Worth a read, even if you are already "over" this issue due to the constant flood of articles about it, this article discusses expected implications of having this trial, namely that any attempts by the defense to use the torture of their defendents as a means of getting any confessions thrown out will, of course, be overturned, which may/will negatively affect other trials in the future. I am worried that domestic law enforcement will, subsequent to this trial, have a lot more leeway in using more forceful interrogation techniques because prosecutors will now have a better chance of ensuring that any confessions gained will make it to the jury's ears.


Thai In Styrofoam

A lot of my best ideas lately have been coming to me while walking and have not survived the train trip home. I am tempted to get some sort of portable recording device but somehow I feel like I don't want to be that guy talking about the End Times with a weird look in his eye while surrounded by the wealthy, beautiful people of (insert Manhattan neighborhood). Don't know why I have a problem with that. Actually, it sounds sort of great (I don't think I'll ever have any friends in Soho anyways). In fact, there are enough of them/us in New York that, with a little coordination (and perhaps a more generous welfare system) we could probably sustain our own bar.

Someday I may remember and write the recently-composed-in-my-head essay entitled "The People Jogging Along The Hudson Are Right", but until then, I give you the only fragment that survives:

... a condo in Battery Park with a view of Hoboken or at least a condo in Hoboken with a view of Battery Park...

... more actual "content" before the end of the year I hope/think/promise...


I'm An Independent Get Me OUT Of Here

Ok so I have read Berlin and read other people's discussions about his writing and listened to discussions about it and watched documentaries based on it and yet I still just don't get it.

The thing about politics now is that the stupid discourse described in the previous essay is based on the (foolish at this point) idea that, you know, government should do shit. Unfortunately, this stupid discourse delegitimizes that perfectly sensical idea to the point that not only does nothing happen but the people who sit it out, not out of principle (ie the non-addicted), but out of, basically, apathy, selfishness and/or fear, somehow become the moral center of the system. I don't support any position of the hard right but at least I get to use the word position when writing about them. Unlike these flighty fucks.

I always find reading David Brooks amusing,. There is something about his writing style that is calming, seemingly evenhanded. Not that I am ever lulled into agreement with him but if I am not awake the effect of reading an essay like that cited above is not unlike being woken up with a bucket of cold water. I made it halfway through the essay with nothing more than a chuckle at his "herds of cats" analogy before getting to this:
The first thing to say is that this recession has hit the new suburbs hardest, exactly where independents are likely to live. According to a survey by the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, 76 percent of suburbanites say they or someone they know have lost a job in the past year.
Where do I start? Have people in the new suburbs really suffered more than, you know, poor people? Granted, it does actually seem plausible that, for a short period at least, it was probably a better bet to work at McDonalds than, say, "Goldman Sacks", and yet... c'mon, really? And what of the fact that these new suburbs are the epitome of the hubris that got us into this mess in the first place? No down payment on a thin drywall and thinner aluminum "building" where trees used to be? Sounds great!

As for the "statistic" cited above, I wonder if the margin-of-error actually considered the nature of suburban communities, which are, you know, fairly closed. One dude loses his job and it gets mentioned at a backyard BBQ over the summer and, suddenly, calamity. Ok it was probably/definitely more than one dude but you get my point.
Next paragraph:
The second thing to say is that in this time of need, these voters are not turning to government for support. Trust in government is at its lowest level in recent memory. Over the past year, there has been a shift to the right on issue after issue. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who believe that there is too much government regulation rose from 38 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2009. The percentage of Americans who want unions to have less influence rose from 32 percent to a record 42 percent.
What the fuck does it matter what people believe? These people were probably the vanguard of the "fuck government, let's SUV" contingent who, if they even read the paper, hung on every last drop of spittle emanating from Alan Greenspan's trachea (© Ayn Rand). Probably, though, they missed the time when their hero completely renounced his beliefs in the free market, a tacit admission that his unwillingness to investigate fraud and his willingness to block regulation of the very markets that brought the economy to its current state was responsible for for what we are dealing with now. But, what does he know compared to people who don't?

The logic is mystifying. Bankers play poker with their eyes closed with the wealth of a nation, no regulations necessary. Government gives those bankers back the money they lost, and is blamed for interfering. I almost want to cross the line and become one of those Marxists who desires the complete eradication of all government regulation of capital in the blind belief that complete and utter chaos is the only way people will finally come to realize what has been done to them. Yet, even as I envision the last bankers in America scrambling to the southernmost tip of Manhattan to take the last paper currency left in our decrepit society to the place at which it will be burned, I can still envision some self-righteous "Independent" standing there waiting to tackle anyone with a fire extinguisher.

So the article goes on with more dumb poll results until another stupid paragraph:
It’s time to return to fundamentals. No short-term fixes. Government should do what it’s supposed to do: schools, roads, basic research. It should not be picking C.E.O.’s or setting pay or fizzing up the economy with more debt. It should give people the tools to compete, not rig the competition. Lines of restraint have dissolved, and they need to be restored.
The amount of doublethink here is amazing. Is he already forgetting that the reason Washington started to change Wall Street's diapers is because Wall Street couldn't manage that particular task by itself?


just sorta fucking tired

You know I used to care, or rather I still do, but in a much more passive way (hence the infrequency of activity here). From age 16-25 I read the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, the Economist, Harper's, etc. on at least a semi-regular basis. Whatever insights I had gained from reading social and poltical theory, however far away I traveled from the narrower circumstances of actual goverments and their practice in my lifetime towards bigger ideas about why government itself should exist, and how, I always returned back to the narrower context of America and its foreign and domestic policies. If the current health care debate, for instance, were taking place in the above time frame, I would at least be able to provide a general summary of the most popular bills and would have an opinion as to which one I would like to see passed. I would have know then, as I know now, that any bill passed would be a compromise, but I believed in "steps in the right direction", in the idea that the positive change, no matter how small, that would result due to new practice under new legislation, would convince the populace to continue moving forward.

Maybe I wasn't quite that naive.

But, when taking myself and my own desires out of consideration (and even with these desires the primary consideration) I still felt that some sort of basic, highly circumscribed universal morality existed. The following are its principles:

1. Children should not be seperated from their limbs on purpose*.

2. Profit should not be made on human suffering.

While I am no libertarian, not even close, and understand just how much is allowed outside of this small moral sphere I have depicted, the above appears axiomatic to me, way outside opinion and ideology. And yet is is unachievable. Of course, perfection is as such by its nature.

At some point, my country got hooked on the metaphorical drugs of its own mythology, of its own spin, to the extent that, like in Borges' map, there is now no actual reality to refer to in contrast to the "fake" one under discussion. Of course, all of this is old news, but that fact that the current administration is, on a fundamental level, just as hooked and addicted as the previous administration, like most Americans really, to what amounts to an irrational conversation considered rational by all participants based on assumptions that are phantoms of the speaker's mind, is fairly dissapointing.

Think of some parody of a stoned conversation in college. The participants are discussing what it would be like to see, say, Tangerine Dream play a gig on Jupiter. Of course, currently, this is impossible (yet somehow it seems more possible than the spectre of socialized medicine haunting the malls of America [even given the advanced age of TD members!]). But, under the influence, it is not difficult for me to imagine the debate becoming impassioned, and the mere impossibility of the act getting lost amid the debates over, say, what type of suits would be necessary, or which synthesizers would hold up best against the hostile atmosphere (my vote is on the OBx or JP-8). Perhaps, given enough marijuana, people would actually feel slighted by the way in which their arguments were contravened by others, would maybe wonder if "John's last comment was meant to be taken personally" or if "Sarah was waiting for the opportunity to say something mean".

This is actually American poltics at this point, the passionate defensiveness (and sometimes agressiveness) of people who have had their feelings hurt (or who want to hurt feelings) debating the impossible variables of impossible occurances.

I, myself, am not addicted to this drug. And now that I look back, to that era when I actively cared, I realize that I was a condependant and an enabler.

I can't do anything for you America. I don't want you to die but it is up to you as to whether it happens or not. I am ready to move on. I forsee a quiet life for myself, a small, dilapidated studio in the old section of a medium-sized city in Eastern Europe (perhaps near the water), a french press, an overfull ashtray, and a small transistor radio playing the BBC World News. I will hear about you often, but the BBC announcer will be dispassionate, and I will be soothed. +

*I don't tend to think children are automatically innocents but while they still have the responsibility to act well in the narrower context that is their life, how they could they possibly be responsible for the larger one that is the province of adults?

+So some of you are going to read this, especially the article linked-to above, and say "yeah man, people know exactly what is going on... the governments... the corporations...". Well, I have heard those arguments, I make them myself sometimes, but I have come to redefine the way in which I tend to think of knowledge. It is something that is acted on. Or it is not possesed.

(Lastly props to BLCKGRD for the commentary and the providing of good links daily. I am from DC Metro too, and I used to be a registered "lessshity" there)