March, 2012

Mar 12


is the new novel by John Shirley, from Prime Books. A “Lord of the Flies” for the 21st century.

PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY REVIEW: “In this slim, grim, and powerful novel, Shirley lets his imagination loose on the frightening possibilities of a massive natural disaster striking a small American town. A tidal wave transforms Freedom, Calif., from seaside idyll into a broken and perilously unstable landscape. Survivors include some natural helpers like Drew Haver and his son, Russ, as well as psychopaths Dickie Rockwell, a gang leader and drug dealer, and Lon Ferrara, the town’s ultralibertarian mayor, who privatized emergency services and now refuses help from FEMA. Treating women like commodities and wielding a plethora of weapons, these men fight for survival and ownership of the ruins. Shirley’s vision is vivid and horrifying…”

As ebook or trade paperback.

Mar 12

Conservatives Chill the Champagne, Delighted More People Will Suffer

Conservatives are chilling the champagne, because it looks like SCOTUS will strike down Healthcare Reform entirely. That means a “lose” for Obama and a “win” for conservatives, and libertarians. It really doesn’t matter to opponents of health care reform if many millions of people will not have health care as a result; it really doesn’t matter if people will die because their pre-existing conditions are not covered. It doesn’t matter to them if elderly people will have to pay more for medication. That’s okay. It’s *totally worth it*. Because it will give Obama a “Lose”. It will *hurt* Obama. “And oh yes, let’s pretend we think health care reform was crushing our freedoms. We need to keep that facade up.”

But conservatives know what it’s really about. Pour the champagne boys. Another win for the corporations.

Mar 12

An ambiguous relationship with Nature

What an ambiguous relationship I have with nature. A few years ago I looked out the back window, saw a rosebush wriggling itself down into the ground. It was like something I once saw in a cartoon. The rosebush was going down, down…All 5 bushes vanished soon, & it turned out a certain vole was the villain, they chew these things up from below. I rejoiced when my cat killed a vole. “Ha!” I said.

Tonight I was walking my dogs, one of them darted away, snapped at a small animal–it was a little mole, washed by the rains out of his hole, looking for dry spot to dig. The dog had broken its back. It tried to crawl, pulling itself with its little armless hands, inch by inch…its back legs worthless now…in the rain…it was most pathetic. I let the dog put it out of its misery. I did not rejoice.

Mar 12

Poisoned Points of View

It’s really tragic how you cannot talk to some people; how they cannot talk to you. By you, I mean me, I mean anyone. Most Republicans think they know what liberals are about; they really, really don’t. I’ve heard them say, about liberals, “They’re into redistributing the wealth!” –which is a code phrase for Marxism. Nothing you can say will make them change that opinion. That wildly wrong opinion.

It seems to me I’m more open to understanding conservative ideas than they are to understanding progressive ones. But people are isolated by their presumptions, their need to create paint-by-numbers definitions of the world.

And the same goes for people in one’s life that one’s fallen out with–to get them to understand one’s point of view–it’d be like using a pen knife to cut through a stone wall. We’re all trapped by our subjectivity.

Mar 12


This morning my son Julian, in Portland, was asleep in his room–and woke up to find a gun in his face. A cop was pointing a gun at him. There were a couple of cops in his room, demanding to see his rental agreement, to know if he were a “squatter”. They’d had reports of squatting meth tweakers in the building, who were stealing gasoline from cars. They were right about the tweakers, but they had the wrong apartment–and they had no probable cause to invade Julian’s apartment without a warrant.

(He’d forgotten to lock the door, foolish in his bad neighborhood. Though it was cops he had to worry about, not burglars, in this case.)

The cops seemed skeptical that Julian was renting the room–he is–and that he was a college student–he is–and even wondered if his school books were stolen. But the cops went away, finally, and Julian’s cat took revenge–it scratched their ankles as they went. Good kitteh.

Portland…”Portlandia”…has a reputation for being liberal. But its liberality notoriously stops at the police. They beat Jim Chasse to death. They pretty commonly shoot unarmed people to death. They’re famous for being thugs.

Sometimes you get a bad police culture, in certain towns. Portland needs to take steps.

(My friend Brett says, “It’s too bad the bad-apple cops make the other 3% look so bad”)

Mar 12

Slapped by Gravity

Yesterday while gardening on a slippery slope I slipped and fell with some force (you always hear beware the slippery slope–well it’s true!), and I think I have a cracked rib. It hurts when I breathe deeply, laugh, sneeze, bend over or cough. But I can write, have to, have many tens of thousands of words to write on a tight deadline…

If you let yourself be distant, distracted from the physical world, it is offended, and it slaps you for it. It slaps you with itself. And that wakes you up to its reality. You are quickly, efficiently, reacquainted.

Mar 12


PUBLIC SERVICE WARNING: AYN RAND POISONING. The Department of Meme Toxicology has issued a new report warning of AYN RAND POISONING. Causes of Ayn Rand poisoning include reading Ayn Rand’s novels & the rants of Austrian School of economics fanatics, & the rhetorical drippings of Ron Paul. Indications: hypertrophic selfishness, radical lack of empathy, indifference to poverty and human suffering, a willingness to elevate the law of Survival of the Fittest over all humanitarian concerns, an inability to perceive the consequences of environmental pollution, an extreme reaction to the presence of unions, blindness to social benefits of taxation, eg their own use of tax-supported programs. Prognosis, the death of civilization.

Mar 12

Stand by Your Pack

Another thing that bothers me, is when I’m out walking my dogs and note the large numbers of small dogs kept in garages all day, and often at night, regardless of the weather; not much better (sometimes worse), when a dog is left endlessly in the back yard. They yip and whine piteously.

Small dogs are bred to be companions to people. All dogs are pack animals and need to be around their pack, other dogs or people. They feel anguish, over this.

Animals, especially relatively highly evolved ones like dogs, have complex feelings. They suffer from loneliness and neglect.

People should not get dogs if they can’t provide them more attention than that. Such dogs, too, are rarely, if ever, taken for walks…something dogs really need.

Mar 12

John Why Does it Bother You So Much?

“But John, why does it bother you so much when people, especially people online, misuse your, write your when they mean you’re, and their for there and vice versa? Aren’t you just being a grumpy old tight ass?”

“Perhaps but to me this misuse is an indicator of the disrespect people have for basic literacy and the internet’s attrition on literacy. Sure you can point to plenty of literate people online but…”

“Come on, if they’re writing a paper they probably use it properly.”

“It’s getting to be thought of as a normal usage and it indicates a general deterioration of thoughtfulness…Twitter especially is…”

“John–wait. How about how you often don’t bother with capitalization and punctuation in your posts?”

“That’s different.”

Mar 12

A Movement And a Rest

Some cosmologists theorize that the universe starts & stops, starts & stops, big-bangs, unwinds from there, then “rewinds” or ends. And starts over. An endless series of universes…Life arises biologically, then it dies; then more life arises. Day is followed by night; followed by day. When we sleep, there’s a period in which we are completely unconscious, without even dreaming, as if were non-existent; then we wake. Then later we sleep. This pattern seems to iterate the cycle of time and the cosmos. As above, so below. “If they ask you: What is the sign of your Father in you?, tell them: It is a movement and a rest.” – Gospel of Thomas …

Tao Te Ching: “Being and non-being create each other./Difficult and easy support each other./ Long and short define each other./High and low depend on each other./Before and after follow each other.”