Church Shootings, South Carolina, President Obama, and Podcasts


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There is a line I quote a lot, but it’s because like many quotes, it’s a truth in it that endures, and is applicable to many. And it is definitely applicable to me.

I’ll quote it here again…

“You writers live too much out of the world.” –Graham Greene’s THE THIRD MAN.

Here’s the thing about the world, there is always some new atrocity the 24 hour news cycle is waiting to feed you. Someone’s misfortune that, with crocodile solemnity, they are eager to spread before you like some banquet, some forbidden feast, for you to put your snout in and snuffle.

I know people who make a home in-front the TV when the latest atrocity breaks, and they ‘tsk’, and ‘cluck’, and they make the expected exclamations of “horrible” this, and “what’s this world coming to” but you get the feeling it is more rote than real.

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That ‘real’ left town many atrocities ago, and they have yet to notice that what remains is something that watches for reasons less altruistic than information, and more hungry than concern.

I can’t do the 24 hour news cycle. I gave up on networked TV a long time ago and haven’t looked back, or particularly missed it. Too much of CNN or Insert News Station here, and I have to get away, I have to move, I can’t watch people suffer.

I’m old school that way.

I believe in heroes to rescue maidens, and Knights to slay dragons. And I’m fool enough to believe we can all be heroes… all of us. In small ways, and personal ways, and local ways.

But the 24 hour news cycle inundates you with a world’s wrongs, many wrongs too horrific and large and endemic for you to change.

So there becomes a war within you between the desire to change what you can, and the 24 hour news cycle that indoctrinates you, numbs you to a world beyond your time, or means, or scope to change… a news cycle that tells you “relinquish hope, relinquish the idea of days without horror, relinquish the lie of action, be a spectator, be a consumer. Live in the world we give you, the way we give it you.”

And reduce all your rebellions to a tsk here, and a shake of the head there. That’s what the 24 hour news cycle says to me if I watch it too long.

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I have to pick my battles. I have to pick my fights. I have to narrow my atrocities. And some days I have to have no atrocities at all. It’s the only way I can live without rage all the time.

I have to have the courage to change the things I can, the strength to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Not being a part of the 24 hour news cycle, using the Internet to consume news in my time in my way, means sometimes, if I’m embroiled with my life, and the people in it and around it, the real news, then I may not consume another man’s definition of the news… for days on end.

I find I’m a better man for not being suckled every moment on the teat, and rage, and hate, and horror of Rome the metaphorical. I find I’m a better, calmer man, and people find me a calming, even soothing presence, and it’s because the nightly news is not on the back of my eyeballs when I look at them, I look at them without the media’s biases or fears, I do not fall asleep to Rome’s tirade, and I do not wake to her gnashing.

And that has made all the difference.

I think too many, especially the young, who not yet having learned the value of their own life much less anyone else’s, internalize Rome’s madness, drink deep and long of it, and adopt the American past time of mass murder; as if it was no more than a fashion you could put on. Killing for hates handed down to them like ill fitting suits, and reasons not understood by them, killing with no real sense.

No real sense.

Not understanding really, that killing is easy, but the hole it leaves is large, and affects so many. That every life… even the most paltry, took a million million miracles to breathe air into, and you can never know how even the most unworthy life, might, if no more than via tangential fate, give us a painter or poet or astronaut or hero. And with one bullet you can unwind innumerable tomorrows, kill innumerable tomorrows, and we are all the poorer for all those doors closed. All those lives changed. All that unneeded pain, piled upon all our souls.

We are all… by these atrocities, broken and put back together, broken and put back together, broken and put back together. But each time there is less of us, and less of us, and less of us.

Until, we are so removed from every step we took toward the light, we find ourselves mad, hopeless animals, penned in a coliseum, screaming for the fall of blood. Our souls are fragile things, that can bloom or wither, depending upon what they are fed.

So resist the 24 hour news cycle. Resist assumptions. And seek out things that will feed the better angels of your nature.

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You might find the link below, a thing for feeding your soul. I did.

I must first state I am not a President Obama apologist. As an Independent I have taken him to task for what I feel is the dismantling of Liberties, and his paying back his corporate backers by selling generations of Americans into debt, to bail out a stock market comprised of companies that should have been allowed to burn.

That said, even with those we disagree… we must find that common ground where we can, so if we can not agree with their choices, we can at least perhaps understand the making of those choices.

If we can relate to each other as more than ‘them and us’, see politics as less bloody warfare, and more people all honestly looking to make their home, their neighborhood, and their nation better… if we can see ourselves as tied by our commonalities first, then our differences become strengths rather than sticking points, ripping our nation and our world apart.

So I ask you Republican, You Democrat, You Independent, You Man, You Woman… to listen to the following pod-cast.

And take away from it, the parts that will make you better.

I was feeling such insufferable rage in the wake of the Church Shooting and what I saw in the media’s handling of it… However, I listened to the below pod-cast, and the easy grace a President of the United States brought to a moment devoid of all grace… and I could breathe again, easy deep breaths. And I could see beyond the pumping of my own rage.

A long term fix? No.

But only death is long term. In life we must take the fleeting moments of grace when we can find them. And use that grace to empower us to end atrocities one person at a time.

You might find in the below pod-cast something hopeful.

WTF_-_EPISODE_613_PRESIDENT_BARACK_OBAMA.mp3

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Star Trek vs. Star Wars?!!

David W of BadAzz Mofo, the publisher of the FANTASTIC BadAzz Mofo Magazine of the same name, also runs a way cool blog, that I need to visit more often.

Why?

Here’s why:

Hilarious! Read his whole blog here!. And while there pick up his books and mags, they come recommended! And tell em HT sent ya!!!!

THE WELL DvD Review! and boycotting KFC and TACO BELL!

THE WELL- Gripping, tense, powerful, exhilarating, and even surprising are all words that can be leveled at this unfortunately virtually unknown film, released in 1951 to general acclaim.

While film classes teach of Fritz Lang’s FURY and William Wellman’s THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, the film THE WELL by co-directors (and co-writers) Leo C. Popkin and Russell Rouse (of DOA fame) doesn’t even register on the radar of most (even classic) movie fans, which is a shame, because it’s every bit as good as those heralded classics.

It’s filmed in a wonderful experimental manner that veers from cinema verite to stylish crane shots, and filled with engaging performances by both seasoned and first time actors. And another strength is its large cast filled with many fine actors of color, in non-stereotypical roles, something rare in the 1950s, and unfortunately and shamefully, only more rare in 2011.

But thankfully through the magic of DVD, a new generation gets to view this exemplary film, which is beyond its fiction, a great historical record, snapshot, of the times and the tempests of an America of over 60 years ago. A great portrait of the things we’ve gained and the things we’ve lost in the fire, in those 60 years from then to now.

It’s a great film about mob rule, and how thin the veneer of civilization is, and touches on topics of bigotry, perversion, sex crimes, suspicion, violence, and the loss of reason… and the finding of it.

It would unfortunately be Leo C. Popkin’s last film as Director, but what a one to end on.

A great movie that everyone should have in their collection. Grade: B+.

Buy your copy here: The Well

This review is brought to you by the boycott KFC (KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN)/TACO BELL campaign.

The food chain company has its corporate headquarters in an aggressively maintained, completely segregated town. And considering the bulk of their revenue comes from people of color, that’s just not kosher.

So do your part and spread the word, and boycott KFC and TACO BELL. I know there are times when you’re on the road and they may be the only game in town, so of course do what you have to do. But make that the exception and not the rule. The rules should be to avoid doing business with companies that denigrate you.

To avoid doing business with companies that have not learned the lesson… of the Well.

Just Say No to WINDOWS 8!!! or Star Trek, Al Capone, Linux, Apple and Terrorism!

The snazzy logo courtesy of LinuxBird here.

“The acquisition of wealth is not our prime motivation, we seek to better ourselves.”

That paraphrasing of Patrick Stewart’s dialogue from the film STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT, is central to Gene Roddenberry’s enduring mythos, his conceit of a world… beyond greed.

I think as mission statements go, as core beliefs go… that is as good a one for the human race as I can think of.


“The acquisition of wealth is not our prime motivation, we seek to better ourselves.”

However with the move to an industrial society at the launch of the 20th century, and the gutting of the previous agrarian/barter model, the acquisition of wealth, the consolidation of wealth, became the driving theme of the 20th century.

And it’s no coincidence that the 20th century also became the bloodiest in the history of the world, though clearly the 21st century is on fast track for supplanting it. Never in the history of the world, have so many, died so quickly, from nuclear weapons, to biological weapons, to push button wars, and all of it driven by the 20th century deification of money.

Not to say money is not felt throughout other centuries, but not to the global, and near religious personification, that the pursuit of wealth became with the 20th century, it has become idol absolute of an entire world.

But the 21st century with concepts such as peer to peer, open source, social networking, was poised to create a model for the 21st century. A model that akin to Roddenberry’s dream, could very much usurp the industrial model, just as the industrial model had usurped the Agrarian model.

The age of technology, open technology, had it, and has it in its grasp, to bring us more in line with this slightly Utopian concept, of life lived for improvement and discovery, rather than accumulation and subjugation.

But the dinosaurs, The Microsofts, the RIAAs, the Sonys, the Disneys, have co-opted, and outlawed, and sued, and bullied and terrorized the new hope, all so they may maintain… the old terror.

Scared Dinosaurs, holding humanity back… from visionary new days. Companies,courts, and politicians… and their paid enforcement arms, all working so hard to hold onto the bloody old, all working so hard not to evolve.

Microsoft and their setting up of the DMCA, and their last couple of years of buying their way into the open-source movement, worming their way into ‘helping’ with the open-source movement, particularly Linux, all so they could destroy and extort the movement from within.

You see this on the mobile side, where their various mobile Window initiatives cannot compete with Apple or Android. They now are extorting money from companies that do utilize Android on the basis of ridiculous and innovation killing software patents.

(It’s largely recognized that Software Patents are a lunacy that need to be done away with)

It is the act of a gangster and a thug, and if IBM was allowed to act like this in the 80s there would have been no Microsoft and no Apple, because these actions exterminate free enterprise and innovation.

Microsoft has spent the last twenty years burning every bridge and every freedom, that they themselves utilized in order to be innovative and initially successful, and now completely outlawing those liberties, indeed those necessities, for companies other than themselves.

Microsoft’s time has passed. They are a dinosaur using terror and intimidation to extort customers they can no longer earn with quality. They are no different than a 20th century Capone, selling liquor and protection at the barrel of a gun.

And Windows 7 was an improvement over Vista, they had ‘borrowed’ enough of the concepts and look from other operating systems to make it one. But that said, Windows 7 was and is still inferior to any half decent Linux Distribution.

So just as they are committing extortion against Android on the mobile front, on the Desktop/Server front they are dealing with the brilliance and the growth of Linux, that is now ready for prime-time, ready to be the next big thing, to replace the sick, twisted, decaying, and immoral dinosaur that Microsoft has become…. they are dealing with this fresh beautiful new thing, by basically collaborating with hardware vendors to KILL the very ability to install Linux operating systems on your computer. They are so afraid of Linux they want to make it impossible for you to even install it on YOUR computer.

It is so sad and pathetic, that it is almost funny.

Again what if IBM had done that to them, Microsoft and Apple? We would, as a society, be the poorer for it. And we are going to be the poorer for it if we allow Microsoft to continue to get away with dismantling any innovative idea or company they can’t compete with.

Can you understand? For Microsoft to do this, for a tech, for a software person, for someone with a rudimentary concept of how companies like Microsoft and Apple came to be, it is a betrayal of not just everything that is the technology movement, it is an attack on innovation and free enterprise that must stand as one of the most blatant and disgusting that I have ever witnessed.

It is a crime. As great a crime, in its way, as US drone airplanes killing indiscriminatingly in darker lands, so that a white press can gloat about another bounty collected, another arab, another nigger dead.

Though they don’t dress it, this 21st century crusade, in those crude terms, any more then Microsoft dresses its actions as what it is, a bloody monopoly committed to eradicating your option to choose.

“Pay us or else!” That’s how business talks to consumers in the 21st century. And it is a form of war. Less bloody to be sure, but the repercussions of what it can mean to freedoms subtle and gross… is staggering.

And I… am not having it.

I haven’t used Windows in my personal computer in 3 to 4 years. I fix Windows machines and work on them for other people, but for myself Linux is the only OS/distribution I deal with. I love the freedom of it, the very thing Microsoft is working so hard to legalize and sue and intimidate away.

I’m not going back to Microsoft. And to those companies that they are intimidating, extorting, bullying, I can only tell you what I would tell anyone being bullied… you start letting people push you, and they are never going to stop.

You have to stand against them.

And maybe you win, and maybe you lose. But you teach them to pay for every foot of ground. You give them a bloody nose, and win, lose or draw… it will give them pause.

Microsoft is a pathetic, barren, immoral, and worst of all inferior and scared technology company, and they are standing in the way of a better life…for everyone.

They are protecting the rotting, diseased old, when what it is time for… is the new.

And if you’re a company, and have been on the Microsoft merry-go-round it’s scary to consider getting off of it, but it is infinitely scarier to stay at the mercy of an immoral monopoly.

There are viable open source alternatives to Microsoft’s over priced crap.

Explore them.

Not only for your own sake, but for something companies start out believing in, but lose along the way, for the sake… of progress.

That’s an idea that Microsoft gave up on, a long time ago.


“The acquisition of wealth is not our prime motivation, we seek to better ourselves.”

It’s the only goal, that will save us from all this blood.

If you’re a subscriber to this blog and want help ditching Microsoft and finding something that works for you, reach out to me… and we’ll find an answer that works for you.

We’ll be a new age Untouchables, facing the tyranny that is Microsoft’s Capone.

And maybe we win, and maybe we lose. But my God, we’ll give them reason to pause.

Here endeth the Lesson.

Review: INCOGNEGRO A Graphic Mystery by Mat Johnson & Warren Pleece

Those of you who’ve followed this blog over the years know I’m seldom at a loss for words.

I came close with this review of INCOGNEGRO.

INCOGNEGRO… wow. Anything I say about it will either be too little or too much. You should go into the book knowing very little (my thought on most things you seek to dazzle you) and you’ll get a lot out of it. All you need to know is it’s basically a murder mystery set in Jim Crow America. A 138pg 2008 Graphic novel, I don’t quite know how it avoided my radar, but this tale of an America of nearly a 100 years ago is RIVETING! I read it in one sitting, and went from unsure of it, to offended, to horrified, to chuckling and back again all in a space of pages.

Just am amazing mixture of pacing, scripting, dialog by Matt Johnson and expressive, pitch perfect visuals by Warren Pleece, that initially strikes me as too cartoony but ultimately works, creates a work that cannot easily be dismissed, forgotten, or put aside. I picked up the book for free at the library, but I am buying the hardcover, because it is one of those books (and this is the reason digital will never truly replace books for bibliophiles) that you want to have on your shelf, and own, and thumb through, and occasionally reread. It’s book as comfort as much as content, as talisman as much as text.

Matt Johnson writes as if the ghosts of Hal Bennett runs through him, combining that writer’s unequaled ability to pummel you with horror, then wring from you in the next breath, a sound not unlike laughter. And that ending is FANTASTIC!

Essential reading. A-.

My review is for the Hardcover. Use the link below to order your copy today. My Comic Shop is a site I personally use and recommend, and any purchases you do through my links brings me a few pennies which helps keep the blog running. So get yourself a great book and help the site, in one stroke. What could be easier. :).

Check status or purchase INCOGNEGRO here

“I grew up a Black boy who looked White. This was in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, during the height of the Black Power era, so I stood out a bit. My mom even got me a dashiki so I could fit in with the other kids, but the contrast between the colorful African garb and my nearly blond, straight brown hair just made things worse. Along with my cousin (half Black/half Jewish) I started fantasizing about living in another time, another situation, where my ethnic appearance would be an asset instead of a burden. We would “go Incognegro” we told ourselves as we ran around, pretending to be race spies in the war against White supremacy.”
— Matt Johnson, his forward to his book INCOGNEGRO

“That’s one thing that most of us know that most white folks don’t. That race doesn’t really exist. Culture? Ethnicity? Sure. Class too. But Race is just a bunch of rules meant to keep us on the bottom. Race is a strategy. The rest is just people acting. Playing roles.”
— INCOGNEGRO, Part I

On HP Lovecraft, HAUNTER OF THE DARK and The Melancholy of All Men

I’m not a fan of HP Lovecraft. I’ve read several of his short stories, listened to several more via audio dramas, and while the cult of Lovecraft is strong, and I appreciate his dark ramblings, I’m not particularly a fan of them.

I’m far more fond of the work of some of his contemporaries such as Clark Ashton Smith, MR James and particularly H Russell Wakefield.

And this goes beyond Lovecraft being a product of his manifest destiny upbringing, his work judged on its own… largely drones on me. He has a tendency to ‘talk’ his stories into repetitive circles, perhaps feeding his love for litany and language, at the expense of momentum and a story. And perhaps even simpler, as a pulp writer, paid by the word, padding the story was not out of the realm of his possibility or his purpose.

Whatever the truth his stories to differing extents, are perhaps not the better for their length. HAUNTER OF THE DARK being an example. The most interesting thing about the story is the 4 line poem that opens it.

I have seen the Dark Universe Yawning
Where the Black Planets roll without aim
Where they roll in their horror unheeded
Without knowledge, or luster, or name
… From the opening of THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK

That’s a great opening, unfortunately the story fails to be worthy of it.

I consider myself a person with some patience, and appreciation for the setting of mood. As I said I’m a fan of some of Lovecraft’s contemporaries, and even a few of Lovecraft’s own stories (The Outsider comes to mind), but the HAUNTER OF THE DARK showcases the over stylization that hinders rather than helps the world Lovecraft is trying to create. He can take 10 sentences to say “Blake ran out of the building”, and if you’re enriched by those 10 sentences that’s fine, but largely it’s a repetition of ten sentences he used to describe his protagonist walking into the building.

His erudition, taken to such extremes… is by definition pedantic. And as such his work can be far from compelling.

But at moments, in small doses, his work rises above the minutiae of the man, to be something not unlike… a window onto the melancholy of all men.