Quiz of Doom for the Day:

Is this a picture of Joaquin Phoenix made to look like a vintage photo, or is it an old photo of Pope John Paul II looking fabulous? Or is it just Morrissey shopping? Or none of the above?

As usual, there is no reward for getting things right, just doom for incorrect answers. Mild doom at least. Good chance of at least some mild doom.

Inspirational Thoughts for Tuesday’s Florida Republican 1/2-Primary

In a democracy, you’re a fool if you think your vote matters, and a bigger fool if you don’t vote. This will cause you to sometimes feel foolish.
Under tyranny, you’re a fool if you rebel and fail, a hero if you succeed, and craven if you go along with it.
In that sense, a dictatorship offers more choices–and more meaningful ones at that.

Bullets of Endearment, Do-Nothing Popes, and how the Beatles Ruined Everything

This just in:  the Gutenberg Revolution is finally OVER! Now we can go back to the Medieval superstitions that made us great.

And speaking of Medieval, it’s official: John Paul I (1978-1978) was a do-nothing Pope. His plaque can be found in the Basement Corridor of Great Do-Nothing leaders along with William Henry Harrison (1841-1841), James Garfield (1881-1881) and that four-year-old Pharoah kid [reference needed].

I liked Gabi Giffords more after she got shot. I liked John Paul II more after he got shot too. I even liked Reagan more when he caught one. We all did.
They missed Ford three times and no one liked him any the more for it.
So it’s obvious that getting shot makes people more likeable. But true love is for the dead, especially for those intolerable fuckers known as artists.
Therefore, I think I could be cured of my misanthropy if everyone just got shot.
And if everyone died, I’d probably miss you bastards (and bitches, can’t be sexist)

Oh, but wait, I didn’t appreciate George Harrison any more after he got stabbed, especially since he yelled out Hare Krishna to repulse the attacker (it had repulsed everyone else).
So unless getting stabbed is less popular than getting shot, that ruins my theory.
The fuckin’ Beatles ruin everything! First they ruin the idyllic 50’s by popularizing the 60’s counter-culture, then they ruin the 60’s by going anti-Revolution in 1968, then they ruin the 70’s by being either so cheesy or so alienated that they were unable to thwart the onset of Disco and Studio Rock.
And I had to grow up under that crap!
Now they ruin my theory…
Of course, I’m still not a fan of Bin Laden even after he got shot and killed in advance of his trial, so maybe my theory sucks ass. Edit delete?
That’s the thing about people–you just can’t generalize about them, generally speaking.
Except those fucking Beatles.

(c) 2012 Alan Brech

Santorum and Seinfeld 2012 ! (or maybe Callista for First Lady…)

Because the best VP has got to be the one that looks just like you!

At the exploratory committee:
Jerry:  It’ll be a campaign about nothing!
Rick:  About nothing?!
Jerry:  Nothing!  Everyone’s campaigning about something, ours will be a campaign about nothing!
Rick:  And Romney becomes our butler?
Jerry:  Secretary of the treasury.
Rick:  I could see that. And what about Kramer, I mean Gingrich?
Jerry:  We’ll think of something. He’ll think of something. Mm, we’d better let him down easy. Make him ambassador to the Greek Isles.
Rick:  The ambassador to wherever he wants to promote his coffee-table books.


Say what you want about Newt Gingrich, but it’s obvious that his wife Callista would make the best First Lady:  because she’s cool with it!  Think of the slogans:  Callista’s Down With It!  Party on with Newt and Callista!

The failure of both Huntsman and Romney to win the allegience of fellow Republicans on a national scale should convince the Mormon Church of two important lessons:

1.  You will always find more acceptance among the liberal, left-wing “humanist” types than you will among the Christian Right. So give them up.

2.  Stop producing robotic, Steptford Dudes in your power heirarchies. Abandon whatever it is that’s churning out these android clones. Even the good-natured Harry Reid (D-NV) is a little too droidish. Perhaps there is a psychological cost to the dogmatic repetition of socially shared core beliefs which constitutes at least part of every Mormon meeting, even volleyball games.

Meaninglessness, or Less Meanness Singing?

Imagine that someone someday discovered the hypothetical meaning of life, and could write it down in, say, less than 120 words.

And you could read it—the whole point of existence, human and otherwise—on an index card.

Wouldn’t that make everything seem even more stupid than it is now?

Wouldn’t having the meaning of life written out in a small paragraph actually take away at least some of the meaning we now find in it?

In such a hypothetical enlightened world, the essence of everyone’s spiritual journey all becomes the exact same thing: whether or not you’ve read the sacred index card.

Therefore, if our current human life does have any meaning, part of its meaning must be that it always verges on meaningless. Whatever meaning is derivable can only be obtained in the context of a strong potential for meaninglessness. Without meaninglessness, meaningfulness is merely a trite truism.

Meaning must be greater than truth, lest we reduce it to mere information and lose its important qualities of enactment. And therefore meaning can never be fully true, not like 2 + 2 = 4. It must elude all cognitive captors, even if they be loyal bailiffs of Truth and Justice, or else cognition would then stand outside meaning, and lose itself to meaninglessness.

Meaning is like the world’s fastest and sloppiest fugitive—too adroit to arrest, but always leaving clues and traces wherever it runs.

Does it beg us to catch it precisely because it knows that we cannot?

That would imply that the meaning of life is to always keep looking for mo’ better meaning. And that would be the same as saying we already know the meaning of life.

And that would be meaningless.

Which is good.

(c) Alan Brech 2011

This Might Be Going Somewhere

Fame is lame.
Shame is gain.
Romance is gay.
Sex is silly.
Abstinence died out a long time ago.
Kids are fascists.
Hard work is cheating.
Evaluation is overrated.
Art is stuff.
Suspense is killing you.
God is lovely.
Nothing is never getting done. Constantly.
Reading is fundamental (-ly bad for the eyes)
If it’s funny, it’s probably true, but if it’s true, it’s probably sad.
Procrastination can’t wait a moment longer.
Technology is making us primitive. I can hardly write this. Note to self: evolve.
Illusions actually exist.
God exists, but only the Devil can prove it.
Epigrams are stupid.
Bliss causes ignorance. If any of this sounds ignorant, I was probably in a good mood.
Philosophy has figured everything out, it’s just that words and concepts no longer make sense. Good job.
Religion has all the right answers to all the wrong questions. Don’t ask why.
I think therefore I still don’t know. I still don’t know, therefore I stop thinking for a while. I stop thinking, and yet I still am. What the hell was RD saying?
We’re all nostalgic for when we had a future.
Modernity was passé before it started. Then it got really dreary.
Yogi Berra was more right than we mistake him for.
I guess that’s where this is headed–high-falutin Yogi-isms.  Yikes.

Down with the Asian Work Ethic!

Americans are supposed to worry that many people from Asia work 12 hours a day and send their kids to school and study for even longer. This is supposed to scare us into changing our ways like the Sputnik satellite did in the 1950’s.

How can we compete with them globally? moan the angst-mongers.

Their obvious answer—obviously stupid—is that we need to send our kids to school six days a week, 250 days a year, and that we need to get used to 10 hour work days at the very least.

Without any consciously racist intentions, I say to hell with those “Asian” lifestyles! We do not need to live like them—ever! Humankind did not invent tools and wheels and technological wonders in order to force himself to work twelve hours a day. If that’s where technological society is headed—running ever faster on the gerbil-wheel of work and study—then it’s time to chew our way out of this plastic terrarium.

Hard work is fine, but extra hard work is cheating. It’s the exact same thing as product-dumping, where a county temporarily exports goods at an unsustainably low price just to eliminate the competing sellers from other nations.

People that work or study 12 hours day know that that’s not a sustainable lifestyle. Many will admit that they just do this for their kids, so that they will not have to work as hard or as often as they have—which is an admission that theirs is no way to live!

Unsustainability is not the only similarity between extra hard work & study and product-dumping. There is also the issue of deception and false outcomes. That cheap Chinese product isn’t really that inexpensive—it’s a deception. And we pay for that deception later when the honest competitors are eliminated.

A similar deception occurs in our education system. Studying hard allows students with no cultivatable aptitude for a particular subject to excel and “outperform” (in grades, never in classroom discussion) the student with a natural aptitude and love for a subject, but who only studies that knowledge on the whims of his/her love for it.

The economic deception of extra hard work is even worse than the educational deception of studying extra hard. The promised reward of extra drudgery is a deferred “good life” for the children. And yet, prior to age 14, what really makes kids’ lives better is leisure time shared with enthusiastic parents, not stuff purchased through hard work away from the home, especially work which leaves the parents in an unenthusiastic mood when they are briefly home.

(True, after age 14, the kids just want your money and wish you were at work more often, but that’s a digression…)

Enough human product dumping! When you sell your work you’re selling your life, so if you’re willing to work extra hard for less you are literally cheapening the value of human life, like a murderer.

Children should not be allowed to study more than two hours a day after school. Any child caught studying (or needing to study) more than two hours will be expelled into a remedial program designed to instill a genuine love and understanding of knowledge such that rote learning is not necessary at all. Oh wait, that’s what education is supposed to be! Well then, consider it extra intensive education or just a change of teachers…

The point is that the students who DON’T need that “extra education” (inadvertently paraphrasing Pink Floyd here!) are not penalized by the education system as they are now.

In the workplace, everyone should bust their ass for thirty-five hours and only thirty-five hours per week—it was good enough for President Reagan, so case closed. Anything after thirty-five hours better be overtime with a damn good excuse from the boss for keeping me home from my real life.

No more deferring lives for fictitious future good lives—given our levels of technology and productivity, the good life is either here and now or it simply cannot exist. Our parents and grandparents busted their ass and risked their necks so that we, their descendants, could enjoy the good life.

We owe it to them to show that their efforts were not in vain. We owe it to them to stop working extra hard.

(c) 2011, Alan Brech

Viva la Recession! Down with Economic Recoveries!

Today I tried to rent a bicycle but couldn’t because the Christmas season had been so good, all the used bikes they normally rent had been sold.      

Damn this recovery! 

I miss the recession.  Recessions are underrated. Nay, recessions are awesome!

Back in the good old days, roads and stores were empty and merchants were even more fake-friendly.  During the Golden Age of 2007 when gas prices went near five dollars per gallon, I owned I-95 and I-75! They were mine. Like that Irish guy in Braveheart —they were my highways! (insane grin)

And so much less life-threatening.  When you factor in what’s called “safety” (i.e., a nice way of denoting the absence of blood and guts… this time) and factor in the luxury of a highway all to yourself, five dollars per gallon is a great deal if you don’t drive much. Some of those roads are actually pretty without people like us driving on them.

 Of course, nothing is more beautiful than a utilitarian object no longer in use. Nothing except flowers and sunsets and animals and happy people and astronomical phenomena and art and music and good stories—but that’s a digression, the point is, old farm equipment can look gorgeous as long as there’s not a farm there anymore.

More depressing than the traffic of an economic recovery is what people actually do with the “extra” money they earn—they chew up land and wilderness for schlocky housing. They burn up gas and oil for taller and taller cars so that they can see over everyone else’s Tall-mobile.

Remember when the recession started and we all got 500 bucks in the mail from the government? I could use another 500 right about now, not for any particular reason, but just because I like 500 dollars. It’s hard to feel bad with 500 dollars.

But I would never spend it on an SUV or anything else that supposedly helps the economy. I just want it to buy enough time to explore the woods that almost got chewed up during the last economic bubble-boom.

And drive home on nearly empty roads past quaint abandoned businesses:

Garrison Surf-Boards?  What were they thinking?

(c) 2011 Alan Brech