Archive for September, 2008

Save Lori’s House

Last fall I was diagnosed with a rare form of slow-developing ALS, as the explanation for my “bad leg” that lands me in a wheelchair or on crutches at times. A few months later I was “undiagnosed”. Freelance writer Lori Steele was diagnosed right around the same time. Her ALS has progressed rapidly. She and her 7 year old son may lose their house, which has just gone into foreclosure. Her blogging friends are trying to save Lori and her family from an enormous pile of medical bills:

http://diaryofamother.blogs.com/mamas_musings/2008/09/save-loris-hous.html

Could have been me… could have been you… Let’s try to spread the word and help Lori out with some donations and bigger media coverage.

It’s not right – and I don’t mean just that she is battling with ALS – It’s not right that this is what happens to a hardworking and successful single mom, because she doesn’t have insurance and our medical system sucks. Medical crisis? THERE IS NO SAFETY NET. Instead, it is right when you’re the most down and in need of help that rich people; doctors, bankers, etc. will kick you when you’re down and pull your hard-won middle class life to pieces, kick your family out into the street, and leave them crushed by debt.

Interesting that Lori copy-edited Michael Moore’s book. Where is he to help her in this crisis? Hey Michael Moore could you at least throw a little publicity Lori’s way ?

Lori wrote this about the aftermath of watching “Bambi” with her son, just this summer:

He had tried to shield me from the sadness of knowing that Bambi’s mother was dead. And now it was my turn.

“Will you look after me when I’m a grown-up?”

On the morning after his fourth birthday, Jack waits for an answer. There’s so much that can happen in this beautiful, crazy, too-mortal planet, and I know truth and its consequences are too much for a child. For my child. For this moment. He will learn the whole truth in time; he will learn that life is as capricious as it is constant. For now I want him to return safely to Neverland.

I tell him I’ll always be here for him, one way or another. Always always always. Just like my mother is here for me. Just like I was there when he was 3. It is an impossible promise, a gamble with his trust. I secretly pray I don’t let him down, not on this.

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Beautiful computers: The Difference Engine

This weekend we all went to the Computer History Museum in Mountainview. Take a look at my photos of some of the computers if you want a little history and nostalgia! They have a working Difference Engine, one of only two in the world.

Difference Engine

I have added to my vague fantasy of my future bookstore/cafe/laundromat/junk shop. Now it contains a Cray:

Cray!!!!!

Stylish!

I remember reading about these and drooling over them when I was a kid – reading Omni or Discover or Scientific American.

Check out the gorgeous design of the KL10. There’s something about the cool colors and the way they continue from button to casing – and the very clean font:
KL10 buttons

My imaginary bookstore cafe will also need a SAGE Weapons Director 2 (as directed by my friend Yatima’s daughter:

Julia with Weapons Director 2

Secretly … I want to be a set builder for some show like Dr. Who or Blake’s 7 and make amazing fake computers with blinky lights and complicated “futuristic” control panels!

This stuff is so much better — being real.

It was disappointing that the Difference Engine exhibit didn’t have any mention of Ada Lovelace. What’s the point of leaving her out? How annoying. We brought her up, and the astronomer Caroline Herschel, during the demonstration (which mentioned her brother). Then the speaker talked enthusiastically about Lovelace. So why not put some information and a photo of her? And Herschel too. Instead, we got a dumb wisecrack/excuse about how women didn’t do much math back then. (Hummm. What is the point of that? Why not mention the ones who did? Mary Somerville for example, who taught Lovelace.)

I wish there were more working models of older computers we could actually use. I can see that it would be way too much work to maintain that, though. Inspiration for me to fire up my Mac Plus or an old Commodore 64 maybe!

It was so glorious… I also felt like anyone else who had bothered to go to this museum was probably very cool and a kindred spirit… people were walking around grinning hugely or gawping in awe like a cathedral. (Which it is.) All those PDPs and VAXes and the IMP, and amazing calculators from 1899 or 1920 like the Millionaire and the Comptometer. The chess exhibit was good too. All the excitement of REAL AUTOMATED COMPUTERS that play chess, all the excitement and conviction that the future would be AMAZING — all came flooding back to me. I wanted to hug the IMP and just sort of commune with it and say a little prayer or something, like I felt when I saw very new lava, or the tallest tree in the world, or something else I have loved abstractly, imagined, and then seen for real.

Please put this label in prominent place on IMP

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What I got from the debate

Besides my snippy jokes about McCain’s awful tie and being annoyed with Obama for overplaying his respect for McCain, here’s what substance I got from that debate.

McCain’s plan is to cut all government spending except for throwing money at the war, expanding the war, and shoring up Wall Street & big corporations. That’s not what I want to hear! And that’s not what I think should happen.

I also heard McCain try to say he knew exactly what to do and had been doing everything right. Then how come McCain voted 90% of the time with Bush? I don’t see how he gets around that. He was part of everything that has run this country into the ground.

McCain claimed he knows how to “heal the wounds of war”. But all he talked about was how horrible and dangerous other countries is. I got the feeling he was about to declare war on Russia right then and there. It was more like pathetic posturing and chest beating at the very moment when the country can’t even pay for the war we’re in! Meanwhile people are dying, how are you going to heal that? By whipping everyone up into a frenzy of fear and declaring war on like 7 other countries? Great job!

Obama was not afraid to say that the war was and is a giant mess. We need to get out of Iraq. Trickle-down economics isn’t going to work right now. Instead go forward with energy research, science & education. Really fund alternative energy sources. Cut taxes for most PEOPLE in the country… so they can build up their lives. And close the loopholes that let GIANT CORPORATIONS evade their taxes.

it was really a pretty boring debate but it did mostly stick to major issues. I enjoyed the Twitter stream for Election 08 a lot, with criticisms and triumph and snark from all sides.

Here’s the best moment of the debate:

Here’s a good summary of the whole debate, point by point, from the Boston Globe.

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I defended Palin, but she sounds like a fool

When McCain picked Palin for his running mate I assumed at least she was a reasonable politician, an elected governor who must be at least halfway okay, and that she should not be attacked as incompetent, because I thought people were assuming she was incompetent right away without information and were participating in tokenizing her. I am completely opposed to her politics and to McCain’s and would never vote for them, and I don’t like the misogynist attacks that Palin gets from all sides, just as Clinton did, but… you know what?

She is not just on the wrong side, she is a total fool.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbg6hF0nShQ

How embarrassing.

Quayle was stupid, Bush is a freaking moron, it’s not like it’s new for a politician to be an idiot. But I am oddly disappointed that this sorry excuse for a public speaker is being held up as an example of a successful woman in politics.

Glad she’s screwing up though and that the media are not throwing softballs and are not being intimidated into covering up this kind of thing.

I want to hear the debates! And I think it’s bullshit that McCain is suspending his campaign and trying to weasel out of the debate this week – and likely Palin too. Bush calling the candidates to the white house is more bullshit – since when do candidates for office get pressured by the incumbent to participate in a current crisis?

Update. This is even worse:


Watch CBS Videos Online

Ah, reality TV.

I’d really love to hear some Republican responses to this. Where are the conservative bloggers who were so proud of Palin? What do they have to say about this, specifically? Let’s hear it.

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Garage Sale for Obama

I saw this flyer up on a post outside of the Safeway at 29th and Mission, a garage sale to raise money to give to the Obama campaign.

Garage Sale for Obama

The other day in a friend’s blog I noticed her thinking of saving money for some expensive Fluevog boots, but then she reconsidered and decided to give that money to the campaign instead.

I wear a size eight and covet these boots. How can I justify spending over three hundred dollars (that I could conceivably have in a month or so) on boots when I could give that money to the ” Obama FTW ” fund. Its true…. So maybe no boots for me right now. Woe.

Don’t they both seem like very Gen X middle class fundraising ideas, more than bake sales or auctions or whatever? It struck me as something I’ve never seen before.

Today I did a little housecleaning to get ready for Bork to come visit, finished reading I Am a Cat, thought more about Random Acts of Senseless Violence, had lunch with Bork who is here now, yay! Did a driving lesson with Zond-7 and we drove around Pee’s harbor and Ducktown Marina to look at what it is like to live there. Pee’s Harbor was more posh. Ducktown was more the sort of thing that appeals to me especially “Nancy and Jane’s garden” and how everything is a bit half-assed and jumbledy. Apparently the politics of Ducktown are: the owners are a big fancy trust, and want to sell. the people offering are offering a few million too low. Meanwhile there is Measure You-Know-What that defines that area as open space. How could they evict the people who have lived there for 30 years and have giant floating houses not just little boats on their bit of dock?

Then up to the city – rested – had dinner with vito_excalibur – went to SFinSF and liked nihilistic kid and dlevine’s stories – T.B. was very funny and scatterbrained – had a little of Vito’s whiskey – was in pain – didn’t know what to say to people who congratulated me on my verticality – gave out handfuls of Obama buttons. N.K.’s story was a Raymond Carver – HP Lovecraft mashup with 3 people drinking whiskey in a cave. I am sure Ken H. should read it if he hasn’t already. He must have? He’d like it. I shrieked “Wooooooo!!” way too loud when the chick took a mouthful of whiskey and there was mention of a lantern because I am a gamer and knew what was coming, but then felt silly. Then like 5 minutes later she spewed fiery death over a shoggoth and I was vindicated. At least vito got it. We gave dlevine hell teasing him about how he was flying colors (yay sf hanky code) but guessed his code slightly wrong. NK’s comments during the slightly doofusy “question and answer” period were awesome. Yay for people who make sense and are funny. At one point I just wanted to smack dlevine for his comments on the obviousness of deism and then his attempt at a save in saying some people did not think so but there was always room to change one’s mind. Boooo from the row of atheists! His story rocked – he read Charlie the Purple Giraffe, which I enjoyed. Zond-7 asked how one could sustain this sort of meta narrative for a much longer story which led us to some mention of Don Quixote, She-Hulk, and I brought up The Great Good Thing which while it has some twee elements was well done. Vito had some muttery comments about alternate histories and time travel and the point not being the Twist. I cannot remember the other people’s questions or comments all that well or if I do I will remain mercifully silent because some of them were embarrassingly silly. Saw Rina, J.W., klages, whump, cyn, nk’s friend who i can’t remember but who was introduced charmingly to me as my secret stalker, so I hope she comments somewhere, kate, and a jillion other people. Home, bed, merciful horizontalness, lovely warm electric blanket.

Also watched a ton of Sarah Haskins Target Women – go watch them – they’re great. The cleaning and yogurt ones were the funniest.

Tomorrow will do lots of hard work – Rook and Moomin are out camping for the rpg nerdy beach party – I will meet up later on with them and Bork – I’d like to go to the Emperor Norton party at Borderlands for a bit but it might depend on working on the book and how much I get done.

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Here is a picture of me, right this minute

take a photo right now meme

I was thinking today of this time when a friend of mine said at a poetry reading, a big group one that I’d been going to for at least a couple of years, “I’m so grateful your husband lets you come out to these things” and I nearly keeled over from shock and laughter. Seriously I started laughing my ass off. “Let me”? Now that is something I have never in my relationship with Rook felt for a single second controlled either one of us. We don’t “let” each other do stuff. I really think we are just ourselves.

Somehow this got me thinking of my relationship in college with my old boyfriend Dr. Dick. I dated him from when I was 18 to when I was 20 or so and we lived together for most of that time in a big co-op. I thought how maddening it was that he would never talk about anything. But he would listen to all my crazy ideas and shit. Basically, it was like this blog, all 5 million words of it, but coming out of my mouth every night. But then as things started to go weird, I had less to say. He would go, *long silence*… “What are you thinking.” And I would, basically to avoid saying what I was actually thinking which was OMG FUCK YOU WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE WHY DON’T YOU EVER TALK, I would start babbling distractedly about whatever came into my head. If I said “What are YOU thinking” or more neutrally, “I dunno what about you?” He would just handwave and turn it back on me. Somehow, this combined with a strange life where he knew when I had class, and my work schedule, and my co-op work things, and if I went out the door of our (shared with many people) living room to the outside, he’d always ask me where I had been, which got to feeling like he was suspicious and weird, because I’d go, “Laundry room” and he’d go, “But you were gone an hour” and I’d feel a giant SURGE OF RAGE at having just washed his fucking clothes along with mine, but would tamp it down and go, “Yeah I stopped by the TV room and hung out watching star trek with some people” and he’d go, “Oh? Who?” and I’d then use the Distracting Babble technique to get us out of that kind of conversation. So, this rarely got direct, but you can see it was nasty. Ever been in a relationship like that? If you just pretend it’s not there, you can act freely. Have you ever done that?

As some of you imaginary long-term readers may recall, the creepy punchline is that all along, Dr. Dick was secretly engaged to this woman who had moved out to Austin with him as his fiancee but agreed to live separately so as not to be distracted from their PhDs. WHO FUCKING KNEW. So he would go off and have sex with her at lunch. And she never, ever, came to his place – how is that? How? At least she was like 1 million times dumber than me… Man! I felt really bad for her too and the nice bit of the story is she went off, married someone else, had 2 kids as fast as possible, and I hope lived happily ever after. Anyway, while she was off in a women’s dorm, I lived with her fiancee (!!!) basically like we were married. The truth all came out in a giant wave of drama when the fiancee approached me at random as her boyfriend’s cute next door neighbor who she propositioned — she thought she was snagging an HBB for her man. It went so, so, wrong.

In contrast to that tangle of lies and paranoia and silence, and in contrast to the expectations of my poetry-writing friend as to the conditions of interpersonal relationships, in 10 years with Rook I don’t think either one of us has done anything more than say “I’d like to go to Finland” or “I’m in love with this other person too” or “What if I change careers”. The other person has always kind of gone, “Huh.” and then we talk about it. But there is no LETTING… or permission-giving.

How otherwise could any sane person tolerate life? I’d like to know?

The other thing that popped into my head tonight was a series of photos one of my friends did. Sabina took a ton of photos of all of us, people she was close to, and said it was for a project. She let us look at all the proofs and pick out the one we liked best of ourselves as a portrait. At the end of the project she showed us sort of an exhibit, and she explained. Every person had 2 photos mounted on the wall. The first was the one that they picked, the way they see themselves or want to be seen. The second was *how she saw them, their essential self or personality*. The whole thing was horrifying. Barb had picked something where she was dressed up, girly, uncomfortable and tight looking. Sabina had picked one of her that was just… the same way I saw Barb… smiling, full of hilarity to the point of painfulness, intense as hell. (But, if you knew her, you would know that she would see only that it made her nose look too big, or something that her friends would never think of.) Paul I think had picked a very Arty looking photo of himself with one of his sculptures looking very Brooding Young Man About Town but Sabina had put next to it one where he was looking right at the camera very sweetly – a person essentially sweet and a little confused…. Oh, the horrid truth! In the photo of me that I’d picked out, I was sitting – maybe on his lap but maybe just next to – with Dr. Dick and all my body language self-effaced and went “I am a couple” and “My attention is all on this man”. I swear to god… I was *simpering*. It was not till I saw the rest of the exhibit, and the two photos together, that I realized: I’d picked it because it looked like what I thought “happy couple” should be and because startlingly Dr. Dick did not look like an alcoholic zombie in that photo (as he usually did) and I wanted a nice picture of us together. In the photo of me that Sabina picked out, I was pensive and a little out of focus, surrounded by books. I think Dr. Dick was very blurry in the background, far away. It contained all her love and pity, I think, for where I was and couldn’t quite be as a person, as a feminist. You’ve had fantastic friends with shitty partners, and wished you could jolt them out of it, but knew you couldn’t and they’d take their own sweet time and you just hope they become *more themselves*? Yeah me too. Yet: I could swear even now that most people thought I was free, was myself, was perhaps remarkably so to the point of being “inspiring”: Sabina saw I wasn’t. I was that person who was not quite being herself; limiting myself and “letting” myself be limited. Staring at Sabina’s portrait of me as her beloved friend, I realized right down to my core that she had taken a photo of Actual Me. It was like a photo of the Me of my journals, a self that didn’t have a public home and that I didn’t know how to live as. Thanks Sabina!

I thought tonight of the person I was in 1989 who would babble to avoid the questions about where I was and who I talked to and wondered, which bits of that self are still in there? How am I behaving? How am I sort of messed up? I appreciate the ways I have grown bigger – and more free. It feels like I stretched and stretched and kept going and never stopped or was satisfied, always wanting to be new. But I am also still that person from 1989 – and also the 16 year old girl cowering on the kitchen floor screaming about Constitutional Rights and free love as her dad spit in her face. And who will I be 10 years from now? How do we contain all these selves? I feel like a whole person, a free person. What is the lesson of Sabina’s photographs, besides that you are not entirely who you think you are?

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Nude on the Moon

From bad movie night, for your edification!

We watched some glorious sections of Nude on the Moon. Oh, the outfits! And the non-outfits. The movie was directed by Doris Wishman, one of the rare female sexploitation movie directors.

Joe Bob Briggs makes everything bad so much better:

And here’s a short clip (with some boobs showing). The two astronauts, who are TOTALLY SWINGERS from 1961, dressed in tight jumpsuits with breastplates, flared shoulders, nitrous tanks, and aprony codpieces, finally see some exotic Moon life, tap-pants-wearing chicks with antennae headbands:

Highlights that I remember include the scene where the rocketship takes off and the one scientist guy experiences “G-force” that looks like a fake orgasm… And the scenes where the “nude” male Martian cops leap out doing grand jetés to corral the intrepid scientists.

It needs a lot of fast forwarding, as it is extremely dull once you are done laughing at their outfits and the amazing lack of dialogue.

Most of the Moon appears to be… well… Florida.

It was awesome!

Then we watched a bunch of a very horrible zombie cop movie that had Joe Piscopo in it, Dead Heat. Every time I see that guy I just want to punch him in the face. It was really stupid but also glorious. 80s outfits, 80s hair, incredibly wooden acting, script that was so trite and stupid it was almost good. Should be watched with snark turned up to HIGH. You could almost watch it all the way through if your movie-watching companions have the right attitude!

Then, the best one —

http://io9.com/5045724/japans-answer-to-robocop-walks-funny>Full Metal Yakuza. This was definitely worth watching all the way through. OH GOD I CAN’T HELP THE SPOILERS…. two words…. Robo Cock. Full Metal Yakuza was SO CAMPY. I yelled “BLUE STEEL!!” a couple of times but no one else laughed… oh well…

“Professor Otaku” who built our robo yakuza has the best outfit ever — a shiny black PVC bodysuit, unzipped to the navel, with an attached bright yellow rubber trench coat.

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Hurricane, vote caging, leg failure

Here’s what’s on my mind today:

*Projected path of Hurricane Ike
* another map from the City of Houston
* http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2008/09/ike_now_likely.html

Michigan Republicans being super damned sleazy, underhanded, Lose your house, lose your vote working to delay voters, disenfranchise people under threat of losing their homes

My family in general, my mom’s dad is in the hospital, she is flying out there (out of Houston, tomorrow morning, right in middle of the evacuation) to go to him, and I wish she wouldn’t on about a million levels

Slipped today, from weeks of mostly walking on crutches about a 4.0 – 6.0, back down to a 6.5 which is a major difference for me. It means I need a bathtub rail, I have a hard time picking stuff up off the floor, I can’t really walk around even the bedroom without both crutches. Compared to walking around the house and the office pretty freely without even a cane. Fingers crossed it is just a little blip and I will be frisky again tomorrow morning. I just walked all through the grocery store and felt super happy, though achey from it, and then… bang, half an hour later got up from bed and fell forward to grab the door and hold myself up in a giant panic till Rook brought me the crutches. If it lasts then I will have a harder time. I’m so grateful for my good, lightweight, awesome wheelchair.

It was back to school night, all pretty interesting; I took notes and will blog it later on badgermama.

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Hello from the surface of the motherfucking sun

It’s ONE MILLION DEGREES in my house. I have iced my head and watered the pavement. Can’t think, can’t move! Ill-feeling and cranky! I need an IV and a salt lick. No, fuck it, it’s brain in the jar time. *Schloop* (removes brain from skull & places into nice cold jar with internet connection)

We went out for pizza – Moomin says he is good at pinball – I agree as he kept scoring 5 million more points than I was able to – he’s fast on the flippers. I get all James Dean reckless and end up tilting.

Long good day working, helped out Squid a bit in the corners, could not muster up the energy to do more tonight.

It has been weird to have Rook act the stay at home and to come across him earnestly filling out forms, doing all the paperwork, magic food appearing in house and suddenly all cooked and stuff, the bags of things to take to donation were whisked away, it is eerie, pleasant, and guilt-inducing all at once, along with a very unworthy feeling of NOW YOU TRY IT THEN, HA, which I wish I didn’t feel. Actually my gratitude at not having to fill out those school forms knows no bounds. Just not having to *track* everything… Is it really okay? I find that I really, really, really love it when people make me food. Who doesn’t love it? But, especially now. It makes me want to cry. It always seemed to make sense for me to be doing all the form filling out and insurance-company-calling and crap, but I can’t remember why, even when we both worked, and both had the same commute. Maybe I need to let go of that for a bit. And putter in the garden a little, and focus my house-labor efforts on getting rid of books and things.

I suggested going to the beach tomorrow but that is kind of a dumb plan as I am not prepared at all – there is no beach food – I have no gas – I am physically in bad shape – The thought of wheeling myself down the long path fills me with horror and pre-exhaustion – But I felt bad that I have not done anything special with Moomin and it seemed like a good idea to get us all out of the house. Really, I would like to stay in bed until it is too hot to bear, and then maybe just go to the library. Can I change the plan? I already invited his friend to come… maybe just a regular play date instead and i could sit and play a good long board game with them, and have ice cream. Then fall back into bed. Much more my speed. I meant to do a board game thing tonight, but instead, pizza, books, and pinball. Then I collapsed into bed & computer.

Sunday will be swimming at Squid’s house. Ordinarily Zond-7 would come down for a bit but this week we can’t. I will miss him at the pool party. must – remember – not to drink too many lemon drops – at Squid’s house -

Cats – get off me – you’re sweaty, enormous, hairy animals – it is too hot to cuddle – Why do I not have several box fans in this house, and a minion to gently sponge me with ice water or lemon-flavored vodka –

Read more of the Crypto book, got to the bit about Clinton & Gore, their wonkiness, and the Clipper. WTF! And read a bit of Flora Tristan, and the first Narnia book (which Moomin is about to read) to imagine what Moomin will think of it.

Getting that crazy late-night feeling. Rook is snoring and peaceful. Cats as i mentioned are all over me. I want to cry for no reason and read snippets out of books and jump around and write crazyass poetry and drink some tequila and type till I pass out into this blog, quotes from the most beautiful books, complaints & celebrations, melancholy & nostalgia for bloggings-past. I’d like for the oddest & most rare & true things to come out of my fingers and come to you, in some sort of moment of little bits of paper flying around like the illustration of salome with birds in the comic book version of Wilde’s play. I’d like to do FABULOUS THINGS and just pretend to act like they are usual. I’d like to throw things up in the air and have them, with no explanation, NEVER COME DOWN, and for no one to act surprised by this. Long streaks of rainbow paint coming out from the heels of my converse as I skate around over the pavement, painting out comet-tail footsteps that melt & dissolve into the cement. It’s just what she does, that badgerbag chick over there. *shrug* If even that much notice.

And so to bed.

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What I think of in the bath

Moments where the heights of luxury hit me; I live like this!

With all the history I’ve read, and all the fantastic future histories, I’m dizzied that at this particular moment, I can summon enough just-so-temperatured, perfumed, clean-enough-to-drink water to cover my body, and have the leisure to lie in it, with food and a book at hand, with music playing, with a wealth of culture a snap of my fingers away, in this decadent privacy and peace, free from fear, secure in control, able to move around as I please, absentmindedly rubbing green tea and fennel lotion into my hair. I am a magician – Can this be real? How did this happen? Can it last? Might this, as I have thought many times before, be the pinnacle of physical experience of my life? How is it that I have all this? That we have all this?

A moment where I don’t take it for granted, where I acknowledge this ordinary moment of a daily hot bath is an amazing luxury I am lucky to experience at all.

coffee and book in jacuzzi

How very odd – Roman emperors or Trimalchio really could not have it any better – How smug we are and how tiny a blip in history – and how sure we are that it is deserved, permanent, this hot bath – I think the same when I eat a sandwich in the back yard – It is what we die for really – for someone’s right to this peaceful back yard or miracle bathtub. Part liberty, part theft. What splendor. No wonder we hardly know what to do with ourselves, emperors lacking any good citizen-ish Mirror for Princes. A funny picture as I consider Roman cities: thunk, the public park and fountain is plunked down in our utopian sim city grid and the people stop their riots.

Often I think of myself as an anarchist, but I am politically naive and lazy enough to have never examined or defined my political beliefs. The most glaring inner contradiction has always seemed to be my love of, and belief in, virtuous and stable institutions and laws, which I somehow cherish along with a strong tendency to veer off in order to disrupt institutions that aren’t or that I think aren’t. I was struck by this bit of tonight’s book; it’s near the end of Godfather of the Kremlin, after long exposure of corruption, embezzling, capital flight, murder and greed:

Private property or free markets alone do not guarantee a high level of civilization. Even the most impoverished countries have private property and free markets. What they lack is a healthy state and a healthy society. Today these are the two essential preconditions for civilization.
There are several salient characteristics defining a healthy state: a good legal code and the means to enforce it; the equality of all citizens before the law and the state; a sound financial basis allowing for the provision of such public goods as national defense, law enforcement, transportation, education, medical care, and pensions; an efficient and effective government apparatus. A healthy state is uncorrupted by wealthy individuals, powerful businessmen, or special-interest groups; it is an honest broker for all the conflicting interests of society. Finally, a healthy state protects the weak from predation by the strong.

This calls out to the bits of my middle-class and civic-minded soul that believe in such things. The root of the non-contradiction is that I believe it could be achieved by anarchic means. Maybe. Given some ideal state of beginning, or anarchic-alientech-ex-machina, or that proper nucleation that crystallizes and spreads that we like to imagine could be just around the corner.

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