Archives for category: confusion


It was way too early in the morning for me to spot this terrifying baby doll–a sure sign of a coming apocalypse.  What kind of  parent would put this doll in the hands of small child and expect that child to sleep at night?  “Why did they leave me in the rain?” It asked me. “I thought they loved me.” And then it pulled out a tiny, tiny pink chainsaw.

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Put a flower on the grave of this wacky experiment we call the internet, because it died today according to this guy on the Huffington Post.  That’s right folks, beloved Google joined forces with iron-fisted Verizon to suggest regulations for the internet.   Or I guess to agree with our evil corporate overlords that the internet should be controlled in certain instances.  And lord are some people making it sound terrifying.  Here’s Craig Aaron with HuPo:

“The deal would allow ISPs to effectively split the Internet into “two pipes” — one of which would be reserved for “managed services,” a pay-for-play platform for content and applications. This is the proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.

“The pact proposes to turn the Federal Communications Commission into a toothless watchdog, left fruitlessly chasing consumer complaints but unable to make rules of its own. Instead, it would leave it up to unaccountable (and almost surely industry-controlled) third parties to decide what the rules should be.”

Et tu, Google?

I still remember the glorious day in 1999 when Google entered my life–I was 17, scared, unable to research properly and my debate teacher brought in a research consultant to give the class some pointers. “I like a new search engine called Google,” she said.  And then–in the crazy heyday of useless search engines, Google consistently produced results that were in the ballpark of what I was looking for.  There had only been an internet in my life for three years.  I completed my final debate project using the internet to find relevant sources that I could cite.  That had never happened before Google.

Now I’ve let Google in–they hold over 8,000 of my emails in their cloud.  Their operating system runs my phone, my only phone, no land-line for me. I use their maps to find my way around town and their mapping trucks have taken photos of my mother’s house, garden and driveway and posted them for the whole world.

The primary colors made me think it was all bedrooms with dinosaur sheets and snoopy pillows on the bed for Google.  And they gave me a justifiable reason to play a round of Pac-Man at work.

Well it isn’t all tears and hairpulling and deleting of emails at duchess’s tonight–the New York Times reporting on today’s policy announcement makes it sound much more reasonable:

“According to the proposal, Internet service providers would not be able to block producers of online content or offer them a paid “fast lane.” It says the Federal Communications Commission should have the authority to stop or fine any rule-breakers.”

That’s what internet free-lovers want, right? Perhaps Google has joined the adult table on this because they must be a part of it somehow–frankly they are the internet to a lot of us. Perhaps they view this agreement as a chance for them to influence the discussion towards a less-regulated internet?  But couldn’t a corporation as large and influential as Google drive the policy more if they truly wanted a non-discriminating internet with no exceptions?

Oh Google–we’ll always have Gmail Paper.

Everyone is throwing around accusations today.  Hercule Poirot is on my television revealing a murder plot as I write.  How can such a demure Belgian be so terrifying?  “The HORNET it was already DEAD! You stung her with this.”  “Poirot, he remembers everything….anesthesia was your specialty long before psychiatry!”

Then there’s this post on Huffington that names “the 15 Most Overrated Contermporary American Writers” according to Anis Shivani, a fellow contemporary American writer.

“The language was already defeated.  You killed it with inscrutable line length!” As an MFA myself, it is easy to see how impenetrable contemporary literature is.  It was often hard to predict which poetry would be reviled and which would be hailed by my professors.  I have not read any of these poets or fiction writers in great enough depth to say whether they are truly overrated.  I have disliked poems by Jorie Graham and have actually felt that other poems communicated something to me. That’s always been the fundamental “moral core” of poetry to me–does the poem communicate something meaningful about humanity? Does the method of communication makes sense within the poem?

There is something so alluring about a hit piece like this, the open acknowledgment of the competitive and strangely political nature of academia-supported writing.  But I always wonder how much it helps to have a fellow writer sound such an alarm–it’s hard not to suspect the author’s motives.  Also, my MFA program paid me to write for two years.  Maybe it was pretentious and miserable, but I can’t argue with young writers getting paid to write.  And I met some great people.

Also I think Billy Collins not-so-secretly hates poetry.  Otherwise I can’t explain him.

Last August I had an opportunity to visit Japan for the first time.  It’s hard not to travel to a new country without preconceived notions of what one might encounter–and the more different a culture is from our own, the easier it can be to latch on to generalizations in order to understand the new situations we’re faced with.  To that extent, Japan fulfilled many of my expectations.  So many people were unabashedly warm and generous towards us–something I had hoped I would find after several wonderful experiences with Japanese people in the U.S. and in my other travels. There were many things I had seen referenced before in our pop culture (vending machines! little buildings! electronic everything! gorgeous landscape! unique religious practices! manga! inappropriate old men!) and on and  on and on.  But for every expectation fulfilled, a whole new set of questions would often open up.  To try to understand another culture is so often to understand only that it will never be understood…that is what I re-learned in Hiroshima.

I went to Hiroshima to understand war–but left knowing that it (and the things it drives people to do to one another) can never be understood.  Perhaps the terrible, uncertain narrative of war is why the facts become so tenuous.  In Hiroshima’s museum dedicated to the nuclear attack, the reason given for the United States’ use of nuclear weapons is cost. The argument is made that Americans wanted the bomb to be used because it had  already cost too much to make it–this certainly does not match how most Americans and many historians understand this shared history.  With lingering controversy over the purpose of and need for the bombing, it is hard not to question  the facts of August 6, 1945.

Today, for the first time since the bombing of Hiroshima, a U.S. envoy was present at the annual peace ceremony in Hiroshima to remember the victims of the atom bomb.  This visit reaffirms that even if our countries can not agree on the facts of that day and how we place responsibility, we can at least agree that a horrific amount of lives were taken, that our histories are united in that painful moment, and that those lives that were lost must be commemorated.

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled today that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.   I did not see this one coming, mainly because I stopped following this a couple of weeks ago–that is my overall irresponsibility!  Although I am relieved by the ruling, it’s pretty obvious that this decision will be appealed up to the Supreme Court.  The Paper of Record has a nice analysis of why Judge Walker is a legal hero (it involves logic and facts):

“And to that end, Judge Walker’s 136-page opinion lays a rich factual record, with extensive quotation of expert testimony from the lengthy trial. The 2008 initiative campaign to ban same-sex marriages was suffused, the judge said, with moral comparisons of these unions and heterosexual marriage, with the clear implication that “denial of marriage to same-sex couples protects children” and that “the ideal child-rearing environment” requires marriage between a man and a woman.

“Judge Walker wrote, however, that the Supreme Court has stated that government cannot enforce moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose. The judge suggested that the defendants shifted their arguments for the courtroom, with a focus on “statistically optimal” child-rearing households and by arguing that they were abiding by the will of California voters.

“California’s law, he wrote, demanded discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. “Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians,” he wrote, including the notion that “gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals” and “gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society.”

But alas, the Supreme Court is a great mystery because logic and facts cloud prejudgements (corporations are people now!). But even if the Supreme Court somehow overturns today’s ruling, I do feel the writing is on the wall for those who believe the institution of marriage is somehow better when it is based on discrimination.  Most people in my doomed generation (Millenials, the Dudes who Say ‘Sup, Ne0-Hobos–whichever you prefer) do support marriage equality.  Maybe we’re revolutionaries, but it make sense that marriage should be based on love.  Also stable, loving households–we need more of those–those make marriage look better.  When closeted people marry their  beards–that’s a marriage based on a lie–we need less of those.