SO, SO SILVER AGE, a Literary Blog Worth Reading

"So, So Silver Age" is consistently one of the best written literary blogs; their insights have much to say about the rest of the world and not just to the sealed atmosphere of Otaku Land. Pay them a visit HERE.
This comment from me may be of wider interest to my fellow soldiers in the Culture Wars:
"As a lifelong Marvel guy I here publicly confess that DC has become the better company. Over the past couple of years, the tone of Marvel's flagship titles have become more and more vile, from the swiftboating of Gwen Stacy to the obscenity of "Marvel Zombies". The creators at Marvel seem intent on inflicting their own neuroses on the rest of us, no matter what it does to their bottom line-- "Emma Frost" in paperback is a HUGE hit with the high school girls, but I couldn't give the original away because of the cheesecake covers that had no relevence to the material inside."


Terry Moore started publishing “Strangers in Paradise” in 1993. The initial premise– cute short angry lesbian loves cute zaftig doofus— sounded like a rip-off of Hopey and the much loved Maggie in “Love and Rockets”. The series won prize after prize, I admired the cover art in passing, but didn’t bother to buy a copy until 2006, when the cover for issue 76 showed some kind of professional Houston asshole (Freddie) hugging a desperate woman (Katchoo) with a note that read “please shoot me”. Since that pretty much sums up the State of the Union, I thought what the hell and bought a copy.
The next day I started obsessively visiting the comic shop to find out what happens next. There are 17 paperback “Strangers” collections so far, making me personally responsible for employee raises and putting the shop owner’s daughters through college. Sure it’s a soap opera (Powell’s Books calls it "Bridget Jones's Diary" meets "La Femme Nikita") and not a cure for cancer, but the series is weirdly addictive.
Katchoo (Katina Choovanski) is a talented artist and corporate spy with a tortured childhood and a terrible temper. Moore’s fans love her, but I’ve had my share of borderline personalities in my life and find Katchoo’s behavior abusive rather than attractive. The world is full of Americans who fancy themselves as rebels, but never actually rebel against anything more dangerous than social mores (Henry Rollins has made a career of this). Katina is a whirlpool of anger and yearning, and as she takes on responsibility for her own little family of gallery workers and models she becomes more appealing.

David is a crime lord’s son and former yakuza whose relationship with his half sister Darcy might have been a little too close for Mrs. Grundy’s comfort. After the murder of an innocent, David drifts into the arts-- the community most accepting of "difference"-- and becomes a Christian pilgrim in the truest sense of the word, a saint not a prig, trying to forgive himself and others. He falls desperately in love with Katchoo: borderline personality, alcoholic, lesbian, another ruined soul like himself. I could have told him this is like buying your life a ticket on a roller coaster lined with razor blades while being sprayed with rubbing alcohol.
Francine is closest to “normal” of any of these characters, but as she is sucked into her boyfriends’ and Katchoo’s forty different kinds of crazy, Francine’s passivity becomes as emotionally destructive as the abuse suffered by the other characters. Francine is also bite-my-knuckles Sexy as Hell, and Moore deserves a special Eisner award for designing characters with more than one body type, each of them erotic in their own way. When will mainstream comics learn this lesson about the human body from Moore and Hernandez? The steroid abusers at DC and Marvel are costing sales, not helping them.
The “Strangers” character who goes through the most development— and surprised me by becoming my favorite character—is Casey, who starts as a stock character piece of fluff, a butt for jokes, and grows into the most sincere, loving person in the series. That Casey can love without being damaged by love makes her my g-ddamn role model.
Don’t forget the laughing psychopath Darcy and her stable of sex spies (just how well do you know your senator’s trophy wife?); Mary-Beth, known as “Tambi”, female weight lifter and assassin for hire; Mike, the cynical but bemused good cop in a bad town; Freddie Femur, the most appalling comic foil since Howard Hunter was chased by a mechanical alligator in “Hill Street Blues”; and Francine’s mom, a life-is-stranger-than-fiction avatar of Bettie Page. The minor characters, even the one-panel walk-ons, are wonderfully observed. My personal so-close-and-yet-so-far fantasies involve FBI agent and artists’ model Sara Bryant, and damn him, I think Moore knew it when he designed her.
“Strangers in Paradise” is available in either a three-volume pocket book edition, or for art junkies like me, in 17 large format trade paperback collections. Moore is winding down the series, with only 8 new issues to go. Oh, and someone's blowing up ambulances by planting bombs in the body cavities of heart attack victims...

See Also: GRAPPHIC LOVE: Comic Reviews Prologue


I collected comics as a child, assembling complete or near complete runs of “Spider-Man”, “X-Men”, “Fantastic Four” and other Marvel titles. It was the 1960s, and you could find missing issues at second hand shops three-for-a-quarter instead of hundreds of dollars. When I graduated from high school, I put away childish things, or so I thought, and sold the entire collection-- more than 500 comics-- for 350 dollars (weep for me).

In the 1980s, I was teaching myself crosshatching and pen and ink work and went to a comics shop to study Jim Steranko’s work on “Nick Fury” and Michael Kaluta’s work on “The Shadow”. While chatting with the owner about Why I No Longer Read Comics, he introduced me to Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s “Love and Rockets”. I fell in love with ink and paper again, and was there for Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.

These days I buy mainstream comics for my classroom-- the students most likely to borrow a comic are invariably the most literate, most likely to read for pleasure. Sometimes I convert non-believers with books like “Bone”, “Asterix”, or “Persepolis”. I buy alternative, “adult” titles for myself, and the pleasures of comic reading-- art and text combined-- make a delicious leaven between more traditional texts. (This is reportedly the pattern for readers in Japan, where adult and all-age comics sell millions every week.)

This is a blog about enthusiasms, political, literary and artistic, and I’m happy to share my current obsession over titles like “TopTen”, “Promethea”, “Y, the Last Man”, “Fables”, “Strangers in Paradise”, and others.

COMMONPLACE BOOK, Current Extracts and Quotations of Interest

"I have no problem with the demonstration, but this is a business. Couldn't they have protested in the morning before work? Couldn't they have protested in their hearts?"
CHARLEY BOHLEY, a restaurant owner who fired 10 workers after they attended an immigration rally, quoted in the NYT April 15, 2006

Gwenda Bond, “Fantasy Goes Literary”, article at
"Great writers have been incorporating fantasy, science fiction and horror in their fiction for a very long time," says Tina Pohlman, editorial director of Harcourt's Harvest imprint. But she concedes, "I realize that the contemporary literary world tends to equate literary fiction with narrative realism, so maybe there is something in the air."
.... "It's more of an aberration," says Brockmeier, "that those elements were stripped out of literary fiction in the first place. No one is rejecting realism, but there is a greater openness to accepting fantastic fiction as a form of literature."
....Kastenmeier, however, does view these latest developments as a sea change. "What is unique to our times is the fluidity of the borders between genres," he says. "There's always been fantasy in literature, and children's literature was accepted as literature, but now we're seeing people incorporate fantasy aspects into mainstream literature without being marginalized."

Jane Smiley, “Notes for Converts” in The Huffington Post:
“Bush is a man who has never been anywhere and never done anything, and yet he has been flattered and cajoled into being president of the United States through his connections, all of whom thought they could use him for their own purposes. He has a surface charm that appeals to a certain type of American man, and he has used that charm to claim all sorts of perks, and then to fail at everything he has ever done. He did not complete his flight training, he failed at oil investing, he was a front man and a glad-hander as a baseball owner. As the Governor of Texas, he originated one educational program that turned out to be a debacle; as the President of the US, his policies have constituted one screw-up after another. You have stuck with him through all of this, made excuses for him, bailed him out. From his point of view, he is perfectly entitled by his own experience to a sense of entitlement.”


“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” -- Gustav Mahler

“I’ve long resisted the idea that the modern limitated-liability corporation, considered as an “individual” (as it is, under American law) is in fact—no matter how good and kind the people inside it—a sociopath. But the older I get and the more I see, the more I suspect that’s essentially the case.” – Patrick Hayden
“An Easter Turducken consists of one Cadbury Cream Egg, surrounded by marshmallow Peep, crammed deep inside the body of a hollow chocolate bunny. "It is my policy to avoid ingesting foods that contain the letter sequence 'turd,'" says one commenter...” – Xeni Jardin, at BoingBoing

“... The cartoon generated so many positive responses that [Stephanie] McMillan decided to auction it off on eBay and donate the proceeds to help keep abortion safe and legal in South Dakota. The bidding started at 99 cents, but by the time the auction closed on April 5, it had jumped to $2,201. McMillan is splitting the proceeds evenly between Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Oglala Sioux President Cecilia Fire Thunder recently confirmed plans to build a women’s reproductive health clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where the South Dakota state government has no jurisdiction.

[Stephanie McMillan says] “.... Once the thought occurred to me, and I found his numbers on the Web site of the South Dakota legislature, there wasn’t any question-- I had to do it....His recent comments about rape are so offensive that many people are appalled that someone like him is attempting to control women’s lives. After his creepy detailed description of rape, I suspect that his sensibilities are not very delicate-- he can probably handle rough language. His righteous indignation sounds like a put-on. What’s really obscene is his effort to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, even if they’re victims of rape or incest, even at the risk of their health, regardless of their desires or circumstances.... The funniest [question] that someone told me she asked was: Tampons or pads?”


“To be a member of the ‘Comics As Literature’ canon, a work has to fit two of three descriptions, other than being a work of sequential art:
1. boring and/or incomprehensible
2. autobiographical, semi-autobiographical, or featuring a character with the same name as the author
3. about genocide or mass murder”
-- Franny Howe at “So, So Silver Age”
“In 1996 and 1997, Abramoff billed the Marianas for 187 contacts with DeLay's office, including 16 meetings with DeLay. In December 1997, DeLay, his wife and their daughter went on an Abramoff-arranged jaunt to the Marianas. DeLay brunched with the Marianas' largest private employer, textile magnate Willie Tan. Tan had to settle a US Labor Department lawsuit alleging workplace violations. According to the book "The Hammer" by Lou Dubose and Jan Reid, among the violations common on the islands is forbidding women to work when they are pregnant, thus leading to a high abortion rate.
“Evidently, DeLay didn't have time to look into such allegations, since he was busy playing golf and attending a dinner in his honor, sponsored by Tan's holding company. According to The Washington Post, it was at this dinner that DeLay called Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends." He also reminded those present of his promise that no minimum wage or immigration legislation affecting the Marianas would be passed.
"’Stand firm,’ he added. ‘Resist evil. Remember that all truth and blessings emanate from our Creator.’ He then went with Tan to see a cockfight.” -- Molly Ivins

".... our study found that more young people reported self-harm before, rather than after, becoming a goth. This suggests that young people with a tendency to self-harm are attracted to the goth subculture," says Robert Young, who led the study.
"Rather than posing a risk, it's also possible that by belonging to the goth subculture, young people are gaining valuable social and emotional support from their peers." But he cautions: "However, the study was based on small numbers and replication is needed to confirm our results." Only 25 participants felt strongly associated with goth culture. – Gaia Vince, New Scientist

Theoretically we have lots of technology to teach people [fill in the blank, prioritize as you like] whatever. But more often every day I get the terrifying impression that it's just not sticking. And I live in the Northeast surrounded by colleges and college towns. I know it's Allentown and not Princeton, but still. Then I start projecting outward. Planet population of what, 7 billion? What percentage of that number is below the age of 30? Below 20? Below 10? Forget Atlas Shrugged fantasies and religious apocalypse scenarios. We're not birds or fish who get most of what we need to survive and thrive hardwired into us. Our quality of life is predicated on a certain percentage of the population being around and able to pass knowledge on to the next generation in sufficient quantity to sustain and expand and enrich that culture. ... I really hope I'm wrong and I'm just beginning to lapse into "hey you kids, get off my lawn!" mode. That would be ok. Not fun, but tolerable. But if we're literally going to drown in our own uneducated, well then Dan doesn't have to be right about much before things are going to start sucking pretty hard and most of the time.

- Barney Dannelke
“The Republicans will probably win again. Good luck to them. Who wants Democrats to get in, just to run a better police state, the way Blair and New Labour have in Britain, where, last time I looked, the government was planning togas every badger from Lands End to Cape Wrath?
“Who wants Democrats to get to run a better Empire? In the Bush years Latin America is seeing a new dawn, with Hugo Chavez publicly deriding our Commander in Chief as a drunkard and sending cheap heating oil to the poor in the Northeast. In the Bush years two professors, from Harvard and the University of Chicago, have published an eighty-three-page paper outlining exactly why slavish deference to the Israel lobby is hurting America. I don’t think that would have happened in Clinton’s time. At some level, there’s a lot to be said for having morons in charge—at least until the sort of people I was talking to last Saturday can organize a party to take over, and start the long process of returning the country to sanity. Feingold should make a break for it now, split like LaFollette and really stir things up. God knows, we need it.

-- Alexander Cockburn in The Nation

See Also: Why am I being played by a 16-year-old lipgloss model?,
"He was like a murderer annoyed at being called a shoplifter",
"I've had far more sex than I've had fights on water towers against guys with super powers"


(773) 348-2695
Yrs. Truly (Man About Town, Student of Mystery, White Bluesman, Editor of Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica, and Love Child of Beatrix Potter and Edgar Allen Poe) will be reading:
* A new crime/horror story, "Binky Wasn't Ever Going to Get Up"
* A non- fiction excerpt illustrated with pretty pictures, "Tarot Without Superstition"
* And a short fantasy: "Ogopogo, or the Sea-Serpent Redemption"
Also appearing will be JJ PIONKE with
"Gender Bending Gaijin Dreams with Poetry-- A fiction-writing academic, JJ brings Twilight Tales a mix of everything Monday night."


* built in 1882 when Lincoln Park and DePaul were nothing but farmland
* haunted by a score of Chicago's finest ghosts
* just across from the Biograph Theatre, where Dillinger was fingered by the Lady in Red and shot in the alley by G-Men
* Reputedly inhabited by eight (8) count 'em eight ghosts-- including the retarded girl who smells like lavendar, Sharon who blocks the door to the upstairs ladies room, the dark bearded man killed over a gambling debt



[Excerpt from the official White House transcript of an exchange between 61-year old Charlotte real estate broker Harry Taylor and G.W. Bush at Central Piedmont Community College,
in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday, April 4, 2006.]

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, squeaky wheels. There's three of you up there. Is this like a chorus? (Laughter.) Would you please decide among yourselves?

Harry Taylor: I've got the mike.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, yes, very good. (Laughter and applause.) Good move.

Harry Taylor: You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?

Harry Taylor: Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I -- in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and --


THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec -- let him speak.

Harry Taylor: And I would hope -- I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I'm saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.

THE PRESIDENT: It is, yes. (Applause.)

Harry Taylor: And I know that this doesn't come welcome to most of the people in this room, but I do appreciate that.

THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate --

Harry Taylor: I don't have a question, but I just wanted to make that comment to you.

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate it, thank you. Let me --

Harry Taylor: Can I ask a question?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to start off with what you first said, if you don't mind, you said that I tap your phones -- I think that's what you said. You tapped your phone -- I tapped your phones. Yes. No, that's right. Yes, no, let me finish.

I'd like to describe that decision I made about protecting this country. You can come to whatever conclusion you want. The conclusion is I'm not going to apologize for what I did on the terrorist surveillance program, and I'll tell you why. We were accused in Washington, D.C. of not connecting the dots, that we didn't do everything we could to protect you or others from the attack. And so I called in the people responsible for helping to protect the American people and the homeland. I said, is there anything more we could do.

And there -- out of this national -- NSA came the recommendation that it would make sense for us to listen to a call outside the country, inside the country from al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda in order to have real-time information from which to possibly prevent an attack. I thought that made sense, so long as it was constitutional. Now, you may not agree with the constitutional assessment given to me by lawyers -- and we've got plenty of them in Washington -- but they made this assessment that it was constitutional for me to make that decision.

I then, sir, took that decision to members of the United States Congress from both political parties and briefed them on the decision that was made in order to protect the American people. And so members of both parties, both chambers, were fully aware of a program intended to know whether or not al Qaeda was calling in or calling out of the country. It seems like -- to make sense, if we're at war, we ought to be using tools necessary within the Constitution, on a very limited basis, a program that's reviewed constantly to protect us.

Now, you and I have a different -- of agreement on what is needed to be protected. But you said, would I apologize for that? The answer -- answer is, absolutely not. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, I was raised on a ranch in New Mexico. And my heroes have always been cowboys.

THE PRESIDENT: There you go. Thank you, yes. (Laughter.) I'm not sure I qualify as a cowboy. (Laughter.)

See Also:

COMMONPLACE BOOK, Extracts and Ideas of Interest, First Week of April

David Ng, Village Voice:
“National pastime, cathartic rite, and hereditary calling all rolled into one, the French labor protest occupies a holy space on the country's social genome, much like baseball or playing the stock market does in the U.S.”

[NYT on the actress appearing as “Barbie Live on Stage”]:
“Meeting a few fans after a final curtsy, Ms. Coors [brunette, under a blonde wig] signs her name as "Barbie," aping Mattel's signature looping script, on T-shirts and fairy wings. For television interviews, visits to children's hospitals and bookstore readalongs, she can trade Elina's tutu, festooned with 15,000 hand-sewn sequins, for a pink evening gown or business suit from the Barbie couture collection. ... It's all very meta, especially because, as more than a few young fans noted, Ms. Coors's Elina is a ringer for "Legally Blonde 2" Barbie, Mattel's homage to the second Reese Witherspoon comedy about Elle Woods, the squeaky-voiced shopaholic who is a lot smarter than she looks. Which is to say that an actress playing a doll as an actress playing a role looks like a doll made to look like another actress playing another role.”
[*** Ormondroyd notes: a similar thing happened in medieval Japan, when bunraku (feel free to correct me on details) puppets became so popular that geisha and dancers began to ape their movements. Male actors of kabuki, impersonating female characters, began to imitate the mannered step of real women imitating puppets imitating women. You could look it up.]

From “Nihilist Job Resume” by Eric Feezell:
* Objective
I have no objective. What's the point when cold death is the final destination for us all? Can you explain that to me? I know I'm supposed to put something here, though, so here goes: Your objective is to hire me into a challenging position in a computer-applications-based field within which you feel I can "make a difference" and "contribute" in a team environment. Imbecile.

Marc Acito, NY Times:
“.... in Fulton, Mo., where three members of a local church objected to the high school's fall production of the musical "Grease," even though one of them hadn't even seen it. In a response that would have made Joe McCarthy proud, Mark Enderle, the school superintendent, then proceeded to overturn the choice of "The Crucible," Arthur Miller's indictment of McCarthyism, as the spring play.
Instead, the students in Fulton just finished performing "A Midsummer Night's Dream," that wholesome frolic about youthful rebellion, pagan magic and bestiality. As Dr. Enderle told Wendy DeVore, the drama teacher, her actors "shouldn't do anything on stage that would get a kid in trouble if he did it in a classroom."

Paddy Murphy comes limping into a pub with his arm in a sling, his nose broke, his face cut and bruised.
"What happened to you?" asks Sean, the bartender.
"Jamie O'Conner and me had a fight," says Paddy.
"O'Conner?" says Sean, "He couldn't do that to you, he must have had something in his hand."
A shovel is what he had,” says Paddy, “and a terrible time he gave me with it."
"Well," says Sean, "you should have defended yourself, didn't you have something in your hand?"
"That I did," said Paddy. "Mrs. O'Conner's breast, and a thing of beauty it is, but useless in a fight." (anon.)

“Perhaps he (Voltaire) hated too much, but we must remember the provocation; we must imagine ourselves back in an age when men were burned at the stake, or broken on the wheel, for deviating from orthodoxy. We can appreciate Christianity better today because he fought with some success to moderate its dogmas and violence.”
-- Will and Ariel Durant

“It is not easy to explain to a foreigner, maybe to anybody, that what you had thought was a small, primitive concept of dignity, the early voice that says nobody can buy me, became in our time so corrupted by anti-Communism that bribes were not thought of as bribes, particularly if they came in the form of trips to foreign lands, or grants for research, and were offered by Ivy League gentlemen to a generation of intellectuals who were jealous of the easy postwar money earned by everybody around them. Intellectuals can tell themselves anything, sell themselves any bill of goods, which is why they were such easy patsies for the ruling classes in nineteenth century France and England, or twentieth century Russia and America.”
-- Lillian Hellman in “An Unfinished Woman”

Molly Ivins:
“I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Russell Jacoby:
"Higher education in America is a vast enterprise boasting roughly a million professors. A certain portion of these teachers are incompetents and frauds; some are rabid patriots and fundamentalists - and some are ham-fisted leftists. All should be upbraided if they violate scholarly or teaching norms. At the same time, a certain portion of the 15 million students they teach are fanatics and crusaders."

Peter Shaffer, interview:
"I find in Mozart that ecstasy I don't find in codified faith. I also find in reading - and even sometimes seeing - Shakespeare that same pleasure in perfection I discover in Mozart. When I read the last act of Antony and Cleopatra and that speech beginning 'The crown of the earth doth melt' I feel I'm encountering one of the great achievements of mankind. It's a beacon somehow, a reminder that there is a perfection of art - whereas I don't think there is a perfection of religion. I wish I could say I found this in the theatre. Not so long ago I saw Troilus and Cressida, and when we got to: 'The time scants us with a single famished kiss, Distasted with the salt of broken tears', there was no sense of the actor being aware of the lines he was privileged to say."

Alexis Petridis:
"This being a Morrissey album, however, happiness can't last."

Terry Eagleton in New Statesman:
“There are, to be sure, many clever people still around; but not all clever people are intellectuals, and not all intellectuals are particularly clever. Academics, broadly speaking, count as intellectuals, given that they trade in ideas; but so-called public intellectuals, those who seek to be opinion-formers and cultural commentators, are a rarer, perpetually endangered breed.
“.... For F R Leavis, only the disinterested gaze of the literary critic could withstand the waves of commercial vulgarity and political partisanship churned up by the 20th century. Yet this Canute-like project had happened several times before. Matthew Arnold had argued much the same in Victorian England, while Samuel Johnson mourned the collapse of a universal knowledge almost a century earlier. Despite Johnson's complaint that no one mind could now encompass an increasingly fragmented, specialised culture, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Stuart Mill made a brave stab at doing just that. Once again, public intellectuals stubbornly overlooked the supposed fact that they had withered away, defeated by the decline of the public sphere, the rapid division of conceptual labour and - in our own day - the rise of a formidable new power of opinion-forming known as the media.
“.... The role of the intellectual, so it is said, is to speak truth to power. Noam Chomsky has dismissed this pious tag on two grounds. For one thing, power knows the truth already; it is just busy trying to conceal it.”

Perry Anderson
".... the central case against capitalism today is the combination of ecological crisis and social polarization. It is the greed." –

[Some hard numbers backing that up from New York Times' analysis of IRS data]:
"Among taxpayers with incomes greater than $10 million, the amount by which their investment tax bill was reduced averaged about $500,000 in 2003, and total tax savings, which included the two Bush tax cuts on compensation, nearly doubled to slightly more than $1 million.
"These taxpayers, whose average income was $26 million, paid about the same share of their income in income taxes as those making $200,000 to $500,000 because of the lowered rates on investment income.
"Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more, about one-tenth of 1 percent of all taxpayers, reaped 43 percent of all the savings on investment taxes in 2003. The savings for these taxpayers averaged about $41,400 each. By comparison, these same Americans received less than 10 percent of the savings from the other Bush tax cuts, which applied primarily to wages, though that share is expected to grow in coming years."

Dave’s Long Box:
“Nobody talks a line of shit like Thor. He rarely fails to tell an opponent how powerful he is, or what a big mistake said opponent has made crossing his path, or how bad of a beat-down he’s about to deliver, or brag about the various features of his enchanted mallet Mjolnir. ... For some reason, the fact that he’s one of the most powerful beings ever to walk the Earth yet still talks shit does not make Thor a dick. He just gets away with it, pure and simple. Nobody wants to hear Superman brag about how cool he is – he would just come across as a bully – but for Thor, it works.
“Why? Thor really uses cultural relativism to his advantage. Yes, he might go on and on about how great he is, but give him a break, he’s a Viking – that’s the way of his people. Don’t judge, man. What do you have against Vikings anyway? Way to be insensitive to other cultures, dick.”

See Also: Why am I being played by a 16-year-old lipgloss model?,
"He was like a murderer annoyed at being called a shoplifter",
"I've had far more sex than I've had fights on water towers against guys with super powers",

News for the Rainman

Meanwhile, Wayne Allen Sallee @ Stately Wayne Manor points out in a cryptic note that on Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.


Tim (Taocat) says (in response to something in yesterday's Commonplace Book): "Interesting note: I was speaking with a guy last night who is in the Montana Air National Guard. He has served in both Iraq (behind the lines) and in Louisiana. He told me that Iraq wasn't bad - he would be ok going back, but New Orleans was awful. What surprised me was his reasons: In Iraq, he said, there were fewer bullets whizzing past your head. In New Orleans, he said, everyone was demanding, like 'my house was destroyed and now you owe me. You need to clean that garbage out of my yard.'"

My response ran so long, I decided to post it as a blog entry (and it gives me a chance to post cool pictures of Fate Marable, Kid Ory, Buddy Bolden, and the infant Louis Armstrong):

Here's how I would have responded (assuming I had my wits about me) :

1) Take the tax dollars paid by Louisianans to the federal government and multiply by the number of years since the Army Corps of Engineers started maintaining levees. Don't forget the price of US imports and exports that travel through Gulf Coast ports and the Mississippi River. (Don't ask him to think about the priceless contributions of New Orleans to American culture; let's stick to dollars, and not confuse the philistines.)

2) Subtract Louisiana's percentage of federal taxes from the money being pissed away in Iraq ($237,964,700,000 at the moment, but who's counting?)

3) Now the administration is wondering if we can save New Orleans at all? You bet I'm pissed.

Simple humanity tells us that the job of clearing away the garbage is overwhelming. After a flood, it's not just your wreckage in the front yard. Where do you start? Where do you put it all? Who hauls it away? If the National Guard of Montana is going to be used to build schools in Iraq, they can damn well clean mold in New Orleans. Oh, wait, that's not their job, is it? Gosh, we don't want the president changing the mission of the National guard arbitrarily...

You can also tell him that the Louisianans you know (by one handshake removed) are not the indigent po' folks not worth saving (I'm being ironic) shown in television clips. Lewis' father is a research scientist, the Beautiful (sigh) Monica's an educator, her husband's a banker, etc., etc.... (Also note that I said 'by one handshake removed', if anybody gets to hug Monica in this thought experiment, it's going to be me.)

I'm curious to know why we haven't taken the Netherlands approach to our battle with the sea. I hear they've brought in some Dutch engineers recently, and I'll be curious to hear what they say.

See Also:
Supreme Court re. Eminent Domain,
Flaming Assholes Speak to the Citizens of New Orleans,
If a Social Darwinst Dies, Should Any of Us Care?,
Louisiana's National Guard in Iraq,
Spasm bands, Louis, and New Orleans History,
Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil (yeah, like any of these guys have an ounce of shame left in their bodies)


REUTERS April 1, 2006: Cornel West, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and Sister Joan Chittister, National Co-Chairs of the Tikkun Community Network of Spiritual Progressives, have announced the launch of TSURRIS, a new weekly magazine.

The board explained that whereas the phrase “tikkun olam” expresses the need to repair the world through social action, TSURRIS magazine will focus on “the hip, contemporary reader who simply wants this whole tsurris to stop.” Michael Fountain, a Fellow at the Luftmensch Foundation, author, educator, and current editor of "Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica", will serve as Managing Editor.

"Tsurris" first appears in the book of Job (1:5; 7:13; 12:9), where it is usually translated as "how did you get into this mess?" The most notable early rabbinic source is found among the Ainu of Northern Japan, where the phrase expresses the hope of meeting the high cost of car insurance in a no-fault society.

TSSURIS will represent a network of people and institutions that:

1) Advocates a New Bottom Line in America. This involves a good many hours on the Stairmaster in such a way as to enhance our capacities to respond to other human beings’ bottoms in a way that honors them as embodiments of the sacred, and our capacity to respond to each toches with awe, wonder and radical amazement. The April cover of TSURRIS features Michelangelo’s painting of God’s fundament from the Sistine Chapel as seen in “The Creation of the Sun and Moon”.

2) Challenges the misuse of religion by the Religious Right, often attributed to poorly worded technical manuals and their inability to smell themselves. Studies have shown that more than 70% of teens exposed to Pat Robertson believe that God squints when he talks. Of those reared using James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” method, 42% use the wrong orifice for inserting toothbrushes, decongestants, oral contraceptives and inserting their thumbs. “When you give them books, they just chew on the covers,” the new magazine’s editor noted sadly.

3) Challenging the anti-religious and anti-spiritual assumptions and behaviors that have increasingly become part of the liberal culture and replacing them with bumper stickers such as “Next Time You’re in a Foxhole, Call an Atheist” and “What Do Atheists Scream During Sex?”

4) Challenges the extreme individualism and "me-firstism" that permeate all parts of the global market culture. Consumers will be encouraged to purchase extra helpings of luxury items such as automobiles, Italian shoes and Middle Eastern wars. Each “Second Helping” purchase will be distributed to the poor. “It was the only win-win compromise both sides could accept,” said Fountain. “The market culture is happy because we’re buying more, not less, and the poor have bigger cars to sleep in.”

See Also:
Why America Needs a Spiritual Left at TIKKUN magazine

COMMONPLACE BOOK, Excerpts of Interest for the last half of March

“Every surviving white person in New Orleans has been airlifted directly to the secret warehouse where all television media is produced. They were only allowed to leave when they mustered up the sadness to cry in front of Katie Couric, who managed to find an insightful anecdote about her children for every single story. Those who refused to laugh at her tales were ushered into Star Jones' dressing room, where they were promptly eaten alive while the T-Rex noise from "Jurassic Park" played in the background to set the mood.” --- The "Something Awful" website
“I ran into a gray eminence from the Bush era I knew the other day in an airport, and he said that what most offended him about Bush II is the naked incompetence. ‘You may disagree with Republicans, but you always had to recognize that they knew what they were doing,’ he said. ‘I keep going back to that intelligence memo of August 2001, that said that terrorists had plans to hijack planes and crash them into buildings. The president read it, and he didn't even call a staff meeting to discuss it. That is lack of attention of a high order.’” --Unknown, quoted by Garrison Keillor in the Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2006
Unknown author, commenting on Walter Shapiro’s “pimping” for Hillary Clinton’s presidential chances:
“God save us!...I would like to see us all just stop talking about her once and for all—there is no there there. All of this makes me want to just leave this compromised rotting hulk of a political party, but then again the chance to vote against yet another fearful, overly-careful, scripted, too-far-right, blown dry, mealy mouthed, cowardly, survival-conscious, too-quick-to-compromise, insulated, wooden, tone deaf, egotistical, unprincipled, retrograde, well-connected, born-to-lose, lawyerly, wimpy, lead from behind, squirmy, all around crap primary candidate like Hillary may keep me from reregistering until after the primaries!”
-- quoted by ‘punaise’ on

-- "Dial B for Blog" on the film adaptation of "Fantastic Four"
Patricia Relf Hanavan on pirates and the Republican doctrine of preemptive war: “Saw this line as I was re-reading Treasure Island and thought it seemed vaguely familiar. It's the pirate Israel Hands speaking (p. 175 in my book--in ch. 26):
‘Well, now I tell you, I never seen good come o' goodness yet. Him as strikes first is my fancy; dead men don't bite; them's my views--amen, so be it.’"

“We've no use for intellectuals in this outfit. What we need is chimpanzees. Let me give you a word of advice: never say a word to us about being intelligent. We will think for you, my friend. Don't forget it.” -- Celine
Joke forwarded by DeeAnn:
President Bush recently went to a primary school in Macon,
Georgia, to talk about the world. After his talk, he asked if the children
had any questions. One little boy put up his hand, and the president
asked him his name.
"And what is your question, Kenneth?"
"I have three questions:
1) Whatever happened to the weapons of mass destruction?
2)Why did you give a tax break to the super wealthy?
3) Did you steal votes to win both elections?"
Just then the bell rang for recess. President Bush informed the
children that they would continue after recess.
When they resumed, the President said, "OK, where were we? Oh,
that's right, question time. Who has a question?"
A different little boy put his hand up. Bush pointed him out and
asked him his name.
"And what is your question, Larry?"
"I have five questions:
1) Whatever happened to the weapons of mass destruction?
2) Why did you give a tax break to the super wealthy?
3) Did you steal votes to win both elections?
4) Why did the recess bell go off 20 minutes early?
5) What happened to Kenneth?"

“Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are very unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such.” – Republican activist Grover Norquist on the current crop of Democrats

“This is blues made for humming along, stomping your foot, feeling righteous in the face of oppression and expressing gratitude to your baby for greasing your skillet.”
-- Charles M. Young reviewing the music of Guy Davis*
• (Yes, this is skeptical me telling you that Guy Davis is the real thing. His version of “Goin’ Down Slow” had me hollering back at the radio.)

“(Republican Congressional candidate Howard) Kaloogian posted a photo from "downtown Baghdad" showing how peaceful and calm things were there; bloggers investigated the photo and it was recognized as coming from a suburb of Istanbul -- something that could be proved by comparing it to web-based photo-albums showing the intersection and the surrounding area. In less than a day, it was over. "Jem6X" at the popular DailyKos blog confirmed the street scene was in Bakirkoy, a suburb of Istanbul, not Baghdad.” -- Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing

“Here’s a thumbnail sketch [of Fredric Jameson’s thought]: Culture is above all the expression of history and its class struggles, its bouts of false consciousness and thwarted or poisoned revelations, coded into what we might nowadays call memes. Jameson identifies these “ideologemes” and “mythemes” and with great ingenuity examines the degree to which each epoch characterizes itself unconsciously by these cultural elements and their contraries (which are mutually exclusive, like life and death) and their contradictions (embattled inconsistencies or lapses).”
-- Damien Broderick in his Locus review of Frederic Jameson’s “Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions”
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” --Voltaire

See Also:
Saint Patrick's Day: "He was like a murderer annoyed at being called a shoplifter", End of April: "I've had far more sex than I've had fights on water towers against guys with super powers", February: ""WHICH GOD DAMNED IDIOTS CHOSE KAINE TO DO THE REBUTTAL?", Commonplace Book:January, December