Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

30 December, 2003

Seeking The Teeth

Something in me, dark and sticky
All the time it's getting strong
No way of dealing with this feeling
Can't go on like this too long


Her: ya know what? i just might need to start hanging out in places like that. normally i go for nice, clean cut guys with good jobs and all that other b.s. and that is NOT working for me. guess i need a dirtball in my life.

Her: maybe a dirtball will be nice to me.

Me: Was your last boyfriend not nice to you?

Her: you know, there is a realllly fine line between teasing and hurting/being mean. And he crossed that line so many times I couldn't even count. And he knew it and didn't care.

Her: And sometimes he wasn't even teasing - just plain being mean.

Me: I'm sorry to hear that.

Her: I experienced some violence last year so I have fear

Her: it was bad....

Me: I'm sorry!

Her: Oh its ok - it is just that it makes it more difficult for my confidence

Me: Well, I can certainly understand your hesitation. Are you OK aside from some fear?

Her: I have 1 broken tooth at the back thats left physically

Her: other wise no lasting stuff you can SEE

Her: I dont talk about this enough, I am very ashamed

Me: Don't feel ashamed!

Her: after he beat me I did not leave him right away

Me: How long did it take you to leave him?

Her: 3 months

Me: why did you stay with him? did u think he'd change?

Her: its like I was in a trance or something - SO much fear

Her: I felt like I could not live without him

Me: Why didn't you report this guy to the police?

Her: too scared - get this - the truth is - I DID NOT WANT TO LOSE HIM

Me: Emotions are such wonderful things but can be so fucking weird sometimes.

Her: thank you for not telling me to 'get over it' or saying 'what th e hell i s wrong with you'

Her: very rare - you are cool

Me: You're welcome!

Her: I feel vunerable that I told someone about the beatings. I need reasurance that it will stay quiet

Me: What can I do?

Her: just don't ever make light of it please - I just feel kinda exposed

Me: I promise you I won't. I like you - I didn't mean to pry or anything.

Her: oh I know - its amazing that I told someone that over the internet

Me: I am very honored that you did - thank you for trusting me.

Her: ..something about you - I can tell you are not one of these morons that exist on the chats

The earthly power sucks shadowed milk from sleepy tears undone
From nippled skin as smooth as silk the bugles blown as one
You lie there with your eyes half closed like there's no - one there at all
There's a tension pulling on your face
Come on, come talk to me
|| Palmer, 11:55 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Arguments, Banter, Contradiction, Duologue, Exclamations - It's Only Talk

My words won't come out right
I feel like I'm drowning
I'm feeling weak now
But I can't show my weakness
I sometimes wonder
Where do we go from here

It doesn't have to be like this
All we need to do is make sure we keep talking

"I am very scared and unsure of how to deal with my fiance, Adam. I basically have been wavering back and forth between wicca and christianity for the past few years, and just dropped the "bombshell" so to speak that I have chosen Wicca last weekend (I've been procrastinating and trying to keep it a bit secret). As I mentioned in other emails, he's very devout Christian, WELS Lutheran, which is one of the more conservative branches. He then made a statment to the effect of 'I don't know if I can marry a non-Christian woman. Marriage is a Christian institution.' I want to show him that essay, but I think he will take it the wrong way. Do you have any advice on what to do?"

Mi ŝatasrenkonti novajn homojn


just curious who all has the msn messenger on here, i have it and just want to know who else has it...

if you do, anybody want to add me to their messenger?!!?

lol

james


(6)


|| Palmer, 11:54 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
All Your Base Are Belong to Us

"Monday night I saw the Flower Kings at the Hamilton Street Cafe in Bound Brook NJ. I last saw the FK (other than Saturday night) at the New Brunswick show in 2001 on the first Rainmaker tour. At that time I had been less than a month removed from a very difficult round of chemo and a stem cell transplant to try and stop the cancer that was ultimately killing me. I met the band, told them my story, which seemed to touch them (Roine and Tomas especially), got them to sign some stuff, and we went our seperate ways.

After the show Monday night, I walked up to Tomas and said, 'I doubt you remember someone you met two years ago, but I last saw you guys play at the New Brunswick show. At that time I didn't have any hair, as I was undergoing treatment for cancer. I told you how important your music was in keeping me going and positive, and...'

He stopped me and said 'Yes, I do remember. How are you doing?'

I told him I was two years on from the treatment, I was still going, and still listened to the FK's music to get me up when I was down. Honestly, I kind of feel as stupid as it may sound to some of you, that the Flower Kings helped keep me alive by keeping me up when I was at my lowest.

I told him this.

He signed my copy of Unfold The Future.

And then, when I held out my hand to shake his, he grabbed me and hugged me.

If anyone ever needs a reason to listen to the Flower Kings other than their wonderfully uplifting music, remember this tale :-)

Bill K"

Reaching leaning scratching vainly
Faces dancing locked lipped and between thigh secret
Briolette tears drip from frozen masks
As all those death row questions don't get asked


In the autumn of 1999, there was a spate of public revelations about Soviet spies in the United Kingdom...But how did these people get their instructions? Well, one way - and a method still used by many security services - is by coded messages on shortwave radio.

The thing about these messages is that they can be heard by anyone with a shortwave radio that covers the frequencies between the broadcast bands. They consist of groups of numbers, usually repeated several times, sometimes in English but also in Spanish, German, East European and Far East languages.

6-0-8-5-5-5-7-6-6-6

.- -. - - - - .- - - - - / ... - - - ..- .- -.


Comma comma comma comma
Commai commai commai commai
Commu commu commu commu
Communicate

|| Palmer, 11:54 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Virus Alert

"A new computer virus is spreading throughout the Internet, and it is far more insidious than last week's Chernobyl menace. Named Strunkenwhite after the authors of a classic guide to good writing, it returns e-mail messages that have grammatical or spelling errors. It is deadly accurate in its detection abilities, unlike the dubious spell checkers that come with word processing programs.

The virus is causing something akin to panic throughout corporate America, which has become used to the typos, misspellings, missing words and mangled syntax so acceptable in cyberspace. The CEO of LoseItAll.com, an Internet startup, said the virus has rendered him helpless. "Each time I tried to send one particular e-mail this morning, I got back this error message: 'Your dependent clause preceding your independent clause must be set off by commas, but one must not precede the conjunction.' I threw my laptop across the room."

A top executive at a telecommunications and long-distance company, 10-10-10-10-10-10-123, said: "This morning, the same damned e-mail kept coming back to me with a pesky notation claiming I needed to use a pronoun's possessive case before a gerund. With the number of e-mails I crank out each day, who has time for proper grammar? Whoever created this virus should have their programming fingers broken."

A broker at Begg, Barrow and Steele said he couldn't return to the "bad, old" days when he had to send paper memos in proper English. He speculated that the hacker who created Strunkenwhite was a "disgruntled English major who couldn't make it on a trading floor. When you're buying and selling on margin, I don't think it's anybody's business if I write that 'i meetinged through the morning, then cinched the deal on the cel phone while bareling down the xway.' "

If Strunkenwhite makes e-mailing impossible, it could mean the end to a communication revolution once hailed as a significant timesaver. A study of 1,254 office workers in Leonia, N.J., found that e-mail increased employees' productivity by 1.8 hours a day because they took less time to formulate their thoughts. (The same study also found that they lost 2.2 hours of productivity because they were e-mailing so many jokes to their spouses, parents and stockbrokers.)

Strunkenwhite is particularly difficult to detect because it doesn't come as an e-mail attachment (which requires the recipient to open it before it becomes active). Instead, it is disguised within the text of an e-mail titled "Congratulations on your pay raise." The message asks the recipient to "click here to find out about how your raise effects your pension." The use of "effects" rather than the grammatically correct "affects" appears to be an inside joke from Strunkenwhite's mischievous creator.

The virus also has left government e-mail systems in disarray. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget can no longer transmit electronic versions of federal regulations because their highly technical language seems to run afoul of Strunkenwhite's dictum that "vigorous writing is concise." The White House speechwriting office reported that it had
received the same message, along with a caution to avoid phrases such as "the truth is... " and "in fact...."

Home computer users also are reporting snafus, although an e-mailer who used the word "snafu" said she had come to regret it.

The virus can have an even more devastating impact if it infects an entire network. A cable news operation was forced to shut down its computer system for several hours when it discovered that Strunkenwhite had somehow infiltrated its TelePrompTer software, delaying newscasts and leaving news anchors nearly tongue-tied as they wrestled with proper sentence structure.

There is concern among law enforcement officials that Strunkenwhite is a harbinger of the increasingly sophisticated methods hackers are using to exploit the vulnerability of business's reliance on computers.

"This is one of the most complex and invasive examples of computer code we have ever encountered. We just can't imagine what kind of devious mind would want to tamper with e-mails to create this burden on communications," said an FBI agent who insisted on speaking via the telephone out of concern that trying to e-mail his comments could leave him tied up for hours.

Meanwhile, bookstores and online booksellers reported a surge in orders for Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style."
|| Palmer, 11:45 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
A Flake's Progress

Victory is mine! I finally got java running on Firebird so all those goofy scrolling thingies on web pages work now. Actually, what really irritated me was that I couldn't view any of the art work at the home page of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg where Russian Ark was taped. Also, I snagged a very handy yenc decoder. This makes newsgroups much cooler.

Pete got a set of those new-fangled walkie talkies for Xmas and we were playing with them yesterday. Of course, the first thing we did when giving them a go for the first time was to do the Young Ones thing - you know, "Charlie, Teakettle, Barbeque - CCCCHHHHHH!!!". I've got TechTV on (go figure) and they've got this little hottie now on Fresh Gear - Stephanie Siemiller. I've got some fresh gear for her, alright.

I see that our helpful and friendly federal government is banning ephedra. What the hell are truck drivers gonna do? Plus I used it occasionally for a buzz. Pop a few of them and wash 'em down with some coffee and your scalp starts tingling in a few minutes. Bummer.

OK, here's something uninteresting. I'm in the process of writing this lengthy paper on the lyrics of Jethro Tull's music and I've gotten up to 1981. Then I go ahead and find this bit from John Watson's Behaviorism:

"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant chief, and yes, even beggar-man thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors."

Now compare this to the lyric of Tull's "Cross-Eyed Mary":

"Who would be a poor man, a beggarman, a thief --
if he had a rich man in his hand?"

Was Ian Anderson on the nurture side of the debate? Had he read Watson's book? Does this cast my interpretations and argument into doubt? Nah. He prolly just snagged the phrase for his own purposes. Now don't get me started on potential references to Dante's Inferno in Tull's A Passion Play. The "icy wastes" and such.

...................

I put on my Live at Leeds bootleg by The Who and have been reading an interview with a guy named William Dumhoff who is a dream researcher. Quite interesting. He basically says that Freud and Jung are full of shit. So then what are dreams? "Dreams express our conceptions of ourselves and of people close to us." This is to say, dreams aren't our subconsciouses trying to sort out repressed or underdeveloped bits of our personalities, they're just reflections of ourselves, albeit in weird and convoluted forms. If I could remember any of my dreams, I would reflect upon them.

Ya know, this Who disc is fucking awesome!! If aliens came to Earth and wanted to know what rock'n'roll is, I'd give 'em a copy of this show. It's got everything: simple verse-chorus-verse pop songs and longer, more complicated pieces such as the whole of Tommy. But whatever song you're talking about, it's loud and raw. There's nothing quite like the sound of a Gibson SG turned up to 11. Something about the way "My Generation" weaves in and out of various other songs...you get "Sparks" which is raucous and full of distortion. Then a short, quiet passage and then Pete launches into a fast, heavy riff and we're off to the races again. You have some order, some melody and then decays into chaos. Feedback and distortion reign. Then the notes organize themselves again into something peaceful. And then entropy kicks in once more and the shit hits the fan. It is, as Dave Marsh noted, hallucinatory.

"Magic Bus" too is great. Formula: take a Bo Diddley beat (which he got from his grandmother's singing when he was a child) and have the band go fucking insane.

The song starts off slowly but it builds over the course of five minutes. The beat picks up and becomes faster. Townshend and Daltrey start screaming in call-and-response. ("You can have the magic bus for 100 English pounds!" --> "No! Too much!") Gradually the song swells and you can just feel that it's going to bust out at any time. Just when you think it is, they hold back. But it reaches critical mass and they let loose in a musical climax. You've got Moon all over his kit, Entwhistle's bass part fills out the bottom end and acts as a lead simultaneously, Townshend beats the shit out his guitar and he yells some more, and then there's Daltrey screaming, "I'm gonna ride her!" It is loud, distorted - it just oozes energy. It's fucking primal. It's like sex - rhythmic and raw. Tension slowly builds and then is suddenly released. The song is so hypnotic - it's so easy to lose yourself in it. That's rock'n'roll!!

Speaking of hallucinatory, I might be able to get me some psilocybin! Not sure if I really need a ¼, though. I guess I could just divy it up over a couple doses. Or, if I could find someone to go on a trip with me...
|| Palmer, 11:23 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Ed Anger Is My Hero!

I am as angry as a stewardess with an armful of vomit-filled air sickness bags! Last night, the Sundance Channel was having a documentary fest and I caught The Trials of Henry Kissinger. To say that it left a sour taste in my mouth is like saying that Hitler disliked Jews. It chronicled how Hank played both sides in his ascendency to power and then pointed finger after finger at him for prolonging the war in Vietnam, the invasion of Cambodia, the tragedy in East Timor, etcetera, etcetera. Can it be any wonder that most of the world fucking hates the U.S.? Time after time, he'd deny something in an interivew, such as giving Indonesia the green light to invade East Timor, and then some declassified document would come up which contradicted his statements. Kissinger defends himself in his books but he does so by referring to documents which will be unavailable to the public until 5 years after his death - at his request! Unfucking real. I just wanna throw a fucking Confederate flag on my Cabalmobile and start shooting guns. How can an American explain why we let our government get away with this shit? The United States isn't a dictatorship so it's not like we've got guns pointed at our heads if we dare try to make a change. "Sorry Mr. Third World Citizen, I'm too busy on my cell phone to do even a little thing to help out like voting."

Nothing can survive in a vacuum
No one can exist all alone
We pretend things only happen to strangers
We've all got problems of our own
It's enough to learn to share our pleasures
We can't soothe pain with sympathy
All that we can do is be reminded
We shake our heads at the tragedy

I went to bed beside myself. Honestly, I'm surprised that I fell asleep so quickly. My brain was wired - I had been stoned on caffeine pretty much all day and hadn't eaten anything excepting a piece of cake. Thougts of morality and geopolitics kept running through my head - I was so fucking angry. (Oddly enough, I also felt very frisky. Perhaps anger and libido are on the same coin...?) After a short stretch of tossing and turning, I finally fell into the arms of Morpheus.

Here I am the next morning (and a gorgeous morning it is too) and I'm still pissed off. So I put in some Fish and Rage Against the Machine. I'm trying to be constructive but I can't. My mind is a miasma and I just can't think particularly clearly. Maybe I oughta change the music to something a little less, um, angry. OK. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis.
|| Palmer, 9:08 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

29 December, 2003

Dumb Syndrome

I often tend to write here at the café of a bookstore. This is for two reasons: 1) I am surrounded by a vast reference library and 2) I have a ready supply of caffeine in close proximity. There is, perhaps, a third reason which is that I am under the mistaken notion that I will someday meet an eloquent, intelligent woman to court. While I have often made use of the many books that surround me and imbibed more than my fair share of coffee, I have yet to meet the woman of my dreams.

I have, however, seen many a beautiful woman. This is because A) I am on the lookout for hotties and B) I just enjoy people watching. In the course of observing my fellow patrons, I have noticed the predilection of social workers to bring mentally retarded people here. (I have also noticed that the social workers tend to be beautiful young women. But that’s another story…) As I watch these people, I am filled with a mixture of sympathy, apprehension, and, above all, curiosity. I desire to know the differences between the retarded person and myself.

I suspect that the majority of the mentally disabled folk I encounter here have Down’s Syndrome, that unfortunate result of an aberrant meiosis. My suspicion is due to their appearances: unusual almond-shaped eyes, flattened noses, and broadened faces. Now, these are all facial features and I find it queer that these people- be they men or women (and the people here are mostly women) – are almost invariably overweight. I don’t know why this is, but I highly doubt it has anything to do with their mental retardations.

A stray nucleotide probably produces the physical differences between them and me. And the differences are readily apparent. What fascinates me are the mental disparities. How do their mental lives differ from mine?

As I sit here with pen in hand scratching out this essay, I have an inner voice contemplating my next word. In addition, another part (or parts) of my mind mulls over the other patrons in sight, relishes the flavor of coffee, feels melancholy and anger over my failing relationship with my girlfriend, et al. In other words, my mental life is a whirl of thoughts, feelings, ideas, and sensory data. Is it the same for the retarded people at the tables around me?

I presume that their cranial activity is much the same as mine. They have brain stems that keep their hearts beating and their lungs respirating. Although I am somewhat more dexterous, their locomotive skills seem good. None of them are falling over as they walk. Indeed, one of the people here is blind and wields a walking stick which enables her to maneuver quite well. They are able to put food and drink to their lips without spilling on themselves.

Currently, there are four mentally handicapped individuals at an adjacent table, including the aforementioned blind woman. What is remarkable is not the differences we seen to have between us but rather that their behavior is quite “normal.” They are doing exactly what any group of four non-retarded people would do at a café, namely, drink, eat, and shoot the shit. While three of the four have speech that is slurred, it is so to varying degrees. (The blind woman’s voice is perfectly normal, actually.) I think it really neat that they can all comprehend one another and converse.

It goes without saying that me finding their conversation to be neat and their normal traits to be remarkable is more of a reflection of my ignorance and prejudices than anything about these people. While writing this piece, I went in search of books about mental retardation and found a solitary book that addresses the issue from a clinical perspective. There were quite a few books about the lives of the retarded and guides for parents in raising retarded children, however. The book I have before me is about abnormal psychology and mental retardation is given one chapter.

I gleaned the cause of Down’s Syndrome and its attendant physical traits from this book. It also elucidates upon the recognized levels of retardation: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. As I listen to the conversation about everyday trials and tribulations at the table in front of me, I assume that the individuals are mildly or moderately retarded. The text also discusses the genetic and environmental causes of their abnormalities.

Probably the most interesting section of the chapter is entitled “Misconceptions About Mental Retardation.” In it, five misunderstandings about retarded people are laid waste:

1) The mentally retarded have little or no understanding of their limitations.
2) The mentally retarded are all alike.
3) They have little or no feeling about what people call them.
4) They have little or no understanding of how their limitations affect them in everyday life.
5) They are dangerous.

I don’t think the book is engaging in any sort of feel-good proselytizing here. It states that most retarded people are just slow and that they are cognizant of their surroundings and the perceptions of those around them. In short, the only profound differences to be had are with the profoundly retarded.

I am not sure why mental retardation has piqued my interest so. Is it mere intellectual curiosity? Or is there something more lurking behind the scenes? It is true that I have great curiosity, so I am not surprised at finding myself preoccupied with something that is a bit out of left field. Still, I suspect that some childhood experiences have a role to play here.

For part of my second grade and my entire third grade year, I had a classmate, Keith, who was mentally retarded. To me, he was merely “different.” He was a nice guy and, although his speech was a bit slurred, we could communicate fine. As you can imagine, several of the other boys teased him mercilessly. I felt really bad for Keith, but don’t recall ever having stood up in his defense. Instead, I assumed a posture of supine cowardice, one of the most ignominious things I have ever done. This is something of which I am still ashamed.

My failings aside, I think what is most instructive here is the fact that, upon meeting Keith, I recognized the differences we had but didn’t view them as grounds for driving him to tears with impunity. Unfortunately, pointing out the similarities between people with differences won’t stop irrational discrimination. My father is very racist and no amount of my protesting will erase his prejudices.

Despite my reading on the topic and my reflections on my past experiences with retarded people, I still look at the “slow” folk at the next table with curiosity as I will never truly understand their predicament. I also realize that they must get many a weird and disdainful glance and overhear insulting comments about them. And there’s nothing I can do about this. I will leave here tonight pondering my new-found knowledge and bemoaning the gaps therein. Still, I have something in which I can take some comfort: While I don’t know why I acted as I did regarding Keith, I do know that, of the clutch of kids in my class who went on after the third grade to the gifted program at Burbank Elementary School as I did, none of them taunted Keith.
|| Palmer, 4:05 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Through a CRT, Darkly

Give a clue; leave a kind word
Hint as to a destination
A domain where our cyber-souls might meet


I read the blog of a woman here in Madison on a fairly regular basis. Earlier this year, she had an abortion and found herself in a downward spiral. It was a real shame as she is very intelligent, fun-loving, beautiful, and has a good heart. I have never met her and don't maintain regular email contact with her or anything, but it still depressed me to read about her predicament. Take for instance:

"i still see babies and preg women on tv and i cry at them, at episodes of ER, of episodes of anything really"

"the bathtub vision of me and warm red water seems better every day skin is so soft and vulnerable"

Now, I grant you that people who write do take liberties and also indulge themselves with literary devices such as hyperbole, but I still find such things irksome.

She has friends and family that read her blog which must make things a bit more difficult. Ya know, there are times when I rue having let certain people know of this place. There are certain things that, however tempted I may be, I dare not publish here. I had another online ditty a couple years back which no friends nor family knew of. It was rather a lot of fun to be able to write with impunity. I mean, I put some stuff in there that I've only told 1 or 2 friends and other things I've never confided in anyone I know. Plus I was able to put anything in there no matter how poorly written it was. Some oddball writing techniques, poetry, my puerile attempts at erotica - whatever struck my fancy.

One really neat thing about that journal was the comments of readers. Since we didn't know one another from Adam, our dialogues were very open and honest. Now, they could have been lying, of course, but I suspect not. People are very willing to reveal some of their most intimate secrets to total strangers under the veil of anonymity. I have some very revealing emails stored away. It seems a shame that we are often times incapable of removing our masks with those we trust. You know, to speak in confidential terms and share a dark, unspoken fear. You'd think we'd be able to stop the performance for a while.

From one reader:

"Last Christmas I attended a bonfire at my mother's house (she's crazy). It's a long story, but I was taking the loss of my marriage badly and she thought it would be therapeutic. The idea was to write down your pain and toss the shards of paper into the fire - confront the demons and burn them alive My mother and sisters watched as I tossed my pain into the fire - only I don't think they knew what to do when I stripped off my clothes in the 20 degree weather and tossed my underwear into the flames.

I guess I got caught up in the symbolism and wanted to be free of everything he'd touched. I think if I could have shed my skin, I would have. I'm better now, but I thought you knew me, knew my story when you left the note, 'I've heard about you and bonfires'. All of the sudden you became very dangerous - someone that could know too much about my real life. I know, I'm a freak, but a very private freak."


From another woman:

"You want to know what I fantasize about? By the way, sexually I'm usually fairly white bread, but my fantasies are decidedly wicked. I guess we are all that way. *wink*

Anyway, when I'm alone, and I feel the need for release, I fall into many different fantasies. My imagination is extensive (not always a good thing :). The one that never fails goes something like this:

Note: In real life I am decidedly hetero, but somewhat bi-curious. (i.e. have never acted on it and most likely never would)

In my fantasy I am with a man and another woman. The man is an artist and loves visual stimulation as much as physical arousal. The woman is present as a helper of sorts. The man begins by tying my entire body in a spider web of intricately arranged knots. The effect is that my breasts are bare, but framed by rope which criss-crosses my shoulders in front and back and weaves patterns across my smooth, flat stomach. The patterns continue around my buttocks and between my legs so that my pussy is bound by silken twine on either side - leaving my core bare and exposed. My wrists are tied together and secured above my head by a larger rope that can be raised or lowered so that I may either kneel or stand.

While the man decorates me, the woman caresses my body with her hand and mouth lavishing attention on my breasts, buttocks and pussy. When he is satisfied with his artwork, he lowers me to my knees..."


I think you get the picture.

All of the people who wrote to me were women. It amazed and saddened me that several of them were in really bad relationships of whatever ilk and it seemed like they were reaching out through the aether for someone to listen. So they didn't feel like they were just a voice in the crowd.

"When I explain things, it is probably going to sound a little crazy. I know there is obviously a problem with myself, a problem with my marriage that I would get myself in this situation, that things would get to this point. I am very aware of things. I know it's not healthy but as much as I know this, I cannot control what I feel. That's one of my major problems...my feelings always control me."

JoAnna, a woman in a bad marriage, wrote this to me:

"Hi there~ I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your entries...it is an escape..."

She and I had very interesting email conversations. Even in her most upbeat emails, there was always something to betray all that had come before, something that revealed her intense loneliness and the sense that she felt trapped in her life.

"I am sitting in my empty house and thought that while I am all alone I would write you a note...I am imagining what you look like. It turns me on, not knowing. I like the way you write to me. I find your stories very arousing and some times I have to step into my room and lie upon my satin sheets and 'relieve' myself. As a matter of fact I can feel myself about ready to go to my room. I want you to write to me, and tell me what you imagine, your fantasies. Tell me that I turn you on and just what you would do to me if you could. Make me want you. Make me imagine what you can do...I'll give you all the details about what you are doing to me. Oh God, how I am longing for some touch, not necessarily physical, but emotional. Can you make me feel special?" (Emphasis mine.)

"I just wanted you to know that I truly appreciate your kind words in your entry. Talk about tingles. It is so nice to hear those things. It is something that I have needed for quite some time."

"I look forward to your e-mails, and reading your diary. I love the way you talk to me, as if I were the only woman in the world. I seriously felt as if I were going to cry..."


It was nice to be able to bring a smile to her face, to make her feel "special", even if my powers were ephemeral. It was rewarding to be able to bring a modicum of cheer to someone who seemed to have an otherwise fairly gloomy life. And it was fun to write erotic stories about a woman that I had never seen. An exercise for the imagination. But this woman obviously had problems that some schmoe sitting in front of a keyboard hundreds of miles away was powerless to cure.

What does this say about people? I mean, what did housewives trapped in bad marriages do before the advent of the Internet? Take little yellow pills and just lead that life of quiet desperation?

A girl (she was 16, if memory serves) wrote this to me in an email:

"as for the honesty in email, isn't it queer how easy it's become to open up to strangers?!"

So much said about the Internet is negative: pornography is luring men away from women, behind every chat room door lurks a stalker, most email is spam, and everyone out there is seeking only to relieve you of your money. All of the utopian rhetoric has fallen by the wayside and we're left trying to figure out how to assimilate the technology so it can co-exist with all the foibles and failings we've always had and can't get rid of no matter how hard we may try. As I discussed in a previous entry, the Internet is too new to really to set many sociological impacts in stone. We can do so with the Industrial Revolution because it ended well over 100 years ago. But the Internet has only been a major force for less than 10. Aside from stalkers, spammers, and the salacious, surely millions of people put the Net to good use. Emailing kith & kin, chatting with loved ones on the other side of the globe, shopping, paying bills, et al. But let's return to the question posed above. Are people so dislocated, so estranged from the real people in their lives that they are compelled to make "confessions" to a total stranger via the anonymity of the Internet?

I think that being anonymous is the key. There are plenty of reasons to wear one's heart on one's virtual sleeve. For instance, telling a flesh & bones person a secret opens you up to opprobrium. It does as well on the virtual side of things but this can be remedied by closing a window or putting someone on a chat program's ignore list. You don't have to suffer scornful glances on the Internet and, generally, word does not leak out to everyone else in your neighborhood. Secrets are usually no fun to keep and the swellings of the heart need to be relieved. So confessing to a stranger across the aether can be a relief - a relief without repercussions. You can say what needs to be said while saving face, in essence.

While it's not fair to say that this phonomenon is wide-spread based on a dozen or so people from my experience, I surely can't be the only one to see this happening. I'm no sociologist but I wonder if we are interacting with our fellow human beings face-to-face less and in less intimate ways. By this I don't mean to suggest, like Naomi Wolf, that men prefer porn to real women, but rather do people go online to meet "friends" instead of social gatherings in their communities? Is there a general way in which friendships are declining? About 400 years ago, Francis Bacon wrote, "A principal fruit of friendship, is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce." Are we discharging the swellings of our hearts electronically more often that when looking a friend in the eyes? Lots of questions without answers.

Being optimistic on the odd occasion, I don't believe that we've lost touch with the people in our lives. I do think, however, that, as our lives become more hectic, we lose some patience and, in general, become less willing to just listen. Perhaps, in a certain sense, we have come to expect everything from the news to entertainment to the deepest feelings of those in our hearts to come packaged in short, pithy sound bytes. And I think this is the primary reason those people (women all of them) opened up to me as they did. My blog entries were open, honest, as well as lengthy (and, often times, meandering like this one). And when they wrote to me, I wrote back and answered their questions in addition to asking questions of them - and I "listened" instead of spuriously passing judgement. Here's an excerpt from a chat I had with a woman who told me about a boyfriend she had had who beat her:

Her: I dont talk about this enough, I am very ashamed
Her: I have flashbacks
Me: Don't feel ashamed!
Her: after he beat me I did not leave him right away
Me: How long did it take you to leave him?
Her: 3 months
Her: I was beat a lot in that 3 months
Her: I called the abuse hotline once - useless
Me: why did you stay with him? did u think he'd change?
Her: its like I was in a trance or something - SO much fear
Her: I felt like I could not live without him
Her: a common thing with abused women apparantly, it builds slowly
Her: it was absolute agony - like an addiction
Me: Why didn't you report this guy to the police?
Her: too scared - get this - the truth is - I DID NOT WANT TO LOSE HIM
Me: Emotions are such wonderful things but can be so fucking weird sometimes.
Her: thank you for not telling me to 'get over it' or saying 'what the hell is wrong with you'
Her: very rare - you are cool


I don't mean to come across as Joey Blow-My-Own-Horn here but I think this dialogue really says something. People want others to listen to what they have to say, to share themselves, and to know that they are not alone in how they feel. If this takes an interlocutor hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, so be it. Francis Bacon began his essay On Friendship thusly: "IT HAD been hard for him that spake it to have put more truth and untruth together in few words, than in that speech, Whatsoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god." Setting aside the "untruth" which Bacon goes on to consider, it must be admitted that human beings are not merely the solitary beasts that Hobbes envisions. We are creatures of proximity - social creatures. Sure, we do require time alone but we also spend a good chunk of our time craving and seeking the company of others. Love is supreme and criticisms do sting, especially from those we love. Was Brutus' cut not the unkindest? It is a bitter irony to think that, in our attempts to get closer, we look to people far away. How many of us read or hear the words of a friend and feel something bubbling underneath the surface - a need to explain or get something off of the chest - yet turn away onto the next email or let the comment go thinking "well, they'll get over it"??

We also all have the need for not only emotional closeness but for physical nearness as well. And I don't just mean sex, I mean also the simple consolation of touch such as pats on the back, holding hands, and hugging - just simple acts. Who among us hasn't sat around petting a dog or a cat and thought how wonderful it must be to have such physical affection given so freely and so often? What kind of society would we have if it one could touch another (in a non-sexual way) without fear of being seen as too effeminate or of a lawsuit? Men espeically. Generally, we can only engage is such activities if our team wins the Super Bowl (subliminal message: Go Pack!!) or if a loved one dies.

While it may seem like an odd notion, touching is part of listening. It indicates understanding and sympathy. The next time you find yourself in a conversation, think about this. How well do you know this person? How are away do you position yourselves from one another? Do you or your interlocutor touch one another during the conversation? For instance, does one of you slap the other on the shoulder with the back of a hand to indicate agreement? Or perhaps put your hand on the other's? We, in America, at least, have this sense of "private space" or "zone of comfort". A radius of 2' or so from our bodies and, if a stranger enters this space, it's considered intrusive or threatening. But, for people we know, it engenders a feeling of intimacy. When you're at a table with just one other person, do you sit next to or across from them? Perhaps some things to cogitate upon.

Writing this brings a whole host of things to mind, not the least of which is irony in my act of writing this in a blog. In addition, Ervin Goffman's ideas of our front and back selves and how we present ourselves to each other. Also, why were the people who wrote me all women? But I suppose these are for another time. I leave you with a quote from Erasmus which is nice because it presents a view of the topic at hand, sort of summarizes Goffman's theories, and ties in with a recent entry of mine about Marillion as it appears on one of their album sleeves. To wit:

" If a person were to try stripping the disguise from actors while they play a scene upon the stage, showing to the audience their real looks and the faces they were born with, would not such a one spoil the whole play? And would not the spectators think he deserved to be driven out of the theatre with brickbats, as a drunken disturber? . . . Now what else is the whole life of mortals but a sort of comedy, in which the various actors, disguised by various costumes and masks, walk on and play each one his part, until the manager waves them off the stage? Moreover, this manager frequently bids the same actor go back in a different costume, so that he who has but lately played the king in scarlet now acts the flunkey in patched clothes. Thus all things are presented by shadows."
|| Palmer, 12:49 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
I'm Hip

Mystery Science Theater 3000 was fucking hilarious on Saturday! They had that flick that was filmed in Wisconsin starring Alan Hale as the local sheriff. Something from outer space crashes in a farmer's field and these hideous spiders then go around and kill people. In one scene, 2 scientists enter a laboratory whose counters are lined with oscilloscopes and such making these weird synthesized bubbling sounds. I think it was Crow who starts singing "Lucky Man" by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. I die laughing everytime I see that scene. Later in the day, Old Man Standiford came over clutching a 12-pack to watch the Packer game. It was a good time as I'm lucky if I get to hang out with him once a month these days.

After the Pack made the playoffs, Standiford busted outta Dodge and I did some Internet surfing. I listened to a couple radio programs. One was about marriage while the other was about evolution and featured Richard Dawkins. Both were interesting, though for different reasons. (Yeah - duh! - I know.) Dawkins was cool in that he explained evolution and, perhaps more importantly, the misconceptions that most people have of it. (He is after all, the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.) To be sure, some scientists are interminably boring despite talking about an utterly fascinating subject but Dawkins is a hoot to listen to. Not only does he speak eloquently but also passionately. He explained natural selection for the layman and discussed its importance. Great stuff.

The bit on marriage was interesting as well but it hit closer to home, so to speak. I may have been naturally selected but relationships is a topic less broad in scope. A couple who had been married for 50 years was interviewed. The host asked various questions including some about how they'd managed to stay together for so long. I thought it telling that they often began their answers to such questions with "I'm not really sure" or something similar. At the end of the day, the couple thought that being able to communicate well was probably the key to their relationship's longevity. The next guest was a marriage counselor or some such thing who went on to elucidate common techniques of miscommunication in marriages. For example, she said that women often say things such as, "You always/never do this-or-that" to which men respond by listing examples that contradict the statement. As she went on, I was able to recall instances of the very things she spoke of in past relationships of mine. It was a bit harrowing to realize what an incredibly shitty communicator I am with my girlfriends. I have, however, learned a few things over the years. E.g. - when having a discussion/argument with a girlfriend, I usually kneel or sit on the floor. At 6'2" 220#, I tend to tower over my girlfriends and I've found that if I assume a more submissive position, women tend to feel less cornered, less defensive and therefore our talks become more productive. Mileage does vary, however.

So, after gaining a greater understanding of why I am such a shitty boyfriend to women, I headed over to the official Philip K. Dick web site. I've been a fan of his work since 1989 or so when I met up with Dogger one day and he was raving about his stories. Ostensibly a science fiction writer, he really wrote about metaphyiscs with sci-fi providing the springboard for explorations of the difference between man & machine and the nature of reality. The new John Woo flick, Paycheck, is based on a PKD short story. Ditto for Spielberg's Minority Report. Blade Runner was based on PKD's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Much to my dismay, the site reported that the rights to A Scanner Darkly, one of Dick's best, was optioned to George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh who, in my opinion, should stay away from sci-fi after the mess that was Solaris. It also saddened me to read that Total Recall was originally to have been directed by David Cronenberg. Now THAT would have been awesome. Still, there are several of Dick's stories making their way to Hollywood so perhaps something good will happen.

There were also some links to recent magazine articles describing how PKD is in vogue nowadays. His philosophy was heavily influenced by Gnosticism which itself is getting press because of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Hollywood flicks based on PKD stories have been released each of the last 3 years. As technology moves forward, Dick's visions seem more relevant and more realistic. Finally! A trend that I was into long before it became a trend. The first and probably last.
|| Palmer, 11:51 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Childhood's End?

I have been in a weird mood lately. Perhaps it's just me coming down from Xmas. But something is amiss in my brain box if my playlist consists of Rage Against the Machine and Marillion. (And when I say Marillion, I mean early Fish-era Marillion.) Some anger and some melancholy. Right now I've got Clutching at Straws by the latter playing. With lyrics like the following, it's hard to imagine that I'm actually not in a bad mood:

Is it wrong to talk to myself even when there's nobody else
I'm just checking out that I'm not gone under the water
Thrown on the beach like a seal ready for slaughter

Sheesh! Onkel Fish was drinking and doing a lot of blow back then. As I was listening to the music a little while ago, I remembered a small but revealing (for me, anyway) comment that either The Caffeinatrix or Vicki made yesterday morning. I had gone in there to grab a cuppa java on my way to do some shopping at Woodman's. One of them asked me if it was a Serene tea morning. If I am hungover and go there, I took to the tea and found Serene to be tasty. Well, I hadn't had a drop of alcohol the previous night yet it was assumed that I had gotten drunk. Did I really look that crappy or do they assume that I'm a drunk?

I don't consider myself to be an alcoholic though I most certainly used to be one. While I don't recall exactly, I think I started drinking at 16. Or perhaps 17. By my freshman year of college, I was doing a bottle a day plus. But that's college for ya. Oddly enough, I hardly drank the summer after that but I did pick up my sophomore year though not at the same outrageous level. From then on, I drank less generally but there were periods of binges brought on by failed relationships or whatever. Today, however, I am much better. I don't turn to the bottle when I get my sorry ass dumped by a fraulein. I don't pursue drinking as a solitary endeavor. And I drink more moderately.

But I will admit that it's sometimes difficult. If the booze starts flowing while I'm with others drinking and having a good time, I can feel that 18 year-old in me come out of hiding. It's not that I drink very often, it's that I try to make bouts with John Barleycorn fun, make them memorable. Honestly, there are plenty of Friday and Saturday nights in which I exercise my brain instead of my liver but I've apparently gained an unfair reputation. Do I deserve to be notable for the amount of caffeine I ingest? Sure I do. But it irks me that I'm now notable for alcohol consumption because I don't drink that much and I don't want to have such an honor. I'd rather be known for being a cinephile and a musicaholic, for someone who makes people laugh, and has a hint of erudition about him.

Anyway, I'll exit defensive mode. Marillion. I spent much longer than I had anticipated at Toad Hill this morning talking to The Caffeinatrix and Marillion came up. Incredibly, she had actually heard of them and remembered their mid-80s reputation as being Genesis knockoff - which is unfair, in my humble opinion. So here I sit listening to them. It's funny - all the memories come flooding back. Along with Genesis, Marillion were the soundtrack to an interesting part of my life. I was 14 and living in Chicago. My brother's friend, Don, told us that, if we liked old Genesis - which we did - to check out Marillion - which we did. Then, as Pete and I were discovering some new music, my family moves to rural Wisconsin. Being a city kid with long hair, it took a while for my peers to warm to me. So I spent many a lonely moment hiding in my headphones listening to Marillion wondering how it could be that I was the only one who felt moved by songs like "Fugazi", "Lavender", and all 18+ minutes of "Grendel".

Since then, I've stopped listening to much of the music I did as a high schooler and found lots of other stuff to stimulate my soul but a few bands, including Marillion, remain in my musical diet. While the boys did quote a couple Genesis songs early in their career, they really never sounded a whole lot to me like Genesis. And Fish's lyrics, with a couple exceptions, never reminded me of Peter Gabriel's with Genesis - they were always more like Peter Hammill's. (Pete Hammill was with Van Der Graaf Generator.) Sure, Fish's lyrics may have suffered from loghorrea but they were usually dark in tone and always personal - none of Gabriel's surreal flights of fancy. (And PG did not write all of Genesis' lyrics while he was in the band either.) Fish wrote about failed relationships, drinking binges, and societal dysfunction.

While as a 15 year-old I couldn't directly relate very well to these topics, I do find that the lyrics now his closer to home 16 years later. Take the song "Emerald Lies", for example. It's about a jealous lover and, as a teen, I thought it had great music and a potent, venomous lyric:

To be the prince of possession in the gallery of contempt
Suffering your indiscreet discretions and you ask me to relent
As you accumulate flirtations with the calculated calmness of the whore

...

To don the robes of Torquemada, resurrect the inquisition
In that tortured subtle manner
inflict questions within questions
Looking in shades of green through shades of blue
I trust you trust in me to mistrust you

But fast-forward 14 years to when I'm in a failing relationship and possessed by the Green-Eyed Monster and this song takes on a whole new dimension. While I'm not labeling that girlfriend a whore, I know all-too well what it's like to look in shades of green through shades of blue. I know exactly what it's like to don those robes of Torquemada after your girlfriend comes home hours after she said she would. And I don't ever want to know those things again.

Another thing about that Genesis comparison is the criticism that Marillion's guitarist, Steve Rothery, played like Genesis' guitarist through most of the 70s, Steve Hackett. First of all, Rothery never had Hackett's predilection for the acoustic guitar. Hackett often imbued Genesis songs with a pastoral flavor thanks to his interest in classical guitar. On the other hand, Rothery rarely used an acoustic guitar. While he did color the music in a manner similar to Hackett, his style was more like that of David Gilmour and Carlos Santana. ( It was Mike Holmes of IQ who really appropriated Hackett's sound, not Rothery.) And listen to his solos on "Warm Wet Circles" and "Sugar Mice" - they're akin to "Comfortably Numb", not "Firth of Fifth". These are 2 of the most emotive and moving guitar solos - ever. They send shivers down my back...it's about the spaces between the notes, not the number.

I shall quit ranting here but sometimes I just can't help it. I have a lot of intense memories - good & bad - centered around Marillion. Don, like God in a burning bush, commands Pete and I to seek them out. Then I get misplaced during my childhood. After getting a bit older, I find that Marillion's music has grown with me. I begin to hear new things in their music and understand the lyrics better. They're like a childhood friend I never lost.
|| Palmer, 9:37 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

28 December, 2003

Eureka!

I finally found out the name of a painting I love as well as that of the painter. The painting in question is The Rock by Peter Blume. It's in a contemporary section of the Art Institute in Chicago and I just think it's da bomb. The picture at the link I gave doesn't do it justice. The colors aren't saturated enough and the size in woefully inadequate. Go see it. Now.
|| Palmer, 7:36 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Viqueens C-H-O-K-E

The Packers pulled it off - with a little help from Arizona. Mike Sherman oughta send everyone on the Cards a 10lbs wedge of cheese in thanks. I called my brother, who is a Vikings fan but got Andy, his roommate. Unfortunately, Andy was on the other line so I asked him to have Carl call me back but was told that he refused to do so and called me a name. Ah, filial love.

OK, now I'm pissed. Camille Paglia is on C-SPAN2. The host asked her for her thoughts on Michael Moore. She replied that, while she generally agreed with his political views, she found his use of a staged scene in Bowling for Columbine disagreeable and thought that only "truth" belonged in documentaries. Ya know, Ms. Paglia, you have no idea what a documentary is and are completely oblivious to the fact that staged scenes have been used in documentaries virtually since the beginning of cinema. This is not to say that every single documentary style includes such but, traditionally, fictional scenes have been used by documentarians for decades to serve non-fictional narratives. It's good to know that someone who earns a living, in part, by commenting on the media has no idea how an important bit of it works. Let's send Camille Paglia back in time to tell some of the pioneers of documentary filmmaking, like Vertov and Flaherty, her view on how documentaries ought to be made. I swear, the more feminist diatribes I read, the less I feel that I will ever find a feminist with whom I agree to any significant degree.

Why are there no feminist writers out there who can make a cohesive, logical argument based on facts that she understands? Christ, other than images of women, feminists seem to have no idea how the media works. Fuck, and I only have a modicum of understanding, at best. How is it that a dumbass like me can pick out logical fallacies, lies, non sequiturs, inconsistencies, etc. in the works of academics? Doesn't our society train polemicists to actually know of what they speak and how to speak before they are allowed to speak?
|| Palmer, 7:15 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

27 December, 2003

An Admonishment

Let me give you guys out there a word of advice: If you’re a poor sap like me, don’t ever read any books about the evolutionary psychology of sex. They are just too depressing. I’ve read two or three now and, after finishing each one, I have spiraled downwards past melancholy, past utter perdition, and straight to suicidal. This is because these texts lend scientific credence to what I have suspected all along, namely, that I am not particularly attractive to women.

These books all tend to say the same thing: “The idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is basically a bunch of junk. Look. Genes are selfish and just want to be passed from one generation to the next. And evolution has instilled within us various methods for finding the best possible person with whom we can reproduce. These methods vary depending upon our role in the whole affair, i.e. – our gender.”

Women, for example, bear the burden of having an embryo develop in their wombs for nine months, risk life and limb in that dreadful business of childbirth, and then suffer with an infant suckling at their breasts for a stretch, causing them to become sore, etc. Men, on the other hand, don’t have wombs and thusly needn’t worry about some parasitic fetus gestating therein or its egress. Ergo, the only worry we have is getting frustrated for a time because we are forced to watch some wrinkly ball of skin take our place at the breasts of our goodly wife. We tend to think that those tits are ours and don’t like to see anyone else playing with them. Except, of course, if another woman is playing with them. (Or our wife is playing with her own tits.) Let’s face it here, we men just want to get laid. It wasn’t a bunch of women drooling over the release of the DVD director’s cut of When Larry Ate Sally or The Hunt for Pink October – it was men.

What this all boils down to is that women invest quite a bit in this whole sordid baby-making affair while we men ideally need only donate a single sperm and then bust out of Dodge. The spanner that gets thrown into our works is that we human beings take forever and a day to grow up and become self-sufficient. Other animals are out in the world kicking ass and taking names within a few months of birth while we humans are weighted down with lazy-ass, unemployed slugs who live in our basements well into their thirties. (You never see adult horses playing Nintendo in Mr. and Mrs. Ed’s stable, do ya? Sloth seems to be a uniquely human trait.) Ergo, human fathers need to hang around after meiosis.

“So what?” you ask. “The fact that men go out and try to get laid all the time while women seek commitment isn’t exactly news.” Fair enough. But I’m getting to my point. You see, these various roles dictate what we seek in a mate. When we say men primarily look at the physical beauty of women, we are really saying that men are looking for signs that a woman is healthy and can carry a pregnancy to term and beyond. Our male ancestors sought women with clear skin, long hair, good hips, etc. and so do the men of the 21st century. (Regarding the last item, there seems to be a universal preference for women whose hip-to-waist ratio is about 0.7.) While this may be the year 2003, our brains are still wired in the same way as those of men c. 40,000B.C. If a woman can’t grow a decent mop and her skin is all carbuncular, she probably ain’t long of this earth. And if her hips are too narrow, what are the odds of being able to squeeze out that eight-pound mini-me from her belly?

Women, on the other hand, are thinking, “If that son of a bitch doesn’t want to stick around, I will just have to make him.” One of the ways they do this is by concealing the fertile time in their menstrual cycles. Unlike female chimpanzees, our closest genetic relatives, women don’t find their labia turning pink when in estrus, however funny that would be. Instead, women merely undergo a small change in temperature. Although I’d be willing to give it a shot, I suspect that most women would be turned off by some Neanderthal wielding a thermometer during foreplay. Thusly, we men are compelled to stick around to ensure that the offspring we raise are our own and not the milkman’s.

Anyway…So what do women seek in a partner? Since women invest so much of their time and physical effort into the production of progeny, they, not surprisingly, seek men who can materially invest in them and their children. Hence, women seek men of stature and material abundance. Joe Six-Pack may be a nice, handsome guy, but if he’s poor, what will he be able to provide to his offspring? The Aztec Sun-King didn’t have a harem of 1,500 nubile, young women because he blew his paycheck every Friday night down at the tavern.

Women look for men with power and with stuff. And it is for precisely this reason that I am unattractive to women and thusly get depressed. I may have a basement full of stuff, but it ain’t the stuff women are looking for. I haven’t amassed piles of wealth nor do I have armies of men who obey my every word. As Hank Kissinger observed, “Power is a great aphrodisiac.” And, being a lowly Help Desk Analyst, I ain’t got none.

About the only thing I’ve got going for me, say the evolutionary psychologists, is my above-average height. If someone is bigger than we are, it is natural for us to feel at least some initial intimidation. Our brains equate physical size with power. This probably accounts for why men tend to make $3000 a year above the norm for every inch of height they are above the average. This also probably explains why I’ve gotten laid in the past. My height sort of fools women for a time, they go temporarily insane. But it wears off eventually and they leave.

If you think this is all bullshit, sit back and ponder it for a while. Did the hot chicks in high school date the A students or the jocks? You don’t see groupies hanging out backstage after the performance of a symphony orchestra. They’re looking to hook up with a rich rock’n’roll star. Do you think Anna Nicole Smith married that old geezer because she thought he resembled Brad Pitt? Fuck no! He was rich and powerful. Did I mention he was rich and powerful?

Despite how positive my mother says it is that I am a nice and intelligent young man, neither of these traits has gotten me very far. After all, nice guys finish last. Rich and powerful guys finish first, however. (And most rich and powerful people are assholes.) This being the case, in the interest of my sperm, I have decided to forsake my niceness and become a jerk. $$ + power = pussy. When I’m in public, I’ll have a gorgeous babe on my arm featuring a slender gynecoid figure and its attendant 0.7 hip-to-waist ratio. She’ll be nice and hypermammiferous too. I’ll be able to buy her collagen injections for her lips so they’ll look like she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose. I don’t care if she’s only after my money because I am only after her snatch. True love is a myth, people! And since I’ll be so rich, I will be able to afford to hire someone to keep an eye on her. Yeah, you heard me right. Men have always felt that way – witness eunuchs, chastity belts, and female circumcision – we just have gotten to the point of using less gruesome methods of making sure the pussy stays put. I ain’t footin’ the bills for some other guy’s genes getting passed on down the line.Despite how positive my mother says it is that I am a nice and intelligent young man, neither of these traits has gotten me very far. After all, nice guys finish last. Rich and powerful guys finish first, however. (And most rich and powerful people are assholes.) This being the case, in the interest of my sperm, I have decided to forsake my niceness and become a jerk. $$ + power = pussy. When I’m in public, I’ll have a gorgeous babe on my arm featuring a slender gynecoid figure and its attendant 0.7 hip-to-waist ratio. She’ll be nice and hypermammiferous too. I’ll be able to buy her collagen injections for her lips so they’ll look like she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose. I don’t care if she’s only after my money because I am only after her snatch. True love is a myth, people! And since I’ll be so rich, I will be able to afford to hire someone to keep an eye on her. Yeah, you heard me right. Men have always felt that way – witness eunuchs, chastity belts, and female circumcision – we just have gotten to the point of using less gruesome methods of making sure the pussy stays put. I ain’t footin’ the bills for some other guy’s genes getting passed on down the line.

So, if I seem a bit glum, know that it’s only because I am all-too aware of my brackish countenance. And if I seem a bit quiet, know that it’s only because I am plotting away to become rich and powerful. My goal is to put as many copies of myself on this planet as possible.
|| Palmer, 5:49 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Where Is the Fucking Snow?

The 1st Ever Toad Hill Chocolate Tasting was today. I had 6 flavas from the Rausch Confectionery in Berlin, Deutschland. Vicki, The Caffeinatrix, and I spent the middle part of this morning sampling some tasty morsels. (And Jessie came in at the tail end of the festivities.) The consensus was that the Tobago Extra-Bitter was the most delicious. Velvety smooth with smoky overtones. A most noble chocolate.

Miss Rosie's little holiday soiree was cancelled today as she got a DUI last night on her way home from The Pollack's. This is to say that she was so nervous that her stomach was upset to the point she was nauseous. So the plan is to get together tomorrow. It's rather unfortunate but at least no one was hurt. I am a bit surprised that she had that much to drink as she wasn't planning on being there very long. Then again, Miss Rosie is infamous for her "one more and I'm outta here" routine which generally lasts 3 or 4 one mores.

The occasion was an Xmas celebration. The Pollack had his son, dad, and mom there so, in theory, it was to be a family thing. He told me last week that he was hesitant to have Rosie over as it was to be a day for his family. However, she said that her stay would be short. Well, I am presuming that she over-stayed her welcome. It's hard to be mad at her, though. She is one of the most gregarious people in the whole of Christendom and, after her divorce, is on the lonely side. Ergo she is reluctant to leave any social situation.

Right now I'm listening to a radio show discussing rites of passage. Pretty interesting. Earlier I listened to a show about domestic abuse. Sad, isn't it? It's a perfectly balmy winter evening and here I am exercising my brain instead of my liver.
|| Palmer, 5:23 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

26 December, 2003

Me & John Galt

Since the last time I scribbled anything here, I saw Return of the King, muddled through Xmas, finished Dante's Inferno, and started a new tome. Oh, and I watched a few flicks today. Firstly, Return of the King. I had a fucking blast! Yeah, I got the lecture afterwards concerning its deviations from the book but fuck it. The battle for Minas Tirith for just so cool. The oliphant hoolies stomping all around with the barbed wire thingies strung between their tusks - the designers must have had a blast coming up with it. Plus Gandalf just rocks (as do wizards generally.) I should like to see it again only on the Ultrascreen.

Xmas. I drove down to Chicago on Wednesday and headed to the home of some of my mom's cousins. It was good to see everyone again but, after about half an hour, I felt like I'd had enough. Not living in ChiTown, I am not up on the local gossip and couldn't contribute to any conversation about ex-gov George Ryan's predicament. I don't play pinochle so that excluded me from the major social activity. And so I spent most of my time on the floor with my cousin Jeff's daughter, Madeleine. She's three and a half and cute as a button. I put my Santa hat on her, which enveloped her whole head, and took a picture. hehe Then we played with her cooking set and made bananas and hot dogs and potato chips. Then I busted out the Play Doh and we made pretzels for the nice wolf who was hanging out by the television. This involved Madeleine flattening the pieces of Play Doh on the carpeting much to the unamusement of Ted, one of the homeowners. Hey, I never claimed to be responsible. Besides, we were just having a good time.

I don't know if it was me, but it seemed like most of us wanted nothing to do with her. Besides myself, my cousin Sue played with her and my grandmother threw in her 2 cents. It was really heartening to see my grandmother's face light up as she walked into the room and Madeleine came up to hug her. Everyone seemed too busy being cosmopolitan by discussing the issues of the day or moaning about health problems to pick up on the energy of a little 3 year-old girl running around playing and laughing. Sure, my grandma is old and thusly unable to crawl around on the floor like I did but she had a big grin on her face as Madeleine told me about the nice wolf and the bad wolf. I have a sneaking suspicion that my babka is still a little girl at heart. Despite being 86, she doesn't bitch about her health and hoard Sweet'n'Low packets - she enjoys life. Every chance she gets, she revels in the company of her kith & kin. It really must be something to sit around and see family from 4(!) generations. I can't imagine what that must be like being with your children, 2 outta 3 of your grandchildren, and a little great-grandneice running around clutching Play Doh.

And if your luck is in
you might have kids to play
To make you laugh and sing
When you're old and gray

Another thing about my grandmother is just how incredibly kind she is. Everytime I see her, she asks how my father is doing despite the fact that he broke the marital vows he swore to her daughter and broke up a family. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I'm related to her.

She was really pleased that I had brought some real food for dinner. While I have nothing against African cuisine, it's fucking Xmas, you've got a buncha hungry Slavs, and they're serving couscous. Hey, I like couscous and am multicultural 'n'all but that's no reason to throw our heritage away. You'd think once a fucking year these people could dispense with whatever is in line with the current health trends and whip up a nice home-cooked meal that our ancestors could be proud of. My great-grandparents Kuzma and Parsaka didn't step off that boat 100 years ago so their descendents would forget age-old traditions. I mean, everyone thought the pierogi and cabbage rolls I brought were really tasty and they all marveled at the time I spent making everything. Christ, do all these people subsist on TV dinners or eat out every night? I am the only person left in the family that's crazy enough to - gasp! - actually take time and prepare food from scratch. And all the older folks reminisced about how my grandma and the other ladies of that generation cooked. Holy fuck! It's not rocket science. Am I really so out of step with the times that actually cooking something from scratch makes me feel old-fashioned?

What made me feel hip and current was my abhorrence with the offering on Turner Classic Movies - Holiday Inn. I'm not a big Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire fan to begin with but the black face shit was repulsive. And it went by with hardly a comment. Unfucking real. Well, that night ended at some point and I crashed at my mom's.

On Xmas Day, I went over to my aunt's house where I had breakfast with her, my cousin, mom, and grandma. I got a good picture of all the ladies too. Well, the composition was good but I've gotta Photoshop it. After breakfast, cuz and I headed out to her stepsister's place where we met up her dad and her stepmom's family. Uncle D is hilarious and a great cook. Unfortunately, he's moving to Florida this summer so this was the last Xmas that he's gonna cater. Everyone of age drank the traditional Xmas toast of Rock'n'Rye, a rather sweet bit of booze. The bottle was still a quarter full and Uncle D and I made a point to finish it off so he wouldn't have to take it with him to Florida. After dinner, he, my cuz, and I sat around chewing the fat. He is good friends with my dad and we discussed his situation. It's really a good time there as there's kids running around and it feels like Xmas.

It's funny because, when I first started going to an Xmas soiree at his place with his new wife's family, someone brought up the fact that he and I aren't related by blood yet I celebrated with him and his new family anyway. I dunno - he's still my uncle as far as I'm concerned. It never ever crossed my mind that I should hold a grudge against him or any such thing. He's still family. And his wife Betty is great. They're happy together so I'm happy for them. Plus I just get along with Uncle D extremely well. I think that I perhaps gleaned some of my sense of humor from him as he's a goofball too. Mid-afternoon, cuz and I headed over to our great-uncle's place to meet up once againt with our moms' side of the family.

My great-uncle is filthy rich and has a nice place in a ritz Chicago burb. Again, I found myself playing with Madeleine because (again) I don't play pinochle. I tried to be social but the conversations turn towards events in Chicago or other relatives that I don't know. Therefore I holed up in a side room with Madeleine and convinced her to try to pick up 5 pillows that were each nearly her size at once. It was hilarious because she'd reach around and grab them and then promptly fall over into my lap laughing. How can that not bring a smile to your face and make you feel good? I'll take a little girl playing and laughing over serious/somber adult conversation any day.

Madeleine has 2 fathers. Jeff is gay and he is "married" to Brett. While I don't know Brett particluarly well, he seems like a stand-up guy to me. While no one is hostile towards them, I usually sense a subtle, underlying feeling of homophobia from most of my relatives. Everyone agrees that Jeff and Brett are great people but sometimes I get the impression that some family members see it as if they don't let their homosexuality get in the way of things - that they're good people despite being gay - as if that had anything to do with it. I guess one reason that I can only be with my family for limited periods is simply that most of them are much older than I. They're in their 60s and I find that I have woefully little in common with them. Gays and blacks don't present a problem for me. We have differing tastes in film, music, etc. Being comparatively young, I still find that I get talked down to on occasion and nearly all things Wisconsin are quaint for them being tainted with provincialism. And everything was better "back then". Hardly anything new catches their collective attention. Old movies are better. No music from, say, 1970-present is worth a shit. The Iliad is timeless whereas Bing Crosby movies are quaint. They may be good light entertainment for some but they don't speak to me. They don't help me navigate this world. Maybe the older people in my family are anticipating death or some such thing. Well, I'm gonna be around for a while and I may have kids. If so, I don't want to leave them a globally-warming world with AIDS, a huge national deficit, and small thermonuclear devices scattered around the globe. Sure, when they grew up, polio and small pox were set down but we've got some new viruses running around now and using all of that anti-bacterial soap that they don't need isn't helping matters.

OK. Enough about my family. They're mine, I love 'em, and I can't get rid of them.

Having finished Inferno today, I couldn't help but wonder why it's considered so important. While I thought Hell was pretty cool overall - especially the 9th circle - it was frustrating having to navigate a sea of Italian statemen who only claim to fame was appearing in Dante's book. Name-checking character from Greek myth is fine but 13th century tyrants lost in the shuffle of history only serves to lessen the impact. They are too associated with a particular time and place to reasonably stand-in for any kind of uninversal concept to the vast majority of modern readers. The social commentary is too specific. Hey, I can appreciate the fact that it was written in Italian instead of Latin thusly making lending it historical import but to say that it is more than an historical curiosity is stretching it a bit, methinks. There's some great imagery, to be sure, but Hunter S. Thompson is more relevant today.

So I started reading a book on film history by a couple locals. Most of it is old hat for me, having studied the subject in college, but I get into just about anything relating to film. So I went ahead and watched a few videos this evening: Ghost World, Suspiria, and some bland documentary on Ayn Rand. Ghost World was lent to me by The Caffeinatrix and it was cool. Sadly, I identified with Steve Buscemi's character thus confirming that I am a total loser. Suspiria was cheesy but in only the best cinephile kinda way. The sets and lighting were both hyper-stylized almost to the point of being impressionistic like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. As for Ayn Rand, I will say that she had some wonderful humanist qualities but I still think she was a nutcase and Objectivism still sucks eggs.

Tomorrow brings a chocolate tasting with Vicki and The Caffeinatrix as well as a holiday party with Miss Rosie. (I received some expensive-looking chocolate for Xmas from various countries so I'm gonna share with my fellow chocolate enthusiasts and find out which country has the best beans.) And I have to respond to an email from Pam which contained the following: "Reading your email made something clear to me again...you are a fascinating individual. What is wrong with women these days that they can't see that!?!? Not that being in a relationship is everything mind you. I just wish, especially during the holidays, that you had someone special to share it with you." While I am flattered, I can also be humble to a fault. I take compliments like PETA takes wearing fur. I don't consider myself to be particularly fascinating so I fail to see why anyone else should. But I guess you can't see the forest if you're standing in it. Or something like that. My theory is that I'm not rich nor am I climbing any corporate ladders. In addition, I have horrible fashion sense which many a girlfriend has tried to correct but each failed. I've been sent to habidashers but the effect wears off rather quickly once the girlfriend and I part. Who says cognitive dissonance reduction is bullshit?
|| Palmer, 10:33 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

23 December, 2003

Tortelvis Has Left the Building

I don't care what anyone says - Dread Zeppelin are fucking awesome! Back in 1991, as a resident of Witte Hall, a few of us sat on the lawn playing cribbage with Rhubis' stereo pointed out the window blaring DZ's first album. Someone shouted, "What the hell is this reggae/Led Zeppelin crap?!?" I thought the whole point of college was to explore new things, learn esoteric knowledge, drink, and fuck. Well, we were doing half of those on that fine spring day. (The exploration and the drinking.) Close-minded fucks.

So I've got Dread Zeppelin's version of "Moby Dick" playing. Fucking classic. Over the drum solo, Tortelvis reads from Melville:

"'Give way!' cried Ahab to the oarsmen, and the boats darted forward to the attack; but maddened by yesterday's fresh irons that corroded in him, Moby Dick seemed combinedly possessed by all the angels that fell from heaven. The wide tiers of welded tendons overspreading his broad white forehead, beneath the transparent skin, looked knitted together; as head on, he came churning his tail among the boats; and once more flailed them apart; spilling out the irons and lances from the two mates' boats, and dashing in one side of the upper part of their bows, but leaving Ahab's almost without a scar."

Come on! How can you not like Dread Zeppelin? While I liked Jane's Addiction, some guy from Marinette played them and (seemingly) only them constantly. It would be a year or so before I discovered Nirvana and I wasn't interested in the alternative scence. Most of the people who listened to Jane's Addiction, Sonic Youth, and that ilk did so just to get out of listening to other music. They reveled in and proclaimed their alternativeness at every given moment.

"Yeah, yeah - you're cool."

Personally, I got along with the rednecks listening to The Replacements better. And Husker Du. (Where does the umlaut go?) This is probably because they listened to such bands for the music and not for any scene. They had no pretensions that they were somehow hipper than the rest of us. This is why it took me so long to get into Nirvana: I dispised all the hype surrounding "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the media making blanket statements about me and my peers. Finally, some months after grunge broke, I saw Nirvana doing "Territorial Pissings" live on MTV and that got me interested. After all was said and done, I had fallen in love with Nirvana's music, Bleach becoming my probable favorite. Nevermind was too slick-sounding and most of the songs lacked the raw power of their first album. I was sorrowed by the news of Kurt Cobain's death but I shed no tears and had no need to call an MTV-sponsored suicide hotline. Cobain wrote a bunch of great songs but I never really felt like his lyrics somehow chronicled the inner workings of my mind. Some of his lyrics were fun while others were meaningful in generic kind of way. In the end, he was a great songwriter but also a fucked-up person who was so troubled that he turned his back on his daughter, his wife, his friends, and his life.

Back in 1990, alternative music still had a modicum of alternative to it. But, ya know, I've always like music that was alternative. That is, music that most of the world's population hated. Going around telling people that you listen to old Genesis, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant is not a good way to be popular in high school, especially when there are only 200 students in toto. And everyone hated Marillion.
|| Palmer, 8:29 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

22 December, 2003

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice to everyone! Starting soon, those of us in the northern hemisphere will be seeing more daylight. For Madison, the glory starts on Wednesday when sunset is a minute later than today. But things really get going on January 7th when the sun also starts rising earlier. In a strange way, the solar rebirth doesn't quite mean as much as it had in the past because it's been so fucking warm and the ground is basically bereft of snow. It doesn't feel like winter and the forecast is for a high in the 40s today. Anyone who thinks the Greenhouse Effect is bullshit should talk to some old timers here in Wisconsin. Hell, even people of my generation remember when the snow would start in October and, by deerhunting season in late November, there'd be a foot or more on the ground. Sure, such weather eases the sting of your heating bill and makes driving less precarious but, shit, this is just not right. Something is really fucked up here. I'm not a doomsayer but people have got recognize that climatic change just doesn't stop when they want it to at a nice moderate level. Notice as you cruise around in your SUVs over the coming years that it's getting warmer. And warmer. You may not be around to see your grandkids suffering from melanoma but rest assured I'm gonna pick them up from the hospital in my hydrogen fuel cell car and take them to the cemetary so we can piss on your grave.

So watch the old world melt away
A loss regrets could never mend
You never miss it till it's gone
So say goodbye, say goodbye

We'll tell our children's children why
We grew so tall and reached so high
You never miss it till it's gone
So say goodbye, say goodbye
To seasons end

I just talked with Dogger and Mel comes home this afternoon. Dogger's dad and stepmom will be arriving in an hour or so. Mel is very anxious to get home and she's been in the hospital for 6 days and the nurses have been tinkering with Regan's feeding schedule so she never gets to nurse her. Over the weekend, a nurse asked Dogger and Mel if they had everything they needed as the birth was a bit premature. After assuring her that they did, the nurse went on to say that they could use one of those big plastic storage bins for a crib or even use a dresser drawer if need be. This last suggestion sent Dogger into a laughing fit as it reminded him of the kid in The Simpsons who slept in a drawer. Needless to say, the nurse gave him some funny looks. hehe

So I'm gonna run a couple errands and find out this afternoon if Mel wants me to come over to cook. She's got a bug up her ass to a) eat something other than hospital food and b) eat some pierogi. So it looks like I'll be rolling dough tonight and speaking infantese to my newest neice.

Lastly, I wanna mention that I finished reading The Beauty Myth. While I was really saddened by having read page after page of statistics on rape, eating disorders, and cosmetic surgery, I was also angered at Naomi Wolf's argumentation or, rather lack thereof. She spent 15 pagesmaking a horrible, ill-formed, and illogical argument positing the existence of a "beauty myth" and then spends the rest of the book pointing to all these things and proclaiming "Look! The Beauty Myth in action!" instead of actually using the examples to prove the myth's existence. You don't spend such a small percentage of space attempting to prove that something is true and then just give a fucking tour of the cultural landscape - you make a statement and spend the rest of the book proving its validity - something Wolf did not do.

I'm gonna abandon all hope and drown my sorrows in Dante's Inferno.
|| Palmer, 10:09 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

20 December, 2003

Ragin' Cajun

Oh man! James Carville is goin' off on the Republicans AND the Democrats on CSPAN2 right now. Awesome!
|| Palmer, 12:47 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Bacon Redux

OK, you know I had to look. And I found.

Bacon-of-the-Month Club.
|| Palmer, 11:46 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
A Wonderful, Magical Animal

In return for having driven his drunk ass home last night, Pete took me out for breakfast this morning. And I will admit that we ate our share of pork products. Mmmm...bacon...

Lisa: No I can't! I can't eat any of them!
Homer: Wait a minute wait a minute wait a minute. Lisa honey, are you saying you're *never* going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
Homer: [Chuckles] Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.


I feel sorry for people who don't eat pork for health reasons. I don't understand people who abstain from it for ethical reasons. And people who refuse to eat pork for religious reasons are just crazy and have a good excuse for apostasy. It's just too fucking good. On our way home, I dreamt aloud of a world in which people put out dishes of bacon around their house instead of candy. Pete opined how cool it would be if the dishes floated and followed you around. I then asked him if he thought there was a Bacon-of-the-Month Club. Imagine, a nice slab of bacon delivered right to your door. Mmmm...hickory smoked bacon, peppered bacon, bacon cured between the thighs of a virgin...the possibilities are endless.
|| Palmer, 11:36 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

19 December, 2003

Some Handy PC Software

I think I related here that my cousin Sue called me within the past 2 days to ask for my email addy, amongst other things. Well, I gave it to her and got an email from her this morning. It read:

Just wanted to see if this new toy works. And so I know that it is really you, when you reply....what is your brother's name? As you can see, I don't really trust cyberspace. Hope to hear from you soon, and then I will write more!

I am clearly dealing with a PC neophyte/Luddite. There can be little doubt that she'll be turning to me for some tech advice at my usual 100% discount for family members.

Hey, I have enough experience dealing with people who have minimal knowledge of computers to know that, unless you do something a lot, much of it remains enigmatic jargon. (We learn by repetition.) Being inspired by a similar magazine article, I present some handy software to make the lives of users easier. This is all directed at Winders users but Mac versions may be around.

Firstly is my new love, Mozilla. It is a web browser that makes surfing the web much easier than with Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It has the ability to open multiple web pages in a single window which are tabbed across the top. Mozilla also includes a built-in pop-up blocker. It is 100% free and Mac OS X users are included.

Google. Google is one of the most blatantly handy things on the Internet. It does more than just let you search the web, it lets you do so accurately and in style. You can search not only web pages but also Usenet, aka - newsgroups - a vast repository or free porn, music, movies, books, et al. Or you can search for images only. You can narrow your search to the sites of specific universities as well as for particular types of files. So, for example, if you wanna find online Word documents, just include "filetype:doc" in your search query. And download the Google toolbar. For Internet Explorer users, it has a pop-up blocker, allows you to add web pages to your blog at the touch of a button, and other tools to make surfing the web and finding info on specific web pages easier.

Next up is Spybot Search & Destroy. This handy little program scans your computer for spyware which tracks your Internet travels and provides you with an endless flood of pop-up ads for Viagra and low-mortgage rates. Just be sure to download updates regularly so it is aware of the latest annoyances plaguing users everywhere. I believe that the makers release updates weekly.

For those of you who like to chat online, download Trillian. It replaces all of the dispartate chat software that your friends use because noone can agree upon a chat client. AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, IRC, and Jabber are all covered.

Wanna archive your DVD of Citizen Kane or copy your homemovies so you can send them to grandma? Then get DVD X Copy. You can remove extra features and compress the video further to fit multi-DVD titles onto one DVD.

While I am loathe to recommend a Microsoft product, Microsoft Reader is actually a neat ditty. It displays e-books. Text is formatted to fit into a window which looks like a page from a book. Readers can highlight passages of interest as well as annotate text. I recommend MS Reader as I don't care to read books which are published as HTML, Word, or plain text documents. Reader puts them in a format more like a real book which suits my taste. You can also download a program to convert Word documents into Reader files. As a neat bonus, you can also have Reader read the book outload to you. While the voice is not exactly HAL from 2001 I can see where some people, especially the physically disabled, might find use for it.

Since I use only web mail, I am not forced to resort to spam filtering software. But for those with regular email accounts, POPFile may be for you. It's crafty Beyesian filter gets rid of most of the crap that fills inboxes these days.

For those of you into music as much as I am and demand quality, rip your tunes with Exact Audio Copy. Unless your CD has had molten lava poured on it or has been run over by a Mack truck, it will rip your tunes with exacting fidelity. And when, you're ready to burn a phat mix CD, burn it with Nero. Fuck Easy CD Creator. Nero has an easy mode for beginners and a boatload of options for advanced users. Plus you can make DVDs, VCDs, data CDs - whatever you want. And I've found the wave editor handy for cutting up tunes that exceed 3 minutes. So, if you just want a particular section of Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick", you can cut and paste at will.

Maximum PC lists Apple's iTunes as one of the year's best pieces of software but I'm not gonna include any online music download service on principle. I am a bit of an audiophile and mp3 and aac files just don't cut the mustard. Read this article to find out just how much fidelity you lose by going to the various formats these services use. I want quality! Find out about shn, ape, or flac and get back to me about gaining entrance into the Darknet.
|| Palmer, 11:36 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
News

Well, a judge finally told the RIAA where to stick their subpoenas. According to the AP: "WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Friday rejected efforts by the recording industry to compel the nation's Internet providers to turn over names of subscribers suspected of illegally swapping music online.

The ruling from a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was a dramatic setback for the industry's controversial anti-piracy campaign. It overturned the trial judge's decision to enforce a type of copyright subpoena from a law that predates the music downloading trend." I wonder if Kazaa traffic is gonna increase because of this.

Also newsworthy is Ralph Nader's decision to run for Prez again next year. This will, no doubt, engender more argument between Stevie and I as he is dead certain that Nader cost Gore the election. hehe
|| Palmer, 10:37 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
More Music

Here's another humorous band to check out: Beatallica. They do Beatles tunes in a Metallica style. Their singer does a good James Hetfield. My personal fave is "The Thing That Should Not Let It Be".
|| Palmer, 10:28 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post
Connections

I watched a couple episodes of Connections 1 by a historian of science who goes by the name of James Burke. One episode traced the development of radio technology. He ended by asking in the most prescient voice, how will our ability to communciate over greater distances and in shorter times affect us. I shall have to find out what he thinks of the Internet.

It's strange to think that I was in my 20s when a revolution began. I wonder how it compares to having lived in late 18th century England as the Industrial Revolution kicked in. Many people take the Internet for granted and can barely remember what life was like before it but, really, the revolution has only just begun. In England, the Industrial Revolution lasted about 100 years - 1770-1870 - and the Internet was foisted upon only about 10 years ago. People can polemicize all they want but we won't really know the effects of on the world of the Web for some time to come.

The second episode began with Burke demonstrating a global positioning system. But, since the show was made in 1977, the GPS he had was not like the kind you can buy at your local Best Buy today which fits in your hand. Instead it consisted of several bulky components - much like a stereo system with Dolby 5.1 Surround. Funny how in 20 years, the GPS has gone from an expensive, cumbersome item in several parts to a relatively cheap bit of electronics that fits in one hand. This episode is one of my favorites as he traces the use of the waterwheel and cams to the computer punch card. While they're no longer used, I grew up with punch cards. My dad worked for IBM and we'd take down phone messages on them. (Our phone was of the rotary type with pulse dialing.) Yeah, I'm just a computer geek.
|| Palmer, 10:01 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

18 December, 2003

Stephen Hawking in Effect

Everyone has got to check out MC Hawking. Heeeelarious! Here are the lyrics to "Fuck the Creationists":

Ah yeah, here we go again!
Damn! This is some funky shit that I be laying down on your ass.
This one goes out to all my homey's working in the field of
evolutionary science.
Check it!

Fuck the damn creationists, those bunch of dumb-ass bitches,
every time I think of them my trigger finger itches.
They want to have their bullshit, taught in public class,
Stephen J. Gould should put his foot right up their ass.
Noah and his ark, Adam and his Eve,
straight up fairy stories even children don't believe.
I'm not saying there's no god, that's not for me to say,
all I'm saying is the Earth was not made in a day.

Fuck, fuck, fuck,
fuck the Creationists.

Break it down.
Ah damn, this is a funky jam!
I'm about ready to kick this bitch back in.
Check it.

Fuck the damn creationists I say it with authority,
because kicking their punk asses be me paramount priority.
Them wack-ass bitches say, "evolution's just a theory",
they best step off, them brainless fools, I'll give them cause to fear me.
The cosmos is expanding every second, every day,
but their minds are shrinking as they close their eyes and pray.
They call their bullshit science like the word could give them cred,
if them bitches be scientists then cap me in the head.

Bass!
Bring that shit in!
Ah yeah, that's right, fuck them all motherfuckers.
Fucking punk ass creationists trying to set scientific thought back 400 years.
Fuck that!
If them superstitious motherfuckers want to have that kind of party,
I'm going to put my dick in the mashed potatoes.
Fucking creationists.
Fuck them.


You've got your phat hip-hop beats and that goofy electronic Stephen Hawking voice doing the rapping. Caaaalassic.
|| Palmer, 9:15 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post