…and Christmas won again. And so, a very merry one to all of you.
Here’s James Howard Kunstler with a close textual analysis of yesterday’s Superbowl half-time weirdness. He segues from the apocalypse into Madonna, but for that you’ll have to go here.
The Superbowl pageant is a window into the condition of American manhood, and the view is pretty pathetic. It’s a picture of men who feel so weak, insecure, and fearful that they have to compensate with fantasies of limitless destructive power. Ads for several new movies and (I think) video games followed the Silverado apocalypse romp. There were unifying themes throughout. All depicted the problems of life as 1) coming from outside our own society (or world); 2) in the form of aliens who wield mystifying technological destructive power; and 3) leaving a few human remnants on a smoldering landscape after a cosmic showdown.
These onslaughts from elsewhere in the universe always end with superior American guile and the latest technology defeating the purblind invaders. The aliens are vanquished by Apple computers, Air Force stunt pilots, and a little extra help from God Almighty, who is surely on our side. From these realms of engineered grandiosity, we slip in and out of the grinding ground game in Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis, another pseudo-military operation loaded with acronyms and jargon intended to confer an illusion of control and competence.
The reality out there in “flyover” land is an audience of diabetic fat men in clownish loungewear slouched on sofas in foreclosed houses enjoying stupendous portions of cheesy and lard-laden foodstuffs between cigarettes and beers. They have a lot to worry about and they have no idea how they might overcome their financial, familial, and medical problems. The real onslaughts besetting the nation in realms such as banking fraud, money in politics, peak oil, climate uncertainty, and economic contraction are at once too complex for the diabetic fat men to comprehend, and grossly misreported in the public arena, where Cable TV and newspapers work the levers of propaganda for one client or another…
I think you should all watch this holiday beauty:
I posted this five years ago, and do it again on this July Fourth, as a service to John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and similar superpatriots. Expect to see Burke’s quote showing up at Tea Party rallies. The excerpt is from Albert Jay Nock’s Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, Harper & Brothers, 1943:
Does patriotism mean loyalty to a political system and its institutions, constitutional, autocratic, republican, or what-not? But if history has made anything unmistakably clear, it is that from the standpoint of the individual and his welfare, these are no more than names.
The reality which in the end they are found to cover is the same for all alike. If a tree be known by its fruits, which I believe is regarded as good sound doctrine, then the peculiar merit of a system, if it has any, ought to be reflected in the qualities and conditions of the people who live under it; and looking over the peoples and systems of the world, I found no reason in the nature of things why a person should be loyal to one system rather than another. One could see at a glance that there is no saving grace in any system. Whatever merit or demerit may attach to any of them lies in the way it is administered…
Burke touched this matter of patriotism with a searching phrase. “For us to love our country,” he said, “our country ought to be lovely.”
Moving away from bloodroot and poison ivy, let us now consider the lovely but sometimes dangerous mango plant.
Mango peel contains urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy and poison sumac that can cause urushiol-induced contact dermatitis in susceptible people. Cross-reactions between mango contact allergens and urushiol have been observed.Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. We hope you enjoyed a Mango Margarita yesterday.
Those with a history of poison ivy or poison oak may be most at risk for such an allergic reaction. Urushiol is also present in mango leaves and vines. During mango's primary season, it is the most common source of plant dermatitis in Hawaii.
Last year’s big news was that George W. Bush wasn’t president.
Neither was John McCain. The other guy was, the skinny guy from Chicago with the funny name and the silver tongue. Many people were not happy about this. They say he talked his way into the White House and he doesn’t know what he’s doing. They say he’s a socialist who wants to ruin our health care system with a lot of heavy-handed government intervention. And we all know what happens when the government gets involved. Curtains. Sayonara. Forget about it.
These brave men and women voted their consciences, irrespective of how much money the big health insurance companies poured into their campaign coffers. This is America, not some cheap banana republic where money can buy any result. This is America where right-thinking senators and congresspersons come together, regardless of party affiliation, and do the right thing to keep strong the very fiber of our national fabric.
A lot of ink and valuable TV time was wasted on the debate over health care reform, which politicians of every stripe agreed was desperately needed, even if only because their annoying and ill-informed constituents said it was. In fairness to our intrepid senators and congresspersons, it wasn’t always so easy to tell what the people wanted.
Faced with this sort of criticism, many of the most independent congresspersons climbed upon the fence and stayed there through the long season of mindless debate. Being right-minded, they were worried about the cost of the most radical reform measures, which they said would eat away at the very core of our American values and might eventually threaten the very fiber of our national fabric.
The health insurance bill that the skinny Chicago socialist had tried to put over on a gullible American public was pretty well wrecked by a few alert patriots from both parties and one Independent. It was a reassuring example of how well representative government works in a free society where you get what you pay for. No one knows exactly what is still in the bill and what has been taken out because no one has read all of its 1,000-plus pages and no one ever will.
Tiger Woods showed that he has what it takes to stay on top in the celebrity game. And so did Sarah Palin, whose book was named the best koob ever by the Dyslexia Koob Club.
Altogether, it was a pretty good year — the kind of year you look back at and say, It could have been a lot worse or it could have been a lot better. Whatever.
There’s no fuel like a lipofuel…
“…The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel – and I have more fat than I can use,” he says. “Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly, but they get to take part in saving the Earth…”
Brother Bill sends this dispatch from The Lehigh Valley Express-Times. He knew perfectly well I couldn’t resist posting it. I have added several comments from the paper’s readers. Others may occur to you.
JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell and Adolf Hitler Campbell.From FLBryce: If they have twins will they name one Ass and one Elbow because they can’t tell them apart?
Good names for a trio of toddlers? Heath and Deborah Campbell think so. The Holland Township couple has picked those names and the oldest child, Adolf Hitler Campbell, turns 3 today.
This has given rise to a problem, because the ShopRite supermarket in Greenwich Township has refused to make a cake for young Adolf’s birthday.
“We believe the request ... to inscribe a birthday wish to Adolf Hitler is inappropriate,” said Karen Meleta, a ShopRite spokeswoman.
The Campbells turned down the market’s offer to make a cake with enough room for them to write their own inscription and can’t understand what all of the fuss is about…
From goback2nj: is that a mullet? in 2008? wow! that alone is almost child abuse
From van2028: What I see here is a craving for media attention. In my short 18 1/2 years on this earth, I can pretty much say that I have never seen a full name on a cake… Adolf, you have a very happy birthday, cake or not. I apologize for your parents stupidity as well. Oh yea, and have fun being unemployed in 20 years.
Bad news for Seinfeld freaks and all you freaks at the Westboro Baptist Church:
Washington state officials placed a moratorium late Friday on permitting any more holiday displays inside the Capitol this year.
An atheists’ sign placed near a Nativity scene sparked a controversy after commentators on Fox News drew attention to it. Afterward, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office was flooded with nearly 15,000 phone calls from people nationwide who opposed the sign.
The moratorium in effect denies space to several requests, including one for a sign that says “Santa Claus will take you to Hell” and a “Festivus” pole. Festivus is a mock holiday popularized by the “Seinfeld” sitcom in the 1990s.
Merry Christmas from the Westboro Baptist Church!
“You’d better watch out, get ready to cry/ You’d better go hide, I’m telling you why/
’cuz Santa Claus will take you to hell.
“He is your favorite idol, you worship at his feet,/ but when you stand before your God He won’t help you take the heat.
“So get this fact straight: you’re feeling God’s hate,/ Santa’s to blame for the economy’s fate,
“Santa Claus will take you to hell.”
Harshing on the twerp is sort of like kicking a dead dog, but hey, what harm can it do? Bush has no more feelings to hurt than the mutt does. So here’s an excerpt from Tom Degan, master of The Rant:
…All of that aside, we might as well face the fact that President Obama is now in charge of our beloved nation — in fact if not in law. All that’s left for Bush is the occasional photo op and mindless waves to a few carefully selected crowds of Right Wing robots — not unlike what Queen Elizabeth does. He doesn’t look like a president. He doesn’t talk like a president. He doesn’t act like a president. He’s an embarrassment.
For the rest of our history, even if we last into the next millennium, the image of George W. Bush’s twisted, grotesque smirk will be an eternal reminder of this generation’s jaw-dropping naivete involving politics and affairs of state. The fact that this half-witted little guttersnipe was elected twice to the most powerful office in the world defies credulity. And considering the gravitas of the two men he was able to defeat, his tenure as president is all-the-more embarrassing. It is akin to Jascha Heifetz losing to Jack Benny on American Idol.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, looks like a president! Think about that for a minute or two. On April 13, 1945, the morning after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a long time White House employee was shocked when President Truman walked into the Oval Office. She had never seen a president walk before.
Can you imagine the mass, cosmic shock this country will experience when President Obama holds his first news conference? From coast to coast, men will be nudging their wives, “Did you hear that, Martha?? The President of the United States just put two grammatically correct sentences together! Pass me my smellin’ salts, darlin’!” No doubt about it, this is a new age…
With the turkey in the oven, and the stuffing, red beans and rice, and veggies waiting, I encounter the inspired creations of Eric Dyson, the kind of thing you generally suspect of building on a sense of irony, but you’re not sure. (h/t GreatScat!)
As a particularly insightful commenter added, The Dude Abides.
Even if you’d prefer an un-merry one, Merry Christmas!
…and to all a good night!
Martha Bridegam, who was once a student of mine but has made a complete recovery, writes in Demisemiblog that she has “been rereading Ulysses this week. Shocked to learn I'm older than Mr. Bloom.”
I am shocked to learn that there’s somebody out there who has read Ulysses even once, let alone twice. Prior to this I never knew anyone who had even made it into the double-digit pages, except for certain ones deep inside that the older boys pointed out.
So way to go, Martha, and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours from.
…a nice lump of coal in your stockings. James Howard Kunstler on the Bush-Wall Street (or do I repeat myself?) plan to clean up the subprime mess:
Anyway, this argument is academic because the Hope Now Alliance is just a political sham. The purpose of it is not to save the hapless occupants of over-leveraged houses, but first to buy a little more time so that the worker bees in the financial industry can justify awarding each other multi-million-dollar Christmas bonus packages, and second, to postpone the "workout" of all this bad investment as far into the future as possible.
When American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, private security and military contractors will have guarded the convoys bringing the turkey and gravy.
If not for the private security contractor (PSC) business, there would have been no Thanksgiving at all. For it was a PSC whom the Pilgrims hired in 1620 to join them on the Mayflower and provide security for what would become their new colonial settlement in Plymouth, Mass.
Oh, well that excuses the murders of all those Iraqis then. They’re not Christians anyway, and they wouldn’t be interesting in giving thanks. According to Rat Pobertson:
Ladies and gentlemen, we have to recognize that Islam is not a religion. It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world. And it is meant to subjugate all people under Islamic law. In the Quran, it says it very clearly. There are two spheres. One is the Dar al-Harb, which is the realm of war. The other is Dar al-Islam, which is that part that’s under submission to Islam. There is no middle ground. You’re either at war or you’re under submission. Now, that’s the way they think.
Which is completely different from Robertson’s view, that God punished the United States with 9/11 because we allow pornography and gays, that we should submit to his view of God rather than Muhammed’s, and that we’d better start a new Crusade posthaste. Can we say shadow projection? (Can we say President Rudy? I didn’t think so.)
Whether due to good relations with the friendly local Indians or the deterrent effect of the well-organized militia and relatively well-armed fort, Plymouth never came under direct enemy attack. But other English colonial towns would. Standish and his men volunteered to come to their aid when threatened or attacked, and in at least one case they left the invaders bloodied and dismembered. Some accounts say Standish led revenge raids and, in one case, used a medieval form of intimidation — mounting an enemy Indian’s head on a pike — to protect the colonists from further attack.
Such operations earned Standish criticism for being too harsh. But the colonists held him in high regard. They repeatedly elected him military captain of Plymouth…
It’s good to remind ourselves that the founders of our country were just as bloodthirsty as we are.
There is no particular reason to allow the anti-American element in our country — by which I mean the Bush White House and its ever-dwindling rabble of dupes — to keep possession of the American flag.
For too long too many of us have been reluctant to show the flag, for fear of being mistaken for, well, assholes. Nothing activates a bullshit detector faster than a flag pin, oversized for TV, in a presidential lapel. Is Bush afraid of being mistaken for the president of Albania, or Armenia? (If only…)
But we have no reason to be reluctant anymore. The November elections gave us reason to be proud of our country again, so feel free to put your flag out there in a lapel that deserves it. Mine is below.
Don’t miss the George Orwell mention at the end.
In what I assume is your unceasing search for the unfindable, consider this. It is from Edward O. Wilson’s fine book, Consilience, itself a search for the unfindable.
The cost of scientific advance is the humbling recognition that reality was not constructed to be easily grasped by the human mind. This is the cardinal tenet of scientific understanding: Our species and its ways of thinking are a product of evolution, not the purpose of evolution.
Perennial Thanksgiving Favorite:
A member of Mrs. Wharton’s fourth grade class sends us Thanksgiving Cheer from a turkey’s perspective. What’s on your plate this Thanksgiving?
My family and I think that you shouldn’t eat turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. We are bad for your health, we are treated mean, and there are many other foods you can eat besides us.
First, we eat many disgusting things such as worms, bugs, and poop. I don’t think the things we eat are good for you and they might make you sick. Have you ever wondered why you feel so tired after you eat turkey at Thanksgiving? Maybe it is because you have eaten worms, bugs and poop as a side dish with your turkey.
Secondly, we are treated mean. We live on crowded and dirty farms. We do not get fed well. The farmers give us shots to make us grow fast which is not good for us. Many of us suffer like this every year just so you can eat turkey on Thanksgiving. You should feel bad about eating us.
Hat tip to Eating Liberally.
Youth sports have a way of focusing laser-like on the worst in some parents. This item from the Washington Post proves once again that parent should have nothing what so ever to do with their kids’ games. Let the kids organize their own games. They are the experts at playing. Here’s why. Read it and puke.
If you’ve had your fill of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and similar high browed music of the season, there’s an alternative. Streaming folk music is available free on the net, and here’s a great list of stations with clickable links. One of my favorites is Kent State University’s Folk Alley. Most of the listening works just fine on a dial-up connection. Furthermore, here’s a nice collection of bawdy songs to warm the cockles of the heart of fans of the Rude Pundit. The list compiler hasn’t made them all free, but what the hell, Mr. Scrooge wasn’t such a bad guy after all.
A friend sends this link to an SF Gate article, “Xmas Cards From Famous People: In which Ashlee, Dubya, Tom Cruise and more wish you very happy holidays. Sort of”. As an SF resident, I avoid the Gate and all Chron-related stations, sites, and papers like the plague, and depend on friends and colleagues to point out the occasional gem contained therein. This is one. Check it out for a couple of hoots.
A 27-story tall floating Christmas tree with fireworks and water-spray fountains going off during a nighttime lighting ceremony attended by thousands of partygoers on the shore nearby? Straight out of Currier & Ives.
That’s my kind of Christmas.