It is a time of freedom and fear, of Gaia and of borders, of many paths and the widening of a universal toll road, emptying country and swelling cities, of the public bought into privacy and the privacy of the public sold into invisible data banks and knowing algorithms. It is the time of the warrior's peace and the miser's charity, when the planting of a seed is an act of conscientious objection.
These are the times when maps fade and direction is lost. Forwards is backwards now, so we glance sideways at the strange lands through which we are all passing, knowing for certain only that our destination has disappeared. We are unready to meet these times, but we proceed nonetheless, adapting as we wander, reshaping the Earth with every tread.
Behind us we have left the old times, the standard times, the high times. Welcome to the irregular times.
Today's Love Mail
Friday, September 03, 2004
Today's love mail comes from someone who didn't sign their name:
"I hope your family members are at the next ground zero when terrorists strike again."
Can you feel the love?
Search for Intelligence: Extraterrestrial and Terrestrial
Thursday, September 02, 2004
The leaders of the SETI@Home project, which uses a network of home computers to aid in the search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations, announced this week that they have detected a signal, coming from an area of apparently empty space between the Pisces and Aries constellations, that could be from space aliens. You can read about this story in an article from Scotland, because, well, the Scots like little green men too.
STI, the Search for Terrestrial Intelligence, is having a little bit more trouble this week. The project detected mixed signals in New York City, where the police have started arresting native New Yorkers as a part of their effort to suppress anti-Bush protests. In one incident, the police tried to stop a protest by arresting a building supervisor for taking out the garbage. In another example of this strange strategy, the New York City police tried to keep the peace by arresting a man while walking home from a sushi restaurant.
Everyone knows that those liberals are big sushi eaters, you see. The Club for Growth says so. Every time a New Yorker goes out to eat sushi, it must be part of some anarchist plot to protest the policies of George W. Bush. The only choice the NYPD has is to make eating sushi illegal.
Yes, it all makes sense.
Alan Keyes: An Expert on Selfish Hedonism
Yesterday, Alan Keyes, who is running against Democrat Barack Obama for a US Senate seat, took the trouble to get on the radio to announce that gays and lesbians are "selfish hedonists".
Illinois Republicans were quick to explain that Alan Keyes, who lives in Maryland but is asking to represent Illinois in the US Senate, is an expert in selfish hedonism. It seems that Mr. Keyes has a long history of experience with selfish hedonism.
Well, we thank Mr. Keyes for clearing up the question of just where the Republican Party stands on issues of bigotry. Now that Keyes has identified the selfish hedonists, we're waiting for the praise he'll offer to those conservative elite corporate criminals like Ken Lay and Conrad Black. They're not selfish hedonists, that's for sure.
Rodney Alexander Sneaks Past Election, Trashes Democracy
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Sad news for democracy in Louisiana.
Conservative creep Rodney Alexander, a member of the House of Representatives for Louisiana, will not have to bother campaigning for re-election. He'll automatically be returned to the House for another 2 year term, and voters in his district will not have any opportunity to choose someone else.
How has Rodney Alexander managed to get such privileges? It's easy, if you're willing to deceive the people you've been elected to serve. You see, first Alexander pretended to be a Democrat. Then, with almost no time left before the automatic filing deadline for congressional candidates, Alexander switched parties, giving the Democrats practically no time at all to find someone to represent their party in the campaign.
There was some hope, for a time, that democracy would survive this vicious attack by Rodney Alexander, but unfortunately, democracy has been officially declared extinct in his election district. At first, a lower court ruled that the Democrats must be given adequate time to find a candidate, given that Rodney Alexander's dishonesty was designed in order to rob voters of democratic choice. However, a more conservative higher court has overturned that ruling, and so Rodney Alexander is going to sneak his little oily way on by.
It's official. Rodney Alexander is Louisiana's snake in the grass. Unfortunately, we have to wait until 2006 to chase him out of our national yard...
Whose Streets? Who Cares?
Mother Davis wearily rubs her forehead as she notes,
The nonviolence of the anti-Republican convention has ended.
Most protesters have still been nonviolent, but we have to acknowledge that there have been some significant incidents of violence - in which the violence is the fault of the protesters, and often even planned of them.
Why bother protesting Republican violence if you yourself are going to become violent in doing so? Violence is not wrong because of who performs it. If violence is right for the protesters, then it is right for the Bush Administration too. By becoming violent in their protests, anti-Bush protesters render their protests utterly incoherent.
What is the point of fighting with police? What point does that make, other than that the opponents of Bush cannot be trusted? What is accomplished by throwing traffic cones at passing cars, other than to encourage hatred of protest by average New Yorkers? Why did protesters join together to burn piles of garbage, other than to pollute the already filthy atmosphere of Manhattan?
I can't stand what Bush is doing to America, but I also deeply resent the thoughtless actions of these small numbers of protesters, who appear to be more interested in acting out their own psychological issues than in being effective in opposition to Republican rule.
Every time an anti-Bush demonstration gets out of control, the demonstrators are helping to re-elect Bush. Just as we refuse to carry messages of violence, we cannot be silent when our allies engage in acts of violence.
The goodwill and respect earned during Sunday's half million protesters have been sullied by the ill-conceived violence of a tiny number of protesters bent on earning attention through outrage.
Glad that she is not in New York City today,
The Republican Rule and the Golden Rule: Unfortunately, Not the Same
What is the moral worldview of the Republican delegates who gathered in New York City to nominate George W. Bush as their champion? According to Leonardo Alcivar, spokesman for the Bush convention, "Our delegates understand the old adage, do unto others as they do unto you." (Source: New York Times August 31, 2004)
We'll take Alcivar's word for it that "do unto others as they do unto you" is an accurate representation of the ethical perspective of the central circle of Bush conventioneers. Unfortunately, that phrase is not an accurate quotation of the old adage known as the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule actually reads "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
The difference between the Golden Rule and the Republican Rule is not trivial. As Alcivar articulated it, human action in a society should be organized according to payback: if someone slaps you upside the head, you should slap them right back (lest you think this was a misquote or a slip of the tongue, Alcivar mentioned the Republican version of the adage as a way of letting reporters know that whatever anti-Bush demonstrators might dish out, conventioneers might be inclined to dish right back). The Golden Rule, on the other hand, asserts that if we act toward others not as they act toward us but as we wish they would act toward us, the standard of conduct in a society will come to resemble our wishes.
The Golden Rule is instructive, self-sacrificing, with a vision for the long term that offers a strategy for improvement in the way we deal with each other as individuals, groups and nations. The Republican Rule is vindictive, self-guarding, short-sighted and offers no hope for improvement in the way people, groups and nations interact with one another. George W. Bush stands for the Republican Rule, not the Golden Rule. And that's another reason to give Bush the Boot in 2004.
Alcivar's misconstrual of the Golden Rule establishes another troubling tendency among Bush's core of supporters at the convention: apparently, they enjoy referring to the Bible more than they enjoy reading it.
The Golden Rule is clearly enshrined in the New Testament of the Bible, in two places:
Do we have to quote the Bible to the ostentatious Bible-thumpers? Apparently we do. The Bush conventioneers that Alcivar refers to aren't nearly as Biblical as they say they are -- and we certainly don't need another four years of self-righteous ignorance masquerading as piety.
Getting realistic about the election, and the long term
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
It doesn't feel good to be a pessimist, but then again I'm not one of those people who believe that optimism is in itself a good thing.
These are very rough times, and rough times call for realism, not some abstract attachment to good news for the sake of good news or bad news for the sake of bad.
So here's the bad news as I see it: It looks to me that George W. Bush is probably going to get re-elected.
Why? Looking at the language of the two campaigns, the Bush/Cheney campaign is doing a much better job at giving Americans permission to express negative emotions that they would otherwise feel ashamed of. The Bush/Cheney campaign helps people take their guilt and self-doubt and direct them outwards, creating a facade of self-confidence in their place.
The Kerry/Edwards campaign asks Americans to look at the hard truths of the last four years. That just doesn't make most people (principled liberals aside) feel good. Bush and Cheney are willing to say whatever it takes to make people feel good.
The last year has seen some much needed self-examination on the part of the American public. The problem is that most people are emotionally unable to sustain self-examination for very long. It looks like we're seeing the end of self-doubt, and a return to the march of self-loving feel-good nationalism.
A lot of things can happen in the next two months, of course. Last year, for a while, the Dean for America campaign seemed invincible. George W. Bush will still have to survive at least one debate. Still, things are not looking good.
I, and the rest of the people at Irregular Times, are still doing everything we can to lend aid to the effort to get Bush and his Republican followers out of their seats of power in Washington D.C. As we do so, however, we dare not risk self-delusion. This struggle will be the measure of an entire generation, not just one election.
These irregular times are about to get very dangerous.
Consistency, Perspective and Scale
The 20-odd anti-Bush demonstrators who have engaged in acts of violence against cops or against property are stupid, counter-productive, narcissistic twits who are more interested in drawing attention to themselves than being productive. They also don't understand that they are making the same mistake that Bush does, mistaking aggressive, violent, destructive action toward others for a sign of courage and strength.
The other half a million anti-Bush demonstrators have got it right. And that's a pretty good ratio by any measure.
Republicans: The Party of Victims
I could say that I was shocked, but it was entirely predictable. Last night at the Republican National Convention, every single speech brought up the idea that the attacks of September 11, 2001 have become central to the American identity.
Isn't it ironic that the Republicans, who like to seem like big tough guys (with a few stiff ladies on the side), have become the party of victimhood? The Republicans want us to base everything that Americans do upon the idea that we've been victimized. It's kind of a social-psychological welfare of being done wrong to.
So what is the official motto of the Republican National Convention, then? I can't remember. Is it: GOP 2004: Oooh, They're Gonna Getcha? Or was it: GOP 2004: Because You Been Done Wrong?
Violence in New York! (from police, not protesters)
Monday, August 30, 2004
So, here's the report card from New York so far:
Violence from protesters: None
Violence on the part of police: Lots, including beatings and outlandish tactics like driving scooters into crowds to cause intimidation
Big spending from protesters: Lots, bringing more of an economic benefit to New York City than the Republican National Convention itself
Big spending from police: Lots, with thousands of police marching around dressed up in riot gear to deal with a very peaceful protest. No riots, yet riot gear all over the place - another sign of big government spending by Republicans
Accomplished by protesters: National attention to effort to resist the suppression and violence fostered by George W. Bush and the Republicans
Accomplished by the police: Suppression and violence against very dangerous bicylists and kissers, fostered by George W. Bush and the Republicans
Hard to believe, but true: Police use clubs to stop kissing
Sure, it's hard to believe that the New York City police would beat protesters with clubs just to stop them from kissing, but it really happened yesterday. For those readers who are doubtful of such news, here's a quote straight from the Associated Press, a very mainstream news organization:
"In a smaller protest, police used clubs briefly to disperse a handful of demonstrators holding a 'kiss-in' not far from Times Square.
Oh, you see, the kissing was by gays and lesbians, you see. Apparently, that makes it okay for the New York City cops to answer public displays of affection with brute violence.
New York Police Beat Up People - For Kissing
It's official - the protests outside of the Republican National Convention yesterday were the largest convention protests in history. This is a great sign of how angry Americans are at the freedom-bashing policies of the Bush Administration.
It was appropriate to see that the protests provided a defiantly respectful image contrary to the brutality and fear promoted by George W. Bush and his followers. George W. Bush, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft tried to suppress the protests by sending out FBI agents to harass anti-Bush activists before the protests. The Republicans claimed that the protesters would be violent. The accused the anti-war activists of starting secret terrorist plots.
Actually, the protesters were peaceful. It was the police who became violent.
In one incident, the New York City police marched into a crowd of people who were holding a "kiss-in" - protesting the hateful violence of the Bush Administration by kissing each other in defiance. The police regarded the kissing as some kind of threat to public safety, so they came in and beat up the kissers, hitting them over and over again with clubs.
Clubbing protesters for kissing in public - just one more brutal way in which the Republicans are turning ordinary law enforcement officers into some kind of sex police prude patrol.
We'll continue to protest in peace - and watch while the conservatives respond with violence.
Equal Time for the Republicans
In the interest of fairness during this week of the Republican National Convention, we'd like to offer equal time to the Republican voices out there.
Today's equal time message comes from a poster to our irregular forum:
"Kerry is a french commy pinco liberal fuktard!!!!!"
Half a Million March in New York City
I was there yesterday and will share my own glimpses of the event in a smidge, but for now allow me to quote from this morning's New York Times before Fox News completely distorts the event:
The protest organizer, United for Peace and Justice, estimated the crowd at 500,000, rivaling a 1982 antinuclear rally in Central Park, and double the number it had predicted. It was, at best, a rough estimate. The Police Department, as is customary, offered no official estimate, but one officer in touch with the police command center at Madison Square Garden agreed that the crowd appeared to be close to a half-million.
These colors don't run. They skip and jump.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Tired of the patriotic preaching? Have fun with a red white and blue pomposity with our irregular twist:
These colors don't run. They skip and jump.
Oh, if you can't have any fun with your politics, what's the point?
Poll: Are we mindless, deviant mutants?
An angry fella named Jim Buescher has given us a powerful retort: He's written us an email accusing the writers at Irregular Times of being "Mindless, deviant, mutants".
Ouch. In the interest of self-awareness, we have to ask ourselves: Is it true?
Help us out by giving us your answer in our NEW POLL - are the people behind Irregular Times indeed mindless, deviant mutants?
We've also created a place on the poll for you to leave your comments. For example, if you think that we're mutants, in what way do you believe us to be mutated. Sometimes, even when the truth is harsh, it's important to know. Thanks.
What, no violence?
Moving on toward early evening now, and STILL, those anti-Bush protesters that John Ashcroft, Tom Ridge and the FBI insisted were planning big terrorist attacks have been entirely peaceful.
Wa huh? Could it be that the FBI investigation of the anti-Bush protesters was just some kind of harassment?
No way! Bush is our leader, and so I can't believe that his Republican followers would do something like that. So what's the explanation?
I know. It must be that the anti-Bush protesters are engaging in secret acts of invisible violence. Damned dangerous subversives!
Today at NYC: They Just Keep Coming
I've been at the Manhattan, NYC anti-Bush protests today, and they just keep coming and coming and coming and coming down the streets. They're still coming two and one half hours after the march started.
Back to the streets...where I've seen ZERO acts of violence, and thousands upon thousands of smiles.
Color Test: Which Colors Run?
Inspired by the conservative bumper stickers, I did a special test last night.
The essential question: Which colors run?
Purple: Doesn't run.
Fuschia: Doesn't run.
Red: Doesn't run.
White: Runs, but it's white, so it's very hard to tell.
Navy blue: Doesn't run, even when it should.
Baby blue: Crawls.
Black: Too dark to tell, but heard a strange kind of scratching sound.
Orange: Runs wild, arms waving, screaming "The evildoers are coming! Augh! There are terrorists everywhere."
Salmon pink: Runs with the wolves.
There you have it. Now you know which colors run, and which don't. I'm hoping that this careful analysis will serve as a foundation for a serious discussion of our foreign policy. Any takers?
Republicans save us from Evildoers on Bicycles!
Mother Davis rings her little bell as she reports,
Yesterday in New York City, the huge anti-Bush protests began. In spite of Republican predictions of widespread acts of terrorism by Quakers and other peaceniks, there was absolutely no violence.
Frustrated by the good manners of the anti-Bush demonstrators, Republicans ordered the police to arrest hundreds of people anyway: for riding bicycles.
In the minds of Republicans, riding a bicycle is a crime, so 264 people were arrested for nothing more than pedalling on the streets of Manhattan. Their bicycles were confiscated, so as to prevent, um... further harm, um... because bicycles are very very dangerous terrorist weapons, apparently.
In the Republican way of seeing things, a bicycle ride on a nice Saturday afternoon in the summer is a dangerous criminal activity. It doesn't require any use of crude oil, you see. Damn those pedaling subversives!
Wondering if the Republicans will have grandmothers making cookies arrested next,
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