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Saturday, September 28, 2002  

185. Art!

First, I must apologize to Desiree. The piece I wrote in 184, especially the first line, when I reread it seems to come off more haughty than I wanted. I meant the first line of my post to be more of a statement of fact than say, a shot across an intellectual broadside. I probably should have edited it rather than apologize, but I'm inherently lazy.

I don't know if anyone took it that way, especially Desiree, but I thought it worth clarification.

It's a good defense, Desiree, and as we are two individuals equipped with emotions, intellect and opinion, I can fully appreciate it. While I cannot agree with it, it does make sense to me and that's an interesting thing to admit about any argument.

Later on in the dictionary.com entry for art, they quote the Princeton University WordNet definition as being 'the products of human creativity' which is about where I put my definition for art, hence the dispute. The reason I choose the more broad definition is because the more narrow aesthetic and beauty definition would (potentially) exclude much of what has been in the public consciousness for years as 'art'. Examples of this could/would include much of Dali and Picasso's bodies of work, as well as scores of Warhol pieces. A reasonable case could be made against Hammering Man or the architecture of the EMP. Assuredly, under the narrow definition, the Fremont Troll would not be considered art, as I cannot see how it can be considered either 'aesthetically pleasing' or 'fitting', or 'beautiful'.

Many plays would not be considered to be art. A good example of this could be The Vagina Monologues. Many books would (I would think) no longer be art, such as The Silence of the Lambs.

But then I can recognize that I may be viewed as a weirdo on the subject. After all, I think this is art too. There are plenty of people that disagree with me there too!

But thanks for bringing it to my attention, Des, I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy this discussion of our differences. And again, if I came off as haughty or mean in my last post, I am truly sorry for it.

posted by Tacoshop | 1:49 AM

Thursday, September 26, 2002  

184. Art?

Desiree doesn't consider this to be art. It's something we've agreed to disagree on, as I think it's a fabulous piece.

I would probably agree that Rockefeller Center may not have been the best venue to show it in, however. I worked as a temp for two different offices within King County. One office was that of the Public Health Epidemiology office and the other was the office that performs land management duties. These two climates could not have been further apart.

The epidemiology office was in downtown Seattle, in a funky building called the Prefontaine, one of the oldest structures in Seattle (which comparatively speaking really isn't saying much since Seattle only dates from the late 19th century). The land management office was in far more staid and conservative Bellevue. While I was at land management, they moved their office to a nifty spiffy new building in Renton. The place was gorgeous.

King County has a huge collection of art. The second floor lobby of this new building received this huge floor-to-ceiling rather abstract painting of the Hindi creation myth, Vishnu, some other deity, milk sea and all that. A couple of people found the painting to be offensive because the deities were not clothed but like I said, it was abstract so it wasn't really so that you could tell. They covered the painting and tried to get whoever was in charge of such things to replace it with something else. They were refused.

So they called the media. You can pretty much figure out the rest.

Shortly thereafter, the city and county wound up owning a skyscraper, almost quite by accident. So when someone had the bright idea that they should just move as much local government into it as they could in order to save money, Epidemiology got new digs on the eighth floor of that building. I laughed my ass off the first time I came to visit my old friends in their new offices and saw that painting hanging there. I told my former boss about the controversy that work had caused in Renton and she looked at me like I was nuts.

But then, Epidemiology is completely staffed by doctors. The only people that did not hold a doctorate in that office when I worked there were the three admins and me. I was the only person in the section with no college degree whatsoever.

I think that statue is somewhat like that. I don't think Des is like the morons I worked with at land management, but I do think it is art, and some art has better places to be shown than others. I really feel for the guy that made the statue, as it must have really filled him with conflicting emotions. I think that were it me, I would be having problems with sorrow, pride and the guilt for allowing myself to feel pride at having created such a sad piece. If I was the sculptor, the controversy it's now enjoying would probably wear on me very quickly and cause me to flipflop between anger and would-be repentance. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years we hear that the guy killed himself.

There are certainly other statues that evoke such emotion.

When I was in the service, my unit instituted lessons on military history. The class I gave was so somber and heavy, it pretty much killed the whole program. I gave it on the four battles of Monte Cassino.

I'm not going to bore you with details, but it took the allies six months to force the Germans from the area around the abbey at Monte Cassino. Things were muddled, and mistakes were made, and the USAAC even bombed the abbey because we thought the Germans were using it as a fortification and/or observation post (which they may have been, I've never seen a definative answer either way).

A lot of people died.

There are now cemeteries all over that part of Italy -- for the allies mostly. The allied cemeteries all have lofty proclamations etched somewhere within them about the liberation of Italy and the soldiers buried there and of valor and honor and duty and whatnot. The German cemetery does not of course have any of these things because those things are not for the losers of war. The only inscription is that 20,057 soldiers lie in the ground there. There is however, a statue of two parents, grieving.

Although the two statues are vastly different in nature, when I saw the picture of the one in New York, I was immediately reminded of the one in Cassino because the emotions it evokes are so similar in their power.

posted by Tacoshop | 11:05 AM

Tuesday, September 24, 2002  

183. Scooby-Doo and Asbestos.

You're quite likely wondering what those two things have to do with each other. I am too.

The television in my house is always turned to the Cartoon Network. Last night I was watching a Scooby-Doo show from 1972 where the guest star was Jerry Reed. I remember watching this as a youth and a question I had then about something I saw in the cartoon popped into my head last night when I watched it again.

The show is set in a Nashville music house that's going to be foreclosed on. Jerry Reed is giving a performance to save the theater. The bad guys don't want this to happen, kidnap Reed, the Mystery Machine arrives on the scene with kids and dog, hilarity ensues. Reed gives concert, saves venerable venue. Did you get all that?

So my question is --- why is the word 'ASBESTOS' written in a lovely curly-que script over the theater's proscenium arch?

I suspect I know the answer. Let's see if anyone can give me a better one.

posted by Tacoshop | 7:11 AM

Saturday, September 14, 2002  

182. And Beyond.

I was going to write a piece about my view of people's views on the so-called impending war with Iraq (I'm more inclined to think that we're watching a huge political game of Chicken, so far I've not seen much to dissuade that opinion, although, like any of my predictions, I could be wrong), but I have to tell you that I'm getting a little sick of running my thick head into the same wall over and over and over and over and...

My brother says that by trying to assert a full American perspective into the debate that I'm doing a public service, but I think I just like to argue.

Speaking of my brother and arguing, you'll never guess what we did yesterday. We went to a sports store and had a major and very vocal blow-up in front of the shoe display. The topic was North Korea, and what's going to happen to it after Kim Jong-Il kicks the bucket. So you see, I don't just do it to people online here...

Lately however, instead of thinking about world problems I've been very escapist and playing a game in beta called Earth and Beyond. I really enjoy it and would recommend that those of you that are into such things, like Aurel, take a look at it.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:09 AM

Wednesday, September 11, 2002  

181. Have a Happy and Safe 'Holy Fucking Shit' Day.

Tuesday Too # 29
1.) Today in Maryland, and in 11 other states in this country we are having primary elections. Do you participate in the election process at the local level? Do you feel your vote counts? Did your feelings on this change after the last US presidential election?

Yes. Yes. No.

2.) On the eve of September 11th, is the United States in danger of losing her civil liberties? Is there some right you would refuse to give up even though it might present a security risk? Why is it so important?

I may not be the right guy to ask this question of.

Civil liberties weren't exactly something I enjoyed as an American until I got out of the military when I was twenty-six. So for twenty-six years I put up with the possibility someone -- or several someones -- was listening to every word I said, everywhere I went. I put up with restrictions on places I could go, people I could see and things I could do.

For instance, for most of my life if I had wanted to go to Berlin -- West Berlin, when it mattered -- I needed orders from my father's command. And they were something I could never get because my father had a high clearance. When they finally relaxed that regulation -- allowing dependents to travel, it did not mean that the sponsor (DoD-speak for the servicemember that the family in question belonged to) could, unless the military needed him in Berlin. Even after the wall fell, we still needed orders to go to Berlin.

You've probably all seen movies (like The Third Man) where people have to have papers on them at all times and can be hasseled for them at random, anytime, anywhere. Very probably you have never needed to be subjected to it, as I have.

In 1986, to get to my high school from the personnel gate on Miquelallee I had to go through an identification check and bag search at the gate, another ID check at the second street corner, and another ID check and bag search to get on school grounds, and that was all within about a city block of distance. To get to the other side of base and out the gate there (distance of about four blocks), I had to pass through four more security checkpoints. The police dogs in my high school were not searching for drugs, at least not all the time. Or even most of the time after we bombed Libya.

Even now, a decade after the Cold War, the things like this continue. My parents, living in Seoul and subject to the news (unless they get it off of the Net) that the government controls, had little idea what was going on in France with Le Pen and no coverage whatsoever on the murder of Pim Fortuyn in Holland.

I really think that the concern for our civil liberties, while on one hand justified, really borders on whining right now. We don't have a draft. We don't have rationing. We don't have shortages, even of oil. Remember what our countrymen had to go through in World War II, not only for the war effort, but to spread what we had around to our allies who were not in a position to sustain themselves in wartime. There is none of that now, and other than the occasional paranoid nutcase with too much time on his hands, too much pot lying around the house and a well-thumbed copy of 1984 to start rumors on the net such as "don't drink Coke products after Sept. 5th" and "don't forget to take your driver's license with you on the 11th so that you don't get arrested by the random police checkpoints that are going to be everywhere."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that every day there are Americans that have given up many of their civil liberties to protect the civil liberty that we worry about losing. How bizarre is that?

3.) Do you have a local issue you'd like to gripe/rant about? Go ahead spit it out?

My favorite one is local taxation. Washingtonians think that they are horribly taxed, but in reality the taxes are horribly applied. I often hear how we have the fifth-highest statewide tax burden in the country, when in reality we're twenty-first. When you look at it by tax burden per capita, we're twenty-sixth. The problem is that as citizens we have two or three really huge tax bills that account for the bulk of our taxes and therefore it is a lot less transparent than in other states.

In sum, I like elections, your civil liberites aren't in as in danger as you might think, and I'm not taxed enough.

posted by Tacoshop | 4:08 AM

Sunday, September 08, 2002  

180. Tired.

My gf's birthday party was today at her mother's house. Her best friend came down and celebrated since her birthday is soon too. It was very nice seeing them again and my gf's best friend's husband (catch all that?) was on his best behavior. It was the first time I've spent time with the guy that I've not wanted to kill him. Or even hurt him.

The sad thing is that it's really not his fault. I'm just an non-understanding bastard in this case, and the realization of this should help me to be more tolerant, but no.

Tolerance is something to consider. There may be something to blog about there.

Anyway, I helped make dinner. I made tequila lime chicken and avgolemono soup. I got raves for both, but I think they both sucked. The soup was kind of doomed from the get-go it seemed. I managed to salvage it with salt and pepper though.

posted by Tacoshop | 3:46 AM

Tuesday, September 03, 2002  

179. Sigh.

I hate commenting systems. I had this huge comment for Aurel, Gert, Paul and Leno in my previous post and HaloScan ate it. The ultra-condensed version follows:

Aurel: good points. Thanks for the welcome back.

Gert: I was a bit overharsh. I'm not sure I should apologize, but I might. Your blogroll is yours, I figured you dropped me because of my feeling-sorry-for-myself-inspired hiatus. I figured that I really pissed you off tho, so I don't expect to be re-added (hence the Elite Banned -- I need a button for this, even if I am still welcome over there, it's just fitting).

Paul: Excellent point about WW II. Especially since I can use it to bolster my argument.

Leno: Because the world doesn't like it doesn't make it wrong. I don't think the Muslim world is as united as they would like people to think. If there is a war (and frankly I think there won't be) we will have the tacit support of probably at least four Muslim countries, two of them democratic(ish).

And now, without delay, here is the weirdest Twosday Tue yet.

Tuesday Too # 28
1.) What, is it Tuesday again?

Actually, it's also Wednesday.

Okay then, what is the day most likely to be if yesterday was Monday?

Tuesday. Also the day before the day before tomorrow.

2.) Now here's a real question for you. What is the most important/significant thing that you have on your plate today? And no I don't mean spinach or potatoes; I mean nuts and bolts.

I might continue cleaning the basement. I might lay in bed and be sick since I watched a ballgame in the rain last night. We'll see.

3.) Ask me anything you'd like to know, and I just might tell you, or I might not.

jf, are you more or less insane than me? This has bothered me for quite some time.

4.) Is the Tuesday Too person losing her mind?
Losing? No.

5.) Is this the end of the Tuesday Too?
If it is, I'll play Doors music for a memoriam. I hope it's not, however. Not sure where my Doors CD got off to.

In a couple of days when I have access to a computer again, I'll retype that comment here in my blog. Toodles!

posted by Tacoshop | 6:41 AM

Sunday, September 01, 2002  

178. Gert's (and Europe's) Insipid Whining

This is a response to this post at Gert's. She has links to where the discussion started.

So, I went and took a day to think about this a bit. I find this argument to be mostly lacking in any real substance.

Let's start here: "The answer is simple. Saddam is a temporary phenomenon (tyrannies like his rarely survive the tyrant's death)"

Really? Name one. When has this ever worked? Find me a single solitary regime that did not survive a dictator's death if the dictator's death was not caused by some foreign or domestic intervention. I cannot think of one, myself. Should you come up with one, I can come up with (at least) one that didn't. The odds of the regime all of a sudden collapsing on it's own if Saddam dies of natural causes is iffy, at best. The whole point of a regime is for it to survive the death of it's leader if at all possible.

Second, regarding my use of language: I thought about it for a bit, and I don't see how your complaint here has merit, either. I don't think I used either 'insipid' or 'whining' wrong in my missive, as these complaints that we hear about America are hardly new, they weren't thought through the first time they were aired, and they aren't being thought through now. The piece by the New Statesman only confirms what I said when I said that Europe's whole goal is to accomplish nothing. That's hardly a stretch, however, because that's the default European foreign policy goal. Put another way, it's news when a world leader outside of Europe decides to do nothing about a problem, but in Europe it is simply business as usual. In place of action, it really seems that Europe's leaders (allegedly representative of it's population) would rather just complain loudly. This is old news; it is dull and trite, hence it is insipid. Believe you me, it was much nicer than what I really wanted to say about Europe (which is that you're a bunch of craven hypocrites who won't really stick up for what they believe in).

Further, I have to summarily reject this complaint from you on the basis that if there's anyone in blogland that knows how to cut someone with language, it is you. Go see your early July entry where you referred to the revolutionaries that broke from England and founded the US as 'terrorists' for an excellent example. If this isn't a fantastic example of the pot calling the kettle black, I'm not sure what is.

Third, I am no fan of Stuttering George. He quite probably is corrupt, and I am quite probably paying higher electricity prices as a direct result. This (among other reasons) is why I really would like to see him booted out of office in two years. However, if people continue to underestimate him and think him to have less substance than a sideshow freak, then they are only doing themselves a disservice. He became president without winning the popular vote, has weathered a couple of major money scandals without damage to his personal reputation (although his administration's popularity has slipped) and accomplished something that was widely regarded as impossible -- the taking of Afghanistan from the Taliban with the added (and also supposedly impossible) benefit of basing American troops in various *stan countries in South Central Asia. This is not the hallmark of a stupid individual.

And since we touched on the issue of corruption, how many scandals has Blair had to weather now because of his cronies in your party?

You're correct in your statement that democratic governments should demonstrate why it should take a specific course of action. The only problem is that the prospect of Saddam gaining access to weapons that it will use to subvert it's neighbors is sufficient for us, while it is not sufficient for you.

Saddam is a problem that needed to be fixed the first time, when my father and his unit were sitting forty miles from Baghdad. It wasn't then because of the coalition's (led be the European and the Arab states) determined lack of support for such a move.

Finally, in that post you indeed did not insinuate that the American population is stupid. But as a faithful reader of your blog and your posts highlighting the stupidity of various Americans, tell me what the hell else am I supposed to think that you think of us? It really seems that you take great glee in writing these things. Take a trip through your own archives if you cannot remember any instances of this. Look at the posts on other 'internationalist' blogs, and you see the same thing over and over and over, in perpetuity. Then go find an instance of an American doing the same thing in reverse. It doesn't happen much, does it? It certainly isn't because the stories aren't there for fodder.

I guess I've just become the inaugural member of 'Gert's Elite Banned', lol.

posted by Tacoshop | 9:53 AM