February 19, 2011

Hard-Working Americans Are ‘Bottom-Feeders’ and ‘Freeloaders’ to the Elitist Limbaugh


“This isn’t fair!”

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:26 pm

Getting a job in New York City in the mid Sixties presented a young man with a smorgasbord of delights and temptations. We were aghast to learn that a bottle of beer was three times more expensive there than in Scranton Pa. We encountered on enterprising fellow who had set up a gambling casino on top of a portable table. He was soliciting bets that you couldn’t keep up with the movement of the cards he was moving about. The Ace of Spades had a bent corner and it was child’s play to see where it had ended its wanderings. He wanted folks to bet on their powers of observation and he singled me out of the crowd for a personal challenge. Not wanting to take unfair advantage of the fellow, we offered to teach him a lesson for the symbolic wager of $1. He belittled us mercilessly and said we lacked the chutzpah (whatever that was) to make a substantial bet. Some other fellow in the crowd had the cajones to bet a double sawbuck. The tip-off flaw somehow failed to provide the intrepid soul with a windfall profit and the operator of the table top gambling casino reaped the rewards of his labor via some slight-of-hand magic.

When the fabled decade ended, we were living at Lake Tahoe and the greatest dog who ever lived (Baron Siegfried L. von Richthofen III [a sweetie when sober]) was a roommate. There were ample opportunities to play games of chance that were more closely regulated than the rouge operations we had seen in New York City, but as the Sixties came to a close, our efforts to duplicate the cynical W. C. Fields philosophy of life had taken firm root and we limited our gambling experiments to an annual loss of $35 and considered that an entertainment expense.

One time we walked into the office of a Public Relations official for one of the local casinos carrying the props for a photo which would illustrate a story about a local charity event. Since one of the props was a genuine shotgun, the PR official asked: “How did you get past security?” We told her “we just walked past.”

The other human roommate and I hosted weekly poker games. New decade; new vices?
There were some brief scurrilous rumors that Siegfried would eyeball the other fellows hands and then silently say what they were holding so that we could gain, via lip reading, an unfair advantage over our guests. It was one of the wildest conspiracy theories we have ever heard.

We were unaware of the FM revolution occurring in radio and since South Lake Tahoe is surrounded by a ring of mountains, the reception of AM stations was extremely limited. There were two stations in the basin and we could on good nights pick up clear signal KFI from Los Angeles and some station in Texas with a wild disk jockey with a distinctive voice who touted himself with the phrase “coast to coast, border to border, wall to wall and tree-top tall.” “They say” you could hear him in 38 states.

Times have changed. Things are different. Back then folks protested the Vietnam War. We understand that there will be a new protest for the latest war in Washington on March 19th this year. Is there a new war to protest or is it a display of sentimental nostalgia for the “usual suspects”? We presume that the artists will include Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and . . . perhaps the Kinks?

Some folks, who seem to be as naive and trusting as the aforementioned “rube” in “swinging” New York City was, think that only conspiracy theory nuts (Hi, mom!) distrust the results of the paperless electronic voting machines.

This columnist realizes that his efforts to emulate the jaded cynical paranoid attitude of the hero/victim in Hemingway’s “The Killers” is a tad maudlin, but the fact that the crimp in the corner of the card still bothers us.

If hustlers believe that only big stakes make displaying their talents worth the effort, then couldn’t one political party play with reckless abandon if they were playing with a marked deck? The marked decks in magician supply stores are sold for entertainment purposes only – but some Svengali types find it very entertaining to “separate the suckers from their money.” Don’t look now, but aren’t the efforts of the capitalists very similar to the mad scramble images conjured up by the phrase “Great Oklahoma land rush”?

If (subjunctive mood) one Party wanted to cheat, wouldn’t they try to lure the suckers (“a measly dollar?”) into playing for major bucks? Why go to all that effort just to win $10? If the stacked/mark deck guarantees a sure win, why not put abortion, collective bargaining, and tax breaks on the line?

We didn’t intend writing a new column today. Rather than get up at 6 a.m. we slept in until 7. We took some snapshots of the snow in the higher elevations of Berkeley CA. We put some old music on the sound machine and . . . well, what else is there to do on a cold and wet morning in a city where the local University will soon start their baseball team’s last season. Budget cuts make sports fans unhappy, but just think how happy the billionaires are this morning.

“They say” things will get tougher before they get better. To which optimists and preachers of self-reliance only say: “You can bet on that!”

Nelson Algren is credited with being the original source for this bit of folk wisdom:
“Never play cards with any man named ‘Doc.’ Never eat at any place called ‘Mom’s.” And never, never, no matter what else you do in your whole life, never sleep with anyone whose troubles are worse than your own.”

Now the disk jockey will play Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Thirty-nine and holding,” “I wish I was 18 again,” and “Who is going to play this old piano?” We have to go see if we can score a pres pass to the Rolling Stones Concert (“what would you pay to hear a living legend sing?). Have an “abracadabra!” type week.

Update from Antarctica: Drake Passage, busted generator, gale-force winds….

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:09 pm

The boat I’m on is having technical difficulties with its main generator, we’re running on an auxiliary shaft generator and heading towards gale-strength weather in the Drake Passage. Are we having fun yet?

Who would have thought that I would be so susceptible to seasickness. Not me. Word of the day? “Drama-mean!”

Our captain says that we will get back to Ushauaia okay, going nine knots an hour in bad weather, and will be there in only two or three days. But still. I HATE being seasick. Seasickness sucks eggs.

PS: Today’s scheduled tour of the ancient caldera at Deception Island is off. But that’s okay. Penguin poop stinks anyway.

February 18, 2011

Unions in peril in Wisconsin

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:32 pm

Whether Obama realizes it or not, his political legacy will be at stake in Wisconsin next week because if a rookie Republican governor can cripple the union movement in his state, that will encourage other Republicans to make a similar effort to dismantle one of the last vestiges of the New Deal but if he manages to stop the Wisconsin facet of the continuing attack on his own political agenda that could provide him with a rallying cry for urging the Democrats to regain the political initiative in a way that might be compared to a key pass interception in a football game.

Sports announcers like to talk about the momentum in a football game and how one particular play in football can be (in retrospect) called pivotal. Since the President’s State of the Union Speech, the Republicans have continued their criticism of Obama’s health care bill, called attention in a negative fashion to the President’s response to the Crises in Egypt and will use any Republican success in Wisconsin as an indication that their dreams of completely dismantling the New Deal are attainable.

The fact that the Democratic strategy of hiding, which was also used by the Democrats in Texas some time ago, brings to mind the Schwarzenegger term “girly-men” isn’t very reassuring.

If a sports announcer were as continually biased as is the lineup of standup comedians at the entity called Faux News, the audience would feel duped. They would use the traditional lament: “Are you blind?” Conversely if things are not playing out as the Obama advisors had planned, then any harsh assessment would not be welcome in a group that craves enthusiastic liberal journalism. If the majority of Democrats prefer to avoid harsh analysis, perhaps future historians will see it as an attempt to avoid confronting reality and say that marked the point where the Party started to slip into dementia.

If Obama makes a speech and encourages the people of Wisconsin (and union member guests from other states?) to stand together and block the effort (a goal line defense for four consecutive downs?) future historians might well pick that as the moment when Obama “turned the game around” for the 2012 local, state, and national elections.

If the Republicans eventually “put points on the scoreboard” via the Wisconsin confrontation that will make Obama seem like a Democratic Party version of Vidkun Quisling or Marshal Philippe Pétain, which will delight the Republicans immensely.

Obama likes to portray himself as someone who goes the extra mile to extend the hand of bipartisan friendship to the Republicans. In war, executing civilians in retribution for the killing of troops is verboten. Lately Obama’s efforts to reach out to the Republicans has seemed like appeasement or perhaps a metaphorical attempt to negotiate the number of civilians who must be killed in retribution.

Political strategists think that in dire times, a strong candidate has the most voter appeal.

It makes things interesting if both candidates try to out-do each other on the macho appeal scale. (Did that bit of psychology work against Meg Witman?) How would a woman who shoots wolves from an airplane match up against a guy with (hypothetically) a PETA endorsement?

There is folk wisdom that advises the fastest and strongest don’t always win a competition but some smart-alecky guy added the codicil saying: “but that’s the way the smart betting usually goes.”

What would the next election be like if (hypothetically) next week Obama urges voters in Wisconsin to hold a “general strike” and additionally says that independent truckers should come to Madison and cause gridlock as a show of support?

What does it mean when a pro-union guy holding a baseball bat asks: “Which hand do you use when you urinate?” If they are really mean don’t they leave you with both hands in casts so that someone else would have to help you?

Pro-union people risked life and limb to get to their goal. Watching Obama piss away their efforts is a bit disappointing.

Back in the day, when a family member was killed in a mining accident, the company representatives who would leave the dead body on the front porch would often leave a note saying that their was a job opening and that the next oldest unemployed son should come to work the morning. It’s doubtful that Obama heard stories about that kind of exploitation when he was growing up. They just don’t mention things like that at Yale.

There is a story told by the people speaking at Horror Writers events about one of them, lady, who was traveling on a rural side road in Wisconsin (perhaps one of the major bridges had been washed out in a sever storm?) and got lost. She walked into a small general store and asked the man, who was busy stocking the shelves, for directions. A rather scary looking man turned around and advised her: “Run far, run fast.”

News from Wisconsin tends to have a difficult time getting onto the National News pages in newspapers published elsewhere, so we haven’t heard about what happened to Ed Gein’s farm after it was put on the real-estate market. Perhaps a New York Times reporter covering the union busing in Wisconsin next week, will try to impress his assignment editor by turning in an update on the fate of the Gein farm?

Didn’t one of the Boston based major league baseball teams move to Wisconsin about a half century ago?

On Thursday night, February 17, 2011, the ABC network evening news program used the plight of Wisconsin labor unions for its lead story.

If the events in Madison become the dominant story of the day (with the concomitant media circus presence), that will only increase the stakes for the workers and the President. Gee, if there’s a new chance to make the President seem weak and incompetent, won’t Rupert Murdock send his anchor man there for some “on the scene” broadcasts? They don’t do that do they? They just sit in New York City and do their impression of Jubba the Hut and send lesser personalities to do the remote reports.

Jimmy Hoffa has been quoted as saying: “I may have many faults, but being wrong ain’t one of them.”

Now the disk jockey will play Jerry Lee Lewis’s song “What made Milwaukee famous,” the Rolling (will their new tour ever get off the ground?) Stones’ “Rip this joint,” and Woodrow Guthrie’s “I’m stickin’ to the union.” We have to go check and see if Uncle Rushbo has to pay AFTRA dues. Have a “winner takes all” type week.

February 17, 2011

Antarctica: The only continent where WAR is illegal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 7:29 pm

Now that we have officially outlawed war, banned war and made war illegal on the continent of Antarctica, now we only have six more continents to go.

What ever became of all those high-sounding human ideals that we all used brag about — such as religious morality, Thou shalt not Kill, turning swords into plowshares, Democracy, the stuff that they taught us in kindergarten about sharing and/or “Peace in Our Time”? What ever happened to the freaking United Nations’s ideals?

All empty promises, apparently — except in Antarctica.

If in order to get a little peace in this world, we have to drop the temperatures all over the planet to 10 degrees below zero then, hey, bring it on! Perhaps after the blizzards in New Jersey this year, then Peace may actually be possible, eh?

In any case, I did manage to survive the dread Drake Passage on my way to Antarctica this week — but just barely. The only sure cure for seasicknes I could find was to keep my eyes closed as much as possible — so I stared at the back of my eyelids for 48 hours and only puked three or four times. And then our ship entered the land of enchantment:

And now there came both mist and snow; And it grew wondrous cold: And ice, mast high, came floating by, As green as emerald.

And now my feet are cold as ice cubes, but Antarctica’s intense beauty has warmed up my soul.

PS: It turns out that there actually IS limited wi-fi available in Antarctica — but it’s really expensive.

PPS: How about those penguins? They have NO fear of humans, none at all. Plus I took an actual photo of my boot so that I could actually prove that I really did set foot on the seventh continent today. Plus I have approximately 50 penguin witnesses to this event and they will all gladly testify to that fact on my behalf.

PPPS: If there is one thing that I have learned from the Tunisians and the Egyptians and the penguins recently, it’s this: That if enough of us want peace badly enough, then peace really IS possible.

The Tattlesnake – Post-It Notes From the Underground Part One Edition

Watch out, he’s petting his peeves again!

Messages scribbled on Post-It Notes that were giving me a brain-ache until I wrote them down.

Note to Abraham Lincoln, wherever he is now:

It’s just as well you’re not around today. The idea that Haley “Yazoo City” Barbour and Rick “Secesh” Perry are Republicans would no doubt give you severe apoplexy followed by a fatal stroke anyway.

Note to George Washington, wherever he is now:

Good thing you’re not around, either, to see this 21st century bobblehead-doll America where a good portion of the politicians and electorate, abetted by the dumbed-down corporate media, have forgotten how to read, especially where the Constitution and the Bible are concerned.

Note to Arianna Huffington:

A quote from Balzac seems appropriate: “Behind every great fortune there is a great crime.” Take a couple of million from the $315 mil you got from AOL and throw a few bucks at all the people who worked for free to make your website worth selling. BTW, I can’t find even one person who thinks your AOL merger is a good idea or cares to read your website again. Prediction: the AOL-Huff Post is toast.

Note to Clarence Thomas:

What would you think is a conflict of interest for a judge — a defendant handing you an envelope stuffed with cash right before you voted on his case? (Or has that already happened?) Don’t ask Scalia what your opinion should be on this one — he doesn’t know what a conflict of interest is, either.

Note to Rupert Murdoch:

I guess we should thank you for hiring the mentally-challenged to work in your media empire. I mean, where else would certifiable meatheads like Steve Doocy and Glenn Beck find jobs?

Note to Allstate Insurance:

Stop abusing the English language by claiming you ‘protect’ your customers from mayhem. All of the things depicted in your TV ads would still happen, even with Allstate insurance. The only thing you can do is promptly pay to repair the damage after the ‘mayhem,’ but you can’t ‘protect’ against it occurring in the first place.

Note to Glenn Beck’s Goldline Coins:

If gold is such a great investment, far superior to paper money, why are you selling your gold in exchange for cash money that will, according to your pitchmen, inevitably go down in value? Why not just keep the gold?

Note to the Republican Party:

Okay, the more realistic among you know very well you are a minority party beholden to talk show hosts and a fringe nutcase base, and you can’t win national elections with that 20-25 percent of the American electorate. If this were a parliamentary system, you’d be three separate parties: the Corporate Libertarians; the Christian Theocrats, and the Dixie Racists, none of whom would be able to dominate the nation’s politics. You also have no credible candidates that could beat Obama. If I were a Republican (and thank Jebas I’m not), I’d be shaking in my tasseled loafers.

Note to the Teabaggers:

Although I have great fun lampooning you, I was gratified that some of you in Congress voted against your party and tried to kill that unconstitutional PATRIOT Act. Good for you!

Note to Tea Party Volunteers:

Sophisticated grifters at the national level are scamming you local tea party volunteers. According to this report, the Washington-based national leaders of Tea Party Patriots, for example, are paying themselves fat salaries and none of the money they collect is going back to the local groups. Isn’t this the kind of corruption you said you were against?

Note to Herman Cain (founder of Godfather Pizza and CPAC speaker):

Your political views are as unappetizing as your tasteless cardboard-crust pizza. Stop being a selfish cyclops only thinking about your tax cuts now that you’ve made some money and consider the impact of your lowered taxes on the poor bastards who buy your lousy food.

© 2011 RS Janes.

Talk radio and Existentialism

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:28 pm

Since the World’s Laziest Journalist’s home office is devoid of Internet access, a TV set, and phone, the staff winds up listening to the radio or playing old musical tapes when it comes time to kick back and chill out. Since there ain’t a hella (note to AARP site editor types: that may not sound right to you but that’s de rigueur jive for the young folks) variety of choices on the radio, we tend to go to extremes. Uncle Rushbo is fascinating listening because he keeps pushing towards the limits to gain the inevitable liberal media publicity. Every time he comes close to going over the edge, he winds up landing safely and thus brings to mind a segment of the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.” (“Where’s Buzz?”) On the other end of the spectrum is Mike Malloy who is just as fully committed to his beliefs as is the King of Oxycontin. (If you had to spout Republican spin all year long, wouldn’t you have an insatiable appetite for pain killers, too?)

Lately Malloy seems extremely distressed about the prognoses for democracy. He may need a refresher course on the philosophy of the guys who wrote for the underground newspaper, Combat, which was published in Paris during the German occupation.

Would it be too esoteric and arcane to assert that listening to both Uncle Rushbo and Malloy would be comparable to reading both the Paris Zeitung and Combat?

Recently we attended a screening of the film “Casablanca.” We knew that Humphrey Bogart’s role as Fred C. Dobbs in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” had made a lasting impression (and had an influential effect?), but we had not been aware that his role as Ricky Blaine had also made itself felt long after we first saw it. Blaine was existentialism in action.

If there was a book title Zen and the Art of Existentialism; we’d recommend it to both those radio personalities. Ricky Blaine learned the laissez faire attitude in Paris (home of existentialist thinking) and, after that, pretty much kept away from partisan politics. When a group of boisterous members of the German military attached to diplomatic duty in Casablanca sang a patriotic song, Ricky tried to balance things out by advising the band leader to play the Marseilles just to keep things on an even keel.

Some of the best segments of the Malloy program occur when he and his screener/producer/wife Kathy quibble over fact finding bits of trivia. It’s obvious that their emotional relationship doesn’t impinge on their attempts for hair-splitting bits of factual accuracy. One assumes that they have read Robert L. Stevenson’s essay on how to conduct a stimulating but civilized conversation. Are they trying to become the modern equivalent of Tex and Jinx Falkenburg? Unfortunately that’s one bit of radio history we missed.

We might, if we had a phone, call Rush and suggest that he listen to the Malloys and then think about putting his wife on the air with him. Then we realized that wouldn’t work. Equality in marriage is a Democratic Party type thing and Rush would lose so much street cred, his ratings would plummet. Haven’t we read somewhere on the Internets that Uncle Rushbo’s audience is diminishing?

Some nights Malloy comes perilously close to being a Xerox copy of the fictional TV journalist Howard Beal. Recently he was lamenting the fact that there seems to be two systems of justice. One for über-wealthy Republicans (like Uncle Rushbo?) and another for “Just Us.” We were tempted to call Mike (if we had a phone) and suggest that it might be an appropriate time for his wife/producer to play the Waylon Jennings song that has the lament about “if I’dda killed her when we first met; I’d be outta jail by now.” The guy in the song mustta been a Republican, eh?

Since Malloy does repeatedly reference Mario Savio’s most famous quote, if we had a phone we’d call Malloy and suggest that he read Albert Camus’ “The Rebel” because Malloy would be sure to find a shipload of hand-dandy quotes. If the Republicans are going to rely on existentialism to bolster their program, it might be a good bit of self-defense preparation to read some Sartre and Camus.

His recent steak of pessimism would be the perfect opportunity to play the perfect example of nihilistic/existentialistic commingling contained in Howard’s speech at the end of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Fate has played a practical joke on liberals. Get over it.

If Malloy did read up on the existentialists, wouldn’t he eventually encounter the cusp area where Zen and nihilism overlap? Didn’t Jean-Paul Sartre practice Nietzsche’s amor fati lesson i.e. “So Be It!” when he was a German prisoner of war and he used the time to write a new play?

Folks love to portray college professors as “pointy-headed” intellectuals with far left political opinions who bandy about references to obscure books such as “Nausia,” but didn’t all the teabaggers do a marvelous job of stifling their amusement recently when John Boehner snuck a crafty allusion to the amor fati lesson from Nietzsche into a press conference? Didn’t the teabaggers love it when he was paraphrasing the existentialists and the liberals didn’t even notice? What teabagger couldn’t savor the delicious irony of that?

[Note: for those intellectuals who quibble over the pronunciation of the name of the Speaker of the House, we have one question: Isn’t Boeotia phonetically bee-oh-shah? Do Republicans use the word Boeotian (bee-ocean) in it’s stupid or boorish person meaning to denote a Democrat? Shouldn’t the Speaker’s name be pronounce as if (phonetically) were bee-ner?]

If some teabagging existentialist troll has read this far, we will counter the objection that this column is a shameless example of a partisan attempt to “suck up” to Malloy, we would point out that it is being posted on Thursday, February 17, 2011, and that means that when Malloy broadcasts tonight, the audience in Berkeley CA will hear women’s college basketball and this columnist will be at the Berkeley 7 watching “The Fifth Element.”

In “The Rebel,” (Vintage Book paperback page 41) Albert Camus wrote: “In politics his (i.e. Marquis de Sade’s) real position is cynicism. In his Society of the Friends of Crime he declares himself ostensibly in favor of the government and its laws, which he meanwhile has every intention of violating. It is the same impulse that makes the lowest form of criminal vote for conservative candidates.” In the Republican Party, isn’t cynicism one of the seven cardinal virtues? Don’t most teabaggers recognize the fact that Boehner knows his Camus, while the liberals sit and listen to him with dropped jaw incredulity?

The disk jockey will now play: “Helter Skelter,” “Street Fighting Man,” and Waylon Jenning’s “Out of Jail.” We have to see if folks in Berkeley can pick up the XERB signal because we’d love to hear the Wolfman again. Have an “of all the gin joints in all the world, she had to walk into mine” type week.

February 16, 2011

Republican Slashers Attack America


Did GWB predict the Middle East uprisings?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:32 pm

Photographers who always have a small digital camera in there pocket might fully appreciate more fully the convenience of the digital camera if they had used a 4X5 Speed Graphic camera in college to get “grab shots.” These days the term “grab shot” will probably conjure up a hypothetical image of some boisterous conduct that gets posted on Facebook, but back in the day it symbolized a concept that was part of the Advertising vs. Photojournalism debate.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was famous for taking “candid” shots that were as dramatically different from the ones in the ads as were the stogy Hollywood films that used rear screen projection shots for car ride sequences and the same chintzy sets over and over again versus the “Johnny on the spot” newsreels that capture history in the making.

Photographer Bert Stern revolutionized photography by taking one photo of a Martini. He went to Egypt to take a photo of a Martini with one of the iconic pyramids in the background, for Smirnoff.

Back then, boys and girls, there were only a small number of darkroom wizards who could manipulate an image well enough to make it look completely natural. Today, through the magic of Photoshop, a college level student can whip together a photographic image that is both realistic and notable because it defies logic. The thought of paying a name photographer to take an all expenses paid trip to the Cairo area just to come back with an image of a glass full of booze and one of those “how did they do that” upside down stone cone buildings in one frame would be über-laughable. (Will the Internets make umlauts obsolete?)

About a year ago this columnist bought a Nikon Coolpix and has carried it everywhere. The fact that it is getting pretty beat-up brings to mind an opportunity to inject this bit of arcane and esoteric photographic nostalgia: Among photojournalists who had the black finish Nikon F cameras there was a bit of macho competition to see which photographer had worn through the black and was showing the most brass.

In the intervening year, we have taken approximately 7,000 pictures. In the old day, a roll of color slide film (We mourn the passing of Kodachrome) and developing would run a fellow about $10. Using the old rounding off dodge, that would mean (at three rolls per 100 images) 3 X 70 X $10 = $2,100. Whew! Did we save some major bread or what?

We could get a chance to maybe get a newsphoto in San Francisco on the night of Wednesday, February 16, 2011, but why bother?

In a perverse bit of logic, we would rather spend the funds necessary to get some images at this year’s installment of the 24 hour race for sports cars at Le Mans. At first glance that don’t make sense, but since the Internets is changing things (and messing with proper English?) it may hold up under closer scrutiny.

If a fellow was a newspaper photographer and his roommate was the sports editor, maybe he could go take photos of the Saturday night high school basketball game (the editor didn’t have to go because he could “call the coach Sunday night” for a story in Monday’s paper) in return for doing less of the household chores. It doesn’t mean earning any overtime but it does make sense, n’est-ce pas?

If a news photo isn’t salable and if the only criterion is personal satisfaction, Le Mans, here we come!

Here’s an added bit of rationalization: A photo of the local sports scene doesn’t have much appeal for use on a website specializing in national and international issues, but pictures of (hypothetical example) newspapers featuring a picture of an American politician on the front page of newspapers being sold in a Paris news kiosk, might.

(We did take some shots of a particularly promising pitcher at Santa Monica High, some time ago. Where did we file those old negatives of the Baseball’s Hall of Fame guy named Tim Leary?)

In the old days a “stringer” might spend the entire day trying to get a good B&W (Does Kodak still make Panotomic X?) photo and getting it to a wireservice and selling it outright for $25. These days if a photographer gets a photo of local interest [say a shot of the Mog truck from Oregon] he apparently can’t offer the same picture to two local competing Internets web sites. It seems that you can let one or the other use it for free, but not both.

Speaking of “things have changed,” does any young blogger know how to do a “hed count”? Why do newspaper headline writers prefer words with “l’s” and “i’s” over words with “w’s” and “m’s”?

According to a reliable source, the major league pitcher “Dizzy” Dean used to pause, while he was at work, and watch planes fly over the stadium. Idiosyncratic personalities with “a unique voice” were thought to be the promise of Internets democracy. As the corporatization of the web continues, the homogenization of the voices becomes more prevalent.

If a rogue blogger asks: “Did the turmoil in Egypt validate George W. Bush’s claim that invading Iraq would create a demand for democracy in the Middle East” will it call to mind the tree falling in a forest with no humans around? Even Conservative pundits may want to ignore that idea and hold it as a trump card to be played later in the game. Such as when it may be a part of the JEB strategy to promote the idea that Obama fumbled the ball and that the George W. Bush strategy for the Middle East was “spot-on.”

Heck, if the Egyptian military seizes power and props up a new dictator, JEB might assert that all that was Obama’s fault. That will come later, not now. It’s too early to bring that up.

Whoops! This is supposed to be a column about photography in the digital age. Pardonez moi, eh?

We did get a picture of a very intense conversation for the college yearbook using the aforementioned 4 X 5 Speed Graphic and we thought: “Who needs a Leica? (Isn’t it curious that the 35mm brand name is challenged by Word spell-check?) Henri Cartier-Bresson, eat your heart out!”

After college folks used to comment that the Nikon FTn was too heavy. Not after using a camera that used film holders, it wasn’t. However, it is rather convenient to have what amounts to a portable Sixties photo studio fit comfortably into the pocket of your jeans.

Someday, we may learn the html mumbo jumbo incantation necessary to make a photo appear in a column, but for now the best we can do is link to our photo blog.

Now, the disk jockey will play the song “Kodachrome,” the “Grand Canyon Suite” and “the Stripper.” (Will anyone realize that offset printing required stripping negatives?) Now, we have to take the Coolpix and go wander around aimlessly looking for some digital photo ops. Have a “regional split” type day.

February 15, 2011

Phony-spotting guide?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:26 pm

Imagine how exciting it would be to be walking around in Berkeley CA (excitement galore, right there) and you saw on the ground a dollar size piece of greenish paper that said “Fifty Dollars”? Your joie d’vivre might diminish considerably when you notice that the portrait on the front side is of a bearded fellow who looks like he might have been one of those misguided clergy men who wanted to make the Hawaiian natives put clothes on and is identified as “Hoffarth.” Then you notice the disclaimer: “for Motion Picture use only.” Drat!

This columnist has, many moons ago, on two different occasions, found a genuine 100 dollar bill and so the first thought when we laid eyes on the Hoffarth bill was to immediately take a picture and start to debate weather we should submit the item to the Berkeley Daily Planet or the Berkeleyside web site. They must have been filming a movie in Berkeley recently and that is the kind of hot news both of them like.

Is that name some kind of joke? Is it a phony name like the one used in a famous e-mail that faked-out a legendary stand-up comedian working for Fox News?

In the era of hit movies from the Jackass crew and the word Punk’d has slipped into the mainstream American vocabulary, who wouldn’t love the irony of finding a Hoffarth bill?

Don’t all Americans appreciate a good practical joke? Lately, we have noticed some political pundits are analyzing the new Obama budget proposals and slaping their own foreheads and saying: “Oy vey! We thought he was a progressive!” The joke that the Reagan Democrat fooled voters into thinking he was a progressive is another hilarious example of Punk’d-ing for fun and frivolity. Young Internets citizens might not remember the time when an American President and his pals concocted a clever ruse about something that had to do with aluminum tubes that were positive proof that a new war needed to be started.

The President went though all the effort to cook-up a clever reason never realizing that all he had to do was ask.

[We’ve heard an urban legend about an attractive young lady who had a very close male friend and when he had to move to a different geographical area he asked her whey they had never hopped into bed together and she responded: “Because you never asked!”]

Some pundits are groaning about the apparent buyers’ remorse factor that the far lefties are experiencing as the Reagan Democrat President reaches out his hand to the far righties in the Republican Party.

Cynics are asking: Shouldn’t a President who works so assiduously to be a one term President get what he wants?

This columnist tends to emulate the taciturn nature of saloon owner Ricky Blaine in the movie Casablanca and thinks that the Australian bandit Ned Kelly was spot-on when he said: “Such is life.”

Is it time to inject some obscure and esoteric (but relevant) items? Watching some newsreel footage from 1953 we saw and heard Adlai Stevenson chide his successful rival for the Presidency for being in charge of a political party run by businessmen. Wasn’t Harry Truman the last President with businessman experience?

We digress. Speaking of digressing, did you know that a bunch of writers from one very successful liberal web site have their own page on Facebook? Why isn’t Eric Hoffer one of that group? Wasn’t he big on liberal causes? Didn’t a famous communist coin the phrase “One for all; all for one.” Don’t the Hell’s Angels say: “A fight with one of us is a fight with all of us!”?

This columnist wishes he could contact that group of scribes because we’d love to ask them: “Is it better for a columnist to tell his readers what he wants them to think or is it better to throw some apparent contradictions at them and let them think it through for themselves?” It’s just like when George W. Bush said: “You teach a child to read, and he or she will be able to pass a literacy test.”

When dealing with writers like that Facebook group shouldn’t their boss ask them the classic question from the Fifties: “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”?

Wasn’t “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!” a famous communist slogan in WWII?

We’ve read: “In a Communist state a love of neighbors may be classed as counter-revolutionary. Mao Tse-tung counts it a sin of the liberals that they will not report the misdeeds of ‘acquaintances, relatives, schoolmates, friends, loved ones.’” Where did we read that?

In “The Ordeal of Change” (Perennial Library paperback 1963 p. 5), Eric Hoffer wrote: “Things are different when people subjected to drastic change find only meager opportunities for action or when they cannot, or are not allowed to, attain self-confidence and self-esteem by individual pursuits . . . . The substitute for self-confidence is faith, the substitute for self-esteem is pride; and the substituted for individual balance is fusion with others into a compact group.” Was Hoffer a founding father of the teabag movement?

If you see something suspicious report it. Buy War Bonds today.

Now the disk jockey will play “Stickin’ to the Union,” the “Cool Hand Luke” soundtrack album and Roy Orbison’s “Workin’ for the man.” We have to go and file a grievance with the shop steward. Have a “contract approved by a vote of the membership” type week.

February 14, 2011

The Tattlesnake – New Definitions from the Askewed Dictionary Edition

Glimpses Behind the Curtain of Our Blutocracy

“Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!”
Sen. John “Bluto” Blutarsky, from the film “Animal House” (1978).

BACHMANNALIA: 1. The sound wild-eyed gibberish makes in a rubber room. 2. An election-year holiday celebrating the unity of corporate money and gullible voters with sensibilities as squishy as wet teabags. 3. A sexless outdoor orgy in Minnesota in mid-winter, the quintessential Republican idea of how the public should be treated.

BACHMANNLINESS: 1. Putting on your ‘man pants’ backwards, while staring at the wrong camera. 2. Having the balls to misquote the Constitution on national television.

BLUTOCRACY: 1. A plutocracy as operated by Sen. John Blutarsky, the fictional ‘Bluto’ character from the film “Animal House,” and those who are likeminded. 2. The USA today, and not the newspaper. 3. Wall Street week.

BOEHNALITY: 1. Crocodile tears shed by one who is only half-crocked. 2. Pretending you’re in control of something you plainly are not, such as a bus when the steering wheel has come off in your hand. 3. The illusion that you stand for anything beyond your own personal gain and your next putt.

CALIPHATE: 1. In a ten-gallon hat, combine eleven-gallons horse manure with equal parts leftover Cold War fear and carbonated Holy Water; add a hefty scoop of Islamophobia, smother with nuts, and top with a lemon slice carved into the shape of a swastika and a cherry carved into the shape of a star. Strain through Fox News and serve at the temperature at which blood boils.

CONAGRA: 1. What polite Southern Republicans call the only conservative black guy in the county after he’s left the room.

CRAPITALISM: 1. An unregulated form of capitalism practiced by well-dressed carnival pitchmen that turns everything it touches to pure shit, commonly ruining the lives of a few million civilians in the process. 2. The hypotheses adhered to by many of the financial elite that the light at the end of Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public’s tunnel must always be a privately-owned oncoming train in order for them to prosper. 3. The theory that enough taxpayer money, filtered through a nation’s banks and large corporations, can persuade the political class and the media to do anything, and that much of that money must then be used to prolong the ignorance of the taxpayers from realizing they are financing the scheme.

FOX FIRE: 1. An event that never occurs at Fox News, no matter how inaccurate or disturbed the opinion expressed, unless the speaker happens to slip and tell the truth.

THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS: 1. The assortment of adjectives, verbs and adverbs Jonah Goldberg uses to, without irony, accuse liberals of fascism and blame them for all of the misery visited on the public in the past 30 years by those who think like Jonah Goldberg.

KOCHAINE: 1. Money secretly doled out by the wealthy to influence public opinion in their favor, opinions which are usually contrary to the public interest or even common sense. 2. The primary addiction of Washington lobbyists and prominent politicians of both parties, causing them to lie, cheat and commit desperate degenerate acts to continue their dependence, that is strangely not included on the DEA’s list of dangerous drugs deserving long prison terms, but certainly should be.

LUNTZTITUTION: 1. The creation of government policy or public outrage based on buzzwords or catch phrases invented by Frank Luntz that have little or no relationship to the reality of the subject; e.g.: describing an orange as a ‘bad apple,’ or a grapefruit as a ‘cancerous lemon,’ or smog as ‘clean air.’ 2. Any doomed political party or corporation that believes such linguistic concoctions are anything more than a thin disguise for its true purpose of picking the public’s pocket or skinning the yokels to the bone.

POLYPSYCHOTIC: 1. Capable of jabbering delirium in more than one medium. 2. The conservative media endlessly parroting the same right-wing talking points.

PROLESSIVISM: 1. “Two For Me and None For You.” A game played by the US Chamber of Congress – excuse me, ‘Commerce’ – their financial backers and various politicians, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The point of the game is to convince voters that balancing budgets and lowering taxes for the over-privileged is more important than their jobs, pensions, homes, or eating regular meals. It is akin to the “Sure I’m Jobless and Broke, But at Least I Don’t Have Worry About Bank Overdraft Fees Anymore” game indulged in by millions of less fortunate Americans every day, except much more profitable for the major players.

SOLIPSIMPSONISM: 1. The belief that the best way to clean the ears is by passing a handkerchief through the head while wearing a blindfold and a shoe in one’s mouth. 2. The conviction that unworkable remedies that cause public suffering will resolve budget ills if inartfully expressed at length. From Solipsimpson: A dried-up old boob with 300 million nipples.

“My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”
Sen. John “Bluto” Blutarsky, from the film “Animal House” (1978).

© 2011 RS Janes.

Who are you callin’ “pseudologia fantastica”?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:19 pm

At first, the possibility that the latest hacking story might add another bit of evidence for use by the liberals to make the assertion that the Conservatives have gone completely mad, seemed to be just another routine incident indicating that the Conservatives had done something else that was vile and reprehensible; but then we took a closer look at it our blood ran cold. Not just very afraid like the moment when you realize that the car you are driving is going to do a roll-over and you are probably going to die, but the “scared silly” reaction a person would get when he realizes that he is dealing with a cold-blooded murderer who makes “Rudy the Red” seem like someone who engaged in frat-boy pranks.

We don’t mean intriguing like when AP in Reno asked if we could pull a head shot out of the negative used for a group photo that “ran a few weeks ago” because one of the people in the shot had been indicted for murder.

We don’t mean the “he really means it” moment when one of the guys, who was a high school classmate, threatens to arrest another member of the class on the family’s front porch because the new lawman doesn’t appreciate something that was just said.

We mean the “this guy your are being introduced to is subject to arrest in a foreign country for war crimes” type of moment.

The psychological implications of this new “e-mails reveal” scandal are truly of the “bone chilling” level if they are examined closely.

On Thursday, February 10, 2011, we scurried back to our writer’s hovel to hear the first hour of the Mike Malloy radio show because we wanted to hear what the substitute (Brad of the Brad Blog) host would say about the plight of the Teamsters. When he started to detail the facts for the United States Chamber of Commerce Dirty Tricks story, we thought that the basic modus operandi for the caper sounded amazingly similar to what the defenders of Dan Rather said when he was discredited. We only got to hear one hour because the San Francisco station cut away at 7 p.m. PST for a sports broadcast. (Could there be a conservative plot to buy air time on Green Radio for UCB women’s basketball games and thereby shut down the best liberal talk show for two hours or is that just another example of this columnist’s usual lunatic conspiracy theories way of thinking?)

According to Brad and other sources found online on Friday, the basic conservative strategy being employed now is to feed a liberal doctored evidence for a potential scandal that would have embarrassing consequences for the conservatives, and then, after the story is published, to reveal that the cooked up story was phony and the shocking revelation that the story is bogus thereby discredits the reporter, his publication, show, or web site in particular and journalism in general.

What if, we asked ourselves, the psychological phenomenon known as “projection” is in play here? Projection means that a person projects his personality onto everyone else. Thus if a person were a pathological liar he would assume that everyone else in the world was one too.

There is a disturbing stealth warning at work in the new revelations. If someone, who is a pathological liar manipulates a reporter into a vulnerable position and rigs the fact checking process to help the sting operation achieve its goal and relies on gullibility for “proof” that another person is dishonest; then why isn’t the conniving nature of the deception self evident to a person thinking rationally?

If the pathological liar is so thoroughly committed to the sting operation that he doesn’t see the basic dishonesty inherent in his ploy, he will fool himself and only paid teabag operatives will “act” as if they have been convinced by the charade. When it becomes obvious that they are fooling themselves, one has to ask what the successful self-deception reveals about their inner psychology. Have they completely lost touch with reality and, if so, what can be done to “treat the patient”?

[Note: How does a pathological liar differ from a compulsive liar? Hypothetical case: a young lady leaves the dirty dishes in the sink and goes out for an afternoon of shopping. When she returns the dishes have been cleaned and put in the drying rack. She asks her boyfriend, who has been there all the while, if he washed the dishes.

A compulsive liar will say “No.” and any questions about the illogical response will be ignored. A pathological liar, such as the husband portrayed in the movie “Gaslight” would say: “You did them! Don’t you remember that you did them just before you went shopping?” A compulsive liar lies because he has to tell fibs. A pathological liar uses lies to achieve an ultimate goal.]

Liberal victims will, like O. J. at a pretrial press conference, look like a poor example of amateur theatrics in their righteous indignation regarding the shoddy kindergarten level shenanigans. (If the glove doesn’t fit; you must acquit! Do you think that maybe the goddamn thing had shrunk while it was improperly stored in the evidence locker?) The histrionics will be denounced as a pathetic example of the manifestation of a desperate conspiracy nut seeking group acceptance.

Isn’t the “conspiracy theory!” rebuttal a variation of the “I’m not lying; you are!” line of reasoning? Doesn’t the conspiracy theory rebuttal work just as well as Monty Python’s debating tactic of contradicting everything?

What is the mental health of someone who will prey on gullibility to foster the perception that the prank’s victim is actually the liar? If they have convinced only themselves of the validity of their frat boy joke, doesn’t that indicate that they have completely lost touch with reality? Isn’t that another way of saying that they have gone TFI (i.e. gone totally bonkers) as in: “I’d like you to meet my friend who lives with his “family” out on the Spawn ranch. Say ‘how do you do?’ to Charlie Manson!”

Didn’t we see a news story asserting that Karl Rove is engineering the effort to “get” Julian Assange? Isn’t every man, woman, and child in Amereica supposed to think that Assange is a lying, cheatin’ double dealin’ guy who isn’t really entitled to a freedom of the press defense? Isn’t that the “I’m not lying; you are!” argument in action?

Where will this string of discredited journalist stings end? Isn’t the snide response of “at the Cathedral of Light ceremony” yet another example of the “you are a conspiracy nut, lying SOB if you suspect recent events are from a hypothetical Rove playbook for engineering a 2012 win for JEB” way lefties think?

Would Dr. Hannibal Lecter hesitate to weave a web of lies just to play an “April Fool” joke on Edward R. Murrow? Might that effort have to be a very elaborate sting? “Look in Raspail’s car” obscure clues in return for . . . a few innocuous jail house privileges?

Is it worth a journalist’s time to quibble over these “done deal” issues?
The definition of the word “rape”?
The problem with the Social Security Program?
The simultaneous belief that life is sacred and that abortion is murder and simultaneously advocate that death panels will become a proper “budget cutting” strategy because they would eliminate futile expenses for a sick people who will die soon anyway?
Is double think here or are teabaggers starting to emulate my friend who proclaims that the voices in his head have the “call waiting” feature?
If tax cuts for the rich didn’t produce new jobs during the eight years of the Bush Reign of Terror, then how can they be expected to produce jobs if Obama extends those tax breaks for two more years?
Did IBM really replace all those old “Think” signs with new ones that say: “Obey!”?
Did George W. Bush go AWAL?
Can teabaggers comprehend a column – chock full of obscure arcane and esoteric cultural references – that mocks their heroes? For that matter, can any of the Journalism professors at UCB?
Did poppy Bush deserve a court martial hearing for bailing out of his Avenger bomber?
Last, and certainly not least, what can be done to convince Republicans that Superman doesn’t maintain his John Boener type hair style by going to the barber regularly for a hair cut?

How can any discredited journalist be taken seriously when they address the Republican agenda?

If Republicans are guilty of being pathological liars (AKA pseudologia fantastica), then isn’t it quite logical to conclude that the comedians are correct when they say that to correctly understand what a Republican is saying, just assume that the truth is the exact opposite of what is being said.

Wasn’t the Republican mindset revealed when George W. Bush said: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice . . . won’t get fooled again!” Republicans are people who are fully convinced that they are compassionate, conservative Christians who can not (by Divine Commandment) lie. They can only be victims of disingenuous journalists. Would a compassionate conservative Christian cancel school nutrition programs for economic reasons?

Now the disk jockey will play Johnny Cash’s “The Long Black Veil,” the Rolling Stones’ notorious never released “contractual obligation” album (available only in bootleg editions) with the naughty title, and (speaking of getting fooled) “Sweet Transvestite” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We have to go and meet a secret source who has promised to give the World’s Laziest Journalist a clandestine copy of a coroner’s report that might provide valuable clues for the mystery surrounding the suicide of Geli Raubal. (How could she kill herself using a pistol that was always in the possession of her uncle?) Have a “psst, wanna have an exclusive on some secret material that will break a new scandal” type week.

February 13, 2011

Billy and the Panic in Teabagtown


Return of the hippie Philosophy of Life?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:29 pm

The fact that Arianna Huffington shamelessly exploited politically motivated liberal writers for her own personal financial gain is something that carries a strong déjà vu element for folks living in Berkeley CA because it echoes an episode from the city’s journalism history when the staff of the Berkeley Barb figured out that the publisher was making enormous profits from their efforts and paying them in a niggardly (that’s a legitimate word and not a racial slur-word) fashion to increase his personal savings account balance. The aggrieved reporters walked out and started their own weekly publication, the Berkely Tribe, to be run in majority consensus fashion and, according to one of the participants, also operated the newsroom/editorial boardroom in a hippie commune style house.

[There is a folk axiom that asserts that those who forget history are doomed to repeat what has previously happened. If that is a valid bit of wisdom, the folks who remember that Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and Hosni Mubarak all came to power via service in their country’s military during time of civil unrest in a Muslim nation, will be among the few who find that the situation in Egypt has some very ominous implications.]

The fact that, to the best of our ability to discern, the recently sold Huffington Post website has not seen fit to cover the story about the U. S. Chamber of Commerce efforts to pay public relation specialists $2 million to discredit Brad Friedman (and the Bradblog, and other web entities), let alone even run a link to the Bradblog in their list of sites for fans of the liberal point of view, may give a big hint to her group of keystroke slaves just where the rollercoaster ride is going to take them. If they lived in Berkeley and were aware of the circumstances that facilitated the birth of the Berkeley Tribe publication, they might not take as long to figure it out.

At this point, some cynics might want to ask why would a columnist who has been a member of Teamsters local 229 and who was protected from capricious and arbitrary conduct by management at a nationally known news wire service in New York City by the Guild, which promised a strike in response to the shoddy treatment of “the last hired” guy, would object to labor issues at a website that doesn’t use his stuff, but will contribute material to other digital underground newspaper type websites.

There is a difference between breaking every rule you can bend and going “way over the line.” There is a difference between being exploited and willingly going along with program. Is there a difference between rape and using rough sex as a method of making love? Yes. Is the difference visual? No. We rest the case.

There is an urban legend in the journalism industry about the time a staff photographer for LIFE magazine spent a month aboard an ocean liner for an assignment and when he turned in his expense account, he had listed the spending of some money for taxi fares. The ever vigilant accounting department challenged that particular expense. When the photographer glibly responded “It was a big ship,” they let it slide. Does the term “gonzo blogging” convey a valid concept?

Getting up at O-dark-thirty, to write a column gratis can be rationalized if the writer can fulfill some personal needs, other than the monetary dependence one, such as getting the feeling that he is (in a very small echo way) walking a mile in Herb Caen’s moccasins or being given the chance to symbolically raise his middle finger in a gesture aimed at “the Establishment.”

Getting up before dawn to crank out a freebie column because the editor/publisher owner/operator of a website thinks “we have to work harder to help Democratic candidates” win in November of 2011, is a particularly galling experience if the writer happens to be convinced (by reading the Bradblog too much?) that the election will be a sham/fraud and that the results (the Inauguration of JEB) are a done deal. Just thinking about it makes the words of “Memo from Turner” (“you schmucks all work for me!”) reverberate in his head.

On the one hand, there is the Columbia Review of Journalism taking the position that the journalism industry could do better and on the other you have (here’s that word again) volunteers contributing to Project Censored producing work that proves that Lazy Journalism is alive and thriving in the USA.

While attending the Project Censored annual awards ceremony, this columnist got involved in a discussion about current cultural values and it was noted that a shift back to hippie values might deserve a trend spotting report story. We have observed that there is a noticeable increase in the fund raising efforts of the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Information about “running away to join a hippie commune” will bring a steady trickle of new readers to a personal blog.

Is it time to recycle some of the “back to nature” stories from the Sixties?

Recycling old issues, in turn, reminded this writer that we might extract a good column from the effort to read Rex Weyler’s book “Blood of the Land” (Vintage Books paperback 1982). That then reminded us that some hard nosed website plantation owners might think that only new books should be purchased, read, and reviewed. Does the Internets version of Charles Foster Kane think that just because the plight of the Native Americans isn’t given air time on Faux News, it doesn’t exist?

Doesn’t the idea that volunteer writers can be fired repudiate all the hard efforts of past pro-labor activists to establish a fair and balanced work relationship with management? Isn’t reestablishing superiority through intimidation of the workers, exactly what the Republicans want? Will the Rove-conservative gang owe a political favor to a “liberal” who helps achieve that goal at her website?

If a tyrannical publisher holds the threat of a pink slip over the heads of her staff (like the sword of Damocles?), doesn’t that mean that it will be up to writers for rival publications to express the grievances of the exploited folks on the content plantation?

Americans tend to think that the Native American and Muslim cultures are homogenized groups. Don’t they realize that the Native American culture ran the spectrum from the Sioux, who believed (like most Republicans) that women should be kept pregnant in summer and barefoot in winter, to the Cheyenne tribe which had women warriors?

Has the Huffington Post ever run an unbiased (let alone critical) story about the Pasqua Lama gold mining controversy in South America? Isn’t it only those gosh darn scientists who say that the gold mining process can produce toxic waste? Who wants to risk their gig by sounding like they are fellow travelers with the guys who compete for inclusion in the Mad Scientists Hall of Fame?

Rex Weyler, on page 185 of “Blood of the Land,” wrote: “The method that the FBI was using on prospective witnesses was to frighten them with serious felony charges; then offer them a deal if they gave information on other suspects.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Memo from Turner,” Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen tons,” and the Doors “Weird Scenes inside the goldmine” album. We have to go try to figure out how the Apaches lived in desert terrain without camels. Have a “toe the line” type week. If the Huffington Post wants permission to run this column? Request granted!

February 12, 2011

Military blues: Down & out in Argentina & Egypt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 9:45 pm

I hate air travel. If you can’t sleep on a plane, then you’re screwed. But on my flight down to Tierra del Fuego this week, I flew into Buenos Aires — and learned a lot.

The first thing I learned was that you no longer have to go through those awful body-scanning machines at either SFO or LAX. “We don’t have them at this terminal’s security checkpoint,” a really nice TSA worker told me, “but if you really want to go through one, I think there is one over at some other terminal somewhere.” Er, that’s okay.

Second, I once again learned that the more tired I get, the less likely I am to be able to get to sleep — and so after three sleepless nights spent on planes and in airports, I found myself wandering around Buenos Aires like a zombie.

Buenos Aires is called the “Paris of South America”. It’s a beautiful European-designed city with historical architecture that will knock your eye out. And they just re-opened the famous old Colon opera house after giving it a 100-million-dollar rehab. Built in 1909, it rivals La Scala for both opulence and acoustics. Just seeing it was worth this whole trip. However, I toured it with eyes sagging and looking pretty much like a bum.

Third, I learned more about Argentina’s tragic military take-over in 1976. “After Juan Peron died,” I was told, “his third wife – not the wonderful Evita but the one who used to be an exotic dancer – turned the reins of government over to the military. But while the military was good at building its power-base, it was not good at running the economy.”

Not only that but the military was used to fighting wars, and so it did what a military organization does best, and began a military operation against its opposition and started a war on Argentina’s citizens — sort of like a PATRIOT Act gone wild. And the predictable result was a reign of terror and disaster.

Eventually the US-backed Argentine military was forced to step down and then the new government cut back the military’s funding drastically, so that it would never be able to meddle in Argentina’s politics again.

But even in my sleep-deprived stupor, I was still able to wonder what would happen if the new US-backed Egyptian military regime also made this same mistake – and started to make war on its own citizens too.

“That will never happen,” I was told. “World-wide human rights organizations are too strong now to let a tragedy like that ever happen again. Yeah right. Just like they stopped human-rights abuses, torture and renditions from happening in US-backed present-day Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Israel-Palestine, Mubarak’s Egypt and Tunisia — not to mention former US-backed dictatorships in Iraq and Iran.

PS: I also got to visit the tomb of Evita Peron again yesterday. Back in the 1950s, she and her husband changed the entire face of Argentina by helping to develop a much larger middle class. And another of the major things that they did was to make all public universities in Argentina free for anyone who wanted to attend.

Unlike in America today, there is no war on students in Argentina.

PPS: I just learned that there is going to be no internet access when I get to Antarctica! What am I going to DO for two weeks! I’ll get withdrawal symptoms! I’ll start having nightmares about freelance unpaid penguins blogging for the Huffington Post!


“We’ll always have Paris.”

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:24 pm

On Friday, February 11, 2011, the Paramount Theater in Oakland offered a program that looked like a prospect for a very pleasant evening of entertainment that was supposed to be the columnist’s opportunity to “take the day off.” Sitting in a single screen movie theater listening to a musician play the organ before the cartoon and newsreel are scheduled to start the show, was a déjà vu moment. When did movie theaters stop showing cartoons? When was the last newsreel made? The time travel thrill came to an abrupt halt when Ricky Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) made it clear that the Nazis were the bad guys because they would torture prisoners to get information about the good guys in the resistance. We wondered if the young American men who died in the European theater of operations during WWII would appreciate the irony of their own deaths if they could see their country now.

Before leaving for the movie, we had tuned into the Mike Malloy talk show program to hear what was happening to Brad Friedman of the Bradblog website and the vacation week substitute radio host. On Thursday liberal news websites had broke the story about how Friedman was being targeted by the United States Chamber of Commerce for some dirty tricks style attacks on his credibility.

During the day Friday, this columnist had zoomed around on the Internets to gather some material for a column about the phenomenon of the mindset that drives pathological liars to be used in a column that will be posted at a later date.

It seems that seeing Casablanca on the day when systematic attacks on newsmen looked like they were part of a premeditated plan to cripple the effectiveness of citizen journalists would only double down on the irony level contained in the patriotic message of the Academy Award (AKA Oscar™) winning film.

The film contains one of the few exceptions to the Hayes code ever seen on American screens. In the World War II era movie, patriotism trumped the rule that no movie must get away with murder. Whew! That must come as a great comfort to the folks who want to sidestep the treehuggers laments about civilian casualties as collateral damage in camel jockey country. Major Strasser has been killed? “Round up the usual suspects!”

Didn’t the bad guys shown in Casablanca make a point of stifling the publication of dissenting points of view?

Lately, both of the two biggest American political parties seem to be using the Nazi image for a reenactment of the old childhood wrangling titled “Your mother wears combat boots!” Heck, back then, most kids who participated in that Monty Python style debate had never heard the word “lesbian;” let alone understood the full implication of a mother who wore combat boots.

Like Ricky Blaine, this columnist prefers to sit on the sideline and make sarcastic observations rather than participate in political debates.

The Nazis style was: fight against communist. Use succinct short slogans. Tell lies so big that no one will believe the teller has the cajones to tell that big of a whopper. Shut down media that doesn’t use pre-approved propaganda. Rig or cancel fair elections. Make the message so simple to understand that a high school drop out can understand it. The Geneva accords were scraps of paper. It’s OK to use torture to find out what the enemy resistance is doing.

Heck, aren’t the Republicans and Democrats equally guilty of using that modus operandi at this point?

Brad’s website was disabled and unavailable all day Friday. Even if it wasn’t a major equipment failure (just like what happened to the Iran nuclear program hardware?), don’t most Americans say that all is fair in love, war, and politics?

If net neutrality rules are imposed on the Internets (just like the Hays code was forced on the film makes) does that mean that citizen bloggers won’t be free to spend their own money to go see the 24 hour race at Le Mans and write whatever they want? Isn’t the traditional headline for the World’s Laziest Journalist’s annual Columnist Day celebration: “I column as I see ‘em!”? Doesn’t that mean that no matter what, bloggers will always be protected by the First Amendment?

There are two styles of column writing; the Dionysian and the Apollonian. Which one would teabagger trolls say is used by the World’s Laziest Journalist?

The United States Chamber of Commerce might be willing to spend $2 million to stifle Brad because he insists on reporting esoteric stories, such as the one about the absent minded professor on the Supreme Court who misunderstood the complicated implications of putting a checkmark in the wrong place on an innocuous and informal office form, but it seems unlikely anyone would notice if the World’s Laziest Journalist writes a column comparing and contrasting the tourist destination ratings of Paris vs. Casablanca.

It’s just like what Ertha Kitt said about money. To paraphrase her: This columnist has been to Casablanca and Paris. I prefer Paris.

Won’t the Huffington Post always be an available venue for disgruntled liberal writers? Did some blogging curmudgeon make some crazy assertion about “First they came to get the Bradblog . . . .”? Don’t take those conspiracy theory nuts too seriously.

Oscar Wild said: “Good Americans think that when they die; they’ll go to Paris.” Why wait that long?

Now the disk jockey will play (you can see it coming a mile away – just like JEB moving the Bush Dynasty back into the White House in 2012) Dooley Wilson’s “As time goes by,” “The last time I saw Paris,” and “Le vie en Rose.” We have to go see when the Berkeley 7 Flashback series will be showing “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Have an “I was misinformed” type week.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress