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The Malady Lingers On…

February 14, 2009


Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.
Matthew 7:15, King James Version

I daresay most of you are familiar with the so-called Kuleshov Effect. To refresh your memories, the Kuleshov Effect is a film editing (montage) effect demonstrated by Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the 1920s.

“Kuleshov edited together a short film in which a shot of the expressionless face of Tsarist matinee idol Ivan Mozzhukhin was alternated with various other shots (a plate of soup, a girl, an old woman’s coffin). The film was shown to an audience who believed that the expression on Mozzhukhin’s face was different each time he appeared, depending on whether he was “looking at” the plate of soup, the girl, or the coffin, showing an expression of hunger, desire or grief respectively.

Actually the footage of Mozzhukhin was the same shot repeated over and over again. Vsevolod Pudovkin (who later claimed to have been the co-creator of the experiment) described in 1929 how the audience: ‘raved about the acting…. the heavy pensiveness of his mood over the forgotten soup, were touched and moved by the deep sorrow with which he looked on the dead woman, and admired the light, happy smile with which he surveyed the girl at play. But we knew that in all three cases the face was exactly the same.’

Kuleshov used the experiment to indicate the usefulness and effectiveness of film editing. The implication is that viewers brought their own emotional reactions to this sequence of images, and then moreover attributed those reactions to the actor, investing his impassive face with their own feelings.”–wiki

Reduced to its essence, what Kuleshov demonstrated is that context is everything.

Which leads me to Barack Obama. I’ve been hugely entertained by the tsunami of gush that’s greeted his election victory. The numbers of people trying to blow sunshine up my undies is both amusing and alarming. Amusing because fatuous, alarming because of the manifest ignorance of both history and politics.

Reading the starry-eyed drooling over Obama, one might be forgiven for thinking he had spent 40 days and nights in the desert, feeding on locusts and honey before returning with a God-given vision.

Recognizing this otherness his fellow Americans annointed him and unanimously elevated him to the White House.

The truth is rather more mundane. Obama won %52 of the popular vote, hardly a resounding mandate. More disturbing is the willingness on the part of Obama’s groupies to abandon their critical faculties. They project their hopes and dreams onto a politician. They’ve made their hopes and dreams the context. Big mistake. Obama is a politician. He will disappoint. He didn’t get to the White House by practicing yogic breathing and turning the other cheek.

Obama fought his way up the slippery slope of Chicago machine politics, developing very sharp elbows and a ruthless streak. Take the story of his first election, which some have called The Political Execution of Alice Palmer. Palmer was a friend and early mentor to Obama when he was working as a grassroots organizer after law school. She was a longtime and popular state senator on Chicago’s South Side.

Then in 1996, Palmer decided to make a run for Congress. According to the Chicago Tribune:

Obama was the chosen successor for her seat in the state Senate, says Alan Dobry, a longtime political activist who lived in Palmer’s district. Dobry says Palmer called Obama a “fine young man” when she talked about who would replace her.

But Palmer lost in the primary for that congressional seat and decided that she wanted her old Senate seat after all. Her protege Obama would have to step aside.

It was a test, a Darwinian dilemma. In order to fulfill his own ambitions, Obama would have to kill his friend’s political career.

Obama stood his ground and went one step further. Using an aggressive procedural move, he challenged the signatures on Palmer’s nominating petitions. And he even went beyond that: He challenged the petitions for all three of the opponents.

It’s not unusual for politicians to muscle rivals off the ballot, especially in Chicago, says longtime Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle.

“My view is that you’re not ready for prime time if you can’t get your petitions in order and file them according to the requirements of the law,” Preckwinkle says. “If you fail to do that, then it’s your problem.”

And there was a problem. It turned out all the opponents had faulty signatures.

Back in that ’96 race, Dobry was one of the people trying to verify signatures for Obama’s campaign — and they found that Palmer’s petitions were circulated by people named “Pookie.”

“We know what that means,” Dobry says. “It means somebody got a bunch of kids from the local high school to circulate the petition, and they put down the name as Pookie.”

The maneuver worked. Obama knocked all of his opponents off the ballot. He cleared the field and sailed on to an easy victory in the heavily Democratic district.

A tough, ruthless, ambitious politician, then. Willing to sacrifice a friend and mentor on the altar of his ambition. The acolytes, however, are viewing Obama through the rather saccharine lens of his autobiography, Dreams From My Father. Wrong context.

Obama needs to be considered in the context of US politics and viewed in that context, Obama is an impressive operator, cunning and pragmatic. However, the notion, much bruited about by the rose-tinted spectacles mob, that Obama is an agent of change, of idealism, that he is, in short, a new broom is unsustainable.

And so it’s proved. His appointment of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff tells you all you need to know about what Obama’s policy towards the Palestinians will be: more of the same.

Obama has committed a U. S. force of 60,000 to the black hole of futility that is Afghanistan and hired Bush’s defense secretary.

Obama, who promised to keep lobbyists at arm’s length, nominated a top lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon, William J. Lynn, to be his number two man at the Pentagon.

Obama has appointed the very ideologues and financial strategists who have destroyed the financial system to save it. He is busy throwing even more money at the banks to no-one’s benefit but the bankers.

Obama is refusing to sanction the release of documents relating to the grotesque detention in Guantanamo Bay of men who’d been convicted of no crime, citing national security.

He has refused to state his position on nuclear disarmament by all nations.

He has refused to commit his administration to destroying the US’s stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

By their fruits shall ye know them.

And you’d better believe the disappointments will keep on coming, surprising those who read politicians autobiographies but not those who read history. I wish it were not so but wishing away the truth is for infants not grown-ups.

Added Feb 20th:

With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government.

Members of Pakistani tribes offered funeral prayers on Feb. 15 for victims of an American missile attack in the North Waziristan region, near the Afghan border.

The missile strikes on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by drone aircraft. Under President Bush, the United States frequently attacked militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mr. Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a direct role in attacks on American troops.–New York Times, Feb.20, 2009

The Blessed Obama…killing brown people far away, not in defence of US troops but to support a repellent foreign regime. Change we can believe in…

Added Feb.22, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has told a federal judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of former President Bush’s legal team.–New York Times, Feb.22, 2009

…and so it goes. The same old same old.

Added March 4, 2009:

In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.

He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.

Team Obama sounds hollow, chanting that “the status quo is not acceptable,” even while conceding that the president is accepting the status quo by signing a budget festooned with pork.

It includes $38.4 million of earmarks sponsored or co-sponsored by President Obama’s labor secretary, Hilda Solis; $109 million Hillary Clinton signed on to; and $31.2 million in earmarks sought by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with colleagues.

(Even Barack Obama was listed as one of the co-sponsors of a $7.7 million pet project for Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Vocational Institutions until he got his name taken off last week.)

And then there are the 16 earmarks worth $8.5 million that Emanuel put into the bill when he was a congressman, including money for streets in Chicago suburbs and a Chicago planetarium.

Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, March 4, 2009

…even more change we can believe in from St. Barack.

  1. parallax permalink
    February 14, 2009 1:10 PM

    hey, great photoshopping – I like O’s strawberry blonde hair – actually it looks more like the pink rinse much favoured by ladies of the RSL bowling club.

  2. February 14, 2009 1:17 PM

    The Clinton mask worked fairly long, the Bush mask still works in certain sectors of the US, and the Obama mask is the cleverest yet; we can only wonder at the special features of the beast’s real face, but we know it’s smarter than a vast majority of the ‘Murricans, and an illusionist of the highest order (perhaps it takes genuine pleasure in crafting the show).

    Oh, and the thing eats megadeaths for breakfast, so I suppose it must be “evil”, by our standards. But what does it want? In the long run, I mean. What does it want? All we can do, apparently, is wait and see.

  3. mishari permalink*
    February 14, 2009 1:30 PM

    That’s a very good question. What in God’s name does the fucker want?

    I didn’t do it myself, para, just found it online. It’s easy enough, though.

    I’ve got a little app called FaceSwapper that I’ve been playing with, giving the Queen Hitler’s face and so on…(sorry, I don’t have a very sophisticated sense of humour).

  4. pinkroom permalink
    February 14, 2009 1:33 PM

    A provoking and pleasingly rational piece after all the endless haiographies. Spot on.

    BO does seem to have one of those faces/personas that people project their (often wildly contradictory) hopes/dreams upon. I think BO has used this mask extremely effectively and agree that (like Sting?) a harder bastard lies beneath. I tried to project some of my own wilder fantasies about the nature of the hidden Obama in another place but got badly shot down for that.

    He is like Ronald Reagan in that respect, and JFK; I am too young to remember him first hand but certainly grew up with him as a sainted figure. Also Diana and dare I suggest pinkerbell might be. I guess this was where “proper” saints often began… as a figure upon whom to deposit all your most heartfelt hopes and dreams.

    The scariest bit so far is the surge in Afghanistan which shows he is commited to sustaining the “Great Game” in the very place it has always crashed most spectacularly. For a well-read, intellligent fellow this seems utterly bone-headed.

  5. mishari permalink*
    February 14, 2009 1:46 PM

    Too many people who really ought to know bettter have been judging Obama by his words. Now, that is perfectly correct when you’re judging a writer or poet, but Obama is a politician. Words are just props, pace what Steven said about a stage–show: Obama sought and attained power, the politician’s heroin and he must be judged by what he does with it.

    So far, the signs aren’t encouraging. I think he’s just the latest Clinton. An eloquent and articulate man who uses those talents to mask his real agenda.

    I’d absolutely fucking love to be proven wrong. How I wish he really were a break with the past, a new broom…but I know in my bones he ain’t. People imagine that his being black has somehow enobled him.

    Of course, lots of people thought Marion Barry was new broom, a breath of fresh air when he was first elected mayor of D.C.

    In fact, what he was was a crooked coke-fiend and (to use the American vulgate) gash–hound.

    Obama may be better than Barry but so what? Puff Diddy or whatever the idiot calls himself these days, is better than Barry.

  6. parallax permalink
    February 14, 2009 2:38 PM

    mish, am I right in reading that your basic premise is that the machinery of politics is fundamentally corrupt and so any survivor of the system is ipso facto corrupt? And that US politics, from its recent legacy of disastrous policies, is as Steven Augustine would have it some sort of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ masonic / satanic cult?

    Do you think that there may be a glimmer of hope that some people enter public life for altruistic reasons and that they may prevail despite the odds?

    No, I haven’t read O’s book nor have I any inkling about how he got to where he is now – but I have met people over here (not there) who have chosen public service, not for profile or power (indeed they beaver away without courting publicity) who choose to work at policy and implementation because they want to make it work for the benefit of all.

    The cynical view that politics is all about the dark arts is as much one-eyed as the view that O is a knight setting out to slay the dragon.

  7. mishari permalink*
    February 14, 2009 2:57 PM

    Frankly, para, after following politics attentively all my life, I’ve reached the sad conclusion that although some people go into politics for the right reasons, the compromises and quid pro quos they have to engage in to get what they want fatally damage and ultimately corrupt them.

    Name me a politician who has allowed him or herself to be guided solely by what they knew or believed to be right and just, regardless of who it offended or how many votes it lost.

    As I said, by their fruits shall ye know them. Obama has already started bombing brown people far away.

    He raised over a $1,000,000,000 to fund his election campaign, much of it from the very industries and corporations he declared needed reform–banking, big pharma, arms etc.

    Here’s the deal. If I’m wrong and Obama, despite all the signs, turns out to be different, to stand on principle no matter how it affects his chances of re-election (and in 2 years, that’ll be his main concern: power is more addictive than smack), I will swim to Sydney from Portsmouth (Mowbray will wave me off) with the Complete Oxford English Dictionary (20 volumes) strapped to my back.

    If, however, I’m right and what we get for the next 4 years is more of the same, you’ll buy me a drink…deal?

  8. parallax permalink
    February 14, 2009 3:05 PM

    yep, done deal – let’s hope for the best.

    You’d better start stocking up on goose fat for the channel leg of your epic swim, and I’d better start collecting small change in a jar.

  9. mishari permalink*
    February 14, 2009 3:07 PM

    Get a large jar, you bastard. I like BIG drinks.

  10. parallax permalink
    February 14, 2009 3:13 PM

    uh, drinks plural now is it? you shifty deal-breaker – all those years of following politics attentively are beginning to pay off I see …

  11. mishari permalink*
    February 14, 2009 3:18 PM

    See? Even observers become utterly corrupted. QED.

  12. February 14, 2009 8:03 PM

    Well, we agree then Misha. Except that I see him as a tragic figure like Othello. His fatal flaw, the belief that he can get together a team of all the talents. The Guardian told me to blow that idea up my ass.

    Blow it up you ass Phil, they said. I was also reprimanded for bring a bit narky with Mr Tisdall.

    Didn’t know they cared.

    Point is they do.

    Psssst. Any more about Rushing Bridges?

  13. elcal permalink
    February 14, 2009 11:26 PM


    ‘Murrcan does not have an ‘i’ in it, though there is a delicate vocal thrust like an ‘i’ if you will.

    any politician who inspires messianic complexes in his constituents is of the highest suspicion. was Bush any different? at least the “court jester” role is back where it ought to be: vice president. I mean, come on: HW Bush, Quayle, Gore–Cheney just didn’t fit.

    re: the selfless politicrat, i think even the well-meaning policy wonks have agendas, especially in this country. if a pet policy works (and by that i mean: helps the people/constituents), then it’s also a case where the policy-maker has one-upped the competition. it builds the ego, they become the face or mind behind the good legislation. it’s a form of power and it’s the only way to stay in the job. politics is market of policies, and if your stock falls, you go. that’s the problem with US politics.

    i think an initial estimate of Obama’s agenda, based on something as simple as his inauguration speech, could be something most people on the Hill want: to make America great. Now, this may sound like some sort of survival plan to an American (of course, give us jobs, bail us out, restore our economy that was built on the sand of our unsustainable practices). but making America great is really just a pseudo-imperial impulse; it’s certainly not simply making America “work” or run decently. No American would ever vote for that. How boring.


  14. February 15, 2009 10:15 AM


    I can speak Americani but I always have trouble spelling it. But seriously. Live outside the country for a few years (without watching television) and *then* absorb a few hours of the most popular American diversions: the obviousness of it all is astounding. Reverse-engineer the propaganda/hype/self-delusional imagery to its psycho-financial source. How can any culture be both supposedly respectful of human needs and differences while being so obsessed with money, and the Numba One-ism which is the capitalist’s sporty euphemism for murderous Greed? It’s blackly super- funny: all that smiley-faced a-hug-will-cure-everything bullshit mixed in with the most pornographic media cruelty since Caligula ran his own network.

    I have plenty of old friends over there who are basically in the tragic position of being very decent people trapped on the world’s largest theocratic warship/asylum. Not that the UK isn’t doing its best to play mini-Me.

    Yeah, it’s funny to say, but I feel safer here amongst the charming ruins of the Third Reich. At least the Nazis *here* don’t try to give you a hug.

  15. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 10:50 AM

    Ah, in the shadow of the Third Reich, Herr Augustine. Are you looking for refuge, acknowledging refuge, or watching fire-storms from a bunker?

    A pugilist, such as yourself, should be in public office – fucking directing traffic – surely? Or are you – like me – just posting pictures of koalas?

  16. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 11:14 AM

    I dunno, para…after a certain point, one just gives up and assumes the default position of laughing because it beats crying. I used to be politically active but it soon dawned on me that the game was rigged to favour the ascent of the worst types.

    Thoughtful, decent, honest people do NOT get far in politics. If I understand you rightly, you’re a bit irritated at carping from the sidelines. But getting involved simply turns you into what you started out fighting against–a politician.

    I don’t pretend to know what the answer is but neither am I prepared to pretend that the various flavours of political structures we have offer any kind of solution.

    I’m kinda hoping for an invasion of advanced, paternalistic but decent aliens. Once we’ve gotten over the embarassment of taking them to our leaders, things can only get better…

  17. February 15, 2009 11:17 AM


    More of a shitstorm than anything else, I should think; it may smolder here and there but it never really bursts into obvious flame. Yeah: I’m sure it’s a shitstorm we’re talking about, which is probably why Smellivision never really caught on.

    Re: public office: the public is the whole fucking problem, man.

    Koalas seem nice enough, though.

  18. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 11:27 AM

    My last experience of Smell-O-Vision was back in the early 80’s in NYC. I went to a screening of John Waters’ Polyester (I think) where we were handed scratch n’ sniff cards.

    I don’t remember them smelling of much at all. Anyway, Waters’ best film was The Diane Linklater Story, his first (I think). Fucking hilarious, starred Divine as the eponymous lead.

  19. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 11:50 AM

    yeh, I sort of get it, but you all seem so tired … which means defeated, doesn’t it? But you’re not tired because you put so much energy and vitriol in your discontent – which is blogging. Like, there’s still an avenue for that passion … but it’s missing targets, turned inwards – aimed at each other. Shouldn’t we be marshalling this energy where it matters?

  20. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 11:58 AM

    But that’s the problem, para…direct the energy at what? At whom? The whole fucking system is rotten to the core.

    I have hopes that we are on the verge of the Perfect Storm–finance, resources, energy, food, etc–and that it may well be just the cataclysmic event that’s needed to wash away the whole putrid edifice.

    Short of that, why waste my breath on participating in a system and process that is the problem?

  21. February 15, 2009 12:01 PM

    The real genius of the Murrican System is the Verbal Virtual Reality paradigm they’ve been running since sometime after WW2: that whole “power of positive thinking” and “speak no evil” routine (the 21st century update being all this nonsense about “hope” , with its neatly future-deferring mechanism). As if the best way to bring about heaven on Earth didn’t simply involve everyone not just restricting themselves to parroting hyperbolic flattery-and-encouragement slogans but actually *behaving well*… unselfishly, rationally… without greed or violence.

    “Right” and “wrong” are usually quite obvious. It’s how to reconcile these concepts with what we *want* at any given moment that leads to philosophical backflips (and beautiful speeches from “great” leaders). And “we” were raised to believe, of course, that getting what “we” want is a *birthright*.

    Everyone with an IQ ten points higher than George W Bush knows that *everyone* can’t be rich and that the world’s resources are finite and securing more than a fair share of everything *necessitates* using lethal force, by proxy or directly. And that in order to keep the machine running (ie, protect The Public from facing its ugly, selfish reflection) , politicians soothe and euphemize with preposterous lies and sickeningly kitschy flattery (and, btw: Murrcan soldiers aren’t “heroes”; esp. not in an era without a draft; they willingly sign on as professional killers and I say *damn the mercenary fuckers to hell*), the media colluding with mind-twistingly powerful distractions.

    It’s not a conspiracy in the sense of a shadowy cabal pulling all the strings (not that there aren’t dozens of those about); it’s a conspiracy in the sense that The People and their awful “leaders” (scapegoat/enablers) are working together in deeply unspoken ways, driven by the same motivations that ruled the elysian killing fields of the earliest hominids. The only difference being that the early hominids really *were* fighting for their lives; any and every atrocity was forgivable in that light.

    What are “we” fighting for? Widescreen TVs.

    And who comes in for the stiffest derision in a Verbal Virtual Reality Empire? The truthtellers, obviously.

    I don’t have a solution because I haven’t a clue as to how to get 300 million Murrcans (or 7 billion Earthlings) to act right. That’s a lot of meat and a lot of meat has its own momentum to answer to.

    Of course I’m just “watching”… but at least my mate, my daughter and I aren’t adding to the ugliness. Which is much much more than most people can, in all honesty, claim.

  22. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 12:17 PM

    Exactly, Steven…I’m not willing to become any more complicit in this farce than I already, of a neccesity, am.

    As long as the masses allow politicians to escape the consequences of their cruelty, stupidity and dishonesty with nothing more than a blip in the polls;

    as long as the masses allow governments to tempt them or suborn them into uniforms and send them off to kill or be killed for some politicians vanity or an oil company’s profits;

    as long as the crooks who defraud millions and bankrupt institutions get saved by the taxpayer instead of being executed (the Chinese have got one thing right);

    as long as people insist on driving their fucking cars the half mile to the supermarket and back to get a pint of milk….

    I’m going to sit it all out and tend my own garden. I can’t see any other rational option.

  23. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 12:20 PM

    well, I’m politically active as you once were mish, and I think I can see change – yeah I know from your perspective that you think the new-they will fuck up or be fucked up by the wurltizer adrenalin rush of the fairground power ride – but if I thought that all I was shouting/marching for wouldn’t or couldn’t make a difference then … what? I should just stay home and rant on cif and its equivalents?

  24. February 15, 2009 12:25 PM

    “I’m going to sit it all out and tend my own garden. I can’t see any other rational option.”

    Mish, what people ignore is that the *hard* (and heroic) work is not to be done on (or “within”) The System, it’s to be done on (within) ourselves. The world is shitty because people are shitty. Everyone stop being shitty.


  25. February 15, 2009 12:28 PM

    “…well, I’m politically active as you once were mish, and I think I can see change …”

    Remember the liberal euphoria of…ahem… BILL CLINTON’s election? Remember all that “change”? All that “hope”?

    When do we start learning from this eternal mistake?

  26. February 15, 2009 12:33 PM

    “but if I thought that all I was shouting/marching for wouldn’t or couldn’t make a difference then … what? but if I thought that all I was shouting/marching for wouldn’t or couldn’t make a difference then … what? I should just stay home and rant on cif and its equivalents?”

    Don’t buy gasoline. That’s a start. That would send a *massive message* and it really would change the world if only, say, ten million Americans/Brits stopped driving. But it’s very, very hard not to buy gasoline… and very easy to march, isn’t it?

  27. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 12:35 PM

    steven – I’m gobsmacked by your socialist: as-long-as-you-look-after-me spirit. Yo, tell your nurse to keep the Es in your ‘must-take-today’ medicine tray and then no one can be shitty because there’d be none of your shittiness to respond to.

  28. February 15, 2009 12:40 PM


    Don’t resort to the arrow-slinging (and non sequiturs), man. Address my unassailable point.

    Hard to stop buying gasoline/easy to march.

    Playing at “activism” is a lot more fun, too, isn’t it?

  29. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 12:43 PM

    Steven’s got a point, para. Although I can understand your point, too, and I daresay that honourable people can still do some good at the local level, the old ‘act locally, think globally’ idea…but still, the fundamental problem is people, all of us.

    Until there’s a basic change in our essential selfishness, our utter disregard for the consequences of our actions, our unwillingness to reject the flat-out fucking insanity of ever-increasing consumption…then the snowball that’s already rolling downhill and increasing in size and momentum is going to hit Fantasyville at the bottom and wipe it off the fucking map. Be somewhere else…except there is nowhere else. We all live in Fantasyville, whether we like it or not.

  30. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 12:48 PM

    steven – stop trying to be hard – you’re becoming a bit of a berlin larf – so how do you power yer converted-must-have-in-this -market-minimalist-bunker? Is it you or your child-bride out the back pedalling away on the static bicycle generating power – or does the whole city plug into your hot air wind generator? just keen to know – no pressure

  31. February 15, 2009 12:51 PM


    I’m not wasting intelligent comments on this level of crap, man. Lift it a bit or I’ll just talk around you.

  32. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 12:52 PM

    He’s got a machine that extracts sunbeams from bratwurst…

  33. February 15, 2009 12:55 PM

    Don’t have one of those brat converters yet but my solar powered piss-off-the-unwitting-collaborators-device is still working pretty well, I see.

  34. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 1:01 PM

    man – I’m so sorry you’re retiring to elevate yourself

    bratwurst, mish – now there’s a nasty concoction of offal

  35. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 1:02 PM

    I have a whole team of Seventh Day Adventists on treadmills in my cellar.

    Every time one of the pallid buggers turns up at my front door, asking me if I can spare some time to talk about the Bible, I say ‘you betcha, come on in…’, then I drug them and put them to work.

    When one of them croaks, I use him to fertilize my tomatoes and turn the pelt into useful household items like carpet slippers and book-bindings…

  36. February 15, 2009 1:04 PM


    “man – I’m so sorry you’re retiring to elevate yourself”

    Erm…gibberish. Right? Or is there a translation available?

  37. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 1:11 PM

    steven – translation? maybe, but I’ll have to wait for mish to swim half way ’round the world with the OED strapped to his back and then I’ll have to send him back to pick up Fowlers – if you can wait until then – otherwise you might have to decipher it for yourself, something to contemplate on the static bike perhaps?

  38. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 1:18 PM

    I’ll have a go…retiring from the fray so as to lift oneself above it?

    Personally, I’m all for the bird’s-eye view as long as it’s not informed by a bird’s intellect.

    Which is pretty much were we are today…24-hour news, google earth, GPS, blahblahblah…bird’s-eye views with a bunch of bird-brains trying to tell us what it all means. Never mind. The worm’s-eye view comes soon enough…

  39. February 15, 2009 1:24 PM


    I haven’t “retired” from anything but self-delusion. What’s it like in that comfy fog? Playstation keeping you happy?

    “- so how do you power yer converted-must-have-in-this -market-minimalist-bunker? Is it you or your child-bride out the back pedalling away on the static bicycle generating power – or does the whole city plug into your hot air wind generator?”

    I didn’t say anything about trying to run around the city destroying power plants. I said: what about not buying gasoline?

    Again: imagine how effective that would be in bringing about change. Ten million Americans/Brits/Paras swearing off gasoline. Again: the world would be changed in a frigging *day*.

    But not buying gasoline would be too much of an inconvenience. So I guess you’ll have to march instead. The police rarely even bother swinging clubs at you for that innocuous shit anymore, and you get to see old friends and feel good about yourself plus you get to turn on the panto sanctimony from time to time… I can see the lure. It’s not like you’re riding in an integrated schoolbus through Montgomery, Alabama in 1964… *that* took balls… you’re not crazy, after all.

    Organizing your actual life around your stated principles is just too hard to do. Yes, and mock those who *have* (call ’em Socialists), while pretending to be a part of a force for change! Perfect. They’ve got *you* so well trained I’d have to call you *housebroken*. Little bell around your neck, too.

    Tinkle tinkle!

  40. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 1:42 PM

    steven – I’ve no idea what what makes you so … um … what is it? disenchanted? so, you don’t use gasoline? is that right? that’s what you’re telling me? and you wouldn’t be seen in any mass demonstration … unless you could be different, important, brave, and eventually lauded – so you think you are, or would like to be Rosa Parks? but not part of an anonymous mass that demonstrates, even though you’d support what they were demonstrating against? So, what you’re saying is it’s not important unless you’re seen to be important. Well, I’d sort have established that neediness of yours already through your *whoa* screen presence.

  41. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 1:47 PM

    para, doesn’t disenchanted mean that one is no longer under some spell? That, in fact, one can now see that the prince is a frog, that the carriage is a pumpkin and the palace is a hovel?

  42. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 2:01 PM

    fucked if I know mish – I’m waiting for the OED consignment to arrive

  43. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 2:07 PM

    …I’ll get my swim-trunks on.

  44. February 15, 2009 2:20 PM


    “…and you wouldn’t be seen in any mass demonstration … unless you could be different, important, brave, and eventually lauded – so you think you are, or would like to be Rosa Parks? but not part of an anonymous mass that demonstrates, even though you’d support what they were demonstrating against? So, what you’re saying is it’s not important unless you’re seen to be important.”

    Ha ha! While I certainly didn’t write that, or anything like that, or anything that could possibly have been construed (by the literate or sane) to imply it, I can empathize with your urge to change *the subject/my words* since you haven’t produced a single rational response to any of my points, man. Valiant effort, man. Well, not really, but I’d hate to have anyone think I’m not *nice*.

    Listen (as Obama would put it): Ask yourself why you came a-running (gesticulatin and spittin) as if it were all about *you*, when all I did in entering this thread was to mercilessly critique the American Empire. Own some stock in Haliburton, do you?

    You remind me of the fanboys who take it personally when someone points out that The Dark Knight isn’t exactly The Rules of the Game. Like, dewd… chill pill. K?

    Do you even know who your masters are? Because you’re certainly showing them a touching amount of loyalty. Or maybe you just needed to discharge a little bit of that free-floating animus that so often builds up in the generally confused? I guess I’ll never know. Because I don’t give a shit… ?


  45. parallax permalink
    February 15, 2009 2:40 PM

    yep, steven, well spotted it’s not all about you

  46. February 15, 2009 2:44 PM

    Ignoring the handbags and getting back to the discussion I can’t see how Obama will end up doing anything but failing. He was hoisted on to the highest pedestal I’ve seen anyone be placed upon – except maybe Nelson and David Lame – as first black president, higher than JFK etc. Dubya as the idiot son of an average president elected with the strong wiff of suspect counting had rather a low bar of expectation to meet, Obama can’t possibly meet the impossible expectations of him. Ever played that game with war movies where you guess who’ll not be coming home based on who has the most to lose? – just bought a farm to retire to, just had a baby, going to get married etc. – you’d pick Obama straight away for the first unfortunate casualty wouldn’t you? – first black president … god, I’m not making a very good point I’m sure I’m so hungover I can’t see. Is my existence still in question? if I were imaginery I’d imagine away this headache -I shall give it a go…

  47. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 2:55 PM

    True, Cerise…even if he were inclined to (something I’m not persuaded of) there’s no way in hell he could meet the expectations of all those who’ve pinned their hopes on him.

    I’m as happy as the next literate person to see a US President who actually speaks English and I’m happy to see that the US has matured enough to elect a black man to the office, but will it actually lead to significant and desperately needed change? I don’t think so though I’d be delighted to be proven wrong…I’m not a cynic but I am a sceptic…life’ll do that to you.

  48. February 15, 2009 11:15 PM

    Perhaps this is a good spot to inject a link to a short film that’s bound to cheer everyone up?

    (let the buffer run ahead for a few minutes before playing, for optimum results)

  49. mishari permalink*
    February 15, 2009 11:54 PM

    Is that your kid in the birth scenes, Steven?

  50. February 16, 2009 12:09 AM

    Ha ha! Good godz, no. She came out the prettier exit…

  51. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2009 12:17 AM

    Sorry. It was a bit hard to see exactly what I was looking at, what with the size of the screen and not having my glasses on…I’ll watch it again.

    Still, the combination of art, music, smut and scaffolding is always a winner in my experience…

  52. February 16, 2009 12:37 AM

    I was *hoping* to entertain you…

  53. February 16, 2009 9:47 AM

    Looking at that last line now, it’s obvious that I should start using emoticons… the smiley-face would’ve been tacky, but effective

  54. February 16, 2009 9:49 AM

    Speaking of which:

    “I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile-some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question.”-VN

    April 19, 1969-Vladimir Nabokov invents the Smiley Emoticon

  55. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2009 9:59 AM

    He was ahead of the curve, alright. I refuse to enable those smiley emoticons or, indeed, any emoticons because I have a blind, irrational, instinctive hatred of the fucking things.

    I haven’t bothered to analyse my feeling so I’m not even quite sure why. I suspect it’s to do with their awful tweeness, the fact that they allow people to dispense with the need to articulate, to be subtle–and on pure aesthetic grounds. Those hideous little yellow infantile things disfiguring text. Can’t have it.

    People will just have to be content with the old :>) ,and ;0, :), which, being minimalist and B&W are tolerable, just…

  56. February 16, 2009 10:44 AM

    “I suspect it’s to do with their awful tweeness…”

    The banality of twee-vil. It’s a snob thing, no doubt about it. I can’t even bring myself to use those *typographic* emoto-hieroglyphics… which renders online irony potentially dangerous, of course, but what the hell.

  57. mishari permalink*
    February 16, 2009 10:53 AM

    Yeah, exactly. I refuse to use them myself. As you say, it can lead to misunderstandings, but fuck it…if books never felt the need for them why should online text?

    Oh, I expect some people will argue that a book is different, that online text is part of a conversation and that those horrible little emoticons (now, there’s a word that should have been strangled at birth) are the equivalent of a smile or a grin in a face-to-face conversation.

    Bollocks. They’re satanically stupid and lumpen, like being beaten over the head with a pig’s-bladder.

    They’re the equivalent of canned laughter. To hell with them…

  58. parallax permalink
    February 17, 2009 2:34 AM


  59. mishari permalink*
    February 17, 2009 1:01 PM

    …you wag, you.

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