Monday, September 29, 2014

This Is How Fascism Happens

Military makes us safe!

As the microscope on security, and almost every single avenue of it, continues to move from subject to subject, Apple’s now raising concerns with the Director of the FBI, James Comey, in regards to iOS 8’s encryption settings and Apple’s marketing of them.

According to a report published by the Huffington Post, Comey has been in talks with Apple recently regarding the encryption settings within iOS 8, and the fact that the company does not have the means to access any kind of data on a device running iOS 8, especially after a protection code has been implemented. As Comey puts it, Apple is “marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.

These comments, and the talks that the FBI is having with Apple, are in direct relation to the changes that Apple has made within iOS 8. Specifically, iOS no longer stores encryption keys for devices within the mobile operating system itself. This means that it’s impossible for Apple to unlock content on devices, even under the request of the police:

“Apple said last week that it would no longer be technically feasible to unlock encrypted iPhones and iPads for law enforcement because the devices would no longer allow user passcodes to be bypassed."

"It's the car's fault!"

"My car was running until it broke!" That's the mentality of a majority of our society. They just want the car to run - but not to maintain it. If it starts then everything must be fine! When it finally breaks, act all innocent and confused. "Don't know how this could have happened! Big mystery!" Also, if these geniuses see you taking your car in to be serviced they get really angry and sarcastic. "Moron! Don't see me doing that and my car runs fine!"

I really, really, really don't want to live with those people. God bless the day when Nature finally extinguishes them.

And so it is with an eroding democracy. We already have economic fascism, time to clamp the rest of the cuffs on. After all, when you're an evildoer you naturally live in fear as it's your desire to see people as limited as possible for the coming reprisals. Another thing evildoers must be is magicians. "Hey, look at those evildoers over there!" Makes you come off as a real patriot - to the morons.


But in order to believe we're a good people we must by extension believe we have a good government (which is why Congress has low ratings but my incumbent needs to be re-elected). Therefore, to be good citizens we must heed the wishes of authority. (Of course, by that standard none of our founding fathers were good citizens). So we keep letting the chains get tighter and tighter because fascism can "never happen here! Nothing to worry about. The government is run by angels."

Armies, weapons, secrets, rendition, torture, police states, snipers, surveillance - none of those things make us safe. There's only one thing you can do to help be safe (as one one is never truly safe), and this not fucking people. A clear conscience is the only protection anyone can have. None of the commenters below has a clear conscience:

*****

so basically isis, al queda, anf korosan terrorists are going to be lining up to buy these bad boys. not to mention child porn traffickers and drug cartels. i can just the unintended consequence here. terrorist is arrested and he knows where the location of a bomb is that will kill thousands. that is on his brand new iPhone 6. after the deaths apple and google will have to explain.

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And now we'd like Apple to find your child's kidnapper for you instead, as we can't decode the contents of this phone.

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This isn't good. I don't care if they listen to my phone sex as long as they find victims and potential terrorists. This world is getting worse day by day. Thumbs down Apple and Snowden!

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Brian, did you bother reading the article? Even with a warrant, Apple will refuse to provide the required information, claiming they're an innocent third party. This device serves no special purpose other than to allow terrorists and criminals to communicate freely.

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This will completely enhance the Apple brand. All drug dealers and prostitution rings will use them as well as require their clients, child porn rings as well. Also inside stock traders and corporate price fixers, stock manipulators, collusionists and corporate spies from any nation. Might as well add black money donors and many politicians. Certainly state spies from any nation. Of course terrorists but there are far fewer of them to add to Apple's bankbook than the previously mentioned groups

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"Hey, Apple! Use me in your commercial!"

oh this is great news for the drug cartels,Al Qeada,ISIL,and all those repub-lickins that hate America. NSA locked out......but Google and Apple will follow you into the public toilet and sell that information. great.....just great....... our intelligence service was actually doing a pretty good job detecting threats to our nation and the world and this gives those who want to harm us a secret way of communicating. if your not doing something illegal why worry about the NSA ? google apple aol at&t ect all are tracking you and selling that info ....the NSA and other government agencies do not sell info they collect. worry about all those agreements you sign to log on to a website .....but not the NSA . just my opinion.

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Judi Kertes Exactly -- Government may 'spy on everybody', but it doesn't take them long to realize it when they're spying on people who have no reason to be spied upon, and then turn their gaze elsewhere where the time and effort expended on the spying might actually do some good.

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My personal view: this is an excellent promotional concept to spike sales amongst terrorists and traitors. Otherwise, what's the incentive for consumers just looking to purchase the latest cell phone gadgetry?

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I am 100% OK with the Obama or any administration collecting and storing the phone numbers I have called from my cell phones or landlines. I am 100% OK with the NSA collecting and storing the email addresses to which I have emailed. I am 100% OK with these because I cannot think of a scenario where I can be harmed by such surveillance. If someone here can think of one, why don't you share it now. Tell us how an innocent and law abiding citizen can be harmed by the NSA recording the numbers that have called.

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Snowden and now Apple have made it harder to catch the bad guys. We are less secure. I think Congress should vote to decide if it should be illegal do sell or use this phone in the United States.

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"Encrypt this!"

By doing this Apple leaves itself wide open to lawsuits by victims of crime where perps have used the iPhone to keep information about the crime secret. During the time it would take law enforcement to decipher the information horrific damage could be done. For example, I can easily see where the parents of kidnapped or murdered children would sue them if the perp got off because information about the crime was encrypted and could not be presented in court. If terrorists use this, and it is dead certain that they will, the victims of the terrorist attack can also sue and win in court because Appl's encryption actually abetted the crime by giving the terrorists more time to act. This is a clear cut case of Apple obstructing justice in the case of crimes being committed and making the dumb excuse that it is all the user's fault. It is exactly like a person selling a gun to a known felon and then making excuses when that gun is used in a mass murder. In this case Apple is one dumb corporation.

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How wonderful these agencies are that take your private information, physical location and dispense it to the world, bartering with others for it, profiling you, so that you might be able to see the playoffs and be entertained. No, not the CIA or Obama but your cable company, your Apple..but wait ...YOU'VE got to stop data collection by a benign government that doesn't care about you and wants to detect deathly attacks. That's Snowden's job...to sell you dreams of your invincibility....See? How powerful we are again? Wolf tickets. Remember Boston Marathon..or do you not identify with your fellow Americans any more?

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Yes sir, officer, I'm just so sweet and innocent I can't imagine you ever doing anything wrong. People who lie like that are the real traitors. The Bush and Obama groupies espouse Orwellian messages that submission is freedom. "Isn't it great to think our leader is Jesus? Stay faithfully blind!" Snort the poppies and sleep. This is not just another snake cult.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lawrence, Of Arabia. We Meet At Last! (Epic, Epic Post)


"Lawrence of Arabia." For me that phrase has always invoked exotic imagery of a hazy time in mystic lands far away. I'm sure most of us are more aware of his vast echoing aura than his specific deeds. T. E. Lawrence, illegitimate child of Sir Thomas Chapman and his governess, was an enigmatic soul whose ostensible goal was that of creating an independent Arab state, of creating a modern pyramid in the Sinai sands. And while he was wholly faithful to that goal, it belied his own crushing need to be free, to see it happen for others if not himself.

In his 1922 book "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" he recounts his role in the Arab revolt against the Turks in WWI. His descriptive powers are enormous; lyrical and romantic. One sits crouching in the desert moonlight with dried sweat listening to a cacophony of unsorted sounds on the edge of an un-sworn village. We ride with Lawrence, complete with his unedited perceptions and staggering insights. Ah, if there was ever a soul meant for Dorothy Parker's roundtable!

But Lawrence has a leaking hole in him, needing to feed off the world and the living in the moment. I feel had he attempted a fictional work solely of his own making, he'd be empty and flat, contrived and uninspired. There is no greater moment-to-moment existence than war; he'd found his element and an outlet for his monumental dreams, no imagination required. A rabid historian, a digger of spiritual artifacts, a poet among brutes and warriors, a daredevil who needed risk to feel alive - Lawrence was all these things.


The book is dense and long. The beginning with its essays on the historical background and culture of the Arabian region is overwhelming, though necessary, in its data. Lawrence realizes we must know the big picture to understand the little picture. Once he joins the revolt as an adviser and British liaison things start moving along. In the introduction he reflects in an overview of the entirety of events and specifically his own misgivings at knowing the falseness of British assurances for Arab self-rule after the war.
It was evident from the beginning that if we won the war these promises would be dead paper, and had I been an honest adviser of the Arabs I would have told them to go home, and not risk their lives fighting for such stuff: but I salved myself with the hope that by leading these Arabs madly in the final victory I would establish them, with arms in their hands, in a position so assured (if not dominant) that expediency would counsel to the Great Powers a fair settlement of their claims. It is not yet clear yet if I succeeded: but it is clear I had not shadow of leave to engage them unknowing in such hazard.
Lawrence described his role as being a reluctant conspirator in the British deception, of which he was "continually and bitterly ashamed". The Arab revolt and its eventual hoped for prize of freedom was his driving passion, not military decorations or personal glory. If he did have one vanity it would be that of a Moses leading his people to the promised land. I would hazard to guess he very much hungered for this. He drolly continues:
I risked being made a fraud, on my conviction that Arab help was necessary to our cheap and speedy victory in the east, and that better we win and break our word than lose. The dismissal of Sir Henry McMahon confirmed my belief in our essential insincerity, but I could not explain myself to General Wingate, while the war lasted, since I was nominally under his orders, and he did not seem sensible of how false his own standing was. The only thing to do was refuse rewards for being a successful trickster; and to prevent this unpleasantness from arising again.

And later writing:

...I had convinced myself that I was the only person engaged in the field of the Arab adventure who could dispose it to be at once a handmaid to the British Army of Egypt, and also at the same time the author of its own success.
Lawrence was a student of what he called "the Semitic mind", longing for the Arabs to fulfill a potential he believed in with every fiber of his being.
The Semitic mind was strange and dark full of depressions and exaltations, lacking in rule, but more of ardor and more fertile in belief than any other in the world. They were a people of starts, for whom the abstract was the strongest motive, the process [to be] of infinite courage and variety, and the end nothing. They were as unstable as water, and like water would perhaps finally prevail.


God's prophets inhabited these lands and even non-believers benefited by the grace of the their company. Miracles in the midst had branded their minds for the ages but the mantle was too heavy to wear until finally the land of the pyramids and the cradle of civilization became nothing but a faint echo of her past. The Arabic states turned fractious, sparring over crumbs of a lost heritage; they became a "little people". This wounded Lawrence grievously, songs of a heritage rising ringing in his ears. He continues:
Since the dawn of life in successive waves they had been dashing themselves against the coasts of flesh. Each wave was broken but, like the sea, wore away ever so little of the granite on which it failed, and some day, ages yet, might roll unchecked over the place where the material world had been, and God would move upon the face of those waters. One such wave (and not the least) I raised and rolled before the breath of an idea, till it reached its crest, and toppled over and fell at Damascus. The wash of that wave, thrown back by the resistance of vested things, will provide the matter of the following wave, when in fullness of time it shall be raised once more.
Prince Feisal, in whom Lawrence found a leader he could trust to lead the revolt, was no rube by any stretch of the imagination either. Educated abroad, politically brilliant, and endlessly skilled in the dealings of men's hearts knew full well British desires and lusts. But he was in a spot, for without British aid he was doomed while also realizing he was likely abetting the loss of future control of Arab territories. Thus, he lets loose with this wonderful piece of rhetoric:
"You see, we are now of necessity allies of the British. We are delighted to be their friends, most grateful for their help, most expectant of our future profit: but we are not British subjects. We would be more at ease were they not so disproportionate an ally."
... Feisal mused a little, and said, "I am not a Hejazi by upbringing, and yet, by God, I am jealous for it: and though I know the British do not want it, yet what can I say, when they took the Sudan, also not wanting it? They hunger for desolate lands, to build them up, and so one day Arabia may seem to them precious. Your good and my good, perhaps they are different, and either forced good or forced evil will make a people cry with pain. Does the ore admire the flame which transforms it? There is no rational ground for offense, but men too weak will be claimant about their little own. Our race will have a cripple's temper, till it has found its feet."

There is so much wisdom, truth, humor, conviction, deft cajoling and wit in that little speech as to surpass the sum total of many men's entire lifetime. Instead of saying, "I know you fuckers! You're planning to fuck us!", which invites a retort of denials and protests creating a divide, Feisal in a non-threatening way simply informs that he knows what the score is, judges not their ill intent but has a watchful eye wide open. Shakespeare would have been appreciative.

Lawrence had initially been sent to assess the Arab situation and report back. This he did and was able to organize some British support for the Arab revolt. The Turks, armed with modern German weapons were able to push back the Arabs but in so doing put themselves in range of recently arrived British ships whose guns the Turks could not match. At last, the newly supplied Arabs were in a position to mount an attack but a full scale assault was an unprecedented operation, requiring tribal factions to be put aside and forge a trusted unity that did not exist.
There were too many pressing details to leave us time to disentangle principle from example, and the dogma of irregular warfare, already present at the back of my mind in cloudy formlessness, expressed themselves as yet mainly in empirical snatching at solutions for attendant difficulties. However in my own impression right and wrong were gradually sorting themselves out.
The ever heady Lawrence needs a strategy before heading into battle, realizing that even a force of superior numbers is doomed to fail against the enemy of confusion. In this way he was an invaluable ally, a keen observer of both the situation and Arab mind. He was ego-less in the sense he pressed forward no personal agenda, married to no military tactics, no cowering British officer clinging to dogmatic ways in absence of thought. The mind of Lawrence was free and clear to see the road before him. He continues:
Before the march to Wejh, I had written that the Arab army in mass was not formidable, since it lacked corporate spirit, discipline, mutual confidence. Every Arab man by himself was good: the smaller the unit, the better the performance. A thousand were a mob, ineffective against a company of trained troops, but three or four of them in their own hills would account for a dozen Turkish soldiers...This was the judgment Napoleon put into ten words about the Mamelukes: only he was on the other side, and they danced to his tune. My half-memory of his words turned them inside out: and my temper refused to hear the Turkish piping.
Of his desert travels, Col. Lawrence was quite detailed and specific, sharing both the beauty and the horror. Of the many travails he was quite matter-of-fact in his notation, making no to-do of say, catching lice or being bitten by a scorpion, other than to notate it. I imagine he also got a bit of a secret thrill in terrifying his comparatively coddled brethren back in England in being so dismissive of that which would be horrified in the West. But make no mistake about it, Lawrence was an honest adventurer without affectation, breaking Arab protocol at his whimsy and immersing himself wholly into the desert terrain.


The book is filled with poetic landscape passages like these two from the spellbound observer:
The union of dark cliffs, pink sand floors and pale green shrubbery was beautiful to our eyes sated with months of sunlight and black shadow: when evening came the low sun made one side of the valley a dull purple and the other a hot crimson, as though consuming in a furnace of its rays.

...the landscape was of a hopelessness and sadness deeper than all the open deserts we had crossed. A sand desert, or a flint desert, or one of bare rocks was sometimes exciting, and in certain lights had the beauty of sheer sterility and desolation: but there was something sinister, something actively evil in this snake-devoted Sirhan waste, so pregnant with salt water, fruitless palms, and unprofitable bushes which served neither for grazing nor for firewood.
To travel in the desert having known nothing but desert travel is one thing, but for a "soft" westerner to be hounded by flies, snakes and suffocating heat would break the hardiest of souls. Yet our man endured without so much a stiff upper lip but rather seeing it as the simple price one pays for adventure. Those men bound by creature comforts lived as unknown slaves, never able to roam the vast beautiful desolate deserts and gaze upon their wonders as Lawrence, the freest man in the world, did what no other man in the British regiment would dare or care to do.
So we were wise and marched on, over monotonous glittering sand and over those worse stretches, Giaan, of hard, unbroken polished mud, nearly as white and smooth as laid paper, and often whole miles square. They blazed back the sun into our faces with glassy vigor, so that we rode with the light raining its arrows upon our heads, and its reflection glancing up from the ground through our inadequate eyelids. It was not a steady pressure, but a pain ebbing and flowing, at one time piling itself up and up till we nearly swooned, and then falling away coolly in a moment of apparent shadow, which was in reality a black web crossing the retina: and which, like the struggles to the surface of a drowning man, gave us a moment's breathing space only to store new capacity for suffering.
Arab customs also gave no bother to this ancient soul. One otherwise might find oneself as equally uneasy at a feast as stranded upon a camel in blazing desert heat!
The bowl was now brim-full ringed round its edge by white rice in an embankment a foot wide and six inches deep, filled with legs and ribs of mutton till they toppled over. It took two or three victims to make in the center a dressed pyramid of meat such as honor prescribed. The center-pieces were the boiled heads, upturned, propped on their stumps of neck deep-buried in the food, so the the ears, browned like old leaves, flapped out on the rice surface. The jaws gaped emptily upward, pulled wide open, to show the hollow throat, with the tongue, still pink, clinging to the lower teeth; and the long incisors whitely crowned the pile, very prominent above the nostrils' prickly hair and the lips which sneered away blackly from them.
Eating consisted of wedging around in on one knee as space permitted, turning back your right sleeve to the elbow and digging in with your fingers. One wonders what these Bedouin folk might have thought at the sight of a fine English restaurant of the time.
The first dip for me at least was always cautious, since the liquid fat was so hot that my unaccustomed fingers could seldom bear it: and so I would toy with an exposed and cooling lump of meat till others' excavations had drained my rice-segment. We would knead between the fingers, not using the palm, neat balls of rice and fat and liver and meat, all cemented by gentle pressure, and project them by leverage of the thumb from the crooked forefinger into the mouth.


No doubt, had Lawrence whipped out a fork it would have been social suicide. And Lawrence was anything but a man unaware of politics and the lethality of ignoring the same. After weeks of hell, finally reaching within striking distance of a surprise attack upon Akaba, perhaps the most key victory of his career, Lawrence had to contend with a shifting of priorities by a key ally who now became fixated on the higher and more intoxicating goal of Damascus. This overreach would mean a collapse of the strategy for the entire Arab revolt, dooming it to an aborted fate.
I pointed [ally Nesib] in vain to Feisal yet in Wejh, to the British yet the wrong side of Gaza, to the new Turkish army massing in Aleppo to recover Mesopotamia, and showed how we in Damascus would be unsupported, without resources or organization, without a base, without even a line of communication with our mends; but Nesib was now soaring above geography, and beyond tactics, and only sordid means would bring him down. So I went to Auda, and said that with the new objective the cash and credit would go to Nuri Shaalan and not him: and I went to Nasir, and used my influence and our liking for one another to keep him on my plan, and fanned the jealousy easily lit between a Sherif and a Damascene...
Though now isolated, Nesib was still enamored with the idea of taking Damascus and vowed to do so on his own. In Japanese history, one reads of many failed, deluded men such as Nesib with their head in the clouds; taking no counsel; without thought a wiser voice may even exist. But while Lawrence the man was but one speck upon the desert riding a camel, his mind swept over and across the sands like a khamsin wind.
I knew [Nesib's] incapacity to create, but it was not in my mind to have even a half-baked rising [in Damascus], to spoil our future material, so I was careful to draw his teeth before he started, by taking from him most of the money Feisal had shared out to him. The fool made this easy for me, as he knew he had not enough for all he wanted, and measuring the morality of England by his own pettiness, came to me for the promise of more if he raised a Syrian movement independent of Feisal, under his own leadership. I had no fear of so untoward a miracle, and instead of calling him a rat, gave my ready promise for the future, if he would for the present give me his balance to help at Akaba, where I would make funds available for the general need. He yielded to my condition with a bad grace, but Nasir was delighted to get two bags of money unexpectedly.


The taking of Akaba! Akaba was a huge thorn in the side of the British, impregnable from the sea with its powerful guns and mountainous defenses. But from the desert side, she could be had. The Turks never expected an attack coming out of the impossible sands and the element of surprise was key to Lawrence's strategy. When word leaked out of their possible presence, multiple feints were made towards Damascus as if that were the Arabs' target. The "stupid Turks" fell for it and thus Akaba fell after the first initial conflict. This was the heaviest action seen to date, literally too hot to handle!
It was terribly hot, hotter than ever before I had felt in Arabia, and the anxiety and constant moving made it hard for us. Some even of the tough tribesmen broke down under the cruelty of the sun and crawled or had to be thrown under rocks to recover in their shade...The sharp ground tore our feet, and before evening the more energetic men were leaving rusty prints upon the ground with their every stride.

Our rifles grew so hot with the sun and shooting that they seared our hands and we had to be grudging of our rounds, considering every shot, and setting great pains to make it sure. The rocks on which we flung ourselves to get our aim were burning with the sun, so that they scorched our breasts and arms, from which later the skin peeled off in ragged sheets...

In the afternoon I had a heat-stroke myself, or pretended to, for I was dead-tired of the weariness of it all, and cared no longer how it went. So I crept down into a hollow where there was a trickle of thick water in a muddy cup of the hills, and strained to suck some moisture off its dirt through the filter of my sleeve. Nasir joined me, panting like a winded animal, with his cracked and bleeding lips shrunk apart in distress: and then old Auda appeared, striding down powerfully, his eyes bloodshot, and staring, his knotty face working with excitement.

He grinned with malice when he saw us lying there, spread out trying to find coolness under the bank, and croaked to me harshly, "Well, how is it with the Howeitat! All talk and no work!" "By God, indeed:" said I back again, for I was angry with everyone and with myself, "they shoot a lot and hit a little." Auda turned almost pale with rage, and trembling tore his head cloth off and threw it on the ground beside me. Then he ran back up the hill like a madman, shouting out to his men on this side and the other in his dreadful strained and rustling voice.
Auda's rush of manpower crumpled the Turks giving Akaba over to the British who now reversed the situation having Akaba become a thorn in the side of the Turks. While still not wholly secured until British manpower and supplies could come to reinforce her, Lawrence nonetheless devised a strategy for psychologically protecting Akaba from a large-scale Turkish response. Using the tactics of irregular (guerrilla) warfare he deemed ideally suited for the Arabs, he proposed death by a thousand cuts to the Turkish positions.


Bemoaning and deploring even the loss of single life, Lawrence devised to be an "invisible enemy", untouchable and infuriating. Like a homeowner leaving a single door unlocked to lay a trap for a burglar, railways lines were cut and destroyed, hampering the Turkish forces, containing them to be where the British pleased to keep them. When the Turkish attack was finally mounted to retake Akaba, the timing of it had largely been orchestrated by Lawrence, and his waiting - and very well placed - defensive forces sliced the Turks to pieces at the very first outpost. This confounded the Turks madly, unable to stop the invisible forces sabotaging their railways and yet equally repelled by a mass attack! Who are these guys?
Our fighting tactics should be always tip and run: not pushes, but strokes. We should never try to maintain or improve an advantage, but should move off to strike again somewhere else. We should use the smallest force in the quickest of time, at the furthest place. If the action continued till the enemy had changed its dispositions to resist it, we would be breaking the spirit of our fundamental rule of denying him targets. If the enemy brought us to action we would be disgraced technically, even if victorious in the issue.
How would you like to tangle with a wily bastard like that? Lawrence became adept at setting the charges, eventually passing off much of the sabotage to trained Arab irregulars. He shares an early success:
So when the front driver of the second engine was on the bridge, I raised my hand to Salem [to detonate], and there followed a terrific roar, and the [rail] line vanished from sight behind a jetted column of black dust and smoke a hundred feet high and as many wide. Out of the darkness came a series of shattering crashes, and long loud metallic clanging of ripped steel, while many lumps of iron and plate, with one entire wheel of a locomotive whirled up suddenly black out of the cloud against the sky, and sailed musically over our heads to fall slowly and heavily into the desert behind. Except for the flight of these there came a dead silence, with no cry of men or shot, as the now-grey mist of the explosion drifted from the line towards us, and over our ridge until it was lost in the hills.

Of the laying of the trap for the brunt of Turkish forces directed towards attempting to retake Akaba:
Maulud presided beautifully. He opened his center, and with the greatest humor let the Turks in till they broke their faces against the vertical cliffs of the mountain which was the Arab refuge. Then, while they were yet puzzled and hurt, he came down simultaneously on both flanks.

They drew off dazed, and never ventured another attack on a prepared Arab position. Their losses had been heavy, but their loss of nerve at finding us invisible and yet full of backlash cost them more than the killed and wounded. Thanks to Maulud our situation about Akaba became entirely easy, and we no longer had to plan at all for the safety of our base.
Were the adventures of Lawrence to be serialized and made episodic, there would be many an episode written of the solving of tribal tensions and personal ambitions of the various Arab tribes and leaders, respectively. In totality it seems nearly miraculous and as absurdly resolved as a modern TV series where all is well in the end, week after week without fail. But while it would be easy to gloss over Lawrence's accomplishments as "He came. He saw. He conquered.", do not be deceived that a lesser man without the absolute dedication and brilliance of Lawrence - that by only a few stumblings to have fallen into the dustbin of history - was continuing success made possible.
To have shown in an unguarded statement, or by direct question, ignorance of [tribal] matters would have been fatal to me, for every competent Arab was familiar with them by instinct or experience. In the small and little-peopled desert every worshipful man knew every other, and instead of books they studied their own generation. To have fallen short in this knowledge would have meant being branded either as ill-bred, or as a stranger, and strangers were not admitted to familiar intercourse, and were shut out from councils and friendly confidences. There was nothing so wearing in all Arabia as this constant mental gymnastic of apparent omniscience at each time of meeting a new tribe. An effort to grasp unknown allusions, and to take an intelligent share in a half-intelligible conversation, would be hard in England, where only politeness was at stake, but how much more in the Arab Revolt, where one bad failure not merely in etiquette or in imagination, but in understanding a new dialect, might have wrecked the whole endeavor.

"I already am in hell."

Attributed as the "last great romantic war story", El Aurens' (as called by the Arabs) accounting of his time in Syria stands unique. With each passing war, soldier suicide rates increase as war's stubborn myth continues to feast on the souls of men as we continue to reject reality, paying an ever higher price. The whole "Charge of the Light Brigade" romance died with Lawrence and his naivete, a man who despised "animal passions", firmly (and correctly) believing the spirit to be more real than the body. But what of love, El Aurens, what of love?

This brings us to the most disputed point in "Seven Pillars": his torture at the hands of the Turks. Some claim it never happened but if so, Lawrence is a brilliant and intricate liar and certainly a man who has knowledge of torture regardless. He describes the Turkish army as highly predatory with officers abusing any and all hapless victims who come their way (including their own men). While only a brutally harsh and sadistic beating is recounted, rape by the Turks was a common disease in their ranks. As the story goes, the beating is a result of refusing to submit to rape but rude speculation has it that it did happen, Lawrence not liking what it revealed in himself.
I got angry and said something to [the Turkish commander]. His face changed and he stood still; then controlled his voice with an effort and said significantly, "You must understand that I know about you, and it will be much easier if you do as I wish." I was dumbfounded by this, and we waited silently for another moment, staring at one another, while the men who had not seen an inner meaning shifted about uncomfortably: but it was evidently a chance shot by which he himself did not or would not mean what I feared. I could not again trust my twitching mouth [Lawrence was hopelessly sarcastic] which faltered always in emergencies but at last threw up my chin which is the sign for 'No' in the East and then he sat down and half-whispered to the corporal to take me out and teach me till I prayed to be brought back.

...The corporal had run downstairs and now came back with a Cicassian riding whip of the sort the gendarmes carried...As the punishment proceeded the whip fell more and more upon existing whales biting blacker or more wet till my flesh quivered with accumulated pain and with terror of the next blow coming. From the first they hurt more horribly than I had dreamed of and, as always before the agony of one had fully reached me another used to fall, the torture of a series worked up to an intolerable height.

At last when I was completely broken they seemed satisfied...I remember the corporal kicking me with his nailed boot to get me up: and this was true, for the next day my left side was yellow and lacerated and a damaged rib made each breath stab me sharply.

I remember smiling idly at him, for delicious warmth, probably sexual, was swelling through me: and then that he flung up his arm and hacked with the full length of his whip into my groin. This jerked me half-over, screaming, or rather trying impotently to scream, and only shuddering through my open mouth. Someone giggled with amusement, but another cried, 'Shame, you've killed him.'

They splashed water in my face, lifted me to my feet, and bore me, retching and sobbing for mercy, between them to the [Turkish commander's] bedside: but he now threw me off fastidiously, cursing them for their stupidity in thinking he needed a bedfellow streaming with blood and water, striped and fouled from face to heel...

So the crestfallen corporal, as the youngest and best-looking of the guard, had to stay behind, while the others carried me down down the narrow stairs and out into the street...The soldiers, now free to speak, tried to console me in their fashion, saying that men must suffer their officers' wishes or pay for it, as I had just done, with still greater suffering.

...I went timidly down the road towards the village, trying to walk naturally past the few people already astir. They took no notice, and indeed there was nothing peculiar in my dark broadcloth, red fez and slippers: but it was only by restraining myself with the full urge of my tongue silently to myself that I refrained from being foolish out of sheer terror. The atmosphere of Deraa seemed inhuman with vice and cruelty and it shocked me like cold water when I heard a soldier laugh behind me in the street.
Many will make much of these passages but it was that last line that terrified me most: that's when I knew it was real. Later, when one of the trouble-making boys got his usual whipping in camp, Lawrence made them stop because it caused a flashback to that night of living terror. I also remember reading of another sign of his PTSD from this event. To insert touches like that as pieces of fiction is beyond the pale. No, there would not be any more great romantic war stories after this; war so obviously nothing more than an amalgamation of men's inadequacies, expressing internal shelling with external shelling. Nothing noble here.


El Aurens and his Arab irregulars were like gnats to a boxer, annoying yet never capable of inflicting ultimate defeat. But paired with the boxer that was the British and Arab regulars, Lawrence's gnats could confound and confuse the enemy in planned coordination to strike the fatal blow. Near the end of the war this partnership came much more into play and therefore Lawrence in his preparations was more likely to cross paths with the regular Turkish army. At one point he'd been caught out in the open, trapped and facing certain death.
A moment later more troops appeared on the front. We were certainly caught. The Arabs jumped off their camels, and crouched in a covered place with their guns, meaning to fight to the last like cornered animals, and kill at least some of the enemy before they themselves died. Such tactics displeased me, for when combats came to the physical, bare hand against hand, I used to turn myself in. The disgust of being touched revolted me more then the thought of death and defeat: perhaps because one such terrible struggle in my youth had given me an enduring fear of contact: or because I so reverenced my wits and despised my body what I would not be beholden to the second for life of the first.

Anyway I had not the instinct to sell my life dearly, and to avoid the indignity of trying not to be killed and failing, rode straight for the enemy to end the business; in all the exhilaration of that and terrific and most glad pain of death; noting that the shock had paralyzed my intuition, and put reason on the throne. This was peculiar to me in company, when I felt fear, disgust, boredom, but anger very seldom; and I was never passionate. Only once or twice, when I was alone and lost in the desert, and had no audience, did I break down.
Turns out the the attackers Lawrence suicidally rushed into headlong were in fact Arab allies dressed in captured Turkish uniforms. But we see here his dedication to the cerebral and absolute refusal of submitting to the physical, the reverse of most lives. Unable to touch or be touched, he connected in the only ways he knew how, reaching out in word and thought with compromise his only true enemy.

"Are you kidding? It's fun to have people
die for your graven image!"

As the war reached its conclusion, the acts of waging war weighed heavily on this instigator. Certainly within the framework of freedom and justice, Lawrence's clarion vision was free from doubt. But seeing the dead bodies of men never met, pressed into foreign combat, gave him pause for self-reflection. To order men unto the breach based on your motivations also gave a cry out for honest reason. But it was this constant self-questioning that allowed him to keep his sanity and negotiate the constant perils of his campaigns. Any one slip could be fatal.
...To endure by order, or because it was a duty: that was straightforward and easy. The soldier suffered knocks harder than the general's, but involuntarily, which much lessened their hardship; whereas it was horrible to make one's own will play the ganger tin the workmen fainted. To stand in a safe place and thrust others into danger might not be merely painful but very brave. It would have been heroic to have offered up my own life for a cause in which I could not believe: but it was a theft of souls to make others die in sincerity for my graven image. They accepted our method as truth, and were ready to be killed for it, because it was true: but such a condition made their acts more proper than glorious, a logical bastard fortitude, suitable to a profit-and-loss balance of conduct. To invent a message, and then open-eyed to perish for its fraudulent self-made image - that was greater.
He goes on for several more paragraphs, weighing and measuring, always with his detached observations. Later in the book on his 30th birthday he grew even more inward, knowing he must live an eternity with deeds done.
This craving [for good repute among men] made me profoundly suspicious of my truthfulness to myself. Only too good an actor could so impress - or wish to impress - men, with his favorable opinion. Here were the Arabs believing me, Allenby and Clayton trusting me, my bodyguard dying for me: and I began to wonder how many established reputations were founded like mine, upon a fraud: how many people acted the dictator and felt like mean worms.
Easier to face a Turkish whip than this!

But there was not only wondering of deeds done, but of deeds not done in his life. Lawrence felt himself an alien being living with the human race. Even if making the best of a situation, one must still consider doors not opened and paths not taken that can create predicaments in life. This creature of the spirit wished to know of life but not live life. He needed to prove the superiority of his wits in order to prove his time not wasted - then regretted the pursuit of that proof as wasted. He spoke of the perfidious crime of not doing what one wants in life.
When a thing was within my reach I no longer wanted it. My delight lay in the desire and not in the desired. I believed that everything which my mind could wish for was attainable, and used to strive, until I had just to open my hand and take it. Then I would turn away. Other people used to pluck, and afterwards reject: I was content with the inner consciousness that it had been within my strength. I sought only to assure myself, cared not a jot to make others know it and so preserved often for myself something of a secret illusion of the quest, for memory's sake.

...This futile pettiness [of proving my wits at other's expense] made me uncomfortable with other men, lest my whim drive me suddenly to collect them as trophies of my marksmanship: also they were interested in so much of which my self-consciousness was ashamed. They talked of food and illness, games and pleasure - with me, who felt that to recognize our possession of bodies was degradation enough, let alone to enlarge upon their needs and attributes. These others were outwardly so like me that I would feel shame for myself, seeing them wallow in what I judged shame: since the physical could be only a glorification of man's cross. Indeed the truth was always that I did not like myself.
The closing stages of war would bring about the most brutal, ruthless and godless of all battlefields: politics. After the final step of the taking of Damascus would come power grabs for the spoils not only between the Arab factions but a royal British nose would be sticking in as well. Lawrence was the only man in the world who could bridge both sides in making competent decisions. However, his zealotry would brook no British interference in a complete Arab takeover and in this he was successful. We get a glimpse of his mentality when crossing paths with a British general unaware to the superiority of camels in desert travel over his treasured horses.
So when [the general] saw me freshly riding up he was astonished and asked when we had left Deraa; I sad,"This morning" and his face fell. "Where will you stop tonight?" was his next question. "Damascus," said I gaily and rode on, having made another enemy. It a little smote me to play him these tricks for he was generous towards my wishes: but my play was for high stakes, high beyond his sight and I cared nothing what he thought so that I won. By being personally objectionable to the great men, I transferred their anger from my cause to my manner and gained from them all I wanted so long as it was not for me, this was a useful discovery and later in Paris and London. Where events made me a big brother of Arab independence, I was able to divert much of the odium to myself: though new nations were necessarily disliked, thrusting as they did, parvenus, into the most exclusive society in the world.



Like many men, Lawrence was made whole by war and halved by its absence. (Sort of like Patton. What a pair those two would make!) With direction and clear definable goals, Lawrence was in his element, allowing full devotion of his soaring spirit. After the war, Lawrence lingered in foreign affairs then attempted to join the RAF under a false name, desperate to stay in the bubble of military motivations. He was finally admitted and served almost to the end of his life when he died from a motorcycle crash at age 46. It is said he "professed happiness" in this service but I have to believe he was stuck trying to relive his time in Arabia having no personal life in which to turn.

Of Lawrence the man much has been written. He is a delight as a target for cheap-shot artists and small men of little persuasion for Lawrence is a man easily painted in a mean light for the simple-minded and the savage. Political ax-wielders also begrudge him his greater understanding of politics yet having his wholesale mistrust of the same with an idealist's clarity and rejection. Dreamers must float above us in the sky, arousing envy among earthbound souls making false charges to cover their own faults against those cloud dwellers not present to defend themselves.

But if we put aside our pettiness for a while, and suffer to hear the sound of our dreams, we hear the laughter and tears of Lawrence, begging to be understood and, most of all, to be set free - free as an Arab Bedouin roaming his empire of sand with neither master nor slave, accepting both the heritage and blessings of the ancient winds crying out for redemption, pleading for the prodigal lost to come home at last.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Twisted Talent


Birds of a feather, that's why I'm here. I always cringe watching movies where the protagonist - or anyone really - gets mixed up with a bunch of assholes. Even if you're not an asshole yourself their asshole ways will cost you. "Can't you see that?" I silently scream to the screen. "Those twits can do you no good." Why doesn't that guy see what's so obvious?

Seems some things have been lost on me as well. 'Cause here I am stuck in a one room apartment alone with Cotner and I know he's bad news. Cotner has always been some kind of dangerous. That makes him attractive to women and I'm sure that's part of the reason he sticks with that persona. The other part I'd just as soon not know. I don't need some asshole in my life playing dueling banjos with his insecurities always trying to prove something. But he's an acquaintance of an acquaintance and that's how I ended up here.

I was a little bit scared of him too. I wasn't really sure what he made of me. Since I hold back myself people have a tendency to hold back around me as well. Drives me nuts. Truth is, I wasn't sure if he respected me and I didn't want his idiot ass acting out, trying to play me. I couldn't match him physically with his athlete's build. All my darts would have to be mental - and mentally I was loading my gun, preparing for bear. Then I spied an opening that I thought would allow me to take the offensive.


"Dude, is that a flute?"

I recognized the battered blue case because my sister played one in school. The idea of high strung Cotner with a flute was so incongruous it was laughable. With it I could perhaps imply he was a pansy and get him thinking more about himself than my own faults and frailties. (It's a dog-eat-dog world out there!) I was hanging by the skin of my teeth and I hoped he wouldn't notice my nefarious motive.

"Shit, yeah, it's a flute!" Then he strums over, gets it out, and starts assembling it excited as all hell. Aw, fuck!

Not only was he not embarrassed by it, he was anxious to show it off and - far, far worse - perhaps actually play it! Harry, you moron, you really stepped in it this time. I'm not one who gets drooling satisfaction watching people make fools of themselves on American Idol; a stomping and giggling spectator like some savage Roman at the Coliseum. Were I a dictator I'd ban those shows. I had zero fucking desire for this emotional cripple to display his so-called talents for me.

"Oh, uh, I was just wondering," Back out! Back out! "My sister had one so I was just, uh..."

"Had this since high school. Still plays great. Wanna hear?"

GOD FUCKING NO! "Oh, uh, sure, I guess."

"What do mean I got no talent??"

I was very uneasy. Would he explode if I reacted negatively? I thought back to the stories I heard of him and his girlfriends and the stormy relationships he had. I wondered just how far his violence might go. On one thing I agree with cops on one hundred percent: you never ever want to inject yourself into a domestic situation. And that's exactly how I felt right now, that I'd be exposed to all this guy's female insecurities. Get me out of here! When will the guys be back so I can go???

Then a miracle happened. "Do you know 'Strange Way'?"

The Firefall tune? Of course! I love that haunting song. Was this a prank? In this day of hardcore rap and pretentious sentimentality few have the courage to admit liking the sensitivity of a melody like that. One thing I also knew: it has one wicked flute solo almost impossible to master live, off the cuff. Nah, couldn't be...

"Firefall?" I confirmed. I thought perhaps there might be another one, an NWA version. He nodded his head, bringing the instrument up to his lips as I prepared to wince and lie honestly.

"Yeah, there's a flute solo in the bridge that rocks."

I know it well, note for note. But he didn't wait for me to respond. Thinking back later I could see he was anxious to have an audience, afraid I was going to leave or stifle his request before he got a chance to play. All sorts of things were running through my mind at that moment as I was dreading the exposure of his self-deceptions and unwarranted confidence. I flashed back to an Idol scene I'd seen in passing, of a girl throwing a major fit at the judges' ruling. Time slowed to an infuriating crawl.


But then came sounds of magic. I was spellbound like Salieri before Mozart. The moment turned surreal as goosebumps involuntarily raised on my arms and legs. Jesus, who suspected this was inside him? I didn't want it to end, the sorrow and the pity. God had spoken right here in this shithole apartment with its tacky decorations and gaudy sex. Hearing this solo for the first time in person blew me away. The power of music speaks as loudly as any Old Testament prophet.

Cotner was standing by the chest of drawers where he'd picked it up, his oblong face beaming like a child to a parent. I was sitting on the couch trying to compose myself, not letting him know how much he'd gotten to me. But I think he could see how much it affected me as he was smiling irrepressibly. I got the sense he rarely got an audience whom he trusted to appreciate a performance like that. He was probably right.

"Damn, dude. That was great. How long did it take to master that?"

"I was first chair all the way through school. I don't get to play it much anymore."

His eyes were open but closed inward. I could see a hidden regret rested in that flute, of dreams lost. Cotner was desperate to prove he was more than anyone thought. To be fair, I'd thought him a borderline thug, maybe even an abuser. At times, perhaps he is.

Like most people, I tend towards pigeonholing others and it really chaps my ass when they don't stay in there! I was struggling mightily to keep my moral superiority over someone whom I had labelled a surefire jerk. Cotner was human after all. Shit. I prayed he didn't notice my crime of unfairness, of prejudice and cowardice - not like girls haven't brought out my ugly side too. There wasn't one part of me that wasn't uncomfortable in that squirming moment.


Afterwards, anytime Cotner saw me his face would light up. He knew I understood his plight and in the sharing of that he found solace. He never suspected what a jerk I'd been or even that I was trying to be a jerk just pointing out the flute! It conflicted me horribly when I heard he'd slapped his latest girlfriend (And by God, they were always hot. I saw one, a brunette with perfect legs I've still not forgotten.) Part of me wanted to get up on my hind legs and point all holier-than-thou, "not tolerating" and "making a stand" and the rest of that bullshit so I could supposedly "put an end to domestic violence".

But that's not my true job. My job is to maintain my human connection with him, to remember the joy and excitement of his dreams, no matter how badly damaged. To stand in judgement of him would be violence in the name of preventing violence - which is par for the course in this wretched world. I know the truth now: it is his talent Cotner is abusing. He lives in dire fear his women will leave him over it.

One thing else: I need to remember the courage to be human to me too if I'm to find peace.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Lordy, What A Night: Jeter Cries, Peterson Dies

Game 2 Jeter Field 5

Everyone is waxing poetic on Derek Jeter's finale at Yankee stadium and his career as a whole. There are many who can do that better than I. What I'd like to share are a couple of things that stuck out to me. One was an extremely tense and tight playoff game several years against the dreaded Beantown bastards. I was sitting on the couch in agony. "We've got to beat those guys! Anyone but Boston!" It was late in the game and because of the situation, who we were playing and the long rivalry between the two clubs, each moment was amplified and intensified.

But I'm not going to tell you about some great play Jeter made to save or win the game. Instead, I saw something even more amazing: a man smiling and having fun, competing with all his might yet unpossessed. Here was a guy at the height of his sport in the most storied rivalry of all time playing like he's a little kid, on his own terms. I leaned back with an appreciative "Damn!" and realized, yes, it just doesn't get any better than this. Enjoy the moment.

The other was reading about the Captain in that Yankee clubhouse. "You ever going to play for us?" said Jeter playfully to a highly paid, notoriously injured player. In that one question he summed up the frustration of millions of fans. Sure, Jeter never threw anyone under the bus in public but he fostered an atmosphere of winning behind the scenes, letting his intentions be known he was going to do whatever it takes to win. Aren't you? And make no mistake about it, no matter how playfully spoken there was an edge to Jeter's questioning. No one wanted to be outed for not giving a hundred percent.

Game 2 Jeter 7

All the rest of the great moments you can see on ESPN. Tonight was his last game at Yankee stadium. I didn't want to watch because I didn't want to go through the trauma. Watching Jeter's face twitch in the ninth trying to keep from crying on the field is something I'll never forget. Jeter lived the fantasy baseball life and one always expected a fantasy ending. I couldn't quite picture what that would be here. After the Yankees got an out with a three run lead I thought about maybe a patented Jeter throw to start a double play and end the game. Then the Orioles hit two home runs, knocking in three and tying the game. Sonofabitch!

"That's baseball..." I said out loud. The game is always bigger than any one player. Sure Jete-Man would be third up in the bottom of the ninth and the idea he'd hit a walk off RBI to end the game seemed too storybook even for him. So, that's exactly what happened! For Jeter, it was the perfect ending because it kept him focused on winning the game until the final moment, otherwise he'd have "ended up in tears." Just magical.

I stayed for the post-game and the hugs and the quotes and salutes. Everyone just wanted to linger. Derek Jeter's career is something that will come to be more appreciated over time. Appreciate the prophet in your hometown in his time! How many of us have seen the fulfillment of our childhood dreams living a billion to one shot? Makes ya think.


I was drained emotionally, too stoked to want to sleep, so I strolled down to the local Valero gas station to get some beer to celebrate this glorious ending. But right as I got to the edge of the parking lot of my apartments I saw flashing lights across the street; a fire truck and ambulance crowding the parking lot of those apartments. Something told me to go over there even though I knew only one person who lived there: Peterson.

"This is something I need to know about." Just didn't know why. Adrenaline started in my veins. I blamed it on the flashing lights. Then I saw Peterson's front door ajar. Yes, they were here for him. People outside confirmed my worst fears: suicide. It was not a surprise but certainly not expected either. In my crowd anyone can go at any time, having finally had our fill of what we can take. Peterson found his.

Medium height, dumpy, unwanted by women, I met him when he cooked for Denny's when I was dishwasher/bitch there. Stuck with all the craps jobs, having to wear my hair in a ponytail, this made the cooks seem on a pedestal from my vantage point. I never wanted the pressure or the grief they got but Peterson was just glad to see someone having any sort of respect for a Denny's cook. We weren't close but we got along well enough, no doubt.


We all have our crosses to bear and certainly for males to live under the thumb of females from cradle to grave is hard enough but for whatever karmic reason was made doubly hard for Peterson. He wasn't going to get girls in general, just the one meant for him. He lived in a world of unspoken porn, looking at everything from a sexual angle, even more so than most arrested adolescents that make up the male population. It bored into him, hollowed him, emptied him out. He once confided to me Natalie Portman's foot would save his life.

But his life wasn't saved. I guess he woke up one morning too many with nothing to live for. Why extend the agony? Tomorrow is never a new day, just a repeat of yesterday. Why spend a life sentence in the salt mines when you can cut it short? I knew money was thin. You read stories on occasion how costs are going up, fucking the working class. You hear their stories like you would those of lab rats, wondering at what point do they break. Well, now you fucking know.


Of course, if he'd had that one woman - or who knows any sort of lifeline at all - he'd been able to take his mind off the day-to-day hell of drudgery. To be of no worth to anyone, to have your life measured by how many Grand Slam breakfasts you got out the door, what kind of life is that? At some point you just get used up - but that never stops the world that takes without end or reason. Sonofabitch!

So twice in one evening I felt my eyes watering. Two lives gone in such opposite directions. Did each man fully deserve his fate? Who's to say? Stumbling along in the dark to the convenience store (with inconvenient prices) I was forced to reflect on my own life, asking just what is possible? The staggering gap between these two lives was more than I could take in. I mumbled without making eye contact with the cashier as I took my beer.

I've let the concept of "worthiness" invade my life with horrific consequences. In my heart, I know each life is equally important even if more people cried over a baseball death than an actual death that night. But I've let myself get sucked in to the idea of "deserves and not deserves". God damn. How do I stop that false morality? Why lie? We're all in this together. Your welfare is my welfare. Why not admit when I have something to offer?


So Natalie, if a short, loser slob comes up to you sometime asking to rub your feet for fifteen minutes, let him. It may or may not save his life but it'll at least add ten years to it. And those of us who never ask, judging ourselves conveniently unworthy (at an inconvenient price), will look on in shock and awe, fuming at having cheated ourselves. Life doesn't always go on.



Peterson mentioned this was his favorite song
when we heard it playing one time

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Obama vs. ISIS. My Money's On...

Real patriots wear flag jackets!

Ices-Ices, Baby!


Sometimes you just can't win. Remember Animal Farm? Remember the donkey who saw through the pigs' ruinous desires but stood idly by in resignation? How frustrating! If one can help, one should. It's not true that the only thing evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing. If you're doing nothing, you ain't good in the first place. One must always speak one's mind. You may say that doesn't amount to much but it was enough to get Jesus murdered by the masses.

Of course, just because you're doing something in the name of righteousness doesn't necessarily make you a good actor. Saddam Hussein was a bad actor, certainly, and removing him from power cannot be argued with. That it was done in the pursuit of justice most certainly can be! Knocking off the evil king just so you can be the evil king won't get you into heaven. And anyone dumb enough to believe your motivations are pure will be dragged into the very same hell. Moses warned of this:

When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing
 on themselves, thinking, "I will be safe, even though I persist
 in going my own way," they will bring disaster
 on the watered land as well as the dry.

There's actually a place in this country
 who believe this guy is Jesus

And so it is we insist on going our own way, non-believers taking believers down the toilet with them. That's a hella plan! When one steps into the voting booth it's not the candidate on whom you're voting, but yourself - and everyone votes themselves to be Jesus. My, my, just look at all those Jesus's we put in power! Since we can't admit we vote evil into power without admitting the same of ourselves our leaders are allowed to run wild, committing the most horrible acts in our name. Go figure.

Our daddy President sometimes can't win, either. There those who would condemn him were he to feed a starving child and those who'd support him were he to bomb that same child to bits. There are those who say, "When my guy drops bombs they are good. When the other guy drops bombs they are evil." At some point it's all about trust. Asking whether or not that trust is deserved is another matter! Well, do you trust me, punk?

"Make my day, ISIS punk!"

This leaves us with a potential situation where a President could be doing the right thing and be wholly vilified because he is not trusted - and vice versa. To be a true friend is to say what's not always pleasant to hear. Have we elected those who are willing to give us the hard truths? Let the arguments commence! Our actual motivations will come to light as either savior or saboteur and all the heated words of the past will be as forgotten as yesterday's wind. "By their fruits ye shall know them." "We reap what we sow." No matter how many arguments are won denying those two facts our fate will remain the same.

"I got this by degrading and destroying."

So are we acting out of love (as is our only choice, come what may)? I do believe a President acting out of faith in love will come to win over and silence even the most ardent critics as the wisdom of that choice of life becomes apparent. I also believe evil deeds can be assumed popular before they are revealed for the doom they wreak. And sometimes you've been such a dunderhead having brought ruin to both the watered land as well as the dry leaving no place left to go, you just have to swallow that bitter pill like the fucking moron you are - and be grateful for the chance to do so.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Zen Monk Blues


"Sensei, I came here seeking enlightenment -"

"Then seek it!"

"- but, but, I seem to be failing."

"Then fail!"

***

Eijiro slinked away from temple master, crushed. He'd "felt stupid" since a small child; unable to force interest in the rigorous exams needed for further education. Eijiro had "just wanted to live." Unfortunately for him, no society yet created had made allowances for that. Now 21 and desperately lost with no way to turn, seeking enlightenment seemed the natural thing to do. This would be his Holy Grail to solve all his problems and answer all his questions.

"No one else has these questions!" he privately mused. Eijiro envied the conviction of his friends and family. Everyone had a goal! Careers or family or even just making money. Everybody had something! He even envied his cousin in the criminal yakuza. "But me, I've got nothing." Unless, of course, he made it as a zen monk, then he'd be the "holiest fucker around", holding his head held high. But on Day One he was handed this schedule:

3:30 – Shinrei (wake up bell)
3:50 – Kyoten zazen (Morning zazen)
5:00 – Choka (Morning service)
7:00 – Shojiki (Breakfast)
8:30 – Samu (Work period)
10:00 – Guchu zazen (Late-morning zazen)
11:00 – Nicchu (Midday service)
12:00 – Chujiki (Lunch)
13:00 – Samu (Work period)
14:00 – Hoji zazen (Afternoon zazen)
16:00 – Banka (Evening service)
17:00 – Yakuseki (Evening meal)
19:00 – Yaza (Evening zazen)
21:00 – Kaichin (Lights out)

Turning to a fellow first day-er, Eijiro joked, "So when do we fuck?"

The joke was not appreciated. Now, three months later having dutifully eschewed (publicly) his sense of humor and stringently following the daily schedule, he despaired. The good news was he didn't have the dreaded fear of yesteryear of "flunking out". Bad news was no one told him how to succeed. Even so, he knew he must be failing horribly because he felt just as dumb as ever and the idea of going back empty-handed trapped him in purgatory.

"But this is supposed to be heaven." The 2 hour morning meditations were the worst. Eijiro had only been half-joking about the fucking and his mind mostly wandered towards girls he'd known or sometimes the visitors who'd come to join in for the day. Eijiro never missed a bare leg or foot and as much as tried to remain devout - or his idea of it anyway - sooner or later his mind fixated on this forbidden fruit, breaking him and erecting him.

"These loose robes are the only thing that save me. I have to be the only one getting boners during meditation. But damn, those American girls are leggy and if I could just get a hold of them..." Time did not help. Extra prayers did not help. Nothing helped! It was the last resort to approach the temple's master, but his being told to fail was the last thing he'd expected to hear. In fact, Eijiro was so startled he thought of the sensei's words in morning meditation instead of shapely American legs without even having to try.

"Maybe he's saying it's OK to fail? You're supposed to be hated for life if you fail! That's what I've always been told anyway. I can fail and be loved? Can't be! He must be making fun of me like everyone else. Even in a zen temple you get kicked around!"


Even so, the small glimmer of hope it could be true was enough to keep Eijiro around. He didn't feel as pressed as before by the bewitching legs that crossed his path (though still entirely beholden). But loved as a failure is still a failure you be. And Eijiro never mustered the courage to directly ask the sensei if he would, in fact, be loved unconditionally. "If so, I will never leave here."

But another voice told him at some point he must leave - which meant somehow leaving the needed unconditional love (even if only imagined). "How can I ever go? My family seems so unappealing to me now. Nowhere else will I have love. The world only cares about competing! Kenichi (Eijiro's successful architect brother) has no time for me and I only feel extra stupid when I'm around him anyway. Shit! There's no way out."

Eijiro suckled on the temple's love like a newborn baby all the while knowing his dependence must someday end. He felt great shame in this need, that this was his new "unspeakable" which no one could know including the temple elders representing his parents whom he also failed to please. "They won't let me stay here forever hiding from the world. I can't blame them for wanting to throw me out. Clock is ticking!"


Repeating his childhood behavior, Eijiro began to start acting out, being deliberately rude, making noises during meals, even voicing his very untimely jokes (which never stopped coming to him). But unlike in his life before, there were no condemnations, no rebukes - even silently. Eijiro had hoped to get kicked out for being himself (the perfect excuse) - before his crippled dependence became known. "Better to be kicked out for my own reasons than theirs."

But even in failing he failed. At last, Eijiro became as solemn as the others, giving full devotion to his meditations and sutras, fully surrendering to the temple ways he'd resisted for so long. "About time I gave them an honest effort. I'd just assumed they'd wouldn't work for me." But the further he traveled down that path the more he realized his original assumption had been correct.

"There's nothing for me here," he sighed that night in bed. In the morrow he'd announce his departure, for better or worse. Eijiro had no desire to re-enter the world as crippled as when he left. True, for a time he'd felt he'd made some strides - but those were dead ends. "I am more bitter now than I've ever been in my life. What's the point of anything? I'll fling myself off a bridge and save the family honor. I'll prove the uselessness of life when I finally do the one thing I've never done: admit the truth. Buddha be damned!"


It was a curious mixture of feelings Eijiro had in his slow approach to the temple master in the morning sun. "What is this?" A trace of exhilaration - ecstasy even - like jumping out a plane with no parachute, totally free though doomed. "It's important I die with a clear conscience."

The temple master was famous and highly regarded and the reason why Eijiro had chosen this temple in the first place. He considered: I should trust this man. Tell him everything. Then leave.

"Sensei, it is over. Enlightenment is beyond me. Do not ask me to stay. I could stay until the end of time and it'd make no difference." That was as much as Eijiro could get out before losing his breath.

"Do you think your thoughts and doubts have been hidden from me? Do you believe you are the first and only who has entered here to feel the way you do?"

Terror like he'd never known before shivered throughout Eijiro's body, electrifying him. Had he been exposed all along? They were not blind like his parents!? Had he been openly discussed behind his back??

"So now you know the truth," sobbed Eijiro trembling. "I'll never know enlightenment, I'll never know the truth and I'll never show my face here again!"

Sensei smiled in bright-eyed joy, as if witnessing the birth of a newborn foal. "And now, Eijiro-san, you are enlightened."

"Fine!" he retorted without thinking. "Then I may as well just do what the hell I want!"

******


Two years later, Eijiro was praised and renowned throughout Japan for his wildly popular "Sarcastic Samurai" manga series ("If his blade doesn't cut you his wit will!"). The endless jokes that had hamstrung Eijiro in school and the rigid working world served him as a flowing fountain of wealth and success. It was a time before he realized it but he'd walked out the temple a free man, indulging his wants for the first time, drawing to delight himself and in the process, delighting millions.

"Enlightenment comes when you give up on enlightenment."


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It Can't Happen To ME!

The prophesied Smirkin' Jerk

The virus, long underground, first became noticeable with savage Enron. Pensions built up into the hundreds of thousands were forcibly invested into the belly of the beast who'd taken over their company. Only a piddling few thousand remained in the aftermath. The money had vanished, gone with the wind, no recourse possible. End your golden years in the night watchman's cold, sucker.

But instead of outrage, the road map to funny money had been laid out for trusted tricksters. Swindle first, stash the cash second, play innocent later. Then live happily ever after. Gambling fever was on! How to get the suckers to part with their cash? Give everyone credit! Mortgage brokers get commissions they never have to return. Cha-ching! Prices rise making every mortgage look good, reselling them leveraged at 30 to 1 (meaning one dollar makes - or loses - thirty). Make your killing on the way up - someone else will be holding the bag on the way down!

The Great Recession - and don't kid yourself, it has not and will not end - compared to Enron is the same as an atom bomb to a firecracker. Now the victims numbered in the tens of millions, blindsided just like the Enron retirees. No recourse, feeble short-term lifelines, and ultimately left to drown. The voiceless were outraged, the voiced - not so much. In greed we must trust!

The lucky ones die. The unlucky ones
earn minimum wage at "The Gap"

Each day like Jews hauled off to concentration camps the slave class grows. Those outside the camps pass by in silent horror, never speaking a word lest they be next. No one wants to hear the stories of those buried alive inside; of how the social contract has been torn to shreds, of honesty returned with dishonesty; of a failed system without future. Fear shut the eyes, ears and mouths of the yet-to-be sacrificed which, in the end, guaranteed them to be sacrificed.

As proud and twisted as any Soviet gulag, the educated and degreed were shuffled into coal mines of mindless labor. Bolshevik billionaires laughed as fools still trusting the system languished in furnaces of doom. Slogans of ages long dead were trumpeted as if still relevant. Souls bought pennies-on-the-dollar shouted affirmation of the hopeless myth of prosperity promised. Dysfunctional children strained to claim happiness in retail rot, part-time prisons, and cages to be cleaned day after day until death. It was the worst of times - with the worst yet to come.

*****


But what about Her, safe in her mountain mansion over the bay? Sure She had money (her husband's money anyway) but that's not why she had been spared. The money was merely a byproduct of Her superior morality. And sure, he was a banker - but an honest banker: that meant taking the bank's ill-gotten profits was OK. They lived deep inside the system yet were convinced they were above it. How wonderful to be blessed by both the gods on earth and in Heaven! For the longest while they'd refused to fully embrace their divinity but finally one horror story too many passed across the headlines, snapping their minds.

"God has spared us for the good we know we do. Praise be to God!"

"God", of course, translated to mean a monetary idol. This was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream: moral money; to safely watch as others are herded to their doom. One expresses sympathy and perhaps even a twinkling of satisfied outrage over the plight of the helpless - but then one takes a sip of fine California wine and all is well again. They believed themselves as Moses on the mountaintop, beloved, and in communion with God. Their praise was overflowing and insufferable, but like every soul who believes to have "figured it out" they were immediately in the wrong.

In the hidden connections that bind us to every living thing and across the universe - connections that can be known but not understood - in came to the couple's life that which they had wished, as unstoppable as a breached airplane depressurizing at 30,000 feet, for in their spiritual arrogance they had opened their lives as exactly that. At this point the bank president took hold of their fate right in their oh-so-scenic living room.

"From now on I want blow jobs - from the both of you. First from your bitch wife while you watch, Joe-boy, then by you as your wife slides your head back and forth on my lusty shaft. You can refuse, of course, but you'll be blacklisted in the industry and we'll sue for back bonuses, taking everything. You've seen us do it before - without saying a word, naturally. You were right in thinking we'd not fire you - but didn't you remember we own you? You want to play Jesus while serving we the greedy, that's fine. But you'll do it with a dick in your mouth."


Everything lost, trapped without recourse, dirty money drowning. What price the good life in a world more desolate by the day? This they must ask themselves - and having to face it as opposed to theorize about it put things in an entirely different lie. The idea of working as wage slaves to the end of their days seemed horrific beyond compare. That was completely out of the question to reside in a living death of perpetual agony. But should a Jew give a Nazi blow jobs to be saved from the death camps? This wasn't supposed to happen to us!

Even murder crossed their minds but they soon realized they faced a hydra, that always another would take the place of the evil head they killed. Where do you go? What do you do? Why doesn't somebody DO something! The world is insane and out of control. Has nobody eyes to see or ears to hear? It was if they'd been trapped in a soundproof glass booth, pounding unheard to be let out as the air vanished, seen by all who passed by but helped by none. Is this what it's like to be laid off? Does honest service count for nothing? Where is the final profit in that?

Yes, they can keep going to their thousand-dollar-a-donation charity balls, hobnobbing with the "elites", but only with cum on their faces. Or they could hide in their mansion, imagining the whispers of why they dare not share their faces; the world closing in from within. Or they could be cast into the American gulag, toiling at the mercy of a world they knew not to be trusted, the clamp of poverty squeezing them ever downward. Or like so many who entered their fifties who'd been cast out: suicide, future revoked.


Shattered, they first fell into grief, then anger, then despair, then in frustration tearing into one another - all the while the puppet-master bank president laughing at their predicament (which mirrored his own ill-fated life). Finally the fog cleared with eyes half-dead: "If we must live in hell it may as well be hell in luxury." This answer was known to those around them before it had been known to them. Among the evil overlords this process was known as "Education Time" - always announced with a raping grin.

And so began the "new abnormal", of attending events in cum-faced sheepishness, unable to stay away; to living with mockery behind their backs; to even their pathetic attempt to save face in claiming to be "clever enough" to survive well. Like Ramses of old, they took refuge in the material, to proclaim: "Look upon our wealth, ye Mighty, and despair." They devolved to despise the poor and less well-off for "not doing what it takes to succeed." They went to their graves covered in cum, guilt and shame; eulogized and praised effusively by their rapists; dirt covering the coffins in seeming contempt.

*********


CODA: At the pearly gates she raged against her Maker. "You fucking bastard traitor! What did I ever do to deserve that? I tried to be honest my entire life. I objectively praised You whenever convenient and what do You do? Hang me out to dry with no fucking way out! Jesus damn Christ! You have to give people a chance - something. You can't have the whole world die on a cross. It's absolute insanity! It's beyond the pale! I can't help who I am. I can't live like a dog. You ask too much!"

God was busy playing "Call To Duty" (in God-mode) but still managed an answer. "I never expected you to live like a dog. That was never the plan. You are a delicate flower who needs to be carefully tended in a greenhouse. I understand that: I made you with great joy."

"Ok...well, then, what the fuck!!?? I felt compelled to live that dream, that I'd die otherwise." A sudden nagging started to disturb her.

"You remember that boy in college who dreamed of being a writer?"

Him she'd not forgotten a day in her life. The nagging got worse. "Yes, but he ended up a bum. He never could have provided for me. Sure, I wished more than anything to be with him but how could I? You can't just do what you want in life. You have to be practical. And besides, You just said You understood my practical needs."

"Yes, that boy descended into bitter unpaid blogging, never amounting to anything. But had you done what you wanted - had you been honest about what you wanted - by your side he'd have written a best seller making you rich beyond your dreams awash in moral money - many times over, actually, of the ill-gotten gains for which you did strive with such great pains. You were your own Judas, choosing the world over yourself - and in that there is no hope for anyone. Bitch."