Thursday, December 31, 2009

What I learned from blogging this year, a cautionary tale

Confession: I have not had tons of fun blogging this year. I've had repeated troll invasions and I've been banned from other blogs, because of things I've said here. People are getting testy. Politics makes strange bedfellows. Etc.

During President's Obama's ascent, everyone on the left was very lovey-dovey. Now that it appears his administration may well be going to shit, tensions are rising. People are showing their true colors. And as I said, this year hasn't been as much fun.

My New Year's Resolution is to remember why I started this thing: to have an outlet for MY OWN opinions, whether they are popular and well-liked or not. And to have fun doing it.

I promise to be ever-more frivolous, whimsical and self-centered in the coming year. I will write about more old movies and similar silly things that are special to me.

I also promise to ban the trolls forthwith, instead of letting them get the upper hand. My deepest apologies for bad moderation.

~*~

What I have learned from blogging this year, in no particular order:


1) "Activists" you have defended in arguments on the net, will not necessarily defend you in return. In fact, you can usually count on them not doing it.


I haven't figured out the reason for this, unless it's because most internet "activists" have not done any actual activism in real life. They believe blogging/online-brawling equal 'activism' (hence the quote marks). They don't really know what is required by activism in the real world, where day-to-day compromises and coalitions are crucial and necessary for progress.

What we unequivocally learn in real-life activism is that you must defend your allies in return; this is not an option. But online? No such understanding exists.

The bottom line: blogging is consequently reduced to social networking, not political networking. We should probably not be surprised it replicates the pettiness of high school cliques, rather than the expedience and cohesion of a political party, group or collective.

Still, it is terribly disappointing.

2) Ageism is so prevalent and accepted in Blogdonia, nobody is allowed to mention it.

Any time you say anything about this on ANY feminist blog? i.e.: Gee, where are the old women? Why aren't any women over 50 [1] ever linked/quoted/asked to guest-blog? Why are most of your participants so young? Why is the 802456th thread about Joss Whedon necessary again? Etc... these questions are not welcome or considered relevant or important. You will be told to shut the fuck up in various and sundry ways... even down to outright banning and blacklisting. Ageism is not a political issue, it is some damn grandma bitching. (As many feminists and progressives have proudly placed the concerns of young people OVER those of old people in the recent health care debate, we should probably not be surprised at this phenomenon either.)

For these reasons, I do not ask these questions any more, on any blogs, of any blogger. I confine my criticisms to my own blog, since I am likely to be edited, censored and/or banned whenever the issue is brought up.

3) It's okay for feminists to brag about their connections to influential men... even right in the front-page sidebars of their blogs! (boggle)

I know, shocking. Back in the day, such "male identification" would get you tarred and feathered in short order. If your daddy, husband, boyfriend or significant male-other was important, rich, influential, well-known, etc. you kept your mouth shut at all costs. If this fact should be belatedly discovered, you had to bring the goods, girlfriend. Your husband is the production manager of an alternative newspaper? Then you owe us an article and a mention! Your daddy is a rich banker? Then we expect a donation! Your boyfriend is a local rock and roll star? We expect him to play a benefit! Etc. And yes, you did this without argument if you wanted to belong to the collective. (It was the LEAST we could do, after all, as feminists obviously benefiting from male/heterosexual privilege.)

Nowadays, it appears this feminist-based privilege-sharing has been lost. These new feminists just want you to know who their fella is, as sheer proof of their wonderfulness: "My boyfriend is ____, am I hot or what?"--again, hearkening back to high school, and how cool one must be to get a date with the most popular dudes.

(sigh)

At left: Daisy discovers many Big Bloggers think she is a nuisance.

(4) Welcome to the camp, I guess you all know why we're here...

Links are the coin of the realm in Blogdonia. If you go and offend the wrong people, the Big Bloggers will put you on the unofficial master-blacklist [2] and refuse to link you. They usually only link multi-degreed, highly-connected folk like themselves, but occasionally, they will mix with the rabble, and deign to link someone from the lower echelons. If you want to BE one of those lucky people the blogging-royalty shines their (very limited) light on, you'd better behave yourself. Do not inform them they are full of shit (even when they are), on your blog or theirs. Do not point out their mistakes or correct them. They don't want to hear it. (By contrast, lower-echelon bloggers are usually grateful for the attention, any attention.)

Kiss ass. Tell them how wonderful they are, how insightful, how politically right-on. Remember in the 70s, how everyone was nicest to the neighborhood dope dealer, even when he became obsessed with conspiracy theories and didn't seem quite right? Same thing here, only now it's the Big Bloggers, and instead of handing out joints, it's linkage.

Keep this in mind and you won't go wrong.

5) "Of course I'm respectable. I'm OLD. Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough."--John Huston as Noah Cross in Chinatown.

This year saw the passing of a rich, white, famous, privileged heterosexual male politician from one of the world's most influential and well-known families. Everybody went into spasms of grief, while your humble narrator was rude enough to point out that he had let a young woman die in his car in 1969 (whom he possibly had impregnated, so the rumor went), and so, fuck him.

Good God, the torrent unleashed.

From the left, from the right, from feminists, from all kinds of people. I had to delete a FEMINIST (!) from my blog over it. I was told that because this rich white man had done so much for the peepul, for da wimminz, for the poor bedraggled masses, that it was horrendous of me to say "fuck him"--as if my comment had any power at all, compared to his and his family's considerable power. I was also repeatedly informed that one possibly-pregnant Catholic secretary dying a horrifically-slow death, drowning inch-by-inch over 12 hours, was a small price to pay for having a solid liberal in the Senate.

Don't I realize that?

Others reminded me that I was being a rude redneck, reminding everyone of such things at the time of the man's DEATH. (And what about HER death? When do we talk about THAT?)

I was stunned by this display. Beyond stunned, I almost wondered if the right wing was correct, that the Left has no moral compass. (The New York Times dutifully censored all reader-comments that mentioned said young woman on the Senator's obit page!)

How can anyone justify and/or write off the slow-death of an innocent woman? I am still stunned over these reactions, these lengthy equivocations.

Obviously, some people's deaths are more important than others. Women's deaths are automatically less important; working-class deaths hardly rate the newsprint. And young women labeled "sluts" for partying with married senators? Even less. We see the points being taken off; her value lessening and lessening in the eyes of the media, as well as Blogdonia. Meanwhile, I wondered, what does it take for the dead senator [3] to get points off? As far as I could see, he was untouchable.

This was a very educational experience for me.

Some, we see, are more human than others.

At left: Daisy reacts to repeated troll invasions.

6) You must never, I repeat, never, engage the gun freaks.

They will not leave you alone.

I was stalked for a solid month by one in particular, who then brought along his like-minded droogs. And I am pretty libertarian when it comes to guns--own as many as you like, I don't care. What I did was question the common sense of GIVING OUT AN ASSAULT RIFLE at a political rally, as well as make a nasty vegetarian remark about BBQ going perfectly with the whole violent motif of the event. And BAM, they were all over me like proverbial flies on shit, as if I had said I wanted to ban ALL guns.

I think the Second Amendment rocks, but it's Larry Flynt syndrome all over again: We like the First Amendment, but we also wish scumbags like Flynt were not the poster children for it. Unfortunately, they are exactly the people who WILL be the poster children, since they ARE the scumbags. The question becomes, do you want to make an exception for Larry Flynt? I say, no.

Do I want to make an exception for assault rifles? Well, I haven't decided, or at least, I certainly hadn't decided until meeting up with these rightwing gun freaks. Now, I am inclined to say: Full Second Amendment rights for everyone who has not engaged in any hate speech or stalking. If you have, we should rightly take away your guns, for safety's sake.

If you can't decently handle the First Amendment, why should we believe you can handle the Second?

7) Women all over the world are tired of sweaty boobs!

Yes, my most overwhelmingly-popular post this year was about how women aren't allowed to take off our shirts, due to the almighty sacred titties, which must be covered up always, amen. A hugely popular post (for me, anyway)--I stopped counting after about 10,000 hits. But I guess I struck a nerve! The post was linked on sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon, where the women were uniformly, screamingly positive. I guess I'm not the first gal who ever wished she could shed her shirt to simply duck under the sprinkler for a second...

It's notable that the post just got a new round of linkage in Australia, where the women are enduring a long hot summer right now... the original post was written in July. As summer entered the Southern Hemisphere, the post was widely shared once again. I am deeply honored that I have voiced the feelings of so many women, of all ages, classes, races, countries and backgrounds.

And for the record, the men are still complaining. While they love love love to look at the boobs, they seem very distraught over the idea that seeing them everywhere might become commonplace... they may actually catch sight of old, wrinkly, fat or weirdly-shaped ones. (The fact that we have historically been forced to look at their old, wrinkly, fat or weirdly-shaped boobs, doesn't seem to occur to them.) They want women without shirts, of course, but... do you mean... ALL WOMEN? It seems to terrify them.

Obviously, we're on the right track!

~*~

Thanks to all my regulars who have supported me in the past year, particularly as the trolls periodically invaded. My Christmas Facebook Friendship Drive is officially over, but please let me know if you'd like to friend me anyway... I was delighted to meet so many new readers!

Happy New Year to you all!

~*~




[1] The standard reply to this complaint is: But we have women over 40! I have no idea why they consistently employ this rather inane non sequitur, as if it makes any sense at all. It's like saying, wow, we don't have any people from New York, but we have people from Canada! We don't have any green beans, but we have popcorn! Um, okay.

[2] Of course, this master-blacklist doesn't really exist. ("The secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.") From what I have been able to discern, the non-existent blacklist is mostly drawn up over obscenely-expensive drinks in trendy Manhattan/DC/Los Angeles/other-coastal-area bars. Thus, if you live in one of these cool areas, you can worm your way into an invitation and actually get to talk to these people in person! And you can then have significant input on the makeup of the master-blacklist (that doesn't really exist, of course).

[3] I almost used a rock-band name here (Dead Kennedy), but decided that would be disrespectful, so I refrained. Footnote because I want credit for wit anyway!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dead Air video of the year

After much consideration, I chose the best music video posted here over the past year. My criteria was simple: which one did I listen to the most after I posted it?

The winner!

This is from my "instrumentals" post, and as I said then, it contains what might be the greatest organ riff in history. It also features amazing legendary session musician Steve Cropper on guitar.

Hang em High - Booker T and the MGs (live 1991)



Turn it up!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to stop the war (and future wars too)

Comrade Physioprof's witty post titled Rejection of Reality in its entirety:

Rational response to terrorism necessarily includes giving serious consideration to the fact that *our* actions as the biggest imperial military power on Earth have a massive influence on the *desire* of wackaloon nutjobs to blow themselves to smithereens while taking out one of our civilian aircraft. Of course, this consideration is absolute taboo in our depraved and toxic political culture because ARE YOU SAYING AMERKUH *DESERVES* TO BE ATTACKED??!?!?!?!!111!!!1!!!!???!!?!?!???
TREASON!!1!!1!!TRAIOTR!!!1!!!ELEVNTYY!!111!!!
USAQ!USA!USA!USA!
Yeah. (sigh)

A fellow named Thomas Joseph replies:
Ok, so we’ve now come to this realization? Now what the fuck are we, your average citizen, supposed to do about it?
And here was my reply:
Thomas Joseph, organize marches on the Pentagon, as in the old days? Oh wait, you need to have a draft army for that kind of indignation, yes?

Didn’t anybody learn anything from Richard Nixon?

Here it is:

Re-institute the draft; ALL overseas adventures will henceforth require 100% military conscription for every able-bodied person, up to the current age-limit (which I believe is 42?), no deferments except for pregnancy (major baby-boom will be an unfortunate but temporary side effect), medical personnel and EMTs, cops, fire-fighters and a few other occupations. NO DEFERMENTS FOR COLLEGE and certainly, NO DEFERMENTS for intellectual jobs. In fact, if I may sound like Chairman Mao for a moment, I’d ship all the neocon book editors out to Afghanistan FIRST.

One thing the American people are quite populist about, is the make-up of the military and how the affluent avoid service. The loudest people objecting will BE the affluent, which is why hardly anyone in congress has kids in the military.

Follow these directives, and ALL soldiers from ALL overseas adventures (including Korea, et. al.) will be home by lunchtime.

I’m just sayin.
And I am repeating my comment here, because yes, I meant it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Family!

I've been on something of an informal Christmas-blog break, but won't neglect my third year in a row of our Dead Air holiday tradition. I hereby present Robert Earl Keen's MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE FAMILY! As always, non-rednecks and/or yankees are certainly free to sit this one out.

Have a great Christmas everyone! Feliz Navidad!

~*~

Merry Christmas from the Family - Robert Earl Keen

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reindeer takes a break...

...and we all could use one, yes?

Not a lot of time recently, so I figured I'd leave you all with a photo of a reindeer. (Well, not a real one.) Taken in Cobb County, GA, over Thanksgiving weekend.

What's going on with you?

PS: Be especially nice to your local overworked retail-Christmas worker!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Religious Right prays to Moloch (No Escape from Jim Demint, pt. 2)

Wowee Zowee, today everyone is talking about the Family Research Council Action PAC's "prayercast event" (where do they come up with these names?) that our Senator, Jim Demint, attended with the likes of hardcore right-wingnuts Michele Bachmann, Sam Brownback, Todd Akin and Mike McIntyre. MSNBC covered the three-ring circus at some length last night.

Talking Points Memo reports that Dr Dobson also dropped in, to see what condition his condition was in:

James Dobson participated via phone, offering a prayer and seeming to tie the health care bill and the country's overall political direction to none other than the Devil: "I just pray that You will frustrate the plans of the Evil One, and revive us again with conviction and forgiveness. Show us how we can further your cause, Lord and advance your kingdom, and we will be careful to give you the praise. Just begin a revival in our hearts that will restore us as one nation under God."
Wow, silly me, I was just thinking that anyone who wants to deny health care to anyone for any reason will burn in hell for all eternity. But then, I am an adherent of that OLD TIME RELIGION, straight from THE BIBLE, which categorically states that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for Dr Dobson, a very rich man, to go to heaven.

I think they missed that verse.

In any event, the whole thing has me nauseated. Clean hands and a pure heart? (That would leave out politicians, simply by definition, wouldn't it?)

Well, get your barf bag, here it is. South Carolinians will note Jim Demint's reverently bowed head (far left of screen) at around 1:57:



On a purely theological note--as a child, I attended a Free Will Baptist church with my beloved uncle Ernest (R.I.P.), in which everyone started praying out loud simultaneously in the manner of the prayercast-participants at the end of this video. (Also, many Pentecostal churches do this.) I admit, I've always kinda liked the idea behind this tradition, that God can hear everybody at once... but then again, if they are all praying for the same thing, as they are here (they weren't at my uncle's church), then one assumes they could just ask in unison for an end to universal health care, couldn't they?: Dear God, let the people continue to suffer in pain and poverty, without any affordable health care... wait, Daisy asks, startled, which God is this? (Moloch!)*

I am somewhat amazed (okay, a lot amazed) to see this once-pious style-of-worship employed by politicians for right-wing ends (notice they held the prayercast on a Wednesday night, when the most faithful Protestants attend mid-week services) -- just as I would be if I saw Mass or Benediction being used for the same purposes.

Why is this any different than Muslims praying for victory, or any other blasphemous mix of politics and religion? Oh right, they're Muslims and we're not.

These HERETICS are the scum of the earth. (AND they will burn in hell.)


~*~

*I primarily refer not only to the historical Moloch, but to Allen Ginsburg's Moloch:
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the
crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of
sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment!
Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose
blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers
are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!
Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!
Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long
streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories
dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose
smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch
whose soul is electricity and banks!
YES! That's him!

This is who they are actually praying to. Moloch, who enjoys the illness and pain of working people, as they die right next to Dr Dobson's homes (plural), valued at well over a half-million dollars each. Money he took right out of their pockets, too.
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!
skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic
industries! spectral nations! invincible mad
houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven!
I'd recognize him anywhere.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Listen up!

Yeah, running waaaay behind... I guess these were supposed to be posted on MUSIC MONDAY, but I find that I get those sorts of things terribly confused. (Who decided on this stuff, anyway?)

Sorry for getting my blogging-traditions all tangled up! Hopefully, you will find at least one song you enjoy.

...

Below, Wishbone Ash, which is one of the all-time great rock-band names.

I wish they'd lasted a little longer, because I love that name.

In my dreams everything was all right...

~*~

Blowin Free - Wishbone Ash (1973)



~*~

I can guarantee that this won't last long, and the powers-that-be will likely yank it by nightfall. So, have a look NOW! It's from the old Midnight Special vault, currently selling as a box-set for astronomical amounts of money. (But I want it FREE.)

I don't know what's more amazing, Johnny Thunders' guitar, David Johansen leaping about on those deadly platform shoes and screaming like a maniac (meant in a good way), or Jerry Nolan, the drummer who actually came to party of mine once... possibly the highlight of my life and I didn't even know it. (Jerry Nolan, Johnny Thunders, Arthur 'Killer' Kane, R.I.P.)

Talkin bout PERS-ON-ALITY, YEAH YEAH YEAH!!

Personality Crisis - The New York Dolls (1973)



~*~

Just finished the fabulous history by Sheila Weller titled Girls Like Us, about the lives of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. Gossip in triplicate! Highly recommended by DEAD AIR!

And it reminded me of all the cool songs by these wonderful wimminz. The book actually goes into details of what the songs were about, who inspired them, etc.

Interesting detail: Weller reports that they knew the following song would be a hit when secretaries at the record company started making copies of the demo for themselves.

When lots of us first heard it, we just stopped dead in our tracks. Calling it a "woman's song" is something of an understatement.

BTW, will you just LOOK at her? Natural beauty, totally stunning. We all wanted SO BADLY to look like Carly! (sigh)

That's the way I've always heard it should be - Carly Simon (1972)



~*~

Of course, you all know that Carole King was writing hits when she was freaking 17 years old! An unbelievable protege and talent, as well as a national treasure.

She also liked to get married as many times as my mother. As her songs always made clear--a born-romantic, always starry-eyed, swooning and idealistic.

My God, I love this song with a passion--any version, by anybody. The line, "Tonight the stars put on a show for free," illustrated the way I always felt about the radio, that magic place where I first encountered Carole's immense talent as a wee one.

Up on the Roof - Carole King (first version by the Drifters in 1962, I don't know what year this live version was recorded)



~*~

Listen to this voice effortlessly soar into the stratosphere, almost as if she were singing to herself in the shower or something. Bloody incredible.

Will you take me as I am?

California - Joni Mitchell (1970)

Eat your Turmeric!

Suddenly, there is a spate of articles everywhere, talking about the healing properties of turmeric. Apparently, Oprah's health guru, Dr Oz, is a big fan.

Us old hippies and Ayurvedic medicine practitioners, have always claimed turmeric had miraculous powers. (Time to toot our own horns, alternative-medicine folks. Once again, we were right!)


The following article has made the rounds in most Gannett newspapers during the past week:

Can an ancient spice prevent and treat cancer? That's the question researchers are trying to answer.

In certain cultures, turmeric is known as a golden gift from God, a sacred spice that has been used for centuries in Indian Ayurvedic and Asian medicine to treat fevers, stomach aches and cuts.

Indians sprinkle the powder on cuts to help them heal, gargle with it to soothe sore throats and mix it with warm milk for sick kids to sip.

Madhu Sharma, owner of the Green Chili Indian Bistro in St. Petersburg, Florida, uses turmeric in almost all of her dishes.

She says it's also an important ingredient in other aspects of Indian culture.

"We use turmeric when the baby is born. We use turmeric when we get married. We use turmeric when we cook everyday and we use turmeric to worship God and offer to God," said Sharma.

People in India eat turmeric every day in curry dishes. They cook with fresh turmeric root — a bright yellow herb from the ginger family — or they use the dry powder, adding about one teaspoon to every meal.

Daily turmeric consumption is one of the reasons cancer researchers suspect India's rate for breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer is 10 to 50 times lower than in people in the United States.

Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, a professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has been studying the spice for several decades.

"It has enormous potential. It is very safe. It has been around for a long, long, time and for the first time, I think we have evidence that it may be working as well," he said.

Hundreds of laboratory and animal studies have shown that a substance in turmeric, called curcumin, kills a wide variety of cancer cells including colon, breast, prostate, pancreatic, brain and melanoma and slows tumor growth.

The preclinical research has taken the spice from the lab to the clinic.

"We have shown that a wide variety of tumor cells can be selectively killed by curcumin and it does not kill the normal cells but will kill only cancer cells. There are no known side effects in people," he said.
Turmeric capsules are available in most alt-med brands. I highly recommend Gaia Herbs, which I am told has recently run out (!) of their signature Turmeric Supreme.

Simply purchasing some of the spicy herb in bulk and mixing a teaspoon in warm water (yes, gross, hold your nose) and drinking it daily (traditional Ayurvedic remedy for inflammation) --would likely contain substantial health benefits. Although I sell them, I don't think pricey supplements are necessarily required, although the much-sought-after active ingredient (curcumin) is highly-concentrated in supplements. As they say on the net, your mileage may vary.

If you like the taste, make a habit of sprinkling it on potatoes, rice or some other food you enjoy. Keep in mind, it stains mightily, and has also historically been used as a bright yellow/orange dye! (Mucking around extensively in some loose turmeric and attempting to make my own capsules some years ago, my hands and fingers turned bright orange, and I ended up looking like I'd eaten several bags of Cheetos.)

Eat your turmeric!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

DEAD AIR supports Cecil Bothwell!

Cecil Bothwell, atheist elected to Asheville City Council. Photo by sweetashvegas.




The difference between here and Asheville is: We could NEVER elect an atheist candidate. The national news-blogs reporting, "An openly atheist candidate has actually been elected to office, and in Asheville, North Carolina, of all places," (italics mine) let us know that these national writers don't know Asheville; it is a very liberal area, the counterpoint to ultra-conservative Greenville. They are like yin and yang, but parts of a whole. We all watch the same TV stations and listen to the same radio stations.

The hoopla over atheist Cecil Bothwell (well-known in the area) being elected to City Council, has gone viral, covered by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last night. What the national news-media keeps missing is what this represents.

Last week, quoting JG Ballard, I talked about the colonizing of the inner-cities by the affluent. The locals who grew up here resent this phenomenon, as well they should. What does it mean to be priced out of the neighborhood you grew up in? What does it mean to have tourists all over your hometown, who sneer at you as if you don't belong and haughtily classify you as a redneck? REDNECKS BUILT THIS PLACE, is the overriding sentiment. The Carolina freak-out over Bothwell is much bigger than Bothwell, dramatizing locals' fears of "outsiders" coming in and transforming the values of Western North Carolina.

Note: I am not saying that Bothwell is an outsider--I don't actually know where he is from. (I'm from Ohio myself; not criticizing outsiders, she quickly clarified!) I am saying that he comports himself like an educated person, blogs about culture, has published books, etc. He is the New South, bringing in gonzo, scary ideas like atheism and frightening the horses.

The tension between these two forces is formidable. But it isn't as simple as Old vs New; it is also class-based, and represents local anxieties about increasing gentrification and residential displacement. People like Bothwell get caught in the fallout.

And then, of course, there is the issue of how atheists are systematically shit on, here in the Heartland. I'm sure atheism is utterly passe on the coasts and in the big cities. But not in the south; at least, not in this neck of the woods. It is enough to get you fired (if three people have to go, the atheist will get the sack) and enough to keep you unemployed, if you are honest about it. As I said here, "Which church do you go to?" is routinely (and inappropriately) asked of politicians running for office. And no way Cecil Bothwell could get elected here in Bob Jones University-land.

The discriminatory idea that an atheist isn't as morally upright as a believer, ANY believer, is even covered in North Carolina's constitution:

Opponents of Cecil Bothwell are seizing on that law to argue he should not be seated as a City Council member today, even though federal courts have ruled religious tests for public office are unlawful under the U.S. Constitution.

Voters elected the writer and builder to the council last month.

“I'm not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he's an atheist, he's not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state constitution,” said H.K. Edgerton, a former Asheville NAACP president.

Article 6, section 8 of the state constitution says: “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

Rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution trump the restriction in the state constitution, said Bob Orr, executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law.

“I think there's any number of federal cases that would view this as an imposition of a religious qualification and violate separation of church and state,” said Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice.

In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Maryland's requirement for officials to declare belief in God violated the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Additionally, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
And so, the conflict is evident--national values or North Carolina values? (I'm proud to say that atheists are now eligible to run for any office in South Carolina, thanks to Herb Silverman.)

Of course, Bothwell's atheism should not even be an issue.

I hope you will join me in supporting Cecil Bothwell's right to serve the voters, as he was properly elected to do.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Can we take back Christmas?

At left: Our Lady of Good Counsel, stained glass from St Mary's, Greenville, SC.






In this post, I quoted a progressive feminist Hindu on Twitter who was angry that Yoga was being used by non-Hindus. People erroneously believed I was attacking her, when in actuality, her remarks hit a nerve with me, and I understood what she meant. I compared Yoga to Christmas. I was informed, in short order, that this was not an appropriate comparison. And so, I will infuriate everyone, by once again making the comparison.

Because I think it's a perfect comparison.

Yoga is dazzling and wonderful, accomplishes several utilitarian aims at once, and is perfectly-suited to mass-marketing and cultural imperialism. Christmas is also.

I have been arguing (nicely!) with atheists today on Twitter, and when I go to their web pages, I see that the winter holidays have colonized their heads as thoroughly as they have everyone else's. Yes, yes, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Yule, yada yada. I know what Saturnalia is. (I even keep track of the little-known Feast Days, and their original derivations.) But Santa and reindeer haven't got squat to do with the Solstice. You will automatically get December 25th off work, not December 21st, unless you ask for it.

Let's face it, Christmas has been COMMANDEERED by mass American culture, the government, Macy's, and by a lot of people who don't know what it means or who have zero respect for the religious concept.

Can we take it back?

I've been thinking that we might.

In fact, the more fuzzy and watered-down "mass-market Christmas" becomes and the more it is referred to as "the holidays" (as in the nebulous, Dr Feelgood bleat of "Happy Holidays!" every whichway you turn)--the better it is for REAL Christmas. We should separate the actual Feast Day of the Nativity of Our Lord, from sleigh bells ringling, jing-jing-jingling too. They have little in common, except a Bishop named Nicholas.

If we don't like the wholesale capitalist theft of Christmas, it is up to us to take it back.

What I am proposing is the opposite of the right-wing's dreaded "War on Christmas"--an idea that seems based on the concept that the secular lefties, agnostics and atheists are dedicatedly de-Christing Christmas. In fact, it was Christians who first brought Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman and all of that into the festivities, in an effort to get the children involved and provide them with religiously-neutral songs to sing at Christmas celebrations in public schools.

It's interesting to note that most American Protestants never liked all that foofaraw much anyway. Kenneth C. Davis writes at HuffPo:

The Founding Fathers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not a festive bunch. To them, Christmas was a debauched, wasteful festival that threatened their core religious beliefs. They understood that most of the trappings of Christmas --like holly and mistletoe-- were vestiges of ancient pagan rituals. More importantly, they thought Christmas -- the mass of Christ-- was too "popish," by which they meant Roman Catholic. These are the people who banned Catholic priests from Boston under penalty of death.

This sensibility actually began over the way in which Christmas was celebrated in England. Oliver Cromwell, a strict Puritan who took over England in 1645, believed it was his mission to cleanse the country of the sort of seasonal moral decay that Protestant writer Philip Stubbes described in the 1500s:
More mischief is that time committed than in all the year besides ... What dicing and carding, what eating and drinking, what banqueting and feasting is then used ... to the great dishonour of God and the impoverishing of the realm.
In 1644, Parliament banned Christmas celebrations. Attending mass was forbidden. Under Cromwell's Commonwealth, mince pies, holly and other popular customs fell victim to the Puritan mission to remove all merrymaking during the Christmas period. To Puritans, the celebration of the Lord's birth should be day of fasting and prayer.

In England, the Puritan War on Christmas lasted until 1660. In Massachusetts, the ban remained in place until 1687.

So if the conservative broadcasters and religious folk really want a traditional, American Christian Christmas, the solution is simple -- don't have any fun.
(Personal Note: I have always found it shocking when churches are CLOSED on Christmas Eve.)

So, when these same folks talk about the war on Christmas, what about their own history and their own lack of worship on Christmas? I get where Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are coming from (Mormon and Catholic, respectively), but people from Puritan traditions have no room to criticize secular folks for 'making war' on Christmas.

It is up to us, if we want it. There is the secular, mass-market "holiday season"--and then there is the birth of One many of us believe was God, and what that signaled to the world, and to us: Wake up. Rejoice, there is hope.

This hope does not reside in shopping and in earthly treasures, because as we were counseled, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Do you really want to leave your heart in Macy's?)

To my brother and sister Christians: Let them have it. Stop fighting. If they don't know "the meaning of Christmas"--then don't worry about it. You do, and you are the one who will be held accountable for knowing. The so-called war on Christmas is being waged by right-wing Christians who don't want to let the mass-market version carry on in peace, and who want to keep all winter holiday celebrations partitioned for a certain demographic they deem suitable and worthy.

We have ours, and they have theirs. And that's fine, isn't it? What's wrong with that? Peace on earth, yes?

War is over, if you want it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Warren Haynes and Government Mule

Blurry Warren Haynes! Taken by very tall guy next to me.





As I promised on Facebook* (I am getting all of these online venues confused!), here are my thoroughly bad photos of Warren Haynes and Government Mule!

The free concert was Thursday night at the Bohemian Cafe, right next to Horizon Records. A yellow armband was required to get inside, and I got there too late to obtain one, thinking I could do my usual sneaking-in routine. Ha! Not hardly.

I tried anyway, since I was wearing a yellow long-sleeved shirt and thought I could fake out the cop. Nah. An ever-vigilant member of Greenville's Finest caught me. The cocky bravado I had as a youngun that would have allowed me to somehow bluff my way in (or stroll in like of course I owned the joint) has evaporated with the years. Instead, I huddled outside in the cold (I had oodles of company) and at one point, attempted to climb a bench and take pictures through the window (see below), only to fall on my ample (which is pretty lucky, in this case) ass. No harm but bruises. Since the beer was flowing pretty good, nobody paid attention to another falling photographer. The crowd in Horizon was enormous too, and only the tall people could see, so I enlisted one to take pictures; eh, not too great. (see above)

So, you will have to take my word for it.

Warren Haynes is an AMAZING guitarist, one of the best I have heard in person. The band sounded awesome, and rocked pretty good. I am thrilled I could hear em at last; loads of thanks to Gene Berger at Horizon for the freebie. A lovely holiday present!







They closed the cafe at 2:30pm and removed all the furniture, which was sitting outside. (I was still working when they started passing out the yellow armbands at around 3:30pm, so that wasn't really a possibility.) I don't recall a larger group there before. It was fun!

And I learned that one of my favorite droogs is now assistant manager of Horizon! Hi Shelley!

More free stuff, please; music for the people!









~*~

Below, the back of Warren's head, taken through the window ... mere seconds before I took a dive off the bench onto my well-padded behind. More bad photos HERE.
















~*~

*I started to feel neglected since everybody had more Facebook friends than me, so I am now endeavoring to catch up. Of course, the problem is, I am using my pseudonym, and some people do not know me by that name and I have to tell em who I am. Nonetheless, my goal was 100 friends by Christmas and I am now at 99, so that's good!

If you want to add me as a friend, go for it! (If you use a different name than the one you use on your blog or in comments, be sure to let me know.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jenny Sanford files for divorce

Photo of Jenny Sanford by Heidi Heilbrunn of the Greenville News.




I had other obligations on Wednesday night and missed Jenny Sanford's TV-interview with Barbara Walters. But several of the local news outlets covered it, as well as national blogs like The Huffington Post:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Even if her straying husband had asked her to, South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford says she wouldn't have stood with Gov. Mark Sanford when he faced cameras to tell the world about his affair with an Argentine woman.

Jenny Sanford told ABC's Barbara Walters for a special airing Wednesday her husband's actions have caused consequences but not robbed her of her self esteem. Excerpts of the interview were released Tuesday.

As she has said in earlier interviews, Sanford told Walters she found out about her husband's affair last January and forbid him to see the other woman. She said she told him not to see his four boys or her for a month last summer as well.

"My hope was that he would wake up from whatever he was in the throes of and maybe see what he might lose," she said.

"Certainly his actions hurt me, and they caused consequences for me, but they don't in any way take away my own self-esteem," she said. "They reflect poorly on him."
But the best part? She said she wouldn't stand there like a prop.

This quiet dignity is why Jenny is loved by the women of South Carolina and the USA:
But Jenny Sanford was not beside him and she told Walters that the governor never asked her to appear.

"I wouldn't have. If he had asked me, I would have said no," she said.
YES!

It is my fervent hope that Jenny's patent refusal to physically stand beside her husband like an obedient little Stepford Wife, will catch on. NO MORE USING POLITICIAN'S WIVES AS PROPS!

I am more than a little thrilled that it is a southern woman who has finally put the kibosh on this terrible tradition. I have always thought it was an added, horrific humiliation to make wives stand there mutely while sleazemeisters like James McGreevey, Larry Craig, Elliot Spitzer, et. al. make their various confessions. Their wives were used as moral set-decoration: Looky here, I have a WIFE, I am not a sex pervert!*

This is an ethical variation of woman-as-ornament, woman-as-arm-candy: Woman as TAMER of men's collectively untamed, wild, crazy libidos. It is offensive as hell and always has been. Bravo to Jenny for NOT PLAYING ALONG!!!!

~*~

And today, we get the news that she has filed for divorce. If she has a publicist, I say, give that girl a raise! Great timing, right after a well-received national interview.

The Greenville News reports:
COLUMBIA – Gov. Mark Sanford said this morning that he takes “full responsibility for the moral failure” that led his wife, Jenny, today to file for divorce.

“While it is not the course I would have hoped for, or would choose, I want to take full responsibility for the moral failure that led us to this tragic point,” Sanford said in a brief statement. “While our family structure may change, I know that we will both work earnestly to be the best mom and dad we can be to four of the finest boys on earth.”

The complaint filed this morning by First Lady Jenny Sanford in Charleston County Family Court is brief and accuses the governor of having sex with another woman but provides no other details or discusses divorce issues other than to note agreements are expected to be filed in the matter sometime in the future.

Jenny Sanford announced this morning she was filing for divorce “after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation.”
And meanwhile, although the SC House censured Sanford, and the impeachment resolution may go to the full house floor--it appears totally stalled for now, and Mark Sanford has no intention of leaving office any earlier than required.

Stay tuned, sports fans!



*Technically, I think the first person to successfully employ this strategy was Richard Nixon during the Checkers speech. Pat Nixon sat there like a mannequin (barely breathing or blinking, it seemed) as Nixon told the country she didn't own a mink, but instead, "a respectable Republican cloth coat" ... using his wife's humble nature as somehow proof of HIS humble nature, which as we all know, was nonexistent.

Thus, the first modern example of wife-as-moral-prop was not a sexual scandal, but it was a scandal. Richard Nixon never referred to "Pat" publicly (in contrast to other presidents who called their wives by their first names in speeches), but always publicly referred to her as "Mrs Nixon"... which I found strange even as a kid. "Mrs Nixon likes... Mrs Nixon says..." as if she really had no other identity besides his misses.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Lake Hartwell

I am very, very pleased with these photos of my beloved Lake Hartwell, which is right on the South Carolina/Georgia border.

A couple of years ago on Thanksgiving, I blogged about how upset I was over the low-water levels. I am SO HAPPY to report that the water level is back up, and Lake Hartwell once again looks big, blue and beautiful.

It's as pretty close-up as it is on film. :)

Happy Wordless Wednesday, everyone!

~*~





Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We won't give pause until the blood is flowing

Photo of the greatest writer and philosopher of the 20th century, JG Ballard, from The Northern Light.







I have been trying to articulate what I dislike about mass-market holidays. In particular, the mass market holiday that Christmas has become.

And I find myself going to my late guru to explain; may his soul rest in peace. I miss him like he was my own father. Maybe he was, in a way.

From V. Vale's quite invaluable J.G. Ballard: Conversations, some excerpts that say it far better than I can:

People use mental formulas that they've learned from TV. Even in ordinary conversation, if you're talking to the mechanic at the garage about whether you need new tires for your car, you and he probably talk in a way that his equivalent thirty years ago would never have done. You use--not catch phrases, but verbal formulas. Suddenly you realize you're hearing echoes of some public-information, accident-prevention commercial. It's uncanny.

[...] What's interesting [about Reality TV shows like Big Brother] is that almost nothing happens. There's a certain amount of bitching and gossip and sitting around the supper table talking in a sort of half-hearted way, but there's no drama. Nonetheless, the audiences are riveted. And they're riveted by very similar programs where TV producers put people on desert islands and see how they survive; a series called Survivor did just that. I think this reflects a tremendous hunger among people for "reality"--for ordinary reality. It's very difficult to find the "real," because the environment is totally manufactured.

Even one's own home is a kind of anthology of advertisers, manufacturers, motifs, and presentation techniques. There's nothing "natural" about one's home these days. The furnishings, the fabrics, the furniture, the appliances, the TV, and all the electronic equipment--we're living inside commercials. I think people realize this, and they're desperate for reality, which partly explains the surge in popularity of "adventure" holidays. People think that by living on some mountainside in a tent and being frozen to death by freezing rain, they're somehow discovering reality, but of course that's just another fiction dreamed up by a TV producer. And there's no escape.
Holidays like Halloween and Christmas are spectacles that people engage in, because they are on TV. Working retail, I consider a certain type of existential-shopping (wherein people don't really know what they are "looking" for) part of this Ballardian phenomenon.

There are so many fabulous quotes in this book, I will be blogging lots of them. For instance, about the disparity between rich and poor:
In England [this conversation was recorded in 2003], we're getting unprecedented disparities of wealth. The people who run our biggest corporations have begun to affect life in London primarily by buying up property, and the old middle class (doctors, civil servants, teachers, salaried professionals) can no longer afford to live in central London. Now there are whole areas of central London given over to the rich. I've often thought that in due course all these very rich financiers are going to leave very large sums of money to their children. Then you'll get a sort of New Leisure Class who never work, but have huge spending power--like the ancien regime in France. Supposedly, the same thing is happening in Manhattan: the middle class has been forced out...
V. Vale replies that the same thing is happening in San Francisco; New York and San Francisco are the two most expensive cities in the USA. I would add that it's even true in lil ole Greenville; the 'centers' of towns/cities are now priced out of range for the actual natives of those towns/cities. Most of the people moving into the new high-priced condos in downtown Greenville, for instance, come from someplace else, often from Europe or the coasts. The rich colonizing the cities and leaving the outlying suburbs to the poor and the rabble, is the exact reverse of what happened in the 60s, when the rich moved to the suburbs and left the inner-cities to rot. Now that they crave authenticity, they have moved back to cities in droves. However, they still aren't getting the authenticity they crave, since the only people who can afford to live in cities are rich, affluent people who are all just like them.

In the cities, a bizarre new class-based uniformity has taken hold, while in my suburban apartment building, every race and age and nationality and economic status is well-represented.

Authenticity has been priced out of the market.

Speaking of which, here is Ballard on the future of sex:
[The] time is going to come when no young woman will regard penetrative penis-and-vagina sex as real sex, because it isn't deviant enough to be considered "real sex." These days, magazines for teenagers sold openly on newsstands have headlines like, "Interested in S&M sex? Junior Cosmo explains all you need to know." And this is a magazine that's going to be bought and read by 14-year-olds. The period of conventional, penetrative, penis/vagina sex will be over by the time you're about 15, and then you'll move into the area of conceptualized sex, S&M, and whatever--and that's what will be regarded as real sex. To me, this seems like a daunting thought.
Ballard on the future of reading:
People don't use libraries as much as they used to. One thing I miss terribly--I don't know if the same thing applied in America, but over here in the Forties and Fifties when I first came to England, what I loved were the second-hand bookshops. Every small town had a second-hand bookshop, which was constantly being stocked up... when someone died, the family took their books to the second-hand bookshop and got sixpence each for them. There were a lot of unserious materials, popular novels and the like...but there were a lot of very serious books. You know, one serious collector in a lifetime could produce enough books to keep a second-hand bookstore open for a year.

I did most of my reading in second-hand bookshops. I remember when I was living in London somewhere I used a local one. Also, serendipity came into it [...] You made accidental discoveries all the time. And this sort of refreshed one. You were constantly being surprised, constantly making discoveries. All this is gone now, of course. There can't be more than a half a dozen used bookshops in the whole of West London, if any.

What we've got now is a new kind of literacy. We've got people who are expert at reading the labels on products, expert at reading instructional manuals that come with a new kind of vacuum cleaner, or a computer or what have you. They're expert at that kind of reading, but not at anything else. Not with a more traditional book.

I don't know if the internet has affected that. I have very high hopes for the internet, which I think could be the sort of--if we're entering a New Dark Age, the internet could help to keep the lights on!
I'll be revisiting these Conversations often, which Ballard would be pleased to know, I found by browsing bookstores in the serendipitous manner he has described so well.

I miss you, man.

~*~

Ballard would have understood this song/video, which is where we get today's blog-post title. Caution, may trigger, may offend, watch out, yada yada.

(Not for the faint of heart or the oversensitive. Really.)

Vicarious - Tool



Note: Well, damn, there is some argument over exactly the lyrics I was going to quote. I always heard:

We all feed on tragedy
It's the virtue of empire


Other listeners report: "It's the virtual vampire," and still others, "like blood to a vampire." (Does anyone know the official lyrics?)

I guess you can still understand the concept, though.

Put another way:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Music Monday: It's rockabilly time!

YES!--I said it's ROCKABILLY TIME, yall!

From the now-forgotten movie HOT ROD GANG (1958), this is the amazing Gene Vincent, who was simply too fabulous for mere words.

Apparently, "Baby Blue" was co-written by local legend Country Earl, and I never knew until last night! (He still makes a few hundred dollars a year from it, he said.) Country Earl's local restaurant in Simpsonville is colloquially known as Country Earl's Chompin and Stompin (rules: no drinking, no smoking and no cussing).

And if you are lucky enough to listen to Country Earl's classic-country radio show on WOLT-FM every Sunday night, then you already KNOW you are one of the luckiest souls on planet Earth.

~*~

Baby Blue - Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps (1958)



~*~

Race with the Devil - Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps (1956)



~*~

Be-Bop-A-Lula - Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps (1958)

Why is domestic violence against men funny?

As a kid, I grew up hearing the following song-spoof:

Rudolph the Bow-Legged Cowboy
Had a very shiny gun
And if you ever saw it
You would turn around and run

All of the other cowboys
Used to laugh and call him names
They wouldn't let poor Rudolph
Join in any Cowboy games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
Rudolph with your gun so bright
Won't you shoot my wife tonight?
And this was considered funny. Kids in Ohio used to jump rope to it at Christmastime, if the ice wasn't too heavy.

I cannot hear the holiday song "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer"--without thinking of it.

Danny has rightly pointed out that the current jokey-joke over Tiger Woods getting clobbered by the missus, is not cool. (In fairness: I owe the guys over at Feminist Critics one, for pointing this out to me.)

We now jokey-joke over men getting beaten up by women, the way we used to joke about women getting beaten up by men. It is understood, on some level, that he "deserves" it. If a man is cheating, he is considered by many to be fair game.

However, we can assume that many women-victims of domestic violence have been cheating also... and this would not be acceptable as an excuse for a beating, even if she was.

In addition: The prejudicial concept that "men are stronger" is rendered meaningless, when we are talking about women using weapons like golf clubs that serve to "equalize" us in physical disputes. The recent Saturday Night Live skit managed to be simultaneously misogynist and jokey-joke about domestic violence against men. However, it is also notable that it might be the first time I've seen any acknowledgment from the mass media that a man might actually be physically afraid of his wife.

I realized my own perspective had radically changed when I saw this again (caution, may trigger, etc):

Barbara Bain on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1963)



I hadn't seen this sitcom episode since childhood, and remembered it as patently hilarious slapstick (at which Dick Van Dyke always excelled admirably).

Now? No.

In fact, I was alarmed at how Barbara Bain's total viciousness is played for laughs. (In many ways, this is also misogynist, of course, portraying her as vengeful harpy.)

Your thoughts on domestic violence against men? Will we ever find it UNfunny?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Amanda Knox found guilty

I decided some time ago, not to write about the Amanda Knox case again until there was a verdict. (I first covered the murder of Meredith Kercher when it originally happened, here and here.) I still get plenty of hits on her old MySpace photo (left), virtually every time she is mentioned on TV. Yesterday, while awaiting the verdict, lots of hits on the photo.



Guilty:

Perugia, Italy (CNN) -- An Italian jury has found American student Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito guilty in the stabbing death of British exchange student Meredith Kercher.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years.

Both were convicted on all charges except theft and together must pay 5 million euros ($7.4 million) to the victim's family. In addition, Knox must pay 40,000 euros ($60,000) to a man whom she falsely accused of the killing.

Knox, wearing a lime jacket, her hair in a single braid, began to sob -- her sniffles and sobs punctuating the otherwise silent courtroom -- as the judge read the verdict quietly, without expression.

Few of the eight jurors looked at her. Six of the jurors were wearing red, white and green sashes -- the colors of Italy's flag.

Sollecito's stepmother cried out her stepson's name twice as he and Knox were led from the court.

Curt Knox, Amanda Knox's father, walked the four blocks from the courtroom to his hotel staring stonily ahead, holding his two tearful daughters by the hand.

He said nothing as they strode through the streets of the medieval town except "Move," when journalists got in his way.

"We are extremely disappointed in the verdict rendered today against our daughter," Knox's family said in a statement.

"While we always knew this was a possibility, we find it difficult to accept this verdict when we know that she is innocent, and that the prosecution has failed to explain why there is no evidence of Amanda in the room where Meredith was so horribly and tragically murdered.

"It appears clear to us that the attacks on Amanda's character in much of the media and by the prosecution had a significant impact on the judges and jurors and apparently overshadowed the lack of evidence in the prosecution's case against her."

Knox and Sollecito will appeal the verdicts, attorneys said.

After the verdict, Knox's lawyer, Carlo Della Vedova said his client was upset, but strong.

He would not speculate on the reason for the verdict.

"We have to see the motivation," he said, referring to legal paperwork the judge must file within 90 days to explain the jury's reasoning.

Her family was disappointed, but not surprised, by the verdict, Knox's aunt Janet Huff told CNN.com

"It was terrible, it was gut-wrenching just to hear them say it," said Huff, speaking from her Seattle, Washington, home.

"And to see the people outside the courtroom applauding -- that just made me sick that people can be that callous and cold."

Knox and Sollecito were charged with murder and sexual violence in the November 2007 stabbing death of Meredith Kercher. Knox and Kercher, both studying abroad, were roommates. A third suspect was found guilty in a separate trial.

Prosecutors argued Seattle, Washington, native Amanda Knox was a resentful American so angry with her British roommate that she exacted revenge during a twisted sex misadventure at their home two years ago.

They said Knox directed Sollecito and another man infatuated with her, Rudy Guede, to hold Kercher down as Knox played with a knife before slashing Kercher's throat.

Defense lawyers argued that Guede, who was convicted in a separate fast-track trial and is currently appealing his conviction, was the sole killer. On Thursday, Knox took the stand for a third time in the Perugia courtroom, telling jurors that she is not a "killer" who stabbed her former roommate.

"They say that I am calm. I am not calm," Knox said in Italian. "I fear to lose myself, to have the mask of the killer forced upon me. I fear to be defined as someone I am not."

Prosecutors touted an airtight case.

They argued DNA on Kercher's bra clasp belonged to Sollecito. And the alleged murder weapon, a 6 ½-inch kitchen knife taken from Sollecito's home, had the DNA of Knox on the handle and Kercher on the blade, prosecutors said.

During the trial, the defense sought to cast doubt on the knife evidence, arguing it doesn't match the wounds on Kercher's body.

And they said the bra clasp with Sollecito's DNA on it was left at the crime scene for weeks and is so contaminated that the evidence can't be considered credible.

Knox's family has argued she has been the victim of character assassination.

Members of Kercher's family have declined repeated CNN requests for comment.

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini accused the defense of "lynching" the Italian police who worked on the case.

Knox and Sollecito have been jailed for more than two years. The trial began in January in Perugia, a university town about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Rome.
I am really quite surprised. You could NEVER get that verdict here in the USA with the flimsy physical evidence and overall compromise of the crime scene. Not to mention, the tainting of the jury pool.

And of course, there is also the simple, very unjust fact that she has been jailed since she was charged. She has not been able to fully participate in her own defense. English, not Italian, is her first language. No Miranda reading and no Bill of Rights in Italy. I am reminded, again, why it is so crucial.

Mr Daisy and I started talking about the fact that Amanda, who is likely guilty (I have to admit, I don't know, but the initial facts looked pretty bad), could never get a guilty verdict here in the USA, but got one in Italy. What does that mean? Is our justice system TOO one-sided in favor of defendants, as many right-wing politicians and victim-advocates have claimed? I have always been proud of our "innocent until proven guilty" concept--but of course, this obviously means that lots of guilty people have gone free, who should not have.

And the reverse is true, without the presumption of innocence: Innocent people are accused and no substantial evidence is required.

There is no perfect judicial system, but I used to believe the American system was superior. After encountering the entire True Crime/Ann Rule oeuvre, I changed my mind: money talks and bullshit walks. T. Cullen Davis, evil bloodthirsty killer of a 12-year-old child at point-blank range, is a free man... not coincidentally, he is also the richest man ever tried for murder. (No millionaire has ever received the death penalty in this country, and none ever will.) I no longer subscribe to the idea that our judicial system is automatically superior; but is it the best we can expect?

The Knox verdict has me wondering about fairness. Do we bend over backwards to protect defendants?

And what if she is innocent? Her inability to get a fair trial in a sensationalistic media-circus atmosphere is certainly a factor against her.

What do you think?

Friday, December 4, 2009

War is over, if you want it

Best thing I've heard today: Gloria Allred canceled her press conference with her stunningly-attractive client, Rachel Uchitel, just as Uchitel was poised to Tell All about her "relationship" with Tiger Woods.

Scandalmongers everywhere sobbed; Gloria never lets us down. This is a first!

After the cancellation, Allred's daughter, Lisa Bloom (yes, intrepid Court-TV junkies and scandalmongers love Lisa almost as much as we love her mom), announced on several news networks that mom would never cancel a press conference, except for one reason: Mr Green has arrived.

Mr Green! Love it.

And I'd love to know what kind of Merry Christmas the Uchitel family will have this year; something tells me the presents under the tree will be first rate indeed.

~*~

More scandals! DEAD AIR can barely keep up. As Renee reported, actress Meredith Baxter has come out as gay.

I first became very interested in Baxter when she dated... David Cassidy! Yes, I kept careful track of all the Cassidy-women: Meredith, Susan Dey, Judy Strangis, Robin Millan, and his first wife, the totally fabulous Kay Lenz. Embarrassing but true.

Camille Paglia once wrote the following about Baxter, which I found rather puzzling at the time... but now, suddenly makes perfect sense:

Baxter's 1992 performance as a real-life San Diego murderess in the two parts of "The Betty Broderick Story," "A Woman Scorned" and "Her Final Fury," remains one of the most impressive pieces of work by an American actress in the last 20 years. Though I've watched rebroadcasts of that tense docudrama times without number, I still thrill with admiration at Baxter's tough energy, pinpoint vocal work and insight into both sexual relations and American character. "The Betty Broderick Story" should be required viewing at every acting school.
Um, say what?

Of course (it should go without saying!), I enjoyed the Betty Broderick mini-series as much as the next scandalmonger... but hey, Meredith Baxter isn't Meryl Streep, okay? I wondered if Paglia (with whom I share my special great love for Elizabeth) had gone off the deep-end, or was possibly in love with Baxter.

Ha! Was I right or what?

Now that we know, I am wondering if they have actually dated or possibly got real friendly on one of those hot lesbian cruises.

It's interesting that Paglia lets her emotions interfere with her critical sensibilities, although she loves to accuse feminists like Naomi Wolf of doing the same thing. Paglia is always proudly blathering that she has "a male brain"; I wonder if effusively gushing over her favorite lady-friends is what she means by that?

(giggle)

~*~

Raleigh Demonstrators against Cliffside, from October 29th demonstration. Photo courtesy of the Canary Coalition.


On a political note, Duke Energy is still attempting to destroy the Blue Ridge Mountains with a coal-burning power-plant, smack-dab in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas in the world. I have covered this previously, and the brawl continues, with protesters busted this week also.

Jeanne Brooks writes, accurately:
Although coal-burning power plants are the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S., that’s not the only concern. In August, U.S. Geological Survey research tested fish in about 300 streams across the nation and found every fish contaminated with mercury.

The smoke-stack emissions of power plants are a major source of the mercury, the EPA said, along with trash burning and cement plants.

Tiny particulates, associated with heart attacks and asthma, among other medical problems, are another power plant emission.

Removing mountain tops by detonation in central Appalachian states like West Virginia and Kentucky to mine coal is an additional, and ugly, factor. The debris has ruined and buried miles of streams.
STOP CLIFFSIDE!

~*~

Pausing for unpaid commercial for the wonderful MOMMIE DOTS line by Augisa & Co. All of their vegan, cruelty-free skin-products are terrific, but this one deserves a special shout-out.

I just sent the awesome Mommie 2 Be Bellie Butta to my daughter, as her pregnant self expands. Bellie Butta is made of aloe, chamomile, lavender and organic coconut oil; highly recommended for you future-mamas out there.

~*~

Locally, the Sara Lee factory is closing and laying off 200 workers. Our warmest positive thoughts, deadhead vibes and heartfelt novenas are with all the folks losing jobs at Christmastime, which just makes me wanna cry:
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Officials with Sara Lee Corp. said 200 workers in South Carolina will lose their jobs when the company closes its bread factory in Greenville.

Sara Lee officials told the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg that they have to close the bakery in January because they lost a major customer.

Spokesman Mike Cummins said the plant makes frozen dough and bagels for the food service industry. Cummins said a few workers may be offered jobs at other plants, but the rest will get severance packages and help finding another job.

Sara Lee began operating the Greenville plant in 1984 after acquiring it from King's Hawaiian Bakery.
We are with you, folks, and wish you all the best.

~*~

And speaking of Christmas, as always, I am currently inundated with endless holiday music at my workplace. (My definitive Christmas music post is here!) However, I have noticed that John and Yoko's famous "Happy Christmas/War is Over" is pointedly NOT one of the songs being played over and over.

Hmm.

Maybe because the war isn't over?

(If you want it.)

~*~

Speaking of Christmas and capitalism, several different versions of the official DEAD AIR Christmas season kick-off tune have been yanked off YouTube already. Yes, boys and girls, The Grinch is alive and active and wants to CHEAT US OF OUR JAMS!

But I found one anyway, she snorted derisively. Listen now, before they yank this one too!

Come to think of it, they never play this one in public places either. ;)

Father Christmas - The Kinks

[via FoxyTunes / The Kinks]