You are here



I've been re-reading Kerry Thornley's wonderful tract Zenarchy. It's about the only work on politics I've ever found that truly makes sense. Here's a great excerpt on the politics of sexuality, highly relevant to the "culture war" and to the far right's attempt to use gay marriage as a wedge issue to distract us from how the military-industrial complex and the investment class have been screwing us over for decades; and also to the sexy counter-game represented by things like the Burner community and the Pagan movement:

By itself, intellectual liberation that does not come to terms with human sexuality can be worse than useless. And regaining our original lusty sexual innocence requires, beyond reviving our curiosity, an entirely different approach than liberating reason. For now we are called upon to deal with that portion of the human mind called the human body, regarded in speech as a separate entity from the body. They are interconnected. That explains why erotic matters are usually imponderable even to poets. So much is sexuality part of us, closer than breathing, that trying to understand it is akin to the eye endeavoring to see itself - in a beautiful metaphor used in another context by Alan Watts - or like the hand trying to grab itself.

Possibly, sexuality is the mother of religion. Primitive mystics may have been ascribing symbols to aspects of what we call lust, both genital and the more pervasive non-genital kind of which Norman O. Brown writes so eloquently. Certainly when religion becomes organized and established it begins to regard sex jealously as a dangerous competitor, perhaps in an effort to hide its own not-so-miraculous-and-immaculate origins.

Politicians intuitively grasp the usefulness of sexuality as a sure way to divide people and distract them from the business of becoming free in other ways. Whether they choose to be for or against sexual repression, they can create such an uproar that political and economic crimes and failures will fade into the background. Jay Gould, the monopoly capitalist, once boasted that he could cure unemployment by hiring one half of the jobless to kill the other half. As long as they can keep their subjects quarreling with one another about personal affairs, they need not fear a united effort to oust them. Since organized religion is politically powerful, it usually takes the side of repression. As Aldous Huxley showed in Brave New World, they could just as easily reduce us to submission by taking the opposite approach. In contemporary culture, factions of the ruling class sometimes join forces with organized crime to create turmoil by supporting sexual freedom. Efforts like that are not sexual liberation movements; they depend as much on guilt and blackmail and puritanical legislation as drug smuggling depends on narcotics laws - without which there would not be much profit in the activity.

Once I was driving through Atlanta with my Hindu friend, Suresh, an exchange student from India. Upon noting that the largest adult book center in town was located right next door to the Baptist book store, also the largest of its kind, he commented, "Why not? They keep each other in business!"

We own it. Let's run it.

So we're going to own the majority of GM. But Obama says that he has no interest in having the majority owner -- the U.S., i.e. you and I, though our elected officials -- run the company.

Absentee ownership is never a good idea. We own a large industrial manufacturer now, and we ought to run for our benefit.

And what is the best way to use this industrial giant to our benefit? Should we have it continue to make gas-guzzlers? Should we have our company try to compete with Japan and Korea -- and rising stars China and India -- to make affordable and fuel-efficient cars?

Here's a better idea -- let's repurpose its manufacturing capability. Already, manufacturing plants once dedicated to the automobile industry are being used for things like wind turbines. And up until 2004, GM had a large locomotive division. Why not have our company lead the way in green industry, not with a showy and over engineered attempt at an electric car, but with renewable power, and with a renaissance of the only sensible and green form of ground transport, rail?

But instead, it looks like under the moderately conservative Obama administration, we'll have what capitalism always comes down to: lots of talk about free markets, and then lots of action to intervene in the market to support the investment class, the capitalists and the corporate managers, at the expense of the people who actually do the work. We'll hand the investors a lot of money to tide them over this troubled time, then give the company back to the same people who screwed up the first time around, so they can continue to mismanage the company and to make products detrimental to planetary health.

xkcd on "School Spirit"

xkcd on "school spirit". (I feel much the same way about the cheerleading that usually passes for "patriotism".)

spending cuts threaten Maryland Summer Centers for Gifted Students

An open letter to:

Delegate Steven J. Deboy, Sr.
Delegate James E. Malone, Jr.
Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer
Governor Martin J. O'Malley

Dear Delegates, Senator, and Governor:

For 42 years, the Maryland Summer Centers for Gifted Students have run programs that have enriched the lives of academically talented young people.

I was one of those kids. For four summers in the early 1980s, I got to attend the "Center for Advanced Studies" program held at Western Maryland College. It was at this academic summer camp that I took my first computer programming class, setting me on the road that led to a master's degree and a successful career. (Which, I might point out, has resulted in some significant tax payments to Maryland over the years!) I got to learn about philosophy and logic and psychology; a quarter-century later I still reflect on some of the things I learned those weeks.

"Sweet Sasha", "Marvelous Malia", and "A Girl Like Me"

You may have heard about Ty making the Obama kids into Beanie Babies. (Ty, of course, claims the names are just a coincidence.)

My first reaction was amazed disgust. But Ruth Marcus makes an excellent point:

...It's impossible to read about "Sweet Sasha" and "Marvelous Malia" without being reminded of the famous psychology experiment cited in Brown v. Board of Education. Offered dolls of differing skin tones, black children overwhelmingly chose to play with the white doll; they picked the white doll when asked to identify the "nice" doll and selected the brown doll when asked which was the "bad" doll.


When a high school student named Kiri Davis repeated Clark's experiment with 4- and 5-year-olds at a Harlem child-care center for her 2005 documentary, "A Girl Like Me," she found heartbreakingly similar results.

In the video, a little girl in a lavender sweatshirt identifies the "bad" and "nice" dolls. "Why does that look bad?" Davis asks. "Because it's black," the girl replies. "And why do you think that's a nice doll?" "Because she's white."

Then comes the real gut punch. "Can you give me the doll that looks like you?" The girl touches the white doll. Her hand lingers on it for a few seconds. Slowly, she slides the dark-skinned doll across the table.


Then again, if hawking "Sweet Sasha" and "Marvelous Malia" encourages children of any hue to want an African American doll, or to admire two African American girls whose father just happens to be president, maybe that's not such a bad trade-off.

Obama re-sworn

After John Roberts screwed up the administration of the oath at Obama's inauguration, some people suggested - some jokingly, some seriously - that Obama wasn't legitimately president. Well, now there's no doubt (discarding wacko conspiracy theories about how Obama was really born in Kenya or on Mars or something) because they went back and did it again:

The decision to repeat the oath was taken out of an abundance of caution, an official said.

But Mr Obama joked: "We decided it was so much fun...." before adding: "We're going to do it very slowly."


"We believe the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately," said White House counsel Greg Craig.

"Out of the abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath a second time."

Two other presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur, have had to repeat the oath because of similar problems.

the return of democratic rule to the U.S.

If all goes well, in a few hours we will see the return of a democratically elected President to the United States for the first time in eight years. Hooray! That's something to celebrate regardless of your opinion of Obama.

And as for him...after the Rick Warren fiasco, I was with with those who called for an furor to be raised. And that seems to have had at least some impact.

Obama just might be teachable - besides the symbolic gesture of inviting Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the gay Episcopal bishop, to deliver the invocation at a concert at the Lincoln Memorial we've seen the nomination of several LGBT folks to positions in the Administration.

We're still hearing promises - though vague ones - to end the travesty of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Just not immediately - as if it would take a long time for him to issue an executive order, in his role as Commander in Chief, stating that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will not be tolerated in the armed forces of the United States.

Of course I'm not expecting any radical change. But let's face it, it wouldn't take much for Obama to be the best president to hold office so far during my life.

So: I'm setting my inauguration response to "hooray for the return of democratic governance, with a slight and cautious optimism as to the anticipated quality of that governance".

Zelda's Inferno exercise: considering the poet laureate

Happy new year!

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write the poem that gets you disqualified from consideration as poet laureate

"considering the poet laureate"

the state is the opposite -
the polar opposite, the antithesis, the additive inverse, the eternal opponent -
of poetry

it was the state that put Thoreau into a jail;
it was poetry that kept him free inside those walls

music art and poetry can
only free a soul
only bring us closer to
that angelic state
that bodhisattva state
where every man and woman and child and dog
knows and acts the lovingkindesswisdom way

and what need then for guns of governence?
what purpose then to the state's violent threats?

poetry steals Caesar's thunder from him
makes empty the angry threats of kings
when every person knows their gods directly
there's no place left for fear of church or state

so, no:
propaganda is not the poet's place
non servium

Charles Krauthammer's "moral clarity"

Letter to the editor, Washington Post:

Besides slaughtering civilians, Israel has deliberately killed Palestinian Authority police in the Gaza strip. Targeting civil authorities in the occupied territories - the only people who could enforce a political solution, who could stop rogue attacks from being launched - shows that the current Israeli leadership has no interest in a peaceful settlement, and makes Charles Krauthammer's claim ["Moral Clarity in Gaza", Jan. 2] that Israel has some sort of moral high ground nothing short of nauseating.

Israel: cop killer a hundred times over

Many conservative Americans regard killing a police officer as the ultimate crime, an attack on society itself. What will they think when they learn that the government of Israel is a cop-killer over 100 times over, that Israel's latest terror attacks have targeted Palestinian police, the only body that might keep Palestinian resistance fighters under control in a political solution to the conflict?

Well, it's a moot point, since they probably won't. They're hear about "Hamas operatives" being killed. I suppose that if a Palestinian Authority police officer is a "Hamas operative" by virtue of Hamas being the majority party in the Palestinian elected government, then as of January 20th all federal agents will become "Democratic operatives".

Today. by the way, is the anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre, when the U.S. government killed over 200 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux. There are sad and obvious parallels between the brutal U.S. genocide of the Native nations in the name of manifest destiny, occasionally interrupted by equally brutal, but ineffective, resistance by Indians; and the brutal Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people in the name of Zionism, occasionally interrupted by equally brutal, but ineffective, resistance.

Maybe in 100 years Palestinians will be running casinos in the West Bank.


User login

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.