Monday, November 27, 2006

Dallas Philosopher's Forum

You speak so soft but in your heart you’re cold
In a tower of glass you got a mountain of gold
Yeah, you talk real sharp but we’ll soon cut you down
You’re still a little too smart for a big dumb town.
-Stan Ridgway

The Dallas Philosopher’s Forum meets this season at China King Super Buffet located at LBJ and, Midway, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Tuesday November 27th, the Forum was host to Mark Hebert, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Austin College. His topic: What is the Good Life?

It was an entertaining and engaging lecture. General points: happiness generally relies on an individual’s religiosity, social ties, and family (specifically, being married). Happiness seems to be less dependent on income, health, and where you live. I’m not so sure about this. Living in Cambodia under Pol Pot might influence your happiness. Being in a marriage with Leona Helmsley might influence your happiness in the opposite direction. Having your arms and legs blown off and being diagnosed with terminal cancer might influence your happiness as well. These were, of course, addressed by Mr. Hebert. There are always extremes. But, generally speaking, he says, the above three were better indicators of someone’s happiness than other factors.

The Dallas Philosopher's Forum has been functioning for twenty years now. I asked a guest about it and I believe he said since 1981. He said it was started by a couple theology professors, or something along those lines. (I really have my facts straight on the history and founding of this organization.) It’s impressive to see a room crammed above fire code specifications for a lecture on the Ontological proofs of God. Getting mentioned on 90.1 KERA never hurts either.

Come on by and enjoy greasy Lo Mein and a discussion on Kant's ethics.

More on Technology

Many people are looking for a technology. I recommend a cheap, shitty technology. If you speak to the computer salesman at an electronics retailer, he will tell you your needs are for a good technology. This is probably not the case. There is now an abundance of cheap-shitty technologies. If you buy a computer for example, there are now cheap-shitty 200 dollar computers that will surf the web and run a word processor. Considering that’s what you’ll be using the computer for 90% of the time, why not invest in cheap-shitty technology?

However, don’t buy anything at Radio Shack! Radio Shack does not sell technology. They sell products that look like a technology, but are actually plastic boxes filled with gremlins. The gremlins will probably escape and break the other technologies in your house. You will, however, get some free technologies, unrelated to the technologies you intended to purchase. For example, you may get house fire technology, or broken hunk of shit technology. If you do accidentally purchase a technology at Radio Shack, search the interior for secret messages. For example, the last time I searched a Radio Shack box I found a message which read, “Help, my name is Yin Lao and I am a political prisoner being held captive in Guang Xao province and forced to work in a radio factory. Please contact Amnesty Internaitonal.”

I wonder what that was supposed to mean. Note to the Chinese authorities: the radio was Inspected by #6, so he’s probably a good place to start with the “questioning.”

Sunday, November 26, 2006

David Byrnes Burrito Shaped Shoes

David Byrne has other talents apparently, besides making funky music I love. He is venturing into reporting and political analysis. Visit his journal and read the 11/20/2006 entry for a breakdown of international energy concerns and how they may effect relations in the coming century. The essay also ventures into a meditation on religion.

I love his website as well. It's simple and elegant.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The FSB (KGB), or Russian spy service, really pulled the wool over the world's eyes with its clever poisoning of Aleksander Litvinenko.

It looks much like its clever poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko.

I have intercepted a secret memo, directly from the desk of Vladimir Putin:

To: FSB Comrades

From: VP

Date: 11/20/2006

Re: Proposal for Variety!

Have any of you ever heard of using a little variety in the way we erase our comrades that have been tempted to the other side? Perhaps you have heard of how the Mafia in New York has made use of cement shoes, or its various contacts in the waste disposal industry to make potential snitches disappear. Perhaps you have seen the exciting Hollywood movies where key witnesses fall in front of buses and trains, or have unfortunate car accidents on the way to the courthouse.

You do not see these organizations having a problem with creativity! New ideas are bubbling up every third witness for the prosecution.

It took the world community ten minutes to come to the consensus that we were responsible for the unfortunate case of food poisoning our former colleague has contracted.

In the future, I would like to see some new ideas. I don't care where they come from. I understand the movie Scarface is a font of inspiration in these matters.

The winning proposal gets a Playstation 3.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Kissinger says Military Victory in Iraq Impossible

Henry Kissinger says military victory in Iraq is impossible, and requires a diplomatic solution.

"If you mean by military victory, an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible," he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Read more.

When Blogs are Available, only Idiots will have Blogs

Much analysis of the Democratic victory in the media has broken down into a boring discussion about “What It Means.” One view is that is was a repudiation of the Abramoff scandal, and other misdeeds, such as marital infidelity, as much as it was a referendum on Iraq. Another says it was a referendum on Iraq.

I think it’s part of the pendulum of American politics, and can be explained with “throw the scoundrels out” interpretation of the voting electorate. Periodically, after one party has too much power, gives in to some of the easier abuses of said power, and is subsequently caught, the electorate votes vanilla instead of chocolate. And I don’t think America is a one party state functioning as a two party state, because anyone with taste buds knows there is a difference between chocolate and vanilla. It’s hardly a 31derful rainbow of flavor, but it is a difference. Until America has a system of proportional representation in Congress, there will always be only chocolate or vanilla.

But I digress from the ice cream analogy. You could view the Iraq war as an abuse of power as well, but I suppose I lean more towards the scandal explanation, simply because that’s what the exit polls indicated. Obviously, Iraq played a roll also.

As bad a decision as I think it was to invade Iraq, I’m not entirely convinced that the Democrat sponsored phased withdraw is the answer. One argument at the end of the first Iraq war for not chasing the Republican Guard to Bhagdad was that the removal of Saddam would leave a power vacuum, with next door neighbor Iran being the likely matter and force to fill it. Bad news for the region and bad news for us as well. Perhaps our absence in Iraq will lead to a mullah-controlled Iraq.

In counterpoint, the Vietnam analogy is popping up as well in this discussion. The domino theory was frequently invoked in the Vietnam War, that is, if we let Vietnam go pinko, then Japan and the rest of the region will fall next. This, of course, did not happen. And, it is said, the same could be true in Iraq. Communism was not the monolithic universal movement that it purported to be in its manifesto. The Russians and Chinese didn’t get along, and ultimately Vietnam had a good deal of differences with its neighbors as well. If we leave, it may not be the end of stability in the region.

Thus, people conclude, that pulling out of Iraq will not be as negative an event as feared. As my ice cream example probably demonstrated, argument by analogy is a dangerous thing, and usually makes the list of Logical Fallacies in Argumentative Writing courses. Vietnam may or may not be like Iraq.

So I have my concerns about leaving on a timetable.

At the same time, I don’t see any strategy that might achieve victory. The rumor about the Hamilton-Baker commission is that it will emphasize order over democratic concerns. Sounds like a return to the Moderately Repressive Regimes euphemism for the anti communism of the 1980s. Oh sure, Mobutu Sese Seku and Suharto tortured a few people, but they were conducive to our interests, and they weren’t no commies. I hoped we had left this kind of thinking with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In conclusion, I can conclude nothing of any certainty about the meaning of the Democratic victory, no proper policy for the U.S. in Iraq, and rereading my essay, can see that I have no useful analysis to add to the current political discussions. I’d also like to observe that the weather is cooling off, and people seem to be generally happy with Tony Romo as quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

Thank you.

Friday, November 17, 2006

You are a Slug

I think this B.S. is as valid as Myer's Briggs B.S. Except for the intelligence, diplomacy, patience, even handedness, and waiting for what I want, they really nailed me.

You scored as Fox. You are the Fox. You are quite intelligent and use it to your advantage. You are a diplomatic person and use that to help your friends in times of crisis, not choosing sides. You are also very patient, waiting for what you want.





























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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Stoopid Audience Member Me

David Lynch’s movies require an audience that may have to think, consider, and assemble the meaning and purpose of the movie. Things will not be explained. Events may not happen chronologically. Still more confusing, things may be presented as people remember them, not necessarily how they happened, to paraphrase Lost Highway.

Unfortunately, I am not a member of this intelligent audience that understands it is being co-opted into Mr. Lynch’s house of mirrors. I do not want to have to spend a lot of time during and after the movie trying to puzzle together the events of the film and the motivation or truthfulness of its characters. That is why I plan to watch all future David Lynch productions with Mr. Lynch himself. He will explain all plot points and hidden agendas and motivations of both the characters and himself in his movies. If he will not comply, he will be tortured.

I feel this is only fair, considering I have to watch his movies repeatedly just to understand some asshole is dreaming, and that he isn’t really talking to a midget who speaks backwards. David Lynch’s response might be some smart-ass comment, like, perhaps, “I’m not necessarily making movies for you.” Once I have laid down my eight dollars, Mr. Esoteric, you sure as hell are.

Leland Palmer murdered his daughter, not the evil spirit Bob. Stop fucking with the audience Mr. Lynch. I’m onto you. And if you don’t start being a little clearer in your narrative, you might have to answer to Mr. Happy and his bamboo splints.