the first one I was going to decide upon, and that was heavy!

I grew up the youngest of 4 kids, the eldest 11 years older than I. Both my folks loved music, and our house was filled with a range of music that I am still proud of today: From J. J. Mouret to Buck Clayton, Segovia to Ledbelly, Bonnie Raitt to the Beatles, and Paul Simon to Odetta, we owned it all, played it all, and at parties, my folks friends came and dug it all.

But it was 1973 and time for me to contribute. I mighta only been 13, but it was heavy shit to me - I wanted to buy what I wanted to hear, but I knew my whole family would weigh in on my decision - I wasn't gonna buy based solely on that, but it certainly colored my choice!

So, there I was, prowlin' the aisles... I had it down to a Top 4 list, in no particular order: Carol King's Tapestry, The Allman Brothers' Brothers & Sisters, Aerosmith's debut album, and Steely Dan's Can't Buy a Thrill. Now, truth be told, I own 'em all, and have through LPs, tapes, CDs and now hard tracks on my main box, but at the time, I could afford exactly one, so a decision had to be made.

Each of those albums evokes a specific memory, as all good albums do. Carol King reminded me of a whole bunch of great songs she had written, and besides, you had some musicians in that band who were destined to literally define ass-kicking music in the next 20 years, from studio to live, and you can't ever discount that. Danny Korchmar on guitar, Russ Kunkel on Drums, and Merry Clayton singing backups. That band, with Lee Sklar on Bass, would fuel Jackson Browne's legendary Running on Empty tour, establishing levels of sustained musicianship and debauchery rivaled only by the Eagles. Brothers and Sisters I first heard at tennis camp, where I was surrounded for the first time by teenagers up through 18 and counselors in their early 20s; good music and cool discussions were de rigueur and terribly exciting at 13 years of age. Aerosmith I heard for the first time at the first truly good party I ever went to, at John Bott's house. There were hot and cold running cool girls my age for the first time in my history, and I knew instantly that this was a very good thing... And Steely Dan was... how about fucking astounding! The musicianship and sophistication blew my mind: Elliot Randall's chromatic paean on Reelin' in the Years, Everything Denny Dias and Skunk Baxter did, Becker's unconscious bass playing; when I heard that, I'd been "playing the guitar" for 3 years: That was when I knew why I wanted to play and the kind of emotion I wanted to be able to express when so doing. (I ain't even close to it but; maybe, some day...)

Anyway, a lotta pressure on a 13 year old dude, ya know?

I went with Carole King. Learned all the licks and how to sing harmony and what being locked in the pocket means.

And like I said; I own all the other ones too...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Write every day, even if it's bad...

Funny thing;

I swear that quote was uttered by a highly notable American author, but I can't recall who and the fact is, if you Google that quote, what you get is a pantload of folks who are writers, usually talking about how to write, and using the phrase as if it were their own...

Anyway, it is a good idea - Writing is like the classic Steve Martin shtick; "Always keep a litter bag in your car; it doesn't take up much room, and if it ever gets full, you can just throw it out the window..."

Ar, ar, ar!

Well, S'Truth - If you don't like it in this day and age and media, just leave it alone after you write it; chances are good, your fucking computer will crash and you won't have to worry about that mother anyway.

So, I really have tried to lay off, but recently, in response to an email wherein I had stated that American politics was shot and that I was moving to Canada, somebody accused me of political pessimism of all things, and here was my response:

Oh, of course i am being flippant, to a degree - I ain't goin' anywhere - But read and listen to what they say and do, and how people respond, and tell me how you draw anything other than massive stupidity and ambivalence out of it? Remember, my dear, I am fairly intelligent and a student of history, including US political history; I know a shitload more about this stuff than 90% of the people you meet...

I am truly and totally tired of American politics and I believe, from the heart, that the system is broken and will not be mended without radical changes. I know not where or how such a thing might happen, but it will take that kind of phenomenon to repair the ills.

If I sound dark and dire, it is because things are extremely dark and dire right now - There has never been a worse time in modern history - The head of the UN, Bishop Tutu, and I all believe this to be true - Not nice, but fact...

Here are more facts:

The Republican party is run by the part bosses and architects, just like it was pretty much through the 70's. Carl Rove and Grover Norquist: Have you ever read anything by either man? If not, with all due respect, you don't know what they're about and what they intend to do: In a nutshell, Norquist, the primary architect of the 21st century Republicans, learned from the '64 convention, wherein the Republicans lost because they did not understand that the media age was upon them and they must cultivate it rather than fight it. Norquist believes also that government is broken. He comes from the ol' smaller is better federal government school, and both he and Rove believe wholeheartedly in the Robber Baron model of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Anyone who has witnessed what has occurred in the last eight years and doesn't realize that is fooling themselves. Norquist also believes the system beyond redemption, and he has stated in no uncertain terms, that what must be done is to drive the government into the ground, bankrupt it and force a new start - You don't really think this bullshit in Iraq is about honor and democracy, do you? This year's budget shortfall will easily top a half a trillion dollars - Got that? Half a trillion, just this year. Dick Cheney, AKA the Anti-Christ; do you think he was chosen because he's a great leader and engaging politician? They win because they do things with demographics and micro-targeting that are essentially grass roots efforts, and they work: The people who flock to them are the folks who call stock car racing a 'sport' - Capiche?

The Democrats have been ineffective since the horrible '68 convention - They fractured as a party right there in front of God and everyone and they have never recovered - Doubt that fact? Then consider that no Democratic Presidential candidate since has won a popular national election with even 50% of the vote, and only one has garnered 2 terms in a row. When the conservative southern elements were rejected, and the intellectual intelligentsia was rejected, and the party stood behind the anemic ticket of Humphrey and Muskie, and Wallace split off as an independent, the party was done in national politics, and nothing but folly and chance has won them an election since.

Barrack may have the stones to win, I hope so, but again, if you beleive that race is not a factor in the minds of the average American, you're fooling yourself. Little blue haired ladies come into Monica's store and parrot the bullshit about him being a secret Muslim, and how if we vote for him, they'll all being wearing burkas in 2 years...

Now if that's not ignorance, what do you call it?

Now do you understand why I am pessemistic?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tomorrow, deep underground beneath the Franco-Swiss border, the CERN LHC will begin its first wild ride. Energized particles will race around a 17 mile loop, and eventually, when the time is right, will be able to do so at 99.99% of the speed of light. The colloquialism 'Holy Shit' comes to mind...

The CERN Large Hadron Collider is far and away the most ambitious technical achievement in particle physics in the history of civilization. Now, finally, we are at a place and time where theories, wild and crazy theories, can be tested. Are you ready; I sure am…

I was born in the 60’s, and while the technological leaps that occurred between then and now pale before those witnessed by my parents and grandparents, they are still fairly miraculous. When I was in college in the 70’s, I took computer classes at the University of Washington’s fairly state-of-the-art facility, programming in FORTRAN and BASIC. I will posit without much doubt that the computer I’m plunking away on right now is far smarter and faster than that. String Theory and superstring theory didn’t exist. Physics was pretty well grounded in Einsteinian concepts. I believe the great man had seen an inkling of such things, and it scared the crap out of him.

Now, we stand at the brink of what could and should be the most amazing discoveries in physics in the history of humankind. In roughly 24 hours, we will begin exploring the reality of what previously could not be done: Experiments will be initiated using equipment given appropriately hefty acronyms; ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment), ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus), CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid), LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty), TOTEM (Total Elastic and Diffractive Cross Section Measurement), and LHCf (Large Hadron Collider forward). All of this GeekSpeak means the genuine potential to explore what has to this point been necessarily theoretical physics; the ability to prove or disprove such things did not exist. Now it does, and that is amazing and wonderful.

All this will not happen in a day. Fact is, it may not happen at all; we don’t know, and that’s why experiments are conducted. No one truly knows what happens when, a few months down the line high energy particles are run up to speed in both directions and allowed to collide: That process will be tested prior to a few months, but at relatively low energy levels. The fact is that, unleashed, the CERN LHC is capable of unleashing strings of trillions of charged protons packing a maximum energy of 7 TeV (tera-electronvolt), meaning that a head-to-head collision generates 14 TeV... Sounds hefty, doesn’t it? You have no idea: In non GeekSpeak,one electronvolt is roughly the amount of energy needed to dissociate a molecule AKA,the energy needed to rip a molecule apart; and this beast is capable of generating tera-electron volts, or the power of an electronvolt raised by a factor of ten to the twelfth power; can you say, ‘Yipe?’ I knew you could…

So what are they gonna do with all that energy? Potentially, everything from seeing what happened when the universe came into being, right down to proving what the glue of sub-atomic particles is. Let's start small and work our way up: Did you take physics or chemistry in school? If so, you'll recall that all matter as we know it is made up of atoms, and that atoms are composed of a nucleus surrounded by protons and neutrons, which are further surrounded by clouds of electrons. Now comes the part that probably happened after you and I got outta school: Boring further down, protons and neutrons are made up of quarks, and them quarks are held together by gluons, (No, I ain't makin' this up). The bonds that keep all that together are so strong that we have never had the capability, before now, of ripping all that stuff apart and exposing a single quark, thereby proving that the little buggers exist: That may all be about to change... Meanwhile, the how did the universe form question looms large as well: The theory holds that, right after the The Big Bang, (Things don’t make noise in a vacuum; I vastly prefer the term The Big Flash) when what little of the Universe that existed was unbelievably hot, it is theorized that a state of matter existed known as a quark-gluon plasma. The ALICE experiment I alluded to above is designed to recreate, yes I said recreate, the conditions that may have existed right after The Big Flash, and may just actually prove that theory correct: Can you imagine that? It makes the fur on the back of my neck stand up.

The actual particle collisions that the LHC is expected to be capable of creating, (Remember them tera-electronvolts?), will generate temperatures over one hundred thousand times hotter than the heart of our Sun. The scientists working on this stuff theorize that, under these conditions, those incredibly powerful bonds holding together all those protons and neutrons will effectively melt, and free the quarks from their bonds with the gluons, and that, in turn, should create that quark-gluon plasma.

From that stunning beginning, if it all works, Physicists will be able to study the quark-gluon plasma as it expands and cools, and therefore, will be able to actually, physically observe how it evolves into the particles that constitute the matter of our Universe today, let alone see one of them quarks.

Welcome to a brave new world.