Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bizarro Birmingham

All this cogitating about changing patterns is apparently having an affect.  Not on the world at large, of course, unless getting worse by the minute is a change.  I'm pretty sure the world at large has been getting worse by the minute ever since human DNA first mutated into existence back in the primordial goo - so no change there.  The speed at which we are careening toward Idiocracy has certainly increased, but in my mind that's just the Same Old Shit only faster.

This item in the New York Times came across my radar last week:  Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on the Right (Feb 16, 2010).

The article describes the political awakening of a little grandma in Idaho named Pam Stout:
She was happily retired, and had never been active politically. But last April, she went to her first Tea Party rally, then to a meeting of the Sandpoint Tea Party Patriots. She did not know a soul, yet when they began electing board members, she stood up, swallowed hard, and nominated herself for president. “I was like, ‘Did I really just do that?’ ” she recalled.
Then she went even further.
Worried about hyperinflation, social unrest or even martial law, she and her Tea Party members joined a coalition, Friends for Liberty, that includes representatives from Glenn Beck's 9/12 Project, the John Birch Society, and Oath Keepers, a new player in a resurgent militia movement.
When Friends for Liberty held its first public event, Mrs. Stout listened as Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff, brought 1,400 people to their feet with a speech about confronting a despotic federal government. Mrs. Stout said she felt as if she had been handed a road map to rebellion. Members of her family, she said, think she has disappeared down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. But Mrs. Stout said she has never felt so engaged.
“I can’t go on being the shy, quiet me,” she said. “I need to stand up.”
You could say that we all need to stand up and shout about the Bull Shit that passes for Political Reality in America - except that The Tea Party Rebellion is liable to get as ridiculous as it is potentially dangerous since these people tote firearms around as if they were as necessary to social interaction as breath mints.

What intrigued me most about this passage is the idea of Barack Obama calling for martial law to suppress the Rebellion on the Right, fueled by the John Birchers and Glenn Beck, et al.  The photo illustration from the story provides a glimpse at the demographic profile of the Movement:

Here's another:

If I'm not mistaken, when the Hippies were protesting the Vietnam war years ago, Old White People insisted clothing like the patriotic shirt proudly worn by the Veteran above was as disrespectful to America as burning the flag.  Now, maybe no actual American Flags were harmed in the making of that short sleeved button down, but it just goes to show you that Teabaggers are incapable of recognizing the contradictions inherent in their passionately stated positions.  This inability is no surprise since a high percentage of Teabaggers are Conservative Christians, and Conservative Christians are notoriously obtuse when it comes to recognizing the inherent contradictions in their passionately held beliefs.

If the Teabaggers' dreams come true, their patriotic militia will storm Washington DC and make such a commotion that Barack Obama calls out the National Guard.  Then we will be treated to the spectacle of a Black Man so educated, sophisticated and well groomed that he could have stepped out of an advertisement in GQ ordering hundreds of Guardsmen and women to toss tear gas and shoot fire hoses at a bunch of White People.  While the Heritage Foundation insists that minorities and poor folks are not overrepresented in the military - I'm going to bet that at least half the National Guardsmen hosing down Honkies would be Dark Skinned.

Kind of like Bizarro Birmingham, Nixon's Silent Majority has taken to the streets to revolt against Negroes and Communists.

This is one national spectacle I'd like to see.  In fact, if the Teabaggers storm DC, I'd most likely have to fix up the Menopausal Stoners Herb Tea cart and find a safe perch on the mall so that Hippies old and young can smoke out under a shade tree and watch this unfold like Saturday morning cartoons or an episode of Star Trek with a parallel universe.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Formative Soundtrack

Another one from The Vault

My parents listened to a lot of Simon & Garfunkel when I was a kid.  This song is on my mind today as I continue pondering repetition of patterns.  Lots of patterns are repeating in real life right now. I'm managing  mine much more admirably than society as a whole since America seems doomed to follow a certain trajectory, and I am making incremental progress in changing the pattern.

I maintain that all we can ever control are our own actions and responses.  Whether you're trying to lose weight, quit smoking or stop fighting with your ex-husband or wife, you're the one who must assert yourself over circumstances.   Some people might be able to assert themselves on the national level, but the situation in my own happy little world takes so much thought and energy that the national BS will have to look after itself.

Life is somewhat more satisfying now that I've given up the idea that I have to be nice all the time, but changing your pattern can also lead to trouble.   The truth is that some of my incremental progress could be viewed as Malicious Mischief. I expect I remembered this song on account of the line, "Deputy Sheriff said to me . . . "  It's a melodious reminder that sometimes you might want to wait until you are safely out of town to throw a turd in somebody's punch bowl.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentines and Vendettas

The other day, Woody wanted to make a point about fractals and tessellations.  I still can't hang on to what he was saying because neither one of us was strictly sober.  Woody tells me that out in blogland, he has been banned from several sites on account of his mouth.  I can believe that because I've been studying his outspoken character. I expect that he got all wrapped up in his rhetoric and insisted on his dominance in cognition and conversation in a way that made people think he was a complete asshole, or ass-whole.  What makes him a recovering ass-whole is his ability to recognize and reflect on his behavior patterns.  In a word: Awareness.  That awareness allows him to expand beyond his own frame of reference.

A person has the opportunity to change his/her pattern.  A Mandelbrot set does not.  No matter how far a pattern expands, it endlessly replicates itself.  No matter how intensely narrow the focus inward, the pattern continues to repeat. The pattern does not change whether the focus is inward or outward.  Nothing ever changes with a Mandelbrot set because its behavior is determined by equations.  It's kind of like that with Ass-Wholes.  They are closed. Their frame of reference is fixated on Self to the exclusion of others. 

I'm happy to say that Woody knows a whole lot more than I do about the circumstances that push an Ass-Whole into the recovery phase.  That's why he's one of my Valentines.  The Man from San Antone is a Valentine.  JDHays is a Valentine too.  That's nice because last year I had an Existential Valentine's Day where it was finally proven that I exist in an of myself.  I didn't have a Valentine at all unless you count my mother (Stonerdate 02.15.09).  I'm even having a pot luck in my living room for Gigi and her girl friends.  She's also one of my Valentines.  Gigi is so sweet that she said someone was "our" age.  I'm not sure if she thought she that was fifty or that I was 32, but it was sweet either way.

Since last Valentine's Day, I've been noticing that people are either open or closed to ideas.  I don't even want to talk about large groups of people closed to ideas like a Single Payer System and Marriage Equality.  I want to talk about people who are open to enlightened exchange with others and those who are closed to it.  Call it love, if you want to. I will say that in my view, love is about inclusion and when it comes to the health care system, there's a whole lot of excluding going on.  In yoga class this week, the instructor read a passage about how the universe we see is a reflection of ourselves - and when we reach out an empty hand asking the universe to give us something we think we lack, the universe sends you emptiness.  Send out hostility and suspicion, it comes back at you like a boomerang.  Offer the glow of authenticity, and the universe responds authentically.  Namaste.

So I was getting all Namaste and stuff over Fractal Tesselations and began to wonder: What if our spirits are kind of like endlessly regenerating Mandelbrot sets where the perimeter of the frame of reference is made of something that either permits or denies interplay with other spirits?  I'll admit that I was smoking weed at the time, but that doesn't automatically render the question meaningless.  That material would be more or less open to enlightened exchange based on a number of factors but some part of an individual's pattern would expand beyond it's own periphery while other parts would reflect back onto itself. Similarly elements of another's pattern could penetrate some areas of the perimeter while others would bounce off in another direction.   Ergo:  for some people the perimeter would be like a chain link fence, others more like Swiss cheese with variable degrees of openness, and the most closed people would be like a suit of armor.  The way we reach out beyond our perimeters here in blogland is a nice example of intellectual interplay. On good days, we might even expand each other's consciousness and spheres of influence. I'd call that a Valentine's day bonus.

Like everything, there has to be a healthy balance or you'll be so open you can't find your center or so closed no one can get in. When you're so closed nothing and no one can get through your perimeter to your spirit - at least sometimes - then you're imploding on yourself. That's the way people become black wholes sucking the life and joy out of everyone around them.

I'm not so sure how to break though the barriers some people set up to prevent an enlightened exchange of ideas.   For the most part, it's easier and more relaxing to forget them and their barriers, and to avoid the event horizon of a black whole all together. Every now and then, we might chuck a rock or two at one of those closed souls hoping to let a little sunshine in. No one can ever change another person, but through our interactions we can have an impact that changes an individual's frame of reference. Perhaps that sounds like a lofty aspiration, but I try to take the high road on my personal vendettas.

In the case of my recent project over on The Bluestar Trail, I did not initiate anything that might be construed as a personal vendetta without consulting with The Clergy.  I discussed the situation with JD from This Tumbleweed Life who is totally a preacher, and he recognized that I had gone too far on this trail to turn back now.  That's not exactly a blessing, but JD is from Texas and he understands that a man's got to do what a man's got to do - especially when that man is a Menopausal Stoner.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Social Justice Begins at Home

Velvet is home for the weekend.

Yesterday afternoon, he and his dad had lunch and shot some pool after Max the Genius cut his hair, so he was out for a few hours. Other than that, he's been here the whole time - but that doesn't mean we've had any substantive conversations. His friends have been here the whole time, too.
I'm happy he has friends, and I'm happy they all like to come over here. I've ordered pizzas, made mac and cheese and done the dishes. I even bought them a 12 pack of PBRs. There are several empties around the living room at the moment, and I'd be rinsing them for recycling except it's my duty to leave them for Velvet. If kids don't ever have to clean up their own messes, they will become fucked up as adults.

He might grow up to think he doesn't have to do any work because messes magically disappear. Since he didn't seem to notice the mess when he made it, and it was gone in the morning - he could get the idea that he's the kind of person who never makes a mess. Or that messes don't apply to him. Or that there is no mess and never was a mess at all. Worse, he could easily grow up to believe it's somebody else's job to clean up after him like the fellow who follows the horses and elephants in a parade with a wheel barrow and a broom.

I hadn't really thought much about why it's important to require children and teenagers to clean up after themselves until this very minute, but now that I'm looking at parenting and teaching in terms of Ass-Whole Prevention - I'm thinking a lot of those damn Teabaggers and Republicans must have had a personal clean up crew.

There are lots and lots of Dumb Ass Democrats, too - it's just that the Teabaggers are in the news right now on account of the convention in Tennessee. I clicked on some news story this morning and was hit in the face by a photo of Sarah Palin looking for all the world like a torch singer in a piano bar.

Photo by Ed Reinke (I am compelled to credit the photographer because my little bro is currently in Vancouver. It's about the 12th time he went to the Olympics which he considers a clusterfuck. So shout out to the lowly photogs,

I had intended to put that image out of my head for all time because when you think about a bunch of teabaggers paying beaucoup bucks to hear her in concert, it's enough to send you back to bed. You might never come out from under the covers when you consider that she could very well be the Rupert Murdoch/Fox News candidate for president in 2012 with unlimited funding thanks to the Supreme Court.

According to MSN, Sarah was calling for a revolution because government is supposed to be serving the people. The teabaggers naturally cheered - and in point of fact, most progressives would cheer that statement as a general concept if it hadn't been delivered by someone who also said, "How's that hope-y change-y stuff working for ya?" I'd like to see Michelle Obama stuff Sarah Palin's fluffly head into the toilet and give her a swirly.

But back to the kids.

When kids are allowed to follow their individual inclinations and pursuits without cleaning up after themselves, it leads to the kind of world view that shouts Drill, Baby, Drill. It also leads to believing others are there to serve you - personal assistants, maids and builders who want state contracts. When combined with other misguided notions, it leads to Banksters, Legislators and Lobbyists and other Spectacular Ass-Wholes.

I'm not so worried about Spectacular Ass-Wholes right now. Monarchs with the Divine Right of Kings, The Vatican, Pharaohs, Conquistadors - those people have been oppressing the peasants and tradesmen for centuries. And it's not just Europeans since the chiefs of some tribes in Africa cheerfully sold their own captives to the Slavers, there were war lords in China and Japan, and Hindu society was built on the caste system. The belief that some have dominion over others is pervasive in global history. You could say they are The Imperialists - and patriarchy is implicit in imperialism - but I digress.

I'm not so sure there's really anything anyone can do about the imperialistic world order since it's been with us since time began. We can, however, institute an Ass-Whole prevention program at home by requiring children, and certain grown-ups, to be accountable and responsible.

All we can do is focus on our own character and values. When we ourselves walk the talk, those values spread outward as Each One Teaches One. Martin Luther King, Jr had that dream and so did countless people before him - and like them, we will surely all be graveyard dead before the dream becomes reality. Nevertheless, I'll have peaceful coexistence in my own dang living room.

Friday, February 5, 2010

American Society for Recovering Ass-Wholes

I suspect my blogstalking ex-boyfriend is trying to get me in trouble with Google over Ass-Wholes Great and Small (Stonerdate 01.30.10). He's the one who won't talk to me but used to look at the blog regularly from a carrel in the libray. The same one who is smart about money, dividend stocks and mutual funds, but is a dummy when it comes to people.

I don't know if he would report me for offensive content, but evidence suggests he contacted Google to have the post removed from Google search results. I would like to state for all time that I have complete respect for Google. I'm pretty sure the only people who don't have complete respect for Google are in the Chinese government.

Anyone can request that a post be removed from search results under certain conditions - such as your social security number gets up on the internet. You're only supposed to do that if you can't reach a successful resolution with the author of the post. Google needs to know that Bluestar727 could say or do any number of things that might lead to a successful resolution.

Specifically, he could admit he is an Ass-Whole. He could admit it in private - like over a nice bottle of wine in a lovely restaurant where he picks up the entire tab for a change. Or he could add a new demension to his internet character by taking the first step to becoming a Recovering Ass-Whole over at Woody's new place, The American Society for Recovering Ass-Wholes (AS-RAW).

Woody's taking nominations for Ass-Wholes in various categories. Pop on over there to nominate your personal favorites. Since this project is still in the formative stages, we've got to develop criteria for each category - kind of like a cross between the DSM-IV and a Cosmo Quiz. It's the perfect time for ideas and suggestions or for volunteering to be on the Ass-Whole Patrol.

The thing I like about AS-RAW is that it provides a space for analyzing ass-wholery so that our own blogs don't become polluted with negative energy. It also provides a way to send Google over to AS-RAW if somebody finds it troubling that they're being called an Ass-Whole on the internet.

I have confidence that with all his experience at pissing off people, Woody will already be familiar with the legalities of this sort of activity. Woody can also figure out how folks can post their own personal stories of Confronting Ass-Wholery. I believe he considers himself to be the first Recovering Ass-Whole in America, so it makes sense that Woody leads the pack on the road to recovery.

The Society will never, ever have an impact on Spectacular Ass-Wholes like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and, my personal favorite, Dick Cheney. There is, however, a slight chance that an ordinary individual might look at himself in the mirror a little differently once s/he's been nominated. A very slight chance since nearly all ass-wholes think they are perfectly fine. They even feel like misunderstood martyrs and recommend therapy to those of us who find them toxic.

I expect there were days when Elmer Fudd felt like a misunderstood, mistreated martyr because of the way he was treated by Daffy and Bugs.
This business between me and that Ass-Whole will have to go on the back burner because I've got other fish to fry. Velvet remains my first priority. There is much to be done regarding the move to Austin, and I have to consider the Menopausal Stoners Alternative Tea Party and The Militia.

That Guy Who Won't Talk to me may be useful as a cautionary tale, but those characters are a drag at parties. Ergo: If he wants to read about himself anymore, he can go over to Redemption and Retribution on the Bluestar Trail. We seem to all agree that things in America are going to get worse as the class war escalates. The time has come to choose sides just like back in the day when Florence Reed wrote "Which Side Are You On?" (Stonerdate 01.10.10). Unless That Guy has an epiphany, he belongs with the Ass-Wholes. I confess I'm sad about it, though. Even Buzz Kill and Vagina Dentata aren't Ass-Wholes.

Thanks and a big Shout Out to Dan at Pruning Shears for recognizing Menopausal Stoners on Blogroll Amesty Day. I'm honored to be included.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In Defense of Dreamers

I have to admit that I, too, was bummed out after the State of the Union Address, but not because of Obama like so many of my bloggy buddies were. I was bummed because a lot of people believe there is no hope for change at all ever.

Undoubtedly, there is reason for despair. The Power of the Assholes in America is so strong, entrenched and pervasive that it's enough to make anyone suicidal or homicidal. I can see why many people believe that returning Power to the People is such an enormous, overwhelming task that it can't be done. Nevertheless, we certainly will be doomed to live as slaves under the rule of our corporate overlords if we stay in our comfortable homes preaching to the choir.

Maybe these folks are right and Obama is The Bitch of the Rich, and as much of a whore and pawn as Joe Lieberman. Even so, I take issue when Progressive Fundamentalists act like those of us who believe change is worth the fight are uniformed and naive.

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I submit that I am not naive. My Great Uncle in Beaumont was such an influential crook that LBJ had to suck up to him for votes in the Golden Triangle area of Texas which is an armpit drenched in petrochemicals if one ever existed. That's is why LBJ came to Beaumont and bounced me on his knee when I was a baby. Furthermore, when you grow up along the Sabine River, you develop a certain perspective. Business is Business can mean something like: If I take the fall for this business and go to jail, I want unsupervised visits with your 10 year old daughter when I get out. Don't care if she is my niece (That's what happened to Gayle the Hillbilly Hustler, not me).

The only difference between petty crooks along the Sabine River and major crooks like Lobbyists, Legislators and Banksters is that those guys have more money. They are all the kind of people who get their kicks from sticking lit firecrackers up the asses of bullfrogs to make them blow up. Could be that is where Dick Cheney got the ideas for enhanced interrogation techniques. Those people are twisted.

I'll admit that I do not know as much about legislative rules and sociopolitical history as most militant progressives, but it's like Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

**Aside**When Velvet was a baby, I read somewhere that nobody ever told Margaret Mead "no" when she was exploring her environment. I concluded that her parents arranged her environment so that she wouldn't get hurt or get into grown-up stuff like knives and cayenne pepper. As she grew, her environment also expanded to include things like cayenne pepper, but by then her folks fixed it so she had enough sense not to shake it into her eyes. So I applied this thinking to Velvet's home environment and I apply it in my preschool classroom today.

Now, it's distinctly possible that I am a hopeful individual because I spend my mornings fooling around with little people who are human nature in it's most pristine and privileged state. Occasionally a two year old enters school with emotional baggage, but when that happens you can bet it came from his/her parent since shit trickles down hill. More than once, I have had a direct impact on those parents so that they realize they are grown-ups who have to deal with their own shit so it doesn't fuck up their kids for life.

Since I've had this experience, and since there are few things that are as much fun as introducing a room full of Twos to sunbeams and prisms - I live in a world where all sorts of things are possible. Not everything, of course, because there are the limits of reality. Physics and shit - not Ass-Wholes. Ass-Wholes should not be allowed to Dominate our Reality, although there is no doubt that they are dominating it now.

It's just that when somebody tells me that it's impossible to change the system and we're fucked for all time, I can't keep this song out of my head:

I freely admit that there is no Prince Charming or Fairy Godmother. I know because I've spend a lifetime looking for them. I also know that even if there is a God, there will be no divine intervention with the Teabaggers. My mom and dad drove this message home to us kids with a plaque we had to see every time we went out the door. It showed some fishermen in a rowboat in a storm and the caption reads: Pray to God, but row toward shore. With or without God, the only way you're ever going to get anywhere is to do the damn work. It's much the same as, "Wish in one hand, shit in the other. See which one gets full first."

I have many wishes. The only ones that will come true are those I work for. Maybe my cynical friends have seen so many hopes and dreams dashed on the rocks of reality that they have surrendered to the Ass-Wholes. I can't blame them because watching this bullshit is exhausting and depressing, and when you've been working for a while without getting anywhere, you eventually need a damn rest. That's when another song comes into my head:

To me, this video says that the spirit that lived inside us back when citizens took it to the streets during Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement beats on today. As old hippies, or Menopausal Stoners if you will, we are understandably exhausted and disheartened by reality that took hold of America about the time Ronald Reagan took office.

College students today have only seen his picture and heard the stories. They don't feel the oppression like we do because they are young and in many ways, we have worked to protect them from the Bull Shit. Now that recent graduates can't find decent entry level jobs because so many mid-level workers with mortgages and medical bills are doing two jobs for the price of one - if they even have a job at all - the college kids are going to start feeling the oppression, too.

Velvet is coming home for the weekend and all the kids will be over. When I listen to them talking, I feel as hopeful as when I see the sun shining through the school window onto a room full of twos. The big kids haven't quite started seeing Reality through adult eyes because their reality is still very cloistered, but they have open, questioning minds. They're more into philosophy and history right now than politics and current events because they are learning the back story which will enable them to look at current events with a bit of perspective. But it's cool to hear them talk about what they read and heard at school. Velvet is, of course, is being taught by radical hippie environmentalists, but Buzz Kill and I planned it that way. One of his best friends is at Dartmouth and spent last semester teaching English in Cairo. He's a smart kid with interesting insights.

I'm thinking it's time somebody fires up these college kids and sends 'em marching. Last week, I read somewhere that one of the big problems facing Progressives is that many of us are entirely too long in the tooth. It's true - our gums have retracted or we're missing teeth. And many of us have been resisting the consumer culture for nearly a life time, hanging onto the hope that one day we'll make a difference, just to watch the damn supreme court hand over elections to corporations. There is plenty of reason to feel beaten and defeated, especially when Ass-Wholes in SUVs have been saying for years, "The Sixties are over and You Lost," while the stock market went up and up and up.

That's why it's such a good thing that the beat really does go on. I see it in my living room with Velvet, and I see it in my classroom where a certain demographic is paying a fortune to make sure their kids grow up with the ability to analyze situations and find the connections.

Maybe the Sixties were lost when Ronald Reagan told white people to forget the civil rights movement, return to the suburbs and shop, but I don't think so. I think the spirit was hibernating. We need to rouse ourselves like the Ents in Lord of the Rings. A little cleavage could help the progressive agenda, though, which is why I still like the idea of Menopausal Stoners in Les Mis outfits with a mini-guillotine on Wall Street. I'm also thinking we need an Herb Tea Party to promote the public option and legal marijuana . I have a fantasy where we brew up some weed tea, mix it with blueberry juice and honey and hand out samples from an ice cream truck on the DC Mall.