Thursday, May 5, 2011

bumps in the night explained!

Finally figured out why the gay neighbors upstairs keep running the garbage disposal for a few seconds at a time in the wee hours: probably disposing of santorum.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

gurl, he just *sounds* rich

Tuesday night I'm driving home, listening to Tom Ashbrook discuss how conservatives are trying to make a mark on the purportedly liberal-loving land of academia, and he introduces Terrence George who lobbied for a conservative studies class at his university. Terrence is announced to be a 19 year old sophomore at Brown. Then Terrence spoke.

please listen to his voice and tell me: is Tom Ashbrook being punked???

Friday, July 23, 2010

R.I.P. Daniel Schorr

Daniel Schorr... August 31, 1916 - July 23,2010



Thursday, June 3, 2010

gsoi faq

gsoi faq
Q: what is the purpose of gsoi?
A: to put ourselves in the original position so as to be able to justify our preconceptions as objective laws of morality. also, for the product placement kickbacks. would you like some mountain dew?
Q: who are/were the writers of gsoi?
A: the world's four greatest lovers, three greatest tech-support personnel, two greatest organizers, one greatest magazine editor; a mathematician/philosopher/physicist/litterateur/revolutionary/reformer/liberal/anti-capitalist/Big-Cotton-representing/crystal-clear/confused rabble.
Q: so you're a bunch of losers.
A: we prefer the term "accomplishment-challenged." anyway, who are you to talk? at least we're getting some.
Q: my mom says you made those stories up. does gsoi still exist?
A: we reject such pointless ontological speculation. to quote karl marx: "the dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question."
Q: i mean, are you still writing it, or are you a bunch of pathetic quitters who can't even keep a blog going for more than a year or so?
A: look, something shiny!
Q: where? oh, whoa! um, where was i?
A: you were telling us about your mom.
Q: uh, wha? well, enough about that. who is teh unsung hero of gsoi?
A: clearly, it is jeffery wagscot conspiracy-monger, who has done more to promote gsoi to the world at large than the rest of humanity combined.
Q: who is teh unsung villain?
A: that would be douglitas, who keeps trying to delete gsoi, and is therefore exactly like stalin trying to erase trotsky's name and image from histories of the russian revolution.
Q: who else is he exactly like?
A: hitler. rumor is that he is a socialist who voted for obama, which makes him exactly like hitler.
Q: whatever happened to that libel lawsuit?
A: never went to trial. we deny ever saying anything derogatory about Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick Chocolate Chip. here, try some, you'll thank me later.
Q: mmm, that's yummy.
A: you're welcome.
Q: why do you write in all lower case?
A: that's really amycita. the others waver, except for that prim and proper magazine editor.
Q: why don't you write in lolcatspeak anymore?
A: that is so 2008. are you still on myspace too?
Q: what about your mom?
A: that's what she said.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I, Anna, take you, Blog

franklin sent me and my fellow dilatory GSoI founders an email this morning with the following link:

i think i'm funnier in a mono-tone

It's an animated retrospective of our blog's early years (read: a year ago when we actually blogged). it's equal parts creepy and hilarious. and despite the robotic nature of the my character, human anna was deeply moved. riding high upon this wave of nostaligia, i would like to recommit myself to you, blog, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, till death or better technology do us part.

while I attribute my long absence in part to general laziness and preoccupation, i will also admit that the trauma of abandonement has been a real factor in my reclusion. all the other members of the GSoI dream team picked up and moved to illinois while i wasn't looking. and damn if i can't hold a grudge.

i could catch you up on the last year or so, but that's never as exciting as people expect it to be. in brief, i still live in memphis, in my same little house, but i started a new job, turned 26, developed a new found love of beets, became disenchanted with the "hope" that was barack obama, and realized i really have to stop wearing large, high-wasited dresses, no matter how comfortable they are. i ran into a door with my face on saturday night and smashed my nose pretty good. so i guess the most important news is now i'll *never* be a teen model.

i missed you, blog.

i expect you all to welcome me back with adoration and appreciation, all cloaked in the most biting sarcasm.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day

Today's Blog Action Day. So I jumped the gun a bit. So what? It's all about global warming, climate change, climate chaos.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Global warming--what's the solution?

On Oct. 24, a week from Saturday, hundreds of actions across the planet will mark the International Day of Climate Action. Here in Chicago, there will be a rally outside of the Fisk Coal Plant in Pilsen. This rally is sponsored by both mainstream environmental groups and two environmental justice groups from the heavily Latino neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village--which are also the sites of Chicago's two coal-burning power plants. People have been demanding the closure of these plants for years, since their air pollution damages health of people living near them, especially children. The kinds of pollution coal-burning plants emit is known to raise rates of asthma, other respiratory illness, and even fatal heart attacks. What this International Day of Climate Action is stressing is climate change, global warming. And one of the biggest contributors is coal. From Pilsen to the demolished mountains and rivers of West Virginia, actions like this one highlight how there is no such thing as "clean coal," which is the propagandistic name given to one of the most heavily funded yet extremely iffy projects in the climate change bills the Democrats have put before Congress.

This is part of the buildup to the negotiations in Copenhagen in December on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. That was the first treaty that actually required signing countries to do something about global warming. You may remember that the U.S. delegation, headed by Vice President Al Gore, worked feverishly to undercut it by pushing it in the direction of market-oriented solutions, centering on (1) emissions trading (as in "cap and trade"), meaning polluters can exceed their limits if they buy credits from other polluters, and (2) the "clean development mechanism," under which polluters in industrialized countries can can exceed their limits by paying for projects in developing countries that will supposedly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. also worked with other countries such as Russia to include big loopholes. But it was still too much for the oil, coal, auto and other industries, and the Senate voted 95-0 to reject any agreement that bound the U.S. to reductions but did not bind developing countries. Still, most countries ratified Kyoto. The result is not exactly heartening: world carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 were up by 12% over 1990; 2007 emissions were up 38% from 1990. Last year, emissions were down, though--largely because of the recession.

Some diplomats are predicting failure in Copenhagen. The biggest reason is that the U.S. on one side, China and India on the other, are unwilling to commit to reductions in conditions that may allow their competitors to gain an advantage. That is one very powerful reason that capitalism will keep us locked into a path to climate chaos. The new issue of News & Letters indicates how this played out in international summits in September:

"On the one hand, the President of Maldives, an Indian Ocean island nation, movingly appealed to the special climate session of the UN to save his country from disappearing under the rising seas. On the other hand, the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases--the U.S. and China--put forward nothing better than half-measures falling far short of the reductions scientists say are needed. In the spirit of capitalist competition, the U.S. and China are heading together down a suicidal path rather than let the other gain an economic advantage. China's President Hu even resurrected George W. Bush's scam term 'carbon intensity,' which Hu promised to reduce by an unspecified amount, that is, emissions will keep growing but not as fast as the economy.

"Encouragingly, many protests in the U.S. and other countries raised the issue of global warming while the UN met and later as the G20 summit took place. Many more will happen before and during the climate treaty negotiations to come in Copenhagen in December, as will sit-ins to prevent more coal-fired plants from opening. Still, what is missing is some discussion of how deep the social transformation needs to be to break out of capitalism's suicidal path, and how that can come to be. As long as that is missing, our movement will continue to focus on technical solutions, legislation, lobbying and treaties, and will be unable to raise the banner of a truly sustainable society based on new human relations."

A number of books have been put out offering solutions to the global warming problem. To be clear, it's not a question of stopping global warming altogether anytime this century, but rather a twofold strategy of mitigation and adaptation, with some calls for geoengineering. Mitigation means limiting the amount of global warming. The target scientists and the environmental movement are coalescing around is to get the atmosphere back down to 350 ppm of carbon dioxide and equivalent in order to minimize the risk of climate change reaching catastrophic proportions. Adaptation means taking steps to limit damage from the climate change that will happen; without mitigation, adaptation would be virtually useless, except possibly to save a small minority of the human race as a gated community in hell. News flash: no one reading this is likely to be invited. Geoengineering means gargantuan projects to reduce global warming by removing greenhouse gases from the air or blocking sunlight from being absorbed, including fanciful schemes to launch giant mirrors into orbit or to fertilize plankton in the oceans. If you like risky experiments on the entire planet, you'll love geoengineering! But calls for it are increasing due to despair about existing states ever taking adequate mitigation action.

A great example of the typical approach is the Plan B series of books by Lester Brown, earlier known for the State of the World books. By typical, I mean what serious environmentalists and scientists talk about, even though most politicians would see it as impossibly radical. Brown writes: "Massive change is inevitable. Will the change come because we move quickly to restructure the economy or because we fail to act and civilization begins to unravel?...We need to build a new economy....We can describe this new economy in detail....The key to building a global economy that can sustain economic progress is the creation of an honest market, one that tells the ecological truth" (from Plan B 3.0). You can see where this is going--"restructuring the economy" means restructuring technology with regard to energy usage, restructuring transportation, improving forest and soil management (all of which are very important), and restructuring the tax system. Funding could be accomplished by "shifting one sixth of the world military budget to the Plan B budget." There is no concept here of transforming human relations in production, or of challenging capitalism. On the contrary, sharp criticism of the failures of "the market" is combined with faith in its necessity as an institution, so it ends in tax reform. And without a fundamental change in production, that is, in the way human beings produce the way we live and relate to each other, how realistic is the hope of wresting a huge chunk of the budget away from the military-industrial complex, let alone wresting control of society's direction away from capitalism's inhuman direction? (This does not mean that, while capitalism lives on, development and deployment of better technologies and the restructuring of transportation systems and the physical design of our society are unimportant, or that there is no point in continuing to demand coal plant shutdowns and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, since every year that we suffer under business as usual is another year when more long-lasting fossil-fuel-burning infrastructure is locked into place.)

The same combination of changes in technology and infrastructure with taxes and regulation, in some cases including rationing, but always with faith in the indispensability of "the market," characterizes other books such as George Monbiot's Heat, Van Jones's The Green Collar Economy, Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, and Joseph Romm's Hell and High Water. What is added to it by books like Bill McKibben's Deep Economy and James Gustave Speth's The Bridge at the End of the World is a call to change our "values" and "consciousness," without recognition that these too are rooted in the forms and relations of production.

This is one reason why it is important to grasp the historical meaning of Hurricane Katrina. Not only did it bring home that climate change is not in the distant future but is a reality now, a disastrous reality. Everything about it shows how capitalism is dealing with and will continue to deal with the fallout from climate change. It begins with the lack of preparation: the shoddy maintenance of the levees and the holes in emergency planning, when credible warnings had been issued for years. It continues with the militarization of New Orleans during and after the storm, the corralling of the poor in the Superdome under horrendous conditions, racist shootings by police and white vigilantes. It continues to this day with the restructuring driven by business interests, the tearing down of housing projects whether they were damaged or not, the privatization or "chartering" of public schools, the deliberate demographic transformation accomplished by preventing the return of so many pre-Katrina residents. This is the reality behind the clinical sound of the term "adaptation." And it foreshadows the future for hundreds of millions in this capitalist world order. Not one of the plans I mentioned would alter this reality. To be fair, Brown, Jones, McKibben would surely like to ameliorate this reality by alleviating world hunger and failed states, by providing "green collar jobs," by restoring a sense of community. But imagining that these goals will be accomplished in anything like an adequate way under capitalism is a pipe dream.

Despite the ideological inability of these authors to part with "the market," what everyone has recognized is that "the market" is driving us down the pathway to destruction. For more on what is needed to get society on an alternative path, see this essay in the August-September News & Letters.

(This post is part of Blog Action Day.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Forgotten Fever

A friend of mine who must remain anonymous hacked into Dan Brown's computer and discovered that he is already at work on a sequel to The Lost Symbol. Here's a synopsis of the work-in-progress, titled The Forgotten Fever.

When renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to Graceland to analyze a mysterious geometric form--drawn on a calling card next to the disemboweled corpse of the head docent--he discovers evidence of the unthinkable: the resurgence of the ancient cult of the Rawlsistas, a secret branch of the Garage Sale of Ignorance that has surfaced from the shadows to carry out its legendary vendetta against its mortal enemy, the Bellevue Baptist Church.

Langdon's worst fears are confirmed when a messenger from the Rawlsistas appears at Shelby Forest to deliver a deadly ultimatum: Deposit $1 billion in the GSoI's off-shore bank accounts or the clandestine business interests of the Appling Road compound will be bankrupted. With the deadline fast approaching, Langdon joins forces with the quick-witted daughter of the murdered docent in a desperate bid to crack the code that will reveal the cult's secret plan.

Embarking on a frantic hunt, Langdon and his companion follow a 200-year-old trail through Memphis's most exalted buildings and historic monuments, from Mud Island to the Pyramid, from Beale Street to Overton Park, from the Defense Depot to Playhouse 51, from Frayser to Germantown, pursued by a pigeon-toed assassin the cult has sent to thwart them. What they discover threatens to expose a conspiracy that goes all the way back to James Winchester and the very founding of the Bluff City.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

R.I.P., gsoi

We mourn the passing of a cultural icon, a Houyhnhnm among blogs, a blazing meteor of the interwebs scene of 2008. No mere site but an event, a veritable happening, a bacchanalia of hyperbole, the garage sale of ignorance was born as a profound critique of rawlsian ethics and aisle-blocking corpses on Feb. 28, 2008. In its heyday, social eminences undertook pilgrimages to ensure their names would be emblazoned among the stars of ignorance, from Sarah Palin to Barack Obama, from Miss California to Michael Scott. The founders of this paradigm-demolishing operation were three twenty-something malcontents, the kind of subversives whom one is concerned to keep in front of, rather than behind, one's back. After an astonishing string of successes from "Female Teachers look at in your closet!!!" through "my computer has been infiltrated by the holy spirit" to "best of craigslist = best moments of my working life," gsoi had established itself as the premier collection of lolcoulters and mother insults, among other innovations.

This Obama-era brain trust quickly branched out into groundbreaking investigative journalism on urban personal sanitation practices and food safety. At its zenith, gsoi was such a political powerhouse that it forced the resignations of Memphis Mayor W.W. Herenton, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, in that order. Only after he was sure that it was cold in its grave did the latter dare to reapply for the Bluff City's helm.

Tragically, gsoi's trajectory mirrored Generation Y's descent from millennial euphoria to decade-after-fin-de-siecle cynicism. The gsoi's death spiral began when a consummate swindler taxi-danced into the gsoi staff like a Nigerian prince with a short-term cash-flow problem. The shadowy founding elite--known as amycita, anna, and douglitas, a.k.a. cdesign proponentsist--made a fatal mistake as the troubled summer of 2008 slid into the catastrophic autumn, when, in a desperate attempt to lift the gsoi books out of red ink, they hired "wail of ignorance," a 21st century Maria Monk cum Frank William Abagnale, Jr. The triumvirate was blissfully unaware of a string of lawsuits the newcomer had settled in lieu of confessing his plagiarism of Milli Vanilli, Achille Loria, Percival Davis, and Jorge Bucay.

Originally sparked by an ill-fated bank-breaking investment in rabbit census technology, which had issued from a night of kahlua-fueled kabuki and karaoke, the burgeoning financial crisis that threatened to bankrupt gsoi was not solved by the addition of this mountebank to the staff. Rather, it continued to burgeon. Advertisers were frightened away by the mom lobby due to the barrage of "your mom" jokes, as well as the lolcat lobby outraged by the fact that not one on the staff were lolcats themselves, though they had tried to pass themselves off as such. The last remaining advertiser, Google, took umbrage upon mistaking amycita's references to the "google world order" for sarcasm, after a bug in a junior executive-bot at Google caused it to delete the file identifying her as an operative in its mission of global conquest.

The downward spiral accelerated as the fickle flimflammer informed the founders of a questionable career change to coordinate Rod Blagojevich's run for Memphis Mayor, necessitating his relocation to Chicago, while at the same time anna leapt to the opposite corner as the brains behind Ben Ferguson's campaign. Meanwhile, amycita too left Tennessee for Illinois to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a corn farmer.

Abandoned by all his cabal, cdesign made one valiant last-ditch attempt to avert collapse (seriously, read the lyrics; he didn't do a bad job). Even that herculean effort could not hide the proponentsist's resignation about the inevitable as his ode to Memphis morphed into a bitter denunciation of the now Herenton-deprived metropolis. Shortly afterwards, the poet vanished, leaving only a cryptic note indicating that he had stumbled upon a secret plot by Dick Cheney and Al Franken for world domination using weaponized bunnies genetically engineered and bred in an underground lab in Central Illinois. Rumors spread on the interwebs' most reliable information sites that the budding songster had captured some of the escaped lab animals with a mega-squirt gun and then notified animal rights activists who bared all in pursuit of their cause. It was not clear whether the plot had been aborted, but, with douglas out of the picture, witnesses can no longer be found.

Please join us in a nanosecond of cybersilence for this once-towering institution.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Walking in Memphis redux

While recently on a whirlwind trip to Memphis, Anna related to me her desire to see GSOI up and running again. So, to that end, I present to you my cynical rewrite of the soft rock radio station (bulls)hit, "Walking in Memphis." Enjoy, or whatever.

Slipped on my road trip clothes
And I got in the car
Thought about my Memphis woes
God this trip’s gonna be far
W.C. Handy – who the hell are you anyway?
I don’t recall ever learning that
In Memphis you learn to minimize your stay

Cuz I’m driving to Memphis
Gonna do my best to avoid Beale
Driving to Memphis
Like Overton Park dogshit, that’s how I feel


Saw a ghost of a hipster
On Union Avenue
Followed him to his shitty apartment
And in his front yard, I watched as up-he-threw
Now the cops didn’t see him
They ignore the hip and cool
But if he happened to be of color
The cop would search around for no other
He’d try to make him look like a fool

(chorus)

Oh, there’s poverty all over
Homophobia in the air
Low wage non-union labor
It seems change ain’t got a prayer
But they pray a lot in Memphis

Anna’s sister plays the keyboard
In a bar somewhere round here
I got to the show and looked around and realized
Everyone has slept with each other within the last year
Well I was pretty much not looked at
By the people in the crowd
I tried to be friendly
But they couldn’t hear me
Their American Apparel outfits were too loud!

(chorus)

Slipped on my road trip clothes
And I got in the car
Thought about my Memphis woes
God this trip’s gonna be far
W.C. Handy – who the hell are you anyway?
I don’t recall ever learning that
In Memphis you learn to minimize your stay