Name: William Rivers Pitt
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 57,456
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 57,456
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I'm not sure how according-to-Hoyle this is as a GD post, but here goes.
I found out on Monday that one of my oldest and dearest friends - my college roommate, Jamaica Plain roommate, South End roommate, and partner in crime for years that included a run of madness in San Francisco - had died suddenly. The news frankly obliterated me; I've lost plenty of dear people, including all four grandparents and the parents of many good friends, but Fitz was three years younger than me, and was royalty in my core crew.
I've been a pudding since I got the news...and then a friend sent me this. I'm still in utter anguish, but reading this helped to quiet the banshee scream in my head just a bit, and that is frankly a mercy beyond measure.
I know there are a whole lot of people here who have also lost someone who was utterly irreplaceable, some very recently. This really helped me. I hope it helps you. I'm not sure of the original source, but it is, basically, a eulogy from a physicist.
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen.
Posted by WilliamPitt | Fri Nov 21, 2014, 08:32 AM (41 replies)
There was this guy I met in college who had the wicked pissah Woburn accent. He was ten feet tall, with bright green eyes, and handsome in the way that makes you hate handsome guys like that just a little bit even though he's you're friend. The funniest guy in the room, and hilariously OCD; we'd rearrange the books in his dorm room ever so slightly, and he'd walk in, put the books back in order again, sit down, crack a beer, and tell us to fuck ourselves with this megawatt smile on his face. Smart as all get-out; he took a class titled "How to Make an Atomic Bomb" thinking it was a history class, found out it was a hardcore physics/engineering class, stuck with it, and aced the goddam thing anyway.
After college, I moved to San Francisco, and bugged him to move there until he did. He bought two motorcycles and promptly wrecked them both, but made a home for himself, and we had good great grand and wild times. I left to return to Boston after two years, and he stayed, and a few years later I happened to look across the bar at the Plough & Stars in Cambridge, and big as life, there he was. We were roommates on Washington Street in Jamaica Plain, and on Wellington Street in the South End after that, and then he met a no-shit goddess, and moved out to get married.
I just found out that he died on Monday. My heart is...what? I don't frankly know. I have no words for how I feel.
His name was Brian Fitzgerald - "Fitz" to his friends - and he was one of the most remarkable people I've ever been privileged to know.
Posted by WilliamPitt | Wed Nov 19, 2014, 06:07 PM (8 replies)
And fuck any politician who tries to fob this disaster off on us.
Fuck you and your re-election hopes. The Senate is already gone. Lose like a winner, and go home without "Judas" hanging around your neck on oiled chains for all of history to see.
Fuck every single politician and the petro-donations given to your campaign and your party. You're already dead to me for touching that filthy money in the first place.
Our old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death-funnel that would bring the world's dirtiest fossil fuel down through the most arable farmland in the hemisphere and to the refineries along the Gulf Coast, and thence to the world, has revealed in itself an incredible capacity to make people act stupidly. It has moved beyond being a public policy issue among the ascendant Republican party, and within the movement conservatism which is that party's only remaining animating force. It has moved beyond being a financial windfall for the plutocrats whose money has been rendered the lifeblood of our politics, on both sides, but especially among the Republicans, who share a few more of the plutocracy's ultimate goals than do the Democrats. Among the Republicans, and among their most fervent political zealots, the pipeline has become an ideological fetish object, something to which fealty must be paid, a measure of loyalty and devotion to every other part of the political faith, a lasting symbol of triumph over the other side, like the steles erected in Mesopotamia or the pyramids.
Its essential utility, its negligible economic impact, the environmental peril presented by the toxic goo it will carry through the fragile breadbasket of the country, the demonstrable bad-faith and neglect of the foreign corporation that will benefit from it, the blatant disregard of all potential (and, I would argue, inevitable) catastrophes inherent in the project -- all of these are beside the point. The Keystone XL pipeline must be built because it is the Keystone XL pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline must be built only so that the people who oppose it are defeated. The Keystone XL pipeline must be built because it is no longer a construction project, it is an article of the conservative faith.
Actually, science says that the stuff that the pipeline will carry is best left in the ground. Journalism says that the State Department report was put together by a firm with close business ties to TransCanada, the Canadian corporation that is the only entity in the world that actually will profit from the project. And, when I first heard about the project, at that 2011 tent revival down in Florida, there was talk of thousands and thousands of good-paying jobs and gas prices down into the double-digits again. Now, thanks to the delay, and to the laudable agitation by the likes of Bill McKibben and the Bold Nebraska crew, even TransCanada admits that it's the permanent jobs that will total in the double digits, and Brooks can only meep about an economic impact that "isn't huge," and that the pipeline is merely a "modest-to-good" idea.
Yeah, we can't get a highway bill passed, and our bridges are falling down, and the entire rest of the world is leaving us behind on high-speed rail, but we should put in a pipeline as an "infrastructure project," and that's not even to mention the well-paying clean-up jobs that will appear as soon as the thing leaks and poisons the Ogallala Aquifer. But Brooks's muted assessment of the pipeline's benefits are not his real reason why it should be built. According to him, the pipeline should be built as a demonstration that the president "gets" the message sent a couple of weeks ago by 52 percent of the 38 percent of eligible voters who bothered to get off the couch. The pipeline should be built as a symbol of a new commitment to "governing." It should be built as the ultimate hippie punch. It should be built simply because it...is. Throw the bone into the air, David. Maybe it will turn into a spaceship.
President Lincoln used to tell an amusing anecdote about a little girl who ate too much, beginning with a bunch of raisins. She got stomach-sick and began vomiting, and kept at it and at it, and her parents asked after a fashion if she was OK, and she surveyed the damage and said, "Well, I'm down to raisins."
We are down to raisins.
They're about to start fracking the largest national forest on the East coast. They're planning a new fracked-gas pipeline through my very own back yard. Billions of gallons of fracking wastewater wound up in California's aquifers, and California has very very very very little water to spare right now.
Oh, and tar sands oil is poison. Dead-bang no-bullshit poison...and pipelines leak. All of them, every time.
Where do you stand?
Posted by WilliamPitt | Tue Nov 18, 2014, 04:56 PM (16 replies)
"Every dollar that we spend on fossil fuel development and use is another dollar we spent digging the graves of our grandchildren. And I'm not going to be a part of it anymore. I'm through."
- Tom Harkin
That is exactly and precisely how the actual fuck you say that.
Period. End of file.
Posted by WilliamPitt | Tue Nov 18, 2014, 03:56 PM (57 replies)
Deep thanks for the invite.
Seems to be a push-back against the BOG. Can we call it GOB?
Let's get to work.
Posted by WilliamPitt | Sun Nov 16, 2014, 11:36 AM (31 replies)
...and somehow, my front walk turned into a giraffe!
Posted by WilliamPitt | Fri Nov 14, 2014, 10:12 AM (7 replies)
President Obama winged off to Asia late last week to stump for the job-killing corporate-coronating TPP...
Senate Democrats are as we speak whipping votes for the Keystone XL pipeline...
...and the administration is deploying at least 1,500 more troops to Iraq.
Tell me again: Who needs Republicans?
Posted by WilliamPitt | Thu Nov 13, 2014, 03:14 PM (193 replies)
And then suddenly he saw. He had a vision of himself as a new kind of Christ as a man who carries within himself all the seeds of a new order of things. He was the new messiah of the battlefields saying to people as I am so shall you be. For he had seen the future he had tasted it and now he was living it. He had seen the airplanes flying in the sky he had seen the skies of the future filled with them black with them and now he saw the horror beneath. He saw a world of lovers forever parted of dreams never consummated of plans that never turned into reality. He saw a world of dead fathers and crippled brothers and crazy screaming sons. He saw a world of armless mothers clasping headless babies to their breasts trying to scream out their grief from throats that were cancerous with gas. He saw starved cities black and cold and motionless and the only things in this whole dead terrible world that made a move or a sound were the airplanes that blackened the sky and far off against the horizon the thunder of the big guns and the puffs that rose from barren tortured earth when their shells exploded.
That was it he had it he understood it now he had told them his secret and in denying him they had told him theirs.
He was the future he was a perfect picture of the future and they were afraid to let anyone see what the future was like. Already they were looking ahead they were figuring the future and somewhere in the future they saw war. To fight that war they would need men and if men saw the future they wouldn't fight. So they were masking the future they were keeping the future a soft quiet deadly secret. They knew that if all the little people all the little guys saw the future they would begin to ask questions. They would ask questions and they would find answers and they would say to the guys who wanted them to fight they would say you lying thieving sons-of-bitches we won't fight we won't be dead we will live we are the world we are the future and we will not let you butcher us no matter what you say no matter what speeches you make no matter what slogans you write. Remember it well we we we are the world we are what makes it go round we make bread and cloth and guns we are the hub of the wheel and the spokes and the wheel itself without us you would be hungry naked worms and we will not die. We are immortal we are the sources of life we are the lowly despicable ugly people we are the great wonderful beautiful people of the world and we are sick of it we are utterly weary we are done with it forever and ever because we are the living and we will not be destroyed.
If you make a war if there are guns to be aimed if there are bullets to be fired if there are men to be killed they will not be us. They will not be us the guys who grow wheat and turn it into food the guys who make clothes and paper and houses and tiles the guys who build dams and power plants and string the long moaning high tension wires the guys who crack crude oil down into a dozen different parts who make light globes and sewing machines and shovels and automobiles and airplanes and tanks and guns oh no it will not be us who die. It will be you.
It will be you-you who urge us on to battle you who incite us against ourselves you who would have one cobbler kill another cobbler you who would have one man who works kill another man who works you who would have one human being who wants only to live kill another human being who wants only to live. Remember this. Remember this well you people who plan for war. Remember this you patriots you fierce ones you spawners of hate you inventors of slogans. Remember this as you have never remembered anything else in your lives.
We are men of peace we are men who work and we want no quarrel. But if you destroy our peace if you take away our work if you try to range us one against the other we will know what to do. If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ we will make it so. We will use the guns you force upon us we will use them to defend our very lives and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a nomansland that was set apart without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and now we have seen it and we know it.
Put the guns into our hands and we will use them. Give us the slogans and we will turn them into realities. Sing the battle hymns and we will take them up where you left off. Not one not ten not ten thousand not a million not ten millions not a hundred millions but a billion two billions of us all the people of the world we will have the slogans and we will have the hymns and we will have the guns and we will use them and we will live. Make no mistake of it we will live. We will be alive and we will walk and talk and eat and sing and laugh and feel and love and bear our children in tranquillity in security in decency in peace. You plan the wars you masters of men plan the wars and point the way and we will point the gun.
-- "Johnny Got His Gun," Dalton Trumbo
Posted by WilliamPitt | Tue Nov 11, 2014, 05:53 PM (5 replies)
When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murrays green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over
Then in nineteen fifteen my country said Son
It's time to stop rambling 'cause there's work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off to Gallipoli
How well I remember that terrible day
How the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He chased us with bullets, he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he'd blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia
But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again
Now those that were left, well we tried to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
But around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying
For no more I'll go waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me
So they collected the cripples, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then turned all their faces away
And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory
I see the old men, all twisted and torn
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me...
Posted by WilliamPitt | Tue Nov 11, 2014, 05:31 PM (11 replies)
I Hate That I Hate Veterans Day
By William Rivers Pitt
BuzzFlash at Truthout | Op-Ed
Tuesday 11 November 2014
My deepest and most sincere apologies to all of my veteran friends, but I need to be honest: I simply hate this day. I've had this low-and-slow weeping thing going on basically from the moment I got out of bed this morning. Tomas Young is dead, and I can't stop thinking about all the letters I've received from the loved ones of so many other fallen soldiers over the last 12 years.
What's worse, this maudlin weepiness makes me sick because my emotions are making it about me, and not them, and that sucks big rocks, but I can't seem to help it. When I was 13 years old, all I wanted was to serve the way my father who volunteered for service in Vietnam did. An accumulation of experiences and opinions culminated with the recruiter sitting in my living room some 25 years ago, days after my 18th birthday, telling me Saddam Hussein was worse than Hitler and his army was vast, but if I signed up right then and there, I probably wouldn't see combat for at least four years, and the only thing going through my head was BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT THIS GUY IS FULL OF BULLSHIT, so I didn't sign, and I never served, and I'm glad of it, because it was the correct decision...
...but all these years later, on this day of days, I recall that decision, and I think of the men and women who went when I didn't, and how very many of them are gone, or damaged, or simply done. We're averaging 22 veteran suicides a day these days. Once upon a time, I wrote that when a person dons the uniform of the armed services and swears the oath, the nation to which they have pledged their life also owes an oath: not to cast that precious life onto the pyre of profit and political ambition. I weep slowly today, to no small degree, because the other half of that oath has not been kept.
A nation that does not care for its war veterans has absolutely no business making new ones. All the treacly televised nonsense singing the praises of broken men and women whom the networks cheerleaded into a bloodbath so they can now run commercials praising the very people they invited into the meat grinder of war makes me want to tear my teeth out. I simply cannot stand it. I hate this day. I'm sorry, but I do. A soldier will die in agony tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, for the same wretched, failed, flawed reasons as the soldier who died yesterday. That raw fact makes this day grotesque, and there is no getting around that truth.
I hate this day. I hate the reasons why I hate this day. On this day, I hate.
Posted by WilliamPitt | Tue Nov 11, 2014, 02:09 PM (5 replies)