Insights, unsought…

It’s been a fairly normal, boring weekend chez static. Groceries, some errands, nothing exotic.

I did, however, run across something on Twitter that sparked some rumination (as things are wont to do). I’m being followed by a well-meaning-ish twat who assumes that everyone who follows an anti-gay Twitter account shares their beliefs. As y’all may or may not know, Washington voted to recognize same-sex marriages this year. No ‘activist judges’, this was a straight-up, hard-fought legislative victory. And, thanks to our oft-abused referendum system, the bigots are trying to overturn this with R74 (Vote yes, kids.). I follow their Twitter feed – I like to keep my enemies where I can see ’em.

Any way, this twit likes baiting anti-gay Twitter accounts. Sometimes they’re random individual accounts, but more often than not they go after NOM; other times, they go after fairly noxious right-wing douchebags – but every now and then, their attacks on an individual reveal… interesting things.

Earlier today, they went after a Catholic friar in California. No invective, just “why do you [follow/support] hate?” This guy’s response: a link to what sounds like an awful film about an armed uprising by Catholic peasants in Mexico against a secularist government.

Woah. That’s some serious hate there, Padre. Advocating armed rebellion? Because you love the sinner but hate the sin? Sounds more like there’s some Ernst Rohm-level fantasizing at work there… Some combo of righteous, purifying cultural flames and hot, sweaty friar-on-twink action would be my guess. Toss in some Franco-esque uniforms and I think we’re there, thankyouverymuch.

But that wasn’t really the insight (and aren’t you grateful?). No, it was remembering one of the final incidents that made me realize I needed to part ways with the Church.

At some point during Confirmation classes, I got a ride home from a retreat from our parish priest. Our Diocese was unusual in that they held off Confirmation longer than most – I was a junior in high school, when most perform Confirmation much younger: 12, 13 or so. I don’t remember what sparked it, but I said something about others in the class just going through the motions (I was still grasping at straws, here – I wanted desperately to believe that I was wrong in my heart, and that there were still Truths to be found in Catholicism.). I named names, and called out a couple of sociopaths who had made junior high miserable for me.

I got a red-faced, indignant lecture on the sin of Pride. There was no effort to understand how I came to my conclusion, just an angry and judgmental scolding for my failings as a Christian and my inability to act in the manner of the Redeemer.

Yeah. That went over well. That week, I told my parents that I wasn’t going through with it – that I couldn’t reconcile (that word! that damaging word!) my own experience with my lessons. Square pegs in round holes had nothing on this. Ultimately, they guilt-tripped me (ironically) into going through the motions as well.

For whatever random synaptic reason, tonight’s Twitter encounter with this dogma-blinded, overly-righteous Hound of Christ made something go click. Something about the need to hold on to make-believe truths, to white-hot fires of lies in order to preserve your vision of the world as it should be. Because, you see (and fuck you, Father Bob, you prick), I was right.

I’m pretty sure that I’m right now, too.

So, anyway…

I wrote something new. If anyone’s out there, I wouldn’t mind feedback.

“Wait, I think I hear a sound…”

Via Talking Points Memo, this reminder: the First Gulf War started on this date, 20 years ago…

The title comes from an approximation of the words spoken by American correspondents in Baghdad at the time the first bombs started falling… A friend of mine was giving a performance that night, a modernist electronic piece who’s name escapes me, but it calls for randomly-selected radio frequencies to be played at varied intervals over a mixed electronic and piano score. As he relayed to me soon after, on that night, every radio station that he tuned into that was carrying a broadcast was carrying the same live broadcast of that first bombing run.

He sat down at the piano, poised his hands above the keys, and the first radio signal that was broadcast right before he started playing was the CNN correspondent hearing the first explosions and anti-aircraft fire of the air war.

Twenty years ago, on this night, my friend gave one of the piano performances of his life, accompanied by air raid siren, ack-ack, and high-tech explosions. Music/static/bombing/static/music/bombing/music/static, for the entire piece.

“Wait, I think I hear a sound…”

Things that make me wish I was a better writer

You know how every now and then you run across a geode of a factoid – from the outside, interesting enough (Oh, look; a perfectly round rock.), but packed with Teh Shiny (Ooooh… shiny!)? Take this recent one I stumbled across, from a TODAY Show segment, Empty mansions are legacy of a mystery heiress.. Sounds like pretty fertile terrain in and of itself, doesn’t it? Rich, reclusive heiress; abandoned but immaculately maintained mansions across the country; family history of wealth wrenched bodily from the earth – and other humans. From such stuffs are all manner of literary goods woven, high and low. But for me, it was the first slide show of accompanying photos that had the info-geode.

It’s an unremarkable photo, really. Taken in 1910, it depicts a parlor or sitting room of some kind, overstuffed as only the wealthy Edwardians could do: damask and brocade everywhere, plaster rosettes and swags on the ceiling and wall panels, imported tiles on the fireplace, a tiger-skin rug. It’s really Gilded Age excess at its finest, workers-and-students-unite, to-the-barricades, excessiest:

1910 NY Times photo of Clark mansion, NYC (via The TODAY Show)

But it isn’t the photo as such that provided the geode moment. Sure, this would be the perfect setting for a Holmes vs. Moriarty encounter, or an outtake from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but those tropes are pretty well established. No, it was the photo’s caption:

High tech, 1910 style
Inside the childhood home of Huguette Clark. The Fifth Avenue mansion was a high-tech marvel for 1910, with electricity and central air conditioning. Powering it required seven tons of coal per day, brought in by the Clarks’ private subway line. (The New York Times)

Did you see it there? A private subway line. Where did it go? How many stops did it have? How many other private subways and rail lines were there under NYC? It wouldn’t have to be that big of a train – 7 tons of coal would need 300 or so cubic feet of space – but still… Private rail lines! Under Manhattan! And, implicitly, private steam generating plants! What more could a mad, Victorian genius want?

And for me, this will just be an irritation, a nagging little factoid laden with imagery and implications, begging to be incorporated into some steampunk fantasy or Victorian noir. Such beggary will fall on deaf ears; it joins a host of ignored, neglected, or otherwise ill-treated images, anecdotes, and impressions. The hidden shininess will have to wait for someone else to discover it.

Dear Brad Goehring…

So – you wish you could issue hunting licenses to “thin the herd” of liberals, huh?

Thin this, motherfucker.

Oh, sure. Now that you’ve been caught, you say you meant it metaphorically and hit “Share” too soon. Given that these:

have been around for a while (and are hot sellers at mainstream conservative events like CPAC), let’s just say I’m not buying it.

And while you’re at it, howzabout you take a look at the Wikipedia summary of “The Most Dangerous Game,” eh? If you feel up to it, personally I’d recommend the actual story – but based on your professed inability to operate Facebook’s UI, I’m assuming you’ll find the summary easier to handle.

Frank Frazetta (1928 – 2010)

If you came into science fiction or fantasy in the mid-70s, there was no escaping Frank Frazetta’s art (esp. the Death Dealer… how many vans was that painted on?). To say that he had an influence on my youth would probably be an understatement. A number of my grade- and junior-high classmates were semi-talented Frazetta wanna-bes, and I envied their drawing skills mightily.

I can look at his work now and cringe at the sexist and racist tropes he employed – but to a pre-teen boy, his work seemed like my internal visions brought to light.

Dear Dr. Dobb’s Portal and Rally Software

A two-page PDF of what is essentially two glorified PowerPoint slides does not count as a whitepaper. No, not even if you give it a title like “Build Release Plans That Deliver Customer Value.”

Please stop wasting my time with this shit.

Congenially yours,


Historical blindness

Something the GOP forgot, when proclaiming that HCR would be Obama’s Waterloo: the Duke of Wellington had a Waterloo, too.

I find myself vaguely disappointed…

…that the newly-arrived spam titled “Fwd: New bachelors for you” is not an equal opportunity variation on the particularly clumsy and stupid “I [Name of Allegedly Hot Russian Women] Need To Talk To You Again” spam I’ve been getting lately.

Diploma mill and mail-order bride spam is boring. Mail-order groom spam would be a welcome relief to the monotony.

Not that I’d gloat or anything…

No, scratch that; I would.

This evening’s blast from the past was brought to you by my referrer log…

Remember that jackass troll, John H McConnel Jr and his third-rate social networking site, I got a visitor tonight who was referred here by a Google search for, and yes, I’m still in the first few results for that abomination.

Evidently they crashed and burned. Who would have guessed?

Clearly I’m a small-minded fool who doesn’t understand the internet.

Everything I needed to know about parenting, I learned from LT Ellen L Ripley

the fun box...

Because, you know, sometimes you just have to nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

In which our contemporary Crusader-wannabes demonstrate their complete and utter ahistoricism

Last week in Nashville, TN, a mosque was vandalized. After the positive community response was highlighted by Andrew Sullivan this afternoon, the comments section of various Nashville-area blogs covering the crime were flooded with strident anti-Muslim trolls – hey, it’s Teh Internets; we all know how this works, right?

Anti-Muslim grafitti in Nashville, TN


Anti-Muslim grafitti in Nashville, TN

To steal a catchphrase… sadly, no. May I present the flag of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem?

Flag of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

We’ve got a name for that…

Sayeth Tbogg:

There is much to be said for White Zombie played very loud as the soundtrack for a long drive.

Yes. Including “Hello, officer.”

(When we moved from DC to St Louis, a good friend gave us a mix tape for the drive – we called it “The ‘Hello, officer’ Mix” since it started with Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod, segued into the 1000 Homo DJs cover of Sabbath’s “Supernaut”, and pretty much continued at that pace. Ah, good times.)

Don’t these guys watch Mythbusters?

After all, they’re what you call… experts.

Oh. Wait. So are these guys: Los Alamos National Laboratory Researchers Accidentally Blow up Building with a Cannon.

Whoops. The Mustache of Disapproval radiates disapproval.

(via Mother Jones, via… TPM‘s headlines/news aggregator, I think…)

Why, no. No, they didn’t.

“Did the framers of our Constitution ever envision something like a semi-automatic weapon?” [Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle] asked.

*sigh* Nor did they envision the Internet or Scientology, yet these are also protected under the Bill of Rights…

Three WA legislators have introduced a ban on so-called assault weapons, partially in response to the ambush and murder of a Seattle policeman. Ironically, the weapon alleged to have been used in this specific attack, while a semi-automatic rifle, is unlikely to be banned under any such legislation.