Friday, March 31, 2006

Holy Week Memorials

I KINGS 2:2 - I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man.

MEMORIAL II (April 1999)

There are fewer men like you
in the world you leave behind.
Before the final day has come
there will be no such men at all.
The world was never made to last.
Progress rolls it forward
to soar around the sun,
and the sun too is a pilgrim.
The universe is a diaspora
of restless stellar nations.
A man's life is an instant.
His mind pops like a spark.
But that spark has power
to pierce eternal shadow.
Rarer is the man who knows
that light was given in love
and is meant to love with.
Instead they grasp at it
to mock the thing that gave it.
Their prideful hands eclipse it.

This is not to ease your waning,
but to mourn it all the more.
It isn't God, the stars or sun
that puts the lights out one by one.


Is not jealous;
She will outwait all the others.

She likes to be played with,
But doesn't care if she's ignored.
She'll walk a few paces behind,
Or hold my hand awhile.
She spies always,
but never tells.

She surprises me in strange places.
I see the white flash of her profile
Across the room.
I didn't used to like that,
But now I mind less.
She grows on me.

She will still want me when you have can't have me,
And she'll lie with me while you walk away.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Special Guest Blog by George Clooney

I want to get something clear right off the bat. I'm the real George Clooney. The guy who's been mouthing off at Huffington Post is Lester Koszlofsky, who worked as my butt-double in the film Batman Vs. McCarthy - which I courageously produced, starred in, directed, catered, best-boyed and gaffered. Lester is also the guy who slam-dunked Pooches, Ariana's disgusting worm-ridden Yorkie, through the windshield of a taxi cab after the Oscar ceremonies.

So even though I didn't do it, I can understand Ariana Huffington's rabid thirst for revenge. Hitler felt the same way after World War I. In fact, Ariana herself probably felt the same way after World War I.

But I don't care. You see, I'm a Liberal. I'm going to keep saying that word, and I'm going to say it loud. LIB-RULL. Sometimes when I say it, I'm going to dribble my lip with my finger, like this. LIBRRRRUL. Cool. LIBUBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL!

Why am I saying "Liberal" so much? Because unlike some people, I'm not afraid to. Just try reading the last paragraph out loud. See? See what I mean? You can't do it, because you're scared. Admit it.

Why am I so unscared? What makes me, George Clooney the LIBERAL, so brave? It isn't because I'm rich, and it isn't because I'm surrounded by sycophants and professional bodyguards, and it isn't because I just took half a pint of Demerol in the ass. It's because I'm a Liberal, which comes from the Greek words LIB (brave) + ERAL (real good).

I'm an old fashioned Liberal. Not one of those post-McGovern Liberals, who think the Sixties are over. Not where I come from, they're not. Out here in Hollywood, the Home of the Brave, even the Fifties and the Seventies are still going full-blast. William F. Buckley used to brag that he stood athwart History, yelling "Stop!" But we're the guys who drove History into a ditch and rolled it end over end. Now the pieces are all mixed up and laying all over the place, and you know what? Maybe that's okay.

What does all of this have to do with Ariana Huffington's demented attempt to avenge the death of her diseased lap-dog? It's just another example of the jealousy and the McCarthyism that beautiful rich Liberals like me have to contend with every day. You think the limousines and the private jets and the palatial villas in Europe are just for show? You think they isolate us from the realities that we claim to know so much about? Damn right they do. And you know what? Maybe that's okay.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Farkin' Combat!

Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft are part of the "Great Firewall" built to imprison Chinese bloggers and journalists.

Cai Lijun got 3 years in prison for posting articles (on a non-Chinese website) calling for democratic reforms.

He Depu got 8 years in prison for pro-democracy internet offenses.

Li Zhi got 8 years in prison for criticizing official corruption after Yahoo provided Chinese authorities with information.

Liu Weifang got 3 years in prison for criticizing the Communist Party online.

Lu Xinhua got 4 years in prison for posting (on a non-Chinese website) articles about human rights abuses in China.

Jin Haike got 10 years in prison for pro-democracy internet offenses.

Shi Tao got 10 years in prison after Yahoo provided Chinese authorities with information.

Xu Wei got 10 years in prison for pro-democracy internet offenses.

Yang Zili got 8 years in prison for posting pro-democracy material on his website.

We don't know how many of these people there are, just as we don't know how many people China executes every year. All you Democrats who shrieked yourselves hoarse over every tear shed at Guantanamo, how about working up one drop of sweat for the imprisoned cyber-dissidents? Republicans, where is the commitment to freedom for China that you sermonized about in the 2004 platform?

What is to be done?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Under God the People Rule (On the South Dakota Abortion Ban)

My mother was a legislator in South Dakota for ten years, and I got to know many of that state's politicians when I was growing up. Some of them are still in office, and are partly responsible for the current attempt to ban abortion. Contrary to what some of their opponents may think, they do not carry bibles everywhere they go, and they have only one head each. They are farmers, ranchers, and small business-people who have real lives outside of politics. They have an annoying habit of saying that they are "tickled" rather than "pleased". Pro-Choice forces will note, with appropriate alarm, that an unnerving number of them are Democrats.

The outcome I'm hoping for is simple: I hope this goes to the Supreme Court, and that Roe V. Wade will be overturned. (Loading Blackmun's original document into a rocket and firing it into the sun would be a nice touch.) That's all I want. After that, the state itself might turn around and recind the ban under some future majority, as the issue will henceforth be at the mercy of democratic federalism.

I do not want a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. I want the federal government - congress, courts, and chief executives - to get out of the abortion business, and stay the hell out of it, forever.

This will not end abortion, not in Patricia Ireland's wildest paranoid dreams. It will continue indefinitely in the great majority of states. Pro-Lifers will have to live with that, because this is a nation subject to democratic rule. It is the greatest nation that anybody ever thought of, but it is not utopia and it is not the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Of course, Pro-Choicers will not be happy either, because they are generally opposed to any limits on abortion, or even the possibility of limits.

So why am I wishing so much unhappiness for everybody on both sides? For the same reason that teenagers have to pick up their rooms once in a while, and learn trigonometry. They don't like it, but they'll thank you for it some day - well, maybe they won't thank you, but they have to learn it anyway. That's the drill.

Roe V. Wade has been a clumsy dodge that has prevented this country from directly confronting the issue of abortion. That confrontation must come, and it must boil to equilibrium by democratic means and not by autocratic fiat. There is no shortage of opinion about abortion, but there is a serious lack of reason about it. We can't end the controversy by pretending that it is a done deal, one way or the other. We'll just suffer it forever, like the symptoms of a disease we are not allowed to diagnose.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

No Frolicking

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Holy Blood, Holy Plagiarism

The only thing that surprises me about the lawsuit against author Dan Brown, by the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, is that it didn't happen a long time ago.

I read HBHG some 15 years ago, and found it a very entertaining book. The thesis of the book - that a secret organization named the Priory of Sion is guarding an eye-popping secret about the bloodline of Jesus Christ himself - has been long exposed as a hoax. The hoaxster himself, a Frenchman named Pierre Plantard, later repudiated the book. Its warped reasoning was satirized in Umberto Eco's novel Foucault's Pendulum. Still, it's a fun book.

Unlike The Da Vinci Code. Apparently only UK reviewers have the gonads to criticize this lead turkey, while my own benighted countrymen invariably begin with, "Whatever you think of his ideas, Dan Brown has written a first-rate thriller!" Yeah, and Stephen King is Dostoevsky.

There are writers who show you things, and writers who tell you things. Dan Brown is a most unfortunate example of a writer who tells you things. And he is so anxious to tell you things that he interrupts action and narrative to do so. It is unclear who is doing the telling: the main character, or the omniscient author. Whoever is doing the telling, they do not bother to explain the New Age jargon they use. (I can't understand how anyone who is not familiar with feminist "myth-makers" like Barbara Walker can even make an iota of sense out of The Da Vinci Code.) Finally, the little lectures that pop up on every other page are filled with the most outrageous absurdities, including all the stuff about Leonardo Da Vinci, most of which is dead wrong.

The only good thing about The Da Vinci Code is the unintentionally hilarious stuff, beginning with Robert Langdon, a professor of "Symbology". Of course there is no such academic discipline, not even at Ann Arbor. A symbology is actually a protocol for the creation of algorithms that can be read by a machine. The best known example of a symbology is the common bar code (a supermarket scanner is a "symbology reader"). So Langdon is like a Professor of Bar Codes. A novel about a bar code expert ("The Da Vinci Bar Code") might be pretty good, but Brown is too lame and humorless to write it.

What really amazed me about The Da Vinci Code, though, is that someone would copy (in very close detail) the thesis of Holy Blood, Holy Grail and present it as original fiction - apparently oblivious to the fact that the whole thing had been blown wide open more than a decade ago. Brown even plants clues to HBHG in the text (there is a character named Teabing, which is an anagram of HBHG author Biagent) that his lawyers are probably regretting right now.

There is an interesting question in this: Does the fact that HBHG's authors presented their work as historical fact entitle other authors to treat it as such? I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty confident that historical fact can't be copyrighted. Of course the "history" in HBHG is the product of the authors' imagination, but does the fact that they believe it to be true undercut their intellectual property rights?

Frankly, I couldn't care less. I hope Brown, Biagent, and Leigh all go broke from legal fees, and make huge asses out of themselves in public while doing so.

What really annoys me - and what has annoyed me since I read HBHG, fun as it was - is that the sick fantasies of a deranged Frenchman (a Vichy, an anti-Christian, and an anti-Semite) have survived so long. They are soon to become a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks. The resemblance of "The Priory of Sion" to the Elders of Zion is no accident, and was part of Plantard's explicit intention. We now have another Protocols on our hands, and like the other one it will never die.