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Saturday, March 21, 2009

No Stone Left Unturned

NO STONE LEFT UNTURNED:

This is the page on which DNA collects his thoughts on life, politics, philosophy and religion. DNA has collected a number of posts and as he writes more of this crap, he will put it here. He started collecting this stuff in September of 2006. Some are dated, some are not. Some were posts from just a couple of days ago.

THE ENERGY AND ENTROPY OF A MUSIC SCENE: ONE SIMPLE RULE:

Warning: This blog post is supposed to mean something. If you prefer not to have meaning with your blog reading, skip this entry. You'll be glad you did.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy is neither created nor destroyed; it merely changes form. The second law of thermodynamics states that the potential energy in a system is always less then the initial energy in a system. According to The DNA Vibrator's friends at Physical Geography dot net "Heat does not spontaneously move from a colder body to a hotter body. Natural processes that involve energy transfer must have one direction, and all natural processes are irreversible. This law also predicts that the entropy of an isolated system always increases with time. Entropy is the measure of the disorder or randomness of energy and matter in a system."

Understanding entropy is important when understanding any system, whether it is a planetary system, an environmental system, or a cultural system. All of the systems mentioned require a constant supply of energy from an outside source to continue to function at the artificially high level of order which is maintained by complex systems. Some systems are self-organizing, and maintain many complex features over time, but even these require regular infusions of energy. The ultimate outside source of energy is the sun. This is why earth has a complex biosphere. The sun supplies the fuel to all systems which organize in seeming contradiction to the second law of thermodynamics.

A music scene is one of these complex, organized systems; a social structure which can only exist in a culture once all of the basic energy needs of a people are met. You will never hear how an ancient culture didn't figure out how to provide food for its people, but man, they sure developed kick-ass tribal music, didn't they? Interestingly, as cultures rise and fall, and a music scene does arise as enough excess energy is available during the culture's heyday for those creative types to express themselves, sometimes it is the music created then which will be preserved long after the culture fails. In this respect, music is like an entropy sink, a way for the creative potential of a culture to be stored even as the usable energy of that culture diminishes. Today is no different. An underground music scene is so far down on the cultural needs list, that it only happens when enough people with enough excess creative energy are willing to spend their energy capital on the scene. And if you wanted to break it down, the ability and freedom to pursue subversive music, the framework within a society which allows members of that society to express anti-establishment sentiment to the point where the expression itself unifies those expressing those views as an organized community, all of that excess energy, sound and fury signifying nothing, has as its source, the sun. We all do. Even The DNA Vibrator depends on an outside source of energy, though, over time, as the second law states, the level of entropy has grown and continues to grow within it. Its system is as old as the universe, and no longer functions as well as it once did.

The best part of this little philosophy lesson is that it should make you laugh the next time you see some goth chick pretending to be a vampire. She couldn't do what she does without that little blob of hydrogen and helium 93 million miles away. "I hate this world!" the disenfranchised punk wench shouts, middle finger thrust defiantly at authority. "This world" of course does not include the cool microphone she is singing through, the amp her daddy bought for her through which her Les Paul shrieks, and well, the electricity that allows her tin-thin voice to be heard above the sound of the droning air conditioning, which of course, if that wasn't working, means you wouldn't catch her out in this fucking heat. In other words, most "underground" artists, audiences, and people in any "scene," really, are only afforded the luxury of being able to participate because the juggernaut of this culture continues to mow down every motherfucker which gets in its path. We have excess energy. If we didn't, do you think The DNA Vibrator would have the leisure to philosophize on the computer? Fuck no. The DNA Vibrator would be watching mutely as he was grabbing a shotgun from the wall, keeping another band of marauding bastards from stealing what little food the tool and his family were able to eke out of the forest by which they live. The DNA Vibrator believes that this culture is one bad weekend away from wholesale cannibalism. Don't believe it? Read Jared Diamond's books, "Guns, Germs, And Steel," and "Collapse." We exist on borrowed energy resources. Not that The DNA Vibrator is the Lorax, for fuck's sake. At the most basic level, The DNA Vibrator is very interested in seeing the chaos which will ensue as the end result of the world's current state of affairs. It's just that The DNA Vibrator has grown attached to this particular vehicle for it, and doesn't want the tool to have to eat his neighbors or be eaten, as The DNA Vibrator's friends Cypress Hill once said, "when the shit goes down."

"When I was 20, hardcore music meant something. It wasn't this corporate gutless crap that you dumbasses think is cool and subversive today." Next time you hear some old farts looking back through the prism of entropy and waxing philosophic about the good old days, do both you and them a favor, and punch them right in their mouths. After all, they wasted all of your fucking energy. No wonder your music sucks. You have had to recycle all of their old crap. Who cares if you wouldn't be here without them? That was yesterday's problem.

Sometimes, a band, or a music scene, will take off, and will exist off of a seemingly endless supply of energy given to it by devoted fans. How else can you explain how Dylan or The Rolling Stones, once cultural compasses, now corporate shills, still pack stadiums? Sometimes, through exponential feedback, a band will rise meteorically. The spectacle of it is worth watching as a cultural phenomenon. It has happened before, with the Beatles, for example. Also, with bands like Metallica. These bands, at one time, were humming with so much extra energy, that catastrophic chain reactions occurred, in which they were consumed from within. Their collapses were fascinating, and governed by the same forces which described the fall of the Roman Empire and the fall of a drop of water from a blade of grass. The point The DNA Vibrator is making, it hopes, is that cultural phenomenons, like bands, music scenes, etc., follow the same laws of thermodynamics that any environmental system follows. If this is the case, then the simplest rule can be derived from which you can predict whether your band or music scene will thrive or fail. The DNA Vibrator knows what this simple rule is. Perhaps you can guess it. If you can, post a comment about it to The DNA Vibrator.

If you didn't skip this blog, well, here we are, at the end, together. Don't you wish you would have listened to The DNA Vibrator? It won't steer you wrong.

WHAT DNA LIKES ABOUT FUNDAMENTALISTS?

Recently, tool of The DNA Vibrator had to take a trip to the east coast for his real job. He had to fly a major airline. The tool must have a nice face, or he looks like he knows what he is doing, because people always come up to him and ask him for the time, where the snack bar is, or if he saw that story on the news.

As the tool sat down at the gate in the terminal, he read the latest Scientific American, (always good for a laugh) and ate some snacks in the terminal. A few seats away, an older woman, obviously not a seasoned flyer, was chatting to a young man with a phone jacked into his ear. The gist of the conversation, one which we have all heard in these situations, was about how if it was your time to go, it was your time to go, but if you were committed to the Lord and saved by Jesus Christ, then your place was assured in heaven. The man agreed in a noncommittal way. She proceeded to ask if he was saved, and was overjoyed when he said that he was. Praise God! However, he found a way to distance himself quickly from the conversation.

The DNA Vibrator was impressed by her strength. She was able convince that man to testify in front of strangers to the "fact" that he was saved in Christ, when his actions convinced The DNA Vibrator he was not. She wielded a power over him. No disrespect to her, but the power she wielded didn't seem very holy; she knew how to prey upon the unassigned guilt we accumulate by tapping into our shared cultural heritage. We're supposed to believe in God; we're supposed to go to church. We are one JC Penny suit away from the bear skins and cave-dwelling days, because deep down, we are afraid of offending a personal deity with which we have never really had any direct personal contact. Why else do we still put stock in phrases like "In God We Trust," "May God strike me dead" or "It's in God's hands now?"

It takes strength, courage, faith, and HUGE brass balls to simply walk up to a stranger and bet that you can tap their unassigned guilt, or to find a someone who will respond to your suggestions. The DNA Vibrator's hat was off to her. Until The DNA Vibrator was seated right next to her on the plane.

WHAT THE DNA VIBRATOR DISLKES ABOUT FUNDAMENTALISTS?

As the tool was making his way to his seat, he found her already seated IN HIS SEAT. The DNA Vibrator always flies window seat, just in case the plane goes down (so it has the best view of the spectacle). As the tool looked at his ticket, seat 34 A, and looked at her, she said, "Oh I'm sorry. Do you want the window seat? I can get up if you like." To which the tool responded, "No, that's fine. I'll sit here (in her seat, 34 B)." Everything The DNA Vibrator dislikes about fundamentalists is encapsulated in this exchange. Of course, from there it got worse, but not without provocation from The DNA Vibrator.

You see, some people have a way of making you feel like you are imposing on them, or are somehow at fault for some mistake, when you insist on asking for what you deserve, what you worked for, or what you paid for. This is the case with almost every fundamentalist The DNA Vibrator has ever met. They have mastered the deceptive and cruel trick of making you feel bad for their imposition. She was in The DNA Vibrator's seat. It was the seat The DNA Vibrator chose specifically. The DNA Vibrator was able to do this because The DNA Vibrator planned ahead and bought the ticket enough in advance to choose the seat it wanted. She manipulated the situation so if The DNA Vibrator would have insisted on sitting in the assigned seat, and made her move to the seat she paid for, anyone listening would have thought, "Wow. What a complete dick." Fundamentalists are so good at doing this, it worked on the tool, too. He thought that it would be easier to simply acquiesce to her demand, than to himself demand what was RIGHT. This is what The DNA Vibrator dislikes about fundamentalists. They have the power to use Guilt, but rarely choose to use it for Good. They use it selfishly. They have the ability to expose our own moral failings; but not in the way you might think.

You see, if The DNA Vibrator had been true to itself, it would have said, "Convenience be damned. If this person wants to discuss theology, then let's discuss theology," but instead, and this causes The DNA Vibrator shame even now, The DNA Vibrator failed morally, and knuckled under to preserve the fallacy that we all share a common God, and it would be improper, or even sacrilegious, to be rude to someone trying to talk about God. Isn't what The DNA Vibrator believes just as valid, or more valid? But, we are seduced, and this is the evil that fundamentalists propagate, we are seduced by the easy social path. In the end, we say to ourselves, "Does it really matter that we didn't stand up for what we thought was right on that plane to that person attempting to exert her will over our little sphere?" And because it is a small battle, an hour at best of our time, we rationalize the event to ourselves and say, "No, it doesn't really matter." But it does. Each time we do not rail against this moral superiority complex, especially in the presence of others, it gives strength to the concept that the fundamentalist's way is THE way, and tells others simply to shut up and if you don't cause waves, you won't be picked next. The DNA Vibrator implores YOU, the next time someone puts you in that uncomfortable position, YOU be the fundamentalist, and make them feel like they need to follow your path to salvation. Or, tell them to fucking mind their own business, at least.

WHAT THE DNA VIBRATOR HOPED TO LEARN FROM THE FUNDAMENTALIST?

When she asked the tool if he knew that Jesus was his personal Lord and Savior, and He had died for his sins, the tool said, "Yup." When she asked if he'd been baptized in the blood of the lamb and had been saved, the tool did say, "Yup." So, The DNA Vibrator is not without fault in their interaction. You can see how obviously The DNA Vibrator encouraged her. In truth, The DNA Vibrator did actually want to see what she would say, knowing what he believed likely would not reconcile well with what she believed. If nothing else, The DNA Vibrator understands scientific method. How could The DNA Vibrator test its hypothesis regarding fundamentalists, if The DNA Vibrator didn't test fundamentalists? For example, to end the conversation, The DNA Vibrator could have said, "Jesus told me not to talk to you." At which point, she might have said something like, "The Lord does not bear you taking his name is vain," or "I will pray for your blasphemous soul," to which The DNA Vibrator would have said, "He told me you'd say that. He said that I should pray for you." Although fun, this would not have allowed The DNA Vibrator to see if all of the classic moves of the fundamentalist would be attempted in this experiment. They were. Here's the first.

Fundamentalists protect themselves from rationality by proclaiming that the Holy Spirit has moved them, or God commanded such and such, but really, all they are doing is passing the responsibility buck up the existential ladder.

Second, if The DNA Vibrator were to question the fundamentalist seat stealer next to it about the authenticity of her Bible, she would say that the Lord protects His Holy Word, and does not allow the will of Satan or of men to be worked into it. In other words, we can not deviate from the path she has been chosen to reveal, nor can we question the authenticity to the manual she is using to spread her message. Any deviation leads to eternal destruction. Even questioning its applicability, or her authority (although she would say that she is merely a vessel for the Lord) leads to unending torment. Hmmm. Perhaps The DNA Vibrator is jealous. Surely you have noticed that The DNA Vibrator refers to itself in the godlike third person as well.

Here's the third. Fundamentalists want to pray for you. She sure wanted to pray for the tool, to be a stronger father, leader, etc., which of course sounds pretty good, and on the off chance that she out of billions of people has got it right, then what the hell, right?

And, the fourth. She wasn't very tolerant. The DNA Vibrator has often thought that the fact that so many Christians don't act very much like the Christ did as described in the Bible should be the first indicator that maybe they have things fucked up a bit. It just so happened that the folks seated in front and behind us were either going to attend or had recently attended a seminar on Taoism. There was contempt on her face as they briefly mentioned if so and so had the literature from the conference. Jesus was pretty clear on the "let you who are without sin cast the first stone," but most fundamentalists do not hesitate to condemn people to hell for their behaviors and beliefs.

So, as far as experiments go, it was a success. The DNA Vibrator's hypothesis, that fundamentalists really should just be called mentalists, was supported by the data. Looking at the copy of the Scientific American in the tool's hands, she told him that, "the holy spirit is telling me that you are a good man, but you have put your faith in the concrete things, the provable things of this world." Is that the same Holy Spirit telling John Edwards what "the other side" is like? Isn't it much more likely that from the magazine the tool was holding, she inferred that the tool must be one of those "rational people," who like to "think" and "understand" the processes which define the universe?

The DNA Vibrator prefers to think that she used her powers of observation, her understanding of psychology, and her mastery of exerting cultural guilt to her own benefit. Frankly, this thought is much more frightening than if she were actually having direct access to the holy spirit of God. In this respect, there is no greater threat to the forces of democracy which shaped this country than her. If The DNA Vibrator were an overtly religious entity, it would say that its will was tested by Satan on that flight.

To make matters worse, she was confident that the Holy Spirit commanded her to buy a nice Bible in the gift shop of the airport, because the Holy Spirit wanted her to give it to the tool. The tool told her that no, he didn't need a Bible, he had a wonderful Bible at home, a gift which had been given to him by his mother from her mother. She went on to say, that the holy spirit was telling her that the tool needed this Bible, because the Bible is a living word, and that the tool thinks of the family Bible as only an heirloom, not as a guide for his life today. What were the tool's choices? Be a total dick, and refuse the Bible (which for the record, he did, and she wouldn't accept)? Or take the Bible? How many levels of hell do you go to if you insist on refusing a Bible? What more evidence would she need that the tool was possessed by a demon (close) and needed to be healed? What would have happened had she laid hands on the vessel of The DNA Vibrator? Would The DNA Vibrator have rebuked her? Would whatever god she invested her faith in have come and removed The DNA Vibrator from the tool? The DNA Vibrator didn't think so.

The tool took the Bible. He wondered, since she was so convinced that the Holy Spirit commanded her to give the tool the Bible, did she know that The DNA Vibrator left it in the hotel he next stayed in? Does this make The DNA Vibrator a bad guy? If indeed her faith was well-placed, it was destined that her gift of the Bible was supposed to be left in the hotel. The DNA Vibrator felt compelled to leave it. The DNA Vibrator did share one belief with the fundamentalist. One of the first things she said was that she did not believe in chance, that God always brings people together for a reason. The DNA Vibrator certainly believes that each moment unfolds with infinite possibility but there is only one path which will ultimately and obviously be the only path the future can take. Call it what you will. Einstein said that "God does not play dice." This has left The DNA Vibrator to allow for the possibility that some fundamentalists (note that throughout this post, The DNA Vibrator has never lumped all of the fundamentalists together) might actually be speaking to God, or with the Holy Spirit. With all of her failings, perhaps the fundamentalist the tool sat next to really was a tool of the Holy Spirit. From one tool to another, The DNA Vibrator wonders what events were put in motion as it left that Bible on the table next to the fridge in the hotel. Did she know? The DNA Vibrator doubts it.

MUSIC=MAGIC:

First, The DNA Vibrator has been gone for some time. It doesn't feel the necessity to explain its whereabouts, and certainly judging by web traffic, nobody really cared anyway. Does this deter the course of The DNA Vibrator? No more than recycling deters the eventual depletion of earth's natural resources, and the eventual Malthusian destruction of mankind. But, when you recycle, like when The DNA Vibrator speaks, it makes you feel better, at least for today. And isn't the current NOW all we really have, anyway?

On one the long flights The DNA Vibrator had to take recently The DNA Vibrator came to understand why primitive cultures (this one, for example) feel that Music is Magic. Not magical, in a Lawrence Welk, gay way, but in a matter of fact, as people understand magic, way. Don't buy it? Let's determine how people understand magic, then. Define magic: According to Wikipedia, "Magic refers to the influencing of events, objects, people and physical phenomena by mystical or paranormal means. The terms can also refer to the practices employed by a person to wield this influence, and to beliefs that explain various events and phenomena in such terms." If magic is an ability of a person to wield a force which can affect another person, physically and mentally, through no apparent medium, then one can see how music, or more generally, sound, qualifies as magic. What other force immediately available to those with skill to create it stirs emotion in others, or causes others to feel sad, angry, even sick (there are said to be certain tones which affect the mental health and stability of a listener, as well as those tones which can have negative physical effects on a person, too). It affects things at a distance, and in focused, powerful wavelengths, can blow holes through steel and concrete. With enough volume, it can destroy human hearing, and in the right pitch, can break fine crystal through resonance waves. It can be used to image hidden objects (ultrasound and sonar) and in powerful bursts, it can destroy kidney stones in a person's body without harming the surrounding tissue. Again, it seems easy to understand how less civilized societies might consider sound magic. But, as The DNA Vibrator has said many times, we are only separated from our superstitious forebearers by polyester and Walmart. We view music the same way.

As a culture, we are only a couple of hundred years out from understanding that air is comprised of a mixture of gases, so it is no surprise that sound still contains a mystical quality for us. It will take many, many generations to bury 10,000 years of cultural training. Science, as a whole, has really only ever been an attempt to try to understand how actions happen at distances. Every major advancement in the physical sciences has grown from an attempt of some scientist to prove that action A was the result of force B acting through medium C. Sound seems to produce action at a distance through no medium. Action happens here, and a person hears it over there. The DNA Vibrator postulates that this is the underlying reason that satanic shit, magic and witchcraft have long been associated with rock and roll. The music contains power, literally, delivered at previous-to-the-rock-and-roll-era unapproachable sound pressure levels. The really sick sounding shit incorporates tri-tones, described in classical times as the "devil's interval" in music, because it sounds so creepy. So, people into magic feel that music contains a similar force. Many people not into magic believe it too, or we wouldn't have so many people blaming musicians for their uncontrollable urges. Music has always been part of rituals, again, not just because God digs music, but because people who wield power recognize the force music exerts over people, and of course, they are attracted to that---any force they can use to manipulate people....

The DNA Vibrator is no fan of the band U2, at least not their newer stuff. But to test its theory, listen to "In the Name of Love," forgive Bono his ultra gay half whispered lines, and you will FEEL the power he wields as he belts out the chorus. You are right there with him when he says, "Early morning, April 4. Shot rings out, in the Memphis sky."

The witchcraft of music is also why pop music stars are our culture's sexual icons, anti-establishment figures, teachers, prophets, and entertainers. They wield magic, and we are all still awed by their power.

ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF MY FATHER:

No DNA Vibrator...just me. Five years ago, on October 28th, my Dad died. He was strong, and really, my siblings and I had convinced ourselves that nothing could kill Him. He would go when he was damn good and ready, on his own terms. At 76, he still had a strong heart, and a sound mind. We thought that Dad was going to be like one of those old Indian chiefs you romanticize about as a kid, who lives and leads his people well into his old age, and in the time and place of his own choosing, is allowed to die gracefully, becoming one with nature. Or, like Beowulf, he completes one last great task, and lives forever in song because of his deeds.

But, this was not the case with my Dad. Early in the last year of his life, he began to act erratically. He was taken by fits of anger, and found that little bits of memory were slipping away from him. At times, he appeared to have small seizures. After these symptoms became more noticeable, he finally went to the doctor. It was early June when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. A biopsy revealed that it was malignant. It was also large and spreading. Given his age, doctors recommended against surgery as an option. So, specialized chemotherapy and radiation were used. Although the treatments succeeded in shrinking the tumor, too much damage had already been done to the brain, and in the end, they didn't stop the tumor. It is possible the therapies had some positive effects, but it was difficult to tell, because the person who was there at the end was certainly not the same as the one who was there in June.

I could go into all kinds of detail about how hard it was to watch my Dad disintegrate before me, and I mean "dis-integrate," as in "no longer integrated," but that wouldn't really get you to feel what I am talking about. There are a couple of stories I could tell, however, from one of the last times that I saw him alive.

It was September 11th, 2001. I had taken several days off from work so that I could help my brother and sister take care of my Dad, who had grown irrational and more belligerent than ever. As I watched the replay of the World Trade Center towers falling all day, I couldn't help but think that a terrorist attack, or even an all out war against the United States, would be a welcome distraction; I could wrap my mind around an external threat so much better than I could the one that sat inside his head. I found myself thinking that if the world were ending now, that at least Dad wasn't going to be here to see it. Or if he were still here in the weeks and months to come, he wouldn't know or care what was going on, anyway.

What else happened that day? Well, the local gas station immediately tripled the price of the gas it was selling, the bastards, exemplifying all that is wrong with a culture that puts individual "liberty" above everything else. When things go bad in our country, individual freedom equals a fuck everyone else free-for-all mentality. What was the gas station owner actually thinking? If the world were going to hell, so much so that people would pay any price to get gas for their cars, just what would money be good for? To spend by the thousands to buy an equally price-inflated head of lettuce or can of fucking dog food? When people do not share a sense of civic responsibility, nobody cares if the gouging they do today hurts your grandmother tomorrow. Fuck her, she should have planned ahead.

So, I was glad Dad didn't have to deal with that. In that respect, cancer was a reprieve for him from all of the external stress that was exerted on us as a nation starting on that day. So while the towers repeatedly collapsed, Dad and I took a walk outside. It was a beautiful day. A warm, Indian summer breeze gently shook free the colors of fall, and because all flights were grounded, and few people were doing anything except watching TV, it was preternaturally quiet, a fitting stage for the unreal events which would occur.

We walked slowly around the house, my arm in his arm. As the tumor progressed, it affected his gait somewhat, and he needed an extra hand sometimes for balance. We talked, about nothing in particular, when he stopped short, and became upset. We had just turned the corner and were walking behind the house, when he pointed to the rose of sharon bushes which were in a long row, the dividing line between his property and his neighbor's. "Those shouldn't be blooming." He pointed an accusatory finger at the nearest bush. "It's not spring. It's the fall." He clearly was in this moment, now, and was afraid that an element of what he considered reality was shaken. I imagine it would be similar to waking up tomorrow and seeing two moons in the sky, and wondering why no one else seemed upset by the obvious incongruity with what you know should exist. He turned to me, insistent, almost pleading, "This can't be happening. These don't bloom in the fall. Why are they blooming?" I had no answer, and I actually knew so little about rose of sharon bushes that I couldn't dispute his observation. What if we had some bizarre mutant variety? What if the weird warm spell had confused the plant so that it bloomed a second time? Weirder shit had happened. It was only later that I took the time to read that, of course, the rose of sharon is a late summer, early fall bloomer. It was doing everything it was supposed to, in its own time. However, at the time, I still desperately wanted to believe that it was the world, and not my Dad, that was falling apart.

"I don't know, Dad. Are you sure they are not supposed to bloom now?" "What is wrong with you," he snapped. "Of course I know when the hell they are supposed to bloom. Here," he motioned to something to his right, "Call them up and ask what is wrong."

"Excuse me," I said to Dad. "Call them up? Call who...with....what?" We were in our backyard. The nearest phone was in the house. Again, he looked crossly at me. "With the god-damned phone!" He gestured to the same spot, the point at which for him, a phone existed. It was at this moment, that I fully realized that my Dad was going or was already gone, even though his semblance was still walking among us. I can only imagine that from his point of view, the world must have stopped making sense a long time ago, and that little warps in reality were part of his everyday existence. How frightening that must have been, when he could remember it. Sometimes the warps were very disturbing, such as a plant blooming out of season, but sometimes they fit perfectly into his world, such as when a phone would appear out of nowhere when he need to call the powers that be to confirm a question.

Although I understood this, it was still hard to "play" along. At any time, any word I may say, or any thing he might think he has seen or heard, could trigger any kind of response. That really made me uncomfortable. What if facilitating his delusion made his perception spiral into an even more disturbing reality for him? So, I confirmed what he wanted me to do. "You want me to call them and ask them why the plant is blooming?" "Yes," he said confidently, "Call them up." So, I pretended, the way I would have pretended with my toddler-aged son, Carl (named after my Dad) to pick up and dial the phone. I waited for what seemed to be the appropriate time for them to pick up. "Hello, I am calling for Carl XXXX. He was wondering why the bushes in his back yard were blooming. They shouldn't be blooming now." Then, I nodded my head a few times, said, "Oh," or "I see," and finally, "Well, thank you very much. Good bye." Then, I hung the phone up and put it back down. He looked expectantly at me. "Well, what did they say?" he demanded. "Dad, they don't know either. But they said not to worry about it. It probably has to do with the weather."

That solved the problem. At least for Dad. I was unsettled for the rest of the day. It was easy to think about Dad being a changed person, when I was far away, but it was another thing entirely to have to play a part in the delusion of a man whose grip on reality was being loosened by a brain tumor. Did I do right when I "humored" his misperception, or if I would have insisted that there was no phone, would he have been forced somehow to "see" there was indeed no phone there? Did either stance matter, because it was unlikely that he would remember what we said or did later that hour, anyway? I think what I did was easier,but I don't know if emotional expediency is the best course of action in times like that.

I stayed and helped the family for several days. As I was leaving, Dad was sitting comfortably in his easy chair, generally in a much calmer state of mind. I had seen him through some good and some bad spells. Frankly, the good spells were the hardest to take, because it was during those brief moments of lucidity that Dad knew there was something fundamentally wrong with him, and he knew he did not have the capacities, mentally and physically, that he once had. In these moments, that strong man would weep, not for what he had become, but for what he could no longer be for his family. Of course, he still was everything and even more than he could have ever imagined for us in those moments, but in those moments of clarity, he only judged himself as a shadow of his former being. How could he see that the courage, and fear, and sadness, and purity, and beauty and frailty that he displayed during those times made us love him even more than we ever had before, so much so that even as his consciousness faded just a few short weeks later, even then, he knew he was loved. He may not have known by whom, but he knew he was loved. Well, that day, as I said good bye to him, for the last time in my life when he could still understand what I was saying to him, he gripped my arm after I hugged him, and as tears were streaming down his face, he said, "You will take care of her, won't you?" 'Her' was my Mom, his wife of 45 years. "Of course," I whispered back to him, because a whisper was all that would come out of my constricted throat. "You don't have to worry about Mom, Dad. Everything is okay. We planned everything out ahead of time. You have taken care of her already." Here was a moment of clarity, punching me right in the gut. And it would have brought me down to my knees, if Dad hadn't then added, "You get the plans. They are in the garage. You promise me you will get the plans, and everything will be alright." The knot in my throat subsided. His tumor induced paranoia altered reality again. I nodded my head to appease that demon, smiled and told him that the plans were safe, and that he didn't need to worry about them. Again, at that time, I so wanted to believe that Dad wasn't being psychotic, that I later asked Mom to confirm for me that there weren't some plans for some car engine or carbeurator (Dad was very mechanically inclined) that Dad had drawn up. Mom almost looked at me with derision, as if I had to be joking, but then her look softened simply to sadness. "Of course there are no plans, Roger. Of course not."

But there were. At least for a moment, there were. When Dad asked me, somewhere, in the world he lived in, he had the plans, and he needed me to make sure they were used to help his wife and family live well. Whatever it was that he created and drew up in those plans, it was enough to save us all. Maybe I helped save him a little, for that moment, when he looked at me, looked in my eyes, and saw that I was still willing to believe every word he had just said to me, like I was his son, and he was my Dad.

I love you, Dad, and miss you every day.

12TH CENTURY RITUALS: THE LAST, BEST HOPE FOR AMERICA:

Halloween has come and past. The tool's children went as a skeleton pirate, a teenage mutant ninja turtle, and a corpse bride. It was much fun. The tool lives in a small enough town that Halloween is still like a Norman Rockwell painting, except of course, for the child predators and and meth addicts. But as The DNA Vibrator reflects, they were there in the Rockwell paintings too, because the sickest of the sick, the underbelly of society, look just like the rest of us. Well, probably not the meth addicts---sunken cheeks, hollow eyes, bad teeth, fetid breath, dirty clothes, and stinking of desperation. But Norman painted his own share of perps, pervs, addicts, and whores without even realizing it, since he so accurately depicted Americana.

As much as The DNA Vibrator is convinced that our society is close to self destruction, it has to admit that the continued insistence and persistence of holidays like Halloween in spite of all of the dregs lurking as threats around every corner, bodes well for the society in general. Cultures need rituals which unify all members. The tool just spoke to a person from Taiwan who was fascinated by Halloween. In his country, there is no Halloween, but there is a "ghost month," in which encounters with the spirit world are taken very seriously. He explained to me that his people believe strongly, (and here he struggled for a moment, because the word he came up with isn't quite the right concept) that "hell" opens its gates and interacts with people more during the ghost month than at other times. He said he didn't understand how Halloween was a happy celebration. So, The DNA Vibrator took it upon itself to talk with him about the roots of some of our Halloween traditions. In doing so, The DNA Vibrator re-educated itself about the importance of some traditions. Certainly, holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and even to a certain extent, 4th of July and Thanksgiving, have lost touch with their roots as rituals. But for those willing to understand why we require our children to dress up as little ghouls and go door to door begging for candy, the holiday retains all of its mythological power.

THE ANATOMY OF AN UNDERGROUND CLUB:

In Carbondale, there have been many party houses and party streets: Cherry Street and Oak Street were infamous for a long time. It has been many years since The DNA Vibrator visited those streets for a party, so it is sure that as times changed, so have the party spots. Some places on those streets were known to throw the best parties or have the best bands play. Some persisted through many tenants. One of the reasons a college student wanted to live in one of those houses was to continue the tradition of that house being known as a party destination. Such is the case with the Lost Cross house.

For at least 20 years, Lost Cross has been a destination for punks in Carbondale, a haven for underground or hardcore bands, a place in which almost every cool Carbondale band played, and hundreds of bands from across the country, big and small, have taken the stage. It has had many tenants, but has always been Lost Cross. Even now, The DNA Vibrator doesn't know the street address, but could walk there blindfolded from about any place in Carbondale. Houses which lead double lives as entertainment venues begin to acquire a certain look, feel, and smell, like an old crutch, or crackpipe might, if you have used it for years. Lost Cross is no different. These kinds of clubs all have a different character, but many share some general features which identify them as underground clubs. If you live in a college town, look around, and it will be easy to see the telltale signs that a house may be an underground club.

Starting about two blocks away in any direction, you begin to see more and more homemade stickers for underground or local bands stuck on every surface, from bicycle seats to air conditioning units to temporarily parked cars. You also see dozens of flyers stapled to every telephone pole.

The house itself is nondescript from the outside, except the porch. There are several pieces of furniture on it, the entire porch lists to the left slightly, and the remains of a barbecue grill extends off of one side. A screen door remains cocked half open, and a front door with the glass painted black greets you as you enter. The front room is clearly the main living space for perhaps three or four semi-permanent residents, and a transient population of as many as 10 more. There may be trash, but it really isn't dirty, per se, just messy. Between the residents, there are about 5000 vinyl records and almost as many CD's stuffed in every possible empty cabinet space, and in homemade milk crate furniture. A stereo, constructed from a mish mash of components from across several decades, works, but even on the best of days, sounds like crap. At one time, each piece was likely some of the best audio equipment student loans could buy.

It has to have a basement. A party house can have bands in a living room, but it won't last. All it takes is one overly loud band, one broken window, and that's it---cops called, people busted, and a pissed off neighbor that will rat you out in a heartbeat if you throw another party.

It must have exposed wiring, and dozens of extension cords running from converted light sockets. Clearly this house was built a long time ago, and the basement was never meant to be more than for storage. This accounts for the slightly too low ceiling beams, the open access to the propane furnace and the water heater, and if you are really lucky, access to a nonfunctioning coal chute and coal room.

It must be painted, by dozens of different artists who have made their mark on the house as they did their time in the party scene. It must be covered with phrases from the vain to the vulgar to the vicious to veritas. It must include stickers, logos, and sayings/lyrics/poetry from anti-establishment types, so that young punks can feel comforted by the very walls of their domicile.

It typically includes several TV's which may or may not work, pieces of mismatched furniture, particularly old couches, and also includes some kind of PA system for bands. Usually, there are several guitars, amps, and other pieces of equipment either left by the last band to perform there, or kept there by the band or bands which practice there. Oh, the circuits must contain at least one short, so that when a band is playing, as the singer goes to the microphone, he gets the shit zapped out of him. This happend one time to The DNA Vibrator, so badly that the tool's lip split open and blood flowed as he began to sing. There is nothing more apropo than blood flying from the singer's lips in an underground club.

Sometimes there is a fridge in the basement; usually there is lots of porn; beer cans, bottles and other liquor is ubiquitous. Everything is coated with a thick film of nicotine and pot smoke. Sometimes there are steps, usually with one broken or loose.

Walk up the basement steps, and into the kitchen area of the house, and the floor is peeled linoleum and wood, worn through to the floor joists in two places, and warped. In fact, the entire house has settled along three different axes, and tilts just enough to make your shoes feel funny as you walk from the kitchen to the hallway. None of the windows seat quite right in their frames. Flyers from local shows, posters from many of the coolest bands you have never seen, and more musical instruments are found on walls, behind furniture, and in the bathroom.

The bathroom. One bathroom for the 14 or so who currently live there; one bathroom, basement, and big backyard for the 500 or so guests who are there almost every Friday and Saturday night. One bathroom that on any given night, is covered with every bodily fluid one can excrete, and a couple that two can excrete. Vomit and urine, countered by comet and bleach. This is the price a resident has to pay for the privilege of living in a landmark. This notoriety is not lost on the residents of Lost Cross house. Like the Viking warriors who left the comfort and safety of their own villages behind for the hardships and camaraderie of the sea, the residents choose to live a less civilized, less encumbered with the demands of everyday independent living, but ultimately, more satisfying, life. A life on display to the rest of us who want to be reminded that we can live that free if we want to, and loose the shackles put on us by culture, at least for a Friday or Saturday night.

So to all the residents of Lost Cross, past, present, and future, THANK YOU, for being the bloody pagan barbarians that you are.

OUR SAD COLLECTIVE NEEDS:

Last night, as The DNA Vibrator wound down another day of changing the world imperceptibly, it took the time, for the first time ever, really, to surf the blogosphere. It didn't take long to come to a stark realization: Human beings are lacking something; companionship, communication, a feeling of being valued in the world, perhaps? Whatever it is, this collective psychological need is being filled by the internet. Filling this need is perhaps the most important service provided by the internet to its users. The DNA Vibrator believes this aspect of the internet was a completely unintended effect.

Some say the blogosphere is the expression of democracy that the (mostly) free flow of information allows. This myth is directly tied to the idea that the internet is fulfilling a psychological need for people. Most information on the web is not an expression of democracy; most information is expressed to further a person's, country's, corporation's, or group's own specific agenda, at the expense of other's. Some might say that in aggregate, this is still democracy, but it is not. True pursuit of democracy encourages every individual to have an equal say in decision making processes. The internet is not designed to do this. It is designed to evolve to allow those users who can purchase bandwidth, storage, ideas, etc., to develop as hubs for information seekers. This is natural, but it is not democracy. Most information on the web does not flow freely; First off, it costs, on many levels---must have a computer, or access to one; must have the time available to learn and use the computer; either must have a job in which use of the computer encourages your interest in how to access information, or must have the luxury of leisure to devote time to more esoteric pursuits. It costs, because users pay some kind of fee, whether fees are state or federal taxes for computer resources in a library, or whether it's a fee for contracted services from an internet provider. Rarely is any information provided on websites. There may be content, it may have a lot of colors and noise, but does the blog you read actually add to you as an entity and make you more enriched for spending the time you just spent? Highly unlikely.

Use this very website, for example. From its beginning, a fiction was created, an entity called The DNA Vibrator, to act as a narrative vehicle for the content being provided. It has all the tricks of seeming like it might be interesting to read, and listen to. Does The DNA Vibrator hope that you do read and listen to the stuff here? Yes, but the reason for that isn't because it will fill some gap in your life---it fills a gap in The DNA Vibrator's. Will your hoped for enjoyment of the material on this website add to your life, in some small way? DNA hopes so, again for its own selfish reasons. DNA knows that you can get your dimestore philosophy from so many other places. There are some out there who are not directly related to The DNA Vibrator who read this, so, perhaps, there is a little content hiding in here, after all.

DNA's website is perhaps not the best example. It's too innocuous. The DNA Vibrator already knows it doesn't really mean anything. But last night, The DNA Vibrator looked at hundreds of blogs, all presenting the appearance of access into others' lives through a computer screen-sized window. Most of them recycle the same sentiments in very bad personal poetry, or present a slice of life from a person, who feels the need to share this life with the rest of us. It didn't take long to realize that most of the slices of life were the same: Not uninteresting, but full of a conceit, which is that whatever it is that a person is blogging about is interesting enough, worthy enough, that it should be shared with the rest of us. Nobody cares if you bought a new dog. Nobody cares if you are totally into the show "Lost." Nobody cares if you are a has-been musician with a modicum of talent, a mediocre voice, the cumbersome wit to handle blunt sarcasm, and have a few extra bucks each month to spend to maintain a website (See---The DNA Vibrator is not being holier-than-thou. It completely includes itself in the category of "website that does not meet the test of being interesting enough").

What is this unmet need? We all "feel the need" to express part of lives. But, express to whom? How is it that for so many, expression has to take the form of a disjointed conversation, or a monologue, or a diatribe, or whatever rhetorical form the internet is demanding of its users? The internet, as it is presently being used, is not a very good form of communication. It's like a letter, only less personal. All the bullshit music, flash animation, porn, effects, that's all window-dressing. What is expressed, in the end, is no different, and actually, less direct than just about any form of communication The DNA Vibrator can think of right now. The fact that so many people derive something from the experience of blogging should tell us all that we're pretty dysfunctional. Equating a blog to communication is like equating role-playing game experiences to real life experiences. For some, the role-playing experience is the experience to be savored, not the real-life experience. Add up that equation: Self-loathing + no intimate friends + disappointment and frustration with not being who or what you had hoped to be in life = 20 hours a day playing ultima online. After reading so many blogs last night, The DNA Vibrator thinks that perhaps the answer to the above equation could also be "= writing this blog so all of you out there know I exist, and I am worth something." Are we so detached from each other that the only way that some of us can actually communicate is by not communicating? Have we confused the fiction that necessarily must be created online for the reality of our daily lives? Does this same unmet need describe the phenomena of "reality TV?" How is it that our current reality is so crappy that we sometimes prefer the presentation of someone else's reality?

Books took the translatable aspects of oral culture and put them in a form more people could use; radio and TV took the translatable aspects of print media and put them in a form more people could use. The internet took the translatable aspects of previous media and put them in a form more people could use. The price? At each step, the elements that are not translatable are lost, or forgotten, or deemed unimportant, because they do not fit the new paradigm. Some could call this a democratizing process, but it is democratizing like Wal-Mart is democratizing. If you reduce the overall value of the content being trafficked, in an effort to spread it around to more people, then perhaps you achieve one goal of democracy, homogeneity, at the expense of all other goals of democracy. The DNA Vibrator thinks that this is the root of the unmet need filled by the internet. At a gut level, people realize that the internet, blogs, mass marketed crap, governments, institutions, corporations, most organizations bigger than YOU, work directly or indirectly at lowering your expectations. About life. About everything. Your own self included. Why aren't you the next Gandhi? Why don't you end world hunger? Why don't you stop the war in Iraq? Why don't you actually go do something? Why waste any moment of your time? Can't you get something more out of your life? The DNA Vibrator is not pointing fingers, it does not want to anger or alienate you who are reading right now. It is not trying to make you feel bad, or like DNA is somehow superior to you for making these statements. In fact, The DNA Vibrator has very nearly talked itself out of writing another blog post, because it realizes that this expenditure of energy, this blog, does not really add too much to anyone's life, its own included.

The problem isn't the medium. It's our expectation of what the medium can do. We're told by ourselves, by our experience as we look at other's work, that THIS, whatever this is, is what a blog should be, or a website should be, or LIFE should be. In the end, DNA is glad so many people are blogging. Like infinite monkeys randomly typing on infinite keyboards, eventually one of us will "get" it. Maybe it will be YOU.

OUR HAPPY COLLECTIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

Clearly, the last post that The DNA Vibrator wrote did not dissuade it from continuing to write, nor did it dissuade any of the thousands of other bloggers or millions of readers from writing and reading. Good. Because as fucked up and pointless as most blogs are, they serve many purposes, none of which were addressed in the previous post.

Utility, cultural advancement, these are often the last goals met through a cultural tool like the internet. Sometimes, actual, real, useful information is gleaned from these pages, and certainly, one can always learn from others, even if the message is "don't do your blog like this." Since everybody's experience is unique, sometimes little things, like the use of a word, or a picture, might really be worth your time.

Certainly, DNA uses the internet everyday, so there is a certain amount of utility. However, its argument is not the internet does not have utility, it is that most blogs don't. This argument is weak, however. DNA knows it. Just wanted to see if anyone cared to debate. Since no one did, DNA will debate itself.

What about funny blogs? What about blogs that share art, pictures, music, optical illusions, educational blogs, historical blogs, blogs that archive otherwise lost information, blogs from important people with important things to say, blogs that document atrocities, blogs that give us firsthand information from war-torn areas, blogs that allow us to see medical and scientific breakthroughs? What about that, DNA Vibrator? What about that?

All true. That and more. Also, see the flaw in The DNA Vibrator's previous argument about how one medium that encompasses another translates the previous medium, but leaves the untranslatable stuff by the wayside. This simply is not true. First, no media has replaced any other. These different media exist together. In fact, it appears that there is room for a lot more, and there will be other media in the future.

Even if there is untranslatable stuff, there is so much new content that new media allows to be developed it more than makes up for what parts might be lost along the way.

The end message is the same for this post as the last one---keep typing away, keep posting your baby photos, the story about your new couch. It all adds to the cultural complexity. Every so often, art is created in those commonplace events, whether we realize it or not.

Fuck, this was a shiny happy blog post. Here's a different take: Maybe it's better that we waste our time writing blogs and reading blogs and trying to be humorous or pertinent, or sharing and caring, because at least the illusion of doing something is better than the reality of nothing in your life meaning anything.

Ah, that's better.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:

The DNA Vibrator does not know what has motivated it to do so, but last night, it wrote a long letter to the President of the United States. It also sent the letter to its senators and congressman. If DNA gets a response, it will post the response here. The DNA Vibrator does not believe its letters will actually influence the politicians to change policy, but this kind of writing is theraputic, and cheaper than a shrink. Once it gets political shit off its chest, it is free to think of more pressing matters. Of course, if DNA's letters do presage a change in policy, once again, the power of the Vibrator will be exposed.

DNA'S POLITICAL LETTER:

With only minor changes, here is the letter The DNA Vibrator sent to President Bush, its senators and representative. Afterwards is the official response it got back from the White House.

Dear President Bush,

Like many of my friends, I have listened to the news, read the books, and heard the experts and the common folk talk about what to do in Iraq. People get bogged down in the "why" we are there. I was one of those people until recently. It no longer matters why we are there.

I know I am not telling you or anyone else anything new here. I have thought about our situation for a long time, and begging the presumption, I would like to present to you what I have concluded.

First, the obvious American presence in Iraq is possibly fueling the terrorists' aims and the sectarian violence. Even if it is not, our enemies' propaganda machines can use our presence as their excuse to continue to perform acts of violence, and continue to stir discontent and raise doubts among people in Iraq and out of Iraq about the American mission.

Second, we must more clearly define our mission in Iraq. I have no doubt there is a clear mission among military commanders and political leaders, but it must be articulated in no nonsense terms, not in sound bites and nice sounding phrases, which don't have a lot of meaning on the ground. The American people can take it, and the entire world community will appreciate your candor. We must abandon absolute terms, like "win" or "lose" and appeal to a common sense understanding of an urban ground war. There are no winners or losers, (well, there are losers---everybody loses) objectives lose their relevance quickly, and in the end, any and every civilian death limits our ability to complete whatever mission we wish to complete.

Third, we must understand the military's continued role in Iraq. From a military point of view, home grown militias don't even blip on the radar as a threat. As a percentage of our total force in Iraq, over time, our casualty rate is extremely low, and I imagine, compared to theirs, presents a compelling argument that in a war of attrition, we win.

However, homegrown militias and terrorist action can't be beaten by traditional military force. Militias rise because of social unrest, poverty, lack of opportunity to build a better community for the future generations. Military force can not "beat" that. It can not solve a primarily political or religious conflict. Well, I take that back; military force can, but it requires total destruction and/or removal of the enemy. Since that was not our goal, the military, not surprisingly, is not "winning" this war. The military is not suited to complete the current mission in Iraq: police the country, train their people, enforce law, and heal or at least bridge religious and ethnic divisions.

How do we proceed then? Although they are the best on the planet, our military forces are like a bear, and opposition forces in Iraq are individual bees stinging the bear. From their point of view, the bees are defending their hive from the brute destructive force of the bear, which is taking something precious from them. From the bear's point of view, bees are a nuisance, nothing more. But, we are not the bear. I do not believe that our goal was to destroy Iraq or to take away what was precious from the Iraqi people. However, from their point of view, we are still acting like a bear. So our problem is to figure out how to turn our forces from acting like a bear into acting like a fox: Cunning, hidden, achieving by position what we have tried to achieve by force. There is no easy way to do this, but we can do it. The other option, a much worse option, will be to totally commit to a ground war. Since it is the least desirable option, let's discuss it now, and get it out of the way.

OPTION ONE:

Ground War: Institute a draft of all American citizens between the ages of 18-35 who meet the physical and mental requirements for military service. Raise an army of at least one million additional troops and blanket Iraq in a force the likes of which the world has never before seen. Literally encircle terrorist hot spots and kill or detain every single person who poses a threat to our force. End piecemeal war. Devote enough troops to secure and patrol borders. Secure all public utilities and major industries. Institute marshal law until the number of terrorist attacks drops to zero. Continue this presence until every child currently alive in Iraq has been taught in an American built, American taught school. It may sound like I am being sarcastic, but I am not. If we are to approach this war from the point of view that it will be "won" by us, nothing less than total commitment on our part will suffice. Therefore, I hope that we all agree, that this course of action is untenable, and that the American people simply will not agree or follow such a course of action.

OPTION TWO:

The Eventual Road to Disengagement (turning the bear into a fox):

First, terrorists must be treated as criminals, not as military forces. This has been a mistake on our part from the beginning. We should not be using the vocabulary and tools of war to punish criminal organizations. When we think "war" we limit ourselves to the options of war. We must begin changing our focus from military engagement to criminal prosecution and justice. We didn't use the military to attack Timothy McVeigh, or to find and destroy the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing. Such is our situation now in Iraq. War is for toppling governments, or for opposing other military forces. Terrorists are criminals, and should be dealt with as such. Swift, equal, and effective public punishment of terrorists will deter future terrorists, and will give the population a reason to believe in its government.

Second, we have to employ Iraqis not only as police and military, but as the workforce in an Iraqi "New Deal," the goal of which is to employ every able-bodied Iraqi man and woman not currently employed to create or rebuild modern public works. These would include roads, schools, new power stations, new oil facilities, new bridges, new port facilities, EVERYTHING, from the ground up. People must either be working, or have a medical reason why they can not work. We need to do this instead of hiring multinational corporations from outside of Iraq to complete these tasks. When we give out contracts to corporations outside of Iraq, the money we spend does not get reinvested or spread through the Iraqi economy. It gets concentrated outside of the country. If Iraqis were being employed to build the things that Iraqis use, then Iraqis will be less likely to destroy them. They will be invested, in time, money, and pride, in the things they themselves have built, not the things we have built for them. For as often as conservatives have decried the effectiveness of the "welfare state," I am surprised that no one is talking about the welfare state we have created over there. No more no bid contracts to outside sources. It is counterproductive to the war effort.

Third, we must through all means necessary, secure the one for one replacement of coalition forces for pan-arabic and muslim (PAM) forces. These forces must be of mixed ethnic and religious backgrounds, and not under U.S. control, but under the control of a United Nations coordinated team of Iraqi and PAM commanders. We must cede all political authority to the elected Iraqi government, and remove our political presence; We must cede all military authority to the Iraqi government and to PAM forces.

Fourth, we must leave with no strings attached, with no Iraqi debt owed to us or any other coalition force. We must agree to continue to help fund public works, the rebuilding of roads, schools, utilities, and ports until the country functions at least as well as its pre-war status.

Fifth, we declare a new foreign policy in the region, similar to an old policy which worked very well: We will walk softly and carry a big stick. Let any power who wishes to a wage a war of words speak as long as they want. But as soon as a person is harmed or our interests are directly injured, react with immediate, massive, and deadly force.

I am not writing this to be critical of you or your administration. I wouldn't want to trade places with you. But I felt that I ought to tell you what I think. I don't expect that I am saying anything that others haven't already discussed, but, you never know.

Find a good solution to this mess. Be humble, if you must, be understanding. Change your position, if you have to. Changing doesn't mean "terrorists win," regardless of what others might say.

Sincerely,

XXXX

THE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE:

On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence. We appreciate hearing your views and welcome your suggestions. The President is committed to continuing our economic progress, defending our freedom, and upholding our Nation's deepest values.

Due to the large volume of e-mail received, the White House cannot respond to every message. Please visit the White House website for the most up-to-date information on Presidential initiatives, current events, and topics of interest to you. In order to better receive comments from the public, a new system has been implemented. In the future please send your comments to comments@whitehouse.gov.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

OR, in other words, "You're doing a great job, Brownie!" Or, "Malichi is the right guy for Iraq." Or, in other words, "Fuck off. You don't even deserve a form letter. Here is a form email. Now go have your little rant next to some endangered tree species while real men fight for your fucking freedom."

The DNA Vibrator hopes that more official responses will come from its other elected officials. It will be easy to judge their characters by their lack of personality or depth of bullshit.

BACK ON THE POLITICAL FRONT:

Last month, because The DNA Vibrator has grown accustomed to writing only for its own sake, it wrote letters regarding our country's involvement in Iraq to the President, and to its local senators, Barack Obama and Dick Durbin. The first response DNA got back was from the President of the United States. Of course it was a form letter, no, a form email, even lower, which likely put DNA on some kind of watch list. Smart, huh?

Next, look at the response DNA got back from senator Obama this week. Probably a form too, but honest to God, DNA thinks that a person, maybe even the senator saw, it. You read, and you be the judge.

Dear XXXX(DNA can't simply give you its alias. That ruins the fiction!):

Thank you for writing to share your thoughts about the Iraq War. I appreciate hearing from you, and believe that we can do better in seeking an end to this conflict.

On November 20th, I gave a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs detailing my views on the changes that need to be made. I have enclosed a copy of that speech for your review. [DNA does not include it here. It was really long] I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me as developments occur.

Thank you again for writing.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator

P.S. Our system does not allow direct response to this email. However, if you would like to contact me again, please use the form on the website: http://obama.senate.gov/contact/

For that, DNA probably got put on a hit this sap up for contributions list. But like DNA said in the last political post, we'll see what the different politicians are made of based on their responses. So far, Obama appears to care if DNA votes in the next presidential election.

MERRY CHRISTMAS?
(December 2006)

DNA questions christianity as an effective religion, but does not question the overall benefit that Christmas gives us as a nation. In the end, even when the balance sheet includes such negatives as hypocrites draining money from old peoples' savings, those who are morally corrupt preaching hate to others whom they deem morally corrupt, an unstated governmental policy of divine right when it comes to our military strategy, all of those BIG "christian" negatives are still outweighed by the individuals who pour out love from the goodness of their individual hearts, especially on Christmas. Two of DNA's family, the tool's sister-in-law and her husband, are doctors. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they worked extended shifts in an emergency room. First, they worked feverishly on a person whose life ebbed away from them faster than they could stitch. Then, a traumatic gunshot wound victim kept them from celebrating a "regular" Christmas with each other. Not even for one moment could they look at each other over the last 24 hours without someone else's blood on them. Yet, while they were on duty, a woman came in and they helped deliver her Christmas baby. While she was in labor, her two other children were waiting in a room not far from the birthing room. DNA's sister-in-law talked to the children and asked what they were going to get for Christmas this year. They informed her that Santa missed them last year because they were living in a homeless shelter. They were afraid that Santa would not be able to find them again this year because they were at the hospital. DNA's sister-in-law said that she was sure that Santa knew how to find kids at the hospital. She spent most of her little free time finding other staff at the hospital who, between them, had presents there, with them, in the trunks of their cars, for example, that they would be taking home after their shifts. She was able to convince them to give some of their presents to these kids.

Sometimes that's all it takes. One little ray of hope. Now some of you might think that DNA made this Hallmark shit up to tug at your heart strings. For what purpose? DNA doesn't care if you like Christmas or the tool's sister-in-law or not. This happened. This is dirty, low, life, when a family is out on their luck and most of society does not care about them unless they are forced to care about them. That's why you needed to hear this story. Guess what happened when DNA's mother-in-law heard the story from her daughter? She wondered what business did a homeless mother of two have getting pregnant and having another baby in the first place. So, which are you? The one that rounds up presents for the kids, or the one that chastises the mother? Really?

Merry Christmas.

IT WAS SOMEONE ELSE'S TURN TO BE THE VICTIM:

So, DNA had to fly to Detroit. Took the time while it was there to stand on 8 Mile Road. Detroit Rock City. What the fuck ever. Best thing that happened to Detroit was Cottage Inn Pizza. That place served perhaps the second best pizza DNA has ever eaten. So, AfroDJYak, and other pizza fan lurkers out there, take note, and when you are in Detroit, get some! See if DNA ain't lyin. Eating pizza at the places DNA goes is part of its ritual. Just like commending its earthly existence to God is part of the ritual DNA performs as the plane it is riding on jets skyward. Yes, the same God DNA relegates to the status of impartial observer at any other time of its existence. Yeah, it's cliche, but it's DNA's story, and is it cliche if it is really true? It's not fear which motivates this revelation, it's more a statement of principle: God? It's me, DNA. DNA is cool with everything. DNA has done its best in the world to eke out its existence, to provide for the kids, to pleasure the wife, etc. etc. This is not really a statement of Faith in the Great Beyond, either, or in the idea that God is paying particular attention to DNA. It's not fatalistic hypocrisy. It is more of an acknowledgment that DNA is simply part of a universal system, a universal being in the most fundamental way you can use that word, and that in a moment at which you can realistically see your life end, DNA is comfortable in relinquishing control to the greater power of the universe. Or, to the drunken, depressed pilot: under paid, over worked, mythologized and glorified bus driver, really. Doesn't that make you feel safer in the air? No disrespect to bus drivers, but let's call pilots what they are. It's not the 1950's. It ain't Buck Rogers anymore, though pilots would like to hold on to that mystique. It's no longer chic to be a pilot, although it is still better paid than being a trucker.

So, the flight out was uneventful, thanks to the defensive power of the the mp3 player and headphones DNA was outfitted with. Nothing says to the passerby, "you are not even worth hearing accidentally" like a guy with headphones on. Although it does not have the "I am better than you. You will never be this cool. You really can't pull this look off" aura that a bluetooth headset socked into someone's ear projects. Maybe only three or four people need to be that connected. Maybe secret service guys. Maybe world leaders. Maybe police, or military guys. But the pillowbiter at Orange Julius? No. This is why the world fucking hates America's guts. (for this and for reasons explained in the story DNA is going to relate in a second) We use technology that could literally be life saving in other situations, to redescribe the same shit to a guy we are now on the phone with that we just said to them in person 3 minutes ago. Here is an example of this in DNA's life from earlier today: DNA's ringtone: (in DNA's voice) "Hey, answer the fucking phone. What's your problem? Answer the phone. Jesus!" DNA picks up. It's the tool's wife. DNA says, "Hey, what's up?" Wife says, "Nothing. Just wanted to let you where I was at." DNA says, "Okay." Wife says, "What's wrong with you?" DNA says, "Nothing." Wife: "Whatever. You're always like this on the phone. Why are you so short with me?" DNA: "Uh, thanks for calling. I knew I was missing something today..." Wife: "You'll be missing IT a lot more, if you keep this up..." DNA: "Oooookay. Gotta go. See you in a bit."

What was the fucking point of that, DNA asks you? Was she so full of bitch that if she waited 20 more minutes to to speak to DNA she would have burst? (now those of you who know DNA and know DNA's wife also know that she'll never read this, and that DNA is smiling all the way. DNA loves that woman, sho nuff, he do. DNA just likes the sound of saying, "was she so full of bitch." You should say it too. It just is really fun to say. Try it on your wife or girlfriend when she comes home. Tell DNA how that works out) Couldn't someone who really needed that phone, really needed that bandwidth, have used it better than that? DNA hopes the fuck so, because everyday it is left bewildered at some point by just how much we waste shit like it's our right to waste shit. We waste everything.

Back to the point. Which was, having a bluetooth headset sticking out of your ear does not make you cool or important. Having one sticking out of your ass, however, would set you apart from the crowd, and would be the appropriate docking orifice considering the amount of shit you spew into it. Smile. When DNA says you, it means you. Not you, YOU.

DNA had the standoffish knob on the mp3 player set to about 7 for the whole airport experience. There was just enough volume leaking out of the earbuds that passers by heard what probably sounded like mice fucking coming from DNA's head. On the flight up, there is that announcement when the bus driver says, "Please turn off all cell phones and portable electronic devices." DNA follows this rule. DNA is in the bus driver's house. It's his rules. To the douchebag who sat next to DNA: Turning off the device does not mean putting your Blackberry in your pocket when the stewardess walks by. It means shut the fucking thing off. From it emanates a small but measurable electromagnetic field. On board the flying bus are very delicate bits of avionics. Some can be affected, potentially, by devices from which electromagnetic fields emanate. That would be a funny story to tell in line at the Pearly Gates: "Yeah, and then the pilot lost control of the plane when my Blackberry's signal confused the onboard computer and told it to turn the rudder. Go figure!"

Anyway, douche spent the entire time typing on a miniscule keyboard even less important things than DNA talked to the tool's wife about. Or, if he wasn't doing that, he was watching the latest episode of Lost on a 1 inch square screen. Exciting! When that was over, he played what must have been a satisfying downloadable game of press the red fuzz dot with your cursor. DNA is actually very pleased with the state it finds itself in. This is re-technologizing at its core. Finding less interesting ways to mollify and pacify yourself, lowering the bar while raising the cost, and it all being lapped up gleefully as you slide mouth open into a hell of your own creation. Yahoo!

However, on the flight back, DNA would have rather dealt with a thousand bluetooth enabled dildos shoved up its ass than have to be the recipient of the drivel that the guy in the seat behind DNA was visiting on the poor son of a bitch who sat next to him. Hence, the title of this post. DNA turned off the mp3 player while this little vignette unfolded. Another great use of the mp3 player: It allows you to look like you are not listening to or are not interested in a conversation, when in reality, you turned off your mp3 player but left the headphones on so you could surreptitiously listen in on a trainwreck that you otherwise would not be privy to. It's like a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom moment, in which you and Jim Fowler are hiding in plain sight of the old mama lioness and her kill. You become ubiquitous and she does her thing au naturale.

So here's how it started. Ameridork, to the older gentleman sitting next to him: "So, I heard your accent. Where are you from?" Limey says: "I'm from Britain." Ameridork: "I've always wanted to go there. London sounds pretty awesome." Limey: "Yes, London is a great city, and has its character. But so does New York, Shanghai,..." Ameridork: "Yeah, so do you travel alot?" Limey: "Yes, my company has recently sent me to Ontario, I'm on my way to St. Louis, and then L.A., and then Tokyo." "Cool. I traveled to Alaska earlier this year. Have you ever been to Alaska?" Limey: "No." Ameridork: "It's like a totally different world, no, like a different planet, up there. It's like I was in the largest Park in the world up there, and there was not another soul for 400 miles. No hospital for 400 miles. No electricity for 400 miles. In any direction." Limey: "That's about the size of the isle..." Ameridork: "Huh?" Limey: "400 miles. About the length of England." Ameridork: "Yeah. It's like taking three or four of the states, y'know, the lower 48, (DNA shits you not, he said this) y'know, where we are NOW, and that's how big this park is. That should give you some idea of where I was at." Limey: "Indeed." Ameridork: "I loved it up there. You connect with nature. There's like 7 peaks of greater than 16,000 feet. I was in a plane, and while we were flying to where I was going to stay, from horizon to horizon, you could see nothing but mountains. Have you ever saw something like that?" Limey: "No. I did backpack through the Austrian Alps when I was younger..." Ameridork: "So, I stayed with this guy, who built his house with his own hands. You can still do that up there, cuz there is like no running water or electricity, so you don't have codes or have to be an electrician to build a house. He like built his house out of an old pizza hut. It was like damaged in an earthquake or something, and he took the pieces and made his own house. You can do that up there. Know what I mean?" Limey: "Absolutely." Ameridork: "You know, they carry guns up there. Its just accepted. Its part of life. Its freedom. You never know when you might encounter a bear, or a moose, and what would you do in that situation in the civilized world? Know what I mean?" Limey: "Absolutely." Ameridork: "I mean, I live close to nature. Have you ever killed and skinned your own food? Taken an animal's life?" Limey: "I can't say that I have." Ameridork: "Right. And how old are you?" Limey taken aback: "51." Ameridork: "I'm 28, and have already had that experience. Alaska would be the perfect place for me. I found it serene and peaceful, which is perfect if you practice the ancient art of the sword. Could you kill your own food? If you did, I bet you would have more respect for life. That's what it did for me." Limey: "I'm sure." Ameridork: "That's the problem with the world. We are not connected with nature anymore. I mean, we live such a sedimentary life that we wouldn't know what to do if we didn't have electricity." (readers, DNA shits you not, he said "sedimentary" when he meant "sedentary." DNA almost stopped him then, but found that DNA was still speechless at Ameridork's display) Limey: "Absolutely." Ameridork: "Like right now, approximately 60% of people just wouldn't make it if there was some kind of electromagnetic pulse from a meteor or something, or from some smart bomb, which wiped out all electricity for like, 20 years or something. I mean sure, some people would adapt, but we are so dependent on this fragile system, that we would just fall apart without it. I don't think people could live in a city without electricity. People would just die." Limey (who by this point had tried to claw his way through the glass of his window seat): "Rome seemed to do alright." Ameridork: "But where is it now, huh? And anyway, I mean a modern city. So, is Japan cool? I would love to study the art of the sword there, with a master. My dojo is taught by a real Japanese swordmaster, Nakajita..." AD NASEUM...FOR THREE FUCKING HOURS. After the first two minutes, which is summarized above, DNA was sick. "This," thought DNA, "is our ambassador to the world: "El-low, there old chum, you're in the colonies now, so prepare to 'ave your notions 'bout propriety and decency buggered. What 'choo lookin' at? Piss off!"

It is staggering how much is wrong with everything this blockhead said to the international traveler, and how polite the Limey was being, to a painfully obtuse idiot. Which is probably how he described us later that day, when his wife called him on his cell phone.

TWO IN ONE DAY:

Yes, DNA has no life, on a Super Bowl Sunday, which is why it can post twice on the same day. DNA began to air its political opinions last year in letters to the President of the United States, and to its state senators, Barak Obama and Dick Durbin. So far, DNA got a form letter from the White House, a semi personal letter from Barak, and now, it has a response from Senator Durbin. Here it is, in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Vibrator:

Thank you for contacting me about the war in Iraq. I appreciate hearing from you.

I did not vote for the resolution authorizing this war. I believed that other options were available and that war should be the last option. Far too many of our men and women in uniform have died in this war, including many from our own Illinois communities who serve in the National Guard and Reserves. My deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives in this endeavor, as well as to the many other American soldiers who have suffered life-changing injuries.

Unfortunately, it is easier to get into a war than to get out of one. With our involvement now in its fourth year, more than 3,000 American soldiers have been killed and more than 22,000 have been wounded. In addition to the loss of life, this war is costing us $2 billion each week. Add to this the escalating sectarian violence, and the unknown number of innocent Iraqi civilians who have perished as a result, and it is clear that the current "stay the course" approach is not working and that the Bush Administration lacks a coherent strategy to stabilize Iraq and achieve victory.

It is time for us to end our open-ended commitment in Iraq, and for American troops to start coming home. I am working to secure Senate passage of a measure opposing President Bush's plan to escalate the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and calling for a strategy that would charge the Iraqi government with the primary mission of combating sectarian violence and fostering reconciliation. I also support the conclusions of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which would allow most U.S. combat forces to redeploy from Iraq by the first quarter of 2008. Yet, instead of a phased redeployment, the President wants to send more American soldiers into the middle of a dangerous civil war. Simply increasing the number of troops, without changing the mission of our troops, will not produce victory.

The sad truth is that, from the beginning, the Bush Administration discounted any evidence that did not fit with its view that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the United States and that Iraq could be easily rid of him and turned into a democracy. The main reasons offered for going to war with Iraq - that its possession of weapons of mass destruction and its close ties to global terrorist groups represented an imminent threat to the United States - were gross exaggerations.

Similarly, Administration officials greatly underestimated the difficulties associated with the post-war occupation and reconstruction of Iraq. Despite warnings from both internal and independent experts, Bush Administration officials insisted that U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators and they did not plan for the situation we face today.

Even though Congress gave the Administration every dollar it requested, too many soldiers have traveled the dangerous roads of Iraq in inadequately armored Humvees, with widespread reports of soldiers lacking vital equipment such as protective body armor and modern defensive equipment on helicopters. The failure to properly equip our military personnel is unconscionable. I have pressed hard for the deployment of up-armored Humvees and the best equipment we can give our forces. I also worked successfully to increase the level of combat pay we provide to our troops and have fought to make up the salary difference for federal employees who take a pay cut when they are mobilized as a member of the National Guard or Reserves, just as many state and local governments and private companies have done for their employees.

Our troops have done everything we have asked of them. We owe it to them to make it clear to Iraq's political leaders and its people that it is time for the Iraqi people to take responsibility for securing and governing Iraq. The Iraqi government faces a difficult road ahead, and we should continue to help them as they strive to move forward. But by continuing the current open-ended military commitment in Iraq, the Bush Administration is simply prolonging the day when the tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers there are able to return home to their families. I will continue to urge President Bush to adopt a new direction in our nation's policies toward Iraq.

Thank you again for your message. I will continue to keep your concerns in mind as this situation develops further.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Durbin

United States Senator

This feels kind of like a semi-personal letter too, but both of the senators score with DNA compared to other politicians DNA has written. Help DNA out. If you are from Illinois, write senator Durbin or senator Obama. Tell them your view on the Iraq war. DNA would like to know if your letter is the same as the ones it got.

PITTSBURGH. DNA WASN'T EXPECTING WHAT HAPPENED IN PITTSBURGH:

DNA traveled to Pittsburgh for the super double secret educational project it has been working on. It presented some findings at an international conference, no bullshit. First, let's just say, that the presentation was cool. Very knowledgeable people left DNA's area, saying things like, "This is a good idea," or "Could you come to Iowa and do a presentation," or, "Did somebody just fart?" (The answer, by the way, was yes, DNA did fart, but was able to blame it surreptitiously on this old guy to DNA's left). DNA answered its own question from the last post, which was about good pizza joints in Pittsburgh. DNA realizes that his research is quite incomplete, but Cafe Milano delivered some damn good pizza. DNA heartily recommends it. The only thing DNA did not like about the whole situation was that the delivery guy only went to the lobby of the hotel. DNA was on the 21st floor, of one of the ritziest hotels in Pittsburgh, and the delivery guy made DNA go to the lobby for the 'za? Whot tha fock? DNA imagined that sometime, say last year, some guy was delivering pizza there, and went up to the room, say on the 25th floor, and as he knocked on the door, he saw a rush of movement to his left, a swing of an arm, and felt the sharp blow of a truncheon across the back of his head. Or, somebody ding-dong-ditched on the 42nd floor. By the time he made it up there, he couldn't take the pizzas back; so, because someone else got to have some fun, DNA is stuck doing the walking. Anyway, the pizza was worth it.

DNA purposely dresses like a country fried dumbfuck when he goes to places like this: overalls, steal-toed boots, old tee shirts, John Deere hat. It' s the same logic the tool of The DNA Vibrator employed when he was a college student. At that time, the tool dressed in the standard punk uniform: jeans, obscure band tee shirt, army boots, and seriously fucked up hair. The whole point is to upset people's expectations. They don't expect you to be a reasonable human being when you have a stovepipe hat made of your living hair on your head. Nor, do rich, privileged upper crust types expect that farmer Joe will converse at their level of discourse. So, when DNA walked into the elevator with a pizza in his hand, DNA could see the wheels turn in the heads of those in the elevator. A couple people immediately treated DNA like a non-entity. One person backed right up to me so that DNA had to hold the pizza box above the tool's head, or it would have dumped. The elevator wasn't that crowded. Her friend, whose eyes DNA could see, flashed a look like, "I'm sorry about my insensitive friend," and DNA looked back like, "Oh, don't worry bout me none, I sure am used to bein' shit on out on the farm!" One fellow next to DNA, noting that holding a pizza over the tool's head might be tiring , said, "I sure hope you don't have far to go. That takes some skill," referencing the holding with one hand, splayed fingers under the center of the box. DNA said, "I don't know, I've never done this before." The guy didn't know what to say. He was having difficulty reconciling the facts: Middle-aged farmer employed on his first day in the big city at the pizzeria, having to learn how to hold the pizza box on the fly. That moment was worth every minute of doing the leg work for the pizza.

The unexpected shit happened on the way back. See, DNA drove to Pittsburgh, which is about 9 hours, if you drive apeshit bat crazy like DNA does. However, it is not wise to drive too fast through the mountains of West Virginia, particularly when the roads are somewhat snow or ice covered. DNA took a more southerly route out, and avoided all unpleasant weather. On the way back, all reports indicated a fast "clipper," that doesn't sound so bad, a "clipper" zipping through the midwest, depositing an inch or so of snow. The further south, the more snow, but the higher temps. DNA took a middle road back, going through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and then Kentucky, and then finally, back to sweet home southern Illinois, or as we locals refer to it, "so ill."

The clipper, for those of you who were not in the United States over the last couple of days, turned out to be a serious bitch, not a little currier and ives snow capped mountain scene. It was ugly. High winds. Low temps, lots of blowing snow. For 450 miles, from Pittsburgh to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, driving was like plowing through a constant rain of volcanic ash. White knuckled the whole way, watching semis jack-knife and others slide across lanes of traffic, this was expected, and nothing compared to the shock which DNA experienced during the first 20 minutes of the 12 hours on the road in the snow. (DNA did not make it back home---it had to pull of the road a few miles past Elizabethtown, and stayed at a homey little place called the Hatfield Inn. DNA expected the McCoy Inn to be across the street. These folks didn't mind the overalls.)

As DNA started to drive back home, Saturday, after the international conference was over, it had not yet started to snow in Pittsburgh. However, snow had fallen there over many days. On I-79, one of the main roads out of Pittsburgh, a truck in front of DNA, actually no, not a truck, a fucking hug a tree while I destroy the wilderness HYBRID SUV was in front of DNA. The roof of this vehicle was covered with a sheet of ice, approximately 1-2 inches thick, the entire width and length of the roof. How does DNA know this so accurately? Because DNA was a couple of hundred feet behind this fucker when the wind pulled the ice sheet off the SUV, and launched it like a sail in the air. It was a beautiful ballet of ice, force, wind, and parabola, which only took an instant, but seemed like a slow motion replay of Franco Harris' immaculate reception (couldn't resist a great old Steelers allusion---considering DNA's location). DNA watched this sheet of ice flip high into the air, and then quicly realized that it was not going to land nears its car, not close to its car, but on, and DNA means, directly on, its car. In the span of a heartbeat, and a squint of the eyes, tensing of the shoulder muscles, and a quick half-shouted "Oh FUCK!" the ice sheet rocketed directly INTO the windshield of the vehicle DNA was driving. In the split second this was occurring, DNA knew it couldn't swerve to the right or left (busy, fast interstate with traffic on both sides) and couldn't slam on the brakes (traffic right behind it). For a fraction of a second, DNA thought the ice sheet might miss, or might be held up by the wind, or at the worst, might hit the hood of its vehicle, and in that split second, it didn't think it would be a big deal. After all, it's freaking snow. How big or heavy or thick or structurally sound could it be? Well, how about this: Structurally sound enough for a seventy mile an hour wind to lift it in one piece off the roof of a car, vault it about a hundred feet in the air, and slam it, still in one piece, into the windshield of a fucking car, nimrod!!! That is what DNA thought in the next split second as it became obvious that gravity and physics work the same here as any place else on the planet.

It hit at face level. DNA kept its eyes open to witness the event. DNA was not scared. When this kind of thing happens, what can you do? Prepare, and go with it. It shattered into thousands of pieces, and shook the car with its impact. The glass was frosted white. For a moment, after the "Oh FUCK!" DNA thought for sure it was going to shatter the windshield, and smash into the tool's face. Even if it didn't physically hurt, DNA thought in that instant that it would be unlikely that it could maintain control of the vehicle. I-79 was perched pretty high up on the side of a hill/mountain outside of Pittsburgh. DNA pictured the car, if it didn't hit anybody else's car, making a beautiful swan dive into a valley below. Well, it hit, it didn't break the windshield, and quickly, DNA hit the wiper blade controls. It took several swipes, but DNA could see through a clear spot and kept composure. After DNA realized it was a lucky fucker, and the adrenaline ebbed somewhat, and the sound of heartbeats did not fill its ears, DNA had the urge to release this pent up energy. The guy in the SUV must have known something had happened, because he quickly moved to the far side of the interstate, and slowed down. DNA pulled up next to him, and acted out the most over-emoted "What the FUCK is wrong with you!!!" it has ever over-emoted. In the end, DNA was not mad at the guy. DNA doesn't think he planned it. And if he did, DNA's hat is off to him: What excellent execution!

DNA actually was happy the event happened, because DNA stayed on its toes for the rest of the hellish drive home.

MOTIVATIONAL TWEAKER:

Recently, on its trip to Chicago, DNA had to do a presentation in an educational setting. Yes, suit jacket, tie, big smile and a lie. Not DNA...no, DNA is a straight shooting son of a gun. However, most people are there to tell you how much better their school is than the other guy's school. DNA tells it like it is. It helps that DNA works for the best program of its kind in the country. So, everybody else is completely full of shit, but DNA delivers.

Sometimes, these events have complimentary dinners for the invited representatives. Sometimes, these people like to hear themselves talk, because they know what they have to say is important. These pre-show dinners are the perfect place for dirigibles to vent some hydrogen. So, you might be saying to yourself, "That is why DNA fits in so well in that situation." You'd be wrong. DNA doesn't say anything during these events. It just sits back and listens. Saying something might change a dynamic which is much better observed without distortion. DNA telling some windbag that he is completely full of shit, and that he makes bad puns and illogical nonsequitors, might change the mode of speech which is currently allowing his assholiness to be revered by all who care to smell the shit coming out of his mouth. So, no, DNA doesn't talk its own self up at these things. It waits until a few days later and preaches about what is wrong with the world from the safety of a wobbly chair in its bedroom, after all of the rest of its family unit have drifted into slumberland. It's the modern day equivalent of the hermit in a cave in the desert, except now the sands have been replaced by the phosphorescent streaks repeating 60 times a second on a computer monitor. I AM THE DNA VIBRATOR, AND I SPEAK FOR THE GEEKS!

Not really. Geeks are generally too cool to hang out with DNA. While DNA was quietly enjoying a pretty good buffet, it overheard this conversation---no, nobody else really talked, so it was more of a---lecture, for lack of a better term. No, it was like a sales pitch, like Greg Kinnear did in that movie, Little Miss Sunshine.

Fat Lady: (DNA is not being rude. She was fat, in the "skin stuffed like a polish sausage" way, and she had exceedingly good manners and grooming, hence, lady): She was addressing a group of colleagues at the same table, to whom it was apparent that she had not spoken to until that evening, "There's only one real difference between successful people and those who are not successful." She paused for dramatic effect, which worked, because most of the people at the table waited to hear what was coming next. "Do you think its money, or power, or position, status?" As a colleague began to speak, she said, "Then you would be wrong. I have a presentation I do about this. It's called the Wall." For some, this was about as interesting as watching snails fuck, because they could hear the sales pitch coming. DNA finds the next reaction it describes a uniquely human trait, and one that is always entertaining to watch. When people would rather gouge their own eyes out than hear another word a person says, people will find ways to appear politely interested while sending off palpable waves of disdain and disgust for a person. It's like heat radiating off of a blacktop, it's so thick sometimes. We have all witnessed this, we have exhibited this behavior ourselves, sometimes, in an attempt to be polite, yet DNA does not think this is a kindness. Since it is actually more cruel and harmful to allow someone to believe that what they say matters to us, when in fact what they say does not matter to us, that is some seriously fucked up interpersonal communications. So, the big question, to be left for another day, is, Why Do We Do That? That's Pretty Ugly.

"You see," she continued, unaware or unmoved by the roiling waves of disinterest, "Most people come upon a wall, and if they can't climb over the wall, they quit. The wall defeats them. They were unsuccessful in reaching their objective. But a successful person, if she comes up to the wall, if she tries to climb it, she doesn't stop there. This is the important part: she doesn't just see it as a wall. If she can't climb it, she'll look for a way around, or under it, or find something that she can climb which will transform that wall into a step. You see?" Some mumbled. They either said, "Wow, that's amazing," or they said, "What a bunch of Tony Robbins leftover feel good, mean nothing bullshit." "That's right," she said. "Successful people don't give up. Successful people don't fail in front of an obstacle. They keep trying and trying. That's the message I try to give to the young people: to keep trying, no matter what, because there is a way out there for them." There was a general malaise of complacency and agreement, a series of nods, and congratulatory hand jobs all around. Wasn't that just neat-o? She figured it out, after the rest of us book-learned doorknobs just didn't get it. Thank you, fat lady.

So, what was wrong with her premise? Well, everything that matters if you are attempting to define what makes a person successful. The biggest logical fallacy DNA would like to tackle is the one most success gurus spout off about: Never quit, don't give up on your dreams, make it happen, keep trying, no matter what, or whatever the fuck new phrase encapsulates this extremely subversive and wrongheaded sentiment. Successful people fail all the time. Successful people have to fail, and probably fail more than unsuccessful people fail. However, and this is the important distinction between successful and unsuccessful people, when successful people fail, they learn something from their mistakes, and build on the positive (and negative) things they accomplish to form a core of experience that won't fail them again in the same way. The premise of the fat lady assumes that success and failure are static goals to attain, like places, when in actuality, they are states of mind, based on expectations which change over time, more like journeys. Next, regarding this same fallacy, some people can try, try again, and will continue to fail. Perhaps the idea is bad. Perhaps they are limited in some way. Perhaps other forces undermine the value of the idea. Perhaps you are a dick, and pissed off everyone who might have invested in your great idea.

In particular, in this educational setting, the idea that success or continued failure rests solely in your control and is determined by your own motivation is simply and harmfully, WRONG. Imagine telling a dyslexic as a child that reading is their problem. They just aren't trying hard enough. They just must not want to read badly enough. They are approaching the wall, and wouldn't you know it, they just aren't turning it into a step. And, they continue to fail when they return to the same basic concepts taught last week. They must be dumb. Dumb little dyslexic kids...it just so happens that this particular population was one of the main populations at this event, and that she was one of the speakers the educational institution was excited about having as a speaker. Her message sounded great, but was counterproductive, and actually destructive to those she was attempting to empower. It's the Disney Fallacy at work: Just believe in yourself, and when you need it the most, MAGIC will happen! A dyslexic can believe all about spelling, but that will not change the fact that likely, something in the way different brain circuits process symbols causes those symbols to be perceived or retrieved poorly by dyslexics. There is no "fix dyslexia quick" scheme. There is no motivational speaker who can "show you the way." We do ourselves a disservice when we listen to that crap, because it distracts us from the real problems that real decisions have dropped in our laps. In fact, this kind of "belief=magic" "winners never quit" mentality in the face of a harder, but more accurate reality of "successful people fail," and "Sometimes no matter what, what you do will not be good enough," is the same kind of cruel trick the fat lady's colleagues played on her when they pretended to listen to her while they reviled her speech.

Other signs she was worthless: "I have a presentation about that...." It made DNA want to say, "Oh, I've got this dick you can suck..."

When she told her group of adult peers "Now this is the important part." Which you should translate as, "Since most of you fucksticks wouldn't know a point if I jabbed it in your temple, I am telling you now that what I say next is important. Write it down. It is better than the things you can think of by yourself." Look back in this very blog post to see when DNA did it to you. Here is DNA's quote: "However, and this is the important distinction between successful and unsuccessful people, when successful people fail, they learn something from their mistakes, and build on the positive (and negative) things they accomplish to form a core of experience that won't fail them again in the same way." Talking down to your audience is never a "winner," rhetorically, even when the source of the condescension is not a motivational speaker, but is only DNA.

This reminds DNA of a band-related incident in CRANK, but that will have to wait for another day. It's getting late. Remember, you control time. All you have to do is believe.

I BELIEVE IN CRANK:

Once, while in the band Crank, we stayed at a friend's house in the St. Louis area. We played at a club in the University City area of St. Louis. It�s a great part of town. The show was terrific. We played with a band from Texas called Ed Hall. Ed Hall was a turning point for Crank. During that show, we realized that rock and roll was equal parts theater, music, shock, and overpowering amounts of noise, more noise than you could imagine that only three or four people can make.

Later that evening, as we were enjoying the after the show wind down, the Reverend Scotch got into a heated debate about what it takes to be successful. DNA was reminded of this exchange after its recent trip to Chicago (blog post 3/2/07). The Reverend's argument went kind of like this: Girl We Were Staying With (GWWSW): "Sure, you guys are playing out all the time, and you sound good, but you gotta believe in what you are doing. In fact, that's all you need to do." The Reverend: "Have you ever been in a band? Do you think any of us are doing this if we didn't believe that what we were doing was worth doing?" GWWSW: "No, you might believe in it, but you don't really BELIEVE in it." The Reverend: "Right. Exactly what the fuck does that mean? Regardless, your argument is false. Belief in yourself is probably the least important component of success. Bands like O-Town (remember, this was from several years ago---so to make this allusion relevant, put in any manufactured band you are more familiar with) are not assembled because of their belief in each other. They are corporate creations, designed to meet certain expectations we have, and certain formulas that record companies know works, and we, stupid sheep that we are, validate their methods by buying crap like that. Outside of that, looking only at those bands that actually do slog it out in the trenches, they all believe in themselves. What they don't have is the same group of support people, agents, the contacts on such and such record label, the same "in" at the influential club. That's what is different between them. That, and the quality of their music. After all that, THEN, belief in what you do adds into the equation." GWWSW: "You say stuff like that because your belief in what you do is not what would allow you to make the sacrifices and accept and recognize the opportunities that would come your way if you really did believe the way I'm talking about believing." The Reverend: "Why aren't you making a million dollars then? Why couldn't Einstein unite gravity with the other forces of nature, relativity and quantum mechanics? Accomplishments are not caused by belief. Belief may be necessary, but belief is not dedication, hard work, luck, networking, skill and talent. Belief may be a personal motivator, but come on. Are you telling me that Michael Bolton believed in himself more than Ray Charles? Is that what you are seriously trying to argue, because Bolton may have sold more records (again, DNA doesn't believe this is the case, but imagine yourself several years ago, as Bolton was tearing up the charts, making people who actually enjoy music wonder how the soundtrack to George Orwell�s vision of the future could have taken over our airwaves against our wills). Is this what you are saying?"

And so on. Again, this argument has surfaced around DNA so many times past and present. It is the same argument that the fundamentalist person on the plane presented to DNA (10/15/06), the argument that DNA heard from a motivational speaker just last month (3/2/07) and from a spirited conversation with a co-worker about creationism compared to evolution at about the same time. DNA is going to formulate a lengthier response to the question of how belief, or more accurately, a person's belief in belief, changes how they approach a situation. But the short form, which DNA is going to crap out right now, is this: When belief becomes an answer to a problem, and not a means to help you understand your place in the universe, or when belief becomes embodied in a thing, and is not the conceptual road your theology follows, then belief limits you. Belief, which normally is a blanket, or a shield when you tread in unfamiliar moral territory, can become a barrier to an open mind, or to experience which may in the end strengthen your belief and your understanding of your place in the universe.

Here's an example of what I am talking about: A person recently argued with DNA that because dinosaurs are not mentioned in the Bible, they didn't exist. That is, a person who believes that every word in the Bible is literally true, and that since dinosaurs were not mentioned in the Bible as a concept, they have to be false, they believe that millions of years of fossil records, and an unimpeachable record of at least two hundred of years of scientific research, and even recent tests which show actual recoverable DNA (don't be confused, here "DNA" is not this writer, it is deoxyribonucleic acid) within the fossilized bones of dinosaurs, all of this is a trick, it is Satan attempting to delude us, to make us doubt the veracity of the Bible. This is an example of how belief in a thing (a book) overrides common sense, research, and plain, obvious natural processes, that are fairly easily understood with a small amount of reading, and a little bit of experience in the REAL WORLD. However, the mere fact that DNA (the writer, here) espouses a belief that dinosaurs are the remains of creatures from millions of years ago has damned DNA in this other person's eyes. Because one aspect of DNA's belief does not match with a literal interpretation of the Bible, in that person's eyes, NO aspect of DNA's belief can match with any interpretation of the Bible. Hence, DNA's belief is limited, and its intelligence is actually only aiding in its self-delusion. DNA is Godless, and is going to Hell.

Years ago, when DNA was forced to endure this kind of blind belief, it made DNA mad, because somehow that other person was judging DNA to be less able to believe something, and so, to be less in all aspects of life. Seriously. A person who is blind in belief sees another through that myopic point of view. DNA believes this is why a fundamentalist is more able to blow up abortion clinics, or strap a bomb to his chest and blow up a bus or police station. Inherent in their beliefs is that because you don't believe like them, you are less than them, and certainly, will not occupy a seat in Heaven on judgment day.

Unfortunately, arguing with this kind of person is pointless, because God is certainly a higher authority then DNA on any subject brought up. Makes DNA wonder though, why is this person, or any fundamentalist, for that matter, concerned about going to college? Learning anything? Why do they use any technology, all of which is based solely on the same scientific principles which scientists are now using to try to probe the beginnings of the universe? DNA will tell you: because, their belief isn't convenient if they really stick to the tenets of their philosophy. So, if they use a remote control, it damn well better be a remote control powered by the commands of God, and not by a flow of electrons and an infrared eye. Otherwise, DNA thinks they are all hypocrites.

Most fundamentalists DNA know seem to think that the pursuit of empirical knowledge somehow invalidates spiritual truth. Why can't evolution and a belief in creation exist simultaneously? Why don't most fundamentalists see that the spiritual realm is based on faith, while the scientific realm is based on fact, and that one does not threaten the other? Why does embracing our God-given intelligence to try to understand and attempt to gain insight into our universe invalidate our own spiritual understanding of the universe? It is this same close-minded approach to the world that kept the catholic church and generations of dead WRONG christians preaching and believing that the world was flat when insurmountable evidence pointed otherwise, in order to protect a point of religious "understanding of God's word." Answer these questions if you can, fundamentalist. When DNA engages a fundamentalist in debate, at some point, the fundamentalist loses, or quits. So far, the record is: Fundamentalists: 0; DNA: Infinity. DNA is clearing out a hard drive just for the hate mail. Bring it on. God is on DNA's side. He and DNA have been friends, well, since before this universe was created.

THE UNIFORM OF YOUTH:

When the tool was a young pup, he didn't know why he was style-less even among his peers in a tiny rural town in central Illinois. There were about 30 kids in his graduating class, and just about every one of them, even the camouflage wearing, John Deere Hat sporting country boys, understood style better than him. Don't take anything away from those folks: they looked good in a suit on Prom night. A tee shirt with rolled up sleeves didn't look gayer than Patrick Swazye in Road House when they did it.

It's not that the tool didn't understand style; it's more that he understood the antithesis of style much, much better. He didn't particularly care about wearing the coolest clothes, having a hair style, or having glasses that were from this century. He soon came to understand that there were others that seemed to have the same lack of interest in towing the line of style. In 1977, he saw DEVO on television. "Here are some guys who get it," he thought. Artists have long challenged conventional ideas of what should be considered art, but artists also challenge the more mundane aspects of culture, too. What is considered beautiful? What is considered pleasing?

Many people are uncomfortable when they see others obviously adopting a look, a facade, a way of life that is counter to the dominant culture. Some become agitated, some become angry, a few become belligerent and abusive, and a small number are moved to violence and hatred simply because a person is or chooses to be different. Why is it that? Why are those in power and control worried or afraid of those who do not or choose not to look and act like them?

As the tool began to play in bands, his role models and those whom he respected included some folks like the Clash, DEVO, the Sex Pistols, XTC, the Police, and many other early punk and new wave bands. Do an image search on Google to see that these two musical movements, and really, all musical movements, create and perpetuate their own costumes, their own uniforms, if you will. This is true not only of musical genres, but of most groups, whether they are biker gangs or boy scouts. People desperately need easily identifiable signs to be able to discriminate and assign meaning to the myriad of information we each assess about each person who comes within our field of experience. In our culture, we allow certain groups to express themselves in certain ways under certain conditions. It is okay for bikers to wear all leather at a biker bar. However, it is not okay to wear all leather to do your grocery shopping. So, it's okay for the rock and roll band to wear leather, have freaky haircuts, be dirty and have tattoos from head to foot. In fact, some looks have become expected, (so much for the counter culture) as long as they keep within their sphere. Because so much money is to be made from popular music, record companies, music TV, promoters, and consumers themselves perpetuate the bubble that allows artists to express themselves. How else could a person like Michael Jackson have actually lived the way he lived, in NEVERLAND, for Christ's sake? Michael Jackson's excesses are not just his. We all created the bubble which allowed his little world to develop. His life is a natural side effect and proof that the tenets of this argument here are basically sound. Only after several continued affronts to "normal" society did Jackson get into trouble. Counter culture is okay as long is it stays in its fucking place. You know, under the illusion that counter-culturalists are relevant. But when someone in the counter culture steps out of the role of "entertainer," or "voice in the wilderness," then the latitude that person had before to dress and act outrageously quickly vanishes. Arnold Schwarzenegger's political career was nearly derailed by his opponents dredging up his sexual exploits and commentary when he was being treated like a Greek god come to life in his youth. As his role changed, as he attempted to continue to cash in on his fame to fuel his political rise, society would have none of that. In effect, society demands that you can't live a counter-culture life, and disagree with those in power unmolested, if you begin to actually wield cultural power yourself. In the end, Schwarzenegger had to disavow his counter-culture life. For most of the last 20 years, in order to move away from his "entertainer" role, he has had to abandon that life style. Dozens of more obvious choices exist, and hundreds of more important ones exist. But DNA hopes it made its point.

The tool noticed quickly that when he went to college, his little counter-culture was small potatoes compared to the counter-culture that existed at the university. In fact, he felt and acted like a wannabe. He tried 'crazy' haircuts, which frankly looked stupid on him. He tried 'wild' clothes, which didn't fit right. After about a year or two, the tool began to realize that none of these 'punks' he felt drawn to were really doing anything any differently than the clicks in high school did. That didn't make what they did wrong, because in general, the punks were the 'alternative' to the way most people on campus looked. The tool certainly wanted to be associated with the group "least likely to pledge a fraternity." Still, the relevance of wearing ratty tee shirts, leather jackets and army boots wasn't clear to the tool, until a couple of events happened.

While walking back to his dorm, he had to walk by the athlete's dorm. One day, minding his own business, sporting a mohawk six inches high, a short-sleeved Ramones tee shirt, rotten blue jeans and army boots, a faceless ass-munch from the third floor of the athlete's dorm yelled, "FAGGOT!"

The tool was not accustomed to being yelled at by dumbfucks. Though he was frightened, (he didn't want to get beat up by some Neanderthals) he decided the best course of action was to flip whoever it was off. The tool could hear the commotion upstairs, through some of the hall's open windows. "Did that jagoff just flip you off? Let's go fucking stomp a mudhole in his ass!" Then out the window: "Hey jagoff, you think you're pretty funny, huh?" If he thought that the tool was going to engage in a conversation while his buddies hustled downstairs to ambush the tool, he was dead wrong. But the tool couldn't resist a parting shot as he zipped back to his own dorm (not far away): "Not as funny as you saying faggot! How did you know? I mean, I could tell you were a faggot cuz I saw you sucking that guy's dick, but how did you know about me?"

On several more occasions after this, shouts of "Faggot!" would ring out across the serenity of the lake in the cool evening air as the tool walked home. Once, someone threw food at the tool, like a watermelon rind or something. Classy. Things finally drew to a close when, in the cafeteria, a group of jocks ran into the tool. "Hey faggot," said one football player type, as a couple more of his buddies started to come around. The tool recognized his voice, and cut the conversation short. "Listen, you guys want to beat me up, then do it. Right now. You win. Congratulations. But if you expect me to just fucking knuckle under to you or you or you because you are bigger than me, then forget it. So if fucking with me is the only way you get to feel like you're men, then I feel sorry for you."

About this time, Ron came over. Ron was one of those few guys who looked like a bigger dick than these guys, but in reality was a corn-fed country boy who didn't spend a day in the weight room but could bench press more than those clowns. Even though he thought the tool was a weirdo, he still laughed at the tool's stupid jokes, and could relate to their shared rural upbringing. The football jocks knew Ron because despite his physical prowess, he thought most football players were stupid. He himself was an electrical engineer. As Ron approached, they gave him the nod of acknowledgement, and to their surprise, he said to the tool, "Hey, (XXXX), what's up?" The tool responded, "Not much Ron. How are the Amish doing?" (The tool's little joke, since Ron was from Arcola, Illinois). "Still no electricity," he said. Then he asked, "Are these guys bothering you?" The tool must have looked pathetic, to spur Ron to come to his aid. To this day, DNA marvels at what was said next. It defies movie logic, that's for damn sure. In the movies, when this kind of question is asked, the person always says, "No, we're cool. We were just joking around." But instead, the tool said, "Yeah, Ron. These dickheads have been fucking with me for weeks, and I was just telling them to put up or shut up." Even the black jocks' faces drained of color a bit. "Do you need any help with that?" Ron asked. Clearly, Ron had his own axe to grind. The tool said, "No, I think we just came to an understanding. But I'll let you know if that changes."

After that moment, the tool became more willing to adopt the uniform of the counter culture, for the same reasons that in the 2004 presidential election, he voted democrat: cuz even a stilted, wooden, puppet of a ketchup heiress was better than the alternative. The taunts came less and less from the athlete dorm. Believe it or not, there were even grudging nods of acknowledgement from time to time, like if a jock happened to see the tool at party at Lewis Park, or later, while he was playing up at the Hangar. That's a whole other surreal experience, when a guy who a year ago was interested in humiliating you physically, was coming up to you after a show and saying, "Dude! You were that dude over at the dorms with that hair! Dude, that was fucking wild, man!" (Now, since the tool was in a band, it boosted the jock's cool credibility to know him). "Oh, yeah," the tool would say. "Thanks for coming to the show." (which was code for now you have to pay to talk to DNA, douchebag)

Then, during that semester, the tool was taking an educational psychology class. The instructor asked the tool if he could talk about the way the tool looked in class, as a way to discuss how culture informs the choices we make. At that point, the tool was galvanized to take any criticism, and this instructor was able to keep the discussion focused, and really make it mean something to some folks. It certainly set the tool to think about his own beliefs and motivations for looking different on purpose.

Most people initially thought it was a cry for attention, as in a sad attempt to be noticed.

Some said they didn't understand why the tool would cut his hair like that.

Some said that some people crave or need attention, as in a mental illness or need which was being filled.

Others thought it was for shock value, but did not offer explanations as to what that actually meant.

Some felt it was done to purposely alienate, or to cause distrust or fear among others who don't understand why some would want to make himself obviously not part of the group. Or, because the tool must not like the group.

Others said he must be doing it to fit in with his own group.

Or, perhaps he is an "artist," and this is supposed to be entertainment, or some kind of "statement" he is making.

Although some elements of those different reasons play a part, in some degree or another, which the tool won't deny, and which, if any punk does deny, is lying to himself, no one stated the reason the tool knew in his heart was the truth:

The tool was testing their boundaries, and his own. He was conducting a social experiment, to see how quickly people discriminate and pass judgment on something as superficial as a haircut, to see what happens when you have to confront something that is outside of a person's "normal" experience. We all do it. The cheerleader, the jock, everybody, is testing his or her own hypothesis every time he or she walks out her door. The tool was not setting out a goal to shock anyone, but was very interested to understand why the way he looked seemed to be shocking to some others.

People are worried and afraid, or more likely, threatened and unsure about a variety of groups in this country, because the dominant culture can't readily assign meaning to the signs these groups present society with. What you don't understand, you fear. When you don't know what a person or group represents, you protectively shield yourself from potential harm by excluding the counter-culture group. Being counter to a culture is an implicit attack on the culture that represents the majority. People who dress or act counter to culture are challenging others' notions about what is acceptable and why it is acceptable. Nobody really likes to be challenged. Some respond to a challenge with introspection, others, with knuckle sandwiches and contempt. When you are challenged, you may find that your rationale for doing or thinking something is flawed, or worse, WRONG, and nobody, even those who tell you they are open to discussion, likes to be shown they are wrong. So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of the post, "Why are those in power and control worried or afraid of those who do not or choose not to look and act like them?" Because nobody likes being wrong. Some people are so afraid of being wrong, or conversely, worried that you may be right, that they would rather mercilessly persecute you than tolerate your opinion. So the real question becomes why are people so afraid of being wrong that they are willing to lie, cheat, steal, humiliate, belittle, bully, demean, ridicule, marginalize, threaten, coerce, and kill to keep those who don't agree with them silent? What are we really afraid of?

"ORIGINAL MUSIC".....PLEASE:

Just the other day, DNA was talking to a group of young pups, some grad students with whom he works. These are some fine young men and women, who haven't heard the stories of the glory days of DNA's musical mis-spent youth 50 times yet, so the varnish on some of the memories is still pretty glossy. While we were talking, one asked DNA if it knew the guys in the band the Jungle Dogs,(read about them in the Carbondale Nightlife's Best of Music Archive) and DNA said yeah, sure, DNA knew the guys in the Jungle Dogs. Bands DNA was in and the Jungle dogs played at about the same time, and though we did different things, we each were good in our own ways. "Different in what way?" said one of the grads. "Well," DNA said, the Dogs played mostly covers and party music, while we played mostly original music." "Oh, cool," responded the grads.

There is a conceit in that statement, "we played original music," which even the grads understood, which even DNA is ashamed to say it feels today: that playing "original" music was somehow artistically "better" than playing cover songs, or playing party music for the obviously traditionally drunk college-guy crowd. Of course, this conceit is bullshit. So, reread the title of this post now, but with the appropriate sarcasm: Original music........please! DNA is enough of an attention whore to let the grads continue to accept this fallacy, however.

DNA remembers back then, how we thought we were so much cooler than the road house bands that played tired old covers of Hendrix and Van Halen, 38 Special and Bon Jovi. We didn't stoop to that level. No, we were creative fucking geniuses, we had our own songs, our own tales, our own voices which needed to be heard. If we were going to spend the time learning a song, it damn well better be one of our own. Of course, learning someone else's songs, and either making them your own, or playing them so well that you do them justice as an homage, well, that's really hard to do. Don't believe DNA? Pick any song you want, and with few exceptions, even the best bands' recordings do not sound "as good" as the original. DNA is well aware of this, which is why it chooses to record some covers on each of its new projects. It is important to not only stay grounded, and realize that other, better songwriters have written some truly inspiring music, but that there is something to be learned from figuring out how someone else played something, and part of the fun of playing is to attempt to make that song recognizable as your own. And if you fail to achieve these lofty goals? Who fucking cares? It's just a cover song. You're cashing in on someone else's talent, anyway.

Whether you wrote the song or not, as soon as you are performing it out live, or on a record, or anywhere outside the confines of your skull, you are now performing a cover song. There is no difference, creatively, from a musician's point of view, between performing a cover, and performing an "original." Each time you play "your" song, it is a different rendition. You just happen to be a little more personally invested in the song you wrote, at least, at first.

Also, let's blast a shotgun at the concept of "original" music once and for all. Once, while CRANK was playing a show in Mattoon,IL, (can't remember the name of the club), we played with a metal band. They were "co-headliners" (in other words, they wanted everyone to know that their dicks were as big as ours---they weren't, of course, but when your dicks are as big as ours, it is actually amusing to see others attempt to scoot up alongside and whip it out). We were in a concrete block room, and as loud as were were, the sound pressure was murderous. It was the kind of loud that made your stomach upset and blurred your vision. We were lucky, because we wore earplugs, but it was impressive to watch even the hardest guys stare stupified by the noise. After we finished a scorching set, and everybody's teeth were rattling, we broke down our stuff to an awestruck crowd. After the other band finished shitting themselves, they limped about the stage, getting their stuff set up. Some of their roadies(read unemployable losers who bummed pot and road hags off of the band) were talking by the sound board. As we were readying ourselves for a long night of drinking, HOG and DNA asked one of the road crew, "So, what do these guys sound like?" The roadie obviously had practiced this line, and delivered it with relish: "Like nothing you have ever heard before." HOG actually laughed a little. What do you say back to that? We weren't suitably impressed, so the roadies moved on to other more stoned surroundings. As HOG and DNA talked, we started wondering just what "like nothing we have ever heard before" could possibly sound like.

DNA said, "I know. I bet they sound like dinosaurs. Nobody's ever heard dinosaurs before."

HOG said, "No, I bet it will be like the sound of one hand clapping."

DNA: "What if one of them plays a sweater like a banjo, another beats some roadkill with a bumper, while the other fucks a dog toy that's been miked up? I haven't heard that ever before."

This went on for quite some time, until HOG summed it up: "Well, they look like a typical metal band. What if they don't suck? That would be something I haven't heard before."

About two minutes into their set, needless to say, we were underwhelmed, and they were a bunch of fucking liars. They did sound like something we had heard before: It was the sound a vacuum makes, or the sound their moms made right before they got a load in the face: It was the sound of SUCK.

Like language, music is self-reflexive, relativistic, infinite in variation, yet finite in scope. The exact same piece of music listened to under exactly the same conditions will mean different things to each listener, each and every time it is heard. That kind of variation within easily understood, stylistic and cultural limits, means that just like the suck-ass metal band from the above paragraph, although DNA is writing "brand-new, all original songs" for the new album, it's not like you haven't heard this before. That is not the point. The musical tradition is what is understood or expected, like what you get from the hooker for your money. But, like a warm and sloppy mouth kiss from her, DNA hopes to surprise you a little on your trip around the world.

There is nothing new, especially in music, under the sun, so why listen to any of this derivative bullshit? It's the variation. As a species, humans thrive on variation. The big things are easily subsumed, but the little things, the little things make all the difference in the world. Even though it has taken science two thousand years of mathematical theorems to describe chaos, the human brain is designed to recognize it at birth. Repetition and variation. It's the ebb and flow of life, as a concept it is at the core of the replicating chain of dna, and it is an inherent aspect of what defines almost all processes in the universe. Music presents a sensory map the same way that mathematics presents a topological map of how we function. DNA can think of no better, more fundamental reason why we are inexplicably drawn to music, and why, despite everything we already know and expect from the music we like to hear, we are still endlessly entertained and surprised by "original" music.

KIDS CAN BE UNUSUALLY SOPHISTICATED:

Late last week, one of DNA's daughters, age six, was wearing some fairly trampy stuff for a six year old. DNA said, "You can't wear that top with that skort." She replied, "Sure I can, Dad. It's white. White goes with everything." DNA was impressed. Culture is an insidious little beast. All it takes is a different point of view to change the argument. Impressive or not, however, she did change her top.

IT'S APRIL, FOOL:
(April 2007)

The problem with April Fool's is that, lost to antiquity, the real reason why the holiday exists is because it is a time when Spring is springing, and nature herself is prone to flamboyant displays. People have been cooped up for a season, and need to act a little goofy every once in awhile as the days start to lengthen but the hard work of planting, making babies, and decimating opposing armies, has yet to begin in earnest for the new year.

Over time, this annual "airing your Winter goofiness out" was culturally institutionalized. Recently, it has been turned from a playful and lighthearted holiday to a vicious opportunity to make look like a fool somebody you really think IS a fool.

Well, nobody, even your friends who don't mind laughs at their own expense, appreciates being made a fool. DNA proposes that the day after April Fool's Day should be called "Punch Anyone in the Face Who Played an April Fool's Prank on You" Day. And DNA means sucker punch: sneak up behind, tap on the shoulder, cock arm way back to Kansas, and PUNCH RIGHT IN THE FACE. That would really be funny, huh? Now who's the fool?

Speaking of fools, Mr. Kamikaze and his family came to down to visit. Their kids are on school break, and so they graced DNA's house yesterday and today. We all got stupid, but Saturday night, instead of getting stupid-er on gin and sausage, DNA and Mr. Kamikaze, sitting in a couple of chairs in the living room, watching the repeat of SNL, just slowly drifted off to sleep after a margarita or two.

DNA hopes its like that when it turns 87, and the veil of night is falling for the last time over the tool's tired eyes. It wants to get up, and laugh until sunrise at the stupidest shit, but instead, it feels the tug of sleep at the corners of its mind. Finally it doesn't care if it moves again. It feels comfortable to simply be here, even if it is only for a moment or two longer, and then, like the needle of a record player at the end of the album, DNA's consciousness quickly spirals to the center, the label, amidst the soothing static of endlessly repeating white noise.

What happens next? Will God flip the record over and play the B side? Will God reset the needle and listen to the first side over again? Or, will God wait for the stylus to reset itself, and watch the next record automatically drop, and hope that the next son of a bitch is a little more entertaining?

Ahh, the greater mysteries. On a lighter note, tonight, while typing this blog, DNA called its dog, Buster, into the room right after DNA farted such a raunchy fart that the monitor quit working for a couple of minutes. And, the dog came in, mouth open. Buster was expecting some scratching behind the ears, but got a faceful of fart. Ha Ha! Dumb dog! April Fools!!

GOING ON VACATION, BABY:

It's still a secret from the kids, but we're taking the family to Disneyworld. DNA has not been to Disneyworld before. Although the kids will certainly love it, DNA feels like it is taking a trip, head first, into the belly of the beast. Disneyworld is exactly what is wrong with our planet. The Walt Disney philosophy is what has ruined our planet. Others on the internet have forwarded this argument much better than DNA: This quote, from a review of the book, The Gospel According To Disney:

Pinsky, Orlando journalist and author of The Gospel According to the Simpsons, sets his sights on a larger, yet more elusive target: the Magic Kingdom. As Pinsky argues, Disney's cultural influence is enormous: "millions of children around the world know much of what they do about the practical application of right and wrong from Disney." The "Disney gospel" is simple enough in outline: believe in yourself, never give up, good will be rewarded and evil punished. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This quote should send chills up your spine. Disney single-handedly indoctrinated generations of children around the world through "lite" versions of fairly tales and fables, removing the cultural power that Grimm and Aesop and Andersen had originally. Those folk tales taught the important and serious cultural lessons that have been replaced by frankly, immoral lessons about how to survive in the world. Don't see the parallels between a too clean and perfect Disney world and George Orwell's 1984? Walt Disney perpetuated a belief that man can control his environment, or provide a better version of nature than Nature itself. Otherwise, why have the gall to even call a "theme" park Disneyworld? What's the theme? A world remade in Disney's image, that's what.

Ask yourself, when watching the next Disney animated movie, particularly the "classic" stuff, where are the mothers in the children's world? Why are all the "bad" people darker complected? How come the whiny brats who disobey parents are rewarded (in the end) for their behavior? Why is it that every girl under the age of 21 in this country either thinks she is, or at one time really believed she was a "princess?" Know what happens in the real Little Mermaid story at the end? She don't get the prince, that's for sure.

Watch a show on the Disney channel, or any of the "kids" channels anymore. Ask yourself, especially if you are a parent: If your kid acted like most of those kids on TV, wouldn't you be putting a beat down so bad on your kid you'd make the news?

DNA doesn't think the Disney world is a "conspiracy" or anything like that. Not at all. It's blatant. It's obvious. It's in your face. It's selling damaged goods in Mousketeer packages like Britney, watching as she practically drips sex from the screen pre-eighteen, all the while espousing their commitment to 'wholesome family entertainment.' Does anyone wonder at all why Britney imploded? Wouldn't you?

So, you may ask, "If that's what you believe, then why are you taking your kids there?"

Well....

Hmmmmm.......

Good question........

DNA heard that Pirates of the Caribbean is still pretty cool (the ride, not the movies). Oh yeah, there are also the "adult" clubs at "Pleasure Island." Let the kids sort out there own moral compasses, DNA needs to do some Jello shots off of Minnie's pierced and heaving belly.

Since DNA will be gone for a week, don't expect anything new here for a bit. However, when DNA gets back, watch out. DNA is going looking for where the park employees hang out to drink and smoke weed. It will bring back pictures of it all.

On 4/5/07, DNA's old friend Ken said: You are as demented as ever. Only you could see the true evil in Disney, point it out, and make it stick in my head. I'll never look at Bell, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, or any of the other trampy female stars the same way again.

DNA aims to please, Ken. Glad to stick evil things in your head. It is nice to see you rummaging about the website, too.

INTO AND OUT OF THE BELLY OF THE BEAST:

DNA has never been to Disneyworld before. Neither has DNA's kids. Regardless of DNA's own private theories about Walt Disney, DNA was not going to spoil the experience for them. Purely from a pre-adolescent point of view, Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom (the two parks we had tickets for) rocked. DNA can imagine how it must have been been, pre-vhs tape, pre cable TV, when the Disney franchises were exclusively available only on the big screen, or when families found a way to make the pilgrimage to Disneyworld. Even more than now, the Disneyworld experience would really have been something that stayed with you for life, even as an adult. DNA has a level of respect for what Disney accomplished, that it didn't understand before, particularly in the Magic Kingdom park: it is really more like Westworld than a theme park. When it first opened, it was an attempt to be immersive and interactive with the technology of 35 years ago. DNA can only imagine that as anachronistic and antiquated as the Country Bears look now, how amazing they must have looked then. However, there was something a little perverse and frankly risque about the Country Bears. See for yourself. "All the guys who turn me on turn me down!" Come on! The girl bear is talking about fucking. To little kids. To paraphrase: All the guys who stimulate me sexually are not interested in me sexually. It don't get much wronger than that.

In 35 years, a lot of things change. However, many of the Disney attractions have not. Why not? Because the park changed over time, and no longer served the Westworld function only; it also became an icon, and a destination that linked us culturally to a shared experience called Disneyworld. So, there is a kitschy factor apparent everywhere, anachronistic animatronic bears in one theater, while just a building or two away, state of the art 3-D film features. DNA has to admit, as a theme park, most of the rides were pretty tame, and worth the waits only to be able to say afterwards, "We rode such and such." But as a cultural experience, it was worth every minute. Through the entire experience DNA was at once underwhelmed by the lack of thrills and all of the "theme" window dressing on run of the mill rides, and overwhelmed by the perfection and efficiency of the entire operation. It was not a hassle to drive into. It was easy to get around. It was well laid out. There were never too long waits for rides. They made the wait lines part of the experience (smart). There were "fast passes" which were assigned times to quickly and easily ride otherwise busy rides. There were a variety of restaurants at a variety of price points (it was as cheap to eat in Disney for the family as it is normally any place we go out to eat). It was clean. It didn't smell. They obviously employ thousands of people to make everything work. DNA was surprised to see that most of the attractions were not rides per se, but more continuations of movie properties, and almost all of them had as their primary purpose to put you into a story.

Some were sadly out of date. Swiss Family Robinson didn't mean much to the kids. The Song of the South didn't resonate with anyone younger than DNA, that's for sure. Again, from an anthropological perspective, the images and how they have lost cultural relevance would make an interesting study.

Pirates of the Caribbean was strange. Most of the old ride was there, but mixed in with it were state of art animatronic Johnny Depp looking Jack Sparrows around every bend.

Lacking: Tron. Where was Tron? Also, the Incredibles. WTF, Disney?

Worth the price of admission: Space Mountain. Also, for the kids, the night parade, and the fireworks. Every night their fireworks are 10 times better than most town's 4th of July fireworks.

DNA is not going to turn this into a critique of every ride in the park (maybe later---DNA has yet to see if the internet will yield up a good, honest review of the park)but quickly, turning to the Animal Kingdom, it was a zoo. That said, it was Disney's take on a zoo, which meant that there was a lot of style, with a little substance. Best part: the non zoo Expedition Everest roller coaster.

Even when Disney clobbers you over the head with artifice, the best example of that being the huge "tree of life," the centerpiece of the Animal Kingdom, Disney is so completely committed to the illusion that despite DNA's better judgment, DNA was not disgusted by the audacity it takes to bring the concept of the tree of life into a concrete form six stories high; it was mesmerized by it, by the single-minded purpose that is evident from the time, money, artistry and scale of the Disney vision. DNA can only imagine that the grandiose gestures, and feelings of wanting to believe in the Disney vision is like the feeling that must have swept over the population of Germany in the 1930's......

Okay, Disney is not like that, not so much the world domination at the expense of an ethnic minority, but DNA left the parks with the reverberating feeling that Disney is really good at one thing: illusion---making concrete look like mud, so safari trucks bumping along the road give you the impression that they are traversing a muddy road in Africa. In one respect, Disney is high concept--'what if Experiment 626 were really escaping from its detention cell and you had to stop him' but in another respect, Disney is low brow delivery---sensory gags, especially with smells, visual tricks, and animatronics. Like most illusions, they are fun to look at, but when they are scrutinized too carefully, lose their shine.

DNA is surprised that no one has yet come up with the bright idea to invite Disney to create the supply chains and service structures necessary to fully and completely serve a city that needs to be rebuilt, like, say, New, Orleans, or Bande Ache, Sumatra. For a time, if you remember, there was talk of the "Disney-fication" of New Orleans, with big money developers buying whole neighborhoods and putting up expensive housing. That, however, is not Disneyfication. That is commercialization and gentrification. Disneyfication would be to take something messy and organic, and make it efficient with the impression of organic flow when necessary to fulfill the needs of the population. Disneyfication would have included raising the lower 9th ward by 20 feet, carting in rock and dirt to raise the city above sea level, in a momumental but effective way to reduce flood risk. Disneyfication would have eliminated the "pretty mess" we seem to like so much. After the brainwashing that occurred in "It's a Small World, After All," DNA is no longer sure that Disneyfication is bad. Life would be a lot less stressful if we didn't have to worry about garbage pick up or housing designs or eccentricities, if criminals simply "went away" when the brightly dressed incarceration units came to present the indisputable video evidence of the criminal's actions, and citizens could pass judgment through wireless internet courts in which every citizen could be jurors and vote on decisions immediately. The rehabilitation center, located away from all main thoroughfares, yet still within the heart of the city, would actually work, and criminals would come out rehabilitated, and earnestly desire to help others function in society. There wouldn't be room for dissension or bad thoughts because so much of your time would be spent fulfilling your purpose---to provide for the common good.

Sound Orwellian? There are worse worlds to live in. Like the one on the campus of Virginia Tech, or the one in which scumbags put acid on children's slides, hideously burning unsuspecting toddlers.

MORE ABOUT DISNEY, AND OTHER MISCELLANY:

One of the most important elements of the Disney experience that DNA has never heard anyone else talk about was the sound. The sound was noticeably good everywhere you went. Not just on rides, which DNA will get to in a minute, but throughout the park, as parades went by, over public address systems, etc. And not just high quality, but synchronized so that doppler shifts were not apparent. Think about that for a minute. DNA has tried to figure how difficult it would be to either create the illusion by "pools" of sound to trick you into thinking that the sound is continuous with no shifts in wavelengths, or to delicately delay or advance recordings from some relative position in the park to reduce the doppler effect. So again, Disney is really good at creating this sonic illusion. DNA knows that most of the illusion is provided by effective use of walls, water, and crisp but loud PA systems. Think about how loud a PA has to be to be heard over the noise of a roller coaster. This was perhaps the element of the parks that impressed DNA the most.

DROPPING THE A-BOMB:

DNA has threatened to write about politically, socially, religiously, and culturally charged issues for some time. The problem with this kind of writing is that for most of the issues, other people have weighed in more eloquently than DNA possibly can, because they have had the time, resources, intelligence, personal connection, and/or distance to present sound and rational arguments. The problem is also that just as many wingnuts with axes to grind and passionate, illogical, unreasonable arguments shout louder than the rest of us, and make entering a debate not particularly attractive.

So, while the nation of sheep graze, loudmouths set policy, and despite the best intentions of voices of reason, *modest proposals* are ignored and lessons of our past are forgotten, unlearned, and/or repeated.

When we get to big issues like abortion, which is the first issue covered by DNA in the Wharburton Series of Internet Rants and Various Spoutings Off and Other Bullshit, (WSIRVSOOB, for short) it seems to DNA that the best way to distill its position on this issue is to ask and answer a series of defining questions that will help clear the moral battleground. Along the way, DNA will attempt to expose bullshit and myths perpetuated by various sides of the argument, discuss those points, if it can find any, that make sense. DNA will attempt to do this without pandering to any cause, except its own.

This will be a voyage of discovery, because at the time of this writing, DNA is not decided on this issue. DNA thought it was decided, years ago, but has thought about many, many unresolved questions that keep popping up. So, right or wrong, whether it fits DNA’s decidedly selfish and leftist bent, DNA will try to come up with the best answer it can for itself.

This sounds awfully serious, so right about now, we should all shout, “ratfuck!” Don’t let the gravity of the issue weigh you down, Einstein. That’s the problem with most people who start to discuss these kinds of issues. They get bogged down in dogma or politics, or get pissed off because they felt that somebody was calling them ignorant, so they put up walls which have as their only function to stop logic and reason at the gates of the debate. So, Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Rule Number One: In this debate, do not believe what you find on the internet, in books, or from some expert, this writing included. If you do a search on Google for “abortion,” you will get about 158,000,000 hits. Go read them all, DNA will wait. Okay, back? The first hits look they are from sites designed simply to give information, but within the first few sentences, you come to realize that they have a very specific slant. DNA wonders what that slant would be? We’ll talk about that in a second.

Rule Number Two: Most sites you look at might be called something like, “The Abortion Information Clearinghouse,” which about 2 pages in you realize is sponsored by the “Christian Coalition for Protection of Life which Begins at Conception.” In other words, not only are the sites deceptive in their design and purpose, these liars are supposed to be pious people, following, you hope, a moral compass set by God. In short, they should be more virtuous than you, but are clearly not above trying to deceive you or make you feel guilty. DNA doubts that God told them it would be okay to lie if it scares the crap out of a confused, scared, and pregnant 13 year old.

Other rules will certainly become evident in the course of this writing. As they become clear to DNA, DNA will share them with you.

To set the stage, there is certain terminology which must be changed, because the terminology and the context in which the terms are used poorly frame the current debate.

Pro-Life: There are tons of links and articles that talk about the way that this term fails. People who use this term to describe their position would consider that being a person begins at conception, and that from that moment on, all of the rights, legal, moral, and ethical, are inherent because a fertilized egg is a human being. However, calling yourself pro-life would seem to cover a lot of ground. Pro-life people should be anti-death penalty, pro-gun control, and anti-tobacco activists, since the death penalty threatens life directly, and since guns and tobacco are also rampant and direct causes of death. Yet, there is no greater disparity in point of view among pro-life people. Overwhelmingly, they are the same people who support the death penalty, and are against regulating or banning guns and tobacco. Apparently, the sanctity of life loses some of its appeal once that human being grows up a little. As a close friend of DNA has said, “these folks aren’t pro-life, they are just pro-birth.”

Pro-Choice: Please. There are fewer articles that discuss the inherent weakness of this term, but the weakness exists, too. Pro-Choice people tend to believe that being a person begins sometime after conception, and some think rights for that fetus do not begin until it is born. Pro-choice supporters don’t really support all reproductive choices open to a woman. They are fixated on and determined to defend the choice to end a pregnancy. If they were pro-choice, they would spend equal amounts of time discussing every option available to a woman who is considering abortion, but pro-choice supporters fight this requirement in some states as being a strong-arm tactic by their conservative enemies (which, unfortunately, it sometimes is). For every dollar that the Pro-Choice camp spends on abortion education, they should also spend on education about the joys of motherhood, and, on every other form of birth control, abortion, and parenthood. Determining when a fetus becomes a baby, (from a religious point of view, when it is ensouled, or from a biological point of view, when it is viable, or from a societal and governmental point of view, when it is a citizen) is a hard to define slope that Pro-Choice supporters find themselves on. Instead of recognizing this, most supporters unquestioningly follow the Roe V. Wade banner as dogmatically as their counterparts follow theirs.

So, what do we do? DNA intends to use more direct, and frankly, better language to describe the opposing points of view. Pro-Life is now Pro-Birth. Pro-Choice is now Pro-Abortion.

DNA will now summarize the major planks in the Pro-Birth and Pro-Abortion camps. Then, DNA will take more time to discuss each of the splinters one can get when shuffling your feet along these planks.

A stereotypical Pro-Birth person is against abortion for almost any reason, including safeguarding a mother’s health. He is also against sex education, except for teaching abstinence to horny teenagers. He is religiously and politically conservative. He typically does not support social programs which teach birth control methods or supply birth control options. He does not support the use of birth control methods which prevent conception, or drugs which can halt the process of conception or implantation within 24 to 48 hours of having sex. He does not support social programs to help provide for the health and welfare of children born to people experiencing economic hardships. He does not vote to fund Child and Family Services departments in his state. This same person often “blames” a promiscuous mother, or the unwed mother, or the minority group Pro-Birth supporters assume that the mother must be representative of, for the mother and child’s state of affairs. As stated earlier, he supports the death penalty. In general, he is against governmental meddling in his life, particularly in cases in which his civil liberties are threatened.

A stereotypical Pro-Abortion person follows the language of Roe V. Wade to the letter, and believes that abortion is protected under the 14th amendment to the constitution, and is a matter of privacy and a woman’s right to control her own reproductive destiny. They generally feel that the standard to govern when an abortion can take place is linked to the viability of the pregnancy. However, they also believe that if the health of the mother is in jeopardy, that an abortion up to the moment of delivery is acceptable. They believe that sex education stressing contraceptive use, and safe sex practices should be taught in school. They support the use of “morning after” pills and other devices or medicines which will prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. They tend to support social programs to support single moms, indigent families, the poor, etc. They tend to see that groups of people have been victimized by the system in place, which locks them in a cycle of economic hardship. They don’t support the death penalty, and generally feel rehabilitation is preferable to incarceration. When it comes to safeguarding the public health, they believe it is the government’s obligation and requirement to protect us from ourselves, and to regulate a variety of processes and activities.

Those are brief summaries of the good and bad points of each character in this debate. DNA will attempt to show that to every point, there is a corollary which in some instance invalidates the point. This proof that DNA will construct only works when the subjects of said arguments are polarized. If, on an issue, you can only be either 100% right or 100% wrong, then from a rhetorician’s point of view, your job is easy. You don’t have to prove your argument, or disprove theirs 100%. All you have to do is find one element of their argument that does not make sense. Once one element does not make sense, then ta-daa, their whole argument must be false, since the premise they operate under is that decisions about things like abortion are all or nothing affairs.

So the task before DNA is to find logical ways to find individual points in each argument which don’t make sense!

Let’s start by a point by point dismantling of both sides. This is fun, like surgery with chainsaws!

PRO-BIRTH:

1. Being a person begins at conception. Corollary: Prove it. Oh, wait, you can’t. It’s a supposition based on the idea that God imbues a soul in a being at that moment. Interestingly, the time at which God is supposed to imbue a being with a soul has changed over the years. It used to be at the moment when breath is taken---Adam was formed from clay until God breathed life into him. Early on, being alive was directly related to blood, hence its significance in most rituals, and it wasn’t until this fluid of life was formed in a fetus that the fetus was considered human. Biblically, the concept of when life begins has changed based on the era in which a person lived. So, the bigger question here might be, what constitutes being a person? Having life? Lots of non-person things have life---an individual blood cell, a skin cell, etc. In fact, sperm and egg might be considered to NOT be alive, but only have the potential for life. After all, each are incomplete, and do not replicate like other cells in the body to grow. After conception, when the two cells combine, then “regular” cell division begins. At that point, one could call the cells “alive,” but does that constitute a separate being? From the religious perspective, if person-hood begins at conception, then purgatory must be filled to the rafters with millions upon millions of beings who spontaneously aborted over the years without moms even knowing it! You would think God would have a better plan than condemning untold millions of 4 or 8 celled blastulas to an eternity of limbo because they were spontaneously, naturally aborted. Another question: What if a fetus developed with no brain? Nothing but the primitive brain stem functions, breathing, heartbeat, etc. This fetus goes full term, this baby is born, but there is no higher cognitive function. Would God enslave a soul in a shell like that? Some would say yes. DNA thinks most thinking people, even most religious people, would say that the soul is linked to a sense of a person as an individual being. DNA thinks that this level of cognition does not begin at conception.

2. Resolve the Pro-Birth, Pro-Death Penalty dichotomy that so many Pro-Birth people have. You can’t. If you respect the sanctity of life, then that sanctity must be preserved from natural conception to natural death. For those that don’t do that, the argument would have to be that some level of innocence, an innocence scale, if you will, is tipped toward a baby at conception, and then as the baby fucks up through life, tips away. In actuality, according to Christian beliefs, the opposite is true: a baby is conceived in original sin, and only when the person accepts Jesus as his personal savior is his soul redeemed. Until then, no matter how pious a person is, the person’s soul is still in the possession of Satan. So, following this logic, it is less morally reprehensible to kill an unbaptized baby, than to kill a redeemed mass murderer. This is why Pro-Birth people are conflicted. They can’t practice what they preach. Pro-Birth supporters feel it is morally reprehensible to abort a fetus, but some clearly have no compunction about killing doctors.

3. Many Pro-Birth supporters do not support the idea of abortion even in the case that bringing a pregnancy to term will threaten the mother’s health, or will result in a baby with virtually no chance of living once born. Again, this position artificially raises the value of the baby, simply because it is “innocent,” over the welfare of the mother, because, DNA guesses the logic goes, “she should have known better than to put herself in this position.” Because the mother had a choice (of course, in a small number of cases, she was raped, and didn’t have a choice) her life is now forfeit. Brilliant.

4. Pro-Birth people are against sex education, except for abstinence. Of course, this policy has worked well for generations. No one had unprotected sex as teenagers before the liberal media got to them. Commie bastards.

5. Acceptable birth control: abstinence, or the rhythm method. Little do they know, that God cares not what we call it, the rhythm method is simply another form of barrier birth control, except, instead of the barrier being a prophylactic, or an iud, or a hormone, it is time. When people try to outsmart God, by timing when they fuck so that their eggs and sperm are WASTED, and don’t stand a rat’s ass chance of being fertilized, why, that’s no different than masturbating, and God is clear, that masturbating and wasting your reproductive potential ain’t cool. Do “pious” people really think the rhythm method fools God? God sure must be dumb. Or, perhaps, we are. Either all or no forms of birth control are acceptable. There is no middle ground. God knows your intentions. Let the first Pro-Birth person come up and tell DNA that they have never had sex purely for pleasurable reasons, and DNA will get to point out the first big fat liar of the day! One of God’s commandments was to be fruitful and multiply. We did. Now, we can wither on the vine a little. As a side note: A government-funded study just today showed that there was no difference in the rate of pre-marital sex among those students taught a curriculum of abstinence and those taught safe sex practices.

6. Pro-Birth folks are typically against social programs to support moms who need help with their babies, and are also against governmental meddling in people’s affairs. This is the main reason why DNA calls them “Pro-Birth.” They’ll bomb abortion clinics and lobby congress and spend millions to overturn abortion law, but are not interested in funding social and governmental support programs for the CHILDREN that these babies grow into. “That’s not my problem. I had it tough when I grew up, but I worked hard, and it paid off. She can do the same.” Right. Poor minority single mom, can’t get a loan for school, can’t afford health care, and is discriminated against racially, socially, and morally, she got it hard like YOU did. Give it a rest. These Pro-Birth people are against governmental meddling in their own affairs, but have no problem attempting to legislate their morality onto others. How many of them, DNA wonders, have their own dirty little secrets, locked in closets, hidden by the “vacation” that their daughter took to her aunt’s house in the city over the summer she turned 13? Why is it that so many of the cases of incest, rape, divorce, and back alley abortions come right out of the Bible belt? Is it the sick smell of hypocrisy, DNA wonders, in the air down there?

Alright now, PRO-ABORTION:

1. A woman’s right to choose her reproductive destiny is protected under the 14th Amendment of the constitution, so says Roe V. Wade. What about a man’s reproductive rights? Seriously. If a woman receives special consideration simply because she is the vessel for the child’s growth, then under the constitution, a man’s civil rights are potentially being denied. Here’s an example. Man and woman have sex. A sperm and egg unite. 9 weeks later, the woman takes a pregnancy test. She is pregnant. She decides to have an abortion. However, the man’s property, the sperm, supplied ½ of the potential for life there, and as such, his claim to the potential life developing is equally valid. She may be carrying the luggage, but perhaps, he paid for dinner. Meaning, she might be performing the labor in the partnership, but he is providing the capital. Under law, a man should have a claim here too. I am surprised we haven’t seen this challenge to Roe V. Wade yet (maybe we have, DNA just hasn’t done the research).

Next point: the 14th amendment is pretty shallow legal territory to base the argument that a woman’s body, including reproductive capability is hers to do with what she wills. Read the 14th amendment. You’ll see what DNA means. DNA has a feeling that we will see this ruling overturned, and law will revert to how it was before the ruling, in which states would form their own laws governing the practice of abortion.

2. The standard to govern when an abortion can take place is linked to the viability of the pregnancy. Well, that is a slippery slope. 20 years ago, a baby born at 28 weeks had a very low chance of survival. Today, a baby has been born at 22 weeks and lived. Does this mean that 20 years ago, simply because technology had not advanced enough yet, that a baby born at 28 weeks was less of a baby than a baby born at 28 weeks today? Of course not. Viability is an unsound criterion. We can expect that there will be a time in the future that a fetus may be supported outside of the womb at 20 weeks, or 16 weeks, or that artificial wombs, or surrogate wombs could keep a pregnancy viable at very early dates. What then? If viability is your standard, then you have effectively ruled out abortion at any time. Hooray! The advance of science means Pro-Birth supporters wins.

3. There has to be an exception for abortion if the mother’s health is in jeopardy. The problem with this little line, which sounds reasonable enough, is that health has been very broadly defined, so much so that Pro-Abortion people use that “health” exception to allow just about anybody and anytime in a pregnancy to abort. There are too many incidences of the “health” issue being something that is not life threatening, but simply being life-altering, or life-inconveniencing. That kind of behavior by Pro-Abortion supporters undermines the necessity for real health exceptions.

4. If Pro-Abortion supporters were truly Pro-Choice, they would recognize that abortion must be considered a last resort option, not the “I can’t have a baby! I won’t be able to fit in my prom dress” option. And that any option that does not involve surgery, any option which does not involve the moral dilemma of potentially becoming a baby murderer (if you believe the whole baby ensouled at conception thing), any option that demands that a person must behave responsibly sexually, those options should be given more priority than abortion. But, that is not the case for Pro-Abortion people. This is why, eventually, their position will fail. They are not pro-choice. And nobody likes liars.

5. Generally, Pro-Abortion supporters do not support the death penalty. Again, this dichotomy defies logic. It’s okay to kill a baby, but a murderer should be given a chance for rehabilitation. The corollary here is that killers are made into killers by society, so society has an obligation to them. It’s not their fault they were bad. In fact, if they had been aborted, and not subjected to horrible alcoholic parents and too much Fred Durst and Brittney Spears, they never would have been so miserable to begin with. So, since as a society, we missed the boat when the dingy was still in the harbor, we can’t just sink the ship now. That wouldn’t be fair. Another example of how the left equates “fair” with “right.” Completely insane.

6. The government has an obligation to protect us. From tobacco, from big business, from pesticide companies, from unscrupulous businesses which ruin our environment, and even from ourselves. We have seat belt laws, and motorcycle helmet laws. Yet, make one argument that this obligation of the government might extend to protect a potential baby, and watch out. That tree-hugging, granola eating, sandal and patuli wearing hippie chick is likely to take the government’s hand (normally they are happy for a government hand-out) off at the shoulder. Isn’t extending legal protections to an unborn child a reasonable extension of social programs that most Pro-Abortion supporters rally behind?

THE VERDICT?

Both sides argue from untenable positions. Neither side follows the logical conclusions of their various arguments, and when most of the planks of their platforms are examined, the holes left make up more of the platform than the planks do. Both positions are filled with logical flaws, both take hypocritical stands. But surely, there has to be a “right" and a “wrong” on an issue like this. You ain’t gonna punk out on us, are you DNA?

No.

But before DNA comes to its conclusion, let’s hear what both sides get right: A Pro-Birth person is also for the sanctity of “traditional” social values, which include monogamous relationships to provide a stable home life for a baby. They help to really make people listen that there are consequences to sexual activity. Sexually-transmitted diseases, blood-borne diseases, these can and should scare a young person celibate, but also understanding that sex can sometimes lead to pregnancy, which complicates life exponentially, is probably the best way to teach young people to respect themselves and their procreative power. They do support religious and other cultural institutions which can be extremely supportive of the family, and offer moral and religious guidance and support. They support abortion alternatives like carrying a baby to term and giving the baby up for adoption. The Pro-Abortion person is driven by an overriding sense of social justice. The Pro-Abortion person is out to safeguard your rights, by not allowing the government to step in and prohibit decisions repugnant to his own moral code, based on another person’s interpretation of a different moral code or religion. The Pro-Abortion person tends to favor an individual’s rights over societal rights.

Those points are valid, and useful for us as a culture to support. So, how do you come to a conclusion about what position to support? Through a little thought experiment, and some life experience.

If a baby was born today, healthy and strong, would it have been okay for the mother to terminate the pregnancy yesterday? Almost everyone would say no, it would not be alright. Well, then what about two days ago? 10 days ago? A month ago? 8 weeks back? 12 weeks ago? At 12 weeks back, if the baby were spontaneously born, it would likely survive. Then, what about 16 weeks? Now we are getting into the time frame of current medical viability. At this point, the fetus, if spontaneously birthed, would probably not survive, nor would a doctor order the baby to be resuscitated. But for the vast majority that die 16 weeks premature, there have been a few that have survived. So medical viability could possibly be pushed back a little further, but most doctors would argue that anything before week 21 of development would just not be possible, because the lungs have not developed, and lungs need the womb to cook in. There is no substitute. So basically, you can see what argument is swaying DNA, the viability argument. What if tomorrow, a scientist discovers a new method of premature infant care because of improving technologies, improving understanding of how babies develop, or drugs, or whatever the reason, and pushes viability back weeks, or even to the beginnings of development? At no time in the evolution of medical science did the baby change. Only our understanding of it and our ability to keep it alive changed.

Here's the life experience part: Once you are a parent, often your views about abortion change, or become less abstract. Once you have the awesome, terrifying, and wonderful responsibility of totally screwing up a child yourself, then whether or not abortion is right or wrong means a lot less to you, because you love your child. DNA's wife has said, "I support a woman's right to choose, but it's not a choice I would make."

Since our understanding of when a fetus becomes a human being is subjective, since our understanding of what constitutes it as a separate being seems arbitrary, at least as arbitrary as the opinion of the Pro-Birth side (conception marks the beginning of life), then DNA has no choice but to accept that because our understanding of what constitutes life is incomplete, arbitrary, and based on the limits of science which may change tomorrow, then abortion, as the practice is currently carried out, must be morally suspect. The logical choice would be for abortion to only be carried out in cases in which death is likely for the mother, and/or inevitable for the fetus, if abortion is not carried out. But, we can’t expect our mothers to accept this extreme risk to themselves unless society is willing to provide cradle to grave support for mothers and babies who need it, to provide social networks and programs for adoptions for all babies who mothers want to give up for adoption, to provide free and varied contraceptives to all who want them, to teach people safe sex practices, to create a positive culture for women so that they don’t equate their power only with their sexuality…you see where DNA is going with this, too, DNA hopes. Even though abortion as a “choice” is based on arbitrary criteria, since we don’t have the proper support mechanisms in place for our people who feel driven to get abortions, then we are stuck with it. It is as morally suspect to force someone who is ill-equipped to raise a child as it is to abort a pregnancy. It really is. DNA looked at God’s sin measuring stick, and the sin of pride is just as bad as the sin of murder. In short, we’re fucked.

A LITTLE SOCIALISM MIGHT NOT BE TOO BAD RIGHT NOW:

Not the Stalin or Mao or Castro kind, but more along the FDR or even Karl Marx kind. A little bit of all of us giving so that all of us can benefit. DNA doesn't dip into the political fray very often, but it has been ruminating on the particular topic for while, so here it goes.

In Illinois, the state in which DNA lives, people have been living with an electric rate which had been frozen (that is, regulated) by the state for the last 10 years. Power companies doing business in Illinois could only charge a certain amount. Everybody could count on that. Last year, Illinois government voted to deregulate power costs (who do you think was the lobbying force behind that move?). The promise of deregulation is that in a free market, power bids from other companies might actually be lower than the current spot at which rates were frozen, and that in the end, consumers would reap the benefit. In actuality, since one or two power companies owned all of the electric facilities, poles and wire, when other companies bid on supplying Illinoisans with power, their bids had to include the fee that the big companies charged the outsiders to use their power facilities, poles and wire. So, even though they could bid lower for the actual electricity, they had to pay (and include in their bid) the costs to rent the other stuff. The big companies would charge anything they wanted for the use of their stuff, so in the end, only the big companies got the power contracts. Guess what? In the first three months of the new deregulated scheme, power costs have risen from 50% to as much as 300% for some consumers. Now, the state legislature is crying foul, because people are outraged, but enough lobbyists are lining the capital, that despite weeks of pressure, after a bill reached the senate floor to re-freeze prices, the leader of the senate, Emil Jones, pulled a rarely used parliamentary procedure to edit the bill minutes before a vote. After it was gutted, no one could support it, and it failed. Now, it turns out that Senator Jones has a family member who works for the parent company of one the electric utilities. It doesn't get much fishier.

When the bill was being crafted, at first the electric companies suggested that if it didn't get to charge higher rates, perhaps emergency services which we all take for granted might be delayed. Then, they realized this was certainly biting the hand that feeds, so they changed their tune. The said that if they didn't change the rates, their companies would go bankrupt. However, they could never explain how in January, when they were charging the frozen rate, they were chugging along just fine, but in February, if they went back to that rate, they would go bankrupt. In the last couple of weeks, the play has been as follows: The companies are saying that they have listened to their customers, and relief packages and rebates are ready to go to those hardest hit by rate increases, but only if the state does not pass a rate restructure bill. Unfuckingbelievable. Somebody, and DNA hopes it is chosen, needs to kick each of these guys in the nuts, every single one of them, unless the executive or senator is a woman, and then she needs to be punched in the uterus. Dumb fucking sons of bitches. Outrageous thing said after outrageous thing said, and in the meantime, the big companies have been raping downstate Illinoisans, especially.

What will happen? It's hard to say, but the options are as follows: Freeze the rates the the pre-deregulation prices, and then negotiate a better deal with the power companies. Or, continue to argue in the legislature, and come to no solution for consumers. Or, the governor has suggested that the state take over the power grid and administer it. If the governor really means take over, as in claim public eminence and claim the power grid, and be an actual power supplier, DNA is actually for it. Normally, DNA is a fan of smaller government, but not in this case. The "free" market is rigged, in favor of the big guys.

Now applying the same logic, look at the bigger picture, particularly health care and gasoline prices. Nothing stops our government from stepping in and regulating the industries in question. Nothing, except for our government. Ask yourself, how can a drug cost $100.00 a pill in the U.S. and the same pill, made by the same company, can cost $20.00 in Mexico? Because the drug industry is unregulated. Shareholders' income means more than the welfare of the nation. DNA thinks and hopes that the next guy in the White House might consider that the health of the nation is being threatened by the unfair practices of big corporations, which would surely listen if the federal government stepped up and said, "We will not do business with you anymore if you continue to bilk millions of U.S. citizens out of billions of dollars just because they can pay your price." Most of these huge companies would not exist if it were not for the protections that the U.S. fought to create for international business. What if for one day, the U.S. stopped patrolling international waters, which many countries in the world complains is our overreaching authority, but at the same time, is thankful that they don't have to pay to keep piracy from looting their ships? What if for one day, the U.S. said to the world, "World, you are right. We have no business making sure your shipment of goods makes it safely from Singapore to here. Take care of it yourselves?" DNA has the answer to that question. By the second day, big companies who depend on the largesse of our people might remember the hand that feeds.

DNA will write much more about gas and healthcare, soon. Until then, remember, to plan your vacations so that you can be in Carbondale on June 23rd. Tell DNA in advance that you are going to be at the Hangar 9, and DNA will put you on the guest list. Why? Cuz you are special!

COMMENTARY TO THE PREVIOUS BLOG POST:

Posted by: Mr. Kamikaze

Remember when DNA's posts were funny? Me neither.

End of comment.

You have a short memory, Mr. Kamikaze. Wait, do you mean funny-ha-ha, or funny-kind of strange, or funny-miserably pathetic?

DNA has one: How about, funny-DNA will stomp a mudhole in your ass the size of Texas? [: ) Unfortunately, Mr. Kamikaze is right. This blog is not supposed to be therapy for DNA, although DNA has said as much in previous posts. It is supposed to be absurd. Don't think so? Come on, reading a blog by someone who calls himself "the DNA Vibrator," like that is supposed to mean something cryptic or important? Lighten up, DNA. The world gets enough bad news and sub par commentary about our state of affairs without this blog. So what if DNA has all the answers to the problems of the world? Fuck the world. Let's talk about titties!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY:

Okay, if you were at this site previously, you may have already read this post. However, DNA rewrote the late night ramblings it had written before and made the whole thing better. So here is the post originally from 5.13.07, done over. Better.

This was an eventful week, and the events aren't really connected, so this post will jump around a little bit. As students leave Carbondale and SIU, some students graduated. some were from the program at which DNA works, and some DNA will never see again. It is a bittersweet time, so DNA was glad it had the chance to go down to Pinch Penny Pub after work, and buy a couple of those former students a beer. Also, DNA loved Pinch's hot wings. While DNA was there, it saw a girl in only a long shirt getting wasted. Ah, college! And she thought she was the shit, because as she walked across the beer garden, she walked in time with the music, AC/DC's "Back in Black." That is pretty deliberately paced. A person just doesn't walk at that speed unless she owns the fucking place. At least in her head.

As DNA marveled over her lack of clothes and sense, DNA's mind drifted to the thought process of one of the waitresses---wearing black shorts, a Pinch Penny T-shirt, and 6 inch heels. Other waitresses weren't wearing those heels, so it was a personal choice. They made the whole outfit, what's the right word?---slutty. Slutty is not always bad, but in this case, it was like going over to your mom's house to wish her Happy Mother's Day, and while you were over there, helping her with her laundry, you put your hands on a g-string in her laundry basket. In other words, tight shorts, t-shirt and heels in a bar at 11 pm after you have had enough to drink that you think the waitress likes you is cool, but tight shorts, t-shirt and heels at 4pm when you are wishing your friends the best as they graduate this weekend, is pathetic.

Speaking of that, to all the mothers, here and gone, Happy Mother's Day.

Mom would be proud: DNA has officially started the process of going back to school. It plans to start a Ph.D. program in the fall. DNA doesn't expect that you will care, but it is telling you this now because it suspects that it will cut back the blogging for some time, starting in August. That is okay. DNA is a fast writer. If an idea comes that needs to be aired out, it will be able to knock it out. Expect these things from DNA this summer: A super double kick ass show on June 23rd and the Hangar 9 in Carbondale. A super double kick ass recording of the show which will be produced as a live record sometime after that. Another studio release before August. The release of the debut of The Akkademiks, who will rock and roll about Geology, among other learned topics.

DNA has the pleasure of living in the neighborhood of one of the last big drive-in theaters that has operated continuously since the early days of drive-ins. This weekend, the family saw Spiderman 3. DNA has got to tell you, most people thought it sucked, but for those who really like comics, and really understand the character of Peter Parker, this movie captured the dorkiness of the character. Parker doesn't and wouldn't know cool if it bit him on the hand in the form of a radioactive spider. Sam Raimi obviously is a fan of the older Spiderman. However, whenever a movie tries to squeeze multiple villains into the plot, you know something is wrong. This is true with previous incarnations of Superman, Batman, and now this franchise. This rule does not apply to "team movies," like the Fantastic Four or X-Men. Because the dynamic is an interpersonal one, you expect that multiple threats must confront the group. Regardless, Spiderman 3 is not so bad. A little long in the tooth, a few too many villains to make up for glaring plot weaknesses, but really captured for comic fans the essence of Peter Parker.

Since this weekend was Mother's Day, DNA would like to share a sweet mother story: After DNA's first child was born, it delighted DNA to no end one day when he angered his wife so much she called him a "mother fucker," to which he replied with a smile, "You're right." Was DNA wrong for being proud to live up to that epithet, or just male? DNA had been waiting for the day.

There is something funny to see when your wife realizes that a whole avenue of foul swearwords just got tossed out of the window. DNA had already pictured the scenario in its head, and it couldn't have unfolded any more perfectly, unless of course, she ripped her clothes off and then DNA's, cuz calling DNA a mother fucker and having her being the mother fucked instantly made her horny (which was usually how this scenario ended when DNA thought it out). However, she just said, "We can change that status (being a motherfucker) today if you like." Oh hell.

It seemed kind of like an achievement, actually fulfilling the description of a swear. DNA could never actually become a dick head, for example. Not really. But it could really become, and has often proved it is, a motherfucker.

DON'T PUT THIS BLOG UP ON NO SHELF....

Why Rock Idioms Make Rock Stars Sound Like Idiots

Since this rant has something to do with music, it will appear in both the blog and the rants section of the website. Cross-categorical analysis, how fucking bitching is The DNA Vibrator, after all? Quite, it appears. Bitchin'? Yes, he's an antiquated old fuck, isn't he?

There are many words that have made it into the rock lexicon, mostly as euphemisms for fucking or sex. From the obvious to the sublime, rock and roll has pretty much always been about sex. Because most conservative Christian elements of the time (and now) confuse sex and desire for physical pleasures as equivalent to satanic temptation, that is, doing EVIL, rock and roll was considered EVIL, the devil�s music. Of course, everyone knows the devil�s music by definition would be music with no soul, and today, that would have to be Taylor Hicks. Sorry Taylor. That�s not a cheap shot, it�s true. He�s the latest musical antichrist, following in the hoofprints of psychotic geniuses like John Tesh, Michael Bolton, and Hell�s own keyboardist, Yanni.

DNA believes that the key thing that separates rock and roll from other types of music, is specifically its subject matter. This is why DNA finds Christian rock, well, funny. It is also why so many word or phrases that simply are not used in everyday speech find their way commonly into rock songs. From its inception, rock and roll songs were made to talk about something (sex) that couldn't be talked about, so euphemisms, double-entendre, and a separate lexicon has been built around this music.

This double-speak has amused and bothered DNA for some time. It's an idiosyncrasy of the medium that we simply accept, and anytime that occurs, we frankly should question why we accept it. Maybe there is a good reason for it, maybe not. Many years ago, DNA wrote a song about it, called "Cindy." In the song, DNA poses as some frat boy king of the jungle who brags about sexual "conquests," and talks offhandedly about how he fucked Cindy Crawford. This right off the bat shows how long ago the song was written. Any 20 something today would say, "Who?" and the obvious idiocy of the premise of the song is kind of lost if you don't know Cindy Crawford. But, DNA did his best to club listeners over the head with the obvious stupidity. "Is it better to lie about it, whose gentle ears am I protecting, if I say 'making love' instead of fucking, if fucking is what I mean?" Then DNA goes on to say, "I didn't fill Cindy's void, love potion number 9 was not employed, I didn't give her an afternoon delight, or rock her fucking world all night. What I did was more direct, no metaphoric plugs or sockets to connect, no slots or tabs to insert---what do you think I am, some kind of pervert?" The laundry list of obfuscating, or clever, or attempting to be clever, phrases is endless. Aren't you tired of it? Fuck, DNA was/is!

Well, believe it or not, this rant is not about sexual innuendo in rock songs, since DNA already covered that topic. It really is about idiosyncrasies of the idiom. Because it is too obvious to use double entendre to demonstrate how certain phrases in rock are found only in rock songs, DNA wants to focus on one phrase, and in particular one word, that really is only used in the way DNA will describe in the rock and roll vernacular. It is a strange word in that it is so common that the fact that it is used contextually very differently in rock and roll will become obvious to you once DNA says it. From Led Zepplin to AC/DC to Belle and Sebastian, this word has wormed its way into our consciousness and it just ain't quite right.

The word is "shelf." Strange, huh? In rock and roll, when songwriters refer to a shelf, they usually write something like "don't put my love up on no shelf," or "leaving me up on a shelf," or "she left my heart up on a shelf." Very rarely do you get something like, "She put her books up on the shelf," unless "books" is a metaphor for pussy or something. In the rock and roll idiom, someone pushed "shelf" to make an ingenious leap from being a place on which you might store or set something, to meaning a person being put in his or her place, or having a person's feelings "put away" (discounted, forgotten) like dry goods in a pantry. The interesting thing is, despite minutes of research, DNA can't find the song or link in which somebody makes this leap of meaning. There isn't a song from the 1930's in which Stump Leg Willie sings, "She cut out my heart, canned it with tomatoes and wrote one word on the label --- She put it on the shelf next to the beans, where you could read the word 'love' if your eyes were able."

Basically, "shelf" has become a metaphor that only finds purchase and plausibility in a rock and roll lyric. If you don't believe DNA, then try this metaphor out when you are talking to someone. You won�t believe how abhorrent it is to say out of that context.

"So Randy, you gonna ask out Stacy?"

"No, Jeff. I've been through that before with her. She'll just put my love up on a shelf."

"What did you just say?"

"She really wouldn't validate my feelings in a positive manner?"

"No, what you said first was 50 times gayer than that. What, were you in the Georgia Satellites after you quit high school?"

Get DNA's point? There is no common usage for "shelf" as a place where hurt or unrequited feelings go, outside of rock. Why did this metaphor develop in the first place? Did someone need a good word to rhyme with "self?" That is DNA's educated guess. If anyone has more information about this little word and its rock and roll heritage, please let DNA know.

Until then, remember, if you like a girl, do what Gene Simmons of KISS would do, and tell her that you want to put your log in her fireplace, or more subtlety, like Paul Stanley, that you want to eat it like a piece of cake. This is why rock and roll will never be considered more than pop art, thank God!

Don't put DNA up on no shelf!

YOU SUCK. NO, YOU SUCK:

DNA was prompted to write this after reading a flame war between the fans of DEVO and the fans of KORN. Apparently, KORN is glomming on to the concept of devolution, but only recently publicly acknowledged DEVO for pioneering the vocabulary and the tenets of the philosophy. On DEVO�s moderated myspace blog, shit flew back and forth between fans of each band, and every now and then, a voice of reason who liked both bands. It went something like this:

KORNFAN69: DEVO sux, KORN rulz. DEVEO homos!

DEVO IS MY GOD: KORN is for children. Go eat your vegetables.

KORNROKS: KORN is like, real music. DEVO was lame 20 years ago.

REVODEVO: KORN sucks like the vacuum of space.

KORNMuthafucka: DEVO sucks. Quit crying, fag music losers.

And so on. This got DNA to thinking a little. What inspires people to so rabidly love or hate a band, and more specifically, what is it about this band or that band that SUCKS? What follows is how DNA framed his answer.

After spending a lot of time on the internet over the last year, DNA has settled into some patterns. For example, DNA spends about an hour total looking at different band websites every day. You hear that? An hour, a day, for a year. That's a lot of fucking time spent listening to and looking at band websites. Some, well, many, DNA's included, are painful to endure. Some have been good. Some were great, like "Why aren't these guys all over the radio?" great, or the opposite, they were so great, which is exactly why they weren't all over the radio.

Doesn't it seem that bands that "suck" are the ones that make it? If you are/were in a band, you know what DNA is talking about. How many great bands and players have you seen or played with, who really deserved to be heard, who really had "it," whatever "it" was, but they never rose above that journeyman status, or they simply faded away? Maybe they played some good music, or even better, had good recordings of their good music, maybe not. DNA can think of hundreds of those cases. Not to be too self-absorbed, but the DNA Vibrators is one of those cases.

Yet, DNA knows and has known for a long time, like most of us do, that very few of those artists themselves actually suck. DNA really means this. Not the Monkeys, not NSYNC, not Tiffany, not Madonna, not Yanni, and, gulp, not even John Tesh actually suck. Aaaaaaccchhh! DNA's mouth now tastes funny. BAY CITY ROLLERS. Don't suck. QUARTERFLASH. Ditto. VANILLA ICE. Uhhh, hmmmmmm, DNA hates to say it, but even Vanilla Ice didn't suck. SOLO VINCE NEILL, SOLO DAVID LEE ROTH, not even they suck. WHITNEY HOUSTON. About the only black woman DNA has ever seen on TV who couldn't dance---but still, not sucking. (and one of her first big hits---"I Want To Dance With Somebody." Yeah, but nobody wants to dance with you) 2LIVE CREW. Do Not Suck.

You may not agree, but for the sake of argument, let's ask: Why don't they suck? Well, what does it mean for a musician to suck? DNA thinks it means that you have the capacity to play, but do not invest any of yourself into the music. So people who don't have musical talent who try to play, and really can't do it well, but are digging it, these people do not suck, according to this definition. They may be bad at it, they may not make their money at it, but they do not suck. This line of reasoning goes back a long way: "Make a joyous noise unto the Lord!" That is, believe it, love it, raise up your voice, even if you don't have talent. It won't suck.

Those that suck then, are those with the skill, those with the gift, those who have something to express, but do it with no investment, no soul. In another blog, DNA contended that "devil music" is not rock and roll, it is music with no soul, and it took John Tesh and Yanni to task as examples of soulless music. But, in the interim, DNA has come to realize that even these guys really dig what they are doing. They really pour their hearts into it. They don't have to make another album. They are driven to do it. Whether you like it or not, they are putting their souls into it.

Okay, okay, if they don't suck, who does? Well, lots of bands do. Sometimes the bands you like the most are also the ones who suck the most. Usually, it happens after that band hits it big, gets some money, and begins to feel the pressure to put out another record that sounds just like the last record. Write more songs like that one big hit, and they are required to do it in a year and a half, even though their first album may have taken 10 years of writing and playing to gestate. Bands get burned out, and the production of music begins to be run by corporate committee rather than run by artistic inspiration. So, DNA thinks that most popular bands have at times sucked, and at other times, have been inspirational. The artists themselves, sometimes they get lost, but even then, DNA thinks that mostly, the artists themselves stay invested. They still care about their work, but sometimes, maybe because they are too close to it, they do not see or hear that it sucks, they only hear the A&R guy talking about how big a hit this song is going to be.

About every band on the radio has had to cross this bridge, which is why collectively, we think stuff on the radio sucks even though most of the artists who play have integrity, and really like what they do. Ever notice how on VH1's "Behind The Music," even with artists you don't particularly care for, you begin to have an appreciation for what they do? For DNA, Meat Loaf comes to mind, as well as Motley Crue. DNA can say matter-of-factly that he HATED Motley Crue when he was growing up, but grew to (gulp) appreciate them as musicians.

When you say a band sucks, you really mean that your statement has nothing to do with YOU or YOUR fucked up opinion and issues, and has everything to do with the hacks onstage or in your ear. Saying the band sucks means it's their fault, not YOURS, that you are not entertained. Well, DNA has got news for you. Few artists really suck. You just may hate what they do. That changes the dynamic entirely. When you hear a band, and you think they suck, they are probably fine. You probably suck.

It's the same argument that you hear when someone sees a Picasso or a Dali, and says, "Well, why didn't he just draw it right?" Who sucks? Picasso, or the philistine who doesn't understand what Picasso was doing? Of course, if an artist doesn't master the forms which then allows him to challenge those forms, then, yeah, that sucks. Could a monkey paint a painting like a Picasso? Possibly. Would it ever be considered great? NO, because the value in the experimentation with form lies as much as in what is being challenged as in what is being reinforced. You can't challenge a particular form unless you understand it. Monkey artists don't understand the form, so even the best monkeys with paint brushes will always only be monkeys with paint brushes. But, there will only be one Picasso.

To deconstruct the idea that "bands don't suck, you do," even more, what a person is really saying when they make a comment like, "The 'Meat Pleasers' suck," is that the person lacks the capacity to understand what it is the Meat Pleasers do. Of course, the Meat Pleasers may actually suck. Sometimes a cigar, as they say, is just a cigar. That muddies the waters a little, but fuck it, DNA is committed now.

If only bands you don't like are on the radio, why is that? What if the bands you like were on the radio? Maybe you only like bands that are NOT on the radio. Perhaps part of a band's appeal is the personal relationship you have with the band. Sucking, it seems is a matter of opinion. This is likely why Primus would always introduce themselves like this: "We're Primus, and we suck."

You think DNA sucks. That's okay. So does DNA.

LAND OF THE OBESE, AND THE HOME OF THE DEPRAVED:

Today, DNA heard a statistic that frankly was disgusting. Thirty-one of the 50 states, that's over 3/5 for you math whizzes, showed an increase, and some states, a sharp increase, in rates of obesity, and NO STATE, that is exactly less than one, showed a decline in rates of obesity. In other words, we are a nation of fat fucks getting fatter.

How is it that we are the most health crazed, the most body-image obsessed, have access to the best health care, have markets to deliver cheaply the best food in the world, and we also are among the most unhealthy, overweight, depressed, sick, and nutritionally poor people on the planet?

DNA could go into a very long-winded argument about how these things are linked, but it doesn't have to. It is self-evident. What Americans do best is capitalism, and the hallmark of capitalism is to consume. We have been bred to believe that we deserve more, so we unashamedly take more. There comes a point at which consumption does not result in growth and vitality, but in growth and morbidity. Growth for growth's sake never ends well.

Why isn't Newfoundland the world leader in obese people? Why does it have to be the USA? How come the Chinese are so fucking skinny? Well, they're still hungry, not necessarily in the physical sense, but because of that, their whole culture has been for centuries designed to conserve, socially, physically, emotionally. This is why the Chinese are having such a difficult time balancing their societal ideals with the runaway expansion they are currently experiencing.

Americans in general do not have that problem. American culture is bloated. American capitalism is bloated. Certain ideals, the whole Wall Street "take as much as you can while you can" mentality stinks and has left our people bloated like a carcass in the August sun. Like the fatted calf, we are ripe for the slaughter. It is no wonder we are an obese nation. Our people mirror our culture. All peoples mirror their cultures.

It didn't always used to be like this. There was a time, in my parent's time, for example, in which they we felt connected to a greater good. Not religious, necessarily, not governmental, really, but we were united in a common cause. That cause was two world wars, kind of a suck-y way to become unified, but there is nothing like the threat of total annihilation by a totalitarian regime to get you all moving in the same direction. Maybe that explains the current antipathy around the world for all things American?

Unfortunately, the forces which led to this kind of unifying cultural power, also allowed and even encouraged individuals to amass great amounts of wealth and concentrated the control of what became the most vital of all resources, oil, nuclear technology, to name a couple, in the hands of a very few. It is no accident that families or individuals with strong ties to the companies which grew enormously because of the demand of certain resources in those wars have either been in the White House or close to White House since then.

This is no 'conspiracy.' Nobody is hiding anything. The Bush family doesn't hide that they are oilmen in the pockets of Saudis. Cheney doesn't hide his strong ties to big energy.

Through a long period of cultural disillusionment, starting, really, with the bombs in Japan, the Cold War, detente politics, Korea (still a fucking mess 50 + years later), Viet Nam, a cultural revolution at home, all of these events of course are linked and predicated on one another. Through a long downward slide, as a people, though we are more connected, more entertained, more educated, and more stimulated than ever, we find we have less of a sense of community, less control, less enthusiasm for the institutions which our parents revered, and we have less interest in things that don't directly affect us. Certain entities benefit from our cultural indifference. Big corporations, big institutions, big government, all benefit from individuals not asserting their rights, or their anger. It doesn't matter if you don't like the current war. Are you going to do anything about it? Fuck no. Why? It doesn't bother you. Not really. (DNA isn't proselytizing. DNA ain't doing anything about, either. Well, not exactly true: DNA did write a song about it.) So gas prices went up. What can you do about it? So nobody seems to care about conserving resources. Why is it that we only think about conservation when it is clear that we are heading for a horrible fall? Conservation don't matter if you still got the money to buy your gas. That's exactly what the Easter Islanders thought as they cut the last tree down. "Don't matter, as long as I get the boat we make out of it," (of course, that is a rough translation from the Polynesian.)

DNA isn't blaming you or itself. Fuck it, let's blame Canada.

No, the Canucks have got it right for the most part. How does this relate to obesity, you might be asking yourself about now. DNA, you're sounding a little like Ted Kasinsky, you might say. No, not at all, DNA would reply. You see, we are obese in America, we eat, because we lack something. We don't share the purpose we once had as a people. Everyone is jaded, to the point that we expect shit instead of excellence, we expect cancer instead of health, we expect hate instead of love, and because of that, because down deep, we have lost faith in something special to us as a people, we want fulfillment. Our society has replaced inner fulfillment, bought, sold, taken and given from us over the last three generations, with physical fulfillment: eating, fucking, coveting, hurting, dominating, buying, having, and spending. We are piloting a nation of emotionally stunted children, with no parents at the helm. Right now, we are in the midst of the food fight, so at times our obsessions seem almost funny. DNA can't wait to see what happens when the food runs out. DNA has an idea what it might be like---people shooting each other in the face over a cantaloupe, packs of wolves running through small towns, rape and murder at will and at random, death, torture, suspension of all human rights, subjection by lawless gangs of thugs to injustice and vigilante tactics, average citizens arming themselves and killing children out of fear---just like what we are seeing now somewhere else�

But, what if we found what it is we needed inside of ourselves? We had it, once. We could get it again. What if we had it August 28th, 2005? What if our leaders had the presence of mind to create a Louisiana Work Authority to call into service every able-bodied man who wanted to earn a good wage to rebuild the Gulf Coast? The cost? Less than what we have spent there already, and the benefit? A nation united---black, white, rich, and poor, large corporations and small businesses working together to rebuild the cities and fix the damage we and Mother Nature have done to the Gulf Coast wetlands. What if we had it September 11th, 2001? We almost did. That unifying moment was squandered by our government. The point is, a good leader, a strong leader, can help us regain that inner purpose which we have lost. If we regain our inner purpose, the substitutes we currently use to pacify our vague feelings of discontentment, will fall away, and no longer be necessary. We will no longer be a nation of health obsessed, sex and youth crazed, fat, depressed, perverted, decrepit fucks.

Then again, nothing is funnier than watching an aging baby boomer attempt to recapture his youth with liposuction, a sports car, penis implants, a bowflex machine, Viagra, Rogaine, and a trophy wife. That is almost worth losing our cultural compass for.

So, you're fat. So is DNA. We're all part of the problem. And the solution. Come up with your solution here.

DEMOCRACY AT WORK:

Today’s music is an example of democracy in action.

August marked an important milestone in music history. 25 years ago, in August, the compact disc was introduced to the world. This marked the beginning of a democratization process in music which is still occurring, and will continue to its ultimate end, hopefully. DNA wants to talk a little bit about that democratization process, because it is the result of this process which affords DNA the luxury of the music DNA makes today, and is responsible for many great changes in music which affect us all, and is responsible for YOU to have much greater power in the ways in which you enjoy the music you want to hear now, and will give you even more power and choice in the future.

Most of the history part of this article DNA attributes to a great article HERE on the BBC news web channel (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6950933.stm). Now that DNA is all properly attributed, please read on:

“In March 1979 Philips conducted a press conference to show off the audio quality of its CD system in production and also to impress upon rivals how well it was progressing. A week later, Philips traveled to Japan after the Japanese Ministry of Industry and Technology (MITI) had decided to convene a conference to discuss how the industry could create a standard for the audio disc. The company left Japan having agreed a deal with Sony. Philips' plan for a CD with an 11.5cm diameter had to be changed when Sony insisted that a disc must hold all of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. The longest recording of the symphony in record label Polygram's archive was 74 minutes and so the CD size was increased to 12cm diameter to accommodate the extra data. In 1980, Philips and Sony produced their Red Book, which laid down all the standards for compact discs. From that time on the companies worked separately on their own CD equipment but in the early days agreed to share components. In April 1982, Philips showed off a production CD player for the first time. US record labels were initially very skeptical about the CD. A year after launch there were 1,000 different titles available. In 1985 Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms became the first CD to sell more than one million copies. It is still the world's most successful CD album. In 2000 global sales of CD albums peaked at 2.455 billion. In 2006, that figure was down to 1.755 billion.”

The above paragraph is a succinct history of the CD medium. At the same time this technology was developing, another recording technology was in the midst of a revolution, too: home recording. What once could only be rented in high end recording studios, the kinds of studios that only big record labels could afford to outfit, was now finding its way through technology in the hands of folks in smaller studios and home studios. The quality of recording was good, and a wave of independent and smaller labels swelled throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Quality and affordability continued to rise while overall cost for equipment was steadily driven downward by near constant innovation. Today, an independent musician can produce a “studio” quality recording, from laying down initial tracks, mix-down, mastering, artwork, and duplication of product on one computer, for less money than a few hours of “studio” time would have cost 10 years ago (DNA is including the cost of a nice computer as the heart of the home recording studio in this comparison).

Both the development of CD technology and the development of home studio technology are examples of a democratization process at work. DNA doesn’t know if you caught it the first read through, but in the quoted paragraph, Philips and Sony AGREED to develop one standard, and several big companies AGREED to share technology. Did the lamb lay down with the lion? Did the Lorax come back? Where is this spirit of sharing now, as Blue Ray and HD are gearing up to lead consumer wallets up the altar?

Back then, it was in their interest to share technology, (News flash to Sony: it is in your best interest to set a standard and share technology this time too. On the other hand, they could have developed CD standards independently and slugged it out in the marketplace, and maintained exclusive rights. They could have agreed to some other kind of arrangement, and made it prohibitively difficult for others to experiment with the technology, but it so happened that what was good for them was also good for consumers. Perhaps someone at Philips understood that greater good and greater profits could actually coincide.

It didn’t take very long at all for home recording enthusiasts to understand the ramifications of the medium. Within a very short time of the launch of CD’s, the first recordable CD’s and recording machines were available. At first they were pricey, but very quickly, their price dropped, and their application became widespread. Price was no longer an object if you wanted to record your band.

However, the likelihood that your home recorded band would be picked up by a major label was low. The old system of A&R (Artists and Repertoire) guys ruled the process of finding and developing talent for record labels (the “old” method still rules the process, but is not the only means for bands to reach critical mass anymore). With the advent of less expensive ways to record and sound just as good as the big guys, lots of smaller guys struck out on their own. They followed essentially the same model as the big labels (not surprising---it was the only model they knew), finding and grooming talent, getting their artists played in heavy rotation, in hopes of selling the artist to a major label and making a shitload of money. And the major labels took notice. They did what they could afford to do: buy up the best talent, in front and behind the mixing board, and also buy the best labels. Then, they got the best of both worlds: The best new talent, at a fraction of the price, with much less money than they would have otherwise had to invest to get product. It was kind of like the minor leagues for the major labels, with indie labels becoming “farm” teams. At this point, the democratization process was slowed down somewhat, as big fish ate the smaller fish, but not for long. While recording media and devices were allowing more artists the opportunity to create, the internet gave independent artists the means to distribute product globally from their homes. There suddenly became a hell of a lot more fish in the sea.

The result of these three democratizing technologies, CD’s, digital home recording gear, and the internet, meant that anyone, and DNA means anyone, can produce music and get it distributed to a potential world audience. A band doesn’t need a label to launch their music across multiple platforms, nor do they need the PR machine or physical production plants that only big labels could provide to get their artists’ music heard. Those things help sell music, sure, but that is no longer the only measure of success. The democratizing principles which allows schmoes like DNA to record and distribute product also means that the business model which helps define success has changed dramatically since the days the A&R guys developed the talent for majors. DNA doesn’t need to sell 1000 CD’s to make a profit, or if DNA were on a major, more like 10,000 to cover costs, and 100,000 to insure your record deal isn’t scrapped before your tour even starts.

In order for DNA to cover all of the costs of recording, and DNA means ALL of the costs (the actual recording, mixing, artwork, product mastering, duplication, and a digital distribution deal), DNA needs to sell less than 100 CD’s. Actually, less than 50. More like less than 20. Unbelievable, but absolutely true.

It is no wonder that CD sales have dropped dramatically over the last few years. Digital media is in the process of revolutionizing the delivery of music. It is no wonder that record labels are scared of this change. This revolution marks the end of the need for a traditional record label for guys like you or DNA. Nobody likes staring extinction in the face. The fear of extinction is unfounded, however. Huge bands, worldwide bands, will still need the big label’s ability to coordinate big things. But the little guys can put their two cents in too, and have it actually count. What labels are afraid of losing, and what most labels have already lost, is their relevance.

How does this affect you? These changes mean that before you, on your computer, through dozens of services, are literally tens of thousands of bands across the globe that you can listen to. It no longer matters to you if an artist is on Capital Records. You can buy individual songs after you listen to them. A greater share than ever of the money you spend actually makes back to the artist, which in turn, means that the economy of scale is preserved, and the artist can continue to produce quality art at a much smaller critical mass, because so much more money is returned to the artist him or her self.

Here is an example: Today, you go online and buy “Well” by The DNA Vibrators (Hey, that’s a good idea. You should really do that). You pay .99 cents for that gem. Nine cents goes to the distributor. Anywhere from .10 to .30 cents goes to the online retailer. The rest goes to the artist. Compare this to a typical model at a big label. The artist doesn’t own his or her songs. The artist must first pay back any advance on the sale of the CD. Then, the artist gets a royalty of approximately .09 cents per song. That’s it. So, DNA makes approximately .80 cents per song, instead of .09 cents per song. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that DNA can sell a factor of 10 times less music and make the same amount as some artist on a major label. And if, by chance, DNA has a song which becomes popular, the money generated from that song won’t line the pockets of some exec at a record label. It will line DNA’s pockets, which is a much better deal, from DNA’s point of view. And, from your point of view too. The democratization process includes you, you see. You can buy anything you want. Doing so allows the artists you like to continue to make the music you like. You have a much more direct hand in the production of the art you enjoy. Your dollar goes much further now than ever before in “voting” for what you want to hear and continue to hear, and, it is much more likely that the dollar you spend will actually go back into the artistic process. Since DNA has been reading a little Thomas Kuhn, DNA knows it is under the influence of this philosopher. Still, in this essay, it is appropriate to borrow his terminology (in fact, it is probably the reading of Thomas Kuhn which directed DNA’s train of thought): We stand witness to a paradigm shift, a revolution, which will bury antiquated labels in an avalanche of choice. Do all of us a favor: Go surf right now, and buy three songs from artists you have never heard of. This is the best of democracy at work.

Tune in sometime soon for the next rant: the worst of democracy at work!

A NEW BOOK, A NEW CHAPTER:

October is the month DNA travels for his real job, flies all over the country and prepares potential college students and parents for what they might face in their futures. It's not as depressing as it sounds. In blogs past, DNA has delved into such topics as bad seat assignments on flights, if you're the one stuck next to the fundamentalist on the plane, guys with cell phones stuck in their ears (and their heads up their asses), delays, and in general, the idiocy you must endure to travel in glorified busses with wings. In fact, the bus industry needs to learn a thing or two from airlines and rail-lines...bus-lines need to serve alcohol to their patrons, too.

One very positive aspect of flying, though, is that DNA gets to catch up on any reading that has been waiting, or to "take a chance" on a new or interesting looking book. It so happened that DNA found a book that addressed the memory creation problem DNA had from last post, and described "Why People Believe Weird Things." This is an old book, been around about 10 years, but is newly revised and expanded. Michael Shermer is the author and professional skeptic who guides the reader through a series of pseudo-scientific and pseudo-historical "theories." Best of all, he tries to follow two basic premises: Hume's Maxim and Spinoza's Dictum. To quote, they are, respectively:

"The plain consequence is (and it is a general maxim worthy of our attention), 'that no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.'"

and

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not be bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them."

Okay, DNA has fallen a little short on the second rule to live by. Ridiculing, bewailing, scorning without understanding has been the cornerstone of this blog from day 1, (and about 99% of all internet writing). That's one of the reasons people write on the internet, so they can spout off about shit in as virulent a way as they possibly can, anonymously, and therefore, without fear of retribution, from not just a smarter reader, but an angrier or more unstable reader who was offended. On the internet, it is easy to say, "joke 'em if they can't take a fuck."

If you object to something DNA writes, good for you. You may write DNA back. DNA has balls, so if it was worthy, he would print what you say. But unless you point out something worth talking about, you'll either be ignored or fucked with. And since this is DNA's house, in the end, even if you are smarter, funnier, meaner, tougher, or anything-er, you don't pay the bill to run this website, and DNA can shut you down. Sucks, yes it does, buy this is why so many people write pointless shit like this on the internet. Because they can.

It reminds DNA of Alexander Pope, the dwarven poet laureate of England. He bewailed the introduction of the printing press, because it meant that the uneducated (to his standard) masses would have the means at their disposal to print books, low, base, immoral books, written by common folk with less of a grip on the language than they normally have on their own genitals (DNA is paraphrasing Pope here; Pope actually wrote something more like this: "like cattle, herded by a mad dictator, their words flow like the seed of a chronic masurbator.") Okay, Pope didn't write that, but Pope did write heroic couplet, probably better than anybody else ever has---read "The Rape Of The Lock" and you will be convinced. Oh, and he did this little thing, a translation of the Iliad, and is famous for quotes like "To err is human, to forgive Divine" and shit like that. Yeah, DNA thinks most pop song writers owe Pope a debt for making people amenable to the AA BB CC DD rhyme scheme. Of course, in the wrong hands, (think Nickleback, or Ratt, or almost all of pop radio) it can become some pretty bad sing-songy shit.

Back to the book, "Why People Believe Weird Things." The first maxim is so self-evident to most people, we would feel confident that we don't make mistakes in believing in weird or pretty fucked up shit. Unfortunately, we all harbor some beliefs that simply are not supported by facts or are even contradicted by verifiable facts. The other night, DNA was watching the Bill Maher show on HBO (at the hotel room DNA was staying at. DNA can't afford actual HBO in his house---remember he is one of you, the little people). Mos Def was on it, and making good sense about a particular topic, when he said, "I don't believe in the Al Quaida boogeyman, but then again, I don't believe in the moon landing, either." At which point, Bill Maher, and DNA, and almost everybody in the audience, tuned him out. Smart, relevant people believe in fucked up things. This was the most interesting part of the book. Smart people, people who have the capacity to understand that hillbilly shit is bogus, still believe hillbilly shit. In fact, the smarter you are, the more likely you will be to keep your opinion and belief, even if it is wrong, and the less likely you will be moved to change your opinion, even in the face of mounting evidence, and the better you can argue your position so that even if someone else can refute you, you still might win the battle if you can make them look stupid.

What DNA has experienced recently is the fallibility of memory, and our ability to "recreate" events that fit what we remember or think we remember. This is why DNA would have sworn the song "Mother Freedom" was by Rare Earth when it was actually by Bread.

On a more serious note, this is also why dickfors like Iran's president can hold well-attended conferences on Holocaust revision, why some state school boards still will agree to teach creationism, or its seemingly less malevolent skin, intelligent design, why some believe in alien abduction, in psychics, etc. DNA is as guilty of believing in crackpot conspiracies as the next anonymous internet presence.

So, DNA's 11 year old son got a hold of the book, and started reading it. He's a pretty smart kid. Pretty soon, he asked about certain psychics, like Uri Gellar. "Wasn't he tested?" "Didn't he do stuff like bend spoons and make stuff under glass move?" At which point, the newly schooled skeptic in DNA employed Hume's maxim: "Son, if indeed he had powers like that, don't you think he would have developed them to do some real good in the world, like maybe psychically "lead" medicines directly to cancer in a person's body, or mentally guide metal stints to exactly the right place in a heart attack victim's body? If he was truly gifted, and wanted to show the world, wouldn't that be the way to do it? And, since he is not doing anything except parlor tricks with his "ability," then we should doubt his ability is anything more than a trick. The burden of proof is on him, not me, to prove his ability."

Now, to the second rule to live by, the one about not ridiculing, and all that shit. That is actually worth living by as well. Every flame war on the internet, every piece of bad criticism out here, every bit of rancorous diatribe which passes for spirited debate, would go away if we followed that rule. There's a place for fun and games, but if you are really trying to understand something, personally attacking an author or an opinion actually gives strength and ammunition back to the originator. Also, the more you hammer on someone, the more shrill, amateurish, and frankly, stupid, you sound, particularly if the person you attack can keep their cool, and continue to point out any flaws in logic you make. But that would be like throwing the pearls before the swine. Pigs like DNA root in shit. It is our natural habitat. It is why some folks don't "dig on swine." Other folks don't mind getting dirty.

DNA will try to follow a new book and chapter in its life: Be more skeptical of the inane shit he sometimes believes, and try not to be mean when DNA points out how fucked up bulk emailers are.

ANNIVERSARIES:
(October 28th, 2008)

As is my custom, on this day, on the blog, there is no DNA Vibrator, no bullshit. Just me.

On this day, in 2001, my Dad died. My son, Carl, named after my Dad, experienced his first real loss in life, and as gifted as he is, understood the concept of death better than most 5 year-olds should. What tore my heart more than my Dad dying was seeing on my son's face the realization that his grandpa was gone, and nothing, no magic, or faith, or super being, or spell, would change that. Because Dad died right before Halloween, we, the adults, were trying to make our own peace with the dead, while we made a point of celebrating the holiday for the kids. I don't think the irony was lost on any of the them, that we were celebrating a holiday in which the dead come back as we were preparing for the ceremony in which we buried Dad.

I was hit right in the gut by very real and pertinent questions from Carl about heaven and hell, about a person's soul, about what happens when you die. The kind of questions we insulate ourselves from purposely for most of our lives, and the kind of questions which, because we don't want real answers to, we run from quickly when asked. We run behind conventions, we run behind pat phrases, we run behind rituals, we run away from doubt, and in an attempt to wring meaning from a person's death, we run away from fear and into a surreal state which I can't well describe, but which we all have been in. People say things like, "He's in a better place," or "He's enjoying perfect peace, and is whole again in mind and spirit," or "Today is a day to celebrate the love you have for him," among many, many, things, and we accept them as reasonable things to say. They are not.

I believe in God, in much the same way I believe in the universe. I don't think there is a city with streets paved with gold waiting for me somewhere, though. I think it is possible that the idea of spiritual peace is a metaphor that is imperfectly described by earthly wonders, like a golden city, but what is that spiritual peace, really? I don't know. I do know I had to tell my son something, something that would make sense, but not insult his beliefs. I couldn't say things like, "He's in a better place." In fact, saying things like that always reminds me of this one Twilight Zone episode (or one of those shows like the Twilight Zone) in which gramps died and little Timmy decides that since gramps was in a better place, that the best thing he could do was kill everybody else so they could be in a better place, too. Most people choose to stay in this suck-ass hell-hole, given that choice. Makes you wonder, don't it?

I raised Carl to question everything. Why wouldn't he question an unknowable 'fact' about a place called heaven, and if it wasn't like he thought it was, then (I already knew he was thinking this) what would happen to him when he died? There is nothing like the thought of dying and having the event mean nothing more to the universe than just another candle burning out. Before it burned out, there was a little light and heat. Afterwards, nothing but smoke. And if it warmed somebody or lit somebody's path, what did that matter 10,000 years from now? I wish I could tell you that I said something to him which reassured him and made him feel connected in a deeply spiritual way to his grandpa, but I didn't, or couldn't. I told him what I believed. I told him that there is more to the universe than we will ever know, and that what made Dad 'Dad' had passed on, but to where, or in what form, I knew not. I knew that never again in this universe will the same forces align to produce another person like him, and in that way, his place in the book of this universe was written and will always be. Will we ever see that book (my own metaphor for heaven)? I knew not. But that's what I told him.

I think for most people, heaven is like Santa Claus, something you believed in when you were little, when you were willing to believe in things you couldn't see, or things that violated the laws you learn which govern the world. As you get older, you no longer believe in the actuality of Santa Claus, because facts contradict it, but are still willing to believe in the idea of Santa Claus. At some point, you may no longer believe in the idea. Belief powers the thing. If a person believes it, it exists. If a person doesn't, it doesn't. Any objective "reality" is further removed from us than heaven ever will be. That in itself is a comfort that I hope Carl will understand one day. He probably already does.

I didn't intentionally plan it, (or at least I didn't consciously plan it) but tonight I watched the opener of Season Six of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, in which the Scooby Gang performs a spell to bring Buffy back from the dead. Today, while I did yard work all day long, I thought to myself, "I wonder if Dad felt like I'm feeling, today, thinking about his own Dad while he slogged through the mundane events of his life?" When I sat down outside and rested, enjoying the smell of the grill, and dinner cooking, I wondered if Dad felt like this those times when I would watch him relax on the old wooden bench swing we had installed in the front yard many years ago, just feeling the air, with a tinge of the North in it. My daughter Maggie, who is six, seven this December, came up to me, and asked me what I was doing, and in that moment, I knew she was looking at me the way I looked at my Dad when I was a kid---like he was invincible, like he was the best, like he was there just for me, and that I was happy just to be there looking at him. If I have ever done anything right in this world, I have to say it was evident in her smile to me, while I sat, thinking about what I hoped my Dad thought about me when I looked at him with six year-old eyes. Perhaps I learned enough from him while he was here to get some things right.

Six years is a long time. Six years is an instant. All it has taken for me to erase six years is a few paragraphs. But not quite six years. Five years and 364 days. No matter how often I recall the 36 years previous to his death, he is still dead. And that was six years ago today.

Tonight it is late, and I have a very important story to tell about what happened to me immediately after my Dad died, which will have to wait when I have some time to tell it right.

PLAGIARISM AND OTHER CRIMES:

For those of you who do not share an affinity with Carbondale, IL, or SIU, you might want to tune this blog post out. Unless, of course, you enjoy erudite exposition and thought-provoking analysis on exciting topics like intellectual property rights. Hello? Hello? Anybody there? For those of you still reading, SIU's President, Glenn Poshard, is in some hot water, for plagiarizing a few times in his doctoral dissertation. Some are calling for his head, some are backing him all the way, and for lots of reasons, the issue doesn't look like it is going away. So, DNA decided to weigh in on the subject, mainly because most of the crap that has been written about the topic has been, well, CRAP. So, printed in its entirety, with some small edits (like putting 'DNA' instead of ***** in the places DNA refers to itself), here is our first installment of

Self-serving, Self-aggrandizing, Academic Snobfoppery Theater

Tonight's episode: Plagiarism And Other Capital Crimes

Most of you out there don't care about the happenings at a small Midwestern university, unless that phrase was preceded by the words, "Dear Penthouse: I never thought this would happen to me. I attend a small Midwestern university...." But within the university community, these happenings whirl frenetically like a tornado fed by the spinning of its own tail/tale (take your pick).

DNA has been thinking about the issue of plagiarism in the hopes that DNA could distill this slurry he has been reading in the papers and on the internet into a shot of something with a little more, well, character. Kind of like the difference between drinking a slug of white lightning, compared to a nice draw of aged Kentucky bourbon. One will burn your nose hairs and cause you to see funny. The other uses your whole circulatory system as a filter for smoky sophistication. The problem is, DNA doesn't think the current row about plagiarism is really about plagiarism.

Let's assume, for a moment, that this debate is actually about plagiarism. DNA is purposely not going to define the term here. There are more definitions of plagiarism than there are instances of plagiarism in SIU system president Glenn Poshard's dissertation. Rather, DNA wants to talk about what it is. From a student's standpoint, it is the caged beast used by teachers, administrators, and institutions to inspire fear--- whoops, DNA means, to instill the highest standards of integrity for the intellectual process in their students. From a teacher's standpoint, it is a crime, the prosecution of which protects a teacher's value on the open market--- whoops, DNA means, protects their intellectual property. How plagiarism is defined is not so clear. Whether different activities constitute plagiarism, and whether the same penalties should be imposed for an act of plagiarism depending on your professional level (or lack of it) should be up for debate.

Students need and benefit from direct statements about plagiarism so that they understand clearly what is considered cheating and what is not. Students might plagiarize because they know less of what is common knowledge in a particular field; students might plagiarize because they are less familiar with the rules regarding the fair use of others' works; students might plagiarize because a sufficient "weeding out" process is still occurring during the undergraduate years, and many students who actively cheat are only then getting caught in serious enough infractions; students might plagiarize because many of them aren't particularly interested, invested, or driven to create their own work, or to do the research that allows them to find their own voices, et cetera. (DNA views this primarily as a failure of teachers to find the methods to inspire their students.) There are many reasons students might plagiarize, almost all of which, with the exception of unrepentant, continued, blatant cheating, should be accepted by teachers the way a parent accepts reasons for bad behavior from a child who is still learning how to do things: Negatively reinforce to extinguish a behavior, and positively reinforce to change the behavior. When this is done correctly, the negative reinforcement should not overshadow the positive reinforcement. Then, Professor Skinner rings a bell, and all the kids look out the window due to his semester's long operant conditioning. DNA is not a behaviorist, but certainly, there are times when the model works.

If schools want to teach kids that plagiarism is bad, then instructors shouldn't level the worst punishment (failing a class, being suspended or expelled) at students for the first, or second (or, gasp, maybe even the third) infraction of the rules or for an inadvertent infraction. Wouldn't it be a more effective lesson about the value of intellectual and academic honesty to require a student who plagiarized to write a paper about a topic of their choosing, in which he had to present several drafts, submitted sequentially, all verified by the instructor, starting with a simple outline, which creates a clear and obvious trail of the student's own intellectual work? Wouldn't that be much more effective in producing a future scholar who appreciated the value of his own work instead of scaring the hell out of a kid who makes a mistake, or, God forbid, maybe several? But that approach involves actual hard work on the part of the instructor, and assumes an element of really caring about an individual student├»¿½s intellectual potential and growth. What was DNA thinking?

It is one thing to talk about plagiarism among students. What about plagiarism among professionals? Now we are getting into the meat and potatoes of this current, for lack of a better term, argument. Actually, there is a better term, it's just longer: "Two sides shrieking back and forth, tossing polemic, pedantic barbs aimed at inciting anger, including few if any facts, all out of context, each claiming that the other side is ruining reputations of institutions or people, and that is why SIU now sucks," or something to that effect. Before we dig into the professional plagiarism main course, let's scarf down the appetizer, which in effect has spoiled our palate for public debate. The appetizer is composed of two ingredients: First take a large helping of "Don't throw stones if you live in glass houses," and vigorously combine with two scoops of "If you're rich, powerful, or connected, I guess the rules don't apply to you," and stand back. The mixture rises on its own, puffs itself full of hot air, and will cause [ad] nauseam if tasted even once. Interestingly, both points of view spring from the same insecure, squirrelly bakery in our psyches: a fear of not being in control of our lives. One point of view basically asks, "Who are you to judge?" while the other asks, "Who are you to be above judgment?" Both rise from insular thinking and an external locus of control.

Plagiarism takes on a whole new meaning and importance when it is applied to the professional world. Then, as a concept, it is related directly to intellectual property and the value, the actual dollars-and-sense value that the property has. Plagiarism is theft, and as such, the process to penalize someone for plagiarism follows the same basic rules that govern the adjudication of any theft of property: The worse the violation, the worse the penalty. If the theft is bad enough, as a professional, you lose money, prestige, reputation, opportunities, your job, and maybe even your freedom. Wouldn't it be stupid to exact the same toll for different levels and kinds of infractions? It's the kind of intractable, inflexible thinking that you would least expect from faculty and administration at a university, but is exactly the kind of thinking we seem to be faced with at every turn. Perhaps those intractable thinkers should remember this aphorism: To err is human; to forgive, divine. (Or maybe that's 'strychnine.')

Somebody said that before, DNA thinks. Oh yeah, it was Alexander Pope. Which brings DNA to its next point: How many times do you have to hear or see something before you no longer feel bad for ripping off Alexander Pope? What falls into the bounds of common knowledge? There is certainly something rotten in Denmark. Et tu, Brute? I'd rather serve in Denny's than manage in McDonald's. You see where DNA is going with this, DNA hopes? When does DNA get to say "continental drift" without saying, "as originally described by Alfred Wegner?" The rules are not very clear. Common knowledge pretty much means, "If you already knew it, then you're okay, but if you had to get your information from somewhere else, then it was not common knowledge to you, so you better cite it, or else." That definition, in one form or another, can be found all over the place. DNA guesses that makes it common knowledge.

Unfortunately, the definition is so relative to an individual's experience as to nearly be worthless. Language itself, being self-reflexive, tends to blur authorship/ownership over time. "But surely, there must be a definable point at which something can't be considered 'common' anymore," you say. Yes, it makes sense that that point exists. And stop calling me Shirley. Now, does DNA have to attribute that joke to the writers of the movie, Airplane!? DNA hopes we're not there as a society. As soon as free expression is curtailed out of fear of penalty or reprisal because you did not attribute everything correctly, then the argument against plagiarism has officially stepped off the deep end. Right now, at SIU, we seem dangerously close to testing those waters.

Do we want a teacher who uses somebody else's teaching statement? Do we want a chancellor who copies large chunks of a previously developed plan and inserts them into his new work here? Do we want a president who committed plagiarism in his thesis and dissertation? Do we want to start looking at everybody's published theses and dissertations and comb through them for signs of plagiarism? No, of course not. In a perfect world, every teacher's teaching statements would be unique or attributed carefully, every chancellor would cite their old plans or create new plans when envisioning a specific university's future, and every president would produce a thesis and dissertation which become the standards for scholarly excellence, and nobody would ever commit an act of plagiarism, intentional or otherwise, in their student or professional works.

Or, we could accept a more modest proposal. Should DNA attribute that? It will, to Jonathan Swift, who suggested, in 1729, that the Irish in Ireland could solve their social problems if they only ate their own children, particularly the poor ones. (They are very tasty, he reports.) Here's DNA's modest, slightly less biting, proposal: Teach students, through a process of experience, why they should not plagiarize. Teachers should show them examples and should be examples of proper behavior, instead of making examples of students when they foul up. Students who foul up include graduate students, too. Even though doctoral grads should have learned their lessons already, some will still make dumb mistakes. Which brings DNA to an important side note: Did you know that school is the place at which you get to make dumb mistakes, and not have it cost you your career? We learn by making mistakes. Why do you think so many people teach at universities? The amateurs (students) should get treated with kid gloves until they turn pro (graduate). Professionals (professors, administrators, et cetera), however, should bear the full responsibility of their actions. That's why they are paid the big bucks.

It would be nice if the world followed the diet suggested by DNA's modest proposal, but it doesn't. Instead, we're filled up by the side dishes. It's hard to say how that happened, but perhaps some of the ill-advised statements weeks before a decision about Poshard's plagiarism by board members, which certainly sounded like a rubber stamp of approval for President Poshard, didn't help, nor did the many statements by folks who had axes to grind against SIU. Nor did those who extolled Poshard's character and trivialized any potential wrongdoing, or those who faulted the process or the findings of a committee for lacking integrity, et cetera., et cetera.

Unfortunately, the issue of plagiarism seems to be the McGuffin of this Hitchcockian drama. Really, does this 'scandal' affect the quality of DNA's degrees? No. DNA still learned what he learned while he was here as a student. DNA takes that with him wherever he goes. Will it affect whether or not an SIU grad is hired somewhere? No company or institution or human-resources manager would be stupid enough to assume that somehow this issue devalued any individual's education. Scandals like this have come and gone at universities a lot more prestigious than SIU. Guess what? They are still more prestigious. The elephant in the living room is this: There wouldn't be a private group of 'concerned' citizens investigating certain targets if there hadn't existed a longstanding culture of SIU administrators treating teachers poorly. It's a fact that we have a larger, well-paid administration at SIU, and a smaller, less well-paid faculty compared to other similar institutions around the country. It's hard to reconcile institutional inequalities like that without sacrificing some rams along with some sheep. Poshard is enough of a politician to keep from getting his throat cut, but can he lead us out of this valley, or will we go straight over a cliff? DNA actually thinks his detractors are afraid he might succeed, not fail, because their axes would be blunted if things started to get better with Glenn at the helm. DNA doesn't believe those concerned citizens actually care about plagiarism as much as they care about plagiarism being a means to an end.

Please, President Poshard, Chancellor Fernando Trevino, if you or your staff happen to read this, DNA ain't the Lorax, but he do speak for some of the trees around here: Take this opportunity to lead. Change the culture, change the perception that our administration is bloated and our teachers are undervalued. You can do this. Some folks have faith---not blind faith, but faith nonetheless--- that you are the right people for the job. This plagiarism issue is likely the first and last test you will be allowed to fail. Yes, fail. You certainly did not win over hearts and minds here with your words and actions. You survived, which is important in the long run, but that is not compelling evidence you are fit to take on this challenge. DNA hopes, for students, faculty, the institution, and the region, that you are. If you are not, leave now. Too many people depend on your success.

Okay, that was the "real" writing that DNA does from time to time. Didn't mean to have it intrude in his internetlife. Can't help it if the dick jokes or memories of the music biz are not bubbling to the surface right now.

SELLING WELL IS SELLING OUT:

This is a topic that DNA spent some time thinking about a long time ago, about the time Metallica's "Black" album came out. Many die hard Metallica fans said that the band had sold out, that Bob Rock succeeded in making them slick and radio friendly, and the trade off for that was the band's musical integrity.

DNA was not one of those people. DNA always thought that old Metallica's stuff sounded too thin, because the bass was nonexistent. You heard guitars, and the click of the noise gate on the kick drum, and vocals, but not much else. Bob Rock brought something that the band needed: the orchestral pyramid.

What is the orchestral pyramid? It is a simple concept really, that low end concert instruments form the base of a pyramid, and everything else is written to fit on top of them. In this concept, the bass isn't buried, it forms all of the structure on which the rest of a song must stand. The bass instruments generally have to be larger, be of greater number, and possess greater power than the other instruments in order to be appreciated as the foundation of most music.

Bob Rock understood the orchestral pyramid. He gave Metallica the bass foundation it needed. Along the way, if that made Metallica more "listenable" to a wider audience, so be it. That's not selling out, that's selling, period.

If you were to ask almost any musician what his or her goal as a musician is, it would be to get his or her music heard by as many people as possible. If an artist actually does this, though, those fans who initially supported the band through the lean times become resentful, as if they were taken for granted by the band that is no longer exclusively "theirs."

Years ago, DNA was inspired to write the song,

"Selling Well Is Selling Out?"
in which DNA postulates: "Selling well is selling out? Selling well is selling out? Making money doesn't mean Fuck my public! It just means that now you're getting paid for having fun. Isn't that what you wanted, man, when it's all said and done? Fuck Yeah!"

DNA hadn't thought about the topic for some time, until last week, when reading some of the comments to some story on Cracked.com, when a group of commenters used characters from the movie, Anchorman, as avatars, and started responding to people's commentary with lines from the movie.

DNA didn't think much about it, until the vehement replies from other commenters started to roll in. Usually the comments were very sarcastic and biting, like "I sure hope somebody starts quoting Ron Burgundy soon, because that is soooo funny when a person attempts to be cool by quoting lines from Anchorman."

Here is an actual quote from a poster: "Anchorman sucks, Stop quoting it. There I said it. I'd rather read the Bible any day over watching the severe beating that was Anchorman. You fucked up Will Ferrell, you gave the kid posting Anchorman quotes something to live for. He should have killed himself already. Do you not realize what you've done?"

Now, DNA never really gives commenters who post on somewhat amusing websites, or actually, commenters who comment on other people's comments, much credence. But, web commenting in general is an interesting phenomenon. DNA believes it is an actual new form of communication. It's a way to take all of the snide, bitchy, redundant, rude, condescending, hateful, and idiotic ranting that until the advent of the internet, was kept as an interior voice only, and make it externalized. The internet allows commenters to take over threads in personal wars, to engage in dimestore philosophy in which no one can claim authority, because every commenter has the same legitimacy. If you have ever left a web comment, you know what DNA is talking about. You stake your claim, you put your take on it out there, and when someone else comments about how you missed the point, you get righteously indignant because that moron so fucking missed YOUR point, and so on.

This is why forums and comments usually break down into polemic diatribes, name calling, and douchebaggery.

This Anchorman thing made me reassess the whole selling out concept in light of the new communication model. You see, we all have done this, quoting from a movie or a book we like, particularly when it has a shared meaning among a group of friends. Among that intimate group of pals, those comments cement you together. In a public forum, they make you a dick. The commenters complaints about people quoting from Anchorman aren't really about the movie, Anchorman. It has much more to do with the fact that a small group of people, who all use Anchorman avatars, have made the comment sections of articles on Cracked.com their bitch. It is no longer the anonymous way for idiots to converse with geniuses, and sound smarter in the process. It became the Anchorman commenters' private joke. Of course, nobody else in the forum liked it. It goes like this: "I don't get to be in on your joke? Fuck you." Or, probably sometimes: "I didn't think of it first? Fuck you." Or, more to the point of my comparison to selling out: "Anchorman is my thing. I liked Will Ferrell before Talladega Nights. I am a real fan. Fuck you."

The only comments section of a website that DNA read regularly was from the old Pointless Waste Of Time website, which is now the Cracked.com forums. The moderator, David Wong, grasped the value of open forum, highly moderated debate. As soon as the diatribes and personal attacks start, Wong boots the commenter from the thread. This keeps the threads very readable, and represents the opposite communication of what most comment sections or forums actually broker.

Did Will Ferrell sell out? Does Anchorman sell out? Have people commenting on people who use Anchorman avatars sold out? Has DNA sold out? If selling out means reaching a wider audience, then, yes, yes, yes, and never, baby!

By the way, remember to contribute to the "DNA record in every stocking by Christmas" campaign this holiday season.

CHANGE IS GOOD, UNLESS ITS HAPPENING TO YOU:

Even positive change, even change you expected or wanted, can suck, because sometimes the misery you have is better than the happiness you might have.

Hearing so many political candidates talk about change, how they are the candidates for change, reminded DNA that after a while, when someone uses a word so often, it begins to lose its meaning. "I stand for change," "I am the candidate for change," "Change is what we need," "I've changed change to always change for change." After awhile, it it is just code for "I've said what you wanted me to say, so now will you please vote for me?"

In other words, whether Obama says it's been his message all along, or Clinton, who like all the others, is touting the kinds, numbers of, amount of, and various ways she is responsible for more change than anybody else, the message continues to be that candidates will jerk you off for a vote. "Change" is masturbation. "Ooooh, you like that?" Hillary licked her lips. "Like it when I say change? Yeah. How about this? Cchhaaannnnnngggge. That's it. I love how change makes you feel. I control change, and you want me to control change. You can't wait to change all over me. Oh fuck. Now look what you've done. I'm going to have to change my dress."

Jerk, jerk, jerk, spunk, feel ashamed, used, stupid for getting caught up in it all, get up the next morning and look her in the eye, and say, "You really weren't change at all. I still feel fucked." And she replies, "Of course. You're a dumbass." And you agree. Some things don't change that should, while others things that should, don't. That's gotta change.

DNA is facing a big change in his life. After the massive music recording and blogging fest that was 2007, 2008 is shaping up to be less massive, and more real-world work. Fuck. DNA knew this gig was too good to be true, and was a prime example of one of those things that shouldn't change but did. But, on the upside, DNA will start school again on Monday, which is one of those things that should have changed a long time ago, but didn't until recently. College textbooks still cost way too fucking much, which is something that didn't change that should have. DNA paid over $150 for one book. No, it was not wrapped in Kobe beef. It wasn't bound with human skin, or contained a magical secret. It was a fucking stats book. In the day and age of print on demand, when the actual costs of making a book have dropped through the floor, when the book is a textbook for which most of the research which the author did for it was paid for by the University at which the author works, when the people who have to buy the book have absolutely no options of getting the book cheaper somewhere else, high costs indicates that this is a big fucking racket. It's not like the paper is made with ground up humpback whale bones, for christ's sake. "Yes, I'd like to buy Statistics for Education and Psychology. No, not the paperback. The one covered in gold fillagree and freshly-cut ivory. Or, if you're out, one of those over there, bound in the skins of silverback pygmy mountain gorillas."

Publishers sure as hell aren't paying huge advances or royalties out to professors who are writing these god awful things, and have a pretty set and stable market for these books. Something fuels this cycle. DNA thinks that the high costs for textbooks is directly related to the availability of federal student aid. As long as that huge cash cow keeps stepping up to get milked, companies are under no pressure to provide cheaper books. If federal financial aid dollars could NOT be spent on books, you'd see the price of books drop pretty fast. As long as every publisher knows that students must pay, and even poor students have federal dollars at their disposal, then the price of books will remain high. The few attempts DNA has seen for book co-ops to begin have been beaten by concerted efforts of publishers and institutions themselves. Bookstores put up signs like, "We will only accept for trade or refund a book bearing our stamp from this year," which is ludicrous. A co-op bookseller gets the 4th edition of a book, but now the school requires you use the 5th edition, no teacher ever goes back to the 4th edition, and makes your copy of the 4th edition book worthless. How can you be made to pay $150 for something today, that, even if kept in perfect condition, may be worthless next year? Simple. It's value is extrinsic. It was never "worth" $150 to begin with, but if they have it and you need it, they can charge what they want for it. It's only worth what you pay for it.

Something that should change but won't: books be actually worth only a reasonable fraction over their intrinsic value (what it cost to make them). DNA's book was one of hundreds at SIU, which is one of hundreds of schools which have instructors who use that textbook. Do the math: If SIU had 100 copies of the textbook, then at SIU alone, $15,000 was made from that book this year. It couldn't take long for the cost per unit of the book can drop and still make a huge profit for the bookseller. The particular book that DNA had to buy was a third edition from 1998. That means for the last 10 years this book has been used. It don't take a rocket surgeon to see how much money has been made from the sale and official reselling of this book. Books shouldn't cost very much at all. But....

Big publishers won't change. They like dollars.

Average Joe won't push for change. It's government aid and mom and dad who are paying the bills.

The poor man don't want change. It won't get him into the University anyway.

Change is scary. Change doesn't make people rich. Change involves risk, and usually somebody loses, but no one can predict who ahead of time. No wonder those who "have" choose not to change at all. DNA is still glad he is one of the have-nots. For all DNA's dreams of financial independence, that is one change DNA would avoid, if possible.

Not all change is good.

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE:

As you welcome or shun the inevitable changes of your life, other events return which show how some important things stay the same.

Case in point: When DNA was younger, he was a card carrying Air Marshall in the nerd patrol. You achieved that status by actively engaging in a campaign of Dungeons and Dragons when you should have been staying out late, defying your parents, and looking for pussy or liquor.

DNA liked playing D&D. Role playing games are fun. Like you didn't already figure out that a guy who creates a fictitious mystical persona to write a blog likes role playing games. And paste. And getting swirlies.

DNA was no more the stereotypical geek than he was the stereotypical rock and roll musician. Rock and roll is actually geek parity. It's not the cool jock kids who form the bands that everybody loves, it's the outcasts, losers, punks, fuck-ups, the artsy-types, the kids nobody took to prom.

In college, while other kids drank or fucked or bragged about drinking and fucking, DNA and his friends, Monstee, Mr. Kamikaze, Monstrella, and many, many others, played a campaign of D&D. We played it almost every week, at least once a week, for several years. Monstee was a genius, and kept the story we were in the midst of creating alive. To actively engage in the creation of the narrative is the reason people get together and play this game to begin with. That, and Satan :D

We played that game from the fall of 1984 to the spring of 1989. Not long after that, as school was over, or jobs changed, we all moved in one direction or another away. The party was split, and no one felt like continuing the game without everybody who used to play.

For awhile, a small group played up in the Chicago area, but that too ebbed with time.

For the last year or so, in fits and starts, Monstee and DNA have been talking about getting together and playing again, particularly since Monstee's hatchling and DNA's son, Spazz jr. both wanted to play, too.

Well, it happened. We all got together: Monstee, Monstrella, Hatchling, DNA, and Spazz jr. We played for a dozen hours straight and had a great time. Time, the intervening 20 years, melted away, as if nothing had changed. Some part of all of us had not changed. The things we love about the game had not changed. Somehow, and there was no guarantee of this, our kids discovered what we love about the game for themselves. It becomes pretty apparent after a short time whether somebody likes D&D or not. If you like it, you can play for several hours before you even think of getting up to take a drink. If you don't like it, you begin to fidget in your chair after about 10 minutes.

So here is DNA, in the midst of his life changes, when plop in his lap is the biggest most fun bag of staying the same he's had in awhile. At 42, DNA still likes playing. DNA thinks at 62, he will still like playing. DNA better shine up the Air Marshall badge and beret.

Not all static is bad.

WHEN BEING A MUSICIAN CARRIED POLITICAL CLOUT:

There was a time when, if you were a political leader and also a musician, it meant instant bad-assification, the equivalent of banging Jessica Alba AND snorting coke off of Lindsay Lohan's ass while you were signing the secret orders to bomb the fuck out of Turdistan. Not only were you the decider but also you were hip enough to have some soul. You signed that order while listening to Hell's Bells and flashing the devil's horns. Shit, JFK only associated with musicians and he was too cool a president to be allowed to live. Imagine if Madonna had sung "Happy Birthday" to Bill Clinton? Would there have been any doubt that he not only was the leader of the free world, but also that instead of being nearly impeached for a blow job by an intern, his interns should have expressly printed on their resumes their oral skills as a requisite for the job? Actually instead of interns, he should have had fluffers ready at every stop, even one sitting hidden in the podium as he spoke to the press. Today, the Marilyn Monroe thing of JFK's time would be the equivalent of Angelina Jolie making eyes at Bush at a correspondent's dinner. DNA doesn't care what you think of Bush, if it was clear that tang like Angelina was strutting for George, even Hillary would cut him some slack.

However, despot, tyrant, or leader of the free world, it's not enough to simply play an instrument. You have to play the right one. Would we consider Nero the crazy motherfucker we do if he had been known for playing piccolo? While Rome burned, he screeched away on that fiddle made of gold, y'know, the one Charlie Daniel's sang about. Hardcore. Ghengis Khan played drums made out of the skins of his enemies. You don't think that shit wouldn't cause you to re-evaluate your diplomatic strategy as his hordes approached your borders? Even if that weren't true (DNA can't say, he made it up just a second ago) it still proves DNA's point: For a moment when you thought what DNA said was accurate, everything you already knew about Ghengis Khan being a bad motherfucker was amped up to 11. There is a synergy between the life and death power controlled by political leaders and the creative power controlled by musicians. At least there used to be.

Vince, an old friend of DNA, pointed out to him the following in a recent email:

Ok DNA,

I was watching CNN or MSNBC last week when all our Presidential Candidates were down in South Carolina whoring for votes.

So how does this relate to DNA... Well Mike Huckabee, is up on stage with a young local band ripping out Lynyrd Skynrd, Stevie Ray Vaughn among others.. and I thought to my self, "what does DNA think about this". Why does Huck feel the need to show us that, does it make him more electable..

It occured to me that we already elected a Jazz playing saxaphonist, who went on to be a blow job getting impeached saxaphonist..

Is playing the bass inherently cooler than the sax, what does that say about Huckabee as a possible President. Is it relevant that all the tunes he played that day, at least the ones I heard, were by dead guys who fell out of the sky.

Anyway kind of chuckled to myself and thought I'm sure DNA has an opinion on this..

Maybe not.. Maybe so.

Well, Vince,

Clinton and Huckabee are both products of their times, their state, and unfortunately, are the heralds of the death of the poet-king, the Athenian ideal, the death of the concept of the political leader made more awesome because he was a musician. Now it's a calling card for commonality. "Ah'm laik yew, I laiked Chubby Checker when Ah wuz uh kid, too. Saxuhfone wuz cool, and the chicks digged it." It's a fact that playing an instrument in Arkansas takes the place of your GED, and qualifies you to teach in Arkansas' public school system, so they have a different social pressure to play something, anything, down there. Arkansans have a higher than average per capita rate of people opting to be professional musicians. Everybody there knows that you are 5 times more likely to get lucky with someone who is not a family member at a Methodist church lock-in if you are the guitar-playing youth music minister. Paid and laid, in Jesus' name, Hey man! You might be thinking that DNA is going on an express elevator ride to hell for that kind of talk, and DNA would agree, if every word of the previous little lock-in vignette was not the straight dope.

Like the preacher's daughter DNA knew named "Angel." As virtuous as a stripper named "Chastity." Again, straight truth from the heartland. Anyway, since both Clinton and Huckabee are literate, and had to join the Skynyrd Militia if they were to keep Neil Young from touring in the South again, it's no surprise that they learned to play instruments. What is sad, is unlike previous maniacal despots whose musicianship accentuated their penchant for mass murder, these guys parleyed their potential into mass....appeal.

But, DNA knows why Vince asked his question. DNA is a bass player from way back, and bass players share in a fraternity that is not known among other musicians. It's fraternity in which membership depends on being not quite as bad-ass as the lead guitarist, not quite as charismatic as the lead singer, not quite as pretty as the keyboard player, and not quite as rhythmic as the drummer. In short, bass players tend to require a level of consistent professional failure that does not translate well into political office. At least Bill was gonna get laid playing the sax. Mike probably is the guy that said, "Sure, you guys can store your stuff at my house," and that's how he got in the band. This is actually true. When he formed a band in Arkansas, Capitol Offense, they practiced in the basement of the Governor's mansion.

Vince got me thinking about the position most guys who would call themselves "bass players" are in when they are 42. That wasn't very pleasant. And, DNA got to thinking about all the bass player jokes he has heard. And, about other famous political people who were musicians. So, without further ado, here is the internet research portion of this blog, filled with jokes, musically inclined politicians, and a final word or two.

How do you confuse a bass player? Put one of his strings out of tune, but don't tell him which one.

What's the definition of a bass player? Halfway between a drummer and a musician.

How do you know the band is over? The bass player says, "Hey guys, I wrote a song I'd like us to try..."

What's the difference between a bass player and a large pizza? A large pizza can feed a family of four.

John Quincy Adams played the flute. Yes, he was totally gay. Thomas Jefferson played the violin, which normally is the antidote for jungle fever.

Ross Perot plays the accordian. DNA can't make this shit up. Nerd birth control, the accordian. Apparently, Ross hung the accordian straps from his ears.

A dad takes his son to bass guitar lessons. After the first lesson, dad asks the boy what he learned. His boy said, "I learned the first five notes on the "E" string." Dad took him to his lesson the next week. After the lesson, he asked his boy what he had learned. His boy said, "I learned the first five notes on the "A" string." His dad went to take him to his third lesson the next week, but his boy said, "Sorry dad, I can't make it." His dad asked, "Why?" and his boy said, "I've got a gig tonight."

Condoleeza Rice played the piano. She was a pianist. If you are a juvenile dork, you are laughing right now. Pianist.

Abraham motherfucking Lincoln played an AXE!

What do you call a bass player without a girlfriend? Homeless.

How do you make a bass player play quieter? Put sheet music in front of him.

How can you tell if a bass player is at your door? He knocks out of time and comes in too early.

Yeah those jokes are all pretty old and tired, but so are most bass players, like Mike Huckabee, our bass playing presidential candidate. DNA went to his band's myspace page. It's the only myspace band page DNA has been to which does not feature music from the band. DNA guesses that Huckabee is like the kid who bought Rock Band for his PS3 so he could have some friends. "I'll be the bass player," he says, not knowing exactly what the bass player does, but ensuring that those three other cool kids will not construct some reason to be elsewhere.

On the other hand, DNA kind of respects Huckabee for playing bass. He sure as hell ain't playing it because its cool. He must really love it. In fact, it's got to be a power trip all its own to be the Governor of a state and also be a bass player in a band full of politically appointed guys who work for you, guys whose future you hold in your hands. Instead of the guitarist ignoring the suggestion of the bass player to turn down, the guitarist would say, "Yeah, good idea, Huck." Huck says, "Maybe we could play some more Skynyrd?" and all the guys say, "that's just what we were thinking!" Maybe there's a bit of Ghengis in Huckabee after all.

DNA would be in a band called Ghengis Huckabee in a heartbeat.

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT:

You've heard of the Butterfly Effect, right? Totally awesome movie with Ashton Kutcher? Yeah, DNA knows, that movie doesn't exist. There is, however, a suck ass movie with Ashton Kutcher in it with that title. This, however, is not what DNA is referring to. DNA is referring to the idea of sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

In science, the method is to observe, hypothesize, experiment, report, repeat. Every once in awhile, no matter how tight the control, sometimes things go apeshit. When things go apeshit, and a normally repeatable experiment produces an unpredictable result, most of the time, scientists chalk that shit up to experimental error, or some anomaly. Although science can be described as a means to define universal laws, it does so through a method of averages. You essentially blindly test, and through a process of elimination, "weed" out noisy or unpredictable experiments, and narrow in on only those results which seem to make sense, which fit best approximations.

This is not a bad method. It has gotten us to the moon. It has gotten us inside an atom. But, unfortunately, except for the most obvious of cases, except for the most simplified "versions" of the real world, the method really doesn't work. The philosophy does, clumsily, as any philosophy based on best guesses would work. The problem is that we have few other options to try to figure out the world. Nobody left the instruction manual. Thanks, God.

However, one science, born out of the study of turbulent fluids, and how matter behaves in those regions at which it changes states, (but also in the study of weather, economics, well really, in everything) the study of chaos, comes to a closer approximation of how the world and the universe probably actually works.

DNA isn't preaching to you, and can't write it up well enough anyway. Go read James Gleick's seminal layman's handbook (DNA has been waiting 10 years to be able to write "seminal layman")about chaos called CHAOS. You will digg it. Once you do, you will see chaos in the simplest of systems. In fact, any system with more than two variables will inevitably behave unpredictably. Hence, the Butterfly Effect: A butterfly flaps its wings in China and ultimately causes a hurricane in Florida. Or, a tiny change in initial conditions, something most scientists would tend to ignore or average out, might lead to huge changes down the road. This is why, no matter how advanced our weather prediction equipment gets, once you get more than a week to two weeks out, no one can accurately predict whether you get rain or shine. Even the simplest systems, like a pendulum, or the "random" flipping of a coin will display unpredictable fluctuations.

The problem is that they happen so rarely in our life experience, and that as a species, we are good at lumping things together and ignoring things that don't lump, we tend to forget or not even see the basic chaotic structure of the universe. Yeah, DNA knows, "chaotic structure." Here's and example: All oak trees look like oak trees yet no two are exactly alike. All leaves on all oak trees are identifiable as oak leaves yet no two have exactly the same venous brachiation. How is that shit possible? If you tried to model or map every single variation with a computer, well, you couldn't. It is a ubiquitous, but nontheless hidden complexity that lives right down inside us. It's why we see beauty when something isn't perfect. It's why we "ooh" and "ahhh" over computer graphics when they approximate reality well. We know inherently, that perfection is easy. It's the countless fuck-ups and variations in nature that are mind-blowingly difficult to replicate.

Here is DNA's brush with the butterfly. After the show at Schuba's, Mr. Kamikaze and DNA talked about wanting to play another show. Just talk, really. No big deal. The Hoot Night experience was fun, too, but no big deal either. However, the effect had begun, and within a short while, all the guys in the band had birthed a fucking great idea for a show. It looks like that show will happen in July. More on that in the next few weeks.

Brush number two: The year has barreled by. Before DNA even knew it, March 13th had arrived. On this day, 17 years ago, DNA was still single. The next day, March 14th, he was married. Best decision he ever made. Well, the butterfly moved a while back, and unbeknownst to wifey, DNA bought sumthin' real purty for her. He can't wait until morning.

DNA's definition of the butterfly effect: No way would you have predicted that a moron who stared at this hot punk chick in the cafeteria where he worked (that would be DNA staring at his future wife) would end up marrying her, staying happily married for the next 17 years, and feeling luckier every day. Nor would have DNA predicted that about 13 years after DNA quit playing in bands that he would be in the most successful band he has ever been in, writing more music than he did when he was a kid, and planning the most awesome show ever. Yet, here we are.

Chaos is cool.

JUST ANOTHER DAY:
(April 28th, 2008)

The guys in Oingo Boingo summed it up pretty well, as a statement about the inanities of life, the futility of living. "Just another day" is as chilling as T.S. Elliot's "I have measured out my life in coffee spoons" from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," without being pretentious or hard to approach. Maybe it's more chilling, because people outside of English departments have actually heard of Oingo Boingo. Well, that may not be true anymore. Oingo Boingo aren't really what they used to be.

Was today just another day for you? Really? Well, it wasn't for DNA. Today marks the second anniversary of his mom's death. This weekend, DNA got to do some rock climbing. DNA is fat and out of shape. It's not often mother nature slaps your ass around for it, though. DNA got to meet his new nephew from Nepal, Suresh. DNA's wife's sister, husband, and new son came to visit from Alaska. DNA got to buy cool toys for Suresh. The program where DNA works had its 30th anniversary celebration, in which students and staff from all over the country came back to celebrate being part of a very special group of people. If indeed this was just another day, perhaps it is because any day can be extraordinary. Maybe "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" would be a more apt aphorism, but that seems a little too bi-polar for DNA.

At lunch, DNA wolfed down a big tortilla chip and it got stuck in his throat, too far and too hard to cough back up. The airway was clear, but DNA could feel the little corn shuriken cutting the inside of his throat as it was lodged in there. DNA didn't panic, and tried to swallow some water, but it wasn't budging, and it was hurting. So, DNA tried to chuck it up. In the course of the first heave, as one does, he tightened his throat for the hurl, and heard the chip "crack." Then, it went down, and like the ice berg that ripped the Titanic's hull, the tortilla continued to slice down each side of his esophagus. It really hurt.

After the painful experience, DNA asked his departed mom if that wouldn't have been the strangest shit if he had checked out on the same day as his mom? She didn't respond.

The only thing that separates you from DNA is experience. Our experiences are different, so what is a strange or unusual day for DNA is not for you, or vice versa. Experience is all subjective, it depends on so many things, yet it is the sum of this imperfect information gathering process we call living which makes us saints or serial killers, or both.

Here are a couple of moments in DNA's life, fond recollections of his mom, that might bring a little bit of his experience to you.

DNA's mom was born in 1924. She remembered what the Great Depression was like firsthand. She taught herself to read before she was in kindergarten. She would take the trolley to the Milwaukee Public Library with her sister. She looked over her sister's shoulder while her sister read, and figured it out. She went to the Chicago World's Fair. She was a member of the Women's Air Corps during WWII, and taught pilots how to fly by instruments alone (blind flying) in a LINK trainer in Brownsville, Texas. She worked crossword puzzles her whole life, loved big band music, graduated from college, was divorced in the 1950's, (scandalous) played the upright bass in school, was a stamp collector, was active in her church, loved to unsweetened ice tea from an earthenware mug, and was a chain smoker for most of her life. One day she decided quit smoking, and she did it. That was a small exercise in the willpower she had at her disposal. She was funny, political, probably the smartest person DNA will ever know, but also, at times, too provincial, racially prejudiced in some of her fears, and a little too passive-aggressive.

She had told DNA that early in her life, she had had a conversation with God, and God told her that she would die comfortably in her sleep in her old age. This is kind of a strange conversation to have with your mom, but mom was adamant that just like a phone call, the words had been crystal clear.

Mom died sitting comfortably in her home, in the house she lived in for over 50 years, in her comfy chair, one evening after she had fell asleep. She was 82.

MORE ROCK AND ROLL IDIOMS, OR IDIOTS, OR BOTH:

The first time DNA covered this subject, it was in regards to the word "shelf" which in the rock and roll vernacular, is the place your love goes when you are being mistreated by your girl/boy, depending. The phrase, "don't put my love up on no shelf," or some derivative of it, only appears in rock songs, and DNA's theory is that the rock lyricist, not one to really stretch the fabric of poetry, (DNA doesn't care what any of you think about Jim Morrison---he was a sloppy poet, but a good lyricist), anyway, the rock lyricist needed something to rhyme with "self," and was in a bind to stretch a metaphor. So, shelf became that place in which your feelings are "shelved" by someone who doesn't like you or treat you right anymore.

Enough of the recap. If you really want to read the whole thing, go here. This time around, DNA is centering in on another offending phrase only heard in rock and roll songs. The line is "Don't you mess me around," or something to that effect. The problem is the construction---"mess me around," which is really just another way of saying "mess around with me." Unfortunately, in the 1980's, Pat Benatar owned the phrase "Don't you mess around with me" and pwned everyone else who would try to use it because of her song, "Heartbreaker."

Like her or not, Pat Benatar fucking rocked this song, so much so that nobody ever messed around with her, which was unfortunate, because someone should have messed around with her before she penned "Love Is A Battlefield," or titled an album "Gravity's Rainbow," after the great post modern American novel by Thomas Pynchon. Someone should have definitely messed around with her before she did that. Pat, why did you do that? Were you the post modern American voice? You? Not David Byrne, not even Stan Ridgeway, but you?

Regardless, inventive lyric writers had to come up with some other way to say the same thing. So, cleverly, you invert word order, assume the prepositional phrase, and bingo, you got another kick ass AC/DC lyric.

The problem with this construction becomes apparent when you try to do the same thing with similar verbs....

Don't fuck around with me becomes Don't fuck me around...

Don't hang around with me becomes Don't hang me around...

Why don't you clean up around the house with me becomes Why don't you clean me up the house around...

Do you want to walk around the block with me becomes Do you want to walk me the block around...

sillier and sillier, and contrived to the point of sounding well, bad.

In other words, this bit of rock and roll vernacular is just one step away from Yoda sounding like. Would you ever say, "After school, some guys were trying to mess me around, but they chilled out when they realized I was in a band?" (Note, DNA didn't say "but they chilled out when they realized I was in band" because being in band, as opposed to being in a band, was the difference between getting swirlies from the jocks during 8th period and getting hand jobs under the table from slutty girls in the cafeteria....and that's a pretty big difference that just one little word, "a," can make. This is why language is important, even in a rock and roll song).

DNA doesn't need poetry in his rock and roll, and some silly lyrics are actually welcome. For example, Bono needs to sing some silly lyrics. The guys in Disturbed need to sing some goofy shit. But singing silly lyrics doesn't mean you have to be the lyrical equivalent of the village idiot.

The lesson? Don't mess DNA around or he'll put you up on a shelf.

SEVEN YEARS:
(October 30th, 2008)

October 28th was the 7th anniversary of DNA's dad leaving this world, dying, going to a better place, blah, blah, blah. One year, DNA was tired of trying to explain the figurative language to his young son, because really, DNA doesn't believe that there is an actual city in the sky with streets of gold and all the saved people of all time congregate for eternity. What does DNA believe? Well, it's not necessarily in opposition to Christianity (or other religions, for that matter). DNA believes in the philosophy of living a Christ-like life (not so much in the rules and dogma of a religion). After all, what does it mean to "believe in Jesus?" Does that simply mean, "believe he existed?" Easy. What does DNA win? What do you mean, "That's not what they mean when they say, 'believe in Jesus.'" Does it mean "believe what he professed?" Yes, now we are getting somewhere. When you put belief in someone, we're talking about believing in ideals and ways of life.

DNA also believes that he doesn't know very much about the world or the universe, and what really happens after we die is and always will be unknown. DNA admits that although unlikely, it is possible that the spirit lives on in some form when the body dies. (In fact, DNA has a cool idea for a mystical sci-fi story in which the missing mass of the universe, identified now as 'dark matter' and 'dark energy,' is actually the manifestation in the physical universe of all of the energy contained within a multidimensional 'spiritual' universe [cuz mass =energy, and spirits are energy, and perhaps this spiritual destination is one or several aspects of higher dimensional physics]).

However, DNA believes it is much more likely that immortality is imbued in you by the living memory of those who pass before you, in the ways that you think and act, in your memories, in the lessons you learned from that person and the lessons you then teach to others, and in the actual genetic code which shaped that person, which he passed on to you, and which you may pass to your kids. This is more of the Old English/Germanic way of looking at immortality: Tempt Fate, do great deeds, and your song will be sung forever.

If your song is to be sung forever, you need a singer and a songwriter. In the old days, you had a sceop, (poet, in Old English) who sung your deeds. In the digital age, DNA's dad has DNA. DNA wrote a little tune about his Dad, called, "I Wish I Would Have Listened To Him More," which sums up the best of what DNA could put in a four minute song about his Dad. If you want to listen to a bit of it, go to iTunes or CDBaby! and look up the DNA Vibrators. Then, click on the song and listen a bit. Go ahead, do it. DNA will wait.

Did you like it? DNA hopes so. There is that little bit of immortality that DNA can put his finger on. Since that part is done, there is the matter of the great deeds that needs to be attended to.

Well, let's see. When Dad was a younger man, after he married Mom, the family lived in Kincaid. One morning, after the third shift, as Dad was prone to do, he stopped in the local tavern, and had a beer before coming home. On one particular morning, Dad was sitting, enjoying his beer, when a mountain of man, 6 foot and then some, 250 pounds, came in. He and Dad had had words before out at the mine where they both worked. Apparently, the guy thought Dad needed to be taken down a peg or two. Now, to be fair, Dad may have been a little cocky, but unlike most men who are cocky, Dad was never afraid to throw down to back up anything he said. Most men, when faced with "put up or shut up," will shut up when some big fucker calls them out. Also, Dad probably wasn't cocky to this guy. Dad had no problem telling someone, telling anybody, exactly what he thought of them. He was a pretty good judge of character, and he probably sensed this guy had little.

Well, after a few moments, the guy walked up to where Dad was sitting at the bar, and said, "You need to move. This is my seat." The bartender didn't like where this was going, as if he had seen this guy to this kind of thing before. The look in his eye to Dad said, "If you know what's good for you, you'll get up and walk away." But Dad valued equality over almost everything else. This guy was no better than him, and certainly didn't deserve or require special treatment simply because he demanded it. Dad said, "I don't think so." The guy replied, "You don't understand. I'm not asking, and you are going to move. Whether you move or I move you is the question." Dad said, "Well, you little punk, you can try."

In one quick motion, the big guy swung his full mine bucket, a large round steel lunch bucket which weighs a few pounds, and smacked Dad squarely in the face. Dad didn't know it at the time, but it shattered his cheekbone. He was knocked off his barstool.

"God-damn about time somebody put you in your place, you little sum'bitch," the guy said. "Next time I tell you to move, you better..." The word "move" did not cross his lips. Dad sprang up and grabbed the guy, wrapping his strong, wide, right hand around his throat, and squeezed with all his might. Within a split second, the big guy knew he was in mortal danger. He began to flail madly about, connecting with blow after blow from his ham fists against Dad's head and face. Despite the blood flowing from his nose, despite the roar of pain in his face from his broken cheek and damaged sinus, despite the pressure that filled one of his eyes with blood, he grabbed the guy's throat with a grip like a vise, and had one and only one goal to achieve. The big guy dropped to his knees, and within a few seconds his frantic attempts to free himself became weaker. The bartender pleaded with Dad, "Mister, you're killing him! You gotta stop!"

And then, Dad was given what he was looking for. In a moment, his eyes locked with the big guy's eyes, and in Dad's face was the calm determination and reservation that he was prepared and able to do anything he needed to do to defend himself against punks, and in the big guy's face, the realization that he had been beaten, by a better man than he.

Before the big guy passed out, Dad let go. The man crumpled to the floor. Dad bent down close to him, and whispered, "If you ever come up to me again, you will feel my hand again, only this time, I will break your fucking neck." Then, to the bartender, "You're a dirty son of a bitch. How many times have you let this asshole do this? I ought to choke the shit out of you, too."

Dad never went back to that bar.

This is a small measure of the man that was DNA's Dad. Like Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown, or Jim, (you know what DNA is talkin' bout if you're a Jim Croce fan) you just didn't mess with Dad, unless you were comfortable with the idea of meeting your Maker. He was a wonderful human being, kind, generous to a fault, but if crossed him, or threatened him or his family, then there was no middle ground, and if you fought, only one would walk away.

POLITICS:

This is not exactly a post about McSame and Failin' or Nobama and Hidin;' it's a post about where all this political posturing and bullshit begins.

My son, Carlito, was riding on the bus to school the other day (before the election results). He is a dork and kind of geeky, like his mom,(:D) and he was bending some kid's ear about how neither candidate was a good choice, but if he could vote, he would vote for...

and then some older kid in the back of the bus shouted, "Hey, retard! It's too early too talk about this shit! Why don't you shut up!"

To which he responded, "Why don't you?"

And then, "Good one, homo. You're gay!"

"No, you're gay!"

The older kid upped the ante: "Yeah, well your Mom's gay!"

Not to be outdone, Carlito said, "So's your mom!"

Then, the older boy capped it off: "Yeah, why don't you go home and kiss your gay mom!"

But, it ended with this, (DNA is so proud): "Why don't you go home and suck your mom's balls!"

The older boy did not like that very much. He gave Carlito, whom he outweighed about 2 to 1, a cold ass stare, and said, "You're dead."

So, that night, on the bus ride home, Carlito saw the older boy again, who kept staring at him. When Carlito got off the bus, the older boy said, "Good. Now I know where you live."

Carlito then felt physically threatened, and told us everything that happened. (DNA couldn't help but laugh when he heard Carlito give us the play by play. What was DNA supposed to do? Act like that shit wasn't funny?) But, when it was clear that Carlito was scared, and probably was going to get clocked for his mouth, then we had to step in. Then the principal had to step in, and ultimately, the high school kid realized that talking trash to a 7th grader is not something you should do if the 7th grader can make you look like a punk. the principal used the event to teach both boys when not to cross the line with each other.

So here is the lesson in politics: Disagree, posture, call someone out, call someone names, threaten violence, and then beat the crap out of someone. If we're lucky, the authorities step in and keep people civil. But, all too often, the last steps, from threatening violence to committing violence, happens without pause, or without an intermediary there to keep it from escalating.

As rancorous as this campaign has been, as fucked up as our system of government can be, we can't forget that instead of blood in the streets, we had a party last night. Instead of recriminations and gunfire, we had reconciliation and fireworks. Like Carlito and the guiding presence of the principal, our system has its boys and the invisible presence of our guiding principles.

Yeah, DNA couldn't resist that little rhetorical twist. Nice, huh? That what $40,000 of English degress buys you.

A SMALL POLITICAL THOUGHT:
(November 9, 2008)

DNA doesn't have these very often. A political thought which actually makes sense. You see, DNA has read several times now from many sources, that the stock market actually performs better (higher returns) under democrats than it does under republicans, and furthermore, is less volatile. Basically, going back over 100 years, the stock market clearly prefers democrats in the white house, even though republican rhetoric is clearly more business and Wall Street friendly. Given this data, when asked why this is, most commentators and economists simply say that it is ironic, or is unusual, or doesn't make sense, but very few actually attempt to explain the phenomenon.

DNA thinks it knows the answer, or at least part of it, and it concluded that this answer is at least partly right because of the overriding refrain we hear about Iraq all the time. This refrain is as follows: The reason why Iraq's economy is terrible, and unemployment is sky-high, and infrastructure is falling apart at the seams, is because of the security situation. In fact, expert after expert says that the number one concern in Iraq is the security situation. Why? Why can't you have economic growth or steady employment, or new infrastructure projects when people do not have security? This is so obvious that no one argues it: In Iraq, because the government can't safeguard the basic need of security for its citizens, its citizens can't do the things they need to do to grow an economy. In other words, all things being equal, SECURITY is most important to the daily life of the Iraqi citizen. No security = no ability to resume normal life.

This is understandable. Security is a universal value, and is as true in Iraq as it is in the US. In fact, security is one of the few needs that take precedence over almost everything.

This, DNA thinks, helps explain why stocks do better under a democratically controlled government. You see, just like in Iraq, people here need security to function correctly.

If security is necessary to create higher order social structures, then democratic policies, such as regulation to limit unfettered industries(which operate to make a profit, not to safeguard the public), taxation on those who make a shitload, and support of social services which help insure the basic needs of our citizens are met, equate to a more secure population. When we have fewer people concerned about putting food on their tables, or being able to pay for an emergency room visit, we have more people expressing confidence in their economy. If the credit crunch and stock market crash of 2008 has taught us anything, it is that confidence and trust are the most important commodities traded on the exchange.

The most basic function of government is security: security against foreign invaders, security for its citizens who need help, and security from elements within our own country to protect ourselves from ourselves. In the last eight years, we have focused on the first one at the expense of the other two. Most republicans focus on the first one at the expense of the other two. The other two are at least as important, and all three must be attended to or we lose confidence and trust in our government's ability to provide security.

A PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION:

DNA has been hard at work on the ol' Ph.D., literally falling asleep every night past 2 am, with some dusty book about why we think the way we think. So, updates to the website are going to be few and far between. If you want pictures of the ice storm, go to my fancy family website,American Girthic.

Give DNA some time, and he will address some of the pressing questions brought up last time, but for now, here is the philosophical question referenced in the title of this post:

How come there are no ugly female rock and roll singers?

Before you complain that DNA is being sexist and offensive, answer the question. DNA guarantees you, that even if you can think of ONE example of an ugly female rock and roll singer, DNA will list 100 successful female rock and roll singers that are hot.

DNA excludes male rock and roll singers, because for men, like it or not, ladies, ugly=character, or ugly=well, he must be talented, or ugly=he must be hung like a horse and fuck like a god cuz he's ugly and popular. No, it's not fair, but that's how it is.

This question extends to all aspects of media, not just music. Where are the hideous female news reporters/anchors? Where are the nasty public relations women? Is it true, like Morris Day of The Time says, that "This song isn't for everyone, just the sexy people?" The question is legitimate because there are some fat, sleazy, nasty, and hideous male counterparts to all of the positions mentioned above and more who are respected, talented, and get plenty of face time. It can't just be beauty-ism, can it?

DNA has his own ideas about it, but would like to open the floor to debate. So, world, please respond.

WHY THERE AREN"T UGLY FEMALE ROCK AND ROLL SINGERS:

The questions DNA posed last time was, "Why aren't there ugly female rock stars?" There are ugly male rock stars. Really ugly. In fact, ugly becomes part of some guy's appeal. DNA doesn't think it is just a matter of beauty-ism or sexism in the marketplace.

Here are some of the potential reasons why there no ugly female rock stars:

Only pretty females can sing.

If you are a female and you sing, everyone in our culture automatically assumes you must be pretty, instantly adjusting the unconscious paradigm of beauty to include you---so by definition, there can never be ugly female singers.

If you're an ugly female and you sing, nobody listens or cares.

Just by listening, people can tell if you're ugly, and decide not to like you or your music.

Even blind people know if a female is singing and is ugly, and they don't like it.

Or, perhaps, just perhaps, all women are beautiful, the beauty in music transcends physical shells, and the message and the delivery of the message are really what we find beautiful about women who sing. So, in the end, only pretty females sing. But for the right reasons.

Naw, that sounds like bullshit.

THE UGLY THEORY OF CIVILATION DEVELOPMENT:

In our previous discussion of beauty, and why only hot chicks sing in rock and roll bands, DNA dismissed beauty-ism as the main culprit of this cultural phenomenon. But, beauty-ism exists.

Beautiful people get more breaks, they get more respect, they get more chances to fuck up. People like to look at beautiful people. They like to be associated with beautiful people. What a shallow existence that must be, having, as one of your requisite skills, “being pretty.” This takes up a lot of brain power, which could be devoted to other subjects, like, oh, math. This is why DNA thinks most female deep thinkers and philosophers, scientists and artists, are not necessarily the prettiest peaches in the basket. Those smart people don’t have to “be” pretty. Thank God for that. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte wrote comedies and tragedies of manners 200 years ago because they could see that their culture was in the business of training one half of the population to be window dressing, and more insidiously, training girls to want to be window dressing, and training boys to want window dressing. The same thing happens now, in our society. We haven’t outrun that past, yet.

300,000 years ago, attracting the hunkiest cave man with the biggest club was an evolutionary necessity. However, at some point, not too long ago, there were enough ugly dudes that no matter what, even if they only bred with the most attractive females, plenty of ugly children resulted. Not being cursed with beauty, many of those individuals began to do the more important things in the world---invent bronze tools, tattoos, agriculture, boats, and other shit like that. DNA calls this the Ugly Theory of Civilization Development. On one side of the Ugly Divide, with a small hunter-gatherer society, for example, there are not enough ugly people to spur innovation. On the other side of the Ugly Divide, there are lots of pissed off, sad, desperate, un-entitled, disenfranchised, sexually frustrated ugly people to really get shit done.

Although people gravitate to beautiful people, initially, most people, ugly or not, realize quickly that most superficially beautiful people are just that----superficial, shallow, and grate on the nerves like shingles (the disease, the remnants of the chicken pox virus which lives on in your nerves, quietly waiting until you are weak or stressed to strike---not the roof covering). So being uglier, but being a little bit smarter, because the ugly get to exercise their brains in different ways than the beautiful do, means that ultimately, being beautiful is an evolutionary cul-de-sac, a lodestone around the neck. Eventually, the beautiful person will be as rare a phenomenon as the trailer park queen is now, produced when the ugliest of the ugly, all fornicatin’ like drunk dogs in the “wheeled domiciles only” zoned section of town, comes together right and a beautiful child emerges from one of those unions with more teeth than all of her uncles combined, and in the right places, too.

Here is the irony though: When beautiful people become more vacuous through the cultural processes in their lives which make them aware of beauty as a commodity and they work to refine that commodity, they are no longer beautiful, and in some cases, they are no longer really people, but they are objects, created by society, and just as often, by themselves. And, when ugly people do the things they do, without superficial beauty clouding people’s judgment of them, then they become beautiful for who they are. Of course, there are some ugly people who do ugly things, and they, frankly, are fucked, and there are a few beautiful people who do beautiful things, and those people are golden.

But this brings us back to the point: Doesn’t it seem odd that so many of the beautiful people, and specifically, beautiful women, front bands? There just aren’t that many beautiful people doing beautiful things, and even if there were, why are they all fronting bands? According the Ugly Theory of Civilization Development, most of our singers and musicians should be pretty ugly, since the beautiful have more important, less significant things to do. (Again, with the irony---many of the kids who form bands in high school and college are the outcasts, the dregs, the losers, and yet, they produce the music which all of the beautiful people sing as the soundtrack to their lives, and as the loser makes it big, the cheerleader who treated him like dirt becomes the groupie who degrades herself to fuck him…. How strange it is).

Since most of our female singers are not ugly, if the theory holds, then it must be true that most of what they do isn’t singing or musicianship. Most of what they do must be a commodity, like the beauty they cultivate. So, most rock and roll must be crap. DNA has argued this point before, and came to the conclusion that all music is art, and someone who you think is a hack is still probably someone who really believes in his or her “art,” no matter how smelly a pile of dogshit it sounds like*. However, given this new set of criteria, if the music is made as an extension or as an accessory to someone’s “beauty,” then fuck it, it must suck. Unless, like the trailer park queen, it is an anomaly, and is actually good in spite of its progenitors.

So, why are most female rock and roll singers hot? According to the theory, because most rock and roll is crap. But also according to theory, some female rock and roll singers must be hot, because their art is awesome and makes us want them. And, a little bit of rock and roll must be made by the trailer park anomalies.

Although this may explain why female rock and roll singers are hot, it does not explain the missing ugly majority that should be fronting bands and are not. Are these women frustrated housewives, or annoyed clerks at Wal-mart? If there are lots of ugly people who should be making music and aren’t, then we really have to consider the cultural implications of letting so much talent go to waste, or locking such talent away under a cultural blanket of beauty-ism.

For years, DNA has been proud to be one of the plain people, one of the slightly imperfect, one of the ugly ones. Yet, get this, his boy is really handsome, and really geeky, and is into Mad magazine, videogames, band at school, and knocks the top off the standardized tests. Despite believing this mess DNA spelled out over the last few minutes, DNA still hopes he is one of the golden ones. Does this make DNA a hypocrite? Maybe. It’s one of DNA’s uglier qualities.

*that’s a Lara-ism. DNA hasn’t done one of them in while!

An interesting cultural phenomena has taken place in DNA's place of work over the last few weeks. In the bathroom of the office of the building in which DNA works, a debate about the virility, sexuality, and competence of Neil Young has scrawled itself across the wall of the stall on the far end of the facility. This kind of community forum almost always degenerates into something crude, and this was no exception, but it did lead DNA to think about the proper use of a derogatory term, if there is one.

First, in an unsteady hand, in large letters with a fine lined pen, the opening salvo in the debate shot across the wall: Neil Young is a PUSSY! A few days later, in a tighter hand, at seated eye level, came the cavalry: NEIL YOUNG RULES!

For a few days, things settled down. However, one morning, right underneath the exhortation of Young, came this addendum: IN THE GAY WORLD!

Then, as a new avenue of debate was opened, several responses in quick succession appeared on the wall:

Neil Young sucked my dick! He liked it!

He gives good head.

Neil Young loves my cock. I am bi, he's a fag!

My favorite Neil Young gay pride song is "After The Pearl Rush"


THE NEIL YOUNG BATHROOM SEXUALITY FORUM:

So, it appears at least on the wall, that Neil Young did not fare well in the real world, but is a hero in the gay world. DNA didn't realize that there was a gay world, which had a ruler, Neil Young, and wondered, what life is like in the gay world ruled by Neil Young. Is it like Bizarro World, in Superman comics, and exists separately from our own world, in another universe, or does it exist right here, under our noses, indistinguishable from the "regular" world? If DNA had to compare Neil Young rocking in the free world to Neil Young ruling in the gay world, knowing how kick ass Neil rocks in the free world, then DNA has to say that if Neil Young were ruling in the gay world, then that's where DNA would like to live. Perhaps DNA already lives in the gay world. Perhaps the free world and the gay world are the same thing. What is the opposite of the gay world? The straight world? Which one would be freer, do you think, to have and express your own ideas?

The reason DNA thinks we all already live in the gay world has to do with the corollaries to the bathroom forum statements above. For example, one commenter wrote, "Neil Young sucked my dick! He liked it1" The first question DNA would have for this commenter would be if you think Neil Young rules the gay world, and you yourself feel that ruling in the gay world is a bad thing, then why would you let Neil Young suck your dick? Wouldn't that by definition make you party to Neil Young's Gay World Order? Unless, you were somehow the passive object of Neil's activity, or somehow unable to resist the advances of a 65 year old man? Maybe you were sleeping when he crept into your room, or maybe you were really drunk and didn't realize he was a dude. Or perhaps, you are a fuckhead moron.

Of course, what we really have here is not a forum on Neil Young's sexuality, it is a forum on his music, and more importantly, on the philosophy his music represents. So, when someone says Neil Young is gay, he is trying to say that Neil Young is an enemy to their way of life and their way of thinking. Unfortunately, characterizing this opposition as gay is a use of the word gay which should be done away with, because it really does purposely inflict harm on an otherwise unrelated demographic. If we were to follow this logic to its natural conclusion, here, we can imagine that there are probably many gay people who do not like Neil Young's music, and hence, would find him gay. Gay times gay equals straight. How can Neil be gay and straight at the same time? Using this term is too imprecise. As much as DNA is against the thought police, we really do have to get away from using this term as a way to describe something we don't like. DNA suggests using the word "retarded" instead, or maybe "black," "muslim," or "female."

Smile. DNA is poking fun at all of us, like the cheeky way you poke a bear with a stick as he is rooting through your trash in Yellowstone Park. Instead of any of those words to describe our displeasure, perhaps we can simply say we don't like something when we don't like something, or use some other colorful language that doesn't involve the degradation of a group of people. But, DNA, you say, that's really hard to do, and requires some intelligence to be aware of others to whom you are referring. Yes, that is true. Do you have to watch every word you say? Well, yes. Say what you mean. Don't hide behind cheap language.

On the other hand, how will we ever be free of the arbitrary constraints of language unless we purposely break those boundaries? Fuck, that's a conundrum. Maybe gay people could say he was "gay" meaning "not liking him" and also accept the contradiction of the gay squared equation, but the rest of us straight assholes better lay the fuck off for awhile. That seems to follow the convention that the maligned group can use the derogatory word but others do not have that right. Or, like DNA, if we respect everyone equally, then we can call anybody anything we want at anytime, because you know DNA loves you all.

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