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If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Here’s a little work of fiction that popped into my head just about wholesale.
“But you can choose one of the new training courses!” his wife pleaded. “It’s not actually, you know, the end of the world.”
Cain stared at his wife, trying to figure out exactly when they stopped understanding each other. “That’s not choice, Melissa. That’s the government telling each person what they are allowed to dream to become. Born short? IQ ten points too low? Welcome to ditch digger school, and that is all you’re ever allowed to become. No. I won’t do it.”
He paused for a moment, the decision he’d made earlier firmly visible in the set of his jaw. “I worked for seventeen years to build this business. You watched me do it. I worked what, fifteen, twenty hour days in the beginning? I knew people would eventually want custom, that the off-the-shelf robot-built from WalTech would eventually lose the charm of being so cheap. Remember the Chigurts? Molly said we’d be back at at the PubAssist office within a year, but it turned out Charlie was the one who couldn’t get anything going. Remember how proud we were when the hovercar took them away to the work camp? Maybe we shouldn’t have been, but we were glad it was them and not us. Remember how proud you were of me for making this work? What happened to that, Mel? How do you not see this as the end?”
Melissa sobbed and shouted. “Because it’s not the end! We don’t get taken to the camps anymore! They told us we can take the test and learn a skill and then they would give us food and a house and everything!”
“Give us? Give us? How do you think they even have the right to give us anything? It’s already ours in the first place! We worked for it, not them!”
“But you could be killed!”
“Yes. I could. But if I don’t do this, I’m already dead.”
She looked at him, tears spilling out of her eyes as she sobbed and choked out her words. “Stop saying that! Dead is dead, and you won’t be dead, you will be with me. Why isn’t that enough?”
“If you have to ask, Mel, then I can’t explain it to you. I though you would be by my side on this. I really thought you would want to do this.” Cain reached around his shoulders and fingered the blue cloth draped there. “When you brought this old flag home I really thought that was a sign that you felt the same way.”
“It’s just a stupid old flag from a stupid old state from what used to be this stupid old country! It doesn’t mean anything! It’s not even the real one they used, it was a proposed design!” Melissa slumped against the wall and let herself slide to the floor. “It’s not even the real one. I just thought you would like it.”
Cain stared at the floor in front of him, hoping the right words would somehow appear there and he could just say them and everything would be like he imagined it.
“I do like it, Mel. I love it. It’s the single greatest thing anyone has ever given me, and not because it says “Live Free Or Die.” But because it gave me courage. You gave me this courage. When the Community Organization Officer came to the house and threatened to shut me down, I went to the workroom and stared at this flag. I wondered what it must have been like 300 years ago, those men searching for a symbol, a phrase, ideals that would inspire and unite a people. I thought about their sacrifices, and the sacrifices of every man and woman who fought to preserve those ideals throughout the centuries. And I thought about the men who destroyed them, who willfully and intentionally turned us into what we are now.”
“I can’t do it, Mel. And until today I really believed that you couldn’t either. I’m sorry, but I have to join them. This?” Cain gestured broadly as if to signify everything in the world around them. “This isn’t worth anything. It’s not worth the tears you are shedding for it.”
“But you are. To me, you are worth these tears. Why don’t you get that?”
“Oh baby I get it. But what I don’t get is why you can’t understand this. I can’t be what they told me I have to be. I can’t sit in a room forever and tell people they can’t be something they love with all their heart. I will not report to the Public Trust building in the morning and spend the rest of my life handing out ditch digging jobs to artists and craftsmen and mothers. I will not tell a woman she isn’t allowed to have children because 22% of her demographic needs to be sanitation workers and the quota for moms is already full for the next three generations. I won’t tell Thom he can’t write those amazing books anymore because his classification is now ‘food technician.’ I can’t be a ‘Decision Impartment Officer,’ whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.”
Cain picked up the bag at his feet. He stood a little taller, straightened his shoulders and took a deep breath. “Melissa, stand up. Please. I’m going to go now, and I would like the last thing that happens here to not be me leaving you on the floor, begging me to submit to them.”
Melissa stood. She wiped her eyes. “Okay. I do understand, Cain. I just thought maybe you’d....”
“I know, baby. I know. But you know I can’t, right? And that we will win this? We have to. We’re right, and that goes a long way.”
A sound caught Melissa’s attention. A low buzz of fast-moving air, coupled with a high-pitched whooping sound. “Oh God it’s them!” she shouted. “Okay we have to get you out of here.”
“Cain we have to go now!”
“That’s what I mean. You said ‘We.’ That’s what I want. Come with me.”
“But I can’t shoot. And I don’t know anything about guerrilla tactics.”
“Revolutionaries never do, baby. You’ll learn just like the rest of us. And you know first aid, CPR, all that. You can be my own personal medic. And you can teach others. You are needed, Mel. By the cause, and by me. I need you to come with me.”
“Can we discuss this while we run?” She pulled him toward the closet.
“So you’re coming?” A smile touched his face. It felt like the first time he’d smile in months. Turns out maybe he still knew this woman after all.
“Yes. Yes, I get it. Live Free Or Die. Don’t Tread On Me. These Colors Don’t Run. I know I said they were just words, but they’re not, are they?”
“No. They’re not.” He opened the access panel in the floor of the hall closet and dropped the bag inside. It hit the ground with the clank of metal and the rattle of brass shell casings. “They never were.”
He reached out his hand to her. “Shall we?”
She took his hand. “We shall. You know I’m going to kick your ass for this, right?”
Now that’s my baby, he thought. “I know, baby. I know.”
The sirens grew closer as they closed the access panel behind them.
ed. - I edited the last line for those that read it earlier. It was too hokey!
Posted by JimK on 08/05/09 at 10:54 AM in Decline of Western Civilization Deep Thoughts Etcetera Politics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Thursday, June 04, 2009
On This Spot In 1989, Nothing Happened
Twenty years ago today, the Chinese government killed—as far as we can tell—a couple thousand of its own people for the crime of peacefully demanding reform of their authoritarian government. At the time, it seemed like this was part of a wave of anti-Communist protests that was sweeping the world and tumbling empires. The Chinese government survived and remains powerful, but I like to think that what progress they have made has been an indirect result of the explosion of dissent.
Read Kristoff’s searing account of that day. And remember.
Update: Hong Kong remembers.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Please join me in welcoming three new writers to RTFTLC: Rann, Section8 and HeartlessLibertarian. Apparently my supplication was effective. :)
Gentlemen, I thank you. I have a good feeling about this. Up next: I begin to publicly beg Para to consider making a post a month or so. ;)
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Changes at Right Thinking
I sent out some editorial guidelines early yesterday and was going to post them tomorrow night to let all the readers know what was going on. I never got the chance to let the authors sit with them before making them public...as you can see, WVR flooded the site with his usual barely-written quote-fest posts from the same blogs on the same dead-horse subjects...again. After the first two I emailed him a warning which he promptly ignored. After today’s performance...my patience is simply non-existent. I have heard the cries, and I agree with them, so WVR, I’m sorry but you clearly wanted this to happen for whatever reason. So now it has.
WVR is no longer a contributing author. He is not banned, but he no longer has posting privileges.
I’m looking for two more people to become authors, so if you have suggestions or would like to give it a shot, please let me know. That’s not a response to removing WVR from the front page, BTW...I was looking for two people anyway. See the end of the quoted text below for more detail.
Here’s the text of the email I sent out yesterday…
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Saturday mental health break: Your interests
Obviously, we spend a lot of time sniping at each other and arguing over politics and generally creating an atmosphere of animosity and bile. And that is awesome. under the right conditions. BUT...often times we forget there are people on the other end of these internet thingies. Commenters (and authors) here get so entrenched in positions they forget that these arguments have real-world applications for the living, breathing human beings to whom they are talking. And the simple fact is, 99% of us have more in common than we have differences.
To that end, I would like to start finding out what we have in common in an effort to weave a tighter community. The idea is of course to find out things we all love that may fall by the wayside during these heated debates we have.
I have two simple rules for this little experiment:
1. NO POLITICS WHATSOEVER. First one to say anything political gets ass-raped by the barbed cock of Satan.
1. I love pulp science fiction/mystery-crime books. I mean LOVE them. S.M. Stirling‘s T2 books are a great example. Decently written, but not literary by any means. Pulp scifi that turns my crank. T.A. Pratt’s Marla Mason books too, although that is more pulp urban fantasy. Oh and I worship the ground that Charlie Huston walks on. The man is a master at NoirSciCrimeUrbanFantasy pulp. And I will also confess to a serious obsession with J.D. Robb‘s Eve Dallas books. I’m like a junkie for that shit.
2. Defense Grid. I have beaten every level of this game eighty ways from Sunday and I still keep playing, to the exclusion of my Xbox 360, which has many things on it I need to play.
3. Fall Out Boy‘s new album Folie’ A Deux. FOB gets a bum rap due to Pete Wentz’s penchant for douchery, but these guys are a tight band with tremendous energy and well-constructed pop/rock/emo/powerpoppunk songs, and the new record is on never-ending repeat in my car.
That’s right, I posted publicly that I love Fall Out Boy. Fuck you all. ;) And now it’s your turn. What exactly are you people into, and if anyone says “sex with cats” that bit was already done better than you could do it (SITE AND VIDEO NSFW!!). ;)
Thursday, May 14, 2009
…and then the world imploded.
Not strange: A bank is robbed.
Strange: By a government economist.
Stranger: By an economist at the FDIC, the agency tasked with insuring bank deposits.
Strangest: ...because he wanted to reject the free health care he’d get in prison.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Saturday tension breaker
Thought it might be fun to pick a topic that we can all get down with and have a little fun. I think I might do these as a series, just as a way we can...wait, this is totally going to devolve into a Thunderdome argument series who the hell am I kidding?
Okay, first topic/question: It is up to you to build the perfect burger, using nothing but what you can get in your average American grocery story. No Kobe beef or white truffle bullshit, just, you know, regular cow. You can be as simple or as detailed as you like.
Mine? It’s pretty simple. From the bottom up:
Onion kaiser roll (bottom)
SImple, classic, awesome.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Happy Birthday, you big sonofabitch
Lee would’ve been 39 today. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to hold an alcoholic beverage, or a non-alcoholic one if you don’t drink, and shout “TO LEE!” at the top of your lungs before midnight tonight.
I’d love to see pics posted of people doing this, BTW. ;)
Well, I may be sweaty and greasy, but screw it.
Posted by JimK on 05/02/09 at 12:54 PM in Etcetera Lee in China Tooting My Own Horn • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Mental health break. Sort of.
It’s like they climbed into my brain and made a song about what they found there.
I’ve always played the fool around here
I had high hopes of silver and gold;
I got your cure right here
I turn this up as loud as it goes
I got your cure right here
I’m in a field of landmines
I got your cure right here
Friday, April 24, 2009
Update about Lee, including memorial info
I’ve been putting this post off for what i think are obvious reasons, but all that has done is make me feel worse, so...Like Lee always quipped at me, “band-aid, one motion, right off.” Yeah, we spoke to each other in TV and movie quotes half the time, what of it? ;)
This is a long post, with information about a memorial service at the end, so it’s going behind the cut. Hit the “read the rest” link to see it all.
First off, I will fill everyone in on everything I know from Rae and Ryan, Lee’s mom and brother. Rae approved me posting all of this, so best to just let their words speak for them. These are the emails I received from Rae and Ryan while they were in China, in order:
Chairman Mao’s hearse. And it was a Caddy with a freedom eagle on it. How utterly and completely appropriate. As Rae said to me, “If you’d have asked Lee how he’d like to go out if he died in China, he’d probably have told you ‘in Chairman Mao’s Cadillac hearse.’” I totally agree.
Last email from China below:
After that emails stopped, as Ryan and Rae were trying to get home, and I certainly didn’t want to pry or bother them in any way. But, in what should not be a surprise to anyone, Lee’s mom is a great and tough lady, and she took in upon herself to call me. We talked for a very long time, and I so very much understand more of who my friend was. I’d always known he was both a momma’s and a daddy’s boy, meaning that he loved his parents immensely and completely, but I never spoke to them. Hearing Rae talk, I could hear where Lee got his emotional connectons to the world, where he got his plain-speaking, and some of that famous sense of humor as well.
I guess I should fill all of Lee’s friends in on what we know about his last day or so. Rae covered some of it in the email. He went to a barbeque with friends where he had some drinks bot according to them was not shitfaced. He came home. His futon was folded down in his office, so he may have taken a short nap, but then he clearly got on the computer, as his desktop was there with a full ashtray of fresh butts and an empty glass that Rae assumes was Jack & Coke. :)
He took his meds (including Ambien) and went to bed. His phone was in the charger, his stuff was organized for the next day...he was just going to bed like any other night. Apparently he slept with his hands folded under the side of his head. That is how his Ayi (maid) found him. He simply never woke up.
Rae elaborated a bit to me about the conditions in the morgue, and I won’t get into it too much, but suffice it to say it’s fucking horrible. Let’s just say that the embassy told the family to wait until Monday to claim him, but they never told Ryan and Rae that the Chinese wouldn’t refrigerate Lee.
When Rae saw that she simply could not let them keep Lee any longer. They wanted an autopsy, but that would take two to four weeks. Weeks. She told them at that point she did not care about the specific cause of death, they could write whatever they wanted, she’d sign whatever they wanted but she was not leaving her boy with them for one more minute. And she didn’t.
Good for her.
So while we will never know for 100% certain what the specific and exact cause of death was, those of us who knew Lee—and who Lee had a phone number for—probably got one of his Ambien phone calls. :) Ambien can fuck you up...in some people it can create these fugue states where you do things as though you were sleepwalking, except to everyone else you are wide awake. You don’t always make sense, but you seems alert. Later you have no memory of what you did. When I first started my weight loss, I was on Ambien. I rarely ever had any effects except for one time when I intentionally took a second Ambien and mis-timed how long it had been since the first, but once I started dieting I would sleep eat. I’d wake up to find Pringles all over me and a half-a-can eaten, laying open on the floor. or I would find that i had assembled a sandwich or something. I’d find the remnants, wrappers and dishes and have no idea how it happened. Turns out I was craving salty foods and somehow the Ambien fugue freed me to go get them. I switched off Ambien and added a little more actual salt into my food and it’s never happened again, but it’s a little scary. Some people would sleep drive, or sleep work, or whatever.
With Lee it could get a little crazy. He’d forget he hadn’t taken his pill and take a second one. He would have long, detailed conversations with people, and cook full breakfasts and shit. That can bring on the fugue in someone who doesn’t have that reaction normally. It happened often. Respiratory depression is a listed side effect of Ambien. It is also a side effect of alcohol. Combined with the position he slept in and the fact that he was a big guy, and the end result is likely that he simply exhaled and his body couldn’t draw in another breath.
Jesus CHRIST it feel wrong to be so clinical about that, but I don’t know how else to write it. I’m not one to wail and beat my breast or anything, but somehow I feel like I should. I know that’s just grief though.
The bottom line I (and I think i speak for Rae and Clayton as well, although i feel a little presumptuous saying that) would like everyone to know is this was a man who was planning not just for his future, but for the next day. A terrible confluence of events led to his passing by accident, and anyone who says otherwise is not someone worthy of one iota of your time or energy. As both Rae and I said together on the phone, “Fuck those motherfuckers. Pardon our french.” :)
And that brings me to what I thought was the most perfect summary of Lee and his mom: She told me that clearly he got his foul mouth from her. But then she laughed and said “But I also got half of mine from him so who knows where it comes from anymore.” That put a big smile on my face. So perfectly Lee, isn’t it?
So, going forward, there will be a memorial service for Lee in Houston, TX on Saturday, May 9th. Rae and Ryan would like to start it at 1 PM and go until...well, until everyone is done, really. What she asked of me is that I find out who can actually attend, and that you email me to get directions and phone numbers and so forth. If you think you would like to go, please email me at stark23x at gmail dot com, and use the subject line “LEE CROFT MEMORIAL.” I will get you all the info you need so that you can go and tip your hat or a glass of Jack & Coke to one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known.
I assume there will be other, smaller memorials around the world, some of which have already happened. Please feel free to email me if you want me to post about an upcoming service you’d like to have. Even if it’s just some friends and co-workers getting together for some drinks at a bar or whatever. That’s probably the best memorial for Lee anyway, so if you do that, let me know and I’ll post it up here.
Rae gave me access and I figured out how to transfer the domains to me by signing in to Lee’s GoDaddy account, so as long as I have a presence on the interwebs and tubes, this site will stay up. Lee in China will remain as a testimony to his adventurous nature and his ability to tell great stories...but It will be frozen as is. Right Thinking will continue to be a community of people hashing out the issues of the day, just as it was when he was alive. I can think of no better testimony to him than that.
Well, maybe we should all rent everything he worked on from Netflix too. Because he was very proud of what he did for a living. Rae told me that when he was a child and saw Star Wars for the first time, he told her that it was the coolest thing he ever saw and he wanted to learn how to do that.
He did. He is one of those people that actually achieved a childhood dream. Not only did he learn to do that, but he worked on a Star Wars movie, at ILM. That’s pretty awesome.
So do that as well. Come here and be a part of the great debate, but also watch his work., And The Simpsons. Dude loved The Simpsons. ;)Close this post...
Posted by JimK on 04/24/09 at 03:17 PM in Etcetera Lee in China Tooting My Own Horn • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Sunday, April 19, 2009
New writers for RTFTLC
Join me in welcoming back Aaron, and in welcoming Harley and The Contrarian into the fold. This is going to be fun. Gentlemen, please feel free to jump in as the muse moves you.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Unbanning (Also new registrations!)
I just discovered that registration for this site was set to manual approval. There were 465-odd accounts, and I just couldn’t sort them all by hand (I would have to try to guess who was real and who was a Russian spammer), so I deleted EVERYTHING. If you’ve tried to register for the site in the last two months or so, please try again, you will get a self-activation email to prove you aren’t a bot and then come on in.
Yeah, umm, I just remembered *I* was the one that set registrations to manual to stop any possible trolls after the news about Lee. Sorry. It just completely slipped my mind.
So let’s say someone was interested in a little test, a test where say, almost everyone who was banned from this site was unbanned. Except for a very, VERY select few, one of whom should be obvious to anyone who saw his exchange with Clayton and is now He Who Shall Not Be Discussed as far as I am concerned.
Are there any others that any of you can think of who are just too frigging annoying or can’t comport themselves like rational people? I’m not looking to let a lot of haterade flow around, but I would like to give people a chance to, I dunno, bury the hatchet I guess. Life is fucking short, people. We got shit to do, you know what I’m sayin’?
So lay it on me. Who should we swing open the doors for and who should the banhammer continue to smash in the balls?
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Some truly awful news about Lee
*UPDATE (4/15/09) I un-stickied this post...I don’t think Lee would want the site fixated on this for very long. As far as I can imagine, I think he’d want the thunderdome back in full swing ASAP.
Original post below:
This is JimK. I am posting this just to let everyone know, the news that is flying around about Lee’s passing in China is
This is about the worst thing I can imagine ever having to post on this site. Lee is...and will always be...100% unique, a force of nature and someone we are all better off knowing.
I’m also going to ask that we leave the politics at the door temporarily.
Well, as far as I know - and I will not pester his family for info, so everything I am getting is second and third hand - Lee passed in the night. I got email from him a couple of days ago, and he was online as well, so the timeframe seems to be overnight Monday, Beijing time.
I believe his mother and brother are going to China to bring him home. Harley I know you have contact with Clayton, so please keep us updated.
Although he shared a few photos in the last few years, Lee protected his identity mostly out of professional reasons. I think that matters less now than us sharing some of his finer moments. I thought you all might enjoy a couple ofpics I dug up.
First off, Lee in the US Navy:
I have a real actual physical copy of this. Love that.
Secondly, Lee and I in 1996. I’m dressed as Reverend Reznor (loooong story but we were huge NIN fans) and Lee? Lee is humping me.
God I am going to miss that son of a bitch. More pics as I dig them up.Close this post...
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
When Chimpanzees Attack
This, children, is why you should never keep jungle animals as pets.
The attack was no doubt terrifying enough, but then there’s this little bit of information that makes me question the woman’s judgement:
Er, no, he was an animal with the strength of ten men, something set him off, and he had to be put down. Even Roy was attacked by one of his own tigers. I’m sorry for this woman’s loss, but it does seem that we tend to anthromorphize animals a little too much in our society.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
The Fire Down Under
Australia is burning.
Anyone who has lived in California will understand what the people of Victoria are going through. And I will never understand the sickos who think it’s fun to start these blazes.
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