The Friends of California Libre...

13 August 2003

Not in My Back Yard

Greetings, friends,
It's time again to send you all the lovely dross I've gathered up over the last week, and it's not a bad crop. But if you're looking forward to my (inevitable) rage about "Ahhnold", sorry, but you'll have to wait.

I've been flipping through two books this week which, on the surface, have nothing in common, but they both impressed me with a certain realism that I found refreshing. One, Paris Babylon, described in arch detail the creation and subsequent destruction of the Paris Commune as the Prussians surrounded the city in 1870. Just as we are blithely observing from a distance in Monrovia and Baghdad, the sudden and rapid loss of order in a city as sophisticated (!) as Paris is rather fascinating and, I must admit, truly awful. The other, The Life and Death of Planet Earth, makes such things as future ice ages and global warming look pedestrian as two scientists describe the inevitable changes that will happen to our poor planet in millions of years to come: the loss of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (and thus all plant life on the surface), the evaporation of the oceans as the sun heats up, and then in about 500 million years, the destruction of the whole planet when our sun blows up into a red giant. The surprising revelation was that we are, right now, at the peak of diversity in our planet's life, and it will only slowly get tougher from here on out. Not pretty, but both books impressed upon me the very rapid and uncontrollable nature of change, human and natural. Sobering.

But let's not dwell on the inevitable. If you're in the LA area, you might enjoy this festival of rock & roll movies this weekend (15-17 August)'s at the Arclight near Sunset & Vine (thanks, Geri):
If I can I will undoubtedly be at "Performance", one of my favorites, Sunday at 2 PM. It'll cheer me up.

But not as much as this:
Popcorn Named State Snack of Illinois

Or this:
Armani Crafts Special Ensemble for Barbie

And no matter what life has in store for us, it still likes to play little jokes:
Car Crash Reveals Racist Church

But much grander jokes have yet to reach their punch line. While our leaders are doing their best to cover their tracks, a whole industry of people (I would immodestly include myself and many of you) are spreading the word; win or lose, we won't wallow in ignorance.

While I'm at it, I've also been asked (thank you, Ms. Monde) to post the website for Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich:
I must admit that it is hard to knock a guy who just got endorsed by Willie Nelson, but I can't back him up myself. As some of you know, I harbor a certain antipathy for the Federal Government, and so it wouldn't really behoove me to have a really cool guy in the White House, now would it? If there's one thing I can say about George W. Bush, he is going to leave the government (except for the military) in a shambles by 2004, and maybe that's not so bad. He's already got us in far deeper shit than Ronald Reagan or his daddy ever did.

While perusing the Kucinich website, I see that he wants to pull us out of NAFTA and the WTO. Now weren't a lot of our friends abroad pissed off that George yanked us out of the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol? Is there a difference here that I don't understand? Sorry, but I am still rooting for Kerry. As a petty government bureaucrat myself, I understand exactly the kind of deep policy wonking that Kerry could do...he's the Al Gore of New England. Just what we need...a slippery lifetime politician who could rewrite the rules so deep in the Federal Register that the Republicans would need twenty years just to figure out what happened. He's not Roosevelt (the last guy slippery enough to rewrite all the rules thus) but hell, you can't have Roosevelts any more, what with 900 cable channels and such. You almost feel sorry for any politician, but as our recall circus winds on...well, you don't feel sorry, do you?

Or do you?
Company Offers Apes for Computer Programming

The hubris of the Bush Administration, however, is not really funny. He just picked Clinton's Enemy Number One, the Governor of Utah, to head the EPA. This guy would drill for oil in Yosemite, folks, if it was there. There's no hint of moderation anywhere in the big G, and even death is an opportunity to these vermin:
Though The Heavens Fall
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective
The political fortunes of the Bush administration are never so strong as when people are dying. A review of newspaper headlines from September 10, 2001 clearly shows an administration under serious attack from all quadrants. That changed after some 3,000 people were killed the next day, and George has never looked back. The attack of September 11 was the best thing to ever happen to George W. Bush. He knows this, and uses those attacks to great effect in promoting everything from aggressive wars to tax policy.

Here's a particularly poignant criticism, and heart-felt:
Hiroshima Mayor Lashes Out at Bush on Atomic Bombing Anniversary
The Agence France Presse
Wednesday 06 August 2003

But let no government scum be excused; even poor Jimmy Carter's getting in trouble (sorta; thanks, Ellen):

In a similar light-hearted vein, rock fans will scratch their heads at this website, a collection of classic (and many not so classic) record album covers...recreated with "LEGO" (thanks, Miles):

Seriously, though, there's still a war going on...right?
The Unreported Cost of War: At Least 827 American Wounded
By Julian Borger
The Guardian

A more detailed account of the military's methods in Iraq, and how they manipulate the press, will be found here:
TO Interview: Stan Goff with Jennifer Van Bergen
t r u t h o u t Wednesday, 16 July 2003
Editor's Note Stan Goff is a former Sergeant with Special Forces and military instructor at West Point, among other posts. He is the author of Hideous Dreams,about his experience in the 1994 American incursion into Haiti. Goff's upcoming book, "Full Spectrum Disorder," from Soft Skull Press, will be available in December.

But nobody can deny that through all the lies, even bigger lies are being shaped:
U.S. Shifts Rhetoric On Its Goals in Iraq
New Emphasis: Middle East Stability
By Dana Milbank and Mike Allen
Washington Post

And any possibility of learning the truth is going get shot or thrown in a secret prison camp in Cuba, eh?
U.S. Wants Saddam, But Dead - Not Alive
By Eric Margolis
The Toronto Sun

Everything has its could even bribe Carly Simon, for chrissakes:
$50,000 to Learn Who's 'So Vain'

Wait a cotton-pickin' minute...$50 THOUSAND? I mean, isn't it more fun to guess who she was singing about? Warren Beatty? James Taylor? I always thought Hugh Hefner myself. But who cares? The sun's gonna burn the Earth to a crisp, right?

Finally, a dry little blurb from a librarian in Orange County...the woman they're speaking of, Tessa Kelso, was the first "feminist" director of the Los Angeles Public Library in the 1890s, and she was roundly criticized for smoking in the public streets. If any of you want to know what my job is like, read on:
The economic depression that commenced in 1893 contributed to the intensity of attacks on the position of paternalists who sought to use purchasing policies to guide public taste. As the depression deepened and unemployed workers (called "borders" by municipal librarians) flocked into the reading rooms of urban libraries, a growing number of librarians insisted that libraries stock whatever books refreshed the downtrodden. Tessa Kelso of the Los Angeles Public Library numbered the ability of libraries "to add to the fast diminishing store of human pleasure" as a sufficient justification for their existence. Even were the library to become no more than "the recognized loafing centre of the city," Kelso affirmed, "its existence on that score would be justified."
>From p. 215, The Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties: From Self-Improvement to Adult Education in America, 1750-1990, by Joseph F. Kett, Stanford University Press.

PS And thanks to Miss Josh for the lovely photos.
Vive le Screed!

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