Letters from the Lunar Outpost

It is astonishing how well men wear when they think of no one but themselves.
- Bulwer-Lytton, English Novelist and Poet (1803-1873)

Monthly Archives: July 2012

How Obama Stays Afloat: ABC-NBC-CBS-PBS-NPR-CNN-MSNBC

source: Kickin’ and Screamin’, hat tip: @tricityjdw

You would think Barack Obama would be happy to have every other news network outside of Fox News running a full-fledged propaganda machine for his administration, but no sir, when it comes to the way Obama sees things, one channel daring to question his administration is one channel too many.

The thin-skinned president’s first press secretary, Robert Gibbs, started the White House’s War on Fox by citing two OPINION SHOWS on Fox News as evidence of the news organization being “illegitimate,” with senior advisor David Axelrod going so far as to call on all the other media outlets in the Obama State Media to join the administration in declaring Fox News as “not a news organization.”

(Of course, while Obama, Gibbs and Axelrod are outraged by opinions expressed on Fox’s opinion shows, they seem to be just fine with opinions passed off as “news” on MSNBC.)

After two years of the White House’s War on Fox, the administration finally surrendered with Robert Gibbs raising the white flag.

(It never seemed to dawn on the administration that their petty little vendetta against a single news network was far beneath the dignity of the office. Perhaps it came down to Team Obama realizing that Fox News had just pulled ratings of literally ten times the viewers over CNN, with fully one-third of them being Democrats. If you can’t beat ’em, at least try to play nice with them.)

It was only a matter of time, however, before the White House brought in a new press secretary and re-engaged in their War on Fox, resuming with the cheap shots and the snide remarks and culminating in Jay Carney (allegedly) making an angry and threatening phone call to Fox News’ executive vice president Michael Clemente for his network daring to air a piece the administration took exception to.

Can you imagine how low Obama’s poll numbers would have sunk by now if it wasn’t for his cheerleading squad of ABC-NBC-CBS-PBS-NPR-CNN-MSNBC working so hard to keep him afloat? If only it wasn’t for that damn, pesky Fox News . . .

My guess is that Barack Obama will only be happy when all dissent is outlawed.

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Obama Tells Vick to Take It Easy

President Obama has some advice for Michael Vick: Take it easy.

Obama reportedly passed that message along to Vick’s Eagles teammate Nnamdi Asomugha at a fundraiser on Monday.

“He told me to tell Vick to slide. I promise,” Asomugha said, recapping the conversation, according to the Inquirer. “We talked about football for about three or four minutes. The one thing that stuck out — tell Vick to slide. He’s a big fan.”

Vick says he’ll do his best to comply.

From a convicted dog killer to a self-confessed dog eater, it’s good to hear Vick’s taking the advice. If there’s one thing Obama knows about it’s letting things slide . . . like the economy.

Source: Politico

(Full-disclosure: I stole those lines from the comments section.)

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Hope Solo Gone Wild

You may have heard about these two ladies getting into it, either that or you might have landed on this post thinking “Brandi Chastain and Hope Solo Get It On” was my latest adult film review . . .

Well, it’s not the latter, although it very well could be when you hear the scene Hope paints of the wild free-for-all going on at the Olympic Village:

Olympic gold medalist and U.S. women’s soccer team goalie Hope Solo has confirmed that “there’s a lot of sex going on” at the Olympics.

“With a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you want to build memories, whether it’s sexual, partying or on the field,” Solo told ESPN. “I’ve seen people having sex right out in the open. On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty.”

source: The Daily Caller

(Let me know when the London 2012 sex tapes come out, okay?)

But like I was saying, these two ladies are getting into it and it only piques my interest and makes me want to tune in even more so I can watch the one on the field while listening to the other on the play by play.

Here’s Hope Solo on Brandi Chastain’s commentary:

 

to which a Chastain defender said this . . .

 

Hope got off this blast as well . . .

 

Then it was Brandi’s turn . . .

Brandi Chastain has responded by saying, “I’m here to do my job, which is to be an honest and objective analyst at the Olympics.”

Brandi Chastain has refused to take the same attacking position as Hope Solo took on her Twitter account. Instead, she actually complemented the U.S. goalie, and said she was “very coordinated.” Brandi Chastain also mentioned that she believes Solo “plays the villain,” so her comments may not be sincere.

source: Yahoo sports

Gotta love the way Brandi’s keeping it classy, just like she did in perhaps the most memorable moment in US Women’s Soccer History . . .

Brandi Chastain 1999 World Cup Celebration

Hey, my definition of classy and yours may not be the same, but I thought that was awesome. Heck, I don’t even like soccer and yet that was truly a seminal moment in women’s sports. Did I say seminal? I meant . . . well yeah, it was definitely a seminal moment.

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Watching the Olympics from the opening ceremonies to the first couple days of competition, I could not help but notice all those empty seats in the background. A quick Google image search for ’empty seats London Olympics’ pulled up the following for the first dozen thumbnails:

Empty Seats at London Olympics

As you’re watching the events, it’s a bit distracting as your eyes drift to the background and you start thinking to yourself, these are the friggen’ Olympics, the greatest sports spectacle on Earth, what is with all those empty seats? And it becomes even more awkward as NBC’s lack of any mention turns those empty seats into the elephant in the room (or in this case, the elephant at the venues.)

And no slight to the British military, because if anyone is well-deserving of free tickets to the Games it’s them, but the more the organizers try to fill those large empty sections with large groups of soldiers, the more glaring the lack of turnout becomes.

Amidst that backdrop of empty seats, I couldn’t help but think about the comments of a certain candidate for president who said:

It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out.

to which the mayor of London in front of a crowd at Hyde Park replied:

I hear there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready. He wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes, we are.

source: TribLive.com

over which the media back in the US gleefully trumpeted the news of the British media’s fake outrage.

US Media Gleefully Reports of British Tabloid Outrage

I'm just a journalist here reporting the news (and trying to suppress my gleeful smile.)

Even though Romney was only addressing the security fiascos reported by that very same media, there’s no denying that it was not a smart thing for him to voice those doubts about the host country, but how utterly predictable for the media to go wall to wall with coverage of Romney’s gaffe within hours and then draw it out for days on end (this from the very same Obama-loving media which buried Obama’s “you didn’t build that” insult to business owners for five straight days.)

So while Romney was ill-advised to wonder aloud how the London Games would turn out, how interesting is it to see that turnout itself has been – how do I put it diplomatically – less than impressive?

Can you imagine if it had been Obama Himself who had been The One wondering how things would turn out? Right now the Obama State Media would be reveling in their amazement at how Dear Leader Obama could have been so brilliantly clairvoyant, so divinely prescient in voicing His doubts over the turnout at the London Olympics.

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John Barleycorn by Jack London

Two different book covers for John Barleycorn show two different faces of Jack London - Jack the Adventurer and Jack the Haunted.

 

In searching for the next thing to read, I decided to go through my own personal list of the classic literary giants to see which of their works I had yet to get around to reading. Jack London and his book “John Barleycorn” jumped out at me for two reasons.

The first reason being the fact that Jack London and I go way back, to the seventh grade as a matter of fact, when our class was assigned “White Fang” to read, so I’ve known him for some time and he continued to be a man whose writing I enjoyed as an adult through “Call of the Wild” with a large collection of short stories between.

The second reason being, I always wondered about this quaint, antiquated phrase my father used to drop on me when he used to ask, “How’ve you been doing with John Barleycorn?”

I could’ve said, “John Who?” because when he first said it, I’d never heard of this “John Barleycorn” guy before, but taken in context, I knew exactly who my dad was talking about. John Barleycorn is a literary personification of alcohol.

It was intriguing to me, especially considering that in all the AA meetings I’ve attended before and since, I’ve never heard anyone else reference John Barleycorn (although I do hear he is given mention in “The Big Book” of AA) so on finishing London’s book, I visited Wikipedia to learn where my dad’s reference had come from.

It turns out, John Barleycorn can be dated back to 16th century English folk songs, the general story of the song being that this John Barleycorn character (call him a spirit, I guess you could call him the spirit of spirits) well this John Barleycorn was cut down in the barley fields during the harvest to be turned into whiskey and beer, and in revenge for his slaying he wrecked his vengeance back on mankind through that very same alcohol. The song continued to be passed along for hundreds of years and Mr. Barleycorn even lived on to the electric folk rock of the 20th century, most notably on an album by Traffic called “John Barleycorn Must Die”, but like I said, my only previous knowledge of him was through my dad’s mentions, which made it a uniquely personal reference to me.

To read Jack London detailing the exploits of his own life is to read a story almost beyond belief, except that you know he couldn’t have faked the abject poverty he was raised in without being called on it by later biographers and you know that he must have engaged in these manly adventures against the sea and the wilderness otherwise there’s no way he could have written so many stories of adventure so convincingly.

Jack London is a strange dichotomy of a man. When you read him telling of how he slaved for exploitive bosses ten hours a day, twenty-nine days a month just to earn enough to pay for his room and board, you can understand the grievances he had with the Capitalism of the late 18th and early 19th late 19th and early 20th centuries and how it led him to become such an ardent Socialist (power to the PEOPLE as he puts it in all caps!) but then when you think of all the Jack London stories you’ve ever read, they’re centered on independent heroes the likes of which even Nietzsche would be proud. London’s characters are individualists triumphing against the odds and you think, these rugged, self-reliant adventurers are all Alaskan frontiersmen at heart, men far removed from any government, men who were precursors to extensions of the lawlessness of the Wild West, men who sound much more like the prototypes for a Tea Party movement than men who would advocate an “It Takes a Village” type of Socialism.

The book was published in 1913, and while it’s often found today with the subtitle of “Alcoholic Memoirs,” this subtitle seems from my searches to be a later addition to the title as it’s not listed on photos of first edition covers that I’ve seen. Just as importantly, throughout the book, the word “alcoholic” is only used a couple times and when it’s used, it’s used in describing a type of drink and not any type of person.

Instead, the habitual drinker is referred to in the book as an “alki-stiff.” The distinction between “alki-stiff” and the word “alcoholic” which came into later usage is a distinction that goes beyond simple verbiage. When you put your mindset back one-hundred years and imagine the widespread conception back then of the alki-stiff being a fall-down, drunken hobo, it’s a conception far removed from today’s wider conception of the alcoholic being someone who could come from any walk of life.

In the narrative, London made painstaking efforts to draw distinction between himself and the alki-stiff, describing how his constitution allowed him to consume incredible quantities of booze without ever getting sloppy or showing any outward signs of drunkenness, but the more he spent so much time explaining how he wasn’t that guy, the more it made him look like the guy in denial, a guy in denial of the possibility he might have more in common with the common drunkard than the distinctions he takes pains to point out.

But then you have to put yourself in the mindset of an incredibly successful author revealing himself to a world one hundred years before us, with that definition of the alki-stiff so narrow and full of distain that what proud man in his great shoes wouldn’t go to such lengths to draw the distinction?

And really, who amongst even the most prodigious and seasoned of drinkers hasn’t imagined that they presented themselves as sober to the world, when to the world, their drinking was often plain to see?

Another part of the book I found fascinating was the sneaking suspicion I began to develop in seemingly seeing glimpses between the lines of London having some homosexual proclivities. There was certainly nothing definitive, but 98% of the book deals with the manly exploits of men among men and I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the long passages describing heart-felt male camaraderie and the scattered line or two of love that he professed to his wife and the way those lines to his wife seemed to be offered in an almost obligatory way.

A teenage man-child in drunken revelry amongst the grown men of the saloons and the oyster pirate sailors? Aye matey, the question isn’t so much if there was an early formative encounter but when. Even with a couple brief scenes of unrequited boy-girl love later in his adolescence, women always seem to be an after thought in his writing. This is, however, just a passing curiosity in a book that’s intriguing on so many levels.

It took a lot of courage for such an esteemed writer to lay himself bare in these alcoholic memoirs, and while not as widely known as Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” which single-handedly brought about the reform of the meat packing industry, “John Barleycorn” also was instrumental in American history as a cautionary tale and rallying cry for the temperance movement which brought about prohibition six years after the publication of the book.

Whether you’re a friend of Bill W. or not, this is a book that’s well worth the read, and I haven’t even scratched the surface with the final four chapters and the philosophical battle between the “White Logic” of alcohol and the “lesser order of truth” necessary for living.

Jack London is an American treasure, a rags to riches man whose story and voice is uniquely American. I’d always enjoyed his novels and short stories, but to hear him tell of his own story was maybe the most satisfying read of all.

It’s in the public domain and free for the download at Project Gutenberg: John Barleycorn

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Team of Rivals
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Doris Kearns Goodwin