Friday, July 29, 2005

Speaking out

Editor's note: it's SSF, yet again.

A common assumption regarding freedom of speech is that power and 'speaking out' are always linked together. The people in power are the ones who announce the agenda; they are the ones with the privilege of expressing themselves, and they use their power to silence the powerless. In the democratic United States, the power of the people is vouchsafed by our ability to speak out against those who are attempting to coerce us. In particular, we have a free press, which allows us to formulate and express opinions that are not identical with the ones prescribed by politicians and wealthy demagogues.

But speech is not always representative of power, and, as we all know, the press is not always the voice of the people. Foucault uses the model of Catholic confession to demonstrate that sometimes the powerful figure is the one listening, while the powerless figure is the one being compelled to generate a whole host of personal 'truths.' Similarly, Judith Miller is not exercising freedom of the press when she allows herself to become the mouthpiece for corrupt politicians who are, in fact, so powerful that they don't have to speak, who instead have the ability to arrange for their dangerous, anti-democratic truths to emerge from the mouth of the 'free press.' Her sources are the very people from whom the free press has fought so hard to remain free. There have always been limits to free speech: there are some things we are simply not allowed to say publicly, and rightly so. The leaking of the name of a CIA agent, for example, is a federal crime; and the fact that Karl Rove et. al. found a loophole through the manipulation of the free press should not be tolerated. Judy Miller knew that she was doing the dirty work of some of the most power-hungry and undemocratic men our country has ever known; and now, after showing such utter contempt for the first amendment, she wants to fashion herself its champion.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Religion, beauty, and creation

Editor's note: it's SSF again.

"To love humanity for God's sake: this remains the noblest and most remote feeling ever attained among men. That the love of human beings, without some kind of hallowed intention behind it, is just one more stupidity and brutishness, that the inclination to this love of humanity must first get its measure, its subtlety, its grains of salt and its specks of ambergris from a higher inclination: whichever person it was who first discovered and 'experienced' these things, however much his tongue may have stumbled as he tried to express such a delicate matter, let him remain for all time holy and venerable among us, as the man who has hitherto flown the highest and has erred the most beautifully!"

-Nietsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 3.60 (trans. SSF)

However much we may disagree about God, the afterlife, the soul, or the purpose of our lives, we can at least agree that religion is very closely bound up with the creation of, and the response to, beauty in the world: without religion, the world would be incomparably uglier. We must always recognize our debt to religion, offering our most heartfelt gratitude for its having provided us with a great number of uplifting, ennobling, and aesthetically powerful images and stories, among which we might especially note the following:

" 75,000,000 years ago, Xenu, the head of the then 20,000,000 million- year-old Galactic Federation used renegades to remove 'people' from the 76 planets of the Federation in order to alleviate overpopulation. These people were frozen, brought to Earth (then called Teegeeack), placed near volcanoes, exploded with H-bombs, subjected to 36 days of picture implants, and then transported to Hawaii or Las Palmas for packaging."

Whoever first discovered and 'experienced' the truth of this story must be admired as the man who has hitherto tripped the most bizarrely and has strayed the furthest from his rocker! (It was this guy, of course.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tom's diary: Stardate 0727.05

I woke up this morning feeling a bit banky and in desperate need of a touch assist. For a minute I thought I had contracted lumbosis, but then, after a little obnosis, I realized that the problem was that my engrams were entheta, which of course always results in a high degree of not-isness. I had been so engaged in havingness and livingness, that I'd almost entirely neglected my doingness! So I decided to straightwire my space opera immediately. As a grade II preclear, I was way out of my league, and I knew that I was risking total cut comm. But, thank LRH, I was finally able to apply enough attention units that the excess randomity gradually gave way to sweetness and light.

Editor's Note: Today's entry was brought to you by Sheff's special friend.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Don't you think the split from the AFL-CIO deserves bigger headlines? After watching the AFL-CIO put so much of its efforts into elections (with what result?), SEIU and the Teamsters said suck it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Comments About Comments

I know I don't post enough about American Football, but thankfully, Xui and Ariel (who use their own blogs to discuss music, tennis, and comic books) have taken up a discussion about the topic that anyone can follow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dog Days of ...

I haven't been blogging lately for a lot of reasons. I got back from the Bay Area, where Pac'a totally enjoyed the company of a cute poodle, ...

to find my phone/DSL line had been knocked down by my landlord. So no internets for a day. Also, I read the new Harry Potter book, and that took Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Just like most kids. If you ask me, there is way too much kissing and too little of Hermione's scholarship. Speaking of scholars ...

Elias is visiting and doing a lot of Greek reading with hardly any clothes on. Actually, it's really really hot, and we can barely stand it. The heat is the real reason I haven't been up to much electronically this week.

Friday, July 15, 2005

In the News

News Deserving of Coverage
Why all the coverage of Karl Rove when the new Harry Potter is coming out at midnight? I'm a big Harry Potter fan, but I believe I'll wait a day or two before trying to buy the book.

LAPD Does it Again
I'm sure everyone has heard about the cops who shot the baby last Sunday. What a bummer. I heard civil rights lawyer, Connie Rice (distant cousin of Bush's Rice) on the radio yesterday. She explained how the reaction and blame on the police is due to an 80 year history of the LAPD acting as a paramilitary force battling and keeping down people of color. Even if they couldn't help it this time, cops in LA can't expect any slack. I agree, and it's too bad.

It's been in the high 90s fahrenheit in my part of the world. I had to go to the most incredibly boring meeting yesterday on subsidized childcare, and the only relief was that it was in Culver City where the temperatures seemed about 20 degrees below temps of the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. I'm headed north for the weekend and am hoping to cool down considerably.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Lunch Offerings

I often eat lunch with folks from work at Ocha, a Thai Restaurant in a rundown part of Van Nuys. I kept noticing that we never got seated at the tables with the pretty settings of orange, orange soda, rice and two other tiny cute portions of something or another.

It took me a few visits to figure it out. The employees set the places and make offerings of the strange little meals to Buddha. No one gets seated at these tables until the workers clear them. It's not like I really like orange soda anyway.

In fact, there a just a few things worth ordering here. And they're really worth ordering -- beef eggplant curry, spicy flat noodles with tofu, and spicy chicken. Lots of water. Once, I had the fried rice (someone else ordered it, and it was bland). But the blandness was a blessing because I discovered my new favorite condiment. It's a fresh hot sauce made with lime, fish sauce, hella Thai chili, and cilantro. Mmm. I ordered some to go in a jar I brought (like almost all restaurants in SoCal, to go = styrofoam). Next time you're at my house ask for some.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Long Weekend

I was out of town for a few days. Before I get to the nice parts of my trip, I'll discuss a fellow passenger on my return flight. It's good to get the bad out of the way first, and it connects to the discussion thread in my most recent post in which I described my ambivalence about the upcoming Court appointments.

On the Portland to Oakland leg of my trip home, I sat next to a right wing Catholic. As soon as I sat down, I could tell he was one of those people who want to talk from take-off to landing. Was he lonely, nervous, or just plain evil? You decide.

I think it started out by his telling me about the Jesuit school his nephews attend in Southern California. That topic led to his lecturing me about liberals, Marxism, the bible, Catholicism, and vegetarianism. I was so good at not arguing with him; I deserve a ticket to heaven for my grace.

He told me he was very pleased about the new pope. The liberal Catholics need a "good swift kick in the pants." I asked him what he thought was so liberal about the church. He said he was troubled by interpretations of Vatican II. I asked what he meant and could he give me some examples. For one, alter girls -- God never meant for girls to serve on the alter. Just like the home, where God intends for man to provide and woman to serve, the church also needs for men and women to adhere to gender roles of leaders and followers. Vatican II only advised placing girls at the alter when there were no boys available. Priests everywhere are failing in their duties to recruit boys. He also blames "feminazis" for leading the church astray -- he really used that term.

Rather than disagree, I tried to ask questions that would elicit talk of his lived experiences as I felt pretty bored with the recitations of AM radio. Since he kept quoting so much scripture, I asked if he had ever considered becoming a priest. Turns out he did, but by the time he went to check out seminaries, the priesthood had already been taken over by the "pinkos." The men led such secular lives -- reading whatever they liked including pornography and drinking, he decided he may as well live on the outside.

I could go on and on quoting him and sharing his thoughts. I believe it might even be educational. It's guys like him who got George W. elected to two terms. But I'd end up writing a really long entry, and people would skim and not comment. How boring would that be?

The good stuff...

My brother John and his wife Tonya celebrated 10 years of marriage with a party and gathering at a place on the southwest coast of Washington.

We stayed at the Tradewinds in a place called Tokeland. It's a funky 60s motelish kitchenette kind of place. I'm so bummed to hear the owners are going to sell it to people who plan to bring it upscale.

Here's the view outside all the rooms:

Any Northwest people who have the opportunity, ought to check it out while rooms still go for $80 a night. My aunt says it's best to go during the week because it's really quiet. I say it's best to pack in all your food because there is nothing but an Indian casino (serving really good burgers if you like such things) and a cigarette stand (that used to sell fry bread) within miles of the place. Lucky for me, Johnya hooked us up good for the party -- fresh crab, salmon, and all sorts of beverages I regretted the morning after the big party.

Since we flew in to Portland (normally, I'd fly to Seattle), we had to go through a bunch of old, depressed logging towns. We stopped for a meal in one of them and had such a treat. We ate at The Shire and were totally impressed. I had a nice salmon filet over organic greens, and my stepmom/traveling companion had a delicious tuna steak. Who knew we had options in Chehalis, Washington?

It was great to see my family. Look how much John Jr. has grown!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A New Day

So Sandra Day O'Conner, conservative, Reagan appointee, is leaving, and everyone's worried that Bush gets to put in a firm and all-the-time-sucky Justice. The Court will finally overturn Roe v. Wade. (Can you imagine taking a step back like that? We'd join the Philippines in restricting women's health care. At least some states probably would.)

But guess what? I don't have the mental or emotional capacity to care. Let them reap what they sow. All those right wing Christians can all go to hell. They voted for someone who, with the exception to his regard for the unborn, is in league with Satan. In their singular and obsessive focus, those right-wingers ignore greater and more prevalent evils than terminated pregnancies. They really believe they did God's work by voting for Bush so he can appoint someone to overturn Roe v. Wade. Morons indeed. I'm too tired to be bothered.

I was too tired last November, but I want to get this off my chest on this day in case anyone thinks that because I'm a lawyer, I care what happens on the Court. If I get pregnant any time in the remaining fertile years of my life, I probably won't be looking to abort. Hopefully, if my life is at stake, there will be something left of my right to choose. Or, like many women of my socioeconomic background, I have some cash and credit cards and could travel elsewhere. It's a good thing, since there's not much I can do about Bush and his plans to take big leaps back.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Special Message From Ed

Click like crazy in the sky over NY. Enjoy the holiday, and remember that the country owes its independence to a bunch of radical, partying, drunks who liked to blow shit up. Take care of each other.