Monday, December 28, 2015


tHE story o' the USA ain't special. wee jist git ol the cultural references!

derz mor 2 it den dat!

Philip Palmer's "Version 43"

So, I just finished the Sci-Fi novel Version 43 by Philip Palmer. I actually bought this book and it was well worth the money. I got it for $2 out of a used book store's bargain bin. I got sucked in by the cover art.

I understand that it's not to be taken as a deep, serious, Science Fiction book. It's over the top. But it's not for me. Several times it feels like he's making it up as he goes along. And the writing that supposed to be mind-blowingly magnificent just comes off as implausible. Towards the end, as the Cyborg is engaged in a war of attrition with the Anciens, there's an aura of intense violent doom, but it doesn't last. The battles between the Hive Rats and the Anciens are tedious and the resolution is anti-climactic.

The "deep insights" (people can fall in love and love their kids) aren't all that profound.

I also watched "Entertainment" with Greg Turkington as Neil Hamburger. I was disappointed. Way longer than what it had to be. And it's hard to care about a sullen, misanthropic, untalented comedian (Some of Turkington/Hamburger's "jokes" actually make you laugh, in a shocked and appalled sort of way. The character in the film is presented as being less funny.), when his "real-life" persona gives us no indication as to why he wants to make people laugh. Especially because he seems to hate them all.

I really thought John C. Reilly's character was going to develop into something. But he's just presented as a wealthy doofus who Hamburger encounters and then leaves.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Youth Gone Wild ...

I'm still reading Maury Klein's A Call To Arms. The book is full of tons of vignettes of the USA during World War Two. One I'd long thought of posting about is his account of how white Californians bought the farms from their fellow citizens of Japanese origin for a fraction of their true value, because those Japanese-Americans were about to be interred and had to sell their assets quickly. Before they were shipped-out to the barbed-wire camps in the desert, the Japanese were being held in squalid conditions at such places as "race-tracks, fairgrounds and parking lots with little consideration for their personal comfort or needs."

Even though their 450,000 acres comprised only 1% of California's land under cultivation, Japanese-American farmers managed to produce 40% of the state's total crop.

Hell, I'll just quote some more from Klein:
Once the evacuation began, members of the white-dominated Western Growers Protective Association and others swooped in to grab this land at eviction prices or rent it for a song. In the ugliest display of irony, the governor of California asked the War Department to hold up the relocation of Japanese in July and keep them in temporary quarters so that they might be hired as laborers at harvest time - perhaps on the very land they once owned. This was too much even for [War Secretary] Stimson, who protested it vigorously to Roosevelt and conveyed his feelings to Roosevelt. "After the Californians have been hellbent to get the poor Japs away from California and into other States," he grumbled, "now they are turning around and trying to stop them and keep them in temporary and unsanitary quarters for their own convenience for the period of the harvest."
And now, right-wing morons/assholes want to repeat the same insanity with Muslims!

But I really had to post today after reading the following. (And think about this the next time anyone ever tells you that the world is going to the dogs because the youth of today are completely out of control.)

In a section on the difficulties of raising children with both parents away (either in the military or in war production), Klein has a part about juvenile delinquency:
Sensational headlines leaped from the newspapers. In the Bronx twelve boys were indicted for raping a seventeen-year-old girl in a crowded movie theater. Two Cleveland brothers confessed to more than forty burglaries and three house fires. At home they had twenty guns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition. When their mother protested, one of the brothers shot her in the back, wounding her seriously. An eighteen-year-old in Los Angeles resolved an argument between his father and stepmother by shooting them both, then covering the murders by slaying his grandparents as well. When his eight-year-old brother started crying, he "let him have it too," then threw two of the bodies in a well. On Manhattan's Lower East Side police uncovered a vice ring that furnished teenaged prostitutes to middle-aged men. The madam running the operation was seventeen. All these revelations occurred during a single week. A month later Seattle uncovered "wolf packs" at two federal housing projects in nearby Renton. Fifteen boys and five girls admitted that to gain membership the girls agree to have sex with all the male members. One girl submitted to thirteen boys, another to ninety.
The "Greatest Generation" indeed.

Friday, December 18, 2015

"A Call To Arms"

Right now I'm reading A Call To Arms: Mobilizing America For World War Two by Maury Klein.

I am personally of the opinion that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an asshole. I think he was inordinately self-centred and an incurable elitist and imperialist. I also think he was less racist than the average person (especially from his social set). But I also think he was brilliant and the perfect man for the time.  His "New Deal" in the 1930's actually watered-down or circumvented more radical possibilities, but given the fact that the powerful reactionary capitalists were actively organizing a coup against even his moderate (and necessary) reforms, and the system itself conspired to frustrate him, I don't think anything other than what Roosevelt did would have been possible.

The thing is, for the Great Depression, only a supremely confidant patrician, long familiar to wealth and power, could have dared to have tried what he tried. And only such a man who saw fit to give the outstanding Eleanor Roosevelt the freedom to champion the cause of workers, Blacks, women,  all of the poor, would have even tried.

And, when it came to the War, ... well, I've said time and time again, that as bad as they were, the pseudo-democratic, imperialist and racist capitalist allies and even horrid Stalin's Soviet Union, were better for the world than the virulently racist and militarist Nazis, and the less virulently racist, but equally militarist Nipponese. (I suppose some readers of revisionist histories could give me a run for my money on this assertion, but I don't think they could ever convince me that I'm wrong.) The right side won the Second World War. And, with that having been said, it was Roosevelt who played his hand perfectly.

He backed the Allies, and later, the British alone (with their Empire) as far as he could against the isolationists (a group I have some sympathies for, their pro-fascist element withstanding). He then pushed his belligerent neutrality as far as it would go. I believe he actually wanted to achieve his ends without America going to war. In the end, war was declared ON the United States, not BY the United States.

And then the USA's participation in the war dramatically altered itself and the whole world. Klein's book talks about this. Read the review linked to above. It says things better than I'm capable of. But Klein's book is important because:
The story of how America became the “great arsenal of democracy” is the subject of “A Call to Arms,” and I can’t imagine it being told more thoroughly, authoritatively or definitively. Maury Klein, professor emeritus of history at the University of Rhode Island and the author of numerous books on the history of business and industry, crowns his long career with this massive examination of one of the most important aspects of 20th-century American history and one of the least documented or understood. We know a great deal about the battles that were fought in Europe, Africa and Asia, but we know far less about the incredible mobilization of American industry that — together with the appalling sacrifices made by Russian soldiers and civilians — made it possible to win the war.
I've posted about two other books on this subject. The Arsenal of Democracy by A. J. Bairne , and Freedom's Forge, by Arthur Herman. Bairne's book was decent. It spent too much time trying to exonerate Henry Ford from the charge of being an anti-Semite, Nazi sympathizer, but it also had good descriptions of the living conditions of Detroit war industry workers and the impact of the war on ordinary US-Americans. Herman's book was too annoyingly pro-business. It was reaching the level of childishness. And some of the reviewers point out some glaring errors that detract from its credibility overall. But one part I remembered, he talked about how Alcoa Aluminium offered to build a smelter for the rearmament program, but those stupid New Dealers insisted that someone else build it, to try to break-up Alcoa's monopoly, and that this caused precious months of production to be lost.  According to Klein's more authoritative work, Alcoa was a monopolist that did everything in its power to buy-out or smother competition and that the only reason it had offered to build that smelter was because a rival capitalist had a new process that he wanted to try out. Alcoa's offer was yet another attempt to circumvent a possible rival. One that failed because of those "stupid" New Dealers.

The story of how the USA became a super-power is surprisingly under-told. Klein's work, I'd say, is the best one for now, and will be for many years to come.

Friday, December 11, 2015

I See Stupid People

They don't know they're stupid!

And there's nothing you can do about it. They're born that way. (And God makes no mistakes?) And it's a terminal condition.

No cure.

Jeeziz wept

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

new post

whutevah i wuz thinking about it has passet. but i feel i live the history v vr ee stab o' mi pen

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The "Friend Zone"

There's been a lot of justifiable criticism of guys who complain about how women don't recognize the "nice guys" right under their noses and who continue to throw themselves at "bad boys." They complain that they've been put into the "Friend Zone" by these women; as in "I like you, but just as a friend." These self-described "nice guys" then launch into paroxysms of rage about how those women who don't notice them or reject them are all stupid bitches and one day these "nice guys" are gonna snap and fuck them up.

It's especially justifiable when these "nice guys" are relegated to "friendship" by women who actually have zero interest in these guys' advances, or even their companionship.

(I can't find the video, but Amy Schumer did a bit where there was a phone app called "Milady" where women could keep track of all these guys who offered them things --- "For You, My Lady!" -- whether they wanted them to or not. These guys all expected a relationship out of their gifts eventually. Schumer and her girlfriend in the sketch pointed out though, that if they rejected these unsolicited favours, they wouldn't stop coming. And if they repeatedly rejected them they'd be angrily called "stuck-up bitches" and who knew where the hostility would end?)

But aren't there men AND women who hold a torch for someone for years, and who continue to be friends with them and help them out, even as they go through relationships with other people, in the hopes that they'll one day be noticed as a love interest?

I've been thinking about all these songs sung by women about how they'll stay in the background, or even be the girl/woman that he can see between his love affairs. But then I thought; how many of those songs were written by men?

There's a woman I barely know who has thought me cute for years and blurted out a come-on FaceBook. I don't suppose that counts, but it's evidence of holding a candle.

I've never complained about being relegated to the "Friend Zone" because I tended to date women outside my immediate social circle. (It saved uncomfortable awkward scenes later.) When I was in highschool I had a crush on a girl. I dreamed about her literally every school night. It was a new school and her and all her friends thought I was hilarious. I drew a picture for her once but I never expected a reward for it. I eventually had to ask her out, but she said no. (I was a head-banger, she was a preppie. It wasn't so outrageous an idea though. A few years later I told a guy who'd been a popular, preppie jock at that school that I'd asked her out and he thought it possible that she might have said yes.)

Hah! I just remembered, a friend from my old neighbourhood, who listened to me going on and on about her, went off to university, and she went to the same one and was in the class of another one of our friends there, and that guy fell madly in love with her.

"I have to see this girl!" he said.