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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   strategic needs of the moment
Thursday, July 14 2005
This thing with Karl Rove and the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity has got me worked up and excited in a way that the scandals of the Bush administration have a way of getting me. But this time it feels like - Holy Shit! - the faith-based model of not thinking is getting its ass handed to it like it hasn't since the time that Galileo showed bishops the way the moon really looks through a telescope. Still, it's dismaying to see Republicans standing my their man, Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove - perhaps the most transparently repugnant human being this side of Dick Cheney. It seems like a pretty straightforward case to me: asshole denied leaking Valerie Plame's identity, allowed the administration to say he didn't do it, but then it is revealed that in fact he did! End of story - facts are rarely as absolute as this. So where is the outrage from Republicans? Why are they suddenly backtracking on their initial public revulsion at the leaking of a CIA operative's identity?
Later tonight this was all perfectly explained by a Paul Krugman opinion piece in the New York Times. For Republicans, we've arrived at a new chapter in the way reality works and, newsflash, there is no objective reality. For them, even the facts of history are in a constant state of flux depending on whatever the strategic needs of the moment requires. For a collection of folks who routinely decry modern interpretation of the Bible and the Constitution, they're strangely willing to interpret things they've said themselves and written in the public record.

Back in the waning days of the period of time during which two possible futures existed, one in which George W. Bush was kept in office and one in which John F. Kerry replaced him, I visited Manhattan to hang out with my childhood friend Nathan V., who was in town on business. Among the things we did was stroll the dirty sidewalks of the East Village and each buy rustic fist-sized bells. These allowed us to walk around the rest of the evening with what appeared to be metallic stumps instead of hands. The bells had a good ring to them, and my plan was always to make the one I brought home into an electric door chime. Today I finally got started on that project in earnest.
I decided to use the ringer of an old rotary dial telephone for the electromechanical portion of the chime. But the action on that ringer was weak and fragile - I accidentally ruined the thin wires of its coil somehow while using a hacksaw to remove surplus aluminum from the chassis. So I ended up doing something I haven't done since I was twenty years old: I wound my own electromagnetic coil. (The previous coil I made myself was a custom guitar pickup in the late autumn of 1988.) But today's coil ended up being too large for the space available in the telephone ringer armature and I had to cram it to get it to fit. This caused it to short against the armature, but still it was a lot more powerful than the old coil had been.
Later I soldered together inch and half-inch copper pipe and fittings to make a support for the bell and for the ringer mechanism, which I decided to conceal up under the skirt of the bell. It's all strictly 19th Century technology, but there's a beauty and authenticity to the materials and artifacts of an electromagnetic system that cannot be replicated with analogous modern systems.

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