Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Final FC top 10

1. Barcelona
2. Juventus
3. Bayern Munich
4. Real Madrid
5. Paris St. Germain
6. Chelsea
7. Benfica
8. Arsenal
9. Atletico Madrid
10 Racing Club

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Brief Notes From the Gallery

I was there on Wednesday, when Nebraska became the most conservative US state by some measure to repeal the death penalty of it's own accord.  I felt the tension, at times feeling near-resigned that the 32 votes that sent the repeal to the governor's desk would be cut by political pressure to the 29 which would not be enough to override his veto.  This nearly happened, but in the end the bill was sustained by the 30 votes which were exactly enough; with Tyson Larson of O'Neil coming within micrometers of flipping to the good guys to make it 31.  There were at least half a dozen senators who spent this journey riding the fence between voting for/against the filibuster on the bill and the proper bill itself; and in watching the final debate on Wednesday it was clear that their flip-flops were not the result of bloodless calculation but of painfully sincere internal conflict.  It is only by the merest butterfly flap that this conservative state did the shockingly right thing.

Which brings me to say that though I hate 'horse-race' politics as much as anyone I cannot help but to remember the thrill of it all more than anything, the sight of yays and nays adding up on the board until the very last name, (Lincoln's own Baker) put repeal over the top, the explosion of applause.  As much as I try to realize that good should be done for it's own sake and fear those who seek to be a part of some Great Historical Epic, I cannot help but to have been enthralled by the gravity in that room, in the eyes of the world beaming down on my little prairie city and being personally invested in something.... well, Great.  I was a part of something historically Great and Good and  nothing can take this away from me.  I know that's not the point of it.  I know that getting the state out of the killing business is the point of it, that grinding away at the hierarchical worldview and self-righteous misanthropy that the death penalty embodies is the point of it.  It's not about giving any buzz of pride or purpose to myself and I know that but still 'I' was there and 'I' Was a Part of This.  You understand?   And though I hate 'Great Man' style thinking as much as anyone I cannot help but feel the greatest admiration for Senator Chambers, who is my hero thank you very much, at the way he stood confident and composed while his life's work hung on an atomic edge.  How the man stood sonfident and composed for forty years.

There was, quite naturally, a great deal of religious talk in the room, from both sides.  This is not really my cup of tea but of course I cannot control how other people reason.  Religion is rorschach; and what struck me about the religious arguments of death penalty supporters was how their faiths seemed much more about aggrandizing themselves than aggrandizing their god; speaking of 'not bearing the sword in vain' and generally betraying a belief (or more openly boasting than 'betraying') that all people outside of their pure communities of like minds are barbarians who must be controlled by fear to stave off chaos.  Senator Brasch of the rural northeast and North Platte's own Mike Groene were especially guilty off such talk. With Groene in particular hilariously claiming that 'justice does not change.'  As this man however mentally ill does not seem to be mentally challenged I assume he knows that English common law once executed people for minor pilfering and a hundred other things, that the death penalty has never been the natural common sense penalty for murder but has in fact been a means for authority that knows itself to be artificial to assert itself through horror.  And if 'justice does not change' than what anyway is the point of having living legislators debating proposed laws for the living? 

Such chowderheads have suffered a deep blow to their-self image here;  that of being part of the Red Nation of manly asskickers showing those hippie wimps on the coasts what's what.  They will naturally try to reinstate the death penalty here as quickly as possible through either the unicam or the ballot.  They could succeed, just as they could have just as easily have won this round as lost it.  But they aren't as guaranteed to succeed as they might think.  The status quo is on our side now.  There is meaningful power in this.  And there is some truth the fear of liberal slippery slopes.  Once everyone on a block realizes that all of them together have been secretly agreeing with the hippies this whole time things do begin to snowball.  We see this with current gay marriage and weed legalization movements.  Perhaps support for the death penalty remains a make-or-break requirement for the majority of Nebraska voters or perhaps not.  We shall see.  Come what may the great triumph for liberty that happened on Wednesday can never be taken from us, and we will never yield.

Monday, May 4, 2015

FC top 10

1. Bayern Munich\
2. Barcelona
3. Juventus
4. Real Madrid
5. Paris St. Germain
6. Chelsea
7. Cruziero
8. Benfica
9. Atletico Madrid
10 Manchester City

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Brief Childhood Notes

The worst injury of my life so far happened when I was nine years old.  I was riding my bike in flip flops that got caught in the slats of the pedals and left me unable to control where I was going.  I ended up plowing into an old chevy's rear windshield head first and splitting a section of my brow open down to the skull.  I remember looking at my reflection in the windsheild seeing the blood and feeling mortified.  I went to the nearest house for help which was a halfway house as it so happens.  I asked the recovering crack addict/car thief there if I was going to die and he said no.  He got the ambulance on the way got a towel for the bleeding and was perfectly kind in every way.  At the hospital the doc needed to scrape bits of glass off of my skull before he put in the stitches and this I'll always remember as very awful.  Overall the wound wasn't anywhere near life-threatening but I still remember feeling very sore and bruised if if I had the flu for several days after.  I can't imagine what the pain must be like for people who sustain truly dangerous injuries, a bullet to the liver with the bleeding stopped just in time or what have you.

On that note I recall someone else in the North Platte ER at the same time.  A visitor from Arizona who found out the wrong way that a scorpion had made home in their luggage.  Any one-doctor clinic in Nebraska has rattlesnake anti-venom but of course there's none such for scorpion stings, why would there be.  So the ER doc was on the phone with a Phoenix hospital trying to find out how to keep the victim alive and in agony long enough for her immune system to break down the venom without help. I would guess with some confidence if she survived.  It would have been major news if someone had died of a scorpion sting in North Platte, probably talked about to this day even, and there was no such news.  Still though.

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My classmate Tyler Heim (we weren't friends per se though we got along well enough) shotgunned the top of his head off in an apparent hunting accident out in the wilds beyond Imperial at the beginning of the 99-2000 winter.  All evidence, anyway, suggests that it was an accident.  They found the dead pheasant that he was apparently marching to retrieve when he slipped on a creek bank....; and of course deliberate suicides rarely have quite that much of an absurd spontaneity to them.  Still it is possible.  He was in some light legal trouble, harassing animals at the park or some such, and though he got only probation for it we all know how awful that first taste of trouble can be when you're young and you haven't experienced the real pain of ruin, mortality, existential dread.  He was also an infamously terrible student (as was I at the time) at a total loss for what to do after senior year was done. 

Still the evidence does point towards accident; and this brought great comfort to the surviving class of 2000.  Though at this point in my life I've no idea why.  The magnitude of my grief was based far more on being our first grief than whatever our personal closeness to the boy was.  He was buried at the Imperial cemetery, and I made the drive out to see him once or twice in my dying teens; feeling terribly sensitive and noble for doing so.  Now my grandparents are dead, my mother smokes at 57 and a pair of college classmates who were younger than me are gone.  Perspective. 

I've met Tyler's older sister three or four times in the years since and we've always get along well. She's married with kids teaching grade school in Denver or is it Littleton to be precise?  His parents kept the Christmas tree they were going to decorate on his return up for six months; all the way to the next summer when it had long gone to dead sticks. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

FC top 10

1.  Barcelona
2. Bayern Munich
3. Juventus
4. Real Madrid
5. Paris St. Germain
6. Chelsea
7. Porto
8. Cruziero
9. Atletico Madrid
10. Arsenal. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

FC top 10

1. Bayern Munich
2. Barcelona
3. Juventus
4. Paris St. Germain
5. Real Madrid
6. Cruziero
7. Atletico Madrid
8. Lyon
9. Arsenal
10. Porto

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

For Da Police

On Tuesday the unicameral was near-unanimous in support of a symbolic resolution giving police a pat on the back.        That was sweet of them, to be sure; and of course the resolution was drawn up in reaction to the latest controversy involving Senator Chambers.       Ernie's statement, for the record was an intentionally provocative statement in response to the sort of culture war tree pissing bill that has actually been historically rare in Nebraska, conservative as it indeed is.  A senator from the Sarpy County suburbs introduced a bill that would legalize concealed guns in bars & liquor serving restaurants, invoking ISIS & the 'radicalized world situation' as rationale.  It was precisely the sort of absurd, asinine, Merica Fuck Yeah statement (which again is comparatively rare in Nebraska government) that Ernie Chambers has always loved to pounce on with pungent reminders of real problems faced by real people, and he did indeed do his thing here. Bringing up tensions between the black community and police may seem irrelevant in this case but then what is 'relevant'  in the face of absurdity anyhow.  The truth is that there is indeed social privilege involved in an environment that not only encourages white male 'heads of household' to LARP as petty Lancelots but passes laws to support this childish fiction; and Chambers statement was again a deliberately brutal reminder that the government of a free people has real duties in the real world.

At any rate there is of course no actual contest between people who support the police and people who oppose them.  If those who theatrically support the police take pleasure in being more righteous than Others that deep down even they know aren't there than I suppose there's no stopping them. But of course only a tiny handful of dogmatic anarchists reject the utilitarian need for law enforcement; and of course it goes without saying, ( I know I say nothing radical here but only what people already know) that acknowledging the practical need for police does not in any way require a presumption that police are exceptionally virtuous.  Police work is not exceptionally dangerous  ( Thus not exceptionally heroic if one buys into that perverse reasoning) and there are few outside the jobs themselves who would suggest that plumbers electricians or dentists are entitled to admiration even though society does indeed require such skills.  People rob houses and people made of the same mischievous human stuff have to go catch them. There's an obvious 'Watching the Watchman' problem at work here.  And though democracy is theoretically designed to balance the practical need for authority with the dangers of authority it's quite clear that the balance is not yet ideal.  It simply does no good to wish police to be noble through force of will; and it is downright perverse to get a vicarious sense of power through identifying with someone else's civil authority and calling this duty.
I would like to close here by saying that even if one does think that the police are overwhelmingly good guys and that claims of institutional racism are overblown, even dangerous; well, I am not one to make a god of populist intuition.  To endow 'common sense' with infallible powers of determining truth is itself a defiance of common sense.  Inherent reasoning skills can and must be polished through education.  Even so I would go so far to say that our baseline powers of human reasoning are hardly weak, and that the reason that different communities perceive police as a positive or negative force it because of perfectly accurate perceptions of whether the police have been a positive or negative force upon their communities.  To put it more simply,  police are despised in places where it is not 'believed'; but factually known, that they have caused more harm than good.  One may say that you need only do nothing illegal and thus have no reason to fear the police.  Very well, yet in communities where the police are generally reviled; well, of course there's no such thing as criminality being general to any community.  Since society is nowhere near as racist as us liberals carry on and since you of course or no racist I'm sure you'd agree that in not even the most notorious urban neighborhood will one find vast rings of hoodlums eternally stealing the same wallet from each other like a line of cartoon food chain fish.

There is indeed a close relation between pharisaic shows of being pro-police and fantasies of shooting down terrorists in the Applebee's parking lot.  Both delusions are based on the presumption that people outside one's own social group are far more brutal and feral than any creature recognizable as human has ever been.  It is based on the presumption of being exclusively righteous and pure in a world full of devils; a world where only the brave violence of long, strong, big tall manly men (like oneself, naturally) can protect the small flames of decency from the savage human default.  If such a worldview is not based on racism per se; then it is a close enough sibling of racism to be the same moral poison.