Arm’s Length

For those of you who haven’t heard, or seen, the news, Charlie Hebdo (not Buckwheat) has been shot. Here’s the story from a respectable source. Here’s the story again from a less respectable source, at least by my standards. Notice the difference in how the shooting is couched. The truth, if there is any, is obscured by the bias of both publications, but The New Yorker comes closer. Moon of Alabama is distorting and misdirecting to fit its agenda of thwarting imperialism with tyranny.

What do I have to say about the shooting? Just one word. Only one word. Not two, but one word. North Korea did it. Okay, that was four words and not one. I lied. Shoot me. It was North Korea. You know it, I know it and the American people know it.

A picture says a thousand, and many times more than that, words, and the cartoon below holds true to that maxim. Even though North Korea is responsible (one of the shooters slipped up and yelled Allahroo Akbar instead of Allahu Akbar tipping investigators off to a distinctly Asian Oriental dialect which could only be North Korean), Charb was under police protection (some protection that was) because persistent death threats had been levied against him by radical Islamic groups including the infamous al Qaeda, so I’m sure they’re happy now that one of so many infidels has been punished by death. How on Allah’s Green Earth are they going to get us all?

You can chop the limbs and heads off those who conjure me or otherwise murder and intimidate them in a myriad of ways, but it will only serve to strengthen my resolve, poignancy and pertinence. Coercion, especially the perniciously violent variety witnessed today at Charlie Hebdo, will only serve to sharpen my wit enabling me to penetrate deeper and more lethally into the ironical contradictions that have taken refuge in your hijacked psyche.

~ Satire

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2 thoughts on “Arm’s Length

    • Thanks for answering the beckoning I sent through the other Net. You know the one — with no wires, no servers, no towers and no software — the one so many overlook and instead opt for the bells and whistles. By the way, the following was brilliant. I tip my hat to you, even though there is no you. Too bad the Charlie Hebdo shooters didn’t get a copy and consciously absorb its contents and meaning, or perhaps their notion of love isn’t the author’s notion of love and what happened at Charlie Hebdo in Paris is an example of what passes for love and therefore love per Stoss’s admonition. Considering that, perhaps the perpetrators who planned and/or executed the Charlie Hebdo massacre did read the book or they absorbed its meaning without ever procuring and reading a copy via the other Net. Remember what Virginia Woolf said; Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. In that context, what the shooters, or at least the masterminds behind it, did and planned was an act of love so that all of us would appreciate life, and e-books, more. Or maybe you and I, and Stoss, are full of shit and so too are the shooters and the planners of the shooting and everyone else commenting about the shooting for the days and weeks to come.

      I bought this and it came without a power supply. I figured it had one of those new batteries that are sealed in but rechargeable via the Wi-Fi radiation in hotels and Starbuckses. When I opened the cover I had misgivings when I saw how flexible it was and how flimsy it seemed – like the cover of one of those paper books you can still find at garage sales. Continuing the metaphor, the pages had a real look and feel, and a whisper when you turned them that even had random variation built into it, like the newer generation of percussion machines.

      But what really astounded me was the built-in odor track – the pages gave off a smell that reminded me of being in school when I was 7. That’s an innovation I’ve been waiting and secretly hoping for for years, but to suddenly find I was holding it my hands, without a single word of preparation in the press, was such a pleasant surprise! I mean, it’s usually just the opposite – a new technology is touted for years by writers who post “full-disclosure” statements that are actually supposed to make us believe their publications aren’t top-down under the control of the Bigs, and once it arrives, it Just Doesn’t Work, and even the “objective” writers are forced to admit that you may have “issues” (never bugs or problems) or that Your Mileage May Vary. And that the pages even had a grainy feel and caught the ambient light in ‘Bucks so that – it’s hard to explain – each page was a little different-looking, and the words seemed to sit on them as if they’d been… well, _printed_ there, is the only way I can put it.

      So I decided to start reading the text (anyway I couldn’t figure out how to change it – that’ll have to be corrected in a later version, along with the flimsy cover). I don’t know who this John Stoss is, but the way he and his editors have succeeded in extending the lo-tech metaphor is really cool. Instead of video – with the oh-so-predictable lighting and “Zwoom!”-accompanied cutting you see nowadays in everything from razor-blade commercials and football-player interviews to epic fantasy adventures -, what _Whatever Passes For Love Is Love_ is is a TV series that has actually stayed in the form of a teleplay. I mean, the only thing that might have made it more perfect would have been to virtualize handwritten foolscap, as if the author had actually written it with a ballpoint pen or pencil on lined paper.

      But the metaphor extends even farther. The stage directions and dialogues even read like… well the best comparison I can make is the drum machine I mentioned earlier. Careful study of old acoustic recordings using leading-edge analysis software showed that drummers (and other musicians, too, including singers, but the drum machines were the first devices to have aleatory capability) didn’t just perfect a set of licks and patterns and then apply them in a predictable way. First of all, there were variations within the technical perfection of each lick or pattern – everything wasn’t perfect. But not only that, they seemed to apply a certain lick or pattern as a function of what the other musicians were playing at a specific performance. (Bear with me; I’m not completely off-topic here, because _Whatever Passes For Love Is Love_ is set in the Old New Orleans and so naturally it’s full of music, and even songs.) That kind of complexity is very hard for software engineers to take into account – and of course, following the age-old pattern, after years of touting by both IT and music journalists, when the first products arrived they were pretty underwhelming. Studios had to resign themselves to continuing to hire session drummers, at least for awhile.

      Anyway as I read this “teleplay,” I began to notice that the people in it don’t always act and talk like people in a TV series, or like literary characters. I won’t say they sound like “real people,” either – anymore than you’d say a studio drummer sounds like a “real musician.” But there’s that little aleatory quality – things coming out of left field, out of nowhere; an unpredictability. That goes for the attitudes they express, too. This e-book isn’t selling some kind of vision of how things were simpler and better back in the 70s before the international financial conspiracy or neo-colonialism-liberalism or whatever you want to call it took over. People sound like what people hanging around in a bar sound like. And since the action is set in New Orleans, they talk about New Orleans topics – religion, politics, poverty, race… and of course music. And what they say is often said for the style it shows, not for the truth it contains. Sure, the best bar talk is true, but it’s true within the context of the bar, which becomes a place with a structure and a truth of its own. That talk may be worthless in the real world, but it’s true within the walls of the bar. And what John Stoss puts out here creates that illusion of truth – at least within the confines of this Maple Leaf Bar he creates.

      And as we sit at that bar – making remarks, showing our own ignorance, or just keeping quiet – we watch the parade go by: Artists, working people, academics, clergymen, cops; arrests, hurricanes, funerals, a wedding, yes, a parade… and of course, love. And it all has that real feel. You almost expect somebody to ask, hey, isn’t it your turn to buy a round?

      So I would say, _Whatever Passes For Love Is Love_ has some basic hardware faults – most of all that it’s very hard to figure out how to change the text (I still haven’t). On the other hand, the “book” metaphor has been taken to new heights in some unexpected ways. And the bargain price makes up for the lack of extensibility.

      Now if I could just figure out how to turn the doggone thing off…

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