Interesting graphic from Crooks and Liars
suggesting how limited the mainstream political choices are in this country:
Wed, Jul. 18th, 2007, 09:41 pm
Second project. We had a party, needed extra seating.
Sun, May. 20th, 2007, 09:37 pm
Historically, I haven't exactly been a "handy" guy, and any knowledge I've gained about carpentry, plumbing, electrical systems, etc., has been haphazard, limited, and truly trial-and-error.
I'm at a point now though where I'm ready to make a commitment to building some decent DIY skills. We still have planks and cinderblocks serving as bookshelves, for crying out loud, and I hate paying for something I might eventually be able to make myself.
This was my Saturday project: building a proper workbench to replace the cardboard box I've been using for that purpose over the last 18 months. Here's the "before" photo. Pretty sad.
How-to instructions abound on the web, and I found a plan that was within the scope of my capabilities. I'm still learning that having the right tools makes a job a lot easier and faster. Anyway...
Georgia's Republican governor, Sonny Perdue, is considered a possible candidate for VP in '08. Here are some of his insightful remarks from a recent radio interview:
Perdue acknowledged that the going in Iraq has been tough. But, he said, “until you’ve got a better idea, keep your mouth shut.”
“This president did not choose war. He chose to protect the United States of America, and I’m thankful that he did,” Perdue said.
Thu, Feb. 1st, 2007, 10:00 pm
Last week I caught the second half of the film The Truman Show
, which I hadn’t seen in a few years. I was struck by how closely the themes of surveillance and control matched what I’ve been reading in Derrick Jensen and George Draffan’s Welcome to the Machine
, which analyzes our culture’s drift toward a Panopticon-inspired model. The authors focus on the power differentials so often hidden by incremental technological advances; as biometrics and data mining and Total Information Awareness creep into our regular lives, the fact that information does not flow along equal pathways is obscured. Those who control the technology gain access to all manner of our identities--who we are, where we are, what we say and do--but we have no such information about them. We self-regulate our actions and words, and perhaps soon our thoughts, because we know we’re being watched. But this is okay, speaks the master narrative, because we’re supposed to accept the idea that they (the corporations, the military-industrial complex, Dick Cheney) have our best interests at heart. They’re looking out for us, and our way of life, so we should trust them. But history and human nature tells us that the watchers must themselves be watched, or power inevitably becomes concentrated and abused.
Anyway. These are the themes of The Truman Show. I won’t rehash the plot since it’s a well-known movie. Suffice it to say that the entire film is a metaphor for a surveillance society, which is no great revelation. But then again, it’s not a film that’s often cited as a socio-political watershed.
I’ll mention a couple of moments that were epiphanal in light of what I’ve been reading.
- A TV commentator (played by Harry Shearer, ha) interviewing Christof, the creator of the show: “I’d like to thank you on behalf of our audience for granting this exclusive interview. We know how demanding your schedule is and we all know how jealously you guard your privacy.”
(This is the ironic power differential Jensen and Draffan examine.)
- Christof whispering lines that Marlon then recites to Truman: “The last thing I’d ever do is lie to you.”
- Christof speaking about the evolution of the show: “As Truman grew up, we were forced to manufacture ways to keep him on the island.”
(“on the island” being within sight of the all-seeing eye)
- Truman is the first child to have been legally adopted by a corporation.
- Q: “Why has Truman never come close to discovering the true nature of his world until now?” A: “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that.”
(We’re all also partly culpable. It’s easier to accept what is.)
- Christof: “He can leave at any time. If it was more than just a vague ambition, if he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him from leaving.”
(A positive note. See below.)
- Christof: “I’m determined that television’s first on-air conception will still take place.”
(No limit to the Panopticon’s gaze.)
- Christof to Truman as he’s contemplating leaving: “There’s no more truth out there than there is in the world I created for you. Same lies. The same deceit. But in my world, you have nothing to fear. I know you better than you know yourself.”
(This reminds me of Cheney’s warning about electing a Democratic Congress. And terror alerts amidst assurances that we should all just keep shopping.)
So. Put this film alongside the Matrix trilogy as important comments that have largely been dismissed as matinee entertainment. The good news is that both films propose that escape is possible, that a different way to live exists. Of course other art--I’m thinking Kafka, and maybe others can provide some examples--paints a more pessimistic view.
Tue, Jan. 30th, 2007, 08:38 pm
So last February I thought I'd start keeping track of the books I was reading, just for kicks. It's been almost a year now, so I thought I'd reflect on the experience.
First, the very fact that I was keeping a list seemed to influence my reading habits. I think I was more apt to press on to finish a book I didn't really like (Ethan Canin's Blue River
comes to mind) just so I could put another tally on the list. The sheer fact that I was keeping a list probably resulted in me reading more.
I think this reveals something in my character. I think I have a tendency toward focusing on smaller tasks (weekly jobs, to-do lists at work), possibly at the expense of bigger picture plans. I can easily get caught up in the mechanics of something and that may distract me from the ambiguities--and the fears--of making larger sense out of something. More sergeant-minded than colonel-ish. Or at least that's where my immediate reactions take me. I guess that with an awareness of this tendency, I can work to be more of a forest-and
-trees kind of person.
Anyway, some notables: the list includes three of the best novels I've read in the last few years, in The Corrections
, and Cold Mountain
. I thought I'd find the McCarthy novels trendy and precious, but they resonated, especially after having lived in the Southwest. Michael Pollan's nonfiction is great. And the atheist-oriented material: Letter to a Christian Nation
, and Dawkins' The God Delusion
, which I'm reading now. One big surprise: probably the best science fiction novel I've ever read in Hyperion
(its corny cover art put me off, but I couldn't put it down once I started).
Fri, Jan. 12th, 2007, 11:07 am
White House press secretary Tony Snow, reponding to reporters about whether "surge" is an accurate label for the president's proposed troop escalation in Iraq:
"You guys do words for a living. Rather than trying to ask Democratic or even Republican lawmakers what the proper descriptive term is, you figure it out."
Interesting that the administration that brought us the Patriot Act, the Healthy Forests initiative, the Clear Skies initiative, and No Child Left Behind now seems mystified by the rhetorical nature of naming.
Tue, Jan. 2nd, 2007, 07:59 am
Playalinda Beach, FL
Dec. 31, 2006.
Photo by mom.
Tue, Jan. 2nd, 2007, 07:58 am
Playalinda Beach, FL
Dec. 31, 2006.
Photo by mom.
Sat, Aug. 19th, 2006, 08:11 am
Same eggplants, three weeks later...