dig in (long)

This week is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA.

It may be our most natural holiday. Daylight hours are getting shorter, it's getting colder, and now we celebrate a sharing of food. Most people even get the day off. The Thursday(!) national holiday is on the short list of things that keeps the USA sane (without also damaging it in some other way).

The holiday is about a lot of things. I am going to try to circle around the topic by writing about these:

  • a popular tech site called digg
  • In the UK a chef recently recieved complaints for slicing a living lamb's throat on TV.  The lw and rw UK tabloids spun the story the same way
  • video of a Christmas lights display on a residential house, set to music (heavily blogged)
  • recent Rolling Stone profile of one of the US capitol's most efficient behind-the-scenes warmongers, with a significant clothing description:
    At fifty-six, Rendon wears owlish glasses and combs his thick mane of silver-gray hair to the side, Kennedy-style. He heads to work each morning clad in a custom-made shirt with his monogram on the right cuff and a sharply tailored blue blazer that hangs loose around his bulky frame.
  • a man just rowed across the Pacific Ocean! w photo of boat
These are examples of people trying to relate to nature, and to others. Their attempts are themselves related to each other. They are peripherally about what Thanksgiving is peripherally about. It's a cluster of meaning coming to focus at this time of year in the Northern hemishere.

we dig

Around 1970, the most most wildly-admired musical group wrote two songs with the word 'dig' in the title.

The entire lyrics of Dig It:
'Like a rolling stone // like a rolling stone // Like the FBI and the CIA // And the BBC… // BB king, And Doris Day, Matt Busby. // Dig it, dig it, dig it, Dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it, dig it.'
Some of the lyrics of 'I dig a pony':
"I dug a pony // Well you can syndicate any boat you row // Yes you can syndicate any boat you row"

To use dig the way John Lennon and millions of other did means more than enjoy. It means more than enjoy naturally. At the risk of sounding banal or ridiculous, to say 'I dig it' means:
'I am for the planet converting to a settler/agricultural culture (away from a hunter-gatherer culture), and what you are doing (and my experience of what you are doing) is part of the positive, natural trend'.

the crux of the matter

I myself dig. I am a digger. I want humanity to make the transition (and I believe many political conflicts will resolve themselves in the wake of the change).

In a way, the modern world is about the watershed decision to 'dig' or not. These centuries ARE resolving the conflict between vegetarians and gun-owners. And this IS the context for Thankgiving.

chew on this

But the holiday is intended to demonstrate metaphoricaly an extremely important political point - that this conflict is never, ever a crisis.

[Our teeth exemplify this. We have sets to chew meat and a different set to chew vegetables. Both the holiday and our pearly whites say humanity can -if it wants to- transit from a hunter modality to an agricultural one. Or not. {Human beings once lived in the rain forest, but also for past epochs the species lived on the savannah.}]

'dig to plant' / 'dig to bury'

Dig refers to both uses. As such it is linked not just to the concept of food, but also the concept of heaven.

[Death is both too boring and too scary to take part in metaphors that exist in our imagination. Its conversion into heaven in our culture (our shared imaginations made real) is helped by our pre-conscious (constantly projecting the rainforest part of ourselves into a vague hypothetical future).]

veggies -eat that turkey!

I am vegetarian who eats meat that other people prepare. This is the natural way. For you vegans out there, I want to stress this. Because archetypally my friends might be hunter-gatherers, even as I identify with the plant-farmers.

[I have no dispute with the chef that cut that lamb's throat on TV ( And neither did most right-wing groups, and neither did PETA).]

cooked on a fire

The growing trend in the USA for extravagent Christmas displays is the modern equivalent of the ancient sharing of the campfire. It proves people naturally want to share a campfire. So much so they are willing to spend time and money for the electric, colored, heatless fire where they now live.

These displays, btw, utterly refute the thesis of history displayed in Quest for Fire. This famous movie isn't just profoundly unThanksgivingish, its basic premise is false [long story - basically, people probably gave away flaming twigs].

Dress-up, but not like Ranford

Do dress up, but don't wear anything like what the warmonger wears. He is a professional whose job it is to push the hunter/gun culture [which nowadays seems to means a war culture. There arent a lot of forests around]. This man must wear the appropriate iconography.

His sartorial problems are that he must wear cloth from ... gasp! .. plants. And that he is fat from eating a lot of food he does not hunt for.

His solution is elabarate tailoring to mask his desk existence, monograms to simulate hunter/gathering clothing, a mane of hair, and glasses-frames that simulate wood.

I repeat, do not dress like this for Thanksgiving. Wear your granny glasses instead and cheerfully chew that meat!

row row row the boat

I mean, the gravy boat.


photo shows why younger generations like rap

In a few years, this kid will not be listening to lyrical, romantic music. It will be something like Eminem.

Since Generation X, kids in the West are getting exposed to sexual material too early. As teens they don't feel sex as a mystery, and thus they are not as soothed by melodies & lyrics as their parents had been.

Already, the kid's shirt shows signs of spiritual unease. It's red with a bug-eyed animal and the word SMASH on it (it might even be the kids favorite, the one he chose for the big day on center court).

Add the way text is inflicted on them in school and you get a rapping generation.

My point is that the rapping takes the role of psychiatry, teenagers talking about childhood events they weren't ready for, so much so that they mask the universal, non-relative voice that good music holds.

I say this extra part because I believe the various elements of music are non-relative, that they link up aspects of nature.

  • recent Dennis the Menace cartoon (for families!)

  • rap video in which a young man wants to float.
    Sorry, dude, but your childhood is gone.

  • Piercing is related to this issue. examples: 1  2 I more-or-less agree with a quote from 'Teenagers detachment from Self':
    'If a teenager can feel a steel bolt through her tongue move whenever she speaks, at least she knows she inhabits her own body, even if she doubts her own soul.'

modified: 2007-09-21


2 days after a football game in San Francisco

On Sunday Nov 6 a US football game was played in San Francisco. The game was in the daytime and the broadcast at one point showed a picturesque blimp shot of the hill Coit Tower sits on. The lingering shot was used to mark the difference between the commercials and the game, and show the sponsors' logos.

While watching the game I was surprised. I have seen many sports games televised from the city before, but never seen a blimp shot of that particular landmark. Flashing thru my mind then was the thought that some football fans would misinterpret it.

Wouldn't you know it, but two days later Bill O'Reilly remarked that he wouldn't mind if the tower was attacked by terrorists! Blogs all over the place are mentioning this, but I haven't seen any mention of the football game broadcast (one of the teams was from the NY-area and O'Reilly is too).

Whether he saw the game or not, I agree with this majikthise poster as to the likely reason O'Reilly picked out the tower for his fantasy...

important point

I am not saying O'Reilly is homosexual. I don't think he is. Not that there is anything wrong with being gay. But a man having a virulent reaction to a building that reminds him of a penis - that is the way many rw closet-cases behave.

tacked on 11/16: I should add that O'Reilly said this on nationally- syndicated radio on election day. He was on the east coast and his show starts at 5pm (but this is only 2pm in California and polls there close at 8pm).

The timing of the statement, then, was due to it being election day (not because of the game). But O'Reilly's picking out a landmark few have heard of, I would still guess was due to it being shown during the game 2 days before. Also it is possible that O'Reilly doesnt care about the shape of the tower, but demagogue-sensed some of his listeners might (and might have seen the game).

Basically, a man went on the radio and directly addressed people 3000 miles away -who might easily have been driving to the polls- they might be killed unless they voted the way he wanted them to. All of O'Reilly's really crappy aspects are involved here - fear mongering, contempt for the political process, chickenhawkism, worship of centralized state power.

Real conservatives do not behave like this.


the political urge to use noun phrases

It's too much to go into here, but reality is more like verb phrases than it is like noun phrases.

Nevertheless young USA Republicans have produced wallpaper for your PC [via], featuring a very long noun phrase.1
I'm a Freedom Fighter Protecting Freedom from the Authoritarian, Granola-eating, Elitist, anti-American, Socialist Do-gooders, Statist, Enviro-freak, Leftist, Power-hungry, Truthless, Left-wing status quo force fed on today's American Campuses.”
In case you have trouble reading that, the modified noun is 'status quo'.2


As it happens, Christopher Hitchens loves noun-phrases, too.

From last year, all in just one page from him:
'prisoners' dilemma',   'angry abstention',  'triangular calculation',  'banal,  unexciting assumption',  'two-party oligopoly',  'irony of history',  'underlying stipulation',  'formal quarrel',  'racist janjaweed death squads',  'pitiable, deep-seated Muslim grievances',  'near-impeachable irresponsibility',  'hypertense refusal',  'degraded, mendacious populism',  'self-imposed quandary'.

Could it be Hitchens has moved into alliance with these guys because they share his grammatical urges? Could that be part of it?

[I am wavering between this and the guess that Hitchens was treated rudely in Persia on one of his visits by locals who misunderstood his purpose there.]

  1. In case the image goes away: the wallpaper has a muted blue background. Below the text is the YAF logo. There is a line break after 'Freedom Fighter'.

  2. It is possible they don't capitalize 'status quo' because they don't think status quos are intrinsically bad.



chicken Chicken Little

Chicken Little is a classic story. Last year I predicted a 200M gross for Disney's animated version.

The movie is out. Now it looks like the pros were right and I was wrong1. The movie will be no Shrek (it has managed to cross the road).

The studio has crassly reversed the meaning. In the original the foxes of the world take advantage of naive conspiracy-theorists hens but, thank God, are themselves controlled by noble hunters.

One would have thought that would be a sufficiently authoritarian fable for Disney.

But no. Now the sexless hen turns out to have been right - The sky is falling. The studio has its young hero finding a little square blue piece of sky and then, after everyone ignores this warning ... dangerous aliens land.

Far from their Chicken Little being a welcome diversion from these paranoid times, the company made it as part of these times. They have made a War of the Worlds for kids2. And so far they are not making the money they expected3.


I am particularly offended by Disney's linkage of the sky itself with danger.

I have a work in progress on the how people experience the sky & the horizon (update: here). The gist here would be that our planet's canopy has been for millions of years an invaluable force for healing. Thus any company believing in family values (as Disney fancies itself) would never introduce a childrens' story with such a sky (a sky introjected with devilry, signifying danger).

What's next from the staggering and manic-compulsive industry dinosour? A kids movie where milk & cookies everwhere are poisoned but a clever band of youngsters manage to save the city after only some die a painful, puking death?4

  1. I did not know Disney was making the movie all by itself (with no help from Dreamworks or Pixar). These days the company has as much chance of solo marshalling sufficient creative juices for a crossover kids CGI blockbuster as Quentin Tarantino has of making an impact on the culture without a torture scene. You are who you are (almost always).

  2. That Tom Cruise vehicle was probably in overlapping production, and the suits may have been afraid to compete. They may not have wanted to aim at children what amounted to an expansion of fear, but that was their market so what else could they do?

    For whatever reason, Disney chose not to add to Chicken the usual amount of adult trim jokes/verbalisms. The most cynical possibility is that they sensed most grown ups are fed up with the story of dangerous aliens landing, and expected to do better than War of the Worlds (since they had a more gullible audience).

  3. Coincidentally or not, the content is apparently awful. Steve Rhodes:
    “Our packed audience of kids and their parents was clearly not impressed. The comedy uses gags such as having Chicken Little being forced to run around in his tidy whities, much to his brief embarrassment, and showing small animals talking in mass on their cells phones. About the best that the movie can come up with is a barbell made out of two donuts and a pencil. If I ever smiled during the movie, I don't remember it.”

  4. Done in CGI, called 'Cookie Monster', with the bad guy voiced by Tom Sizemore?

updated: 2007-07-25


top 10 movie titles streaming into consciousness

The current top 10 movies in the the USA, in order:
Chicken Little     Jarhead  
Saw II     The Legend of Zorro
Dreamer     Good Night, and Good Luck
The Weather Man     Shopgirl

Streaming into consciousness are the shared themes:

A little chicken is a semi-frightened chicken which is a stupid chicken which will soon be a chicken with its head cut off (which is like someone with a jar on their head). Speaking of cutting flesh, saw's do it in II, and so does Zorro (in three neat strokes).

Less surgically and more optimistically, with good luck on a good night all of us manage to be dreamers. For instance, a weather man could make love to a shopgirl (in the unlikely event many sunny days are forecast and no killer sales are planned which would swamp the department store where she works).

The deep secret is that we all plan to flee these 'memes' but are always thwarted, as these days are all about many-digited numbers (and the chances the lottery lands on ours is the same as the chances ours is a prime).


the Star Wars movies compared to the Thousand-Hand Guan Yin

An explanation and video of a dance called the 'Thousand-Hand Guan Yin'  [faster download]

In the dance the Goddess is made up of many women. The eyes on the many hands represent her ability to see suffering in a lot of places. The hands represent her compassion.

human hands vs movie frames

Compare the hands of the dance to the frames as collected on a Star Wars fan page
“I trimmed 81 frames from the beginning of AOTC, 49 frames from ROTS, 25 frames from ANH, 25 frames from ESB, and 26 frames from ROTJ, so the first frame of the Star Wars logo in each movie coincides.”

When assembled by the human eye in both cases the ephemera merge into a being (or beings) that is a powerful friend with special powers.

Notably, even assembled both the dance and the movie use the theme of elegant coordination.1 Someone who unconsciously wants to know if he really has such a friend -and experencing that theme- might easily be compelled to study the orginal frames.2.

The Star Wars student goes so far as providing photos of the frames in order to demonstrate that 'The first appearance of Palpatine in TPM and AOTC is ON THE SAME FRAME'. He finds this one of many 'funny and cool coincidences'.

roughly speaking

  • The context of deafness -- The women in the dance are all deaf. And Lucas is so well-known for his tin ear, he once joked about another director, "before I met him [Francis Ford Coppola], I couldn't write a word, and now I'm the King of Wooden Dialogue".

  • the context of regeneration -- the Guan Yin bodhisattva represents 'a being who is enlightened and ready to transcend the cycles of birth and death'. While Lucas 'force' also passes thru these cycles by being carried in a priveleged family (Luke, his Dad, his sister, and so on).


This post is not commenting on the relative or absolute values of Buddhism or the Star Wars movies.

  1. In the case of the movie I refer to the use of light sabres.

  2. The ancient bodhisattva dance is more overt in this regard. Part of the reason, I guess, is because film has not always been around.



zombies agree to have their life story patented!

The USA issued its first patent to a storyline on Thursday, apparently.
Either someone is being witty, or the specific storyline and title is an ironic coincidence:
“Knight's story, The Zombie Stare, tells of an ambitious high school kid, consumed by the anticipation of college admission. He prays one night to remain unconscious until he gets the good news from MIT. The letter arrives - 30 years later, due to a postal error - and he wakes up. He soon discovers that, to all external observers, he has lived a normal life. Thus he endeavours to regain 30 years’ worth of memories, lost as an unconscious, philosophical zombie.”
I say much of the leadership of the US govt are themselves 'unconscious philosophical zombies' whose state also comes from being terrified of not being in the elite.
Agreeing that this is a terrible trend:
 -Most Slashdot posters
 -novelist/blogger 'storytelling' [details]

about MSNBC Jarhead review quote

A MSNBC review of Jarhead starts by quoting the book:
“All Vietnam films were pro-war, no matter what the supposed message, what Kubrick or Coppola or Stone intended … [They] watch the same films and are excited by them, because the magic brutality of the films celebrates the terrible and despicable beauty of their fighting skills ... Fight, rape, war, pillage, burn. Filmic images of death and carnage are pornography for the military man.”

from a novel by Tony Swofford,
based on his own experiences [ellipted]

The reviewer says this new movie -in its way- keeps true to this by having no battle scenes (thus being more effectively antiwar).

The reviewer then moves seamlessly from this subtle lw deconstruction into statements implying a rw reality!
  • it implies there are lots of exciting, honorable battles going on in Iraq that could have been put into the movie

  • it compares the movie to bad sex


lawyer joke

it speaks for itself:
“Not all of the justices admit to being so nervous, however. Asked to assess his prospects for losing his virginity within the next two months, a confident Scalia lifted his judicial robe and quipped, "Res ipsa loquitur".”


quick note: economics seminar

If you live in Washington, DC. and are into economics, You might want to go to a Dean Baker seminar on November 3. No charge.
[Videos of the series are online]

Baker's economic chops are considerable. And he does not a priori decide which conclusions he will come to before doing research.
[See for instance 'The Relative Impact of Trade Liberalization on Developing Countries'].