Saturday, April 14, 2007

Happy Kitty/Happy Birthday

Bolesław at 13Zimba at 13Griga at 13

March 19th we celebrated our babies' birthday. Bolesław, Zimba, and Griga turned 13. Here are some photos the day after their big celebration that included games, treats, and lots of pets. Bolesław is the oldest, being born about 20 minutes before Zimba, the middle boy, who in turn was born about 20 minutes before Baby Griga. Bolesław is orange, loves to sing, and is definitely a morning guy. Zimba smells like pine cones, also likes to sing (albeit unintelligibly to the human mind), and his hobbies include standing on his hind legs ("squirreling") and being brushed. He also is known for his "crooky" tail. Griga is solid black except for a small white dot on his neck; he smells like wet grape vine and adores to be either "little spoon" or in the middle when in bed--his favorite place in the whole house.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pop Life, Pop Hate

Yesterday I was struck by Oprah’s comments to the women’s basketball team from Rutgers University that Don Imus’ remarks “robbed them of their victories.” (That’s right, I do know something about pop culture and current events!) My thought: would Oprah have had the so-called victorious women’s basketball team from Rutgers University on if Imus hadn’t had called them “nappy-headed hos”? My answer: absolutely not. If not for Imus’ comments, I for one would’ve never heard of the women’s basketball team from Rutgers University. So thank you, Don Imus, for spreading the word.

On a similar note and similarly sarcastic view: check out Harvey Fierstein’s “Our Prejudices, Ourselves.” This is one of the most prescient and lucid op-ed pieces I’ve read in quite a while.

PS: “Prescient” and “lucid” mean it’s good.

Thinking the Unthought about Thoughtcrime

Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.”
– Winston Smith (from George Orwell’s 1984)

Yesterday afternoon when my telephone rang and awoke me from the stupor induced from a couple of less-than-restful nights of sleep and the subsequent hours spent staring at a paper that failed to produce itself on my computer monitor about Irigarayan deinos and the distance of home (philosophically speaking, of course), I was confronted by a recorded voice asking me this hysterical (in a philosophical sense, of course) question: “Are you concerned about children being preyed upon by child pornographers? If yes, then press 8.” My response was to shout, “No!” and hang up.

Now I am more-than-painfully aware that that experience was probably the first step on my slippery slope ending with my incarceration at Gitmo (unless, of course, that illegal and immoral branch of my government has been outsourced to the Egyptians or the Poles or some other “good” (as in ally) terrorist group). For today, Congressional Quarterly reports “New Homeland Security Technology to Detect ‘Hostile Intent’”:
The Department of Homeland Security is developing a technology that lets screeners at airports and border posts uncover deception and bad intentions with minimal inconvenience to innocent travelers.

The program, known as Hostile Intent, is developing technology to detect physiological characteristics that indicate nervousness in a person, such as body heat, perspiration and facial movements, said Bob Hooks of the department’s Science and Technology Directorate.

About 400 million people cross the U.S. border every year, and most of them have no hostile intent whatsoever, said Larry Willis, human factors program manager for the Science and Technology Directorate. This technology presumably will be able to screen people without slowing down traffic or inconveniencing travelers because it is non-invasive.

The core research for the program started about three years ago but has really ramped up this year, said Willis. It could be used in a wide range of settings beyond border entry programs, such as at the State Department during visa applications.

The program will eventually have two main tests — one in 2010 and the other in 2012. In the meantime, there will be smaller tests as research and development continues, Willis said.
Despite the attempt toward normative language (that is, “bad intentions”), any program named “Hostile Intent” belies it own true intentions. Hostile, in-fucking-dubitably! Just how “non-invasive” is a measure of one’s “body heat, perspiration and facial movements”? And how does such a measure necessarily denote intent to harm the United States, its citizens, or its government? [Please, please always distinguish between the citizens of the US and its government, for we are not the same!] Couldn’t a traveler just simply be tired from a trip spanning several time zones? Disoriented from jet lag and exhaustion? Worried about career or relationship or health issues necessitating a trip in the first place? [Hell, American Airlines claims in its ad We know why you fly; are they now expected to hand that information over to the authorities?]

Thinking back about all the international travel I’ve done, I can only remember one, perhaps two times I landed at a US entry point and wasn’t harassed either by a custom’s officer or an immigration officer. When I returned from Germany this past December, I was sent to the line for “bad intentioned” threats for not being able to understand the immigration officer’s questions. Landing in Texas after an international trip is always good for a culture-shocker, especially with a non-native English-speaker/fucker who speaks with such a thick Mexican accent that I couldn’t make out what he was asking. Perhaps I just need to throw in the towel and support—like the majority of my family—that damned wall that separates us (US) from Them. But They already knew that ... that is, if they’re reading my dirty thoughts already.

One final question: just when did intentions become criminal? Isn’t thinking about bombing a governmental office slightly different than planning to bomb or actually bombing a governmental office? And finally, yes! I really am concerned about children being preyed upon by child pornographers. I think. (And as long as I don’t think otherwise, then no action on my part is necessary....)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Haunts

Sad how when you map it all out it barely seems worth mentioning. Ten percent? Bah! From now on I'll just stay at home!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

snocap (songs for sale) + sale

Here's a sweet deal for anyone interested: buy 3 tracks from snocap (or any other online vendor) and I'll send you either the Caelum Moor or the Digital Tsar CD (your choice). You can check out the links in the sidebar to the left for more info about the CDs. And you'll have to email your mailing address to me.

Please help me clean out my closet and reduce my inventory all at the same time! Sale ends May 31, 2007.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Lost Three + RLJ

Last Friday when SHmonk and I were listening to great music (that we of course chose on the digital jukebox) at the Arcade bar waiting for Rickie Lee Jones to take the stage, I asked, “With which three people from your past—and with whom you’ve lost all contact—would you most like to re-establish your friendship?”

My answer: 1) John Scroe (perhaps Scrow) – a poor, lost boy in the world of east Texas who entered my school as a foster child and remained there (and remained the best friend I ever had there) for a few weeks. He told me his deepest, darkest secret under the bleachers during gym class, and I told him mine. And then he was moved into another foster home, and I never saw him again.

2) Daisy Collett – a great, fun, intelligent, and creative woman who survived a week of clubbing with the twenty-two-year-old younger version of myself. I miss the dimension she added to my life.

3) Darek Ożga – one of my best friends and certainly one of my all-time favorite people I’ve met abroad. We were great pals at the dormitory where I lived when I lived in Lublin during the winter of 1995-96: he was an English major at the university where I was studying Polish.

By the way, the Rickie Lee Jones concert was amazing. I find it strange that I’ve come around to her music almost every decade since I was eleven. She is perhaps one of the first musical guests I remember performing on Saturday Night Live way back in 1979, and “Chuck E.’s in Love” was one of the first 45 rpm singles my sisters and I owned.

Then in 1989, her album Flying Cowboys came out, and for months my cassette player flipped back and forth from side A to side B as I was deeply rutted in the new folk explosion of the times. “Satellites” is still one of my favorite songs:
So you keep talking in many languages
Telling us the way you feel
Don't stop confiding in the road you're on
Don't quit, you're walking Satellites
Her latest tour for The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard was a storm that blew through Dallas a week ago. Her voice has such mind-blowing registers: at times she sounded like a drugged-up Courtney Love, at other times she sounded like a Pentecostal preacher; other times her voice was lost in the wall of sound produced by five guitars and two percussionists, emerging only in a whisper, a whale song, a call to prayer by a muezzin. And never once does her voice lose itself in histrionics and hysterics (à la Whitney Houston or any other singer I can’t stand). After soaking in all that that tempest offered, walking back to the car in the pissing rain didn’t matter one bit.