Pavilion Digest: June 2006

A plethora of perplexing pavilion posts. The Pavilion Annex thread, the Pavilion Discussion thread, and monthly digests of all messages from the Pavilion.

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Sam Waterman

Godless Communists of the Evil Empire

Postby Sam Waterman » Sun Jun 04, 2006 5:47 pm

Name: Sam Waterman
Source: unca20060606.htm
I'm not so sure Edward Yashinsky, the Yiddish poet who survived the Holocaust only to die in a Communist prison, was all that grateful.

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Steve Evil

Postby Moderator » Sun Jun 04, 2006 5:50 pm

Name: Steve Barber
Source: unca20060606.htm
" "He lost his arms in service on behalf of all of us."

I didn't ask him to go into harms's way. In fact, I most emphatically asked him to stay home. This is a debt I did not willingly enter into. I most certainly don't feel any safer."

Steve, I cannot in good conscience allow you to go uncontested in this comment. I am a proud Liberal (capital L), who unequivocably opposes "Dubya's War", and was critical of our American president and his actions (and the actions of his Neocon stormtroopers) even during the dark days of September 11th when it was fashionable to label me a "traitor" in many circles.

Still I fly the American flag on all holidays, and I freely employ the Constitutional right to speak out when I believe the government to be wrong.

This soldier made what must be considered a serious and permanent sacrifice doing what he could in the perception that he was defending our nation. I will not and cannot permit his sacrifice, no matter how misguided and horrifying the political purpose which required it may be, to be dismissed so handily. It means a great deal to me that there are those men and women willing to put themselves in harm's way to do what they can to protect America (and many other nations). It's HIS perception of what he was doing there that makes the sacrifice significant, not MY perception of the rightness of the war the president elected to throw our military at.

Don't ever mistake the blood spilt by the individual soldiers as anything less than heroic, if they do it in the mindset of this young man. That's a commitment I fear I could not match, and moreso's the pity that tiny politicians and associated pundits consider his life to be that trivial in the grand scheme of their personal ideological combat.

THAT is the repugnant part of his sacrifice.


And I wouldn't be quite so smug about the politics north of the border. It seems you guys just recently repeated our mistake five years AFTER we gave you every reason to resist the Neocons...

Yours in opposing the war and Dubya's ideology, but in full effing support of the men and women in harm's way.

Steve Barber



Velvet

Postby Velvet » Sun Jun 04, 2006 6:32 pm

Name: Velvet
Source: unca20060606.htm
[BITTER RANCOUR]

Don't worry, even if the terrorists actually are planning a hit on Toronto the Gawdaful, they can't blow up the subway, because it won't be open.

[/BITTER RANCOUR]

(Doctor, dentist, baker, candlestickmaker - I should switch all my essential services to the city I actually live in, never mind the fact that I'm ten minutes from a subway station, and half-an-hour from downtown. Doesn't do me a damn bit of good when those lazy f^#$# at the TTC want to go through the summer on four-day workweeks.)

BrianSiano
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Postby BrianSiano » Sun Jun 04, 2006 6:38 pm

Name: Brian Siano
Source: unca20060606.htm
Steve Barber writes:

"This soldier made what must be considered a serious and permanent sacrifice doing what he could in the perception that he was defending our nation. I will not and cannot permit his sacrifice, no matter how misguided and horrifying the political purpose which required it may be, to be dismissed so handily. It means a great deal to me that there are those men and women willing to put themselves in harm's way to do what they can to protect America (and many other nations). It's HIS perception of what he was doing there that makes the sacrifice significant, not MY perception of the rightness of the war the president elected to throw our military at."

This is a nice sentiment, but it's one of those things one can nitpick about. But let's see if we can extract some kind of sentiment out of this discussion.

First of all, we live in societies that are not perfect, everybody-participates democracies. Whatever the reasons, we tend to have power concentrated among a relative few. Sometimes the power is granted (elections) or taken (having wealth), but that's the case. So most of the policy decisions of our societies tend to be made by these elites.

And frequently, those policy decisions are going to involve going to war in some way or another. Suddenly, the elites have decided upon a course of action that requires conscripting a lot of citizens to take up weapons and inflict horrific destruction upon another country. It might be _needed_ once in a while. No need to add the bit about "good" or "bad" reasons; no one can ever completely agree on those anyway.

We, as citizens, may be able to protest, or avoid being conscripted. Or, we might agree to be conscripted for whatever reasons-- agreement with the elites, ideas of public service and patriotism, feeling guilty over enjoying the security the elites have offered us in the past.

So, we can have wars for rotten reasons. We can have wars for ostensibly decent reasons, but our elites may exploit the war for personal or economic gain. We can have wars because elites haven't thought of less destructive means to achieve certain ends. We can have wars because elites have crazy, deluded, or hateful reasons for waging them. And we have citizens allowing themselves to be used for warfare for reasons of their own.

So exactly why do we have to _honor_ the ones who serve? We usually don't know _why_ an individual really went off to war. They might've joined for what they think are noble reasons-- and once placed under fire, they snap, and they perform horrific atrocities. They might've joined for the _chance_ to perform horrible atrocites. They might've gone off to war with the best of intentions and desire to Serve... only to find that their ideals have enabled the elites to mislead them.

In other words, honoring soldiers is a nice sentiment... but for it to really mean anything, we'd have to evaluate each and every soldier and decide whether he should be "honored" or not. I'm sure that Lt. William Calley gets a salute or two from deluded maniacs on Veterans' Day who think he got a raw deal.

So why do we honor them _en masse_? First of all, because we feel _bad_ about them. They risked their lives under the orders of their country's leaders and, for better or for worse, our world is a result. In a sense, there's a vague spiritual debt. Second, it's a good way of encouraging more people to be willing soldiers, too: our elites may need our help, and it's best that they didn't let us know how easily human lives are squandered on their follies. Third, it's kind of like a religion: if you raise doubts about honoring soldiers, you're like to have someone beat the crap out of you.

But if we were to be really cold, and say that these were people who let their lives be thrown away by our leaders... well, we'd be one step away from _laughing_ at their stupidity. But it'd raise a lot of questions, wouldn't it? It'd mean that even without wars, we're pretty worthless to the people who really _matter_ in our society. It'd mean that, even if we were to make some great sacrifice for the Greater Good... it may not be for the real Greater Good, it may not help at _all_, and it may not even be noticed by anyone... least of all our leaders, or the generations that file past the memorials without reading the bodiless names.

So _generally_ speaking, societies need to have people they can use on the occasions when wars occur. And it seems only decent that the people whose lives are used in this manner ought to be commemorated or rewarded in some way. Plaques are nice, but health care, VA benefits, special financial and banking considerations are even _more_ important... and those, I think, are _owed_ to veterans by our elites.

But frankly, I'd avoid military service as much as I can. It's not because I'm a moral objector, or even that I'm a "coward." It's because my life is more important to me than it is to _them_. Let them find _other_ soldiers-- Lord knows there's never a shortage of _other_ people willing to do it. I've wasted more than enough of my life making money for employers and other elites. Get someone else. I won't go. I won't give vets any shit about _their_ going; it's their right, and I don't think _my_ respect or honor'd means a lot to them anyway.

What if everyone felt this way? Well, then I'd be a damn fool to feel any other way, wouldn't I?

Eric Martin
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Postby Eric Martin » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:13 pm

Name: Eric Martin
Source: unca20060606.htm
>Yours in opposing the war and Dubya's ideology, but in full effing support of the men and women in harm's way.<

I don't support this war, or the troops who engage in it. Supporting them implies I approve of what they are doing. I very much do not, and I don't care who ordered them. I was never much a believer in the "taking orders is my job" line anyway. War is a moral choice, made by individuals. To claim otherwise renders individuality moot.

I sympathize with the troops, and would like to see them brought home. But I will never say I "support" them, not in this venture.



Douglas Harrison
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Postby Douglas Harrison » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:29 pm

Name: Douglas Harrison
Source: unca20060606.htm
"And I wouldn't be quite so smug about the politics north of the border. It seems you guys just recently repeated our mistake five years AFTER we gave you every reason to resist the Neocons..."

I found no smugness in Steve Evil's comments. At no point did he suggest that Canadians are above either the conflict in Iraq or the effects of that conflict on soldiers. In fact, Steve E. said that the capture of the alleged terrorists in Toronto will likely be used to argue for continuing the Canadian mission in Afghanistan--hardly an endorsment of the current political climate here.

I do, however, find your comment patronizing, Steve. It is wrong to suppose that the electorate in Canada would necessarily take its cue from what it observes in the US. Conservatism has long and tangled roots here, and while US affairs often have a profound effect on Canadian politics ... well, it ain't all about what happens south of the border.

D.

Fernando Gonzales de Leon

"Aristocratic draft-dodgers in 17th-century Spain"

Postby Fernando Gonzales de Leon » Mon Jun 05, 2006 5:28 am

Name: Fernando Gonzales de Leon
Source: unca20060606.htm
The record indicates that few grandees who pleaded poverty to avoid service were left without substantial maintenance grants and emoluments and that the Crown gladly financed their luxurious military lifestyles.


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Postby Moderator » Mon Jun 05, 2006 5:55 am

Name: Steve Barber
Source: unca20060606.htm
(Douglas, you're right and I apologize. I was roundly astounded at the results of the last Canadian election, given the history of your country as progressive on so many fronts. I genuinely respect Canada and am sorry it came off the way it did.)

Now, on to the show:

Brian - You make a number of good points, however in response to this: "But if we were to be really cold, and say that these were people who let their lives be thrown away by our leaders... well, we'd be one step away from _laughing_ at their stupidity. But it'd raise a lot of questions, wouldn't it? It'd mean that even without wars, we're pretty worthless to the people who really _matter_ in our society. It'd mean that, even if we were to make some great sacrifice for the Greater Good... it may not be for the real Greater Good, it may not help at _all_, and it may not even be noticed by anyone... least of all our leaders, or the generations that file past the memorials without reading the bodiless names."

No. Uh-uh. There are many, many other reasons society must pay respect to military service. Unfortunately, in America that service has been devalued because of the tone of the debate over wars in general. America has moved militarily away from a protectionist role towards an aggressive role in the world. It started in Korea, moved dramatically into Vietnam and has now settled down in Iraq.

In each of these wars we maintained that we, as a nation, were threatened. We were never attacked by any of these regimes, and yet we felt comfortable attempting to impose our power and will upon these nations to get them to "think like we do".

But -- and this is a big one -- I'm not sure that you fully understand the true relationship between the troops on the ground and the intelligentsia running the show. It often astounds me (and this is not a personal attack, just an observation) how people who have never served in the military assume they know how it works.

Am I defending the civilian government or the senior leaders in the Pentagon? No.

Am I defending those troops who commit horrific acts in the name of their service? No.

I am honoring and appreciating the people who serve in the military at all levels who are decent, hard-working and patriotic citizens who genuinely believe what they're doing is some good in the world. And for others to stand on the sidelines with no full understanding of what it means to serve in the military is more than a little disingenuous and frankly smacks of elitism in and of itself.

Kerry criticized a war AFTER experiencing it. Our buddy Harlan did his service, along with thousands of other critics of military adventurism.

(Disclaimer: No, I never served, which is precisely why I won't condemn the entirety of the armed forces. There are too many honorable, respectable and downright idealistic people serving.)

And for Eric: You need to read a bit more on the subject before making such grand statements. I might suggest you find, in a used bookstore or online, a 1970s-era book which details the actual relationship between our civilian society and the armed forces which protect it. The book is entitled "The Military and American Society" by Stephen Ambrose and *ahem* James A Barber. (I'm rather fond of this second guy.)

The book frames the tension between our culture and the organization chartered with protecting it from the outside. Given the era in which it was written, the book examines many of the currently broiling controversies.

As someone very astutely noted in the Message Boards, you've got to understand and be able to debate the opposing point of view to truly "get" what the debate is really all about.

Yours with a capital "L".

Steve B



Eric Martin
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Postby Eric Martin » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:11 am

Name: Eric Martin
Source: unca20060606.htm
>And for Eric: You need to read a bit more on the subject before making such grand statements.<

Oh, ok. Silly me. I didn't think it was that grand of a statement. Just a personal viewpoint.

You could just say you disagree with me, Steve, because I don't think your patronizing (and mildly insulting) suggestion "to read a bit more on the subject" is going to change my mind. Especially books by Stephen Ambrose...if he's your source for anything, then maybe YOU need to read a bit more.

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Jim Davis
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MySpace, and more examples of how people are sheep

Postby Jim Davis » Mon Jun 05, 2006 8:52 am

Name: Jim Davis
Source: unca20060606.htm
Barney wrote: "I think Harlan ought to have a Myspace page. No, really. Not to pull anything away from here but to steer people here - and to the bookselling side of things. The template isn't "perfect" but I think it could be a very Harlan friendly / Harlan "hands free" way to promote some of Harlan's stuff."

I dunno, Barney. MySpace has always seemed to me to be LiveJournal's ADD-afflicted, airplane glue-huffing teenage sibling. The template isn't only less than perfect--it's cluttered, confusing, and downright ass-end-ugly, so much so I think it's purposely designed to be a visual irritant to anyone over the age of twenty. Maybe a Harlan MySpace could yoke in a few new readers, but I doubt it's worth the effort (it's a better promotional tool for actors and musicians, imho). Still, if you wanted to make one, I'd love to be proven wrong--unless it's a complete fuckup (not likely), it can't hurt Harlan's rep, and it certainly could help to get the word out on new projects. (Of course, this kind of brings up an obvious question: instead of branching out to other websites, why not revamp WEBDERLAND ITSELF? The news page hasn't been updated in years, other sections have fallen into disuse, and spambots have utterly run rampant over the whole megillah. As great as this site is, it's not all it could be, and I can't help but think that it could, with a little tweaking, become an exemplar of how to market an author's work.)

TO EVERYONE WHO READ "THE WHIMPER OF WHIPPED DOGS" (AS WELL AS, UM, THE GUY WHO WROTE IT): The Sundance Channel is currently running HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERIMENTS, a documentary on the three great psychology projects--the Milgram Experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment, and the Columbia University bystander study--that have explored how quickly people can disregard their conscience and, under the right conditions, descend into apathy, abusive behavior, and outright sadism. The doc also mentions some real-life analogues to the experiments, including Abu Ghraib, a phone scam involving numerous fast-food restaurants from a few years back*, and, yes, the Kitty Genovese murder. If you can catch it, it's well worth the time.

*I had never even heard of this, but apparently it hit the national news in 2004. Someone pretending to be a cop or a regional boss would call one of these places--restaurants hit included McDonald's, Burger King, Hooters, Ruby Tuesday, Applebee's, Perkins, Taco Bell and others--and order the managers to strip-search employees in a bogus hunt for money, merchandise and drugs. This would go on for hours, and sometimes even involve sexual acts performed against the (mostly young) employees. Horrifying shit, needless to say.

H. Blackstone Jr., Jr., Jr.

The Department of I MUST BE FUCKIN DREAMING (really)!

Postby H. Blackstone Jr., Jr., Jr. » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:05 am

Name: H. Blackstone Jr., Jr., Jr.
Source: unca20060606.htm
Okay, I'll admit the only stuff I know about HOUDINI (that will change soon as I get time to read some reputable bios) is a few articles I've read, bits of a history channel documentary, and the movie starring Tony Curtis. But the following description -- copied verbatim out of a catalogue for Atria Books, summing up a forthcomng title, THE SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI by William Kalush and Larry Sloman -- Blew. Me. Away. Read on:

"Using exclusive access to newly uncovered archives, Kalush and Sloman reveal the clandestine agreements in which the United States and England recruited Houdini to be an active secret agent. In exchange for his cooperation, these governments facilitated his rise to the top of the world stage. The authors give thrilling accounts of his assignments, such as his participation in early aerial surveillance and his use of his own magic magazine to communicate espionage-related information.

After the war, Houdini embarked upon what became his most dangerous mission when he took on the Spiritualist movement. Convinced that Spiritualist mediums were frauds, he became obsessed with exposing them -- organizing his own group of disguised undercover operatives to infiltrate this seamy world. But the Spiritualists were a powerful adversary. An organized network of fanatics, led by Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, worked relentlessly to orchestrate a camapaign that would silence Houdini forever.

Grounded in solid research, but as exciting and dramatic as a good thriller, THE SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI traces the magician's long and circuitous route from struggling vaudevillian to worldwide legend." (c) copyright 2006, SimonandSchuster

THERE are no copyright marks on that text, but just in case, and since it is the parent company, I inserted the copyright above.

OKAY: Does ANYbody know if the above claims -- made in this forthcoming bio -- really DO have any basis in fact? Man, even if they didn't, the guys who came up with this could put together a bangup historical thriller. Anybody? Beuller?


Anthony Ravenscroft
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The news page hasn't been updated in years

Postby Anthony Ravenscroft » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:05 am

Name: Tony Ravenscroft
Source: unca20060606.htm
I'd be grateful for a reasonably accurate list of upcoming speaking events by Mr Ellison (or those personages he chooses to endorse) on the off-chance I might be down the road or even find some excuse to shift my schedule.

I'd settle grumpily for a retrospective calendar of Mr Ellison's appearances, writing benchmarks, etc.

I didn't want to wet-blanket the MySpace proposal -- but, see, while I retired the Selectric almost two decades ago, I'm not a bells&whistles sorta guy. If a website has extensive Flash animation, I likely never return. And my marketing-smarts tell me that MySpace isn't so much a "community" as a poorly run cult, with the Deep Lasting Social Meaning of "Magic: The Gathering" cards, Beanie Babies, & Tickle-Me Elmo, as are about 99.99% of the all-holy blogs.

Anyone wants to do it, they ought to go ahead, & I'll cheer their successes without claiming any of the kudos.

TR

Harry Houdini

Postby TR » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:14 am

Name: TR
Source: unca20060606.htm
Potentially interesting, but kinda been done.

I remember a Houdini biography & autobiography that both deal quite clearly with his anti-spiritist crusade -- the autobiog is called "A Magician Among the Spirits" or something such.

Houdini was crushed by his mother's death, & wanted to speak to her spirit. He was shocked, then disgusted, to consult an endless string of fakes whose gimmicks were so shoddy that even a beginning showman would turn up his nose.

After watching these fakes manipulate peoples' lives, driving them to bankruptcy & even suicide, Houdini began a crusade to make spiritism a crime.

To read either man, you'd get the impression that Houdini & Conan Doyle were friends to the end, despite their deep religious differences.

(A funny story is Conan Doyle's role in discovering Piltdown Man.)

As for the "Houdini the spy" stuff, on the same order is "Carter Beats the Devil," which among other stuff involves a thwarted Presidential assassination & the corporate suppression of a new invention: broadcast TV.

Charles Samuels

Kiss Butt - Then Kick It.

Postby Charles Samuels » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:08 pm

Name: Charles Samuels
Source: unca20060606.htm
I've been reading this page for a couple months now, and I just can't hide any longer. I'd like to fire off a couple remarks then crawl back under my rock for a little while.

First off, to Mr. Ellison - I love your work. It's great. My best friend placed a copy of "Edgeworks Vol. 2" in my hands a couple years back, and it's been down hill ever since. Thanks for hours and hours of entertainment.

Second, I would like to stick my nose into this discussion about the military.

The one point I have to make on this is that it is not important that you _support_ your troops because you feel that what they are doing is right. The legitimacy of the conflict, its goals, its execution, its management - all that stuff - doesn't factor in one bit when I'm talking about servicemen. Politicians pick the fights and the soldiers fight them. Its been that way for a long, long, time. If it changes, let me know.

You can be opposed to war and still support your troops. You can protest the war if you like and still be supportive and respectful towards men and women in uniform. It doesn't mean you have to respect the Air Force Captain that stole your wife. The reason I feel you _should_ be respectful and supportive is for this reason alone - it isn't you. If you live in a country that has an all-volunteer military, you're lucky. (That's a _standing_ military, so don't lay on that draft crap.) I believe...and please pardon my woeful ignorance here...many European nations have mandatory service requirements for men at age 18. Lucky you weren't born there.

Wanting your soldiers to come home is one thing, and _how_ they come home is another. I hate to go back to high school here, but Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front" does a pretty good job of dealing with most attitudes about war. I'd love to see everyone holding hands and skipping through fields as much as the next guy, but it just ain't a fact of life...at least not yet. Until that day, though, I'm endlessly thankful there is someone to do the dirty work so I don't have to.

My car is the blue Toyota. Direct your eggs thata way.

-Chuck



Keeney
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RAVENSCROFT

Postby Keeney » Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:34 pm

Name: Keeney
Source: unca20060606.htm
[deadly cool surname, by the way, Tony]

"On the up-side, I opened a long-misplaced box & found a bunch of "stuff I want to read when I can relax" books, including an Alfred Hitchcock omnibus with tales by deFrord, Sesar, Matheson, Sayers, & (!!) Kersh, plus a somewhat floppy "Impact-20" (William Nolan shorts, for you heathens)."

If that Hitchcock anthology is TERROR TIME you are in for a treat with Kersh's "Crooked Bone." One of my favorite stories by any author. My copy of IMPACT-20 is also all beat to shit. I think there is a good reason for this:

" 'Well?' I snapped, lighting a butt. I put it in the side of my mouth and let it live there." (from "The Beautiful Doll Caper") Aah, 1963...i was still poopin' my pants...


peace,somehow,
unheathen all-Rick




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