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Music critic, gadfly, political pundit -- all this and more! Everything you always wanted to know about Al (but were afraid to ask).

Blogcritic of the Month, August 2006: Al Barger

The purpose of this monthly series is to highlight an outstanding contributor to the site as chosen by the editorial staff. This designation is meant to recognize and celebrate the best of the best, those writers who not only shine by virtue of their talent, but whose ongoing participation gives all of us a reason to tune in each and every day. As new readers are continually discovering Blogcritics, we also hope to introduce these fine writers to a new audience.

Please join me in a virtual round of applause for this month’s honoree, Al Barger!

Music critic, gadfly, political pundit — all these and more describe Al Barger, one of the most prolific and controversial writers to grace BC’s virtual pages. On board since 2002, and with well over 1000 articles to his credit, the force of Al’s personality can be felt across the site as he contributes content regularly on a wide variety of topics and is a familiar 'face' in the comments section as well. Honest to a fault, dismissive of all notions of political correctness, and possessed of eclectic musical tastes and a wry sense of humor, Al's presence serves to liven up the BC neighborhood on an almost daily basis.

Al describes his beginnings thusly:

I was born under a bad sign on October 17, 1962.  It obviously didn't register on me at the time, but this was smack during the Cuban missile crisis.  My father, Howard Barger, was the proprietor of Barger's Lakeview Market, so I come from a family of shopkeepers. 

Raised in a Protestant tradition, Al says of his religious upbringing, “I was raised up around Pentecostals, but our churches weren't going for any of that speaking in tongues or rolling around in the aisles.  My Grandpa Brown regarded such things as more likely signs of demonic possession than of the Holy Ghost.” He spent a year and a half at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, which gave him a good grounding in the classics (most notably Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates) and eventually earned a degree in journalism from Ball State University in 1989.

Al’s interest in politics has clearly been built from the ground up:

The most interesting job I ever had involved working as a mere grunt on the phones working for a Democrat-owned polling firm.  I spent a couple of years conducting push-polls, the kind of thing where they try out different types of mud to see which ones will stick.  "If you heard that Senator Smith took $250K in campaign money from the NRA, would that make you MUCH LESS likely to vote for him, SOMEWHAT LESS likely, or make NO DIFFERENCE?"  Among other things, this meant I spent Election Day of 1992 actually making get-out-the-vote calls to Chicago voters for the Clinton/Braun campaigns.  I felt so dirty.  I really enjoyed talking to the voters, though it took great restraint to avoid getting off-script or expressing my own opinions.

Among other little adventures, I am an Eagle Scout, and a tested and certified member of Mensa.  I also had a show on Indianapolis public access television in 1995-96 called The Freak Show!  Among other things, it involved puppet sketches and "Bongtalk." Billed as Damaged Goods Comedy Shoppe, I concocted an album's worth of audio comedy, What Are You Looking At? released through the original old-school MP3.com site.  I've also run for public office several times, but we'll get to that later.

One of Al's regular contributions to BC's Music section is a compilation of new CD releases every week. Music Editor Connie Phillips says,

Al consistently provides a great service to our music listeners and readers with his list of new releases every Tuesday complete with his insight on the big names.  He's also a vocal part of the community, not only in his reviews but with his comments to others.  Maybe his opinions aren't always popular ones, but they are his none-the-less and are delivered with conviction. 

Politics Editor Dave Nalle opines that despite the fact that Al "… likes Ann Coulter and compiles a hell of a lot of strange lists, his eclectic and intriguing taste in music and his unflinching political convictions make him worth reading.  I just wish we saw more of him in the politics section."

Finally, BC Publisher Eric Olsen describes Al's contributions in more personal terms:

Al and I disagree on a fair number of issues, including vital ones like the standing of Elvis Costello in popular music history, the advisability of a strong national government, and the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, but I also know Al to be a man of intelligence, integrity, openness, curiosity, and humor. He has been vital to the development and success of Blogcritics.

Q & A: The Serious Stuff

Your articles here at BC run the gamut from music reviews to political commentary. Why do you write? How old were you when you started writing? Is there any work of fiction on the horizon — the great American novel perhaps?

Primarily I am writing as a way of sharing my thoughts with other people. The writing process helps me clarify my thinking even for myself, but I wouldn't do it without at least a few people on the other end reading. I have a journalism degree, but I didn't do much writing for several years after college until I started MoreThings.

I'd like to publish some critic-type books if I could find a publisher. I'd definitely like to put out a critical guide to The Shield, based on the extensive writings I have already.

As to fiction, I'm not really that interested in novels. I just do not have the patience even to read them. I'd be much more interested in writing screenplays. I was concocting little four- or five-page screenplays in sixth grade. I'd dig writing low-budget genre comedy movies. I'd especially love to write a Cheech and Chong movie. I could really do something with that.

You love to describe yourself as a simple hillbilly, which seems a bit disingenous given the underlying sophistication of some of your writing. Who is the real Al Barger?

Who is Al Barger? Al Barger is a complex personality, as are most of the small breed of modern day renaissance millionaires. No, wait — that's not Al Barger, that's that jerk, Navin R. Johnson. Typical bastard.

I don't think I've really got an answer as to the "real" Al Barger. That's perhaps more a philosophical than a biographical question.

Let me address the usage of "hillbilly" though. For starters, you're making a false dichotomy of "simple" vs "sophisticated." There's no reason a hillbilly from the piney woods wouldn't be as smart and thoughtful as his big city cousin. I'd say that the hillbilly idea works about three ways with me, as a description of my actual personality, somewhat differently as a minor aspect of literary personae, and finally as a technique of argument.

For one thing, it is my top point of pride in my personal lineage that both of my grandfathers ran bootleg liquor in Kentucky during the Prohibition. In my worldview, that's more prestigious than if they'd been, say, congressmen. To update the image a bit, I could very much see myself as the smartass dope-running narrator of Charlie Daniels' "Uneasy Rider." I really am a country boy.

Moreover, I do like – within my own meaning of the term – the idea of being a "simple hillbilly" as you put it. Over time, I've come to very much appreciate the grandmotherly advice of Lynyrd Skynyrd to be a "simple man." Keep it simple, stupid. For one thing, people thinking that they're so complex and unique tends to strike me as a cheesy type of egoism, and petty narcissm. Oh, I've got these complicated thoughts and feelings unique from anyone else ever! Cracker, please — get over yourself. Also, those kinds of thoughts seem likely to be mere excuses for self-indulgence or corruption.

I mostly invoke the idea of being a Kentuckian or hillbilly in my writing, though, as just a kernel of casting an image, a framework for how a reader might start looking at me. I like to say that I'm running a figurative Internet moonshine still, and my website is corn squeezins. It's a bit of identity and a riff to help tie some things together, and give it a bit of overall flavor. It's self-caricature.

I also have another more combative use of the hillbilly image that I sometimes go to when I'm dealing with disrespectful fools commenting on my articles. Fairly often, people respond to me grinding down their sacred cows for tasty Big Kahuna burgers with misspelled and illiterate insults, particularly that I'm stupid. I'm just too ignorant to get what a genius Mariah Carey or the writers of Arrested Development are, for example. On a more exalted level, Socrates (or at least the Socrates character in the Plato dialogues) was prone to playing dumb as a probative technique. "I don't understand how you get that. Can you break that down for a dumb Kentuckian?"

On the far end, I'll go to the hillbilly stuff for feudin' purposes. I'm not trying to trick anyone with a "disingenuous" lack of candor, as per the dictionary definition. Perhaps I'm too subtle in my urbane sophistication, but I would intend a perceptive person on the other side to understand a not very heavily veiled FU when I start describing myself as a dumb Kentuckian. That's basically my equivalent of some of the way Richard Pryor would carry on about "niggers." And if you start talking down to me and I describe myself as an "ignorant cracker," then that means I'm intending on getting right up in your ass. Yee-haw!

You're not one to mince words around here, whether it's in one of your articles or when you're duking it out with someone on a comment thread. From whence comes this pugnacious attitude, and are you like that in person?

Then again, let me backpedal just a bit from that combative note in the last question. Being a simple country boy, I had to look up "pugnacious," which I find involves "having a quarrelsome or combative nature" or being "inclined to fight."

That's not me. I'm Mr. Peace and Love – honest Injun. I'm a pretty easygoing fellow, and I don't enjoy being angry. I try to avoid it. I don't like hurting people's feelings. I'm so much of a Mr. Rogers character sometimes out and about that I get sick of myself with it. My most common conversational phrases day to day in fact are "Howdy, Neighborino" (per Ned Flanders) and "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." My use of those phrases is long years past any trace of irony, and perfectly straightforward. In fact, I hear those phrases being consciously fed back to me nearly every day by various neighbors. I like that very much. I'm easy to get along with — if getting along is what you want to do.

I don't particularly get off on being combative. In fact, I'm at great pains very often to go about making nice with people whom I disagree with. I make a great conscious effort to separate the personal from the political or otherwise ideological. Just because I think you're full of crap about something doesn't mean I don't like you, and I try to cut clean when I criticize people, not rubbing the salt of personal animosity into the wound.

But I will not be intimidated by cheap emotional fascism, such as dumb charges of "racism." I don't know how many times I've been accused — almost always at a distance across the net — of being Grand Poobah of the Klan or similar nonsense. Oh no, homey don't play that. That kind of hatefulness brings out the Confederate rebel in me, and like Tom Petty, "I won't back down."

I try to play nice, but at some point I do not ever intend on suffering fools gladly. Largely that's because I've dealt with enough dysfunction in different ways from my own people to know that if you say things that people really don't want to hear, some of them will give you as much abuse as you're willing to take in order to shut you up. I'm just standing up for myself.

I get accused of being angry, though I rarely am over anything that's less than life or death. I've noticed though that this charge is almost always made by people who are obviously themselves angry with me. People with ill will prefer to think, or to have others think, that I'm in fits of rage and spitting bile. Maybe I'm not communicating well sometimes, but a lot of that is clearly just projection.

In my personal and family experience, I've found that polite silence does not solve problems though, but only leaves them to fester. I don't want to be hateful, but I will confront bad ideas that screw people up, and especially bad ideas with broader social or political negative consequences. Moreover, the stuff that people are most sensitive and inflamed about in religion or race or politics is just exactly the stuff where they most need to be challenged.

In short, I'm not INCLINED to fight, but I will say whatever I think needs said, and I will not be bludgeoned into silence with cheap hatefulness and abuse. You can disagree with my opinions in all kinds of directions, but if I perceive that someone is being malicious or dishonest, I'm not inclined to just let that go without rubbing their nose in it a bit. It's for their own good (Ed. note: said with a smiley face).

I say the same things in person that I do online. However, I do not insist on talking politics or religion with people who aren't interested in such conversations. Also, it's probably harder to take me ill when I'm slapping you on the back and sharing my stash. Here's a sample of how I work and play with others, a visit to local radio WKWH during the Senate campaign.

You're the first Blogcritic of the Month who does a lot of political writing (and commenting). What do you think of the current state of political discourse in the country? Does the atmosphere here at BC reflect what's going on in the country as a whole?

I'd say the state of political discourse in the country is actually pretty good overall. Sure, there's a lot of foolishness and hatefulness tossed around. From an idealistic point of view of how things should be, it's not great. However, wearing my "conservative" hat, I'll look at things relative to how they could be and how they have been historically. From what I can tell, our political discourse is broader, deeper and more open than it has ever been. There is a much broader and more easily accessible range of thought available to interested people since the Internet and cable/satellite TV has taken off in the last decade or two. I know I've got hundreds of times more stuff available to me here and now than I did sitting in the same house as a teenager in 1980. Even just C-Span is pretty significant. I love watching candidate debates from other parts of the country, seeing directly what the arguments look like in a Vermont gubernatorial election, or a Louisiana senate debate.

The downside of that mostly is extra shrillness. A lot of fools will talk hateful harsh nonsense on a website under a pseudonym that they never would in the flesh. Running for Senate in 2004, I talked to thousands of people around Indiana, and never got 1% of the craziness I get on the 'net. But then maybe I'm just a magnet for crazed wingnuts. Anyway, there seem to be more people with better specific knowledge of our civic affairs than before.

You're probably the only Blogcritic who's actually run for a seat in the U.S. Senate (as a Libertarian Party candidate in 2004). What possessed you, and what did you take away from that whole experience? Are there any more political plans in your future?

I don't have specific plans to run again. I've been there and done that, and it would take a little convincing to go there again. I was passing out Ed Clark for President literature in my hometown in 1980, never having met a Libertarian, even before I turned 18 just in time to get to vote. I'd run for state and county level offices several times before running against Evan Bayh's re-election. This was just a bigger canvas.

I was certainly not delusional enough to think any third party candidate would beat the most popular politician in the state, but this was the best way to get my two cents in. My two cents remains in, by the way, as my campaign website is still there archived at my website, including my two campaign TV ads. It was as much a literary exercise as a political campaign, really.

As to what I took away from the experience, it did reconfirm to me that actual people (Hoosiers, at least) are mostly halfway reasonable individuals that you can talk sensible with, unlike some of the ridiculous fringe of lunatics and trolls that make so much noise on the 'net. Beyond that, I had a really good time and got to meet a lot of cool people, reporters and folks at county fairs, other candidates, and the damned dirty hippies that came up from Bloomington for our I-69 protest.

I was quite taken aback, while researching this piece, to discover that you've written well over 1,000 articles for BC, the first one in October of 2002, which means you've been here almost since the beginning. What brought you here, and what keeps you here?

Oh yes, I'm definitely OG in the BC. I'd already been plugging away at MoreThings for some years. Finding the site, I wrote [Blogcritics Publisher Eric] Olsen a note hoping for a link to my scathing review of Springsteen's album, The Rising. Instead, he suggested that I write for him and I published the whole review here, and it was off to the races.

There are a lot of good things about publishing here. It's a broad forum, both from the reader and the writer perspective. I can write about almost anything here, and there's an audience interested in almost every topic coming in the front door.

Also, the comments threads give me wide feedback without having to play comment cop on my own, or having F, MF, F-ity, F all over MoreThings. It gives rise to cool things that I'd never get on my one-man site, such as the way my modest Miracle of Fatima story became a perfect pulpit for the continuing oracular pronouncements of the mother of Christ, Mary Reborn Literally.

I've grown MoreThings up to ten times and more the traffic I had in 2002, so Blogcritics is less critical to me in terms of practical exposure than it was. I was right proud to note that for a few days around my Oscar bump in March of 2006, MoreThings actually had more page views than Blogcritics, all 1000+ of us. Still though, publishing at Blogcritics plugs me into Google News and Yahoo News, among other things for which my one-man operation just wouldn't qualify.

Most of all, Blogcritics is my online neighborhood, my community. It's the place to be. It's where all the cool people hang out.

Q & A: The Fun Stuff 

What book/CD/DVD do you have more than one copy of, in case something happens to the original one?

CDs would be the main thing that I use repeatedly, and I have backups of a lot things.  The things I've probably bought the most copies of in time are the debut albums by Elvis Costello and Sinead O'Connor, My Aim Is True, and The Lion and the Cobra.  Among DVDs, I've had trouble keeping a copy of Night of the Hunter around, in that I keep giving it away to people.  I'm needing to replace it now. Sometimes you just need to see Ruby's eggs dropping.  Among books, you always need at least a couple of different versions of the Bible around as reference material.  Besides that, I'd say Stranger in a Strange Land, Atlas Shrugged, and Robert Anton Wilson's Prometheus Rising are about the top of list.

Would you like to tell us who/what do you share your life with? 

The immediate household is my father and me, plus four dogs and one housecat that I rescued out of a tree in our backyard last December.  Between the old man's gun trading buddies and my pugnacious terrier Fugitive howling at the country moon, the farm's always echoing with shooting and barking.  A lot of it is by telephone from her home 130 miles away, but my most critical companion is my thug godson's Mama.  Don't know what I'd do without her.  If you want to hear more about the greatest person in the world, check out this song, "The Big Game," I commissioned as a public tribute to her.

If you had to pick one sense to do without, which of your five senses would it be?

Taste, definitely.  I could do without tasting food a lot better than I could do without hearing music.

What do you wish they'd do a series about on TV?

I'm always game for something new and cool, but there's pretty much TV on almost any topic you could imagine. Not to be obsessive, but we could perhaps use a nightly show about Sinead O'Connor.  Like Pete Townshend's "Pictures of Lilly," that would probably help me sleep at night.

If you could, would you swap sexes for a week?

I don't particularly have any special burning desire to do so, but I'm pretty infophilic, so I'd be inclined to try it out just on general principles.

What do you think you'd learn if you could swap to the opposite sex?

I doubt it would teach me that much.  It would be perhaps more educational, more outside of my experience to be black or Asian, but I've lived intimately with womenfolk all my life.  I suspect that I mostly pretty much get it.  I suppose I'd get to learn first hand about the unpleasantness of menstrual cycles.  I'm sure that'd suck. But overall, women and men are mostly pretty much alike.  Obviously there are some significant differences, but I think they're overemphasized.

What sports team will you love until the day you die?

Team America.  Looking at my referrer logs recently, I was surprised to see traffic coming in from a page of sports team fan page links.  Turned out they were linking to my Team America stuff. 

I so much do not give a rat's ass about competitive sports, though I've come to appreciate a bit of some women's athletics as an aesthetic display of the beauty of God's creation.  I'd MUCH rather watch a Williams sister demonstrating what her body and spirit is capable of than some empty cokehead runway models strutting their emaciated forms.

What's one sign that you're a total nerd?

I got the email with these questions about 3:00 am on Saturday night.  Twenty years ago about this time of week, I would most likely have been tripping my nuts off with a couple of college buddies, inflicting Prince records on them — perhaps doing celebrity impersonations in the place where God shows up at the end of "Temptation."  Imagine me as Dylan wheezing "Oh say man, that's not how it works."

Whereas when I stopped to look at this email, I was sitting at my desk excited about having just discovered the use of the ID tags on .jpg picture files, and was in the midst of an all night non-chemically enhanced eight-hour round of eagerly editing and re-loading bunches of image files 'til well past the crack of dawn.

What's the first book you recall reading?

That would certainly have been the King James Bible.  Also fairly early on, around fourth grade or so, I was real taken with a book on dinosaurs.  It'd be some years before I was putting it together consciously, but I had some vague idea that this didn't fit with that.

What magazines do you subscribe to?

I've got subscriptions to exactly two magazines: PETA Animal Times and PETA Grrr!, a children's magazine.  I got them for the point of opposition research, but they're not as bad as I had feared.  Indeed, they have some perfectly good points about animal welfare and such. I can say that PETA has had some influence on me.

In fact, when I got my first issue of PETA Grrr!, there was an article about how bad it is to keep dogs on chains — a point I'm very sympathetic to.  At the time though, I'd had a dog chained up for a couple of weeks that had been dumped on us and was too violent to run loose with our dogs.  Reading the PETA article about the misery of being a dog on a chain pricked my conscience, so I took the dog out and shot it.

Who is your favorite writer?

First off, Ayn Rand was definitely the most important writer of the last century, in terms of injecting critical ideas into the public discourse.  For the pure joy of reading, it'd be tough to top Robert Heinlein.  My number one role model as a scribe, though, is definitely the wicked H.L. Mencken.

Who is your least favorite writer?

Thinking about him since his passing, that hateful self-indulgent dumbass Hunter S Thompson has become my poster boy for literary stupidity.  He had some gifts as a user of language.  When I was a teenage idiot, I appreciated some of his rebelliousness and pirate behavior.  I certainly identified with him as a crazed gun-toting Kentuckian. 

His gonzo style was obviously highly influential.  But it's been largely a bad influence.  His ridiculous constant irrational malicious hysteria is nothing to imitate.  Take away his wit, and you've got pretty much the top role model for a lot of the worst worthless hateful nonsense on the Internet.

Most particularly earning him this special dishonor though was his disregard for FACTS.  If you're writing a novel, you can make up whatever story you want.  But if you're working as a journalist, and you're just making up evil crap to report, then you're a worthless liar.  A couple of dumbass moves like his obituary of Richard Nixon where he claimed that Nixon conspired to have people killed at Kent State, and I'm done with you.

Looking back as a more mature adult, he wasn't all that, even besides honesty issues.  He mostly was working one fairly narrow and repetitive range of stylistic schtick.  He certainly wasn't a serious writer.  I don't particularly claim world class talent — I'm no Christopher Hitchens — but I'm definitely a better writer than Hunter Thompson.

Do you have a favorite Blogcritic?

I have to start that with a special personal shout out to Brother Richard Marcus, the beady-eyed pinko Canuck formerly known as Gypsyman.  Also, I certainly despise July '06 Blogcritic of the month Aaron McMullan, aka the Duke de Mondo, aka Osama Bin Laden's homosexual lover. I'm glad that my ascension brings an end to his reign of terror.  Still, Jesus ate with tax collectors, and even Aaron's not that low.  Plus, he's the most memorable stylist we've got.

But most of all, I want to offer Dave Nalle, the "elitist pig," as a writing role model, particularly for people writing about politics.  He draws conclusions and offers opinions, but you can discount all that if you want.  However, he's our best reporter.  He's Mr Research.  He's not just prattling on, but hunting down and explaining the precise relevant facts and arguments clear and clean.  This guy ought to be writing civics textbooks.  Kids might actually LEARN something.  I know I always do.

What do you think is the best part of Blogcritics?

The wide, intense, and unsparing critical feedback.  This is a general interest site bringing in all kinds of readers and writers.  We've got maybe a couple million visitors a month.  No one can expect to come in here talking foolishness and think they won't be called out.  You better come correct up in here, or you'll get your hat handed to you.

This has been an invaluable discipline to me personally.  I know I can't get away with loose, ill-considered arguments on anything, and I know that I'm going to get my mistakes stuck up in my ass.  Recently, for example, I misremembered from a year ago which Bluth uncle on Arrested Development was stomping through a model home set in a scathing article on the series.  Quite rightly, fans of the show smacked me around with that as evidence that I didn't know what I was talking about.  It was a minor error, but it's made me more careful about even minor factual issues.

This has motivated me to step up my game.  The wheat of useful critical feedback sometimes comes with the chaff of foolish people with no content other than gratuitous hatefulness, but that's a more than worthwhile tradeoff.  Also though, when fools just start cussing me, I understand that to be a bitter concession of defeat.  I try to accept those victories graciously, though perhaps sometimes my darker angels prevail.  I'm only human.

What song is stuck in your head right now?

Obviously, I've been obsessed most of this year with "The Big Game."  Can't say enough for this great song, though obviously I might be considered a little prejudiced.

Most immediately, I've been paying some belated attention to Johnny Mercer, struck by one particular song I hadn't heard before.  Hearing it, the old man identified it as being from L'il Abner, a 1959 movie of the Broadway musical.  I'd never seen it or even seen it on a video shelf, but the day after that conversation it showed up in the bins at Wal-Mart for $5.50.

I took this combination of events to mean that I was supposed to see this.  So, I've been over and over on audio and now on video with Stubby Kaye singing the praises of the founding father of Dawgpatch, the legendary Confederate general "Jubilation T. Cornpone."

What do you have set as the home page in your browser?

My own domain, www.morethings.com.  That's not particularly an ego thing, but a practical working point.  I spend the biggest part of my time working up the site, and I go to that home page typically many times a day copying links or bits of code for other pages.

Who was your idol as you were growing up?

I had to look up a dictionary definition.  Seeing that an idol is "an image used as an object of worship," probably my first great idol was Loretta Lynn.  I would have had absolutely no vocabulary for the adoration at the time, but she was hitting her prime about the time my parents were divorcing in the late sixties as I was starting school.  Loretta was and remains a top personal icon of womanhood, a good mother substitute.

As a proud slayer of sacred cattle, I'm not that big on "idols."  But maybe the coolest guy I knew growing up that I would have wanted to be like was probably Brother Eugene Kemple, one of our elders in the Arlington Christian Church.  He was a great model of a Christian, one of the couple of people I've known who was closest to actually acting on the model of Jesus of Nazareth.  He was also a lay scholar and scientist with an enquiring mind.  Wrote a story about him, yes I did. 

What are three items you would need to have on a desert island?

In the proper spirit of the question, I'll discount practical things such as shovels and axes, and I'll presume I can't have a cell phone to talk to the thug's Ma.

The one main personal luxury I'd need would be some kind of iPod with maximum hard drive and solar power.  Give me 80GB of tuneage, and I wouldn't miss most people that much.  Maybe a video iPod with some pictures and the footage of the thug's Ma pacing the hall of the maternity ward with me the day after delivery, still hooked to IVs, pushing the thug up and down the hall while we're singing "Walking the Floor Over You."  That'd go a long way towards comforting my days.

What's the best place to get a meal in your neck of the woods?

Best meal you could get around here would be to have me cook for you.  Close second would be to get my beloved cousin Connie Stevens to whip you up something. 

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Many things would improve in millions of different ways big and small if we could just have a simple but critical epistemological awakening, a basic understanding that emotions are not tools of cognition.  Emotions aren't proof.  Ayn Rand reduced this brilliantly to a basic piece of practical advice — not that she was entirely successful at following it herself.  But the best one practical piece of guidant principle I've seen was her direct contradiction of the usual wisdom of the culture: In the common parlance, if there's a conflict between your head and your heart, go with your head every time.

Barger Picks Barger 

We asked Al to pick some of his personal favorites from among his BC writings. Do check these out, and check out the rest of Al's archive while you're at it.

Top 10 Voices in My Head

They're coming to take me away, ha ha!

Mammalian Biology, Demagogues, Fake Saviors and Real Danger

I was obviously wearing my Robert Anton Wilson hat here, but I'm sure he wouldn't approve of my hawkish tone.

I Shot a Family Member to Death Today

This is about taking responsibility.

Al's Campaign Notebook: Statehouse I-69 "Boondoggle" protest rally, October 22

My favorite campaign moment — and it wasn't even about me.

This Is White Stripes Nation

Impeach the president?  Heck, let's overthrow the whole danged guv'ment, I say.

Senate Suicide Sob Sisters

I'm sure our enemies just LOVE seeing this kind of pathetic display.

YOU Are the Last DJ

We're getting more and better choices every day.

Day of the Pentecost with Jerry Lee and Elvis, 10-13-2002

Evil Al posts:

In the interest of being fair and balanced like Fox News, here are a the couple of specific articles for which I have been most widely condemned.  They are said to constitute proof that I'm Grand Poobah of the Klan or something. I'll leave you gentle readers to decide, but as St Ayn said, "Judge — and prepare to be judged."

Should Janet Jackson Et Al Be Punished?

Chuck D Is a Signifying Monkey

About Lisa McKay

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