December 03, 2004

Teeter Totter

In our new and excitingly polarized political spectrum, baseless anecdote now rules the roost.

Apparently the closer one gets to the extreme right or extreme left, the arsenal employed in the discourse is reduced to the opposing cannon of bluthering bombast. And, a phenomenon that I think has really changed the landscape recently, these extreme ends are becoming the most vociferous parts of the political body. The ends are tending now toward defining the Demo and Repub positions in the public sector, essentially abandoning the 33% in the center. Actually, check that. Delete "Abandoning". Insert "Beating Down". Thus the polarization we've witnessed.

Sure, the actual elected politicians are all essentially Republi-crats, but their supporters, their fundsmen, their voices, those to whom they are beholden, are the insaniac PACs and Interest Groups and highly acidic squeeky wheels of rhetoric directing the bus. To a head-on collision.

True, it appears that discussion in general has gotten lively and open, uncensored and inclusive. Look at the Political Blogstitutions springing up everywhere. Yeah, well, now look at the Comments on those sites. Witness the terms "echo chamber" and "troll". As of two weeks ago I had no idea what they actually meant in the Big Bloglossary. Obviously I'm just slow on the uptake. Each side HATES each other. Middle ground is no-man's land, a mine-field. Open season on understanding and concession!

Now, I don't know if this is a particularly new trend. But things have filtered through fairly completely and we seem to be getting closer to the most logical conclusions of such a trend. Suddenly everything is red vs. blue, Jesusland vs. The U.S. of Canada.

You know, somewhat recently there were still "Moderates" in each party. Nee Liberal Republicans and Conservative Democrats.

The idea being, sociopolitical issues might move somebody one way, whereas spiritual or financial issues may point that same person in precisely opposite directions. In the not too distant past it was a few certain positions, on a handful of issues, that truly distinguished each party from the other, and much of the rest was open for discussion.

Each party internally maintained a fairly wide spectrum of opinion, based on their cultural and regional origins. There were anti-abortion or states'-rights-advocating or fiscally conservative Democrats (in the South for instance), and conversely there were regulatory, isolationist, federal-powers Rebublicans too. Those people, in small numbers, still exist, but increasingly they've been dragged in handcuffs to the proverbial political border and deported. "You are not on our team. Big guy says so." So while the national political center of gravity straddles that border, the puppeteers hovering over the actual combat theatre are the aforementioned rhetoric-masters against the back walls. Way over there on the far left and right. Manifesto automatons with no ears.

Measured arguments?
Points we can agree on?

Psshhhh. Troll.

Read The Rest HERE

December 01, 2004

Don't Pinch Me

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

Douglas Adams

My cousin Mike seems to have gotten the short straw. He's a good sport about it. He doesn't sound like he's complaining much when he mentions how he never remembers his dreams. He remembers some but they're pretty mundane. I'm thinking that he's got to be wondering if there's this whole other world whirling around in his subconscious, about which, after having the time of his life each night, he simply forgets.

Me, I got the long straw. Wide screen cinemascope surroundsound dreaming with remote, and everything is recorded without even setting the TIVO. I dream as if my whack-job brain has been waiting for me to fall asleep so it can finally start the party in my head. As if my own subconscious knows I am just visiting for a short while, and there isn't a second to spare. Everything's ready. Some sort of assistant to the Id whips out the clipboard, throws on the bifocals: "Let's Roll".

Now, I probably dream the same amount as everyone else, but the thing is, I remember everything. If I'm roused from sleep, even to throw a kid back into bed or something, grab a cup of water, I often drop right back into the dream as if it were on pause. A hot set, just waiting for the lead to get back from a phone call.

Very often, I realize quite suddenly during my dream that I am in fact dreaming. Hah. That's when it gets weird. I start wielding my new found control over everything. I float or fly or control things with my mind-within-a-mind just to creep out everyone in my dream. Having just realized, of course, that these people are not real.

Well, they're real, in my world, for now. And stunned! "Watch this!", I say, and up I go. What a jerk.

Or I'll make sure to look down at my feet since everyone says you never see your feet in a dream. And I insist on checking the colors since there's a question about whether you dream in color or not. There's a lot you can DO once you realize you're dreaming.

And you know the theory that if you fall in your dream you could die by hitting the ground before you wake up? Not true. I've fallen hundreds of stories in my dreams but decide to hit the ground anyway because I know I'm in a dream.. No problemo.

Granted, it being a dream, even I who knows I am dreaming can't control much, for long. I have my moments but, for instance, the whole "flying" deal is not quite all there. I can hover or float or glide or whatever, but, well, you know how if you close your eyes and there's this floaty thing just out of your direct line of sight? some sort of scar on your cornea perhaps? so you look ever so slowly toward it to focus in, and it moves too? and you know that in your effort to capture it you're driving it away. That's what happens with the flying. I start hovering or something, simply astounding this local crowd of figments of my imagination. But then, say, at tree top level, I lose altitude. I never quite get up and out. I'm thinking up up and away, but I'm drifting in for a landing.

Remember the Dumbo ride at Disneyland? You press that joystick upward, and it rises to some pre-set limit! Damn them. And when the operator knocks the juice out you're getting dragged ever downward to that unsatisfying don't-leave-any-personal-effects-when-you-exit level.

It's like waking up or something.

Read The Rest HERE