for 3 November 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Final End III
"A big block of bitch cheese." That's pretty goddamned funny. I'm sitting at my desk chuckling like an idiot every time I read it. I would have snorted milk out of my nose if I hadn't been drinking water. Keep up the good work.
You mean every time you're not drinking water, you snort milk out of your nose? Sounds messy. But thanks for the kind note...
Them Against Fire
"People who destroy human life in this precise manner are not alone, and not disorganized, and very much not finished."
Thank you for your brave words. I look around me at all the heads in the sand, all the infants whimpering for their daily pabulum, and disappointment threatens to unhinge me.
I've been reading Suck for years. This marks the first time I've been moved to write in a compliment. I'll be watching you more closely henceforth.
Best regards from Redmond, WA.
Those infants whimpering for their daily pablum? I used to date a couple of 'em, back in the day. It was kind of fun, to tell the truth. Anyway, they never read my stuff, so...
You're a very special young man.
You know, I've heard those words before. You're not a probation officer, by any chance, are you?
Excellent essay. I am going to get a copy of "Men Against Fire" today.
Yep, not a bad idea. Two things, quickly, on that topic:
1.) The first few chapters? Establishing a premise. Which is something like "in war, people shoot guns and stuff." S-L-O-W. So if you find yourself feeling bored by the thing, don't start with that "that guy from Suck is an idiot" thing that I get so often. Just, you know, skip ahead a few pages. It starts really getting interesting around chapters ten ("Why Men Fight") and eleven ("The Aggressive Will.") (Chapter twelve, "Ten Easy Steps to Slim Your Waistline," is less valuable. Military historians generally pretend not to notice that chapter.)
2.) You might also find On Killing, by Dave Grossman, a really excellent book on the same topic. Picks up where Marshall left off, adds some detail, offers additional proof of the same ideas. And is, besides, a great title to ask the clerk for at Barnes and Noble. They get all sketchy and distant on you, pretty much instantly. It's cool.
Glad to see you're still among the living, though I have to admit that, in the absence of any cause worth fighting for, your tenure in the U.S. Army still somewhat puzzles me. That this was, indirectly, the topic of your missive makes the puzzle even larger: the U.S. very frequently finds itself in the position of an uber-bully without being smart enough to know it, which puts you in the position of abetting the very circumstances engendering the problem. Are we interested in peace in the middle east? Then why do we so heavily subsidize the Israelis? Is Iraq fighting its neighbors without our permission? Hmm, weren't we sending them big fat cashier's checks back in the '70s?
Himalayan ironies mount: the U.S. was founded because George III, and the ministers who governed in his name, wanted absolute control over everything that went on in the colonies. The hubris of our current leaders is even worse: they imagine they can recast the rest of the world in their image, with political philosophy reduced to FDR's comment about Trujillo: that is, they like oppressive foreign governments that can be bought ("he may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."). People laugh at Patrick Buchanan, and in the main, rightfully so he is a crackpot, frequently. But the sneakiness and venality Americans tolerate at home and encourage abroad is sufficient cause to cut loose the empire.
Trust me: My tenure in the U.S. Army puzzles the U.S. Army, too. Me, I'm not puzzled: I'm just angry. But there are, apparently, laws against just going home. The dirty bastards.
Okay, here's one: I eat in the same DFAC (Dining FACility, pronounced dee-fak) as the students at the School of the Americas. So I'm sitting there, morning after morning, reading the newspaper over breakfast, and reading about Vladimiro Montesinos fleeing Peru, and soldiers taking hostages, and the U.S. sending messages to the military to please not stage a coup, and so on. And at the tables to my left and right, shoveling down Krispy Kreme donuts, are uniformed Peruvian military officers, here to receive training in the organized application of violent force. Yeah! Go team!
On a positive note, considering the shit we're feeding them, they may all drop dead before they get a chance to go home and screw things up any worse.
And the caissons go rolling along,
Hit & Run 10.26.00
That was a remarkably good interview with the ghostie-boy. The whole idea that there are lots of ghosts around but they don't really do much...just sit and brood, really...is truly scary. Very "No Exit." Better "the end of days" than "days without end," surely. Though, for sheer terror, you might pull out an old copy of the Odyssey and read what hell is really like. Grey would not be my favorite color for eternity.
But I really wanted to rant about the undecided. "Say a prayer for the stay at home voter..." and all that. You may recall that to keep the cat in kibble I occasionally climb into an aluminium cylinder, fly to exotic lands, and run focus groups. I have heard America singing, and---trust me on this one---she is way off key. Any time you bring a bunch of just plain folks into a room with Pepperidge Farms cookies, what you get is a massive dose of aggressive ignorance. Mind you, these are nice people. Get them talking about their kids or their pets or their community, and they're just fine. But they are in such fear of being "taken" that they will, as far as I can tell, say or do almost anything to avoid doing the common sense thing. They're suspicious of insurance companies...so they invest in pyramid schemes. They're suspicious of doctors...so they spend their savings on herbal remedies. They're suspicious of politicians...so they invent bizarre hurdles they expect officials to jump over...and when they actually do jump over them, they're accused of pandering. The one thing nobody apparently is willing to do is spend 15 minutes looking into an issue, accept that you do the best you can with what you have, make a decision, and live with it. This cheap, unformed, knee jerk, essentially self-destructive cynicism is the heart of the great undecided vote...and I say it's spinach. It's true that some of these "undecideds" simply don't give a damn but, rather than admit this, invent silly reasons for their lack of decision.
We should declare a moratorium on requiring political awareness and let anyone who thinks the country is doing sort of OK and doesn't care just opt out. Since the country really is doing pretty OK, and the political culture is debating at the margins anyway, this should be allowed. We don't require people to root for football games if they don't like football, after all. Letting them opt out would spare us a raft of rationalizations that only clutter things up. Most of us probably in our heart of hearts would prefer a king anyway. I'm more concerned by the ex-Ross Perot types (yeah, and the Naderites and the Libertarians and Buchannasties) who keep complaining that they'd really truly do something if only The System would give them the chance. Deal with it. The System will NEVER give you a chance. That's because it's a big big system with enormous inertia...and it damn well should be changed slowly. Changes occur slowly...too slowly, sure, but that means bad changes as well as good changes occur slowly. If Regan couldn't reduce the size of government and Clinton (with a majority in both houses) couldn't pass the world's most conservative health care bill...ain't nothing going to happen fast. You don't like that? Tough. Go write an anti-glacier book (pace, Mr Vonnegut). Just spare me all this yammering by the undecided. It's a fairly easy choice; the two guys are pretty different; they're imperfect, but you're not a 10 either. Pick one. And shut up and go away. It's bad enough I have to listen to this stuff when I get paid for it. Alan Who is feeling unusually cranky today
Alan S Kornheiser
Not to be abrupt, but the idea you're proposing is the situation that exists in the United States of America at the present time. Nobody is required to be politically aware, much less to vote. Most likely they're attending your focus group because it's a quick and relatively easy $100.
But let's talk about ghosts. We were a bit disappointed that Ghostmaster Dale David Kaczmarek seemed to accept so readily the notion that spirits are wandering the earth merely because they don't know where to go. Based on experience, we're guessing most of them know very well that they're going to the Wrong Place and are trying to put that off as long as possible. We would have asked him about this, and in the spirit of your Homeric allusion, tried to worm out some descriptions of the underworld. But Mr. Ghost was so determined to avoid the topic of evil spirits that we didn't want to bedevil him. Besides, the scary thing about hell isn't that it's terrible, but that anything less than perfect would be intolerable if it lasted for eternity.
Under the link[BABYLON] I was sent to a website of the Vatican's Holy See as if it was a comparison of the Vatican and Babylon for the sake of humer. As a Catholic I find it not so funny a comparison. I converted to the Church and have found it a Bastion of good will ,true and heathy love, kindness and exceptional empathy for mankind.
As a Catholic from infancy, the suckster who inserted that link has neither your convert's conviction nor your convert's insulation from the aggressive madness of the old RCC. But rest assured, that joke is as funny as a male nun. When the Pope retains a cartoonist as brilliant as Jack Chick, we'll stop believing Mother Church is the Whore of Babylon.
Damn you! The following line from today's edition literally made me blow coffee all over my monitor, thanks a lot:
"but Swisher also summarizes one potential new demographic uncovered: "men who wanted to access porn online but didn't know how to find it.""
Take a closer look, BellD. That's not coffee on your monitor! Bah-duh-bump.
Nice interview with the ghost hunter. I liked your asking "Do you ever get any overlap, where people report a ghost but it turns out to be the Virgin Mary or an angel or something? " A valid question, but also think about what would happen if a place was haunted by several mutually exclusive entities. Who would win in turf wars between angels, ghosts, aliens and elves, each calling the others inexistent or obsolete?
At any rate, the guy's best answers were those regarding his work with "professional psychics" and his claim to "stay on the scientific end of the spectrum, using high tech gear and gizmos". They're so scientific, in fact, that they use something called a "Geophysically Equipped _Instrument of Scientific Testing_" (designed by one of their members) which measures everything from static electricity to smells. They stay away from controversial polygraphs, instead using something called a "Tremolo Meter" (which measures the "percentage of amplitude modulation" in voice) to tell if the witnesses are telling the truth, and the gizmo is so good it even works from tape recorded voices.
He says the society has 168 members, but the "bylaws" ("The title Ghost Research Society remains the exclusive property of Dale Kaczmarek") and the "chain of command" (empty posts for vice-president, research director, secretary, etc.) show that the "society" is basically under control of one Dale Kaczmarek. But I guess something called "Dale's Ghostly Gizmo Club" wouldn't look as good on his book or on the Discovery Channel. I used to watch Discovery/TLC some time ago, before the FOXification of including shows about Roswell and killer Earthquakes instead of Connections. I don't watch anymore, but I hope they're not endorsing magnetic insoles and reverse speech now.
And why bother with pros when scientific ghost hunting is within anyone's reach with the new Phantometer, available for only $49.95 by following a link from the GRS website. This "ghost field detector" also acts as a "Ghost/UFO" meter. "Whichever ghost theory you believe or however many times you've been abducted, we've got your tool!" How's that for overlap. I expect the next model will detect missing people, miracles, underground water, and the evil eye.
Sorry for the long rant, but I get steamed with that certain kind of people who want to invoke science via buzzword incantations. Jane Houston's Ghostwatcher is the only ghost site I consider neat.
You've got a valid point, Humberto. Technology has democratized the field of ghost hunting just as it has so many industries, and the elites are probably feeling protective of their turf. But think about it: The infighting, the creative differences, the voluminous bylaws aren't all of these really the whole point of exercises like this?
As for your first question, we'd have to say that whoever wins in an inter-entity battle, it wouldn't be the ghosts. Dale's central point that ghosts are pretty much powerless beings is pretty much beyond dispute. What makes ghosts scary isn't that they can really harm us, but that they remind us of how we're going to end up with or without their assistance.