Saturday, January 8, 2011

Step One:

Dehumanize your opponents, but deny you are doing so. Make it look as if you're merely "reflecting" "grass roots" sentiments, rather than sowing them.

Step Two: Accuse your opponents of doing what you're doing (even though they're not) because a) it provides an excuse for what you're doing- you DO have to defend yourself, right?- and b) if they're doing it too, it must be okay. WaPo:
When asked about the Palin target map, Beck said: "I don't know. It's really easy in the context of what happened this morning to look back and say, 'I don't know if this was such a bright idea.' At the same time, there are other politicians from the other side of the political spectrum who have said similar military-style sayings. Do I really believe they are intending harm on people? No."
Step Three: Portray your opponents as existential threat to yourself and people like you. "They will come for us and put us into concentration camps." (Image from Balloon Juice) Step Four: Use continuous and escalating language calling for violence. Symbols and metaphors of guns, death, and targets associated with your opponents will plant and nourish the seeds you want growing. (Images from FDL)

Step Five: When a deranged loon inevitably takes your rhetoric literally, and kills and/or wounds your opponent(s), and possibly other bystanders, express shock at events no one could have foreseen, and outrage that some might want to hold you accountable for your actions and rhetoric.

Step Six: Lather, rinse, repeat.

Step Seven: Profit. Krugman:
You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.
But of course they won't, nor will commercial media, particularly TeeVee news. Because in the end, it's all about Step Seven. Cosmic Variance:
I met Gabby at a reception a year ago. She seemed, on our very brief acquaintance, to be a really wonderful person — energetic, smart, full of optimism about doing good things as a member of Congress. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is an astronaut. If I may step away from the ideal of journalistic objectivity for a moment, this is a stupid fucking tragedy.
Yeah, what Sean said. Unfortunately, I have spent too much of today seething with anger at the stupidity of where we have willfully gone in this country, for the sake of financial and political profit, to fully allow myself to empathize with the loved ones of those who have been killed and wounded in this morning's shooting spree. Giffords is, as of the latest reports, expected to survive, though I've heard nothing about what permanent losses of ability she may suffer. I doubt there is any basis for guessing about that yet. But at least six others are dead, including a Federal Judge and a nine-year-old girl. Four others (again, as of the most recent reports I've read) are still in critical condition, and the number wounded seems to be unsettled- the numbers I've seen range from 12 to 18.

My first facebook status this morning ended with "Thanks, Palin and Tea party: you make us proud." To which a high school classmate responded, " It is a very tragic event. Even more tragic is to blame Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. I do not believe for one second that they endorse democrats being murdered. How stupid to think so. I do not like democratic ideas but I do not want one single democrat to ever be murdered!!!!" I'm certain that very few truly want their opponents literally murdered, though metaphorically, I'm not so confident. But when your rhetoric says "Second amendment solutions" it shouldn't come as a surprise when one or more of your followers takes it literally.

And in the end, I think what infuriates me most is that I suspect I know how this will all play out. Media will attempt to be "Fair" and "Balanced," that is, Palin et al will have the opportunity to defend themselves, and play the innocent victims. Media will point out that tempers are high, as if that excuses everything. The American Public will return to their fevre dream and collective amnesia. This event, and the lessons that could be taken from it, will be forgotten. The dead and wounded, and their families, will be shuffled into the waste heap of history. What angers me is the complacency, the banality, and above all, the predictability of this.

How many remember George Tiller? How long ago was it that he was killed?

My condolences and most hopeful wishes for the friends, families and colleagues of today's victims, and to the wounded. I hope our country has enough vestige of decency to give you the support, respect, and above all, the recollection that is your due.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Warhol, Updated

In the future, all Republicans will have fifteen minutes of fame, which they will use to run for president. (Paraphrased from Upper Left, via Balloon Juice.)
David Byrne, "In the Future," from Music For The Knee Plays. Lyrics:

In the future everyone will have the same haircut and the same clothes.
In the future everyone will be very fat from the starchy diet..
In the future everyone will be very thin from not having enough to eat..
In the future it will be next to impossible to tell girls from boys, even in bed.
In the future men will be "super-masculine" and women will be "ultra-feminine."
In the future half of us will be "mentally ill."
In the future there will be no religion or spiritualism of any sort.
In the future the "psychic arts" will be put to practical use.
In the future we will not think that "nature" is beautiful.
In the future the weather will always be the same.
In the future no one will fight with anyone else.
In the future there will be an atomic war.
In the future water will be expensive.
In the future all material items will be free.
In the future everyone's house will be like a little fortress.
In the future everyone's house will be a total entertainment center.
In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very happy.
In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very filthy.
In the future everyone but the wealthy will be very healthy.
In the future TV will be so good that the printed word will function as an art form only.
In the future people with boring jobs will take pills to relieve the boredom.
In the future no one will live in cities
In the future there will be mini-wars going on everywhere.
In the future everyone will think about love all the time.
In the future political and other decisions will be based completely on opinion polls.
In the future there will be machines which will produce a religious experience in the user.
In the future there will be groups of wild people, living in the wilderness.
In the future there will be only paper money, which will be personalized.
In the future there will be a classless society.
In the future everyone will only get to go home once a year.
In the future everyone will stay home all the time.
In the future we will not have time for leisure activities.
In the future we will only "work" one day a week.
In the future our bodies will be shriveled up but our brains will be bigger.
In the future there will be starving people everywhere.
In the future people will live in space.
In the future no one will be able to afford TV.
In the future the helpless will be killed.
In the future everyone will have their own style of way-out clothes.
In the future we will make love to anything anytime anywhere.
In the future there will be so much going on that no one will be able to keep track of it

Can A 'Possum Be Cute and Charming?

Before seeing this one, I almost certainly would have said "no." I have dealt with the critters up close and personal several times. Fascinating, yes. Worthy of respect, absolutely. Even scary in close quarters. Perhaps the issue here is that none of the pictures show Heidi baring her teeth: the armaments found in possums' mouths are fearsome. But I have to say, this one just makes me want to cuddle her. The Germans agree, and the article in Der Spiegel says,
A new addition to the Leipzig Zoo has yet to be seen by the public, but that hasn't stopped her from becoming a star. Heidi, a young cross-eyed opossum, is shaping up to be the most popular furry critter in Germany since Knut the celebrity polar bear.
Awww, what a sweetheart.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thorsday: Sleipnir

Sleipnir was Odin's eight-legged horse; above, "Odin riding Sleipnir," from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript, currently in the possession of The Danish Royal Library. Image from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Another Riveting Paleontology Documentary

(Savage Chickens) Dinosaurs are cool, don't get me wrong. And I almost never watch television, so honestly, I don't know if this has even been done (Though I do know BBC did First Life, I don't know if it has aired in the US... well, okay, according to Wikipedia, it has.) But the fact that some extinct animal, or plant, for that matter, isn't a dinosaur, isn't gigantic, and isn't (gasp!) even a vertebrate doesn't mean it's dull. So while I enjoy the above comic, I sort of resent the attitude that spawned it. (This shouldn't be taken as a criticism of Doug Savage, the artist, but rather of broad attitudes in our society.)

This Made Me Laugh

Titanic Reenactment Club Loses Another 1,300 Members

Doyle Redland reports here, but the headline alone fetched a good guffaw from me.

Wednesday Wednesday

By Horror Move at Deviant Art

Punny Nose

Every now and then, my nose taps into quantities of... fluid... that are unimaginably enormous. I swear, I don't consume enough liquids and solids to account for the quantities of... stuff... that pour from my face. Seriously, it feels like a contradiction of the conservation of mass. I don't feel sick; I suspect it's just allergies. Still, when the constant wiping has worn the skin to the point it's starting to feel scabby, I'm just miserable. This has been going on since New Year's eve, and it is, at this point, officially old. I still try to find some humor in it; that's just my way of dealing with things that annoy me. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite comments about this frakking Oceanus Nasalus:
  • Old Faceful is in full eruptive mode;
  • It's the Energizer Runny: it just keeps going, and going, and going;
  • It may look like water, but it'snot.
It's been clear and cold since last Wedneday, but today we're having a light drizzle. I'm hoping that whatever is in the air gets washed out. My face hurts.

Titillating Trivia

The likeness of which Playboy playmate has been to the Lunar surface? Answer here, and if it's your kind of thing, it's up for auction, along with quite a bit of other spacey memorabilia.
Items can currently be previewed on the Company's main site. Bidding runs from January 13-20.
Followup: According to IO9, it didn't actually go to the lunar surface; it was stashed in the command module.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Tits

White-shouldered Black Tit (Parus guineensis), from The Internet Bird Collection.

Twins Born in Different Years

What with dead birds, dead fish, and more dead birds, 2011 doesn't appear to be off to an auspicious start. But I found this amusing: a pair of twins were delivered near Chicago by Caesarian section, one in the last minute of 2010, the other in the first minute of 2011.
The twins' father, Brandon Lewis, said one of the doctors was counting the minutes down before the births, adding that it was "definitely the best" new year's countdown he had ever experienced.