October 01, 2014

Giants October Baseball Roundup

It's being reported that Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford is the first shortstop in Major League Baseball history to ever hit a grand slam in a post-season game, having stroked a round-tripper with the bags bulging, as they say, in tonight's loser-go-home NL Wild Card game vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's actually being reported over and over, in fact, as if this statistical anomaly, Crawford being the first ever shortstop to hit one, multiplies the immense satisfaction of immediately plating four runs inherent in the grand slam itself, a satisfaction as maximally immense as the rules of the game will allow to begin with. It was a Pirate-slaying stroke in the instant.

September 11, 2014

September in Civilization

Saudi Arabia agrees to host training of moderate Syrian rebels

Something about the idea of moderate Syrian rebels cries out for a Monte Pythoning, I suppose. A training room somewhere outside Riyadh run according to the tenets of moderate rebellion.

What civilization hath wrought, given six thousand years and home field advantage: the Saudi royals underwrite a proposed replacement for the current Syrian government composed of "moderate" rebels, while the utterly compromised Iraqi govenment lies in tatters, suffering reconstitution just the other day by the newly installed Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, whose administration currently faces the loss of considerable amounts of territory once presumed to be Iraq but held, forcibly for now, by an entity called ISIS as part of its newly proclaimed caliphate, which entity is now targeted for bombing by the USA. Politically the situation could not be more fluid, if by fluid the full flavor of catastrophe might be conveyed.

June 16, 2014

Bloomsday 2014

A pint of plain for your only man, here on the sixtieth anniversary of him setting off with his confederates to trace along the shabby streets of Dublin the steps laid out for Leopold Bloom by Mr. James Joyce in his book, "Ulysses," creating the modern phenomenon of "Bloomsday," such as it is.


FLANN from Mick Mahon on Vimeo.

May 14, 2014


Passageway, May, 2014

May 07, 2014

A note on the gate

I've been thinking about boundaries and gates. This video cleverly investigates the bewildering complexity of international boundaries as they are drawn in the real world. The narrator himself speaks an English at the far reach of what most English manages to sound like these days. Perhaps there was a time when we all had to speak like that to be speaking English at all, but pronunciation, globally, has moved on from that kind of talk. He has not left English, he is still operating within it. But it is not call-center English. It is an enclave of the tongue.

A Churl Replies

Condoleeza Rice is a non-metaphorical warmonger. She hawked the own-goal invasion of Iraq concocted by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. She was part of the full-court PR for US invasion, the tragic world-historical blunder that unleashed the current generations-worth of warfare in the Middle East. She is odious in that respect.

Why should any university grant the platform of a commencement address, its one last gesture of guidance to its assembled graduating class, whatever that might be worth, to a person who, when it came to the crucial self-defining passage of her life, did the wrong thing, the utterly, reprehensibly wrong thing?

April 26, 2014

March 02, 2014

Annals of Photography

The Second Coming of the Blooming Plant, March 2014
 The Previous and Heretofore Only Bloom, March, 2010

February 22, 2014

February 20, 2014

January 04, 2014

Four Days Four Gates

A gate invites passage through an otherwise obstructed space. Less generously, it obstructs what otherwise would provide passageway. Attached to a fence or wall, a gate provides both discontinuity in and continuation of the given perimeter, contingently.

[On the First, a spare, elegant image of a gate scanned from a paperback called The Way of Chinese Painting(Vintage paper, 1959.), whose author, Mai-mai Sze, carefully culled its contents from her own The Tao of Painting, published in two volumes in 1956. Below this, a known sign meaning "gate" in three distinctive yet similar renditions, the first influenced by classic Chinese calligraphy, the second by an almost Gothic orderliness of stroke, and the third by the resource constraints on digital representation of the complex signifiers of East Asian orthography. On the Second, the gate is closed. On the Third, the gate is closed. On the Fourth, a word on gate].

Four Gates

December 08, 2013

Rohatsu Six Years On

From the Quotidian for December 8, 2008:

Rohatsu is what the zen tradition calls Bodhi Day, the day Buddha achieved whatever enlightenment is. In Japanese, Rohatsu means the eighth day of the twelfth month.

Hundreds of years passed and people began writing down what the Buddha might have said at that tremendous moment, just sitting there, had he in fact said anything at all.

Siddhartha looked at the planet Venus in the morning sky on the day following one week's steady samadhi, and there he was, enlightened, Buddha.

One year ago today my father celebrated his last birthday. He was 89 that day, and gone in less than a month.

For Roman Catholics like my father, December 8 marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, mother of God. Although this feast is often confused even in the minds of nominal Catholics with the time God had his way with Mary and they conceived Jesus, it is not that conception, but her own conception that is being celebrated here. Notwithstanding the puissance of the godfucking of Mary that made Jesus, her own parent's fucking stands as the greatest, most thoroughgoing and holy human-on-human fuck of all time, producing as it did, according Catholic dogma, by the grace of god, the unblemished vessel of Mary herself, a fuck fully worthy of yearly commemoration.

My father enjoyed reminding everyone that kids got the day off from Catholic school on his birthday.

September 01, 2013

As Ever Was

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

July 08, 2013

Crooked Timber

Crooked Timber is ten years old today. Happy Birthday, you glorious bastards. 

Ten Years of Comments at Cooked Timber, Visualized

March 17, 2013

Ten Years After in Song and Story

A speech given in Washington D.C. by the President of the United States on March 17, 2003, text in full:

My fellow citizens, events in Iraq have now reached the final days of decision.

For more than a decade, the United States and other nations have pursued patient and honorable efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime without war. That regime pledged to reveal and destroy all of its weapons of mass destruction as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

Since then, the world has engaged in 12 years of diplomacy. We have passed more than a dozen resolutions in the United Nations Security Council. We have sent hundreds of weapons inspectors to oversee the disarmament of Iraq.

Our good faith has not been returned. The Iraqi regime has used diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage. It has uniformly defied Security Council resolutions demanding full disarmament.

Over the years, U.N. weapons inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi officials, electronically bugged and systematically deceived. Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraq regime have failed again and again because we are not dealing with peaceful men.

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.

The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends and it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaida.

The danger is clear: Using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other.

The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite this threat, but we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety.

Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed.

The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security. That duty falls to me as commander of chief by the oath I have sworn, by the oath I will keep.

Recognizing the threat to our country, the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly last year to support the use of force against Iraq.

America tried to work with the United Nations to address this threat because we wanted to resolve the issue peacefully. We believe in the mission of the United Nations.

One reason the U.N. was founded after the Second World War was to confront aggressive dictators actively and early, before they can attack the innocent and destroy the peace.

In the case of Iraq, the Security Council did act in the early 1990s. Under Resolutions 678 and 687, both still in effect, the United States and our allies are authorized to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.

This is not a question of authority, it is a question of will.

Last September, I went to the U.N. General Assembly and urged the nations of the world to unite and bring an end to this danger. On November 8th, the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441, finding Iraq in material breach of its obligations and vowing serious consequences if Iraq did not fully and immediately disarm.

Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed. And it will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power.

For the last four and a half months, the United States and our allies have worked within the Security Council to enforce that council's long-standing demands. Yet some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced that they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it.

Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace, and a broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world.

The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.

In recent days, some governments in the Middle East have been doing their part. They have delivered public and private messages urging the dictator to leave Iraq so that disarmament can proceed peacefully.

He has thus far refused.

All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing.

For their own safety, all foreign nationals, including journalists and inspectors, should leave Iraq immediately.

Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you.

As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need.

We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.

In free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms.

The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.

It is too late for Saddam Hussein to remain in power. It is not too late for the Iraq military to act with honor and protect your country, by permitting the peaceful entry of coalition forces to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. Our forces will give Iraqi military units clear instructions on actions they can take to avoid being attacked and destroyed.

I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services: If war comes, do not fight for a dying regime that is not worth your own life.

And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning: In any conflict, your fate will depend on your actions. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished and it will be no defense to say, "I was just following orders."

Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war and every measure will be taken to win it.

Americans understand the costs of conflict because we have paid them in the past. War has no certainty except the certainty of sacrifice.

Yet the only way to reduce the harm and duration of war is to apply the full force and might of our military, and we are prepared to do so.

If Saddam Hussein attempts to cling to power, he will remain a deadly foe until the end.

In desperation, he and terrorist groups might try to conduct terrorist operations against the American people and our friends. These attacks are not inevitable. They are, however, possible.

And this very fact underscores the reason we cannot live under the threat of blackmail. The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed.

Our government is on heightened watch against these dangers. Just as we are preparing to ensure victory in Iraq, we are taking further actions to protect our homeland. In recent days, American authorities have expelled from the country certain individuals with ties to Iraqi intelligence services.

Among other measures, I have directed additional security at our airports and increased Coast Guard patrols of major seaports. The Department of Homeland Security is working closely with the nation's governors to increase armed security at critical facilities across America.

Should enemies strike our country, they would be attempting to shift our attention with panic and weaken our morale with fear. In this, they would fail.

No act of theirs can alter the course or shake the resolve of this country. We are a peaceful people, yet we are not a fragile people. And we will not be intimidated by thugs and killers.

If our enemies dare to strike us, they and all who have aided them will face fearful consequences.

We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet that threat now where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities.

The cause of peace requires all free nations to recognize new and undeniable realities. In the 20th century, some chose to appease murderous dictators whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide and global war.

In this century, when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth. Terrorists and terrorist states do not reveal these threats with fair notice in formal declarations.

And responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense. It is suicide. The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.

As we enforce the just demands of the world, we will also honor the deepest commitments of our country.

Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty, and when the dictator has departed, they can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation.

The United States with other countries will work to advance liberty and peace in that region. Our goal will not be achieved overnight, but it can come over time. The power and appeal of human liberty is felt in every life and every land, and the greatest power of freedom is to overcome hatred and violence, and turn the creative gifts of men and women to the pursuits of peace. That is the future we choose.

Free nations have a duty to defend our people by uniting against the violent, and tonight, as we have done before, America and our allies accept that responsibility.

Good night, and may God continue to bless America…

Saints Be Praised, the Anniversary Issue

To our knowledge, no one has successfully rebutted the opinion that St. Patrick was a real person, however much the snakes remain unconvinced by direct personal experience of the matter. They have their own measure, their own skein of consequential events stretching back to the beginnings of their snakey kind, and Patrick does not appear there among those events, in point of fact.

They are keenly aware they may be summarily removed, of course, the snakes. That knowledge is given to every living thing, and each incorporates the prudent list of tactics for eluding such potentialities, the snakes being no exception to the rule.

St. Patrick in a rich enough symbology might represent to your practicing snake the embodiment of that threat of complete and general extirpation: the summing metonym of all the forces tending towards its elimination. But mark this: there's no evidence whatsoever that snakes think that way. We must not impute to them a snakey hinduism in which the role of the Destroyer, Siva, is taken up by the Celtic Missionary. No.

But that is not to deny to snakes their willful slithery adherence to Patrick's hallowed plan, however little credence they give to its existence. It's a feature of their design, is what I'm saying, a predisposed quality of their being. All of them built aversive to Ireland from the go, built to never be and to never have been deployed in such a place.

That the snakes were not accessible for deportation did not trouble the foundations of the fellow's views on ridding Ireland of them in the slightest.

It must be noted that the command, "Remove the Snakes!" is one of the more universally agreeable pronouncements, even when made far beyond the slithering circuit of the things where the satisfying likelihood that they will never appear greets all such talk.

The Saint's hallowed plan allowed for an arduous time of it describing once again what a snake was to his audience before the common wisdom of the matter could be fully received. In the event, they opened their minds to his knowledges, accepting both the premise of the snake itself as described by his holiness and his proscriptive plan for each and every one of them as well.

The snakes weren't there when Patrick arrived to send them away. But after him, they went missing from the place they'd never been. He made his mark, Patrick, is what I'm saying.

March 14, 2013

Test Pattern

Repurposing in the Age Of Mechanical Reproduction
Entering Magnolia Week,  March 2013

January 21, 2013

A Fan's Lament

I burned off some nervous energy during the second half of the 49ers/Falcons game yesterday by swabbing down the kitchen, dining room and entryway floors. I settled a generous mist of Clorox Cleanup all over the place and then had at it. It's not a palace we're talking about here, it's easy enough to take a step or two one way or the other and see what's happening on the TV over in the far corner of the carpeted room where it lives, and it only takes ten or fifteen minutes to do, with the setting up the bucket with hot water and the bringing the mop back to it occasionally for a rinse, and the bucket's water geting grayer and grayer with progress through the kitchen, then over to the entryway and back through the dining room adjoining the kitchen and done. The longest part of the job, really, is the waiting for the floors to dry. Yesterday's weather was mild. I opened up the kitchen window and the front door and the sliding glass door in the room where the television lives that leads out into the backyard. To air it out, you see. Promote the process. I neglected to close the screen.

And then a hummingbird flew in and up and under the skylight. It was beyond the powers of the beast to resolve the conflict between what was perceptible and what was attainable, and it kept trying to reach the sky by darting up towards what the double glass of the skylight refused it. Trying to shoo it gently with a broom didn't work: I held the broom up very still, and it hopped on board, but went back to flying up against the glass when I tried to lower it down towards the sliding glass door. I suppose if it had been a blackbird I would have smacked away at it, but, hummingbird.

Meanwhile, 49ers/Falcons, fourth quarter. I sat back down across from the television, and looked up uncomfortably now and then as the hummingird flew up, over and over again, near-invisible wings bumping softly against the glass.

The 49ers won, and I put back the chairs around the dining room table and closed the kitchen window and closed the front door and left the house to pick up my wife at the Coconut Grove, and told her about the hummingbird on the way back.

It was still there, still flying, still flummoxed.

Sometime during the Ravens/Patriots game the hummingbird flew furiously against the ceiling, and settled slowly to the floor. I picked it up. I don't know if it was alive, stunned by exhaustion and what must have been despair. I took it outside and put it down on some soft soil in a big pot of succulents. It didn't move. When I went back out to look a few hours later, it was gone.

Hummingbird Trapped In Skylight

January 13, 2013

War and Justice Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Mayonnaise

War invites chaos. Sometimes the dead in war are soldiers, who may or may not have had a fighting chance. Often enough the dead are dead for arbitrary reasons having nothing to do with their fitness for or their deployment in battle. They are those, never adequately accounted for, who unfortunately chance to die in war. War's murderousness transcends its warriors, enlists mistakes and overzealousness and the unthinking catholicity of ferocity for which the male human is so justly renowned, in its service, to convincingly destroy.

Bradley Manning released a helicopter gunship video documenting the slaughter of a bunch of people on the ground in Iraq, one such incident encouraged by war there. The victims were harmless people in retrospect, a couple of them worked for the Reuters news agency. Chaos is no respecter of war's aims, a clean kill, a chestful of medals, a quick successful campaign. Chaos undercuts all rationales when it comes, and it always comes when called in war.

Bradley Manning also released to the world a cache of diplomatic cables sent between its overseas posts and the State Department, situation reports and chitchat from stations in Tripoli and Baghdad and La Paz and all the where else on the globe the United States has itself positioned these days. It is claimed that the revelations contained in the cables from North Africa helped fuel the destabilizations of the Arab Spring.

Bradley Manning was apprehended and has been subjected to a measure of torture, well within the range of cruel and unusual, during his months of confinement awaiting trial. The judge in his case, Colonel Denise Lind, recognizing this slight, recently authorized a reduction of three and three quarters months in the length of any sentence imposed on Manning, ruling that there was no intent to punish behind the military's admittedly cruel and unusual behavior.


January 04, 2013

Recently Noted

West Cliff, Santa Cruz CA, August, 2012
KuKluxSheep, Santa Cruz County Fair, September, 2012