Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Diary: Desperately Seeking Stalker

Portland State University is scattered across the city's downtown. I pulled my car up to the point where a city street ends and the school begins, at a stop sign beyond which only foot traffic is allowed. I was leaning against the front of my car waiting for someone and looking out over a near empty square; here and there were lone souls or pairs walking, students heading back to their dorms.

A pair seemed to announce themselves from across the expanse by their purposeful bearing. They were making for me. They wore long, form-fitting gowns; one tall and slender and the other all boxy, sharp angles, like a cardboard cutout slipped into a sheer gown. Encumbered about the legs by their close-fitting skirts, they took short, swiveling steps. The tall one seemed to float along in a ghoul-grey number, while the other telegraphed a subordinate status with clumsy, mincing steps. What could they possibly want?

"Why are you following us?" Asked the tall one, revealing as he came near a full beard of short, fine dark hair--the sort that looks painted on. He had a Mediterranean complexion and long hair; he looked very much like the bearded transsexual who won last year's Eurovision contest. His companion eyed me with confusion; I couldn't tell if he was embarrassed or fearful of me.
"Excuse me?"
"You've been following us all night."
I laughed with the same humoring condescension I employ when addressed by the occasional street crazy. It's a skill you learn and refine over time without thought; to give neither cause for offense nor the taking of further liberties. It helps to signal craziness of your own; let them think you're the unpredictable one. If you have any size advantage you should use it; lower the chin and level the gaze while squaring up to the subject, as if ready to fight. But let your words contradict this posture: smile affably and return their idiotic comments in kind. Street crazies are some of the most rational actors out there, relying a great deal on the good citizen's confusion and fear of Crazy. They are continually sizing you up as a potential mark, and almost always bluffing their own prowess or capacity for chaos. Keep them out of arm's reach and bluff them back and they usually slink away. Predators seek the easier prey.

But these two were harmless, even as the tall one towered over me like a comic wraith. He had it in his mind that I was stalking them--they had seen my car earlier in the evening, as I had been back and forth between the school and work all night. They were positively enlivened by the prospect that this middle-aged man was tailing them, for God knows what purpose. Now I was pissed.

"When is this going to end?" Tall Boy challenged.
"As soon as you walk away." I said. Looking down at the shorter one's feet painfully pinched into his heels, and turning to answer my phone I couldn't help adding, "if you think you can manage it."

"You should know we're going to report this."
"By all means." I said. Eventually they moved on. Later I imagined myself getting caught up in some great scandalous misunderstanding, having provided these two with their very own psycho-political drama; they would be victims of trans-phobia, hounded by a cis-gendered straight right-winger. Old blog posts of mine would reveal me for the racist I am. I would be fodder for the cause. It would be Hitchcock meets Tom Wolfe.
So there I was, just like my new adversaries, fantasizing my own heroic victimization. None are sane in the asylum.

Monday, January 26, 2015

As the World Burns

"American society is conservative and economically capitalist. Here are the results...something on the scale of the Los Angeles riots could not happen here, mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger commitment to social welfare programs."
French President Francois Mitterrand, 1992

“Our biggest advantage, major, is that our Muslim populations feel themselves to be Americans and there is this incredible process of immigration and assimilation that is part of our tradition."
President Obama, 2015

"America hasn't done enough to ensure political power and autonomy for its underrepresented Muslim population, like we have in New Europe. Until they do, and as long as they cling to outdated notions of 'one man one vote' and culturally nonspecific legal processes, they will continue to experience such as the so-called Independence Day bombings of this week..."
EU President Moussi al-Eurobibbi, 2022

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My World

Work and Play

To leave my place of work, where the kids have the radio tuned to the worst available pop station, with its aggressive, vocoder-strained, auto-tuned mediocrity (a fat butch, wearing a foot brace from a drunken accident, is explaining to a disinterested teenager how much better the song I Don't Give a Fuck is in its un-edited form) to come home and listen to a concert performance of Bach's cantatas, is to suspect that to live in the modern world, for all its comforts, opportunity, variety and safety, is nonetheless to live in a kind of hell.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Somewhere in Manhattan, right now

   Of course it was always easy to satirize a guy with shiny boots. What's hard is satirizing a guy who will saw your head off for doing it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

As Certain as Death and Backlash

Newspapers have what they call the advanced obituary; prepared obits for the aging or ill figure of repute ready to go, once the subject does. This of course risks the embarrassment of a hoax or mistake causing a premature obituary, but remains a necessity. The practice has long been taken as comically ghoulish, but I see it as the ultimate in respect. I wish there was an obituary (glowing preferably, but not necessarily) out there waiting for me! Alas.
I believe I've identified another, similar need--for the advanced backlash report. As Mark Steyn noted (so many terrorist attack/anticipated backlash cycles ago it's making me nostalgic):
Shortly after the London Tube bombings in 2005, a reader of Tim Blair, the Sydney Daily Telegraph’s columnar wag, sent him a note-perfect parody of a typical newspaper headline: “British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.”
Until Islamic terror becomes a thing of the past there will be a need for documenting the fears of anticipated backlash. What socially responsible journalist wants to find himself tasked with producing hundreds, or thousands, of words of plausible paranoia ahead of a treacherously short deadline? I am here to help. I believe the advanced backlash story could lend itself well to a simple template form requiring little more than the addition of names and dates. The form might go something like this:
 As [Western city] mourned today, Muslims fear backlash and increased Islamophobia as result of yesterday's attack on [Western target*] which killed ___ and injured ___.
"These attacks have nothing to do with Islam," [Muslim spokesman] of [Muslim advocacy organization not yet revealed to be funding terrorists], speaking in Urdu, said today. "Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. These men are not true Muslims."  
Far right fringe groups immediately seized on the attacks for political opportunity. "This should bring home to us the necessity of addressing the problem of Islamic terrorism," [fascist poopy-head] of [sinister right-wing organization/political party] said today. 
Muslims have long faced discrimination and poverty in [country under assault]. "This should wake us to the problems of discrimination and marginalization in [country under assault]," said [sociologist with either Muslim or hyphenated last name] of [university/Soros-funded organization]. "We have ignored the reality of Islamophobia for far too long. People must not blame all Muslims for this attack. It’s important to note some of the strongest condemnations of the violence have come from Muslim leaders themselves."  
etc.
*form not valid for attacks on non-Western targets

Friday, January 09, 2015

No True Muslim

The "No True Scotsman fallacy" goes like this:
Smith: All Scotsmen are loyal and brave. 
Jones: But McDougal over there is a Scotsman, and he was arrested by his commanding officer for running from the enemy. 
Smith: Well, if that's right, it just shows that McDougal wasn't a TRUE Scotsman.
This is idiocy

Just as convention about racism and sexism is supported ultimately by a variation on the fallacious appeal to consequences--if racial or sexual variation in behavior and aptitudes were real it would be bad (or lead to bad things), therefore it (or race itself) does not exist--so too is the "not all Muslims" reflex something that any thinking person, regardless of opinion, should reject.

As one famous Muslim said:



Social justice warriors: all the intellectual depth of a Muhammad Ali, without the humor.

Slick Nick

Nick Kristof is an earnest if clumsy defender of Islam, using one  example of barbarism to obscure another:
"Some read the Quran and blow up girls’ schools, but more read the Quran and build girls’ schools."

Way more, even! Take that, Islamophobes! Islam, meanwhile, shifts nervously in its seat, wishing he had kept incinerated schoolchildren out of it. With friends like these...