04-15-2013: On the Futility of Terror

This wasn’t just an attack against the Boston Marathon. It was an attack against the American public and our democratic use of the streets. We have used our public roadways for annual parades, protest marches, presidential inaugurations, marathons, and all manner of other events. The roads belong to us, and their use represents an important part of our free and democratic tradition-- Amby Burfoot, Runner's World

Patriots Day is a holiday only celebrated in Massachusetts, which commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord and the start of the American Revolution. We Bostonians are quite proud of our city's role in the foundation of American democracy, but given the extent to which that celebration takes a back seat, you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole thing was just an excuse for us to have the day off so that we can watch the Boston Marathon. Boston being what it is, if the holiday hadn't existed already, we'd probably have invented it.

The race was founded in 1897, inspired by the success of an event held at the first modern Olympics. For distance runners around the globe, Boston is the marathon. Tell a marathoner anywhere in the world about making it over Heartbreak Hill, and odds are about even they'll know what you're talking about. Here, Marathon Monday is without any doubt the finest day on the calendar for sports fans. A Sox game begins at Fenway at the odd time of 11:05 so that when the game-- which is often memorable in its own right-- is over, the fans can leave the stadium and watch people finish the race. And they do.

It may seem somewhat odd that we let the day commemorating the Shots Heard Round the World be overshadowed by sport, but I'm as proud of that as anything else about the day. The state motto of Massachusetts is Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem, or "by the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty. Having won the war and achieved liberty, the celebration of armed resistance becomes a footnote to another Bostonian acheivement felt the world over, this one placed firmly in the category of peace. An international sporting event devoid of the pseudo-nationalism of team sports or the actual nationalism that creeps into the Olympics.

Ezra Klien speaks to this in a blog post titled, "If you are losing faith in humanity, go out and watch a marathon"

I've never run the Boston Marathon, but both my parents have, and I grew up watching it every year around the 20 mile marker with family. In a town that eats, drinks, breathes, sleeps, shits and fucks sports-- sometimes to the point of are-you-seriously-chanting-Yankees-Suck-at-a-game-against-the-Royals embarrassment-- the Marathon is a unique experience: a sporting event where everyone in the crowd stands in full-throated support of everyone in the race, whether they be from Boston, New York, Kansas City, or Kenya. The fact that nobody from Massachusetts has won it for over 30 years hasn't put a damper on our enthusiasm for it; all those who run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boylston Street are Bostonians as far as we're concerned. And the feeling, for some, is mutual; three time winner Cosmas Ndeti of Kenya went so far as to name his son Boston. Uta Pippig, who won it three times for Germany, became a US citizen in 2004 and now sits on the board of directors for MIT's AgeLab.

The race is an hours-long-miles-wide outdoor party where distance between spectator and participant is at some spots in the course reduced to the vanishing point. High-fives, cups of water, and words of encouragement are dispensed, more often than not from one stranger to another. When my mother ran Boston, there was nothing stopping me running alongside her to show support as she passed by. By the same token, there would have been nothing to stop me from ruining Ndeti's record-setting performance in '94, but that shit just doesn't happen. Who would fuck with the Boston Marathon?


Three people lost their lives yesterday, one of whom was only eight years old. Many lost limbs, and close to two hundred were injured. More still were struck with terror at having witnessed the violence firsthand, or robbed of the fruit of their months-long labor of devotion by the actions of someone who very likely has no clue what those athletes put themselves through to get to where they were. As such, I'm going to try to keep the narcissism to the bare minimum, but I can't help but take it personally. Marathon Monday is a part of my identity, and Copley Square is one of my favorite haunts. Those hurt were my people. Lacking any information about the piece of human filth who saw fit to visit carnage upon what I consider to be a piece of myself, I've felt the urge to add to the ugliness. To yell at the friend of mine who commented that they were doing the "hip" thing by posting to Facebook that they were alright. To personally hound and shame everyone who tweeted about the attack with the hashtag #BostonMassacre. To hitchhike down to Texas, beat the ever-loving shit out of Alex Jones and tell him that Michael Moore sent me.

As always seems to happen in times such as these, my rage was quelled by the extent to which our better angels were on display. The people who ran towards the blast when it wasn't at all clear what was going on, save for the fact that others were in need. The runners who crossed the finish line without breaking pace and continued on for two miles to the hospitals so that they could give blood after running their asses off for over four hours. The volunteers, EMTs, trauma surgeons et al who kept far more people alive than could have reasonably been expected. The ordinary citizens who offered up their homes to those displaced by the attack. The local businesses which bid anyone come and eat, drink, charge their phones and pay only if they could. The runners everywhere who vowed to return the next year. In their actions and more, Boston responded to tragedy in a spirit befitting a holiday which commemorates the bravery of those who decided long ago that they would not allow their lives to be controlled by others through violence.

All of which is to say that regardless of who placed those bombs, why they did it, or who else might have been involved, I can tell you that the story of April 15th, 2013 is the story of the futility of terrorism. Not because I share the certainty of some that those involved will meet justice; at this point, that cannot be known. But a community does not withstand terror by punishing its perpetrators. We withstand terror by refusing to be terrorized. By not allowing a freak occurrence inflicted upon us by cowards and thugs to change us or the way we live our lives. Terrorism is rare, it is difficult, and it is the work of inferior minds. Its success relies entirely upon our own co-operation. We can learn from these events, and make strategic corrections where they reveal gaps in our security. But in a year's time, we will have another marathon, and we must not consume ourselves with rendering it impervious to terror. We would surely fall short of the mark, and in so doing sacrifice the communion between athlete and fan that makes Marathon Monday a treasure of life in Boston. The quality which we cannot bestow upon our public gatherings is one which we must instill in ourselves. And when we do that, the world will know us to be the victors.

Everything I'm hearing suggests that we're going to get the response right this time. I plan on doing my part to make sure we do.

Our institutions did not become great by following a path of timidity and cowardice. And we can only hope that, when pummeled, as the Boston Marathon was today, they will rise again, stronger than ever.-- Burfoot


If you can make it here... and back again

A minor god stirred uncomfortably in his sedan bed. The circumstances of his conveyance were well short of expectations, and he hadn't the faintest idea why.

He had taken great care in selecting his high priestess and up until now she had been properly attendant to the various rituals required to nourish his divine essence.


To be perfectly honest, her efforts at recruiting new followers had been meager at best. There was really only the one, not counting a handful of casual worshippers who would only occasionally show up at the temple on the high holy days. Or what they seemed to think were the high holy days.

They did certainly seem enthusiastic, at any rate.

The daily sacrifices had been forthcoming, if without the degree of pomp and circumstance one normally expected from that sort of thing.

And in truth, his exhaustive search had pretty much begun and ended with her. The gods of rain and thunder were dogging his footsteps, he'd seen her through the window and made a snap decision. Something about the hair and the eyes... but she'd proven herself fluent in the divine tongue, hadn't she?

It didn't make any sense. The temple was in disarray-- he had thought that the giant carrying boxes of holy artifacts out the door had been a raider until the high priestess and her consort assisted them-- and here he was being carried in a third-rate carriage to god only knows where.

Which god he had no idea, The others whom he had conferred with at the temple upstairs (the nerve of these humans. At least he had one of his own, and it wasn't a walk-up) were of no help.

Worse, She continued to refer to him by the name of a far more powerful god of his pantheon. Did they all look the same to her? It scarcely seemed possible. That fellow had longer ears, a ridiculous nose and mouth, and far more important responsibilities. He now sat in a box at the lap of his high priestess, who was sitting on (in?) a rather large specimen of the local metal beasts.

And now the beast had begun to lurch back and forth

This wouldn't do at all. The small god let loose his full fury.

Aw fuck!

What happened?

You guys, Anubis just pissed and shat the carrier.

FRAMINGHAM, MA--  We had made it 30 of the 225 miles to a chunk of Brooklyn full of barely-converted lofts which will no doubt become the next East Coast hipster Mecca once the final consensus has been reached that Williamsburg is 'over.' For the record, I can more than see the appeal. The residential hub growing on the skeleton of defunct industrial space has the air of an urban coral reef, with quite a bit of impressive use of what was already lying around. And where this is good for artists and entrepreneurs, it's bad for corporate brands. I didn't see any evidence of a national chain the whole time I was there.

We had planned to leave two hours prior, and were expected to arrive two hours hence, so that my passengers might pick up their keys and, you know, actually move into their goddamned apartment tonight.

Actually pulling over to the rest stop was a somewhat tricky maneuver  because that involved a lot of merging to the right, which meant borrowing the eyes of the crimson-haired witch riding shotgun, as the now-putrid cat carrier on her lap was obstructing my view of the mirror.

Forty minutes, some scrubbing, two cigarettes, half a can of deodorizer, and a layer of  kitty litter added to the floor of the cat carrier and we were back on the road, almost certain to be more than an hour late.


"You look like a man who needs a drink."

I told him about the drive down, having to pay the toll for the RFK Bridge out of pocket (in fairness, neither of my friends had ever driven in New York City and they more than made it up to me, but that hadn't happened yet), getting yelled at for not mounting the curb in a 14' box truck in order to make a K-turn, the dusty-ass half-finished loft that was being pawned off on them while their actual apartment was being finished, a brief barrage of shouting that belonged to a man who had, it turns out, a faulty definition of the word "hopefully," and the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy photos used as evidence against us..

"So, basically, like I said."

"Pretty much."

"As your attorney I suggest you go over there and get a PBR and a whiskey shot. It's three dollars. Then do that a couple of more times. It'll be great."

Gotham City Lounge is a tiny bar on Myrtle Ave in Bushwick, Brooklyn. One unisex bathroom lit with a dim red light, a pool table with a ten degree tilt towards the corner pocket closest to the door, a Marvel Versus Capcom arcade cabinet, and a wallful of DC comics iconography. In other words, a nerd dive bar.

Pretty much the perfect place to meet someone I used to play D&D with in high school. Especially after the hit my wallet had taken earlier.


You can have all these for free so long as I never see you playing with that premade beginner deck again.

My life has been blessed from point A by an abundance of generous nerds. Often in ways far more beneficial, but for someone I saw mostly at lunchtime and often not even then, the huge pile of Magic cards on the table was pretty fucking good.

Thanks, man. That's awesome

No problem.

John Ezzard was a somewhat tightly wound, weird, smart, good kid. This gesture was no doubt borne out of a sampling of those attributes. He genuinely wanted me to have the kind of library of cards that one needed to have on hand to build a deck that could compete (or really have any frame of reference whatsoever for what was good), and he also genuinely didn't want anyone to be sitting at his table with the weak shit I'd been bringing lately, having just recently started playing..

I feel positively shitty that I can't think of a damn other thing from then I could possibly write about him. People who took a better effort to get to know him have better stories to tell, but in my world, he was just someone who existed on the periphery, quietly being a pretty cool guy.

So it goes...

"Twenty-eight years old and dead of a fucking heart attack. I haven't said so much as a word to him since graduation. Then I get an invite to his funeral from his fucking Facebook account."

"Same here, man. Shit ain't right. I just found out that one of my friends from middle school got stoned and killed his friend in a car crash. Now he's looking at jail time."

"Man, the kid who hit ahead of me in little league got the other end of that shit. And the driver was an asshole from my Scout troop who hid behind his older brother whenever someone stopped taking his shit with a smile. Not the first car he wrecked, nor was it the second car his mother bought for him.

"... Are we one-upping each other with this shit now?"

"... uh, kinda..."

"Man, if there's some cosmic force that's decided that we aren't already perfectly aware of our mortality, it can take the next dozen or so years off if it likes"

"It won't."


This was two weeks before Sandy Hook. A lot has been said about that tragedy that doesn't need to be repeated here, but my hope for the survivors is this: That one day, a couple of decades from now, they are able to drink beer with good friends and joke darkly about it.

My friend re-joined the people he'd arrived with as I got another round. I walked up to him as a tall blonde woman tried to make a point about descriptive linguistics.

"That went way over my head. Probably because I've been drinking since eight. But here, Let me refer you to my smarter counterpart. This is Pat. At any time of night, when I'm drunk, stoned, or drunk and stoned, I come to him with my shit and he always responds in a way that's helpful and enlightening."

A superlative introduction by someone who was instrumental in my learning how to be cool, as a nerd. In the early days of this blog, I might have introduced him similarly.

My new acquaintance and I proceeded to tipsilly argue about "irregardless," "decimate,"  and "enormity" until people needed to leave. We were in perfect agreement about irony, which is kind of refreshing in that neck of the woods.

On the way home, the downside of the neighborhood became apparent on the way back to my friends' new would-be apartment when I found that the 24 hour grocery operated through a bullet-resistant package passer after midnight.

There is only one way it is possible for me to ride in a Fung Wah bus without coming out of it with banged up knees, and that's getting to the front of the line. They cram a seat anywhere they can manage, and as such there's only one on each bus where I can sit; the one in the very back, right in the center of the bus. No seat belt, nothing to hold on to.

There are worse ways to travel.

I hope that those who are observing (or, as is more likely given the time of posting, have already observed) any of the holidays that fall upon the Solstice enjoy(ed) them thoroughly.


Because I can't think of another title that fits this conceit

The focus of my last two posts have been mostly about things that I did during Firefly, which is an occasional pitfall of how I tend to write about these sort of things, but seems out of keeping with the spirit of the event. There were over thirty theme camps at Firefly, and most of them had at least one thing about them that was positively stunning. Camp Totenkitten featured a torch standing possibly 40 feet tall which delivered a burst of flame from one or more of 9 nozzles facing in different directions when you pressed the arcade buttons on the control panel, and a cuddle-pit filled with pillows featuring a projector and screen which showed prior footage from a webcam pointed at the selfsame pit. Camp Retarded Lions had hammocks hanging one over the other, and a gigantic net suspended up above that people could hang out in. Bring a Cup was a theme camp devoted to delicious homebrew beer.

I spent quite a bit of time at Bring a Cup.

Many of the camps had outdoor nightclub-ish setups (including ours, though the extent to which we were outclassed in that regard is part of the reason I didn't serve many drinks). Some featured space for object manipulators and firespinners to perform. One camp had a suspension rig set up between two trees.

A lot of people experienced things for the first time there, both because there was quite a lot to experience and because we were in a safe space surrounded by people who genuinely wanted every single person they encountered to have a good time. Some of those things were chemicals. You would be surprised by the relative lack of people freaking the fuck out because of this. And the extent to which people were ready to care for the few marginal cases.

In addition to group projects, there was quite a bit of individual art that kicked ass. To be quite honest, cataloging any significant portion of it would be beyond the reaches of my memory, but I will share with you my favorite bit of performance art of the week, courtesy of a new friend I made at the Bad Faerie camp.

In the wake of the Republican Speaker of Michigan's lower house denying speaking privileges to State Representative Lisa Brown-- a Democrat who took to the floor and give a speech that ended with "I'm very flattered to see how interested you all are in my vagina, but no means no," in response to the latest local skirmish in the Republican War on Women-- this self-described Sparkle Warhorse (a reclamation of "Sparkle Pony," which refers to someone who shows up under-prepared for survival and over-prepared for general fabulousity) decided that this could not be allowed to stand. So she suited up to proselytize about the beauty and wonder of the vagina.

After explaining to people what she was on abut, she proceeded to knight those supportive to the cause who swore an oath to uphold and defend the rights and awesomeness of vaginae everywhere. She then bestowed upon them a vaginal name. I was the first person to be so dubbed. I am now Sir Spam Purse of Camberville.

There's a reason why I've seen fit to fill three posts about this event. For four days in the woods, I was able to experience what it's like to exist in a space where there are no constraints on expressing oneself except that I not ruin the space or hamper anyone else's self-expression. Does that mean that the person who people met at Firefly, who was often wearing nothing other than underwear, a hat, a pair of black faeire wings, shoes, and stockings is the real me, and way I present myself in public is just a costume? No. Well, not exactly. We take greater advantage of freedoms we don't always have when we have them, which is why at the moment I'm typing this I'm not wearing anything at all.

Also, it's not like the limits placed on my behavior and my self-expression here in Somerville, MA are exactly smothering.

This is uh, how I dress about 80% of the time that there's a party to go to.

When I go out for a walk dressed like that in Cambridge or Somerville, most people I see on the street don't bat an eyelash, and when they do say anything about my attire the positive comments vastly outnumber the negative. Which isn't actually surprising, when you consider that if you divide the population of Somerville by profession, artists make up a plurality. Of course, it's a relatively small bubble. In Boston proper an old man once did a double-take as I walked past and exclaimed, "Holy Toledo! A he-she!"

I can't tell you how much I love the fact that I was there when an actual person actually said that..

I've been extremely happy with the place I live now, and the people around me, but spending time in an autonomous zone beyond the grasp-- if not the reach-- of the law and of societal convention threw the compromises I make every day in order to participate in civilization into sharp relief. Of course, my access to white hetero cisgendered male privilege means that I get off relatively light in this regard, but that doesn't make it appreciably less frustrating. Four days in the woods once a year isn't enough. I want real life to be this beautiful.

The problem with this, of course, is that Firefly is made up of people who consented to spend four days without (many) rules or currency. As the right to smoke a plant that grows in the goddamn ground has only recently become a majoritarian proposition, women still can't take their tops off in places where men rarely keep them on, and the populace has quietly acquiesced to the notion that being photographed with a drink in your hand can disqualify you for a job, I doubt that the glorious revolution of self-dominion is just around the corner. And, I mean, even I don't want all of the conditions of Firefly to exist everywhere, at all times.

Still, I'm not going to give up on the idea of imbuing my new hometown-- if not the rest of the world-- with some measure of what I found out there in the woods with all of those wonderful naked people.

I'll let you know when I figure out how.


Because I can't ever just tell a goddamn story in the right order

This continues the story I started to tell in my previous post

For me, the extent to which I find myself entangled with people I know because of things that happened on the Internet has served as a kind of constant reminder of the forces of chaos constantly at  work in our lives. Hell, the result of the random number generator behind the "Next Blog" button has led to palpable real-world consequences for me. Which, in the scheme of things, is unremarkable. Random events govern what happens on any given day in any given life, but individually they can be easy to miss. On the Internet, however, there are records, and you can find your way back to the literally random input that changed everything with a good enough memory and, of course, Google.

As it happens, the story that I kind-of-sort-of started to recount the other day happened because of a hat. More specifically, because I decided to change my profile picture on the dating site that I only ever joined because of a test that Bone posted about on his blog, which Pia also took and posted about on her blog.

Did uh, did anyone else do anything with that site besides take the quiz?

The photo in question is the one that I've been using for my avatar. As it happens, when you change anything in your profile on OKCupid, its algorithm gives you a bump. One of the people to whom my profile was bumped clicked through specifically because of the hat, the long hair, and the pirate flag. Her name is Emily, and she's a human statue performer, a leatherworker, a filmmaker, and a firespinner. The first time we hung out, about a year or two ago, we spoke for two solid hours sitting atop a 300 year-old crypt. The second time was at Figment Boston, where we sat in a dome littered with rose petals, pedaled to keep the music playing while people danced, and just generally appreciated the fuck out of the various works of guerrilla art taking up temporary residency on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. She told me that there was a sort of bigger, week-long version of Figment that happened every year out in the woods of Vermont called Firefly, and that she'd be going for the first time next month.

A month later, it did not take very long at all for her to convince me that I needed to be at the next one. Really all it took was the name drop of the camp I mentioned in the previous post. She and a few others had formed a small sub-camp within it called the Bad Faeries, a concept which she intended to visit upon next years festival in full form. A plan slowly took form over the course of the year, and three art grants were applied for and received. There would be a hookah lounge, a faerie wing creation station, a dj setup, a dance floor, a bar, and a horde of mythological creatures shrunken and suspended in light-reactive liquid hanging in jars all over the camp. The bar was my responsibility.

At first, when I thought I'd have funding (or the spare cash to underwrite the project myself), I'd intended on building a machine out of wood, rope, and pulleys that would, from the perspective of the thirsty visitor, pour measured amounts of uncooled booze at the pull of a lever into a bubbling cauldron spewing colored mist, from whereupon a straight-up, undiluted, cold drink would be conjured. It's a marriage of barcraft and stagecraft I had wanted an excuse to build for some time, but which ultimately wasn't in the cards. As plans shifted, it also became clear that there wasn't room for, well, anything else in any of the cars or trucks going up to Vermont. I would be heading up with six buckets, some twine, some duct tape, and twelve pounds of dry ice. I would, presumably, figure it out when I got there.

I was riding with Helen, who I would also be bunking with for the trip.

Oh, that's right, I haven't introduced you all to Helen. Dear readers, this is Helen. We've been together since November of 08

She moved to the Boston area after having traveled to the city the previous September, along with about a thousand other nerds (myself included) from various locales who showed up at the coordinates cited in this xkcd comic. She and five other people who met there moved into an apartment in Somerville, which became one of the main places where people in the newly formed social circle of xkcd fans in the area gathered. Yadda yadda yadda now we live together. Anyways, there was time during the drive up to experiment with the excess dry ice that didn't fit inside the foil-and-styrofoam box that actually stood a chance of keeping it in solid form for the duration of the trip. I learned two things.

(1) dry ice is awesome
(2) carbonated iced coffee is weird.


Because the Heavy Metal Strippers Will Keep the Bears Away


And that's the last of it!

The heavyset man behind the camp stove bellowed to all that would hear. He emptied the final bag of uncooked bacon onto the oversized cast-iron pan he was laboring over. Over four days, fully 92 pounds of bacon had been prepared on that stove, in that camp. Cheers went up as people briefly turned away from the firebreather (who had until then been the center of attention) to sample the latest output. Teriyaki bacon, roasted garlic bacon, and Cajun bacon were laid out for any present to consume.

92 pounds? That's about what I weigh!

I looked down to see a pixielike woman standing dressed in tiny black shorts, a scarf, and some bellydancer jewelry.

She put her arm around my midsection. "I hope you don't think this is weird, but I just love tall people. I'm so jealous... do you think you could let me ride on your shoulders?"

Naturally, I obliged. We went back down to the performance pit, where a long-haired man in a black Utilikilt was swinging a flame axe to Aenima by Tool, flanked by a shirtless muscley dude and a tall, skinny woman in a bikini, each of them working a stripper pole. We joined crowd of onlookers gathered at a safe distance wearing varying amounts of clothing who were dancing as they watched the performance.

When the song was over I knelt to let her off of my shoulders. Her feet touched the ground and we were at eye level.

Now you know what the world looks like to me

Actually, I assume this position all the time

Really... do you do partner acrobatics?

Huh? no, I just have a lot of friends who I'm closer to eye level with when I kneel

Oh, because you look like you have the build for it. Put your hands right above my knees for a second

She proceeded to teach me a number of tricks that involved lifting her over my head as she balanced in a pose, and ended by doing a handstand on my shoulders.

You really haven't done this before?

Onlookers did not act as if anything was out of the ordinary, and it wasn't. Not at the Firefly Arts Festival, and certainly not at Camp Heavy Metal Bacon Strippers. Here, 3/4-naked people being casually awesome was expected in very much the same way that, on a normal day, one might expect to drink coffee in the morning. And this in no way detracts from the individual experience of doing awesome things.

The rules of the road of any given burn (the catch-all term for events like Firefly) are designed to create that kind of atmosphere Aside from the ten principles of Burning Man, there are three main rules that govern Firefly:

(1) Leave No Trace (admittedly, one of the ten principles)
(2) Have Fun
(3) Safety Third

This would explain why someone would trust their safety to a complete stranger whose sobriety was never explicitly confermed

When she was done teaching me things, we formally introduced ourselves and parted ways. There was much more adventure to be had, and only a day and a half left to have it.

More to come...


Spam, Spam, Spam, John Bolton, Spam, Spam and Spam

I actually find myself partially agreeing with John Bolton about Russia. Not that we should back away from arms control-- Bolton would suggest that on any day ending in -y. But it might be a good idea to push forward on missile defense in Europe so that we have something utterly inconsequential on the table that we can give up so Putin can stop making the situation in Syria and still be able to declare victory when he goes back to the harem of half-tiger dancing girls whom I assume will be waiting for him in Moscow.

I am, of course, suspicious of any time I even superficially agree with someone who sees the UN as legitimate only when it serves his neoconservative agenda. Especially since his proscriptions are being offered in the context of there needing to be a fundamental shift in the strategic realities in the Middle East if we are to see peace there (Ok, what he said was "advance legitimate American interests," and he almost certainly meant something else by that, but seeing as peace is the only legitimate American interest in the Middle East, that's what I'm running with.) Seeing as Russia's sociopathic behavior on the world stage more or less stems from concern about the expansion of American geopolitical capital, it's hard to see how we're going to save any lives in Syria by telling them, for instance, that we have no interest in pursuing agreements aimed at preventing the militarization of space.

Pounding our chest at Russia and saying "come at me, bro," is many things, but it's not strategic. Where there is a whisper of kinda-maybe truth is that Putin, keen political operator that he is, is likely basing his posture via a vis the US on how the President has dealt with bald faced unprincipled intransigence at home. If that's the case, and this is a matter of Putin crowding the plate, as it were, it's because he doesn't think that Obama has it in him to brush him back. If so, it's possible that it might be  tactically sound to give him some chin music. But all that can possibly do is get him to take half a step back. It isn't going to win the ballgame. The only way to win the ballgame is to ultimately find a way to make peace with Russia and Iran without giving away the store. Honestly? I don't remotely have the policy chops to tell you how that's going to happen (working on it). I am, however, keenly aware of what not to do.

On an unrelated note, I would like to ask people who are posting this image on social networks to please fucking stop

Congrats, folks! You've found a way to save less than 1% of the deficit whilst giving members of Congress further incentive to seek outside income! You know, the outside income they get by investing on inside information and taking high-paid gigs from the people who were lobbying them while they were supposedly serving our interests. This is no different than Republicans going after foreign aid or funding for the arts. You can fundamentally believe that the people who are receiving this money don't deserve it, but pretending that cutting it off is going to solve any problem is severely fucking delusional. It's the sort of thing that distracts us from, you know, actually solving our numerous problems as a nation.


On this day...

Twenty-seven years ago today (and three hundred forty-nine days before I would be alive), my dear friend Cooper came into this world.

 Surely, one of the better days for the planet.

 We've shared an overlapping corner of the blogosphere for a little more than seven years now (Holy fuck, Batman!) and  I have been infinitely grateful for it. Cooper has challenged me intellectually, engaged with me (and against me, as it were, in arguments that left many others exhausted. We collaborated on two short lived group blogs of our own and one whose failure had nothing to do with us. Our instant message conversations have made the greatest hits list of one Ms. Pia Savage. Not everyone else got it. There's much, much more to be said, but I'm up against midnight and it's important that this get out on the right day. So let me just say Happy Birthday, Cooper. I hope it's been a great one.