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Member since: Sat Sep 24, 2011, 10:36 AM
Number of posts: 16,483

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"And Aubrey was her name"

-- Mal

Not being a star member anymore has its benefits.

Without the ads flashing on my screen, I would never have become aware that there is a men's aftershave called "Pitbull."

Are they kidding me? Pitbull?

-- Mal

Is this the worst Beach Boys song of all time?

In general, I agree with the assertion that the Beach Boys are America's Beatles. Unlike the Fab Four, however, the Beach Fellas occasionally launched a turkey. Such as the first track on this video:

I suppose it is useful as an historical document. We now know that the introduction of the "shift" in the early 60's made a strong impression on young American males. But seriously, "wearin' a shift and it turns me on?" I can't remember too many other masturbatory songs about clothing...

-- Mal

This was posted in the Lounge

But I think it is so impressive it deserves exposure here.


Absolutely wonderful.

-- Mal

Rumination on the Poetical Process

I just recently finished re-reading Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est(topical poem right now: if you haven't ever read it you should, although it will not improve your day), and it has set me off into a rumination with which I have struggled off and on for the past decade or so. To whit, can a poem be so personal, so painful, so brutal that it profits no one to read it, and should it thus be exiled to the writer's trunk forever? I have struggled with this because my two best poems, in my own opinion, are exactly of such a nature, though speaking not of my own pain and anguish, but that of a loved one, giving voice to her fruitless rage against what had been done to her by those who should have protected her. They are not nice poems. But if they can only rouse fruitless rage, then cui bono? Lieutenant Owen wrote his poem almost 100 years ago, and yet the lie against which he railed is still very much with us, and the specific horror he addresses in the news quite recently. Who has benefited? Not even Lieutenant Owen, since he was dead by the time the poem was published. And yet...

The first of the two poems in question saw brief circulation in another venue around 10 years ago, and I received heartfelt (and tear-filled) thanks from a couple of readers that I was so able to express the feelings that had been so long pent-up within them.

So perhaps there can be some benefit after all. In a way, the manner is moot, since I did send the first out for publication and was turned down, so obviously whatever merit it has must really be limited.

Yet recent discussions on outrage and what might be thought of as "good taste" or "good form" lead me to lean in the other direction. While we are not talking Naked Lunch-level obscenity here, the subject is indeed obscene, and the feelings expressed not for the delicate of heart. And again, what purpose is served by inflaming rage about a subject that is both 30 years in the past and incapable of rectification anyway?

I really have not been able to come to a satisfactory determination about the question. We are enjoined to write what we know, that the best writing is from the heart, that powerful expression is its own best excuse. But somehow, I don't buy it. And even though I must confess to a creator's conceit that his best (possibly) work be seen, especially by those I would fain have as friends, yet that very conceit cautions that some sleeping dogs are best left to lie alone.

Any thoughts, Lounge?

-- Mal

Poetry after dark


We never had a chance,
But she is with me always.
As she would be now
If we'd only had a chance.

-- Mal

Why I think Bradley Manning should do time.

I imagine this post will offend both sides of the argument, but so be it. Now that the trial has been terminated and sentence awarded, I think it is permissible to offer my thoughts on the subject. First of all, I wouldn't have awarded him 35 years. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

The argument for cutting him lose amounts to roughly this: as a courageous whistleblower, he exposed wrongdoing by the government and that this end justifies the illegality of the means. I agree that such exposure is of high value, but question that this value outweighs the illegality completely.

The argument for throwing the book at PFC Manning is the converse: he broke the law, he should pay his pound of flesh. As the Court dismissed any question of his actions putting allies or friendly personnel at risk, we can set aside that question ourselves. Thus we are left with an illegal act, and must weigh whether the benefit of said act outweighs the violation of the law.

Comparisons are often made to Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (including by Mr Ellsberg himself). I submit that there is a difference: Mr Ellsberg was acting as a private citizen, whereas PFC Manning was acting while a member of the armed forces. Mr Ellsberg violated no trust of position when he released the information. This is not the case with PFC Manning.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice states that a soldier is obligated to disobey unlawful orders, furthermore it states that a soldier has the obligation to report any unlawful activity to the proper authorities. Wikileaks, however laudable an organization it may be, is not a proper authority, and thus the actions of PFC Manning were not in accordance with the UCMJ and he gets no slack there.

Another argument made in support of PFC Manning is that he was acting in accordance with the principles of civil disobedience, but here we have the same problem that PFC Manning was not a private citizen but a member of the armed forces, entrusted with the processing and maintenance of sensitive information. By disseminating such information he did not merely violate a statute, he violated a trust. Arguably, he exploited his position to violate the statute. It is a nice question, I think, whether the violation of trust should be forgiven, even if we may forgive the violation of statute. In any event, "Civil Disobedience" does not relieve the disobedient one from the force of law; quite the converse, one who engages in Civil Disobedience must be prepared to submit to the force of the law if he is in violation. Thus with PFC Manning, then, if we choose to employ the Civil Disobedience defense.

Enemies of freedom will argue that the end justifies the means. But by arguing that the information provided by PFC Manning justifies the method employed in disseminating it, are we not arguing exactly the same thing? Does, then, the end justify the means so long as it is our end, and not someone else's?

So, if I had been the judge, I would have awarded PFC Manning a DD and 3-5 for misappropriation (and misuse) of information. Acknowledging that he performed a worthy service, I still must question whether, in a nation of laws, we should encourage lawbreaking for any reason, however benign or laudable it might be. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

-- Mal

Dissent of Justice Brandeis, Olmstead v. United States:

"Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that, in the administration of the criminal law, the end justifies the means -- to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal -- would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face."

Olmstead v. United States was argued in 1928! The above is an excerpt from the dissent of Mr Justice Brandeis to the USSC ruling against the plaintiff. For the curious, here is a link to the full dissent:


"If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law..." we haven't seen much of that since 1928, have we?

-- Mal

Can you get pregnant from oral sex? Maybe if you swallow real hard.

A friend sent me this link about what must be one of the most improbable conceptions ever... errr.... conceived.


Any further comment would be superfluous.

-- Mal

Why has this un-American poem not been excised?

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

-- Emma Lazarus

Given the current political climate, I for one am aghast that such blatantly un-American sentiments should remain graven on a National Monument. Why has the GOP not taken the necessary steps to remove it? It's got to be either Communist or Terrorist, after all.

-- Mal
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