All war, all the time

Borges wrote:

I believe if there were any doubt as to the authenticity of the Koran, this absence of camels would be sufficient to prove it is an Arabian work. It was written by Mohammed, and Mohammed, as an Arab, had no reason to know that camels were especially Arabian; for him they were a part of reality, he had no reason to emphasize them….

And so it is with 21st century America and war. Nobody really talks about it much, and if they do, they don’t go all “This is FUCKING NUTS!” or “We’re murdering innocent people on a daily basis in the most awful way–blowing them to bits with bombs and rockets and crushing them under the rubble of their own homes–no matter who’s in the goddamn White House.”

Well, not many other than me.

But there is Tom Englehardt. This essay is an absolute must-read.

An excerpt:

What do you make of a world in which the U.S. has robot assassins in the skies over its war zones, 24/7, and the “pilots” who control them from thousands of miles away are ready on a moment’s notice to launch missiles — “Hellfire” missiles at that — into Pashtun peasant villages in the wild, mountainous borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan? What does it mean when American pilots can be at war “in” Afghanistan, 9 to 5, by remote control, while their bodies remain at a base outside Las Vegas and then can head home past a sign that warns them to drive carefully because this is “the most dangerous part of your day”?

What does it mean when, for our security and future safety, the Pentagon funds the wildest ideas imaginable for developing high-tech weapons systems, many of which sound as if they came straight out of the pages of sci-fi novels? Take, for example, Boeing’s advanced coordinated system of hand-held drones, robots, sensors, and other battlefield surveillance equipment slated for seven Army brigades within the next two years at a cost of $2 billion and for the full Army by 2025; or the Next Generation Bomber, an advanced “platform” slated for 2018; or a truly futuristic bomber, “a suborbital semi-spacecraft able to move at hypersonic speed along the edge of the atmosphere,” for 2035? What does it mean about our world when those people in our government peering deepest into a blue-skies future are planning ways to send armed “platforms” up into those skies and kill more than a quarter century from now?

And do you ever wonder about this: If such weaponry is being endlessly developed for our safety and security, and that of our children and grandchildren, why is it that one of our most successful businesses involves the sale of the same weaponry to other countries?

Tomdispatch is always an essential site, but this particular essay has to be read in full.

The Great Wild Things Freakout

olde-thyme3From this very nice site centered loosely around the new Wild Things movie, some perspective on how ground-breaking (and/or disruptive of the social order) Sendak’s book was on publication, from children’s librarian and scholar Sheila Egoff.

While the illustrations disturbed those adults who saw the “Wild Things” as ferociously threatening rather than humorously subservient to Max’s will, the extreme reaction to Sendak’s work intimated that there was more at stake than a matter of interpretation of the pictures. As it turned out, this as yet unformulated anxiety was justified. Sendak’s underlying theme that a child has unconscious needs, frustrations, and fears unsettled society’s hitherto conceived ideals of early childhood and the book itself broke the stereotypic mold that had held for almost a hundred years.

Europe's Picture of Dorian Gray

George Monbiot in the Guardian:

When the great tsunami of 2004 struck the Somali coast, it dumped and smashed open thousands of barrels on the beaches and in villages up to 10km inland. According to the United Nations, they contained clinical waste from western hospitals, heavy metals, other chemical junk and nuclear waste. People started suffering from unusual skin infections, bleeding at the mouth, acute respiratory infections and abdominal haemorrhages. The barrels had been dumped in the sea, a UN spokesman said, for one obvious reason: it cost European companies around $2.50 a tonne to dispose of the waste this way, while dealing with them properly would have cost “something like $1,000 a tonne.” On the seabed off Somalia lies Europe’s picture of Dorian Gray: the skeleton in the closet of the languid new world we have made.

“I feel like I have God for a pal because no one else would have me”

For liking, nay, loving this, I have been accused of being a “great soft shite” by a friend, and the NME has weighed in on the entire God Help the Girl project in a most negative way. BUT I LOVE it. And I am especially taken with the singing of Catherine Ireton, whose easy flow from conversational to soaring is a wonderful thing, and reminds me of a Sinatra in his prime or a Merle Haggard before he wrecked the upper half of his range.

And the entire sensibility of the group and the video I find sweet in the best way. They played one of their first gigs in a small chuch, which is weirdly appropriate (see it here), and there’s a sneaky sort of proselytizing going on, but one I personally can handle.

“I feel like I have God for a pal because no one else would have me,” Murdoch writes in an online journal entry. “Maybe that’s the basis for a lot of religion. He’s the invisible friend that it’s OK to have as an adult.”

In fact I like that quite a bit.

Ineffable beauty, unspeakable evil, and all sorts of crap in between