Compendium Hermetica
And yet, it moves.


9.30.2002

Okay - until just now, I had not realized that television news, with it's wholesale adoption of bottom aligned news-tickers, side bars, etc. was now beginning to more closely resemble to a four -color comic.

posted by Brian | 3:54:00 PM link |


9.29.2002

I would love to see this list. That would explain the new difficulties faced by American citizens coincidentally named "Gerhard Schroeder." This is an example of the abuse of bureaucratic inertia by an administration with an axe to grind against activists. What happens when we actually catch the in the act of lying. The perfidy of this administration descends from the top down.

And in international news from Bizzaro World, Ted Rall brings us up to date on he ongoing efforts of the UN to end the tyrrany and destabilizing influence of the United States of America. Wait...that's not Bizarro World...

In actual good news, Google is apparently observing its fourth birthday today. The addition of the News tab continues Google's march towards world domination. Happy Birthday.

posted by Brian | 5:05:00 PM link |


9.26.2002

I don't belive everything in this analysis, but it's a good start. It has several limitations. It only has space to gloss over oil interests and their role in the current fiasco. The article is also somewhat old fashioned in looking at the history of the last fifty years as the stage on which only nations move. It cannot grapple with increasingly global capital and its rise, coincidental with that of the American Empire.

Despite these facts, it's an interesting overview of how we have come to the brink of war, a war in which the US will act as the aggressor. I would not wince so much if I didn't believe the characterizations of the American electorate as indifferent (even to its own disenfrachisement!) weren't accurate.

posted by Brian | 10:10:00 AM link |


9.25.2002

After hearing only the brief media summary of the incident, I wanted to find the actual quote. My favorite part is not the statement itself:
" 'Bush wants to divert attention from domestic political problems. It's a method that is sometimes favoured. Hitler also did that,' she said, according to a report by the Schwaebisches Tagblatt newspaper."

My favorite part is the appositive phrase in the clarification:
" 'I am surprised by this article because it is erroneous and inflammatory to imply that I compared a man who was democratically elected, the American President George W. Bush, and the Nazi era,' her statement said."

The fact that the author felt the need to clarify which leader was "democratically elected" amuses me to no end. Still, at this rate, how long before there is a call for a regime change in Berlin?


posted by Brian | 4:26:00 PM link |

Best. Animation. Ever. Link via Metafilter.

posted by Brian | 11:08:00 AM link |


9.24.2002

An brief explanation of the War on the Electorate that has been going on for years. This description paints the slow collision of late capital and government in rather monlithic tones while the real picture has much more subtlety. We have to view the last presidential election as an accidentally too evident piece of the game going on now. With the stakes so high and the margins so close, all pressure was brought to bear on a fulcrum that was already weighted to one side at the outset. Of course it broke. Everything else has been about distracting us from the fact that, just as more and more of the world is holding the American people responsible or the actions of the American government, the American government is busy disenfranchising the American people.

posted by Brian | 11:12:00 AM link |


9.23.2002

It's funny because it's true. Link via the ever excellent Textism.

posted by Brian | 9:37:00 AM link |


9.21.2002

The only way in which I have yet excelled at Archery. More charming flash games.

posted by Brian | 4:43:00 PM link |

Beautiful. I just learned of this artist this week. I am very taken with his work. I find it quite amazing - crticism as it should be practised - as an art form.

This discovery has been the chief redeemer of a rather horendous week. Aside from a my conversations with J., the other positive aspect of the last week was that Thursday was indeed International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrrrrrr. Thar be good.

posted by Brian | 4:33:00 PM link |


9.16.2002

I must report this with a certain amount of glee. Now, Bush the Younger may not get the chance to avenge his father's ghost. He may have to look elsewhere to get his war on.

This administration has been trying to make itself look credible while acting as a cheerleader for war. If he insists that there still must be a regime change, and pushes forward with an effort to invade Iraq, his contention that this is part of a war on terror loses more and more substance. He will have to admit that this may be a war on cheap oil, a war that will induce terror, a war that will create an axis of evil, a war on the American electorate, but it is not part of a war on terror.

The Pentagon and the intelligence communities have a number of offices that only think of contingencies - great chains of causality linked from central subjunctive hubs. We know they are aware of what Israel will do if attacked - what Pakistani militants will do when we invade Iraq, and in what precarious shape the House of Saud still stands. We know that Al Quaida will have more incentive to strike at the US. We must assume that despite this, there is some objective that is so valuable to Bush and his corporate sponsors that it is worth the risk of the invasion.

Cynical? You bet. Why? Because this administration has been the most secretive and parochial in history. They have sunk to meet my expectations.

posted by Brian | 7:20:00 PM link |


9.12.2002

Damn. "His hair was perfect."

posted by Brian | 6:54:00 PM link |


9.11.2002

Permission. Requiem.

posted by Brian | 12:56:00 PM link |


9.07.2002

On Cheyenne

I-25 from Denver to Cheyenne seems to encourage speeding like few other stretches of road do. As Ian Frazier would point out: the great plains is an area that we would rather fly over, and if we can’t fly over – we’ll fly through. But by flying through, we do not pay attention – we do not notice a thousand things that should hold our attention, but go unnoticed at ninety miles an hour. And sometimes, it is not just a rock formation jutting up from the rolling floor of the great plains. Sometimes, we fly through things that make the heart ache for love of beauty once we see them – sometimes we fly past lessons of the old masters re-enacted for us if we only pay attention.

It takes a while to get out of Denver. You travel north out of the city through the northern suburbs: Northglenn, Commerce City, and Thornton. You tacitly negotiate with the truckers for space on the road to Greeley. You fly past a few farms on 160th Street. Your mind wanders a few miles off the exits to such exotic locations as Ft. Lupton. But you still drive. You drive past Johnstown, the truck stop and flea market at Johnston’s Corner (which sells a thousand cinnamon rolls a day), and the sprawl of ft. Collins. Within about eight-miles, you have passed outside of the chain of cities that occupy Colorado’s Front Range –cities that look to the mountains and take their measure against their proximity to them.

As a side note, Denver is actually almost in the middle of the width of the state on an east –west axis, but it is actually a little closer to the Wyoming border than the New Mexico border. I have to confess a little disappointment upon first learning that. We are still closer to Mexico, however, than we are to Canada.

So, lucky traveler, you have made it past the enormous Budweiser bottling facility at Fort Collins. You are now 30 miles or so from the Colorado-Wyoming Border. The land that pulls at the seam of I-25 on either side rolls away more dramatically. It seems like an earthquake arrested in a split second. Massive tides of earth roll towards the mountains. Pale gold grass rides the earthen wave. Towards the west, stand the mountains. Towards the east, the straightest county roads in the hemisphere run out toward the horizon where they vanish. You can watch dust settle from old trucks that ply those routes.

Towards the northeast, you can see a wind-farm. Giant white windmills turn in the winds. This is not the slow deliberate turn of a windmill pulling water from a well or actuating a mechanism in the low countries. These turn in a wind that, if you wanted to personify it and attribute to it a regard for humanity, you could only say that is practices a salutary neglect for humanity. On the good days. The turbines spin quickly in the wind.

And the wind moves between the earth and the sky – the medium in which the two communicate. The sky I cannot describe in just an instant because here it is ten thousand skies in a day. The hues of blue change. The crystalline air seems to shatter light into the most beautiful white you’ve ever see. Clouds race through the sky at impossible speeds. Above you and around you a roaring never stops. It is the sound of the sky. It is the sound of an indifferent world that towers over us. It would make me uneasy and delirious, all at once, were I to leave the shelter of my car and walk under this sky.

Off the sides of the highway, you can see a few farms – very little livestock. Or at least, very little close to the highway. The only reason that you realize that they indeed attempt to farm the land lies in the barbed wire fences that seem like some kind of Euclidean joke on the landscape. Which might actually amuse you if you thought the landscape cared.

But as we drive through this area, there is indeed human life. The lone trucks, cars and school busses that tear down the county roads, kicking up signatures in the dusty that you can read twenty miles away. The distant farms and the far flung farm houses in whose upper floors, you might see a window open and a white curtain flitting in and out the open window.

It is here that we realize that life continues. People go on about their lives in all their endless enthusiasms, terrors, and simple ambivalences. Farmers harvest crops. Ranchers put up yet another barbed wire fence perhaps for no other reason than their grandfather had on in this place. For no other reason than their grandfather built fences like others say the rosary . People obey tradition and deviate from all their inherited history here on the plains, under the wide and sheltering sky.

While they go about living and dying (“at last, too soon”) , the sky and plains continue in their indifferent glory. When we describe a landscape as sublime, we make a comment on its attitude toward humanity, not just its power. A sublime landscape builds in the mind the realization of grandeur that is absolutely indifferent to humanity. It bears us no malice (and power with malice is pettiness, tyranny) because it takes no notice of us. We begin to suspect greater hands in the universe than our own when we see such landscapes

Watching people’s live roll out under a sky that could be the path of leviathans unknown has bittersweet taste. It is Landscape with the Fall of Icarus in romantic caricature. The indifferent and painfully beautiful world continues as we plummet into the ocean. We see the American sublime playing out before us . Edward Hopper and Bruegel meet in the voice of the whirlwind that roars over the American plains.




posted by Brian | 11:19:00 PM link |


9.02.2002

Returned from a weekend in beautiful Charm City. Educational in the way that all travel is - you learn about yourself. More later. Goodnight all.

posted by Brian | 11:39:00 PM link |
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