Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Photography: Greek Church

click to enlarge

Daryl Samuel (1995)

Location: Paroikia, Paros, Greece

Previous: Hands With Softball / On Alcatraz / Cameras / Lighthouse / Photographer At Work / Patio Chairs

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/22/2006 03:51:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Death of Irony

It was widely said after the attacks of 9/11 that irony was dead, but, somehow, I don't really think that this and this were what people had in mind when they said it.

What is it about these people that makes them so totally and utterly blind to irony? Is it that to appreciate irony one has to be able to see many sides of a situation -- even if one ultimately chooses one particular one as right or proper or real or factual -- and their fixed mindsets prevents them from doing so? Do they have tunnel vision and cannot see the context that surrounds them, only the set pathway that their ideology allows, and without that context they cannot compare what they do to what they say, or what what other people do or say? Is it related to the fact that liberalism is much like the scientific method, which places a high value on exploration, experimentation, theorizing and debunking, none of which dogmatic thinking are conducive to?

I think probably the explanation is in there somewhere, but it certainly can't be denied that despite what some thought, irony isn't dead, and won't be as long as people continue to pay attention to right-wing ideologues and authoritarians of all stripes.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/21/2006 01:26:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Stirke? Strike!

Things have reached rock-bottom, perhaps, since the rumors that the government of the United States is considering an unprovoked first-strike nuclear attack against Iran can't be dismissed out of hand, especially since "national defense assests" have been alerted in a way that makes it appear that an attack on Iran is (perhaps) imminent. There seems to be some doubt whether there could actually be "plausible deniability" about such an attack, but there's not doubting that such thinking has been typical of the way the Bush Administration has gone about doing things.

Of course, such thinking is morally, politically and geo-politically insane. If such a thing were to happen it would argue for the mental instability of the people in charge in a way that nothing else they've done up to now really has done (as bad as those things have been).

I would like to suggest that if Bush & Cheney attack Iran, without provocation or authorization, that an effective response would be to pick a day and organize and publicize a General Strike. Not people marching in the streets or rioting or even associating in groups, just for one day everyone stay home from work, keep your kids home from school, don't drive, don't shop (in person or online), don't consume anything more than the minimum necessary. Withhold your services, withhold your participation, make a showing that can be measured in many places of the depth and breadth of our revulsion for what will have been done in our names, without our approval or permission.

A silent protest for an insane and dangerous act.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/21/2006 12:39:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Ed Fitzgerald | 9/20/2006 10:36:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Lipstick Traces

136) 'Never get out of the boat.' Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you were going all the way.
Apocalypse Now (film, 1979)
produced & directed by Francis Coppola
written by John Millius & Francis Coppola
narration written by Michael Herr
spoken by the character "Captain Williard"
played by Martin Sheen

137) There are going to be times when we can't wait for somebody. Now, you're either on the bus or off the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place - then it won't make a damn.
Ken Kesey
quoted by Tom Wolfe in
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

138) Our answer [...] is to rely on youth - not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
Robert F. Kennedy
campaign speech (1968)
quoted by Greil Marcus in
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History
of the 20th Century

139) Generation to generation [...] nothing changes in Bohemia.
Nik Cohn
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom:
Rock From the Beginning
quoted by Greil Marcus in
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History
of the 20th Century

140) Everyone knows history moves in circles; the surprise is how big the circles are.
Greil Marcus
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century (1989)

141) Nothing is true; everything is permitted.
Rashid al-Din Sinan
Islamic gnostic, leader of the Levantine Assassins (1192)
quoted by Greil Marcus in
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History
of the 20th Century

142) In Berkeley in the mid-1960s, I used to wonder at the way friends made the world new each day by cartwheeling down the street, moment to moment exchanging Trotskyism for anarchism for Stalinism for the occult for drugs for religion while professors who in the 1930s were Communists and now were Freudians explained it all. In every case there was a received answer to every question, which meant there were no questions. Everything seemed possible, and the prospect was terrifying - so "nothing is true," one basis for "everything is possible," was exchanged for one truth, whatever it was. Everything was present save a critical spirit, which might have made real the great adventure in doubt that, as Decartes described it, lay behind his "Cogito, ergo sum": his dead slogan. No doubt the mad multiplication of choices by which "the sixties" were known led straight to a surrender of choice in the next decades, a surrender to authoritarian religion, authoritarian politics- for some, freedom from doubt was always the point, peace of mind worth any price.
Greil Marcus
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History
of the 20th Century

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 854 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/20/2006 10:30:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

(3089/898) That Dick guy

131) [Philip K.] Dick's fiction calls up our basic cultural assumptions, requires us to reexamine them, and points out the destructive destinations to which they are carrying us. The American Dream may have succeeded as a means of survival in the wilderness of early America; it allowed us to subdue that wilderness and build our holy cities of materialism. But now, the images in Dick's fiction declare, we live in a new kind of wilderness, a wasteland wilderness, because those cities and the culture that built them are in decay. We need a new American dream to overcome this wasteland.
Patricia S. Warrick
Mind in Motion: The Fiction of Philip K. Dick (1987)

132) It was either Phil [Dick] or [Ace editor] Terry Carr who came up with the idea of an Ace Double edition of the Holy Bible. One of these days Ace will print the Holy Bible as a Double, back to back, the Old Testament and the New Testament each cut to exactly 30,000 words, the Old Testament titled Master of Chaos and the New Testament titled The Thing That Frees Souls.
Poul Anderson
posthumous appreciation of Philip K. Dick in
Locus magazine #256 (5/82)
quoted by Gregg Rickman in
To The High Castle; Philip K. Dick:
A Life 1928-1962
[Note: In Divine Invasions by Lawrence Sutin, Karen Anderson, wife of Poul Anderson, is quoted. In this version of the anecdote, each half is 20,000 words, and the New Testament is The Things with Three Souls. In e-mail from Arthur Hlavaty (5/28/95) the Old Testament is given as Wargod of Israel and the New Testament as The Thing with Three Souls]
133) Writer X may sell 500,000 copies. All those 500,000 people may think, nice book. I liked it. I'll read the guy's next one. And 40,000 people may read a Phil Dick book, and be loud and vocal and persuasive about feeling the book had incredible impact on them intellectually and emotionally. The guy with the 500,000 will not be seen as a major writer and the guy with the 40,000 will. Because nobody's talking about the guy with the 500,000 readers.
Russ Galen, Philip K. Dick's agent
quoted by Gregg Rickman in
To The High Castle; Philip K. Dick:
A Life 1928-1962

134) In one of the most brilliant papers in the English language [David] Hume made it clear that what we speak of as 'causality' is nothing more than the phenomenon of repetition. When we mix sulphur with saltpeter and charcoal we *always* get gunpowder. This is true of every event subsumed by a causal law - in other words, everything which can be called scientific knowledge. "It is custom which rules," Hume said, and in that one sentence undermined both science and philosophy.
Philip K. Dick
"The Day the Gods Stopped Laughing"
[unpublished article written in the late 60's]
quoted by Gregg Rickman in
To The High Castle; Philip K. Dick:
A Life 1928-1962

135) Custom, then, is the great guide of human life.
David Hume
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748) [B15]


[B15] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th edition (1980)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 855 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/19/2006 10:14:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Back in the day

Regarding what Josh Marshall and Atrios write: I recall the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the aerial photographs on the front page of the New York Daily News. I grew up having trouble falling to sleep because I thought that every plane passing overhead was going to be dropping The Bomb -- I listened for the sound of bombs falling. I didn't realize that other kids my age had the same fear until it came up in a discussion when I was in college. I wasn't unique, entire generations grew up with those fears.

The thing is, my fears were exaggerated, maybe even morbid, but, on the other hand, there was also every reason for them to be, since it was a distinct possibility that nuclear war could break out with the USSR at any moment, and the world would be devastated.

I lived with these fears until early adulthood, when the de-escalation of tensions between East and West gradually diminished them.

I live in Manhattan, so I'm not one to try to minimize the danger that terrorists represent, but neither am I inclined to make sweeping generalizations about Islam, as opposed to pointing at certain factions and movements which are dangerous. We just have to keep things in perspective.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/19/2006 01:34:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, September 18, 2006


Ed Fitzgerald | 9/18/2006 08:22:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Seen on a local church

The Bible doesn't need more defense, it needs more practice.

Not strictly grammmatical, I suppose, but the sentiment is right.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/18/2006 08:22:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Critiques

128) How many formulaic tales can one wade through in which a self-destructive but sensitive young protagonist with an (implant / prosthesis / telechtronic talent) that makes the evil (megacorporations / police states / criminal underworlds) pursue him through (wasted urban landscapes / elite luxury enclaves / eccentric space stations) full of grotesque (haircuts / clothes / self-mutilations / rock music / sexual hobbies / designer drugs / telechtronic gadgets / nasty new weapons / exteriorated hallucinations) representing the (mores/fashions) of modern civilization in terminal decline, hooks up with the rebellious and tough-talking (youth / artificial intelligence / rock cults) who offer the alternative, not of (community / socialism / traditional values / transcendental visions), but of supreme, life-affirming *hipness*, going with the flow which now flows into the machine, against the spectre of a world-subverting (artificial intelligence / multinational corporate web / evil genius)?
Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr.
"Cyberpunk and Neuromanticism"
Mississippi Review 47/48 (1988)
reprinted in Storming the Reality Studio (1991),
Larry McCaffery, editor

129) Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the selfhood of every one of its members [...] The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs [...] Who so would be a man must be a nonconformist.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance (1841) [B15]

130) [The] process of cultural mongrelization seems to be what post-modernism is all about. The result is a generation of people (some of whom are artists) whose tastes are wildly eclectic - people who are hip to punk music and Mozart, who rent these terrible horror and SF videos from the 7-11 one night and then invite you to a mud-wresting match or a poetry reading the next [...] I'm very prone to what [writer Ted] Mooney calls "information sickness", and I'm having increasing trouble dealing with it. Without doing this too consciously, I had set up my life to minimize input...I have friend, Tom Maddox, who did a paper on my work [...] he says I display "a problematic sensitivity to semiotic fragments."
William Gibson
interviewed by Larry McCaffery in
Storming the Reality Studio (1991),
Larry McCaffery, editor


[B15] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th edition (1980)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 856 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/18/2006 12:45:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


An evolutionist groupuscule*

FLASH! Ed Brayton reveals the existence of a sinister Darwinist conspiracy, the very cabal which worked to block the sword of righteousness and deal a blow to creationists in the Kitzmiller case in Dover, Pennsylvania!
There are several dozen people around the world who have, over the course of the last 20 years or so, formed into an unofficial, largely undefined group. This group has gathered on various email lists and centers around the NCSE, the TalkOrigins group and now around the Panda's Thumb as well, and it includes lots of scientists and academics, but also a few people like me who just have an interest in it. We have all spent many years involved in the evolution/creationism battle in various capacities, and together we have a collective memory and expertise. That proved vital in this case as we had people who had spent years studying this or that particular claim or argument, or the movement as a whole. And as the expert reports and depositions and testimony came out, we were able to use that collective memory and expertise to suggest weaknesses and ways to attack the arguments of the other side, and a lot of those things ended up being incorporated into the work of the attorneys in the courtroom, either in their cross examinations or in the closing arguments or in the overall strategy. There are just lots and lots of stories of how information and arguments got used in the trial, where they came from and who suggested them, and I think they really add depth to the story. And since Wesley and I are fortunate enough to know almost all of the experts and the people involved behind the scenes personally, we've got access to things that others writing about the trial just don't have.
Brayton and Wesley Elsberry are writing a behind-the-scenes book about the Kitzmiller trial, which sounds like it will make fascinating reading.

* Actually "groupuscule" probably isn't the most appropriate word to use in this context, but I just came across it and I love it. I'm going to look for some way to use it at work tomorrow.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/18/2006 12:29:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Can this really be happening?

Georgia10 asks "Can this really be happening?"

It's a feeling that I share, a combination of astonishment and horror and despair that so many bad things can be going on in the country I love, the country which should be the best and brightest hope of the world, but which, instead, has turned into a selfish and self-righteous bully run by corrupt thugs and ideologues.

I'm 51, so I've lived through the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War and the domestic discord it engendered, the time of rampant self-absorption, consumerism and passivity known as The "Me" Decade, the energy crises of the 70's, "stagflation", recessions, Yuppies, the Reagan Revolution and Reganomics, and more wars than I care to enumerate, so I'm not inclined to claim that the pre-Bush world was an idyllic place to live and work, but I think it's demonstrable true that since Bush has been in control, things have gotten very, very bad, with little prospect of doing anything but getting worse.

You'll pardon me if I find that just a wee bit depressing.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/17/2006 10:41:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Fictionalia

125) The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotist and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.
John Steinbeck
Cannery Row
quoted by James Wallace & Jim Erickson in
Hard Drive_(1992)

126) There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen.
Raymond Chandler
"Red Wind" in
Trouble Is My Business (1939)

127) An Irishman hears that the banks are failing. He runs into the bank where he keeps his money and demands every cent of it. 'Yes sir,' the teller says politely. 'Do you want it in cash or in the form of a check?' The Irishman replies: 'Well, if you have it, I don't want it. But if you haven't got it, I must have it immediately.'
Philip K. Dick
The World Jones Made (1956)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 857 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 9/17/2006 01:02:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right,
Here I am...
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Martin van Creveld - The Transformation of War

Jay Feldman - When the Mississippi Ran Backwards

Martin van Creveld - The Rise and Decline of the State

Alfred W. Crosby - America's Forgotten Pandemic (1989)
bush & company are...
class warriors
con artists
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Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
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Island in the Sky (1952)

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10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
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03/16/2008 - 03/23/2008
03/23/2008 - 03/30/2008
03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008
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search websearch unfutz

Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

Entertaining, interesting, intelligent, informed and informative comments will always be welcome, even when I disagree with them.

I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
2005 koufax awards


Carpetbagger Report
*Crooks and Liars*
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2004 koufax winners
2003 koufax award
"best blog" nominees
the proud unfutz guarantee
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.

If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.

(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)

Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


take all you want
but credit all you take.

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