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Atomized junior- The Web log

Tuesday, 28 December, 2004
Bite Me

I have very little to say this holiday season. I've been content. Content is quiescent. The people around me have been content. For many others it hasn't been so good. I could pick at the scab of ambient trivial controversy and make issue with those who proclaim I am striking down Christianity with my nonsectarian 'holiday season' greeting. Fine, have it your way. From me; then, "Merry Christmas" and "Happy new year". Also from me in honor of a new holiday I'm setting up - a few days after boxing day in honor of the coming new year - Futurama day. Where we are all Bender for a day, I issue to those who need it: a warm and sincerely meant "Bite My Shiny Metal Ass".

At any rate today I have a Kitty story. What kind of web log would this be without some kitty stories. I go over to my sisters house for the (see all above) Holidays. At one point on Christmas Eve my sister looks out the window and notes that there are a number of deer strolling down the street. They are however not Reindeer, they are not Santa's deer, though there are enough to pull a sleigh if you had one. They seem more interested in chewing the ornamental shruberry of the neighbor across the street than delivering toys. The boys, Grant and Raine, 7 and 3 are in bed. Feeling I needed to share the moment I turn around and lite upon, Merry, my sister's 1012 year old tortoise shell cat (her other cat's name is Turin) who had the misfortune to be crossing the living room at that moment. Merry is not a particularly adventurous or inquisitive cat. Easily alarmed might be the best way to describe her. This is a cat from whom the only indication of animation comes from her ability to be asleep curled into a ball in whatever patch of the house is being heated by an air duct or touched by a shaft of sunlight.

I scoop Merry up, and step out into the front yard. These deer are not your scrawny small upcountry deer. They are large robust well nourished suburban deer. The locale of this story is that part of metropolitan area where Rock Creek, the Beltway, and Wisconsin Ave all come together. These are not small animals. They note my presence, and could care less. Merry at first is not sure why I've brought her outside on such a cold night. Then she sees the deer. She goes quite rigid and flattens herself against my jacket. Her eyes widened further than I've ever seen a cats eye go, or knew they needed to go. She begins to breath with funny little puffs. It occurs to me that she has probably never seen a deer before. She may not be aware that deer don't eat cats. At least I don't think they do. I'm making no guarantees about these deer. I bring her back inside and put her down on the floor. Rather than skitter away she roots to the spot and spends the rest of the evening staring at the front door swaying slightly back and forth. Every so often she would walk to the front window which is one of these ceiling to floor living room and peer around the curtain into the yard and stare at the deer who hung around for a while.

I felt bad after a while because it occurred to me that I had introduced into the internal and imagining world of this poor creature an unpleasant and hitherto unsuspected aspect of what is and waits in the world without. But then, people do this much for me every day.

11:40:02 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Tuesday, 21 December, 2004
Difference between Us and Them

In the UK right now a Government official, a Mr. Blunkett, is immured in a scandal because he (or his staff) expediated a visa for his Mistress's nanny - and for getting her two train tickets. In France this would have involved diamonds or an apartment along the Champs Elysee, in Italy a seaside cottage. In Britain: train tickets. Brit scandals aren't what they used to be. What will this lead to: page 3 pictures of Waterloo Station. In the US we have domestic situations too. Our Nannygates are a regular and routine Washington soap opera.

the Vetting. A Play in slightly less than one Act
[Candidate for a political office comes into a room. The room is dark and non descript. Lit only with a single desk lamp and by a window through which a vague even winter light pushes into the shadows. Two men are sitting at a table examining a dossier. One man looks up at the newcomer and speaks.]

Man 1: Well over-all it looks good, except, for this problem with an undocumented nanny you hired.
Cand.: Nanny? I don't have a nanny.
Man 1: [Looks at file of candidates business dealings] Yes, you do.
Cand.: I don't, I've never had a nanny, or a housekeeper.
Man 1: [looks at file of candidate's motel charges hidden on previous government jobs expense accounts] Oh, You've got a nanny problem allright.
Cand.: I don't even have kids.
Man 1: That can be arranged; for your press conference, the one where you will announce you want to spend more time with them.
2nd man: [reaches over into folder in front of first man] we have pictures of your nanny. [shows part of first few]
Cand.: I can explain that! Sort of. Kinda. She's a friend a good friend.
Man 1.: We can see that, but its too late we've already had Andrew call Novak, by Monday even Ranger Rick will be covering this. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Cand.: [Exits; stage left. Production note! Candidate actually remains where he is, background scenery and table, chairs men are seated at are on glides, and exit stage right.
11:49:10 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Sunday, 19 December, 2004

Over on my old site, which is actually only about two inched to the left of this one, there is a side bar link to site dedicated to the Leeds band the Wedding Present. The text and contextual gloss says "the Wedding Present, will they ever gig again? The only way to know is to check here every single day." I doubted that even when I wrote it, they haven't played together in ten or more years. Haven't been over to the old site in a while, forgot what was there. I had wanted to turn it over to my niece would still. Strangely, she reacted to that like I had offered her a job breaking rocks on a chain gang in a southern climate. Hey look what it did for Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen.

The Wedding Present never really broke up they just stopped speaking to each other - like all good friends. Gedge (David) went off to form Cinerama with his girlfriend. the Others did other ... stuff. Speaking of other stuff did anybody catch Bruce Foxton from the Jam playing with Stiff Little Fingers last summer Talk about your alternative ulsters. Last Thursday I don't know whether heard or saw something, but I googled the Weddoes and found they were playing a tribute show for BBC's John Peel that night along with PJ Harvey and Belle and Sebastian. I even came across the site for TWP , I had linked to, which was up and carrying the news. Apparently they've released an ep and are working up another one and have a mini eu tour for the ep (as oppossed for the eu tour for the 'mini' ep).

I got to thinking: what would the one Wedding Present song to make the case for their unsung greatness. 'Shatner?' 'My Favorite Dress?' Too obvious maybe. 'Anyone can make a Mistake', 'Brassneck', 'Kennedy', 'Carolyn', 'Swimming pools Movie stars', 'Silver Shorts.' I think I've got go with 'Niagra' in the end, probably the most fully realized song from their big book of monsters of rock guitar chords period. "But does it have to end right now? Well, can't you stay - for another day?"

10:28:06 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Thursday, 16 December, 2004
Intelligence Bill

I've been following intelligence reform legislation since the 911 commission hearings and the release of their report. [They are a dot org now 9/11 Public Discourse Project.] Which I admit I only read the executive summary of. Around page 16 of that summary they move into recommendations. This includes such 'what to do' speculation as plan and act comprehensively. An admonishment to share information between agencies. This would entail transcending boundries; that is, engage in domestic spying or at least equate certain criminal like activities, money movement and such, with national security, and moving militarily against it. They follow this with some specific "How to do It" suggestions which fall into the bureau reorganization catagory. A National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) to sit across foreign domestic divide. To unify the intelligence community with a National Intelligence director (NID). To also unify participants knowledge with a network-based information system, strengthen the FBI and first responder agencies (homeland security). Last perhaps most important to unify congressional oversight to gain consistency.

I was able to follow that, so I expected the legislation to make sense also. Instead at times it seemed relentlessy murky. Two issues partly surfaced during the debates. On the use of spy satellites, access to intelligence resources as it was phrased the Pentagon indicated it would be a deal breaker if it didn't have exclusive rights when it wanted them. Frankly any veto on these devices will lead to high tech naval gazing by one side or another. One article relates that the Pakistani nuclear weapon test was missed because the Pentagon was using national resources for mundane monitoring of its Iraqi no-fly zones, What spy reforms mean | After the bill was finished disagreement surfaced on a new and still secret generation of satellites New York Times > New Spy Plan Said to Involve Satellite System which may have colored that debate. Another issue sprang from a recommendation to standardize drivers licenses. So that they would essentially form a national Identification card, even to the point of being a tacit internal passport. The States Rights Crowd are uniquely quiescent on this - states rights was always more subject matter than principle. This particular provision is being especially championed by those looking to screw down immigration laws. Not to prevent border crossing, but to keep it where it is, and ever much more so. Illegal: the people; desperate, dependent, and willing to work for a wage of their employer's choosing.

The version we received at armed forces air intelligence training center (AFAITC) when I went through there. We ran through the organizational models of most of the big intelligence apparatus's. Your various bureau twelves and such. The Director of Central intelligence was described and labeled as having two hats DcI, the primary advisor to the President, and dCI(a) head of the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA began life as a compromise the National Security Act of 1947 founded it basically to keep intelligence from falling wholly to the twin black holes of the State and Defense Departments. It had five charges going out: advise the National Security Council, recommend coordinating policy for intelligence correlate and evaluate intelligence and ensure its dissemination throughout the community, carry out activities of existing agencies requiring centralized resources, and other duties as required. In practice it came down to analysis, counterintelligence and interventions (political and paramilitary). The way it was described and the way I worked within it over next four years in Naval Intelligence it seemed fairly workable. We were looking for the formal order of battle, the enemy fleet. Looking at its system capabilities. Trying to uncover its informal or current arrangement - the whereabouts of their deployment. We were aiming for the sort of specificity a 5'' gun could use. We took that last upon ourselves. DIA (Defense intelligence agency) created in 1961 with in the Secretary of defenses office to centralize portions of the activities of the service branch offices we relied upon for technical analysis of weapon systems. Other national offices to provide that raw information to DIA, and to investigate the fortitude with which these weapons were held. Also I'm almost positive the CPO going over this lesson indicated there was a real board or committee this Dir. Central Intelligence ruled as roost over. The National foreign Intelligence board under which the National Intelligence Estimates were wrought.

After 40 years of bureaucracy, adding of units: NSA SRO etc. the DCI has been pushed down by turf wars into his home agency. For the sake of a correction - the cure is to add a layer of bureacracy? Now we have the DNI (Dir. of National Intelligence) & his agency the NCTC. If bureaucracy. could be undone as easily as done This might be a viable idea. When I worked at the Kinko's Copy store we had three or four assistant. managers - which was excessive for a operation like ours, but we were the first Kinko's in the DC area. When the expansion came they all left and became branch managers. If the expansion had been postponed we would have had asst. managers pushing green buttons indefinitely. If the expansion had been called off they would have been fired. Whipping up a policy or program Tsar can be an effective approach when the established means are not providing. If you grow a new tooth; though, its usually best if an old comes out. Coordination, Cooperation, and information sharing is what the past failures revealed wasn't happening. Having both a DCI and a DNI ain't exactly going to help that. The Post reported yesterday that the President was considering having the new guy give him his daily briefings New Director Might Prepare Bush's Daily Intelligence Brief ( That might show the Dir. of the CIA his place in things. It does nothing for overall organizational logic - other than reveal there is none. Reuters had a article out the other day which noted that no other national intelligence operation is this centralized U.S. Alone Among Allies in Centralizing Spy PowersInternational News Article | and no other nation is considering following our suit.

The DNI or whoever is going to fulfill the role of chairman of the 15 agency Intelligence community board needs to be independent actor in the political arena with a measure of internal budgetary and process discretion. The auspices under which this intelligence reorganization has been launched and it has the presidents signature now seem to shade towards seeing this office a branded creature of the executive branch and its policies. With weak and divided congressional oversight, but removing no ones committee chair out from under them. For myself -- I'm not planning any vacations to Pearl Harbor

11:28:16 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Monday, 13 December, 2004
addendum concerning Toleration

While I might have given the UCC's campaign up for a lost cause, they continue to fight the good fight. Thats what they do after all. The Web site they have up dealing with this has sprouted a petition (to the FCC) which they feel is acheiveing good results: United Church of Christ Action Center.

I don't suppose I've had this much fun since I first read John Locke's A letter Concerning Toleration

10:07:36 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Wednesday, 8 December, 2004
Defensor Fidelis

This is a post that I had written nearly completely by Sunday night, nothing further has happened since, so right now there is nothing further to add. The story of the UCC commercials that were turned away by the networks, has lost it's legs. The Man has spoken - next topic please.
Assorted commentary was available here and there. Talking Point Memo's had several posts on it last week capturing most of the press, he even got someone from CBS to describe and attempt to defend their policy to him. This served to only lay out the weakness of their craven reply: they never run ads addressing issues of public debate, they never run ads from religious organizations, they never run ads which challenge a president who has just won re-election. See Josh Marshall's Week of 28 Nov 2004 archive, posts are on 01, 02, 03 Dec. (Permalinks: 004135, 004136, 004147, and 004152).
John Mack our minister organized his sermon to comment on it. Briefly he noted the passage in Matthew where John the Baptist rails against those he feels are unworthy 'brood of vipers' he calls them; 'bear fruit that befits repentance'. Jesus then comes out to the banks of the Jordan to be baptized. John tries not to - for different reasons - but still in gatekeeper mode. Jesus insists saying 'it is fitting to fulfill', not prophesy, 'but all righteousness.' John consents. The issue in regard to the jealous guarding of the path against the righteous thing should leave no one wondering.
An analogous incident from the old testament, the voice of God remonstrating: in 1 kings God calls Elijah out of the cave, where he has gone because the people are just too hopeless too unworthy, to go and stand on the mountain. A great wind, an earthquake and a fire pass by, God is not in any of those things, we are told. God is not obstreperously triumphant. God speaks to Elijah after they pass in a 'still small voice'. The point I think is that, that is a voice that one should still listen for. I have no intent to mangle other people's clearer thinking. John Mack's sermons are up on the web sermon index, pdf of the Sun 05 Dec sermon if any one cares to examine it further.

11:47:32 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Tuesday, 7 December, 2004
Well of its own desire

Going into last weekend I read a post from one of the web logs I read regularly. The person was describing a collaborative relationship she was trying to get to work. In this case it was to play in a band and to write music together with someone. It wasn't or didn't seem to be working as she had hoped or wanted. There seemed to be things getting in the way. Things from the past or future, even the present. Certainly part of it was the guy involved opting to shut down communicationally  (I'm not sure that's really a word either), and emotionally. I kept thinking about that over the weekend and into the week here. Guilty conscience I suppose. I've been in a situation similar to this and am aware that the woman involved thinks - thought then, thinks now, that I am a complete jerk. Jerk, is not the word she would use. It's not the word she did use.  I had my own view of things, my own position, my own words. Beyond all that I had as well the notion lingering among the columns of the imagined nobility of my own motivations that the story could only lie between her and my way of things.

 Every situation is different. I can't read TTT's situation in light of my own and claim knowledge by it. I only know the prick of conscience I felt reading it. I had known my friend, Micaela., all through college and beyond. For many years, during one of which she got married. Then there were a few years when I did not talk to her. But in a world - the world I know at least - where you share a deep connection, with multiple interests, with understanding with few others. There is a temptation to try to convert or  re-purpose  a relation to other ends. She wanted me to write for her - initially for a web zine she was trying to get off the ground. She offered to edit my writing. She knew as I did, it sorely needed it. She with keen eye and  J School degree, could supply professional consideration. Eventually we would try writing together, perhaps trying to run the magazine together. But thats not what she did, she looked at writing I gave her and commented on content and intent, she expected me to reciprocally examine hers in return. I had no desire to replicate a writing workshop, definitely not between us. That was part of what she saw this accomplishing.

 All writing is self confession and self examination. I am aware of that as I write, even with what little I write to atomized jr. At the same time I hope it does not seem obviously so on the page. Thats not my intent, the theme or narrative should have the moment for itself. This was not happening between us. I had the feeling that we  were always looking for signs, validation, answers to questions. I began to pull back. I told her it was just a little, but I knew I was pulling all the way back and out. It wasn't working and I knew she didn't have any greater idea on how it might than I did. It seemed like work, not work that lets you feel completed or realized,  It seemed like copy cataloging. It seemed like a burden. It returned nothing for no peace of mind.

 I know that on some level she understands, and reached the same conclusion herself, but her protocol does not call for naming the ways we understand each other. Nor for allowing or admitting to the presence of necessity other than her own. She staked her will against it. It was like two taxi-cabs trying to fit down the same narrow alley, we could only pin each other against the wall.   I recognize that I have been disappointment. Sometimes the bridges are not long enough for appointments to be kept.

11:24:58 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Thursday, 2 December, 2004
the UCC attempts to become Organized religion

My church's head office has gotten itself into a major media controversy. This alone strains credulity somewhat. I belong to a UCC (United Church of Christ). It seems that with money they got a hold of somewhere, they have produced two television ads to go with their God is Still Speaking campaign. The bouncer ad - which is the one playing when you bring up that page is the only one I've seen. It's a little over the top, but I admire the spirit of the enterprise. Sadly it seems that unless one sees it there one won't see it. They approached the networks cash in hand and CBS, NBC, and ABC's response was 'no go' - too controversial. New York Times > 2 Networks Are Accused of Rejecting Ad on Religious Bias. What did Fox say? No one seems to have asked. Media in the UK notes it is as much membership thing, as it is a political thing Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Church Recruiting New Members With TV Ad. They get the best quote

"We're doing it because we made a discovery: there are lots of people out there who don't know we exist," said Ron Buford, who is coordinating the program for the 1.3 million-member UCC, down from 1.7 million in 1989. The UCC has 6,000 congregations."
That pretty much sums it up.

 Most Congregational churches pretty conservative, certainly the one I grew with in Holliston was. All the same its true the one I go to currently in DC isn't, we are at one with the home office in Cleveland. There has been "chatter" about this on our Yahoo groups listserve. The UCC plagues my father, a Taft-Harding-Hoover-Goldwater-Reagan republican, but he puts up with it, with as much grace as he can spare. Someboby even has a anti UCC website up, It seems to be an inside job, thats passion for you. I know our minister, John Mack, is a strong proponent of this 'God is still speaking' campaign, but this is a man who came to the idea of his calling after a couple of years in Vietnam as a Marine Lieutenant. Myself I don't mind a bit unless the head office took money from the heifer project to do this.

11:59:44 PM    comment [];trackback [];
Ted Leo

Ted Leo and the Pharamacists are playing downtown at the Black Cat tonight. If I still went to shows I'd go to this one. What I've heard of this Ted Leo album it is the best stuff I've heard all year. Not only for the title cut of the album Shake the Sheets, a protest song, (seems like no writes decent rock protest songs anymore) but for the song "Me and Mia." Over on the label's site Lookout Records - Ted Leo/Pharmacists they have a streaming video for this : Me & Mia video (real player version broadband, they also have a 56k). I guess its a concept video - add points for seeming to have the same concept as the song. In the video the band is playing in a room (picture window) above a pizza shop on a city corner at night. The camera observes this from across the street. About two thirds the way through the song Mr. Leo puts down his guitar and leaves. You see him come out of a stair case onto the side street at the same as a taxi pulls up and another Ted Leo dressed in white gets out. They pass each other without acknowledgment. White shirt Ted Leo goes up to the room picks up the guitar and finishes the song. Denim Ted Leo is seen going into the pizza shop and ordering food and taking it to a table and as the last feedback chord dies out, he starts to eat. The part of the refrain that gives the song its title: Me and Mia, Ann and Ana Know how hard you try. Don't you see it in my eyes? As nearly as I can tell, that can read "Me and (buli)mia, Ann and ana(rexia)." How can one dislike a song with the lyric: Sick to death of my dependence, fighting food to find transcendence.

My favorite line from Shake the Sheets : "I want to take it to the president, him and all the cabinet, with a broom. I want to sweep the Halls of Arrogance, sweep the walls of the excrement of these baboons."  You don't really find out much about the band from the Label's website or their own TED LEO + PHARMACISTS (such as the names of the other two band members) So I'm rounding this out with links to two interviews Ted Leo: Pitchfork Interview and a recent one The 5X5 Interview: Ted Leo, Musician.

I feel I ought to mention A.C. Newman while I'm on this kick. Carl Newman is from Vancouver and has a solo album out; the Slow Wonder, which also spends a lot of time running on my imaginary iPod of the mind (my real one was stolen...)

11:13:10 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Wednesday, 1 December, 2004
Slow Down

Why! Why have the Feelies licensed a song to Citi bank.  And why slow down .  I mean the Last Round Up perhaps.

11:34:44 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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