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Monthly Archives: January 2006

FINALLLLLLLLY  §

After all this mindless hand-wringing about the Palestinian election, someone in the quasi-mainstream media finally publishes on the topic, making the same case that I and many others around the web have made over and over: the neoliberal marriage of democracy and a kind of material-economic gestalt “freedom” is a silly, ethnocentric, culturally naive dream. They are two unrelated ideas.

There is no reason to assume that those given the opportunity to vote around the globe will always vote for western-style markets and policy. Indeed, every piece of evidence we have suggests that (GASP) voters in national cultures that actually participate in the process (a narrowly state-selected, then self-selected group to begin with) will vote for those interests that fall across a spectrum matching the cultural and economic perspectives from which they already operate and under which they already live. SHOCK of SHOCKS!

Or, to put it another way (and as I’ve said before), if you give nations across the middle east democracy, they will happily engage in anti-American, anti-Israeli voting. Because that’s where public opinion in the region lies, whether you believe for good reason or no (I personally believe that it’s for very good reason indeed).

I still can’t believe all of the surprise that the administration and media seem to be feeling in the face of recent election results. Give me a break, you’ve had the polls for years… Apparently you were all just certain that they were liberal lies concocted by America haters in the NGO/NPOs. Well, surprise surprise… there are as many America and Israel haters as the crazy liberals always told you there were.

Now… are you ready to believe that the liberals got the reasons for all this America-hating and Israel-hating right as well, or are you going to wait on those points until a few more regimes are “given freedom” by the Bush administration, only to use it to bite the neocons the ass?

And, more to the point (especially after a State of the Union Address in which bush boldly told the supposedly democracy-endowed Palestinians what they “MUST” now do according to American authority), are you going to respect the democratic decisions of those upon whom you force your western-style democracies, or are you going to discredit the entire idea, foster ill will, and display a complete resignation to utter hypocrisy when you refuse to acknowledge or accept said democratic decisions, doing everything possible to undo them going forward?

Silly, scum-sucking, naive blind-faith-neoliberal simpletons.

market 101  §

I’m always startled by the extent to which people fail to understand economics.

I’m listening to talk radio and the host is complaining about record oil company profits while gas prices increase. Then he says that yes, he’s an investor in oil companies, so he wants high profits, but not if he has to pay more at the pump, and how can they possibly charge such high gas prices when they’re making record amounts of money, and blah, blah, blah…

This radio host, who fancies himself an ardent capitalist, is unclear on the concept. By investing in the marketplace, he has supported selective pressure on corporations to maximize their profits. As a society with a very high market investment penetration through stocks, mutual funds, retirement plans and so on, we collectively place huge pressures on corporations to maximize their profits and through market selection essentially breed corporations that are very good at extracting wealth from customers and returning that wealth to investors. People invest in, and thus reward and create, companies whose profits are higher quarter over quarter, whose stocks are more valuable quarter after quarter, whose dividends are larger payout after payout. To compound the effect, for the last two elections we have increasingly voted for deregulation and pro-market policy and policymakers as well. We have done our best to make the corporations wealthy because as their investors, we want to see that wealth turn up in our monthly statements.

But this profit — this wealth — is not “created” from nothing, it is extracted from consumers themselves — the customers who patronize said corporations. That is how the profits that investors watch so closely go higher, that is where the money that they make comes from. If you also happen to be a regular customer of such a corporation and still enter shareholder votes to maximize profit, invest in that sector with an eye toward profitability, and vote for politicians that seek to deregulate that economic sector, then you are merely charging yourself higher goods prices so that you can see higher market returns which you will be forced to spend a greater percentage of in order to afford increasingly expensive goods. In effect, you are moving cash from your left pocket to your right pocket and then complaining about it.

To make money in capitalism, the idea is to extract wealth from others, not to extract it from yourself. Of course, there are ethical problems with that notion as well, and the third world has in the last half-century (and over the last decade or two in particular) begun to engage the first world on a number of fronts on this point, tired of having wealth extracted from them as we sell “modernity” to them for a tidy profit for our investors… but to complain that you voted for deregulation and you ruthlessly invested in successful domestic commodity companies and now your commodity prices are too high, so thank god you’re getting more money now from your investments…

…is blind stupidity. You can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, despite what popular euphemisms (that themselves betray a certain ignorance about American society) would tell you.

run  §

I don’t know whether it’s due to a higher I.Q. or a higher degree of relevant technocultural literacy or what, but there is definitely a small subsection of the population out there that — like me — is already clearly witnessing the end of the post-enlightenment liberalism of the west as we’ve known it and the descent into a new dark age, well in advance of anything the press or the current population can see.

Understanding the technology by which reality is created (i.e. media, data, networks, publications) and watching the current legal, technical, and episodic-political battles along these fronts that non-specialists don’t yet care about or understand, it’s clear that any notion of a ‘democratic society’ is already long lost. Hitler and Stalin, foiled previously by America, have now won America.

The change won’t be clear to the bulk of the population for twenty years, but when they do wake up, they’ll wake up big. In the meantime,

run! Get out of this nation while you still can!

keystone light $0.99 / new phone $40  §

I can’t pull in a fscking call.

You always stop believing, it’s the nature of life.

My web diary began as an event catalogue and seems to have ended as a random collection of unreadable bullsh!t uninteresting to anyone but me. What did I do today? Rite of passage: the point at which it stops mattering what you did today, yesterday, tomorrow.

I woke up. I found out that I won’t get a tax refund. I found out that I missed the deadline for submitting teaching applications for yet another week. I tried to return a textbook and failed. I broke a piece of visual art. I got taken out to dinner, where I tried to explain where my life is going — again. I called my girlfriend, who was already asleep, to tell her I was going to sleep.

Only now I’m awake and I’m typing in this thing wondering what the B-52s are doing now and whether one of my exes listens to Information Society and drinking a $0.99 Keystone Light that I can’t afford.

Tomorrow I’ll “write an exam” as my German pen-pal (who I haven’t heard from in years, and who told me I was the first to know when he lost his virginity) used to say, and then I’ll try to scope out the market on freelance paper editing at the local State U, which also happens to be my alma mater.

Prolly I’ll sulk some, too.

Season 4 of Northern Exposure is coming out soon. Nothing’s Perfect.

on point  §

lives are never ruined; eyes are merely opened wider

chicago  §

tonite
i want to go back
to the windy city
and take the elevated train
the elevated train
to o’hare
chicago, chicago, chicago, chicago
i will die for you
presently

Academics, sure. It’s a sign to hang on myself, like if I was being sold. But here’s the real thing: if I can’t make a living taking pictures and writing, I should go away. Far, far away. Far, far away…

…there was this thing once upon a time — a long, long time ago — by which I could touch the rain, and it was wet and I would laugh and run and run and play at being twelve like a wild manchild in a giant woolen overcoat on the pavement glass, on the point of no surpass and I could live. I could live!

But never and ever was I ready for the leaving and the heaving and the right upright along the way to the last listless flight, thirty here I come…

and ever
and ever
and ever
and ever
and ever
and ever
and
ever

…to be touched…

cold breath in the morning  §

Waiting for a business call and working on my stock photo portfolio. But the problem is, it all feels odd. And then I step out to grab a cola and get some fresh air, and coming back I see the two old propane tanks that came out of our motorhome when I put the new ones in. And I realize that I’m not in Alaska, and that my motorhome is a thousand miles away, and that my girlfriend is eight hundred miles away, and that solvency is thousands of dollars away, just like that.

Just like that.

And I see my breath and it all sucks really, really hard and it kills me. It just kills me.

light reading  §

http://www.counterpunch.org/feng01212006.html

only in america  §

Since October, my life has been very strange and hectic. It has taken some bizarre turns and I am not at all where I thought I would be in January of 2006. But in any case, I am just settling down to dust off the freelance editing gloves once again and have spent the day browsing through contract listings via a variety of sources.

The time has thus come to finally compose a rant about a problem that has been around for a few years now, but that today in particular is making me very, very grumpy. Every pool of contract listings, no matter how exclusive or obscure, is increasingly saturated with dozens and dozens of listings like these:

*** Ghost writer needed — Exciting autobiography ***

I am an and have lived a very exciting life that will translate into a real bestseller. I am looking for a talented, creative, top-tier ghost writer to take seven pages of notes and a rough outline and turn it into an autobiography of 700-1000 pages for me covering my life from 35 on (I’m 37 now). The strongest candidates will have a day job at a major publisher and will therefore also be able to help me publish it when it is done. As a ghost writer, you will not receive credit for the writing, but if I am satisfied with the 700-1000 pages you write, I will pay as much as $1,000-1,500 depending on how quickly you finish the manuscript. I’d like to have this autobiography published by my new wife’s birthday in June so that I can surprise her with a copy as a birthday gift, so speed is of the utmost importance.

*** Ghost writer needed — Bestselling novel ***

I am looking for a ghostwriter to help me write a novel that I have been formulating in my imagination for the last sixteen years. It will be a blockbuster tale of deceit and espionage involving pimps, the drug trade, and the black market gun trade. I will supply the basic idea of the plot over several phone calls and then you will be responsible for filling in the details and writing the manuscript, which I expect to be 500-800 pages. Contacts in the publishing industry helpful since I haven’t yet begun to look for a publisher.

Please do not respond if you are not willing to ghost write (i.e. this is my idea and thus my novel, not yours), and also do not respond if you are not already a bestselling fiction author. There is no pay up front but as the ghost writer you will get 5% of whatever advance I am offered once you have written the manuscript and I find a publisher to pick it up.

*** Top Editor Needed — Spiritual Health and Genetic Success ***

I am working on a book that is guaranteed to be on the New York Times list when it comes out. It is about the genetic basis for god that permeates each of us and unites our intentions with our atomic energy and social wellness. It will revolutionize the health world and is sure to someday be on Larry King, The View, and Good Morning America.

I’ve done the hard work — I have an outline and fifty pages of condensed text. Now I need a talented editor with at least ten years’ experience to expand the manuscript to 400 pages and smooth out any rough edges. Please have experience in holistic healing, nuclear physics, and the genetics of spirituality. For the right editor, pay will be $0.45-0.50 per page of final, print-ready manuscript.

WHERE THE HELL DO THESE PEOPLE LIVE, AND HOW DO I GET TO MOVE THERE?

after several hours of reading poetry  §

The difference between the facile and the profound is precisely one drink, and, contrary to what you might expect, it is the latter that is the genuine understanding, the former being the superficial one.

Profundity is a serious business, but it is also merely a matter of facing yourself in the mirror… something more easily said than done, certianly.

Today has been a long day thus far.

Tomorrow will be a longer one.

But this, too, shall pass.

And that, my friends

is profound.

we didn’t make it  §

So after burning through nearly $5,000, we are back in Salt Lake City, and haven’t even managed to get the vehicle or half of our things back with us (those are now in storage in Calgary). We have spent the past two weeks trying to deal with cold and auto parts and roads and border crossings and progressively more northerly mechanics. The job is essentially lost, as is a great deal more.

It’s beyond deflating or frustrating. It is completely, immeasurably disappointing.

Everything was ready. Every loose end was taken care of. Everything broke. Nothing remains but loose ends.

There’s not much more to say at the moment. It’s a thing that happened. It’s not at all clear what happens now. We are tense with each other as well, having both lost so much personally and having little to show for it.

It’s a low moment. A low, low moment.

Northern Exposure season four comes out on March 28th. That makes my year, if nothing else.

I don’t quite know what to do with life. It’s here, yes, but…

…???

in calgary  §

FUEL PUMPS

GAAAAAAAH

i have more to say  §

Sometimes I feel as though I’m losing the magic — losing the way that I used to see the world and the way that I used to feel it. It’s been a long time since I was able to step outside of modernity and the marketplace (whether of ideas or of things) and feel my own being the way that I used to. Why?

What has changed? What is missing? Is it an essential component of aging? I used to ride the wind and talk to the rain every time I stepped outside. Now — now I forget about them on my way to whatever meaningless thing it is I’m doing.

I’m being sucked into western modernity. I am in danger of letting myself forget. I mustn’t forget — because forgetting is the end!

here goes nothing  §

Finally hitting the road. Got plates. Systems that work: furnace, stove, converter, inverter, battery/12v, engine, generator. Untested yet: black water. Not planned for use: fresh water, grey water.

Always leaving am I. Always.