Saturday, August 21, 2010

Borders in Hilo: The Last Day

At ten P.M. tonight Borders in Hilo will close permanently. I went one last time yesterday afternoon and took these photos.

The children's section was the first to be depleted. The Hawaiiana section was nearly bare, and so were the romance, mystery, and sci fi shelves. The usual checkout impulse items were either sold out or put away. But the magazine section was still full, perhaps because periodicals were exempt from discounts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Was That All It Was"

I like the tempo of this remix. Jean Carne sounds a little like Phyllis Hyman.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ted Stevens and Cowboy Boots

19. Ted Stevens

Charges: It’s amazing, really, what can take a 40-year senator down. You can take money for legislative favors, but whatever you do, don’t let your lobbyist friends give you a gaudy statue. Alaska owes its very statehood to Stevens’ willingness to break the law—he was illegally lobbying congress to pass the bill from within the Eisenhower administration in 1954. “We were violating the law,” he happily admitted years later. Stevens has gotten rich off his lack of integrity, and the friends it has brought him. And what friends they are, paying for a house-sized extension on his house, offering him land deals that multiply his money tenfold in six years, and all he had to do is funnel hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to them, bringing home between 500 and a thousand dollars per Alaskan annually. Finally busted after a lifetime of graft, charged and convicted on seven felonies, Stevens still very nearly won reelection. And people talk about Chicago.

Exhibit A: Four days after being convicted, Stevens told a debate audience “I have not been convicted.”

Sentence: Pushed through a series of tubes—each one narrower than the last.
Re: Ken Buck's boast that he doesn't wear high heels but cowboy boots:

Cowboy boots do have high heels.

Traditional cowboy boots have narrow toes, high heels that slope under the foot, and leather tops that reach halfway up the shins. Designed for men who spent virtually their entire day in the saddle, cowboy boots are notoriously uncomfortable to walk in, and though adjustments have been made over the years, the boots remain unsuited for almost any work a cowboy or a rancher has to do on foot. Cowboy boots have also led a long double life as fashion accessories, beginning in the early 20th century, when Western life and work done on the open range were first mythologized in movies. Most cowboy boots that are manufactured now are not sold to people who will ever wear them on a horse, and the boots are valued more for the image they have acquired than the work they were originally intended to do. [Emphasis mine.--P.Z.]

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

Black Dice, "La Cucaracha"

Skidding Toward Fall

...A few people will make more money than they did before, but overall we are in an epic contraction. More people and organizations will go broke than will thrive. It will seem very unfair.

The true destination of the US economy is to get smaller and for two reasons mainly: 1.) Capital ("money") is vanishing out of our system steadily and rapidly due to a massive collective failure to repay money owed on loans, mortgages, debts, and assorted obligations. 2.) Access to the primary resource we depend on for powering the economy (oil) is increasingly beyond our control -- even worse, under the control of people who would like us to eat shit and die.

We really have a choice between two ways of dealing with this. We can downsize and re-scale consciously and coherently, or we can continue to chase after the phantom of growth and allow the nation to fall into a shambles of desperation. So far into this long emergency of an economic fiasco, we seem to have chosen the pursuit of a phantom.

Interestingly, NPR ran a local story over the weekend -- an obscure little item -- saying that Amtrak was determined to raise the average speed of its passenger trains running north from Connecticut through Vermont from 40 miles-per-hour to 60mph. That would be some triumphant accomplishment! It would bring us back to about an 1860 level of service. Of course, I happen to believe that we will be lucky in a few years if we are able to enjoy an 1860's standard-of-living, so maybe this little side venture in public transport is perfectly in tune with America's future.

[I couldn't find the NPR story, but this article from the Brattleboro Reformer details a twenty-year plan by Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to renovate their rail system.--P.Z.]

Otherwise, these are just ominous days of drift in a place of stillness where the uncomplaining robot traders tirelessly work their magic in the server farms of Wall Street, while their putative "handlers" enjoy the dainty pleasures of the Hamptons -- which seem to center these days on pounding back vast draughts of premium vodka in conjunction with Red Bull, cocaine, hydroponic ganja, Viagra, and Klonopin to round off all those edges.