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October 19, 2008
Two Minute WarningBy Greyhawk
A cautionary tale of the past, present, and (possible) future. (And a tip of the hat to Mr. Artie Blair...)
1984: It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Records Department, where Winston worked, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for the Two Minutes Hate.
"I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 to 280 thousand dollars a year," Wurzelbacher said. "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?"1984: The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck.
All three presidential debates are now history. With just 20 days left until the election, judging from the polls and Sen. John McCain's overall sub par performance Wednesday night in which he needed a knockout but failed to get one, it looks as though Sen. Barack Obama is well on his way to becoming the 44th President of the United States. That is of course barring any acts of terrorism, widespread election fraud and/or large-scale racism.1984: The Hate had started.
As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust.
Mr. Wurzelbacher’s notoriety has raised the ire of Tom Joseph, business manager for Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics, who claimed that Mr. Wurzelbacher didn’t undergo any apprenticeship training.1984: Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party -- an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it.
The premise of his complaint to Mr. Obama about taxes may also be flawed, according to tax analysts. Contrary to what Mr. Wurzelbacher asserted and Mr. McCain echoed, neither his personal taxes nor those of the business where he works are likely to rise if Mr. Obama’s tax plan were to go into effect, they said.1984: He was abusing Big Brother... he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought...
Host Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, began by saying that if John McCain wins, he'll largely have Mr. Wurzelbacher to thank.1984: Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room.
Actually, he's "Sam The Guy Who Does Plumbing," technicallly.2008:
His full name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he owes back taxes, too, public records show.1984:In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy.
On Friday, the East Valley/Scottsdale Tribune in Arizona reported that Mr. Wurzelbacher's Arizona driver's license was suspended in May, 2000, following nonpayment of a court-imposed fine for civil traffic violations. He lived in Arizona from 1997-2000.1984: People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen.
During last night's presidential debate, we heard a lot about "Joe the Plumber," also known as Joe Wurzelbacher, an average (ahem) Joe, who is really worried that a President Obama might raise his taxes. But does Joe really need to worry? Because if he's the same Joe that ABC News identified as Sam Joe Wurzelbacher, also of Toledo, Ohio, he doesn't always bother to pay his taxes.1984:The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish.He beats his wife, too, so he likes Palin just as much as he likes McCain (Note: not to beat Palin, but because Palin enables wife-beaters)
1984: Even O'Brien's heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave.Exactly.
1984: The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out 'Swine! Swine! Swine!' and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein's nose and bounced off; the voice continued inexorably.Get this crap off of here. You've got the ex-wife's address.
1984: In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary.Take your point about specific address info
No detail about the divorced father of a 13-year-old boy was too small: Was he a registered voter? Did he have a plumbing license? Whom will he vote for?1984: A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.
So Joe (whose name is Sam) the Plumber (who isn't a plumber) was used by McCain to attack Obama's tax proposal, though Joe/Sam actually pays less tax under Obama (if he actually got around to paying his taxes.)
Certainly one "Joe the Plumber" is about to get his fifteen minutes of fame, whether that focuses attention on the real issue or not will determine if the millions of Joe (or Josephine) the Plumbers (and carpenters and mechanics and IT guys...) across America won or lost this last debate.I was off by thirteen minutes - but there are more of us than in Andy Warhol's day, and less time to spare. So perhaps in the future every American, like Joe, will be the subject of a two-minute hate.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 19, 2008 2:33 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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