23 July, 2011

"I made it up, and it all came true anyway" - Alan Moore, "From Hell, prologue"

Rock chick whose music I've never heard dies in alcohol-related incident. She was 27, the age of rock'n'roll death. Representative from Oregon suddenly starts copping a guilty plea to inappropriate relationship with internet minor just after a 50-something man marries a 16 year old girl. Anthony Weiner's in rehab.

I've been working long hours and carried it over into the weekend, and somehow I've found time to get much of the 4th draft edited, passing the 75% mark lately. I become more pleased with it, and think it's getting closer to finished. I haven't done the math but I'm pretty sure the first draft took the least time, although I put in more hours per day for that one. More motivated, more free time and I also had a goal that didn't involve words on a blank page. I already had those and didn't reckon with the time involved of editing as opposed to writing.

For the weekend, I've trashed my room. It was sort of a mess anyway, so the best way to fix it is to make it worse. I even tried to do the whole bohemian thing. I'm still wearing the clothes I had on Friday even though I did laundry early Saturday and a shower early today. I tried to sleep on the closet floor last night, just to prove I could, but eventually gave up and found a place to curl up on the bed. I had intended to get a lot hungrier before ordering pizza, but I usually eat more of it when I do.

So you could say I'm not really sure what's going on, but working hard is a consistent part of it. Now I'm trying to decide what to do for a day of rest. Probably not much resting. At the very least I need to restock the closet, move out whatever I can (or at least prep it for moving) and clean up the floor.

The problem is the books really. There are a lot of them and I don't go through them often, but when I want one I expect it immediately. I re-read Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's "From Hell" recently, and had forgotten what a marvelous piece of work, a historical autopsy of the Jack the Ripper murders. Moore just wanted to write a lengthy book on murder as a fixed event in time and space, and wasn't interested in the Ripper murders. When they did catch his eye, he read a bunch of books and picked the theory that best fit the story he wanted to tell. In correspondence with Cerebus creator Dave Sim, he described telling somebody that his version of the story was made up and had about as much bearing on historical reality as Disney's "Pocahantas".

Moore was interested in telling the story. (from "Dance of the Gull Catchers") "As if there could ever be a solution. Dr. Grape. In the horse-drawn carriage. With the Liston knife. Murder, other than in the most strict forensic sense, is never soluble [though Moore admits the forensic sense is far and away the most important one]. Our detective fictions tell us otherwise: everything's just meat and cold ballistics. Provide a murderer, a motive and a means, you've solved the crime. Using this method, the solution to the Second World War is as follows: Hitler. The German economy. Tanks. Thus, for convenience, we reduce complex elements."

The second appendix is an account of how Ripper theories began, with people who were there adding details or changing details (or both) years afterwards, and these are picked up by others years later and begin dovetailing into each other. Eventually, Moore speculates, someone will start counting up cattle mutilations of the era and come up with a 'space aliens did it' theory.

The quote at the top of this post comes from the prologue to "From Hell", back when it was published in a horror anthology, before Moore had decided to become a magician, before the fall-out of the "1963" series (which remains his only real incursion into Marvel Comics-style storytelling). He admitted (in the first appendix that he has no evidence that Queen Victoria's psychic held any of the views Moore wrote into the character's mouth for that scene. Five-ten years later as he finished the series, he was constantly finding evidence that would have proved his point, and through drug-induced magical experiences, began worshipping a sock-puppet/snake god and went to (as Daeve Sim recounted it in Cerebus #186) "the Big White Room. They were all there, Alan informs me. Hawksmoor, Crowley, Vitruvius, Thomas Hobbes, this one and that one. All the Mages of the Ages. 'They are just who they say they are,' Alan observed. 'The Illuminati. Not Jewish Bankers and Worldwide Conspirators. The Illuminated Ones.' I asked if Alan just, you know, saw them or if he had any kind of exchange with them.
"'You know, Viktor [sic], I looked around and I noticed there weren't any women in the room. And I said to' (I forget which one he said it was: doesn't matter), 'There are no women. Is this some kind of faggy boys' club or something, then?'
"This, according to Alan, generated a good deal of amusement."

Moore and Sim would go on to have a lengthy discussion (printed in issues of Cerebus @ #220 and freely available on the internet) where they go into their respective views much more. All these quotes are almost within arms reach from where I type this, so as I say, books are important.

Republicans are displaying several plans to deal with the debt crisis. The administration has set a deadline of 2 August although the President hasn't offered anything more concrete than a budget that received 0 votes in the Senate a few months ago. Has a President ever offered anything to Congress that received 0 votes in its favor? Democrats are sticking with the "Bush tax cuts" as their main point, like they were doing this time last year, like they were doing five years ago and ten years ago.

The Bush tax cuts meant I went from almost being able to pay my rent once with my refund to being able to pay it twice and have change left over. It's not hard to imagine twenty other people in that situation who were similarly aided, and all we have to do to maintain that is not extort from millionaires? I'm fine with that.

Fiscal cuts are coming to national defense, that's a given. I somehow doubt they'll find the money to begin the repeal of DADT. I mean, they're talking about cutting budgets and there's going to be a lot of worthless bureaucratic clutter. Implementing unpopular new DoD programs is going to be atop the list and that one would do it.

Straight guys prefer as few other wangs as possible in their private lives and, Anthony Weiner-type exceptions duly noted - most guys keep those private wangings (to coin a word) to themselves. That's why marriage works best when one partner has a wang and the other doesn't and both are of an age to know what they're consenting to. If being gay is important enough to someone that they refuse to permit other peoples' sex lives to include homosexuality, then they don't know enough about human relation to get married, much less serve in the military.

For marriage, why not just create a new legal concept and specify that it means the same thing as 'one man, one woman + kids/property to be named later'. Or create a new concept for that and let gays have marriage.

For the military, it's not workable. Gays can serve as long as they keep their wangs to themselves. Otherwise, straight soldiers have every right to bunk together without regard to gender, never mind the consequences. But that would be detrimental to good order and discipline. Should segregating soldiers by race become necessary to maintain good order and discpline, that should be an option as well. It's not, because race is not gender is not sexual preference or age. Rank and regulation play too much of an everyday role that someone's always going to feel screwed over and being into other dudes really doesn't need to ever be brought up.

The gays who can serve and maintain/exceed the standards will always be small in number and have already proven their ability under current circumstances, so why invest in DoD-wide changes that can't improve the chances for mission success? Male soldiers will always do stupid things because of their dicks and the Uniform Code of Military Justice doesn't need to deal with that in a time of war. Nor do female soldiers, for that matter.

Beyond that, many of the big-government side are going to find a lot of arguments falling away from them as the debt limit argument continues. Ike's argument about the military-industrial complx stemmed - I'm guessing - from seeing a couple of generations worth of businesses that spring from military spending. It's genuine job creation, where people serve and then form a business (or marriage) right off-post. When Jimi Hendrix was a supply clerk in the 101st Airborne in the '60s, he kept getting in trouble for playing in bars right outside post. When Charles Schultz was a machine-gun instructor for units heading to Europe in the '40s, he was praised for his hand-eye coordination that later gave us Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

Then there's the daughters, from jailbait to MILF, which congregate. Five or fifty years later, that money invested in the soldiers, their location and equipment was worth spending more than possibly anything else the goverment can spend it on. It'll have to be cut like everything else, but clever leaders will cut the things that don't impact the military's ability to win wars, especially after they've spent the last decade proving it.

The black beret has been removed from regular usage and is now only for dress uniforms. This is several years after the military made the switch from BDUs (the green uniforms) to ACUs (the light grey-blues). It's not like they haven't already spent endless amounts of money focus-testing and brain-storming how to make changes to standard operating procedure. Now they'll see what happens when soldiers who get to wear berets look "special" (in a good way).

Again, rank and regulation are going to piss everybody off. I once heard a CSM say something to the effect that if smoking crack made him a better soldier, he'd be on the stuff and expect his soldiers to do the same. Likewise a soldier who's got a problem with blacks, women, gays or Jews/Muslims/other should shut the hell up and treat other soldiers (and civilians) with the respect they deserve. This inconvenience should be equally spread, so that soldiers whose identity is so wrapped up in skin color, gender, orientation, religion or other that they make it a priority at every chance will need to shut up about it themselves. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

As far as all the 'job-creating opportunities' liberals promise that government can deliver, the military programs are going to be the most successful of those, even the ones that are utter wastes of money.

Some people won't want to hear that. They put 'gays in the military' in the same place as the 'Bush tax cuts', they won't hear any dissenting viewpoint, even when time and circumstances change. Republicans have put forth multiple plans for trying to fix things and I just saw on the internet that they're finishing up yet another one. Harry Reid just asked why there was a meeting he didn't know about and Obama just called a press conference where he said he couldn't get a phone call returned. Some people find out too late that they're not in the loop.

One of the earlier plans involved a short-term fix and would give the President the power to raise the debt ceiling three times on his own judgement. We're nearing the third anniversary of his election and his judgement hasn't been very good, which is why I thought the plan was a lousy one. But the longer it was out there and even attracting some bipartisan support as well as dismissals, the more it was interesting in itself. Ok, in some ways it's a total 180, let's give someone the right wing hates the authority to make this call, similar to Senator McCain's attempt to retroactively change the War Powers Act to justify whatever the hell Obama was doing in Libya.

"Is doing" I mean. American bombs and authority are still involved in Libya and have the orphans to show for it, but Qaddaffi's getting nothing except older. Assad just found some protestors he didn't want to shoot, and they stormed the US and French embassies. Funny how that worked. The French reported that they used "live ammo". Good thing there wasn't another hostage crisis, huh?

Anyway, so the debt ceiling's still there, an unalterable deadline, and some Republican had the idea of giving Obama the authority to make judgement calls in this matter. Obama rejected it and didn't counter it with any plans of his own. The Senate hasn't passed a budget in 800 days, so far the House is doing all the heavy lifting. Maybe that's why Harry Reid didn't know about any deal. Even Nancy Pelosi didn't tell him. Sarah Palin just put on facebook that Obama is a lame duck. That's the way it goes.

At the end of his second term, GWB said that there was no money left and the cupboards were bare. He also defended the government bailouts of the auto industry, insurance and housing, saying that he was destroying capitalism in order to save it. He invested his re-election capital in privatizing Social Security, for whatever that's worth nearly a decade later.

Done writing this post now. Maybe later. It's Sunday afternoon.

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