Define "a Life"...

... still searching for a clear definition of that thing people keep telling me I need to get...

Location: Springfield, PA

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

quiet... too quiet...

Well, I'm diving into the madness that is the holiday show at work ( so things here'll be pretty quiet for the next couple of weeks. This production has all the headache-inducing production elements that everyone loves in a holiday show: atmospherics of several sorts, body mics and live sound, assorted special effects and lots and lots of lights. If I were making The Big Bucks, this would exemplify what I'd be doing to earn them. Of course, I'm not making the Big Bucks, so this is just a wealth of new material for me to grouse about.
I will not, however, be doing much of that grousing here. (Time's too tight, and there's too little satisfaction compared to kvetching over a beer.) So things're gonna get quiet here.

By the way, just to touch on recent running concerns, 1511 days left...

Friday, November 05, 2004

all of us are in the gutter

I just popped by the Proud Liberals website, and found the following:
(well, click and see)

The American Flag. Old Glory. The Stars & Stripes. That thing.
Upside down.

It's an image that disturbs me, and I'm thinking about why. I respect the flag, in that I respect what it stands for. (What I believe it stands for, not necessarily what folks tell me it stands for when they try to co-opt it for their own ends.) I have an emotional resonance with it as well. I believe so strongly in what it represents that I defend your right to burn it, although it's unlikely that I'd ever take part in such an act myself, precisely because a significant part of what it represents is that right.

Yes, it bothers me when citizens of other nations burn our flag; it bothers me, in a somewhat different way, when citizens of our nation burn our flag; it bothers me most of all when the political leaders of our nation, and anyone else claiming patriotism, assert that we don't have the right to burn our flag.
Hell, if we don't have the right to burn our own flag, who does?
The United States is a nation of flag-burners, tea-dumpers, idealists and revolutionaries. Those are the principles upon which this country was founded, not blind, unquestioning, unthinking "my country, right or wrong" pseudopatriotism.

I wish I could slap a flag sticker on the back of my Ford pickup and have everyone who sees it understand that it means I love this country, not that I support George W. Bush.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

... a three-edged sword

Rob S. posted some hopes for the next four years on his blog. Wisely, Rob had already vented a little. I hadn't, and my comments on his post were rather less even handed. Thus:
(Hopes in " " are Rob's originals.)

My hopes for the next four years are a little less glowing, and a lot more vicious...

I hope Bush makes some genuine mistakes of the sort that simply cannot be covered up, spun or glibly denied. I hope his arrogance comes back to bite him in the ass. I mean, he's already made so many such mistakes... perhaps he need make no more, perhaps I'm just hoping that he has to reap what he's sown.

I hope we all survive that bleak harvest.

I hope the news media grows a set. I'd love to see someone refuse to televise the President, and represent him only in transcripts of his inane babbling.

I hope citizens in general grow a set. Okay, America, Mr. Bush says you've spoken. Now let me ask a question: how does it feel to have elected a man whose campaign was almost wholly based on scaring you into voting for him?

I hope that Arlen Specter waits until February, then shifts party affiliation and becomes a Democrat. Would serve the GOP right.

I hope John Ashcroft DOES choke to death on the semen from a male prostitute.
I hope that male prostitute is a registered member of the American Family Association.

I hope Congress musters a conscience and makes any self-serving agenda-driven appointments Bush might make to the Supreme Court into a circus as they tie them up in hearings and reviews.

I hope, even more fervently, that stem cell research yields amazing results which allow all the sitting Justices to live for six more years.

"I hope everyone has the good sense to keep their grubby mitts off the Constitution."

"I hope Karl Rove gets gang-raped by hillbillies. Or orangutans. Or sharks."
Double Amen.
# posted by Greg! : 9:49 PM

My above Comments spurred the following Comments:

ROb and Greg,
While I found of your comments typical, childish, and immature I was particularly displeased with Greg's comments on how he wants these people to fail. I won't call his comments unamerican but american hating. Greg for an educated person you are being pretty ignorant. Make no bones about it - I equate you wanting these people to fail with wanting America to fail. If these people don't make progress than America does not make progress. If these people succeed than America succeeds. Greg and Rob,
You have every right to be displeased and make stupid immature jokes about sharks and semen. You can whine all you want. Go cry to your mommy and anybody else that will hear it. But Greg, to openly hope these people fail may not be unamerican but it is anti-american in my book.
# posted by Anonymous : 11:16 AM

Several reasoned responses showed up in Rob's Comments pile, but I felt the need to respond myself.
See, Tom was "particularly displeased" with something I don't think I said. I've since reread and re-reread my initial post (above) and I can't actually find the comments on wanting these people to fail that so displeased Tom.
Before getting to the clarification that I actually posted in the Comments on Rob's blog, let's look at this, textually, a little more closely.

I hope Bush is no longer able to ignore or deny his mistakes. I caught myself as I was writing, and noted that I don't really want him to make any more mistakes. I just want him held accountable for those he's already made.
If being held accountable for his actions is "failing," then I suppose I must want him to fail. But what, exactly, would that failure be? Failure to avoid the consequences of your choices? What, in this context, would constitute success?

I'd like the media to start asking tough questions, and demand real answers. I'd like the media as a whole to stop accepting abstract rhetoric as an answer to a specific question.
Not sure what the failure is there, although perhaps it's related to the previous point.

Would Arlen Specter’s becoming a Democrat itself constitute some sort of failure? What does that imply?

John Ashcroft's imagined demise is, of course, pure venom on my part. But once Rob put the initial image out there it was just too resonant.
Of course, I assume this could be interpreted as a failure of some sort on Ashcroft's part. But, really, I can't see how his inability to handle a personal swallow-or-spit situation could be seen as a national failure.

I hope the Republican Congress doesn't simply vet any appointment Bush might have the opportunity to make to the Supreme Court. I admit that maybe I am hoping for a sort of failure here. I'm hoping that Bush fails in any attempt to make appointments that would structure the Court for decades to come based on an agenda that is at odds with what I consider primary American principles. If successfully making such appointments to the Court would fit Tom's definition of "progress," then it's a progression I don't want to see America make.

I guess what bothers me about this is the fact that Tom immediately equates my objections to Bush with The Doom of America. That's an association the Bush Presidency has been very effective in nurturing. It's an all-or-nothing psychology that demonizes dissent of any sort. It's an important tool in the mythic, abstract, fear-based campaign the GOP crafted so skillfully this election.

Calling my reactions "childish and immature" is itself a rather unconsidered criticism. Anyone who watched Zell Miller at the GOP convention and didn't come away from it thinking things like "irrational," "childish," "immature" and "irresponsible" -- not to mention fervently divisive -- is someone who's applying no critical faculties whatsoever to anyone saying anything with which you already agree. Sharks, semen and such aside for the moment, there was nothing in my rant that was more childish than Zel's "spitballs" routine. I'm just saying things you don't agree with.

So, DO I want "these people" to fail? Not really. I want the fires of terrorism quenched to whatever extent they can be. I want our economy to be stable and show healthy growth. I want us, as a nation strong economically and politically, to be able to give where need manifests itself around the world. I want our education system to nurture all children to the fullest actualization of their potential. I want health care to be available to everyone who needs it. I want people who love each other marry, if they wish, have children, if they choose, and form strong, caring, loving families in a society that supports values and boasts a heritage they can be proud of.
But, frankly, in the cases in which what “these people” are trying to do would, in my considered opinion, be injurious to the primary principles of this nation, yes, I do want them to fail.
I want "these people" to fail in any and all attempts to amend the Constitution to restrictively define marriage in its "defense."
I want "these people" to fail in positioning the United States as the unaccountable watchdog of self-defined freedom throughout the world.
I want "these people" to fail in restructuring a Supreme Court which reflects Conservative Christian priorities at the expense of a rational interpretation of law or the primary defense of individual rights.
I want "these people" to fail in further nurturing a fear-based atmosphere that makes American citizens think about "safety" at the expense of freedom.
I want "these people" to fail in avoiding accountability for their own choices and actions on the basis that "we have to make a decision and stand by it" regardless of subsequent events or additional information.
I want "these people" to fail in substituting abstract rhetoric for concrete reasoning and acting like the two are the same thing.
I want "these people" to fail in convincing the citizens of the United States that it is automatically indecisive and weak to consider in full the nuances of a complex situation.
I want "these people" to fail in passing a mammoth financial burden on to future generations.
I want "these people" to fail in further isolating the United States from the rest of the world.
I want "these people" to fail in setting themselves up to define an American identity which excludes essential values of pluralism and individuality on which the United States was founded.

This, then, is the core of my objection to "these people" and their administration: there are polices and priorities the Republican party in general and this administration in particular have expressed that I believe are incompatible with principles and values that define the United States as I know it. Their “progress” in this respect seems to me anything but.
If they succeed, America fails.

So what did I actually end up posting in clarification of my Comment and response to Tom's?
Nothing so assertive or sweeping. Thus:

A clarification:

Since the one thing Tom seems to have taken from my admittedly pissed-off rant was something I didn't actually say, I want to clarify my opinion and respond to any interpretations of it.

Tom (and anyone who got the same impression), I do not "want these people to fail." I believe they have failed. And I feel we, as a nation of ostensibly responsible citizens, have failed -- first, in not holding this administration accountable for its mistakes and misrepresentations and flat refusals to accept responsibility for its own actions, and, second, in voting this administration in for another term.

I even caught myself when I started writing. I don't really want Bush to make a mistake. Bush doesn't need to make a single mistake in his coming four years if order for him to have failed in much of what he claims to have succeeded in. I would love to see him correct his errors. I hope he doesn't make any more mistakes. But I also hope that as the consequences of his policies unfold the mistakes he's already made are not ignored or misrepresented in some erroneous and immature belief that to admit the President erred is somehow un- or anti-American.

The simple fact that the man occupies an elected office does not make him one with the office he holds nor, certainly, with the nation which created that office in the first place. To criticize the President is not to criticize the Presidency. America is not defined by the policies and actions of a single President, sitting or centuries dead; to oppose the polices of a single President is not opposing America.

"American hating"? Hardly. If I hated America, I'd celebrate Bush's second term and wish an unending succession of identical Presidents on the nation. I wish no such thing. I lament the man's re-election precisely because I love this country and I mourn for much of what's happened or been done to it during Bush's watch or at his behest.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

… just another word for nothing left to lose

I don’t know which prospect is more deeply disturbing, the thought that this election’s results are the product of a more sweeping and much more stealthy manipulation than last time’s Florida scamming or the idea that the majority of voters actually want another four years of Shrub. Both terrify me, each in its own way.

Of course, what really scares me is the fact that the man now has nothing to lose. He can’t get a third term, so there’s no need to play things safe for the next four years. He can be a crazy as he wants. And we already have a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court nearing death’s door.

Please, someone, tell me the wolves are coming to save us.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Frelling politics!

Well, I voted. Polls in PA closed almost an hour ago. I can't bring myself to turn on the TV.

So I'll natter on about something completely disassociated with the election: FarScape.

I've been wondering what was going on with the Sci-fi Channel ever since they declined to pick up the series for a fifth season (read: canceled). They drop FarScape, but give us Scare Tactics? What's that about?

I finally made time to watch the FarScape: The Peacekeeper Wars so-called "mini-series" over this past weekend. (Sc-fi was calling it a mini-series; it's four hours of programming shown in two two-hour segments -- more "mini" than "series," if you ask me.) It was like a condensed version of the show, all the strengths and flaws intensified. They tied up a number of the loose and ragged ends that had been left hanging at the end of their final episode. The show ended each of its seasons with a cliffhanger of sorts, and when they ended Season Four they didn't know a Season Five was not to follow. We fans had been blindsided by the cancelation, and the folks at Jim Henson Productions (who make the show) were quick to promise that "something" would follow to provide some closure. That Sc-fi picked it up seems a sign of their eventual awareness of their mistake in canceling the show.

I don't suppose it's wholly coincidence that part of the mini-series' climax hinges on the need to convince the galaxy's two warring superpowers that there's no truth in the equation that claims The Bigger Weapon = Peace.

There's no point in gushing about the clever bits in the show -- if you know it, you've probably seen it already, and if you don't then I'd only be confusing you at best and, at worst, spoiling the pleasure of discovery should you take my recommendation to heart. FarScape was always a character driven SF show; in its belated finale, the standard SF concern with issues fit comfortably with all the show's traditional strengths.

FarScape -- proud owner of the high shining brass balls of TV science fiction shows. To the Sci-fi Channel I say:
"Andromeda? Please. I know FarScape; FarScape was a friend of mine; Andromeda, sir, you are no FarScape."

The same goes for Stargate: Atlantis

Know your audience

Well, by the clock it's Nov. 2 (12:17 am as I write this) and I will be voting in a few hours. After some sleep.
I've been thinking about a certain anti-Kerry Bush campaign TV commerical I saw a few days ago, and how it's illustrative of so many aspects of this campaign that have frustrated me.
You may have seen it. A camera moves, low, through the undergrowth in a forest. Dark, indistinct forms can be glimpsed moving behind the trees. A voice, then a few title cards, tell us that John Kerry and "the liberals" voted to cut intelligence spending, cuts so deep they would have left our defenses weakened -- and weakness is an invitation to attack. (Or words to that effect.) Then we see what the shapes moving behind the trees were: a pack of wolves sits in the clearing in front of us. One by one, they get up and begin to move toward the camera...
And my first reaction was "Hooray! The wolves are coming to save us!"
Oh, yeah. I'm supposed to find this threatening, aren't I? I know. Well, I'm sorry, all you fear-fermenting Republicans, but this is one borderline anarchist liberal who knows that wolves do not simply attack humans. In fact, I don't believe there is a case on record of a healthy wolf attacking a human being. Once again, the GOP rhetoric is based on attempts to spin fear out of myth. Show me a pack of wolves and I think loyalty, dignity, strong community and family values with an honesty and depth that are beyond the conception of the perveyors of conservative rhetoric. I do NOT think about radical religious extremists trying to destroy my way of life. Show me a pack of wolves, and I see something that I find far more comforting that elephants or mules.
Now that I think of it, the Wolf Party might actually get my registration. Take from nature only what you need to survive. Remain loyal to the pack. Care for the young. Play freely. Howl at the moon. Those sound like values I can support without equivocation. (Well, maybe not that last... but only because it's a misperception that wolves howl at the moon.)
Sadly, there are no Wolf Party candidates on the ballot. Only donkeys who want us to be afraid of the elephants, and elephants who want us to be afraid of pretty much everything.
I wish the wolves were coming to save us.