The Outer World

For some days, I’ve been working on a post for this blog. It’s about my writing practice, as it has evolved over the past couple of years. It’s a struggle. Hard to focus. I mean both my writing practice and the writing of the new blog post. The world is too much with me. Then tonight I was re-reading an article by Kim Stafford, a poet and son of William Stafford; the latter being one of my favorite poets and a true inspiration. In this article, Kim Stafford outlines the 4 elements of each entry in his father’s daily writing practice. He would date the page, write some prose notes on his experiences, write an aphorism or something to elevate his thoughts, and:

Then he would write something like a poem… or notes toward a poem… or just an exploratory set of lines that never became a poem. To write in poetic lines, rather than prose β€” this can begin a process for distilling from ordinary experience the extraordinary report of literature. For this day, again, you give yourself a chance to discover worthy things. Nothing stupendous may occur… but if you do not bring yourself to this point, nothing stupendous will happen for sure… and you will spend the balance of your day in blind reaction to the imperatives of the outer world β€” worn down, buffeted, diminished, martyred.

Yes, that’s it. That’s where I am. Buffeted. I feel like my mind has been dragooned into service of the national psyche and its soul-sucking obsessions. You know the ones I’m talking about and it’s not Game of Thrones. Well, it’s sort of like that. There is an army of the dead and a lot of guys cheesed off that their slaves have been freed. But I digress.

Of course it’s good to be informed, but not influenced. And these days, we are all a’swimmin’ in opinion and very little objectivity. It’s good to be aware of the situation, so long as the situation isn’t fraught with anxiety and exaggeration – cognitive distortion. Is it possible to be prepared for an uncertain and potential chaotic future without being constantly worried – terrorized? I think we owe it to ourselves to try.

β€œIt is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives.”

Tomorrow there may come cold wind and rain. That doesn’t mean we need to sit in our homes tonight, soaking wet and shivering. Instead, heads on a swivel and eyes on the path, right?

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone.

Yes, I need to follow my path. I must discover worthy things. And take a few good notes.

Wish me luck.

Oh, and one more thing, lest I be accused of ambiguity:

fixed news is at it again

Faux News is once again banging the drums of a drummed up war – this time with Iran. They’re using the same BS tactics to lie the bleating flock on the right into believing that Iran is nothing but a training camp for Al Queda.

This time, will the rest of the MSM follow them into battle?

that’s some expensive spin

Bush Administration Spent $1.6 Billion to Spin the News:

“How much is good press worth? To the Bush administration, about $1.6 billion. That’s how much seven federal departments spent from 2003 through the second quarter of 2005 on 343 contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations and individuals, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.”

In my humble opinion, elected officials should be prohibited by law from engaging in media manipulation. They have publicly funded offices, staffers, computers, fax machines, etc. They can issue press releases and call news conferences. That’s enough. Spending $1.6B on how we
perceive the news – not on telling us the truth – is an indefensible waste of our money and simply Orwellian.

Shoot, we could have paid for a short but highly televised war with that much scratch.

“Careful oversight of this spending is essential given the track record of the Bush administration, which has used taxpayer dollars to fund covert propaganda within the United States,” Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), ranking Democrat of the House Government Reform Committee, said in a statement yesterday.

quick, cue osama!

So I was out for a bike ride late this afternoon, and stopped by my folks’ place, where Dad had the tube tuned to CNN. They were serving up footage from NYC, of the steam explosion and resulting chaos therein. I watched, thinking, “I’ll bet folks thought that was Al Qaeda for sure.” Can you say flashback? That segment of the news ended, and who should appear on the screen, but Osama Bin Laden. In all his bearded, flat screen glory. Arch nemesis extraordinaire.

So they’re showing me an explosion – which was not terrorism – and they’re showing me a terrorist. I’m sorry, but I think that as deliberate manipulation. Somebody is taking advantage of the situation, and I’m not buying coincidence. I picture somebody at the White House feeding them the fear, and they’re spooning it out for the rest of us.

Tough luck, media asshats. If you’re playing mind games with me, you’ll have to play harder than that. We play all all four quarters at this level.

waste of grace

In my post Hilton screamed, I derided preoccupied Paris and entertaining people in general, for their self absorbed insistence on being the constant center of attention. The problem is coming into clearer focus. The problem is the media, the evil, weed-nibbling goats at CNN,

Over the weekend, Paris called for the media to stop obsessing with her and maybe cover the war. She said she’s a changed person who wants to make a difference. OK, she’s trying to be aan adult; I give her credit for that. So setting aside the fact that the media are already covering the war, and that a change in her life doesn’t presuppose the willingness or interest in change on the part of others, the important point is what happened next. Which gives me the chance to launch an ill-founded, half-formed tirade on someone else:

CNN has been announcing that their talking head Nancy Grace is doing a live report tonight from “Paris’ Jail” today. … Great Scott!

What a waste, what a stupid disservice to the public interest, is Nancy Grace. She’s a whole lot closer to the National Enquirer than to the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She’s a sensationalist, who brays and whines at the camera. Her presentation is that of a woman who knows she knows everything, and is prepared to pound that ridiculous conviction down your throat.

It occurs to me that we need a new cable network, for shows that pander to folks who might read the Enquirer, or the Weekly World News. They could just call it Spew, and Grace could move there, along with Larry King and all the bobbleheads from Fox News. And during the day they could run all the insipid court shows that spread like mold out of Peoples Court.

what a shock

I just finished my workout, made a cup of joe, and turned on the news. CNN, Faux and MSNBC are simultaneously reporting that Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental drug overdose. What an appalling surprise. Who would have thought that?

If you are a regular reader of this little cyber-pamphlet, you know how I feel about this Smith thing. Her death is a bad thing for her family. It’s not irrelevant that she’s dead, but a lot of people are dead. Her death is no more or less relevant to society at large than anyone else’s. It’s not news. Her drug problem is troubling and sad, but millions of people are hooked on drugs. It’s not news. The questionable parentage of her daughter is a little ugly and too bad for the kid, but countless lives start out in difficult circumstances. Not news.

The real story behind the trainwreck life and death of Smith is the way the media have exploited it, using it as a diversion from real issues of economics, politics, the welfare of the planet, and global morality. CNN has become ANS – All Anna Nicole, All the Time. I’ve mostly stopped watching it. (Larry King simply needs to retire; he has no more place on TV than I do.) MSNBC is a little better; I like Olbermann. Faux isn’t worth mentioning, but I did.

When they cover this tripe, they do not broadcast in the public interest. Carrying round-the-clock coverage of tawdry, tabloid concerns is not the basis for an FCC license to act as a news venue.

For cryin’ out loud, let’s move on. She’s as dead as she’s ever going to get.


I’d just like to share that the unremitting obsession of the vast stuttering herd with the lingering process of death and decomposition of Anna Nicole is not only unworthy of news coverage, it’s actually starting to piss me off. It’s nothing but tawdry and vacuous, and I’m embarrassed that the TV media have a grip on it like a monkey with a pickle.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. Last night, I turned on my car radio and heard Larry King interviewing Barbara Walters. Normally I would’ve just snapped it off – King and his show are irrelevant – but I was busy steering and shifting and happened to hear the following exchange:

KING: OK, Barbara. What do you make of the Anna Nicole thing? The whole story?

WALTERS: I feel very sad for that beautiful little baby who one of your people kept calling the kid. Other than that, Larry, I may be one of the few people in the country who has not been following the story. And we have discussed it very little on “The View”.

KING: Why do you think so many people are following? Why do you think there is such a fascination with it?

WALTERS: I don’t know. Why do you? You do it every night.

KING: We do it, but I can’t figure it out. I know I do it, the producers book it, I do it, we talk about it. But what is the fascination of it?

WALTERS: I’m not sure I know. I think there are more interesting things to discuss, more things that are important to people, more things that are inspirational to people. It’s a very tawdry story. An awful lot of people seem to be involved. And I guess it’s, you know, it’s tabloid at its extreme.

I say basta, enough. Let it go, Larry. And ET, and all you goofs. Stop it, for crying out loud.