Yesterdays come easy, looking back at you

So, now’s kind of a weird time. I mean, since everything is happening in massive parallelism now, of course it’s going to be weird. But as with the future, the weird is not evenly distributed so there seems to be pockets of higher than normal concentration of weird. I suspect that the distribution of weird follows a power law, with most of the weird trapped in pockets of really weird shit, floating in a omnipresent medium of significantly less weird.

Anyways, I found myself sucked into one of these over the last – what has it been now? – few months. I model this phenomena as akin to big globs of water floating in zero G. Once you come close to one, surface tension just sucks you inside before you even know what hit you. And so I brushed up against some that just happened to be floating my way and I soon found myself surrounded by it and quite unable to figure out how to escape it.

Now, before you ask let me say I really can’t give you an accurate description of the phenomena. Much of it is personal and so it would be just meaningless blather to pretty much everyone except a select few who know of such events intimately. But you wouldn’t get an accurate description from them, either. Odd how much context this stuff takes before you can even get a tiny hope of using efficient communication protocols instead of hilariously long conversations about a single concept, axiom, or perspective transfer. But thems the breaks. It’s how this shit is done in the real universe.

photoBut there’s a lot of stuff that can be spoken of. For example, I got this bitchin’ tattoo while I was down south.  It was a thing.  Been wanting one on the back for quite some time.  Seems like I have been planning one for years, you know?  Never could really think of what the hell I wanted to put there; what the hell I wanted to bind there for as long as I have skin.  At least for the two tattoos I have, they’re bindings of particular times and places.  Emotions, complex state vectors.  That kind of shit.  Since I’m fully expecting to get more tattoos, I’m sure I’ll come up with even more pretentious reasons as to why I got them.  But hey, I mean, you’re having stuff carved into your flesh that never goes away.  So, if you can’t have pretentious reasons for doing that, it’s my general opinion that you haven’t had things permanently etched on your soul before.  That shit is the very definition of pretentious.

And so that happened.

I think it looks pretty good.  But of course I would think that.  No one else has one of those, though, as it’s original artwork.  Everyone asks me what it means.  I just kind of grin and out of mercy I simply don’t launch into a 15 minute recitation of the executive summary of my wacky inner world and how that expresses itself.  Nor do I expound on what the artist was thinking because, frankly, I can only likewise guess.  But it seemed to capture what I was looking for exactly.  Or maybe it simply became a focus for such energies once it appeared in my visual receptors.  I’m not sure I could tell the difference and the brain being the rationalization machine that it is could come up with any logical sounding explanation for that.  So I don’t really bother at this point.  It is what it is and at least it means something to me.

It’s enough.

But that’s not the really weird part to tell you the truth.  As most people’s lives go, that’s probably well within their boundaries given that a significant percentage of the population know someone who has tattoos.  Hell, they work with people who have tatoos these days.

No, life is weird beyond my normal ken because of an odd confluence of events that, perhaps in retrospect, were not entirely random.  For instance, it’s not random that scheduled events occur.  Planes regularly fly.  People take them to destinations.  They stay at hotels.  It happens with planning and usually at least some sort of conscious intent.  I like to think that shit doesn’t just happen.  But then, who knows.  Sometimes people do things impulsively, for no reason they can themselves discern. People have whims, of course.  Usually these are relegated to small scale space time events, such as buying a package of M&Ms at the checkout stand.  Sometimes they change the foundations of their life on a whim.

So I was a part of some of that.  Weird stuff of the kind that you experience when a person or persons go through life changing events that will leave a permanent mark on their soul – well, while they still have it.  They say that even that, in the fullness of time, eventually fades away.  Or gets crushed inside the last black hole of the universe.  I’m unclear as to whether everything is going to simply dissipate or ultimately get crushed when inflation ends.  But regardless, that’s as good as forever to small scale, time bound entities like we find ourselves to be.  Sometimes an hour seems like an eternity to me, so I’m not too picky on my scales wrt this domain.

And experiencing tumultuous changes turns out to be a pretty sensitive time.  Because everything in your life is shattered, it sometimes turns out that one can experience things that normally would be too subtle – or too strong – to be noticed.  Myself, this borders on the painful, at times, because – hey – when my life is in turmoil, you don’t see me running headlong to find more to jump into.  Well, at least that’s the theory that I have which has oddly failed to generate any empirical evidence in support.

But hey, who needs evidence based reasoning anyway?  Highly overrated.  People who are shattered are, by definition, vulnerable to suggestion.  And perhaps that’s why the do even weirder shit than normal.  I don’t know.

But you can have some pretty good weird times when you’re trying to put shattered self back together.  I think the key is to have some damn strong people around you that care for you.  Or at least don’t suck and aren’t mean.  But given you really can’t schedule these events (unlike airplane flights), you kind of have to take what you get.

Sometimes that shit works out and the result of the shattering of your life is that you can rebuild it from the ground up.  Do it enough times, and sooner or later it becomes easier to do and not as much of a shock when it happens yet again.  Through these cycles, sometimes you even get a glimpse of what remains despite the shattering of everything.  Kind of the form that remains sort of stuff.  Nothing revelatory, but I’m sure you understand what I mean.  Also, too, it sometimes feels pretty good to simply shed all of what you thought was real, decided and for really, really sure and just stand naked in the middle of the pieces that no longer fit together.  There’s a certain freedom in not knowing what comes next or how on earth you’re ever going to put things back together after all that shit went down.

So there’s that at least.

But people can’t stay shattered forever.  Well, I mean they can.  Obviously.  But they don’t generally remain around that long.  There’s a reason why we’re tool using creatures and build shit like homes, cars and frickin’ lasers.  You can’t remain naked in a universe that is no safe place for the naked.  Pretty soon you have cobble something together if you’re simply going to remain warm at night.  And then there’s all those strange glowing eyes in the trees peering down on you.  When you’re naked, you’ve got precious little to kick those would be predator’s collective ass.  Well, I suppose if you’re the Buddha, you can.  Eight fold path and all.  But for the rest of us caught in māyā, we’re pretty much fucked if we don’t get our shit together pretty soon.

And so it goes.  Eventually you find the boundary of the highly concentrated pocket of weird you find yourself trapped within and manage to swim out of it into the cool mist of weird that everyone else inhabits.  You carefully note the blob of weird for future navigation, take a shit load of pictures and upload them to Instagram or something.  You giggle at how lucky you were to be a part of that and wonder how on earth you survived for so long in such a high concentration of weird.  And the memory settles into a bin that you label, categorize and file away for future replay.

Because, in some sense, we don’t really have the now.  What we have are memories of the past.  And replaying the weird times never really ever gets old, does it?

Especially when the universe starts reminding you as to why you’re a tool using creature and suggests that you might want to pay more attention to those glowing eyes that appear to be growing larger as they quickly approach.

New Frontiers In Eating The Poor

to_serve_man.jpg

A while back, a gentleman named Jonathan Swift made a modest proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country and for making them beneficial to the public.  His proposal was simply to eat these indigents and thus recycle the mass that has been unwisely entrusted into their care for the good of society.  Granted, this was back in the early 1700′s and perhaps society could be forgiven for wielding such a crude bludgeon on the eternal problem of those who simply can’t seem to get with it and make something of themselves like the rest of us are able to do.  After all, we have come a long, long way in the 300 years that have passed since then.

In the 21st century, we have figured out far more humane and efficient mechanisms for extracting value from those who would otherwise be considered valueless drains on society as a whole: We leverage their worthless mortgages to create wealth for the deserving of our society on a scale that would make Croesus green with envy.

For the last 20 or so years, I’ve been watching my friends and acquaintances in the financial service industry accumulate bonuses and income that defied imagination.  Pretty much all the best of the best were eventually sucked up into the industry and quickly earned sums that made my eyes bleed when they indicated the order of magnitude that they were making in salary and bonuses.  And mind you, these were just software jockeys.  Sure, they were brilliant.  Sure, they were really damn good at what they were doing.  But the blokes they were working for were the ones making the real money.

Money, pointing out the obvious, which was all just a figment of everyone’s imagination.

It boggles my mind to think about it, but what these jokers were doing was simply leveraging people who couldn’t really afford to buy a house through some obscure mathematical function which transformed them from huge liabilities waiting to explode into gold lined yachts and extremely fast cars filled with babes that defied evolutionary norms.  All the while, these jokers were laughing at the very people they were squeezing like the proverbial turnip, manufacturing the blood in lieu of the reality of no there “there”.

And even after the curtain has been pulled back and the wizards of Wall Street have been revealed to be nothing more than common pond scum, they still have the gall to blame all their troubles on those they convinced to sign their lives away to line their pockets.  Granted, those poor should never have gotten themselves into the Faustian bargain these jokers were peddling, but I really have a lot more sympathy for the mark than I do for the swindler who knows damn well the mark can’t afford what they’re peddling.  I mean, after all, anyone who has perfect knowledge and is somehow immune from scams raise their hands – we’re all looking for an easy way to our dreams and we all make the perfect mark for these sharks.

But it really didn’t stop at the sharks.  The beauty of the whole scheme is the sheer amount of wealth it generated for anyone who was able to parasitically attach themselves to the poor schmucks.  Because, when you think about it, a large part of what we in the valley tend to call “VC” money had its root in the same tainted flow.  Which, in retrospect, shouldn’t have been surprising because – lets face it – pretty much the entire “Web 2.0″ experience has been nothing but a con game of equally gigantic proportions.  When your money is ultimately being minted from the dreams and soul stuff of the unsuspecting, what’s the problem with pissing almost all of it away in social media start ups which don’t have a clue as to how the fuck they’re going to make money other than “sell ads”.

And I guess “selling ads” is pretty much what we should be putting on the tombstone of this whole decade of crap that we’re desperately trying to flush down the toilet.  I mean, the whole thing was largely a charade – a Tiffin phantasm woven into a fleeting semblance of reality by those who reckoned themselves half again as smart as they actually were.

Jonathan Swift would have been struck silent in stunned awe at the sheer audacity of the whole scheme.  After all, he just suggested we eat the poor.  Thanks to MIT graduates, we leveraged their very souls into wealth that boggled the mind.

Coyote Ugly

gold bars.jpgI guess it’s really true that hard times bring out the real personality behind the mask.  I suppose that goes 10x for economic disasters that supposedly happen on the order of once every 100 years or so, because the masks seem to be getting ripped off and what they’re revealing is pretty darn ugly.

Lately, I’ve been getting an earful on how despicable union workers are from some of my colleagues here at House Harkonnen – especially auto workers.  If there were not actual people who were affected by all this crap, I suppose the whole thing would be comical but considering that there’s going to be a lot of human carnage throughout this journey through linear miles of concertina wire that our captains of finance have cleverly laid out around us in all directions, I pretty much cringe whenever I think of what this new year is going to bring us.

Now, I work in an industry that literally makes products that no one stands behind.  Unique, apparently, in all commercial industries (except, of course, the financial industry), the Software industry basically sells shit that they barely guarantee will install.  The entire industry literally does not guarantee that the products they sell will do anything at all – all they warranty is the DVD or CD ROM you have will be able to be read.  The fact that your computer blows up, loses all your financial data and regurgitates all your personal information to some site in Russia… well, that’s just the way things work in Software you see.

Which is why it’s literally hilarious to hear anyone in this industry talk with disdain about union workers of any type.  I mean, say what you will about auto workers, but at least their products don’t randomly blow up and take out half a city block in the process.   And given the numbers of time wasting morons that add less than zero value to anything that is done, it’s even more hilarious to hear anyone in the Software industry dis the teacher’s union.

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Don’t We At Least Get A Kiss?

Well, the Senate has decided to just fuck over the progressive net roots by bending over and letting Senator Lieberman to ram the shears and keep his position as head of the Homeland Security.
Just a note to Harry Reid, etc:
I put up with eating lots and lots of shit over the past 8 years. And now, with you in a position to finally do something, you pile on the biggest helping of shit of all.
Let’s just say that I’m now at the end of my rope and you’ve used up any and all credits that you had. This was the last straw. If you don’t pull fucking gold out of Lieberman’s ass and produce magic ponies bearing the fruits of progressive victory, then you can kiss your majority good bye. And if Lieberman so much as barks the wrong way on ANY issue, then you can likewise kiss your majority good bye.
I know you don’t give a damn about us here in the trenches, but I’d say you have 2 years as Senate majority leader.

Send Not a Note For Whom The Dick Swings; It Swings For Thee

A while ago, Robert Reich had a blog post up regarding the upcoming (now hopefully in progress) swing from liaise faire capitalism – where things have been for the last 30 years or so – back towards another era of more regulation. He ends his post with a typical centrist sentiment

Now the pendulum of outrage is swinging back against large corporations. America is heading toward another era of regulation. The real question is how smartly we go about it, and whether we can keep the pendulum from swinging too far.

Again, Reich wrote this before the great (and still far from over) disaster of the last 2 weeks. In any kind of sane world, where we have just experienced the entire meltdown of the entire global economy, there would expected to be a back lash. And “boo hoo” to those who are concerned that the reaction “swings too far”.

But clearly Reich didn’t have much to be concerned about, given the way things seem to be shaking out.

The Bush administration on Saturday formally proposed to Congress what could become the largest financial bailout in United States history, requesting unfettered authority for the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets.

The proposal, not quite three pages long, was stunning for its stark simplicity. It would raise the national debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion. And it would place no restrictions on the administration other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress, granting the Treasury secretary unprecedented power to buy and resell mortgage debt.

Please read these two paragraphs again. I’ll wait. Done? Pick your jaw off the floor? I mean, the 700 billion dollars is a figure almost unimaginable, for one. The 11.3 trillion dollars of debt we’re going to have after this (almost 10% of this was added just by this fiasco, I’ll note) is truly a number that defies imagination. But that really isn’t the stunning part. The stunning party is

requesting unfettered authority for the Treasury Department

Yes. Unfettered authority. For the Bush administration. Apparently, having the unfettered authority that they (read Cheney) claimed because of 9/11 wasn’t quite unfettered enough. Now they simply want the authority to spend almost a trillion dollars (and god knows, I’m sure that the amount they currently want isn’t going to be enough – it never is).

Got to admit they have some pretty big brass balls.

Your Typical Financial Disaster Apologist
(a picture of your typical financial apologist)

But really, the pair that Hank Paulsen is strapping on simply doesn’t compare to the planetary sized balls that the collective financial wizards are in the process of strapping on (after all, such balls will greatly affect your gait and require a new wardrobe to accommodate them).

What seems to be shaping up as the explanation for this multi-trillion dollar meltdown in our economy and the subsequent multi-trillion dollar bailout (again, I need only point out that $700 billion is simply the first installment Paulsen will be asking for – and this is only what the USA, itself, is shoveling into this gaping maw) is that the reason why things are so fucked up, the reason why everything went south is…. Wait for it:

Government regulation.

Yes, that’s right folks. The reason why we’re having a melt down on a global scale, the reason why we’re pouring sums of money that boggle the imagination down the toilet in a desperate attempt to plug the hole these wizards of Wall Street have blasted through our global financial system is simply because they were regulated too much.

See, what happened is that the poor fellows in the financial community were forced – forced I say – to create almost unbelievably complicated financial pretzels based on obviously worthless loans that would never, ever be repaid is because the government regulations forced them to.

Forced.

I mean, geebus. Paulsen has nothing on these jokers who are going to start pushing this pile of bullshit.

Back in the old days, it used to be that when someone offered you a deal that was obviously bogus, we’d reply “yes, and I have a bridge I’d like to sell you in Brooklyn”. Now a days, selling someone (repeatedly, mind you) the Brooklyn Bridge is simply a consequence of over burdensome government regulations.

I guess we’ve reached the point in our evolution where The Great Filter is about to be invoked. I mean, seriously. If we let these bozos get away with this, then we simply cannot believe that we’re fit for extraterrestrial expansion. I have a feeling that the aliens watching this hilarious sit com we’ve been putting on for them must feel the same way.

I think the absolute last thing they want running around the galaxy is a bunch of dufuses who are too stupid to responsibly regulate their own economy and a species that always ends up holding the bag for a tiny fraction of their own which ends up fleecing the rest.

An Observation

There seem to be a non trivial percentage of women who look far better without clothes than when wearing them. Naturally, as a good liberal, I blame the patriarchal culture that dominates our lives.
However, I must say that poor fashion choices seem to also account for an unnerving percentage of these data points. Again, I blame society. Self image is largely shaped by peer perception and mass media is our peer perception in these modern times.
Although the repressed libertarian in me (don’t worry, I’m doing my best to eradicate it) can’t help but wonder if a mirror or two might help matters. Doesn’t matter when they’ve shed their clothes, of course, but still. One would think that observing the ill fitting clothes in a reflection would lead to better fashion choices in the long run…

Okay! I’ll confess! Just give me the papers to sign! Please make it stop!

croc_tears.gifI must be well into my fourth day of sensory deprivation because I’ve seemingly passed the hallucination stage, blew right past the psychotic stage of the second day and have been transported a place where newspaper taxis appear on the shore, waiting to take me away.

For example, I don’t think that I could have ever – in a million, zillion years – made up both the post and especially the comments over at the BreakingWindOfChange.

First off, the moniker “Armed Liberal” has always made me snort milk through my nose everytime I actually see it in black and white. And following the joker for the past 5 years or so (seems like an eternity, believe me) I have to say that he really gets better and better at his gig the longer he’s at it.

One of the commenters there does us all a favor and nicely sums up the ArmedLiberal (snort!) for anyone who’s coming to this party late and is wondering what all the laughing is about. There’s more, of course, but those comments aren’t the hillarious ones. The hillarious ones are from the AL himself (sorry, I am drinking a Sierra Mist and the carbonated water hurts my nose). My favorite is

Steve – really? You don’t think Althouse or Reynolds talk to an audience that could vote for Obama? I certainly think they do, and that reaching that audience ought to be a really damn high priority for the party.

Again, I’m snorting up my Sierra Mist. I simply love how the only way that liberals can survive is if they somehow find someway to pander to people who literally would gnaw off their own arm before voting for them. Brilliant

But really, what could possibly compare to the triple threat posed by the McMegan/Althouse/Drum trinity? McMegan and Althouse were both expertly skewered in the piece by Roy (the man!) and naturally their feelings were very hurt. All this is to be expected, naturally, by a piece of sardonic wit.

But then Kevin Drum, our favorite slightly left of center liberal, demonstrates the keen insight and tenacious capacity to dig into the heart of an issue which led to his support of the Iraq war, has to pile on in a more utterly clueless fashion than usual, apparently buying McMegan’s whiny post about sexism in the blogosphere as the god’s honest truth. As Roy points out in his live blogging of the reaction to the VV piece, McMegan’s follow up is simply priceless

McUpdate: “Yes, I know the many uses of the phrase ‘lipstick lesbian’; indeed, I count several as friends and loved ones.” Yet in my mouth it’s a horrible slur. Either I poison everything I touch — the theory endorsed by my family and ex-girlfriends — or victim status is the new Gold Standard.

And that’s what I think has finally convinced me that I must be on my fourth day of sleep deprivation: Teh Victim Status.

I mean, really. This is the Village Voice. McMegan can ho-hum Torture memos coming from the very heart of this government, but my lord! A frank look in the mirror provided by Roy in the Village Voice! Bring the ambulance. And to have Kevin Drum fall hook line and sinker for her drivel is simply bliss beyond compare.

One of the most inexplicable tropes of the liberal blogosphere is its howling disdain for Megan. I guess it all goes back to the moronic “two-by-four” controversy, but it really ought to stop. She writes a perfectly sane, opinionated, moderately libertarian, occasionally obsessive, sometimes provocative blog. I don’t often agree with her, and at times I find her maddeningly obtuse, but I’m sure she feels the same about me. In other words, she’s a totally normal blogger. Michelle Malkin she ain’t.

Totally normal, dude. And people wonder why mentally deficient urchins like David Brooks rise to the top in Drum’s world.

Okay, back to my regularly scheduled psychosis. Just had to share this gem with y’all in case you were encased in concrete, living in total sensory deprivation like I am.