August 14, 2010

Clearing Off the Desk

Hit the North!

Must be the heat - I've been pretty dead this summer. Two hours a day on the road, often over 100 on the way home, hot enough that the air conditioners never catch up at home . . .

Was up in Michigan over the fourth of July, spent the next week there, and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Went to the beach once, dropped Sharri in Fishtown & stayed in the car, never spent any time in Traverse City except for a quick trip to the Meijers. Never took the speedboat all the way down into the southern lake. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Did hit up Dog Ears used books in Northport and scored a copy of John Cage's M, though I probably overpaid for it. Other than that, I read the last installment of Larsson's Millennium trilogy, got a good start on Zizek's latest, and was never late for cocktail hour.

We're going to try to sneak up there again in about a week. Bonus time out of the heat!

* * * * *

Speaking of Which

This summer has been brutal. Just sayin'.

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In Rotation, Part One

Tom Verlaine: Warm and Cool
Brainbombs: Obey
The Minutemen: Buzz or Howl, Double Nickels
Pandit Pran Nath: Ragas of Morning and Night
Brahms: German Requiem
Rangda: False Flag
Kinit Her: Divine Names
Body Collector: New Eden
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde
Yellow Swans: Bring the Neon War Home

* * * * *

A Modest Proposal

So I don't have a problem with an Islamic cultural center near (not at, near!) "ground zero", but it seems that some people are sensitive to the issue. I suppose I can see where they are coming from, so I have an idea that could help solve the problem without singling out those of the Muslim faith: let's have a complete moratorium on the construction of all churches, mosques, synagogues, ashrams, temples, etc., as well as all buildings with religious sponsorship or intent, such as cultural centers, schools, universities, soup kitchens, youth centers, etc. Let's just not license any of these and related-use buildings in the entire United States and all its territories for the next ten years.

Not only will that solve the problem of hurt feelings between religious sects, but it will make all those secular humanist haters put there money where their collective mouth is: okay, bitches, time for y'all to shut up with your damn moral superiority & start running the soup kitchens!

Whatsa matter, Ayn Rand got yer tongue?

* * * * *

Something I've Never Been Clear On

I know that many Libertarians (and maybe this is just the new wave of pre-Tea Party Ron Paul boosters, not the actual "intellectual core" of the movement) support the party because they oppose centralized power. The reasoning here seems to be that if the government is severely reduced, then centralized power disappears.

"Nature abhors a vacuum." - does anyone really believe that if government moves away from centralized power, then nothing will move toward centralized power? Does anyone believe that Libertarianism, no matter how dreamy the concept of "leave me alone to do my own thing" may be, is anything other than an expressway for the chiefs of capital into the corridors of power? Oh wait, they're already there. And Libertarianism solves that . . . how?

* * * * *

Bobby Jindal Phone Home; or, Another Reason to Get Off Facebook

So an old high school classmate of mine posts this nice little quote:

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong it's reign by working upon the ...prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. ~ Abraham Lincoln

I was initially somewhat taken aback by this quote, given the person who posted it: an Indiana farm girl who never made it out of town for any length of time, and never (as much as I knew her which, admittedly, wasn't/isn't much) prone to any kind of political progressiveness in any direction, left or right.

And then come the comments: from one, "that's called socialism". What the hell? What's being critiqued here is exactly the opposite of socialism, it is the influence of capital and the bosses of capital on governance. When I politely pointed out that socialism is not being critiqued (at the time, I thought my classmate understood and believed in the quote, so I was more or less siding with her), someone else gave a hysterical response along the lines of "not socialism - open your eyes! judgment day is coming and we will all have to answer to the lord!" - actually, that is much shorter and not nearly as hysterical as the actual comment, but I'm not going back through two months worth of Farmville on her wall to find the exact words.

And then I got it. Abraham Lincoln . . . red, white, and blue American hero . . . "Corruption in high places" . . . Obama . . . socialism. A direct line of (Glenn) Beckian logic. I don't know for sure if my classmate really understands the quote or not, but it's clear that a chunk of her social group (and, by extension, mine too) doesn't have a clue.

Look: I am not, and will never be, an Obama apologist. I like him just fine. I voted for him because he wasn't George W. Bush, and so far he hasn't magically transformed into George W. Bush, so I've got to say he has fulfilled all the expectations I had of him. The fact of the matter is that corporations have been enthroned, and the government that our constitution created, the government that has defined itself according to that document down through the years, is incapable of changing that. Whoever makes it through the system is complicit in its crimes. Some, including Obama, will make the moral compromises, reasoning that the only way you can change the system is from within. The question remains: is he fooling himself, us, or both?

The maddening thing is, though, that the mainstream of those who oppose Obama want more corporate control, not less. And now, Glenn Beck has whole segments of the nation participating in Orwellian doublespeak for fun and for profit. Hence, the Lincoln quote that means exactly the opposite of what Lincoln himself intends it to mean.

Just like Bobby Jindal doesn't think the federal government has a function. Until, that is, it does. And then, it just sucks. Until he's in national office, then it doesn't.

Nice to know people don't feel the need to make sense any more.

* * * * *

While I'm on the Topic

Bobby Jindal really, really, REALLY needs to shut the fuck up. The only thing I want to know from him is what the state of Louisiana is doing to clean up the BP disaster. If he contradicts himself one more time, his brain will collapse onto itself, and he will morph into Sarah Palin.

* * * * *

Lincoln Part 2

I'm waiting for the first Tea Party politician who dons a stovepipe hat and says "I'm a gonna free this country like Lincoln freed the slaves." My money's on Palin, since she's always running her lemon, you got to figure she's an odds-on favorite to say damn near anything. Bobby Jindal's on the board, but this one's Palin's race to lose.

One thing you can be sure of is that politician won't come from the South. Most of the good ol' boys in the South remember the dirty secret that the average Faux News viewer glosses over: Lincoln stood for everything the Tea Party is against. If the Tea Party were to cast Satan as president, his template would be Lincoln.

You want centralized power? Lincoln was willing to go to war to enforce that. You want limits on local autonomy? Lincoln said "no slaves". You want to play fast and loose with the constitution? Lincoln considered the Bill of Rights a much more important document. You want a federal income tax? Yup, blame Abe.

But still, we have Beckian logic to contend with. Someone is going to try it.

* * * * *

In Rotation Part Two

Hasil Adkins: Moon Over Madison
AMM: The Crypt
Billy Childish: The '82 Cassettes
Calexico: Live in Nuremburg
Dandelion Abortion: Complete cassettes
Jeff Simmons: OST - Naked Angels
Queen Victoria: "Auld Lang Syne" 7"
The Body: All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood
Borbetomagus/Hijokaidan: Burning at Both Ends

* * * * *

The Media is Killing Me

There have been all kinds of discussions about privacy and the media age, specifically about how younger people don't have the same privacy issues that anyone from the pre-text message generations does. Like that tattoo that's going to look like shit in about twenty years, the text generation doesn't seem to care about the red-ringed eyeball, vacant stare, plastic cup full of who-knows-what pictures that get posted online. I guess they figure they'll deal with it when it comes around.

Or, maybe they just have a different way of dealing with media in general.

The rantings here are, I believe, partially a product of media fatigue. I generally am not affected as much as some, but I think it's clear that it's getting to me.

Like . . . recently, there was a story about rivers & property rights in Colorado on NPR. Essentially, one group of people thinks that Colorado laws about the status of rivers means that, like roads, they are public. The property owners on the river think, on the other hand, that only the water is public property, and that all the land and rocks under & around the river are private property. Therefore, if you are floating down the river and pull off to the side, you are on private property. If the river is shallow and you are standing in it, you are standing on private property. If you are rafting and you hit a rock in the middle of the river, you are trespassing (I'm not exaggerating this at all).

Now, obviously there can be a reasonable middle ground reached. The state could define the rivers as public with thorough safeguards for landowners. If the landowners played their cards right, they could totally have lost the battle and won the war.

But that's not the way it gets played these days. Every issue is a moral issue, and not in and of itself: it is moral in the sense that you are on the proper side of the issue, and not caving in to the immorality of base atheistic/humanist culture (i.e., those on the other side of the issue). The issue and facts of the issue are irrelevant (see Beckian logic, above); the only thing that matters is that you are on the side of God.

Let's not believe for one second this applies only to "conservatives". The other day, I commented on a post attacking the US government for trying to stop the latest Wikkileak. My point was simply that not only did the US government oppose the leaks, but some human rights organizations (such as Amnesty International) opposed them as well . . . the reason being that it was possible that Afghani collaborators with the US could be exposed and subject to brutal retaliation courtesy the Taliban. The poster replied that, while of course he didn't want to see people die, that it was only normal that enemy collaborators should be punished, and that he supposed the collaborators should be shipped to the US, but that there were already too many "weasels" in the US and we didn't really need any more.

Ah yes . . . "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". It has been pointed out that the worldwide Islamic insurgence is the closest thing to a proletariat revolution that we have right now. That may be the case, but if indeed that is an acceptable shape of revolution, then we are right to reject Marxism. Islamic revolution does represent change, but for the better? Obviously not, especially if you are the one underneath the burqa.

The poster was on "us v. them" autopilot as much as any Republican senator. I am constantly trying to break these codes here, to maintain my partiality with open eyes and active mind. I am appalled when codes take over, no matter what the code is.

And yet, media fatigue is pushing me to the limits as well. After the Colorado river story, my response wasn't "what a bunch of assholes - can't they just work out a compromise instead of showboating to their constituency on some vague 'property rights' routine?" My response was to question the very nature of private property - as in, maybe property itself is the problem, and not the ability to compromise.

Or maybe I'm one step behind on the evolutionary media-digesting wheel. Maybe the kids will be alright.

* * * * *

Was That Donnie Walsh On the Other Line?

Just when I was about ready to resign myself to another miserable Pacers season with dreams of 2011 dancing through my head, Larry Bird goes and makes a move that makes the Pacers . . . well, not exactly playoff-ready, but more interesting than I thought they would end up being.

The Pacers managed to snag Darren Collison and James Posey in a four team deal that sent Troy Murphy to the Nets. Why the fuss? The Pacers, who haven't had a decent point guard since Mark Jackson, may finally have a decent point guard. Collison, who made quite an impression last season filling in for Chris Paul, is generally regarded as the fastest guard in the NBA, though his lack of size and strength make him somewhat of a defensive liability, especially against half-court offenses. And Posey, though overpaid, will be very useful around the basket.

Okay, not D-Wade and Bron action, not Stoudemire action, but better than Matt Barnes by a fair amount. The Pacers made an immediate upgrade at their weakest point (pun intended), and Collison gets one full season to audition for the position on a more permanent basis. If he passes the audition, and if Roy Hibbert continues improving, then the Pacers can go spend money in 2011 with the knowledge that they are solid at the one and five, very good at the three with the additional comfort that Granger can play two if necessary, have a good prospect at 2 - 3, big upside at the backup one, and plenty of aggressive, spirited fouls coming off the bench (Tyler, get well soon, will ya?). It sounds for all the world like the Pacers are finally becoming good chicken stock just waiting for the main ingredient to be added.

Props, Larry. I didn't see this one coming. It's almost as if you had an angel whispering in your ear . . .


josh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
josh said...

hey bill, it's hot here too. there's no better excuse for laziness than summertime.

the "ground zero mosque" thing is disturbing. as disgusting as it is to hear any politician actually advocating that americans attempt to bully other americans into relinquishing their civil rights, it's not surprising coming from republicans. they quit running human candidates long ago. but, it is surprising (even to me) that dems are so desperate to win elections that many of them honestly believe that now isn't the right time for the president to reassert our commitment to religious freedom. why? because polling data tells them that a majority of the proles are either willfully ignorant or the worst kind of bigots and dang it, our "calculus" indicates we need p% of the ignorant bigot vote to maintain our majority!

re: centralized power, i'm not sure that centralized power is a state of nature. i'm not saying decentralized power is either. power exists, that's true enough but there are enough examples of viable decentralized power structures in both nature and theory that there's no reason to think one is necessarily more likely than the other. wikileaks is a good example of a decentralized model of power. i.e., let everyone have access to as much of the truth as possible and let each individual make sense of it for himself.

re: wikileaks, i absolutely reject any suggestion that exposing war crimes could, in any way, be considered irresponsible. for me, groups like amnesty int'l and reporters without borders have lost all credibility by aping the pentagon with their "wikileaks is 'irresponsible'" nonsense. when the war criminals in the WH, congress and the pentagon say "irresponsible" they mean "disobedient." i mean, really? the alternative is what, enabling the murderers and sociopaths by censoring the horrible truth of their actions? afghanistan is looking like the balkans all over again, i.e., an unnecessary war fought by the peace-loving (hehe) democrats in the name of human rights. it's just a matter of time before the afghanistan narrative is "we're fighting to ensure women's rights!" thank you, time magazine, for the first disgusting installment of that fairy-tale.

well, that's enough ranting for now. hope all's well.

Bill Zink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Zink said...

Josh, every time I bitch about the heat, I think of you guys out in AZ and feel guilty.

Though it actually hit 90 in Leland while I was up there. I've heard of it hitting 90 in Traverse City before, but no one in my family ever remembers it hitting 90 in Leland.

I didn't address the wikileaks thing directly, but I'm in line with you on this, generally speaking. But is there any responsibility to "clean up" any references to Afghanis (or Sunnis, or Shiites, or Kurds) who endanger their own lives by collaborating with Americans? That may be a clear cut case of justifiably redacting a name, but then what about soldiers who get caught up in fire fights and end up killing civilians? It's a tough question, but like I say, I think that this stuff needs to come out.

By the way, was it just me, or did the first round of wikileaks just seem like confirmation of stuff we already knew? It didn't seem to me that there was anything new there - or maybe I'm just missing something.

I had gotten into the habit of listening to NPR from 6 am (when my alarm goes off) to 8 am (when I get to work). Any more, I switch stations whenever they do news about American politics. It's obvious and easy to say that most politicians are idiots, but I believe that the media is the real problem. Political reporting has become identical to sports reporting, and the collective IQ of the political press is only marginally higher than the sports media. Buncha fuckin' idiots.

I am really at loose ends about centralized power. I do think that, generally speaking, when centralized power breaks down, something else tries to move in to it to its place. The question is: is it any more difficult to set up a structure that successfully de-centralizes power than it is to set up a structure that successfully humanizes centralized power? I don't know . . . I'm looking at Marxism right now, and I want to look at Maoism as well, followed by a nice survey of anarchy . . .

Take care, Josh. Hey to the posse.

Bill Zink said...

Sorry - stuff is double posting for some reason.

josh said...

I'm pretty sure my double-post was my fault. Anyway, I think you're right about the first wave of Wikileaks stuff re: Afghanistan. There really wasn't anything new there.

The reason the US government is afraid of Wikileaks is for what it represents. It's anarchy in practice. Wikileaks says to all of us, "Here. Here's the truth. Now, you make sense of it. You don't need priests, politicians, journalists, or anyone else of any kind to think for you. You, think for yourself." Wikileaks gets rid of the middle man. Hence, the Amnesty smear. Maybe I'm being sentimental. But, honestly, to me Wikileaks represents what a real revolution might look like.

I've been thinking about Marxist theory a bit lately, too. Although, for the most part I'm in the anarchist zone. I'm also reading Levinas and Brentano. So, lots of thinking about things.

I've been reading Arthur Silber's blog, "Once Upon A Time." It's fun.

Bill Zink said...

Thanks for the tip on Silber's blog. Looks very interesting at first glance.

I've always put some value into Marxist analysis, to the point where I think I'm even pretty clear on the shortcomings at this point. Marxist practice, on the other hand, has been a little more problematic for me.

I also need to start looking at Levinas. He keeps popping up in my reading.

josh said...

Here are a few other blogs/websites I like:

Glenn Greenwald

Mutualist Blog: Free-market Anti-Capitalism

And, if you can tolerate hard-right libertarians/anarchists you might also try: tends to focus on economic theory and the scholarship isn't always as rigorous as it could be, nonetheless, there's often some good stuff here can be uncomfortably dogmatic, but, it provides perspectives on issues that are hard to find elsewhere

The establishment Left has routinely smeared both as "neo-Confederate," i.e., racist. But that's bunk. Besides, even if you don't agree with their conclusions, they often report on the kinds of civil rights atrocities which would never see the light of day in the mainstream media.

Please send me links to some of your favorites (if you have any). I'm currently unemployed and have little to do other than fill my head with intellectual fodder.

Take care!