Admittance, resistance, impedance... fobiddance?

By Michael J. Smith on Sunday July 22, 2012 10:53 PM

A reader here (thanks, sk) recently passed along the following wonderful item -- you'll have to scroll down a bit -- in connection with University of Texas student Charles Whitman, the fons et origo of modern mass shootings here in the Land Of The Free, which occur, nowadays, as regularly as the monsoon season:

In 1999, [University of Texas president] Faulkner worked with students on a plan to reopen the Tower deck following safety modifications including a fencelike structure to prevent people from falling or jumping from the Tower and the addition of metal detectors and police guards.

"It fundamentally wasn't healthy to have people always talking about that moment in history (the Whitman shootings) whenever they were around the Tower," Faulkner said in a recent interview. "I just felt the university community needed to get past having that as a main topic of conversation and I didn't think it would be possible unless people reopened the observation deck and took away the forbiddance."

"Forbiddance"? University presidents aren't usually so original in their diction.

Forbiddance is one form of memory, though it's less usual in our world than perseverative idiot commemoration. On the whole I prefer forbiddance. For example, there ought to be a 9/11 tax: any time anybody mentions 9/11, they should have to pay a dollar for everybody within hearing. The funds would, of course, be earmarked for the drone slaughter of Muslims, provided that the President personally anointed each missile with oil.

A bad business, of course. It's the only kind we can do. But at least it would have a chilling effect on the 'media', who would have to pay a buck for every subscriber or auditor; and about time, too. These people won't be chilled enough, for my taste, at any temperature above zero Kelvin.

Then of course there's the Texas Tower itself, a thoroughly useless and extremely ugly structure which, apart from drawing Whitman to his rendezvous with the history books, also drew some dozens of stressed-out students over the years to fling themselves from it.

I blame the Tower.

Well, no, not really, of course. But the Texicans' crackpot-realist response was to install metal detectors, guards, grilles to frustrate leapers, and so on, and then re-open the deadly seductive Tower to work its malign magic.

Apparently one of the important functions of the tower is to be floodlit in the school colors whenever the team wins a game. I am told this is a big deal, and people would miss it.

Meanwhile, in my town, work proceeds apace on a Viagra-fication of the wounded American phallus down at the old Trade Center site. As far as I can tell, the new building is going to be almost as ugly as David and Nelson were -- though they would be hard to beat. At least there's only one of it. As long as it lasts.

Everybody loves a tower, of course, but there are towers and there are towers. Nobody objects to the wonderfully mismatched spires of Chartres, but Yahweh himself seems to have registered his displeasure with a certain overscaled structure in the ancient Near East:

Comments (35)

Actually, the fons-de-la-fons was a caper that transpired in Camden N.J. back in September, 1949. Howard B. Unruh "went berserk" and killed 12 persons, wounding five others. That is to say this is a particular genre of sensationalist news story. Keep an eye out for the tormented attempt to extract 'meaning' from the massacre: "men and women kept saying, 'we can't understand it. Just don't get it."

Clue: "sound and fury signifying nothing."

By the way, there was a lovely photo juxtapose from 1984 of the head of the Washington State Democratic Party holding up an edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. The headline at the top of the front page reads "MONDALE WINS." beneath the Chronicle masthead: "Gunman Kills 17."

Cause and effect?


Big hats at the University of Texas managed to corral a mass murderer into giving the commencement speech at the famed Tower a couple of months ago too, even though students were pleading to 'get a guy who isn't in the killing business.' What was it Erich Maria Remarque is supposed to have said: "A single man killed is a misfortune, a million is a statistic."


Forget the fences and metal detectors. For my money, nothing defeats forbiddance like a sniper-themed restaurant. Someone call Cracker Barrel.

I've seen some concept art of the replacement tower going up at the Sacred Pit and, besides being butt-ugly, is also proof positive that this country has learned jack shit from Nineleven™.

Now, then... if you really want some towers, I'll give some goddamn' towers. Here's yer fuckin' towers right here.

This is the wicked-assed, not like any other Gothic cathedral you've seen in your life, Antoni Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I got to see this awesome cathedral in person about thirteen years ago while spending a week in southern Spain. Barcelona is full of Gaudi's best work, and La Sagrada Familia is the top of the tops -- and I've seen the Notre Dame Cathedral in person as well, and that was also awesome. Every time I see tourists wandering around upper Northwest and ooohhh-ing and aaahhh-ing at the National Cathedral, it just makes me want to barf, because I've been to Europe and seen some real cathedrals, and the National Cathedral is just chickenshit.

The thing that makes La Sagrada Familia even more awesome, though, is that Gaudi uses parabolic arches instead of standard pointed Gothic arches, so instead of a motionless, static feel, there's a feeling of motion and energy you get from a parabolic curve.

The towers aren't your standard Gothic cathedral towers, either; they're gently curved to the top, and cut through with all kinds of patterned openings which allow light through and make the structure look less heavy.

One of the things I liked most about the towers of La Sagrada Familia was how much they reminded me of the old N1 heavy-lift booster, intended by the USSR to be its counterpart to the Saturn V in its manned lunar program. Unlike Saturn V -- or your standard Gothic tower -- N1 was like an elongated cone, gently tapered to the nose, with open interstage trusswork instead of solid cylindrical structures, giving N1 the look of a rocket designed by Fabergé. Every time the DW and I were driving around Barcelona and I caught sight of the towers of La Sagrada Familia, my first thought was "ten... nine... eight... seven... six... five... "


When I think of the supposed purpose of the Tower of Babel, escaping the wrathful Lord's next flood, as I recall being told in Sunday school, I always think about the space program (which I detest) and then an old film where a blessed few (much less than 1%.... but members of today's "1%" without doubt) escape doomed Earth just before an asteroid wipes out human life... from the mid 1950's, the film, I think.

Then I think about the politics of global environmental destruction and the stupid notions of starting a colony on another planet. Yuck.

Then Dr. Strangelove.


On the other hand, the Brueghel design for Babel would make a wonderful attraction in Vegas and I am surprised no one has built (or attempted to build) one.


what a horrifying labrynth (have I spelled that correctly?)

the illustrations of those born in cold climes: Brueghel, Bosch, Van Gogh, Albrecht Durher (I'm drunk, wrong spelling?); and countless females who would have illustrated if they weren't doing the dirty wash and nurturing the children, opening the legs, etc. etc. etc. (countless females who did illustrate yet were so far ahead of "their time," and therefore, denounced and unacknowledged), with little fur, if any, fly in the face of those with the fortune to live and buy an estate far warmer climes ....

The hideous thing, ...about those far warmer climes, is that most who reside in them ... are slaves to those who have the $$$$fortune$$$$ to buy an estate, an island even, etc., in them ...


some things, resoundingly true, as regards "old folk"'s ...sayings:

Money is the route of all evil

Walk a mile in someone elses shoes (before you open your ugly mouth)

Ignorance is bliss.


It was a film from 1951 and viewable on YT if one has 80 minutes free.


Randall looks amazingly like Beavis.

boink sez on 07.23.12 @17:11:

When I think of the supposed purpose of the Tower of Babel, escaping the wrathful Lord's next flood, as I recall being told in Sunday school, I always think about the space program (which I detest) and then an old film where a blessed few (much less than 1%.... but members of today's "1%" without doubt) escape doomed Earth just before an asteroid wipes out human life... from the mid 1950's, the film, I think.

Well, then, I guess you also detest that people in ancient Europe attempted to sail around the world, or across the Atlantic, or that ancient tribal people in South Pacific islands decided to explore outward to see if there were any new islands they could live on, or that expeditions set out to reach the north and south poles.

I'd also suggest you not bitch about the space program while spewing into an Internet forum on a network and equipment composed of thousands of miniaturized electronic components, perhaps while also watching TV news footage from around the world delivered by satellites.

And btw, if you have a GPS pad in your car, you'd better detest that, too.


I don't know Mike, I think it depends on the purpose of the exploration. If sailing the seas, or exploring the galaxies was/is financed solely to subjugate to slavery and decimation even more than an elite entity has already subjugated its own 'citizens,' then it should be condemned.

And why shouldn't one be allowed to condemn using the same technology they've been unwillingly forced to acclimate to (in order to survive) to condemn it; especially when that 'media' is the only one being taken seriously?

Luddy No Buttons, yeah it's me, Boink:

I suppose it is mainly the manned space program that I detest. The fact, as I see it, is that there is really no place to go in "space", given the vast distances between "places". So that it is only a flimflam that human beings are going to colonize any world other than the one they are doggedly making uninhabitable.

"Love your mother." Don't assume that there is any escape for even a few.... the vicarious rewards of which escape, even were it possible, leave me scratching me head.

I could do quite happily without communication satellites, etc. But it is too late spend any time worrying about them. They are there. I must live in the world that I was born into and make the best of it. The news delivered by satellite is depressing and there is little to be done to improve it. Send a Care package, maybe.

Regarding European exploration, where besides the South Pole have the explorers ever gone that wasn't already inhabited? Who discovered whom? And what were the consequences of the discoveries?

Al Schumann:

I stand with Boink Buttonless on this issue!

Really Crude Strawman Coming Up

And not to be too heavy-handed about it, well maybe just a little, the late William F. Buckley Jr. was a big fan of the space program. Faced with the choice between putting humans in a tin can and putting the can on the moon, versus putting a few ten thousands of people into houses where they could live, he bravely opted for the inspiration and grandeur of the tin can. Those poor unsheltered people needed something that would make them want to live the lives that would get them into shelter. On their own. Without sucking on the teat reserved for their betters.

With Less Straw And More Fiber

It's possible that few of the gizmos I've come to expect would have made their way to the tidy confines of Foxconn inter alia without the space program. But as long as there's rotisserie tech trickle down at work, it's possible they might have made into my hot little hands as the result of innovative genius at the Freddie Engels Memorial Science and Technology Laboratories. In that alternate universe, I might wind up using a People's Republic of Texas Instruments difference engine to calculate the spans and load-bearing capacity of the Dzerzhinsky Bridge.

The Dead Hand Of The Past Is Only Resting

Quoth Boink,

Regarding European exploration, where besides the South Pole have the explorers ever gone that wasn't already inhabited? Who discovered whom? And what were the consequences of the discoveries?

Indeed. We don't get do-overs, lamentably, but that series of "discoveries" is surely a candidate if it were possible.

"The space program" is terrible, but the idea that things could be done "in space" that are/will be resoundingly good is not terrible. The National Football League is terrible, but the game itself could be a wonderful thing that might one day be well played by more.

As Buckley and Obama giggle and pee in the river, we must not give up on the idea of one day drinking from a clean river.


Speaking of campus life, an account of what goes on at another large state university.

Cluster's Stalker:

often denigrated as “Alabama in Pennsylvania,”

They wish! The last 3 NCAA football titles reside in Alabama. It's football envy and nothing but.

Al Schumann:

She royally screwed up the denigration. It was the cretinous Carville who said, "Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between." That's the pull quote she was looking for. She should attribute it instead of using the passive voice.

Also, Cluster's Stalker skewered it tidily.

anne shew:

now the last bunching of comments before al here are of when it sounds like you pen k , of my mention on that noting ,over on your .. . / i'd like to grow cotton (here , somewhere , somehow )and peas to pluck sweet with you lover .. .


bunch of city slicker poseurs. none of you want anything to do with those redneck hick morons. oh right op's nursery rhymes will organize them into a revolution. ya right. those hick morons will call u fags and n-g lovers and lynch your latte lefty asses. seriously please go,live among those deliverance people u love them so much. or keep typing on your i pads in starbucks in u r real nice. 'gentrified' schvartze-free neighborhoods.

Cluster's Stalker:

No 'city slicker poseur', moi, thou shepherd of smiles.

My stomping ground in the 1960's:


ahhh, Sebaceous, so you're a part of that latter, “mocking” contingent (if I'm not mistaken, implying that those loner parties are actually more human? than the ones concerned with the onslaught of worthless, intrusive and violating technology), even though, you don't appear to have much in common with those latter, “mocking,” parties?

You're reminding me of an experience I had about a year ago, in a 7/11:

I was asking how the, barely able to afford housing, 'clerk' (so Brit!) behind the counter was .... when some stereotypical wizbang Sly Con Valley wite boy, next to me in line, tossed his lunch hour pre coup breath freshener shit tool acquisition ... in between the 'clerk' and I, ...clearly passively aggressively signaling his contempt for the both of us for dilly dallying ... for fifteen seconds.

As I followed the prick out the door, I stated:

In a hurry, are we,...Asshole?

As he approached his pristinely clean Brite and White SUV, ... he informed me:

There are two types of people in this world, I like the world I'm living in!

then he drove off, to presumably work on his next IPO, VC Angels! iPhone App profound inventor etc. etc., to be immediately purchased by some larger Oligarchy and shut down, leaving its customers looking like the naive wannabe suckers they are.

You remind me of that chilling prick who held concern, for someone outside of themselves, in contempt, Sebaceous.


yup, PA, is as racist and classist, ...certainly misogynist, as the day is long and then some; I ‘ll testify to that, I’ve lived there in my ‘formative’ years ....and beyond.

Not sure that it can compete with the far more subtle, ‘algebraic’: racism, classism, and misogyny ..of Sly Con Valley California though, .... where - outside of East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto - on any given day, in the ‘center’ of San HO (despite the fact that it’s a city and a very large one at that), Santa Clara! etc., ... you may never even see someone of African descent.

A lurverly place, where Sam Zell (for one, Master of the Universe! .. apparently based in Rahm’s ‘adopted town’), ...iz taken care of Bidness in the aforementioned, East Palo Alto (and likely, the neighboring, East Menlo Park):
Hundreds [the piece politely means: a thousand minimal, now that Thiel/Hunter! Zuckerfuck’s Face Fiend iz in town] of pre-eviction notices sent to East Palo Alto tenants by new landlord.
( )


From the above referenced article, regarding Sam Zell’s REIT (Real Estate Investment “Trust”), Equity Residential’s sadism, in the face of Zuckerfuck Fiend moving into a neighborhood with an already stunning dispossessed rate of humanity:

“The largest landlord in East Palo Alto has sent out about 1,000 pre-eviction notices to tenants, according to the official overseeing the city's rent-control program.

Equity Residential, which bought 1,793 East Palo Alto apartment units in December, started delivering the three-day "pay rent or quit" notices in January, according to Carol Lamont, the city's Rent Stabilization Program administrator.

In her July 20 memo to Interim City Manager Ron Davis, she said such notices are the first step in the eviction process. She added that at least 168 tenants received more than one such notice.

And of 725 notices Equity Residential sent tenants between January and June of this year, 111 sought rents that exceeded the maximum allowed under the city's rent-control ordinance, Lamont wrote.

The company has also failed to fully comply with a city ordinance that requires owners of rental units to provide copies of all eviction-related notices to the city's rent board within five calendar days of giving them to tenants, Lamont added.

Davis told The Daily News he was concerned to learn that the number of three-day notices has grown exponentially. According to city records, 330 were issued in June and Equity Residential reported 360 went out in July, although it has not yet sent copies of those documents to the city, Lamont reported in her memo.


(oh, and speaking of Thiel and Zell, just noticed that Bernie’s on a roll (via Black Dog Red, or is it [Slightly] Blocked Grid?):

had Bernie included, along with the above mentioned PREDATORS, calling for the Tax Return disclosures of all the Rattus Norwegicus de el Swampus Matings, such as RethugoRats, Dianne Feinstein and Dicky Blum, et al, .....someone might’ve actually taken Bernie seriously.)

Al Schumann:

Sanders provides therapeutic theatrics for crushed liberal spirits. They get more play whenever Obama's schtick wears thin.


yup Al. I guess, for many, acknowledging the stunning level of DemoRat betrayal is too unbearable to consider. There's likely huge fonted odes to Bernie right now at Huffpo and Daily Kos.


what a fish fry

worth extraction from the boiling pot

" a People's Republic of Texas Instruments difference engine
to calculate the spans and load-bearing capacity of the Dzerzhinsky Bridge "

if ever there was a bridge to no where ...


diane lately
brings a spritz of real hell water
to these tired cage acts of ours
now don't she ?

and then there's a shew

blessing us
ever so brief hints
from a hidden

Al Schumann:
There's likely huge fonted odes to Bernie right now at Huffpo and Daily Kos.

There ought to be a font called "Febrile Feckless". It would be perfect for self-consolatory odes. To get the right atmosphere, all such odes should be composed while breathing in the smoke from a smoldering copy Lakoff's latest book.

if ever there was a bridge to no where

Now, now. It's right over there, see?, in that alternate universe where the Kropotkingrad Botanical Gardens are a well known tourist attraction.

Anne? That was lyrical and easy on the ears when I read it aloud.


Oh Al,

You must go see the Exiled Huffer Puffer profile, ... priceless! .... (along with the Malcolm Gladwell profile, etc.. I hope they do one on Jaron Lanier, as I truly wasted needed coin on his: ...Gadget, which attacked The Singularity , only to head off into slobbering over a day when we’re all holograms ):
(oh, and I love Mike’s current toon, ...and his commentary.)

Dearest Owen Paine,

It’s my trusty, rust proof, dual canistered hell water spritzer, Owen.

Since I live in Sly Con Valley, I must carry it with me where ever I go, just in case! But I like to think I’m only venomous when it comes to Masters of Our World who have way too much power over the lives of others, though occasionally I’ll unleash some venom at someone who just touched my last nerve. Usually though, I think I’m pretty sappy and cuddly with just general folk just trying to keep their head above water who don’t gleefully engage in musical chairs/stools.

A wonderful friend once called me a puppy dog with big teeth, I thought it fit.


(Dear Michael J. Smith,

as an adult now, I truly lament how very short I've come to realize the wonderful firefly season is. ... (I'm fascinated that they actually have a vivid scent (phermones I suppose?)), ...'summer' is way too short, in the colder climes, ... even in the presumed warmer climes (Cali is usually frikken freezing! ... underneath it all ...must be that dry, desert thang ...)...when one lacks the resources to pay for comfort and well being, ... a hug too you Michael.)


(oops, "to," not "too" (fuckin idiot Brits, etcetera, .... a teeny tad of spritzy ...)..although, if you sent me a human hug, while I was confused and distracted by 'this life', ..then: "too.")

anne shew:

al, what is the .. anne questioning .. of last night about ?

anne shew:

owen, of the.. a shew in at 3,02p , / i didn't continue on that first landing flutter try from paul alexander's , on the schooling mention , on what of that i was somehow going to say more of ,and then of wording how and why , for the reasons of .. wondering what the mail greet was , and in dealing with the death of one of my dad's brothers here at that time (that i had spent a lot of time with growing up, he took me to many plays , and more ,and there was some oddness going on with what happened to his ashes at the time , and if his remains even made their way to ashes , and more of oddness in the extremes of my family's very refined and too polite to really communicate ), and then you mentioned something of a brother passing, of dealing with , and i let that you were not responding to this questioning of playing with words compare , of how different ..go, of my odd wording trying / i still haven't read enough here to really know what the few of you here are all about , both davidly and paul have mentioned something of coming over to ioz from here in my talking with them over the last year a little , / of pen k, once trot mentions here and before , i don't know him that well, just puzzled by his calm commenting on john herman's (john herman wrote to me at one point ,i know him a bit ) and then his jumping pen jack and others as he does , i sort of see why on some things , but not completely in not knowing him, / of a different , admittance, resistance, impedance ,

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