Sunday, April 19, 2009

What could be more fun than . . .INTERNET MONKEYS !!!

"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the Complete Works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true."
Thus Robert Wilensky, professor of Information Science at the University of California at Berkeley, quite good-naturedly characterized the omnipresent detritus of our Cybertimes.
And now, permit me to tiptoe through the tulips of our basic aesthetic dilemma:
  • If a monkey (or a million monkeys) produced the works of Shakespeare, would it be art? Not from the monkey's point of view unless the monkey understood the inestimable insights it produced. Not from the reader's point of view, unless the reader is similarly capable of understanding the insights.
  • If the Works of Shakespeare were produced on the Internet (by monkeys or otherwise), how would we (the general and, presumably, curious public) learn about them, read them and find art therein?
  • No matter how we tiptoe through the tulips, our path leads to a fundamental notion of DISCRIMINATION, of the necessary and fundamental task of distinguishing art from junk, music from noise. It is the act of making a judgement based on one's PRINCIPLES and one's UNDERSTANDING.
  • The "Marketing Revolution" has been largely successful in removing the notions of discrimination, principle and understanding from popular awareness and replacing it with the far less taxing phenomenon of IN-YOUR-FACENESS, once the exclusive domain of demanding children and street-vendors. With in-your-faceness to light one's way, one chooses from what is thrust upon one and the labor of marketers acquires the dignity of a Presidential news conference.
  • One of the very few reassurances I have recently had of divine justice was a visit to the annual meeting of the MLA - The Modern Language Association - the conference and meat market for university English teachers. Thousands of naifs pumped full of post-modern pilf and competing for a few dozen university teaching positions that are not, in essence or in name, English as a Second Language (remedial English). If students are not forced to read crap, they won't. The real damage is that few will read persist to read anything else, except vampire novels.
  • The response to this New Age, to this new onslaught, was brought to us by the most unlikely of guru's, Nancy Reagan: JUST SAY "NO!"
  • Coming posts will suggest books and sources of books for those looking for what was once called a good book.
  • I'll also explain in a future post how Ronald Reagan is partially to blame for this aesthetic famine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rocky Horror Show . . .James Joyce's Ulysses . . .No Contest!

James Joyce sat in Paris and wrote his Ulysses, his tale of wandering about Dublin "from memory," with a commercial directory of Dublin and a digest of world literature by his side. These books provided his mock-epic with geographic minutiae and a chronological succession of literary styles. Is this wit? Is this art? Is this crap?

Richard O'Brien wrote his musical Rocky Horror Show by juxtaposing seventy years of cinematic horror upon the popular music and social conventions of America in the 1950's.

Attach the following adjectives to one of the two: funny . . .fun . . .witty . . .dramatic . . .boring . . .informing . . .surprising . . . .

Watch this blog for similarly subtle treatment of Jacques Derrida*, the imperious and impenetrable propagandist of post-modernism. Coming soon!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Calumny . . .and Portuguese Water Dogs

FDOTUS (pron. fodotus) is really cute. *

And then I read that Bo is a gift from Ted Kennedy, who has three Portuguese Water Dogs. No doubt, their names are Mary, Jo and Kopechne**.

That’s a morbid joke but not an anti-Dem joke - just a very old, very angry morbid joke.

Any bastard who drowns his pregnant mistress and goes on to life in the Senate, instead of in prison, deserves to have the calumny haunt him at least until he is dead.

How exponents of women's rights resolve this issue at his funeral will be interesting to watch. Will they treat Kennedy as a great man and drop the memory of Mary Jo down the well . . .or will they drop Kennedy down the well when he can't help them anymore? Place your bets!

~ ~ ~

* First Dog Of The United States - The Washington Post provided witty coverage of every doggone detail:


Defining Failure Before the Next Election

Republicans and Conservatives are realizing immense and unpleasant truths: the critical issues of the Obama Presidency do not and will not sell themselves, while the media available to move opinion are biased and shifting.

  • Moreover, the decisive votes cast in 2008 - and those that will be cast in 2010 and 2012 - were cast by Gen-X'ers and Gen-Y'ers whose educations were purged of context - civics, ethics, history and geography. Jon Stewart's television show is "teaching" these folks what they didn't get in school - unless someone provides a countervailing point of view in acceptable and comprehensible terms.
Gen-X and Gen-Y do not know what failure looks like. They know only what a loser looks like. *

  • What the Right should do is establish "The Of-Course Task Force" to promulgate the certainty that Obama will be a one-term failure. A cottage network must be built to describe endless reasons, rationales, scenarios and speculation to prepare people to believe it.

The Of-Course Task Force should be writing ubiquitously not just about how Obama will fail but also about what Hillary will do and how the Dixie Chicks will feel. In order to prepare Gen-X and Gen-Y, the strengths and weaknesses of those demographics must be accepted and utilized - the obsession with entertainment and celebrity, as well as the confusion and hunger for something that makes sense.

  • There are only two scenarios for the preservation of the American Republic - swing voters are prepared or panicked. Unless our republic is going to be wagered on the likelihood of panicking swing voters with war or terror or economic disaster, the task of the Right now is to define (but not illustrate) failure. The present reality is that internet propaganda, counter-intelligence and counter-propaganda have been and are handled much more deftly by the Democrats.

The face of failure must be presented in a hundred ways, so that voters will expect to see it, will know to look for it and will recognize that failure when they see it. Issues and events must be made obvious (the "of course!"). The preaching of a campaign (even an extended campaign like 2008) will not affect those not already prepared to change their minds.

  • A long, patient and focused program is called for to alter the context of the coming campaigns - by making what is now unthinkable into what is expected and, thereby, self-evident and obvious. Somewhere in-between unthinkable and obvious is the point where things become "edgy" where late-night comedians and pundits think they are clever. Jon Stewart suggesting that Democratic appointees might pay their taxes is an illustrative and constructive step.
Three years is enough time to accomplish these changes; 18 months is probably not. The 2010 election will turn on panic or it will not turn.

~ ~ ~

*for a demonstration of how Gen-X and Gen-Y can recognize a loser, see

Monday, April 13, 2009

Decriminalization of Drugs

Portugal decriminalized drug use in 2001. Its experience over the past eight years is enlightening and does not support the slippery-slope/panic-inducing scenarios often posited.

Certainly the resources expended by the US on The War on Drugs (tm) would be well-spent on The War on Terror (tm) or simply wisely not spent. The misery inflicted on those ensnared and inprisoned is immense, as is the misery imposed upon their families.

Support for decriminalization seems to be growing in Washington. In addition to ascribing wisdom to America's policy makers, I Googled some related queries. On April 6, 2009, I found the following statistics:

"Politician's son busted for cocaine" 14,300 hits
"Politician's daughter busted for cocaine" 49,400 hits
"Politician's son busted for marijuana" 24,600 hits
"Politician's daughter busted for marijuana" 132,000 hits
"Politician's son busted for heroin" 15,000 hits
"Politician's daughter busted for heroin" 30,000 hits

More busts (or, at least, more articles) on daughters than sons. That's interesting.

It's easy to laugh at hypocrisy but there is real and pointless pain attached to all this. In addition, I am compelled to contemplate the pernicious interaction between police powers and legislative responsibilities here; criminalization gives politicians, prosecutors, police and press powers to extort, as well as enforce.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

History is not legislated in a democracy. History is written by historians.

I wrote those words to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell before he addressed the legislature of the State of Maryland in 2001, when it was contemplating a resolution condemning Turkey for "genocide" of Armenians in the 1920's. He used those words in his speech to the legislature.

In 2006, I shared those words in e-mail with then-Turkish Ambassador to the US, Osman Faruk Logoglu and I shared these words in e-mail with then-Foreign Minister of Turkey, Abdullah Gul. These men used these words.

Turkey continues to use these words and this wisdom. As I write this, this wisdom seems to have become the keystone in a renewal of relations between Armenia and Turkey. There have been accusations of forged documents, as the venue of the debate has moved to historical research, but this represents enormous progress.

At this point, the loser seems to be Azerbaijan, whose province of Ngorno-Karabagh has been occupied by Armenia for fifteen years. Turkey's solidarity with Turkic and Turkish-speaking Azerbaijan has been affected by the possibility of resolving the issue of Turkish and Armenian war-deaths in the 1920's. This is an example of The Law of Unintended Consequences.