synthetic zero


October 29, 2004

Matt McCormick was here on his national tour --- we didn't have much of a turnout, unfortunately. Sue thinks I inadequately marketed the event --- perhaps so. She thinks I should have talked about the huge crowds Matt draws to his events in Portland, hyped him a bit more.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about politics recently. Of course, it seems pretty clear that, barring a major shift in the next few days, Kerry will win. It's amazing that it's even close --- there must be a large number of people still woefully uninformed about what is going on in the world. Remarkably, there is a growing tide of conservatives and former Bush supporters who have come over to the Kerry camp. For example, take the conservative realist foreign policy guru John Mearshimer, voting for Kerry with enthusiasm. Even the neoconservative Francis Fukuyama has gone against Bush:

In February 2004 Krauthammer delivered an address at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington in which he offered a strident defense of the Iraq war in terms of his concept of unipolarity, or what he now calls "democratic realism."

Fukuyama was in the audience that evening and did not like what he heard.

Krauthammer's speech was "strangely disconnected from reality," Fukuyama wrote in "The Neoconservative Moment." "Reading Krauthammer, one gets the impression that the Iraq War — the archetypical application of American unipolarity — had been an unqualified success, with all of the assumptions and expectations on which the war had been based fully vindicated." "There is not the slightest nod" in Krauthammer's exposition "towards the new empirical facts" that have come to light over the course of the occupation.

I actually have read Fukuyama's famous book, and I thought there were a lot of interesting ideas in it. It's nice to know, and not too surprising, that he's seen through the folly of the current neoconservative program, despite the fact that he's one of the movement's two most important thinkers. As Mearsheimer put it:
"Fukuyama understands, quite correctly, that the Bush doctrine has washed up on the rocks," the University of Chicago political scientist and author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics tells openDemocracy. Fukuyama's essay provides a "great service," he says, in making plain that the neoconservative strategy for dealing with Iraq has "crashed and burned." Fukuyama is "to be admired for his honesty here. He is confronting reality."
So many other conservatives are endorsing Kerry as well: Andrew Sullivan. Incredibly, and shockingly, Christopher Hitchens. The Economist. Daniel Drezner. Josh Chafetz. David Adesnik. Peter Galbraith.

It's amazing that it takes a Republican President this bad to lose so many conservatives yet still maintain a nearly even race. Hopefully the religious conservatives who are voting for Bush rather blindly are going to decline as younger, more tolerant people grow up.

October 22, 2004

The First Annual Mott Haven Open Artist Studio Tour is this weekend, starting with an opening party at 7pm at Ariva, 11 Bruckner Blvd, tonight (Friday). Come check out the art studios in my neighborhood, and stay on Saturday for my next synthetic zero loft event featuring artwork and experimental short films from around the country and the world.

Meanwhile, an Oregon satirist manages to sneak these "arguments" into the official voter guide "in favor" of Measure 36, which is to ban same-sex marriages:

Traditional values are under attack, and sexual perverts are attempting to strain the definition of marriage far beyond what God has ordained. The Word of the Lord must be legislated as Oregon public policy.



(This information furnished by M. Dennis Moore, Traditional Prejudices Coalition.)


Traditional morality must become Oregon public policy. All of it. And the older the tradition, the better. The separation of church and state be damned. In order to protect the sanctity of marriage and the sacred institution of heterosexual procreation, unequal treatment and discrimination must be legislated consistently against all persons who cannot or will not breed as God intended. It is God's will that we multiply and fill the Earth and finally subdue it when the population explosion self-implodes. Praise God!

(This information furnished by M. Dennis Moore, Defense of Heterosexual Breeding Coalition.)


October 20, 2004

I've recently begun to read Andrew Sullivan's weblog (for those who don't know, he's a conservative, gay, pro-war, but most likely, now, with some reluctance, anti-Bush political commentator), and he pointed me to Gregory Djerejian's site, in particular his reluctant but well-written endorsement of Bush. Interestingly, Djerejian, who is an admirer of the conservative realist foreign policy scholar John Mearsheimer, thought Mearsheimer was a Bush supporter as well... but in fact, as I discovered with some Googling, Mearsheimer is voting for Kerry this time, "with enthusiasm," despite having voted for Bush in 2000.

I spent a great deal of time on Djerejian's site responding to his endorsement of Bush, and engaging in a spirited discussion with some of his readers. It was quite interesting. After it all, I got an email from Annie Gottleib, who told me that the discussion on that page helped her to make her decision. She's voting for Kerry. Debate and discussion can still make a difference, after all.

And we should also mention that, as one of the above links indicates, the pro-war Dan Drezner has also come out as a probable Kerry voter.

October 16, 2004

Suppose John Kerry had said, instead:

We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a heterosexual, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.
Whoo-ee! Think of the outrage then!

David sends me this excellent write-up of Derrida by Mark C. Taylor.

October 10, 2004

The mitochondrial theory of aging got a boost recently with a study showing that mice genetically engineered to have a higher rate of mitochondrial mutations tend to age faster than normal; they show many of the symptoms of aging, including brittle bones, greying hair, etc. There's something about the idea that a large reason for aging may be the failure of our bodies to prevent mutations within mitochondrial DNA that appeals to me; I think of our cells and the little powerhouses inside them diverging slowly over time from their original pattern, like a tree in time, we accumulate these mutations, spurred on by free radicals within the cell, and age. It feels, somehow, to be a more poetic way to imagine aging, something that I find somehow palatable and beautiful, precisely because it feels so inevitable, impossible to avoid, yet something we can, perhaps, work to slow, with antioxidants and stress reduction.

October 6, 2004

Caroline is visiting. Yay! And, Monday, Jen will be visiting! Quite a few old friends coming by, it will be great to see them.

I've realized recently how important it is to simply move forward with conviction that comes from a deeper source than either your own ego or a desire to please others. Oddly enough, doing things stubbornly in an egotistical manner is very much the same as trying to manipulate others into liking you by doing what you think they want. There is a third way, which involves moving from a deeper source that connects us all.

October 2, 2004

I'm not surprised by the outcome of the debates --- Kerry should have been a bit stronger in his attacks, but he got in many good shots, and overall it was a win for Kerry. It gives me dim hope that he can actually win in November, and even better --- hope that he will, in fact, be an effective commander in chief and president. Clearly he's taken the right tack over the last week or so, and it is paying off. We'll see if it pays off in November. If you live in a swing state --- please make an extra effort to vote!

I've been reading the reaction to the debates on both the right and the left... interestingly, many conservatives concede that Kerry won this debate, and some even seem to be questioning their own allegiance to this man: for example, Andrew Sullivan writes:

The trouble is: given what Bush has done these past eighteen months, and given his abilities, I'm not sure he can do better. We may have just had a man-behind-the-curtain moment. We are at war - the most dangerous war we have ever been in. And this guy is in charge?