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NEOGNOSTIKOS
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Genealogy
GenForum
Better Living through Science
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
SETI
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Sunday, 17 August 2003
The Doors
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: "Back Door Man" by The Doors
What a neat surprise to wake up to: A&E has something called Breakfast with the Arts and today's offering are a lot of Doors performances. What an interesting band they were. I love those old live studio performances where the audience is cool and the sound is clean. I may just have to go and dig out my old CDs. I never did own Waiting for the Sun or The Soft Parade, but I wore the hell out of their first album and L.A. Woman, if that's possible to do with a CD.

You men, eat your dinner---
Eat your pork and beans---
I eat more chicken
Any man ever seen...
Yeah.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 8:07 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Saturday, 16 August 2003
Gazing out the Window
Extremely bored, but only a few more hours away from a four-day weekend. My apartment has taken pretty decent shape, but there are a lot of things I can start weeding out to make even more room. It's a very large 1-1 and I'm happy about that, but not about the cost of keeping it cool. Outrageous. My walls are all covered with the evidence of my travels and tastes and interests, and I couldn't care less whether they are regarded as tacky and dorm-roomish. I can't stand bare walls. I like to be surrounded by my own aesthetic values and comforts. Ever been in a home where you were afraid to sit down or felt like you needed coasters for the soles of your shoes? Fuck a place like that.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 7:41 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 15 August 2003
Thinking about Granny
My Granny's been in the hospital for several days now, recovering from a case of double-pneumonia. She's a sweetheart. Ninety years old this past April. Actually, she's my oldest friend's grandmother, but I've known her since I was 13, so she's been officially adopted for a while now. And, besides, she never fails to tell me that she feels just like I'm one of her "youngins," anyway, so that is good to know.

I wouldn't presume to share her name with the world unless I knew it was okay with her, but her very initials would tell you something about her: E.R.T.H. As in "Mother Earth" or "salt of the earth." Granny comes from good Southern stock, with lots of English and Cherokee mingled in her. In fact, if I'm not mistaken (and how very much I would like to confirm this some day), she is descended from some Cherokee who roamed the foothills of the Smoky Mountains ---men like Pumpkin Boy, Nettle Carrier, Old Tassel, and Double Head. These were the uncles and cousins of a half-breed named Robert Benge, whose enemies (and victims) called "The Bench." It was The Bench and his men who, one cold night in the fall of 1793, murdered my great-great-great-grandfather, Robert Sharp, outside a blockhouse near Maryville, Tennessee.

And, so, I think it says something about this country and its character (and the ineffable mystery of coincidence) that the descendants of men who hunted each other down in a race of war of two centuries ago can grow to know and love each other. Granny has been a blessing in my life and I hope that she might think, in some small way, the same of me.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 10:14 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 14 August 2003
Blackout
That blackout up in the Northeast today has certainly gotten a lot of people's attention. It is said to have been started by a lightning strike, but that didn't keep people from first thinking it was terrorism of some kind. Now, of course, the al-Qaeda cells in North America have been treated to a risk-free demonstration of what could happen if they went the way of electro-terrorism. It seems to me that the term "asymmetrical force" becomes more and more apt every time it is used. Nineteen psychopaths with box cutters and a lot of planning created a new world order. A mere handful again could wreak incredible damage with a trunkload of nerve agent or anthrax. It's disproportionate, asymmetrical. In a world where so many people depend on the smooth and uninterrupted functioning of their electricty or internet connections or transportation systems, our own society, in particular, must become more willing to use whatever tools are at our disposal to identify the people who might cause such havoc in advance of their actions against the peace and destroy them. We must use the technology available to us and find hackers who release worms into the cybersphere. And once we prove it on them that they did these deeds against the peace, they must be publicly put to sleep. Examples must be made of these pieces of shit. We can't have malicious hackers and we can't have towelheads who funnel money to terrorists through so-called Muslim charities. Our Constitution cannot be made into these savages' doormat. We cannot continue to play by the same old rules. Their executions must be made to communicate the intolerance a tolerant society must cultivate against its enemies.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:33 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
What Sucks
Mood:  irritated
Oh, by the way, the Time-Warner RoadRunner's native e-mail service sucks big green donkey dicks. That is to say, there is no respect in which their e-mail interface does not swallow giant negro porno pole. And I've been telling people to start writing me at my "austin.rr.com" address?! Uh-oh. Big mistake. First of all, it times out on you if you take longer than, like, ten seconds to write an e-mail. It doesn't tell you what's been sent, you can't scroll down all of your read (but undeleted) mail on a single screen, you can't get rid of its little secure/are you sure pop-up window at either end of the transaction, it won't stay running in the background, you can't archive stuff to your own hard drive, etc., etc. Take it from me, Gladys: Hotmail is the best e-mail account you can have. Bar none.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:24 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Wednesday, 13 August 2003
My Light Bill
Mood:  don't ask
I just saw the first full light bill for my current apartment yesterday and I just can't talk about it. I've been used to paying less than half of what this fucking thing came out to be and it makes me sick. And it's not like I'm hanging meat up in that mug, neither. Oh, well. We've got another month of this weather and then it will start to come down. I do love the fall. Cooler days and much cooler nights. Girls in sweaters. Wall-to-wall football. Fireplaces. Girls in sweaters. Girls in sweaters by fireplaces. Girls in sweaters---

We interrupt this blog entry with an important announcement:

Down with Austin Utilities! My light bill's more than doubled? Dammit!


Posted by Toby Petzold at 7:14 AM CDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Figuring
If Al Gore doesn't enter the race for the Democratic nomination within the next month or so, he will never again be in the running for the Presidency. That's because the Democratic base will absolutely demand that Hillary run in '08 and he won't have a realistic chance again. But she only runs if she can win her own Senate seat back in '06, which isn't a given. Hillary is playing everything perfectly so far in terms of cultivating some serious bona fides and practical experience in the middle and in foreign policy, but she is in for a rough time regardless. I personally hope that the same sentiments and collusion of forces that put HRC in the Senate in the first place will have evaporated by '06 because I think she is a dangerous woman. (We've only scratched the surface of her socialism.)

Of course, the most dangerous man in the Democratic Party right now is Howard Dean. He is pulling the party to the left with such gusto that there is no way for him to come back to the center without a lot of lying and bullshitting. But, face it: the Dems have at least and at last sensed what a sell-out to the center-right they experienced under Clinton. They still love him, of course, and need him to rekindle the fires in the hearts of the faithful ---but they can't be too sorry he's gone. Can they? Even now when his legacy is discussed, it's already reduced to simplistic shit like, "The Republicans impeached him for blow-jobs." But it was never so simple. Clinton was a liar and a conniver, let alone a cheater. He had no principles and didn't come close to understanding what his weaknesses in foreign policy would ultimately lead to. Everything he did was for his own benefit and his snake-oil salesmanship still has some members of his party thinking that he cared for them. But, now, the left is calling the shots ---and guaranteeing the Democratic Party an electoral ass-beating in '04.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 4:02 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 12 August 2003
A Great Letter in Yesterday's Paper
Mood:  sharp
There was a great letter in yesterday's Austin American-Asswipe from a Mr. Kirk Groninga in Keller, Texas regarding our Democratic state senators having gone AWOL. Groninga correctly points out that not only have these cowards (my word, and not necessarily Mr. Groninga's) essentially effected an unConstitutional adjournment of the State Legislature, but they are also denying me my right to be represented (the boozehound Gonzalo Barrientos is unfortunately my state senator).

What are we supposed to do about this? These people make me ill. They aren't heroes standing up for some right, but a bunch of yellow-bellies who know they can't win by democratic means, so they break the faith (and the law) by running off to New Mexico. Well, fuck 'em all. I hope this ridiculous nonsense is well-remembered in the next election and that it energizes the conservative base to replace these professional politicians with some principled citizen-legislators. After all, look at someone like Barrientos. The guy is a barnacle on the side of the capitol itself. If he's not licking up the perqs of being a senator, he's making money off of some booze distributorship. What a joke. CAN these chumps!


Posted by Toby Petzold at 4:09 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 11 August 2003
A Joke
Mood:  a-ok
Q.: Why are the natives killing each other in Liberia?

A.: Because they're all fucked up on coke and have machine guns.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 4:51 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 11 August 2003 4:52 PM CDT
Sunday, 10 August 2003
And Celibate Priests Give Marriage Counseling?
Now Playing: "It's Not for Me to Say" by Johnny Mathis
I don't mean to be a disrespectful dismisser of all religious and ecclesiastical belief and practice and someone who is immovably opposed to wasting any time at all on such nonsense, but what do you think of this gay Episcopalian bishop thang? They say it's going to break up the Episcopalian church. Well, good. That's what Protestant denominations are supposed to do, you dummies! When they stay all ganged up and constipated, they become Catholic, I guess. The whole idea is to constantly engage the schismatic impulse and find the next best thing. Churches that want to stick together are only in it for the money and the clout. Whoever loves his [property out on Loop 360] shall lose it, right? So, the best possible thing to do is for every Christian to become disaffected with his or her church and to break away from it. Get in touch with your gnostic side, is what I say. If your Christian upbringing won't allow you any truck with faggots in the pulpit, then tell 'em they're all going to hell and start up your own church. See, you Protestants should be ashamed that you have to have an atheist tell you these things and remind you of your original genius. What are the Evangelical Lutherans going to do about their trading partners in the Episcopal church? Why, they're going to denounce them, of course. And break up that old gang of mine. And that is the whole idea: reject everyone. Do your own thang. If the Episcopalians want to run their business in the ground by letting the queers steer, fine! They'll just become two Episcopalian churches with different clienteles. And that's the way it's supposed to go.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 7:36 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Saturday, 9 August 2003
From an Anonymous Howard Dean Supporter (in Its Master's Voice?)
I received this as a comment on an entirely different subject, but since the poster went to the trouble, I will oblige him. My comments are interspersed in italics.

As Howard Dean noted...

The United States has a special role to play in world affairs as an historic inspiration to those around the world seeking democracy, freedom, and opportunity.

Sure. People respond to us because they know their history. That's why the current generation of young people from France and Germany to South Korea is infected with an extreme ignorance of American sacrifice for their countries' sake.

Our own fight for independence, democracy, and basic human rights has allowed us to act as a moral force in world affairs and a guiding light for other nations.

"Moral force" never rooted out a tyrant and this so-called "guiding light" never helped the oppressed to see but for the reality of American military and economic might backing it all up. That's the half of the equation that pie-in-the-sky types like you always leave out. Nothing gets done until Uncle Sam brings the toys.

In the last century, our strength as a nation was measured more by the extent to which others emulated and respected us abroad than by the extent to which they feared and loathed us.

Divorcing fear from respect in geopolitical terms is a childish notion, frankly. The threat of force is always there. If other nations have emulated our example, it's because they saw for themselves what dividends it paid to do so.

Under George W. Bush, this nation has lost its way.

Melodramatic garbage.

Not only are we less secure at home and abroad, we have squandered our role as the inspiration and guiding light for other peoples.

None of what you are saying is true. Quantify our loss of security, please. Are you blaming Bush for 11 September? Do you doubt that we could respond to any situation we had to at this very moment with as much force as was needed?

As for what we have squandered, it seems to me that when a country is falling apart anywhere in the world, you see the natives waving signs and American flags and screaming for our help into the lenses of any TV camera they can find. They're not asking for the French or the Germans to come because they know who has the will and the way to help ---and it ain't those wankers.


I seek to restore America's rightful place in the world and its moral leadership in world affairs.

Meaningless rhetoric.

We remain the sole superpower in the world as Madeleine Albright once put it, the "indispensable power" for addressing so many of the challenges around the world.

Why does attributing this banality to Madeleine Albright make my skin crawl? Couldn't you have referenced someone whose judgement matters?

But we cannot lead the world by force,

"So, we'll do it with weakness!"

and we cannot go it alone.

Well, we usually have the English-speaking peoples to help out.

We must lead toward clearly articulated and shared goals and with the cooperation and respect of friends and allies.

You and the governor will soon discover that clarity of purpose and coordination of power in geopolitics is neither achievable nor desirable. Hegemons like the United States will wind up fucking ourselves if we ever again allow so-called allies like France and Germany to drag us down. It was the obstructionism and moral cowardice of those countries, be reminded, that gave Saddam the time he needed to further conceal his weapons programs. Had we acted quickly, those stockpiles might have been much more easily found.

But what's all this about clear goals and cooperation? Sounds like a U.N. sorta deal. And it would benefit us how? We'd give it all we had just to answer to a failed colonial power or a reconstructed fascist state? To hell with that.


I seek to restore the best traditions of American leadership. Leadership in which our power is multiplied by the appeal of democratic ideals and by the knowledge that our country is a force for law around the world, not a law unto itself.

The only thing I can draw out of this is a vague sense of self-loathing.

I will not divide the world into us versus them.

Okay. We'll just become them and forget about us.

Rather, I will rally the world around fundamental principles of decency, responsibility, freedom, and mutual respect. Our foreign and military policy must be about the notion of America leading the world not America against the world.

This is simple gibberish, Howie. When American and British soldiers go into Iraq and liberate its people from 30 years of dictatorial oppression, THAT is a force for decency and freedom. We took responsibility and acted on it. We didn't sit back and stroke ourselves at a big round table: we acted as a force for good.

I opposed President Bush's war in Iraq from the beginning.

Translation: "I am somewhat different from my fellow-campaigners."

While Saddam Hussein's regime was clearly evil and needed to be disarmed, it did not present an immediate threat to U.S. security that would justify going to war, particularly going to war alone.

This is a perfect example of Democratic hypocrisy and doublespeak. Yes, Saddam was a bad guy who needed to be removed, but it could have been done with another year or two of talking with the French and blah, blah, blah. You can't make moral cowards act! You have to act and then rub their noses in the shit of their own indecision. More time spent talking and the guy who isn't any danger to anyone suddenly has weaponized anthrax and the missiles to deliver them. Was there something in his character or in his past that made you think that he could be brought to his senses and dealt with peacefully? What crap. Furthermore, guv, we didn't act alone. We had the help and approval of many nations. The lie that we acted unilaterally will only live amongst you who hate this country and wish to denigrate it.

From the beginning, I felt that winning the war would not be the hard part winning the peace would be. This administration failed to plan for the postwar period as it did for the battle, and today we are paying the price.

Howard Dean has repeatedly demonstrated his incompetence and ignorance regarding the United States military and is unqualified on that basis alone to speak to any strategic or operational aspect of the war or its aftermath.

I sure do hope y'all manage to get him the nomination. Just imagine! A George McGovern without any of the moral or experiential authority to oppose anything. You're practically guaranteeing a second term to the man you hate the most in this world. What a throat-slitting irony.



Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:48 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Here's a Picture of John H. Reagan
Here's a picture of the original Mr. Not-Without-Honor. Maybe I'll go find a picture of Sara Lee, too, but I think she is just a name. Earlier this year, we were told of the murder of a young woman at good old John H. Reagan High School. Her estranged boyfriend had a large knife and got her into a very desperate situation where he wound up murdering her there in what we used to call the "New Mall." These dumb kids. They say it was the first time a student had ever been murdered on a high school campus in the Austin Independent School District, but I just can't believe that. All of the local affiliates repeated that same factoid, but it just doesn't ring true. You're telling me that in a century or more of high school life in this town, that was the one and only time someone did such a thing? I just don't know about that. Anyhow, Reagan was the Postmaster General of the Confederate States of America and a Senator and lots of other things, besides. He came from the same part of the country and the same bolt of ethnic cloth that many of my ancestors did (Eastern Tennessee Irish) and made a home here in Texas. Interesting character. His descendants live in and around Austin, I believe. Seems like many years ago I read an obituary that mentioned a then-living John Henninger Reagan VI. Dem's good genes dere.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:18 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 8 August 2003
One-Oh-Eight
Mood:  on fire
Now Playing: "Burnin' for You" by the Blue Oyster Cult
It was 108 degrees Fahrenheit here in Austin yesterday ---and then we got some sort of unforecasted freak thunderstorm this afternoon and evening. They say it was the fourth hottest temperature ever recorded in this town, but I always wonder about the accuracy of thermometers. Three of the four hottest days ever here have come in the last three years. Is that a reason to believe in global warming, or do we just not have the length of years to know whether these things are part of a cycle? Well, since we can't really know which, but can know that the former possibility is something we can't really recover from, it makes sense to believe in it, anyway. The consequences of denying it and trusting that this sort of unprecedented kind of heat is merely a phase in some unknowable cycle is irresponsible.

So, what to do? Stop buying and driving these goddamned Bradley troop transports and acting like you need them to "feel safer" in traffic or for the sake of the kids. (Aah, for the sake of the kids...). If you want to feel safer in traffic, get out of it. Stop talking on your goddamned cell phone and go home. And, then, insist that government get behind alternative energy sources and new automotive and architectural technologies and make them economically viable. Recycle. Telecommute. Destroy Vegas. Wear white. Live underground. There's a lot that can be done to conserve and not waste and not exacerbate the warming trends.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:25 PM CDT | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink
Thursday, 7 August 2003
Sara Lee
Mood:  silly
Do you know how many years I went thinking that the little jingle/motto for Sara Lee was "Nobody Does It Like Sara Lee"? Turns out that it's "Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee," but I only found that out in the past year or so. It's a slightly odd way to put things, you know. It's not unlike the motto of John Henninger Reagan, Postmaster of the Confederate States of America and the man for whom my high school was named: "Not Without Honor." These aren't really double negatives, but they aren't singularly positive, either.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 9:40 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Goober-natorial
Now Playing: "Everybody One Shoe" by Billy Squier
The Governor's race in California is going to be way more interesting than Kobe Bryant's goddamned show trial. I am hereby putting out a call to my friends in Orange County (you know who you are!) to send me a Schwarzenegger bumper sticker and/or button. A poster or placard for my walls would just be too much to hope for, I know, but even a pamphlet would do. It's going to be very interesting.

Of course, there are too many poor immigrants and their sympathizers in California to think that even the Terminator could move that huge nation-state towards the GOP. But the influence that a Governor Schwarzenegger could wield in the Presidential election come November 2004 would be considerable. Get him out there campaigning for Bush and it's gonna confuse some of the swing voters into thinking that our President isn't such a bastard after all.

Heh, heh. This is going to be sweet.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:25 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Free for All
Gary Coleman's running for Governor of California? Gimme a break. This recall election is going to be the biggest can of laughter in a long while. My money's on Arnold, though. Californios may like fung shui in their own houses, but aren't above po-mo kitsch in the statehouse.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 1:40 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 7 August 2003 1:41 PM CDT
Wednesday, 6 August 2003
Let Freedom Mushroom
Today is the 58th anniversary of our nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Let that be a reminder to the fascists and terrorists of the world: what you start, Uncle Sam will finish.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 12:27 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 5 August 2003
Enough with This Post-Mortem on Kobe Bryant, Already!
Mood:  irritated
Don't pay any attention to these self-important pricks on the TV who say that Kobe is washed up and that he is endorsement poison. He's the best basketball player of his generation and almost certainly innocent of the crime with which he has been charged. These stupid sports analysts are going on and on about how he's ruined his career, but just relax!

As I said before, Kobe's a dumbass for cheating on his wife (not the least reason for which is because she is nine kinds o' fines), but his biggest mistake (apparently) was picking the wrong starfucker to share his essence with. This girl who's accusing Kobe of rape is very obviously a blow-up doll on the make and I wouldn't trust her for what she's doing, which is trying to generate enough of a scandal to make a name for herself. Ironically, of course, the major media won't give out her name for now, but they'll probably get around to it by the time she does her Playboy photo shoot next year.

You know what's weird? After seeing that DA and some of the locals on the TV, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Kobe's attorneys do play the race card ---with me applauding it the entire way. I don't know why, but I caught a strong whiff of Wonderbread up in that mug ---with the crust cut off. Y'know whu'm sayin'?


Posted by Toby Petzold at 9:08 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Shoot to Kill, Please
Mood:  energetic
We don't need an encore of Hermann Goerring at the Nuremberg Trials, so when we catch up to Saddam later this week, we need to make sure to shoot him dead. Give us a Boston Corbett or a Jack Ruby to spare us months and years of Saddam justifying himself and inciting the fascists of the Arab world. Let his old age be a time to nurture sandfly larvae.

If he lives, the towelheads and cheese-eaters will guarantee he lives forever and in comfort. They will resist us to the last if we make any effort to put him to death. This is because they are civilized. The Old Europeans are so grown up now that they regard us as barbaric for our capital punishment. And the autocratic and fascist Arab world will not let us execute the Butcher of Baghdad because they are fearful of reprisals in their own streets. Just as with Osama, Saddam can make a place for himself in the marketplace of disaffected Arab affection and be found on T-shirts, rearview mirror deodorizers, and bootleg audio tapes.

Don't let it happen, men. Snuff him out in his hole. Go to the stockade, if you have to, but do murder him. History will forgive and bless you. And we will have taken a giant leap in making Iraq a friend to the United States.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 1:02 AM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 4 August 2003
A Reply from a Good Friend in California on the Recall of Her Governor
Mood:  special
"What do I think of the recall? In one way, I think it's a shame, a shame that we didn't know what he had done when we reelected him in the last election...that would save us the supposedly 30 million it's going to cost to recall him. I just think that he sucks as a governor, but I don't like the alternative. Most people here think that Arnold Schwarzenegger will get elected, if he runs. I hope that doesn't happen because, I really don't see what qualifies him to be Governor, except that he is an actor and sleeps with a Kennedy, which should cancel out him running on the Republican ticket at any time. Also, according to my copy of the Constitution, he can only run for an office as high as U.S. Senator (assuming that he has lived in the US for 14 years, which I think he has). I just don't think that a person who can never run for President should be Governor...I have NO idea WHY I feel this way, I just do.... I don't know, it just makes me think that the only reason he'll win is because of Terminator 3. I mean, are people in California THAT stupid? Ok, yes they are! They would vote for someone just because they were familiar. Personally, I'm probably gonna vote for Darryl Issa if he runs. Ok, that's my extremely NON analytical rant on that..."


Posted by Toby Petzold at 1:20 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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