Saturday, February 14, 2004

The George W. Bush AWOL Doll

So life-like.

My Thought On Purity Day

See some nudes. Save the world.

Make love, not war. Get down, just for the funk of it.

Update: While I'm at it, Here's another link to make you think.

I'd be remiss

If I didn't acknowledge that Thursday was the 200th anniversary of Immanuel Kant's death. Props to Xymphora for pointing that out.

In more disciplines than I would care to count, a huge debt is owed to Kant's scholarly writings. Certainly in my own field, psychology, theory and research in such diverse sub-disciplines as social psychology, cognitive psychology, and sensation & perception have their roots in his work. As early as Müller's work on sensation in the early 19th century, we see the Kantian influence, as the discrepancies between objective and subjective reality that Kant discussed philosophically are shown to have an empirical basis.

Henry Grimes

It's good to have him back playing the bass. He dropped out of the jazz scene in the late 1960s (after being a fixture at avant-garde jazz recording sessions for several years) and was believed to be dead. Turns out that he was alive and well in Los Angeles, and with a little help from some new friends in the avant-garde jazz community is gigging on a regular basis. From what I gather he is still quite capable of kicking out the jams. If you can catch this living legend gigging in your community, do so. I know I will next time I'm out in Southern California.

You can read more about Henry Grimes here.

He led one recording session during his career (I still don't yet have that one in my collection), but thanks to his busy schedule during the 1960s, I've been familiar with his work as a sessions player. Some albums on which he played:

Don Cherry: Complete Communion, Symphony for Improvisors, and Where is Brooklyn

Marzette Watts: Marzette and Company

Cecil Taylor: Conquistador

Pharoah Sanders: Tauhid

Sunny Murray: Sonny's Time Now

These are the sorts of albums that require an open mind to appreciate. My personal faves are Sanders' Tauhid, and Symphony for Improvisors.


Friday, February 13, 2004

Lies, Damn Lies, and the Ravings of Lunatics

Shorter Ann Coulter: Thorazine? Who needs Thorazine! It's more fun to make up stories that have no basis in reality. It's even more fun to fool publishers and the American public into paying for my delusional rantings.

For more lowdown: Will President Bush Tolerate This?

Let's talk Ann Coulter and heroism.

Stand up for Max — join Operation F$#! You, Ann Coulter

From the "Stupid Legislator Tricks" Department:

U.S. Lawmakers Want to Ban Courts from Denying "Acknowledgment of God"

The gist: two US Senators (Richard Shelby of Alabama & everyone's favorite Republican wingnut in drag Zell Miller) have introduced a bill called the Constitution Restoration Act, which would bar federal courts from overturning state court rulings that favor the display of religious language and symbolism on government property (think of the recent flap over Alabama Supreme Court's "Ten Commandments" display).

The article states the basic premise of Miller et al.'s effort: Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and Georgia Senator Zell Miller introduced their Constitution Restoration Act in an effort to reinforce the concept that God has been the source of the country's government since the Declaration of Independence.

Furthermore: According to talking points of the legislation obtained by The Associated Press, God is acknowledged in oaths, mottos and documents, including the U.S. Constitution and those of every state. Supporters contend such acknowledgment is "organic" and not a "legitimate subject of review."

Here's my problem with the legislation: It essentially flies in the face of what our original founders intended when they drafted the Constitution and its original Bill of Rights. Our founders as I understood it, had every intention of keeping church and state separate. One function that our Federal judiciary has is to make sure that state governments don't overstep that boundary. The proposed legislation would effectively strip the Federal courts of that ability.

I have to wonder in any case how well contemporary evangelical Christians would react to the kind of faith professed by many of our nation's founders, such as Thomas Jefferson. Many of our founders were known as Deists.

Here are some beliefs and practices of Deists:

◘ Most Deists believe that God created the universe, "wound it up" and then disassociated himself from his creation. Some refer to Deists as believing in a God who acts as an absentee landlord or a blind watchmaker. A few Deists believe that God still intervenes in human affairs from time to time.

◘ They do not view God as an entity in human form.

◘ They believe that one cannot access God through any organized religion, set of beliefs, rituals, sacraments or other practice.

◘ God has not selected a chosen people (e.g. Jews or Christians) to be the recipients of any special revelation or gifts.

◘ Deists deny the existence of the Trinity as conceived by Christians. They often view Jesus as a philosopher, rabbi, teacher and healer, but not as the Son of God.

◘ They believe that miracles do not happen. The "world operates by natural and self-sustaining laws of the creator."

◘ A practical morality can be derived from reason without the need to appeal to religious revelation and church dogma. "Most Deists believe humans are too innately noble to require supernatural coercion and threats of eternal damnation to behave morally."

◘ Deists pray, but only to express their appreciation to God for his works. They generally do not ask for special privileges, or try to assess the will of God through prayer, or ask God to perform miracles.

◘ Most Deists do not actively evangelize the public.

So how well does this square with the Evangelical Christians? My guess is that they'd recoil in horror to find that the God of the Founding Fathers and their God are rather divergent entities, and that it is highly unlikely that our Founders would have been all that eager to attend a revival service or pressure "non-believers" into conforming to their own beliefs.

Shorter Scott McClellan

But the amps go all the way to eleven.

Being A Character Is Not The Same Thing As Having Character

I remember four years ago when our esteemed "president" ran on the alleged strength of his character. Well, he's sure turned out to be quite a character. Some articles and editorials to consider:

The Real Man by Paul Krugman, who muses on a 2005 budget that is more notable for its numerous glossy photos of the Prez than for having any substance to it.

The Content of his Character, by Ruth Rosen. Bush's motto: when the going gets tough, get family and friends to bail you out.

More arrests from Bush's youth surface. Why relevant? They're the sort of information that would have normally precluded someone of the Vietnam era from joining the National Guard.

Of course it's been practically impossible to find anyone who actually recalls seeing Bush at the Alabama Air Guard Unit where he was supposed to be serving.

It's part of a consistent pattern with Bush. Avoid responsibility. Evade the truth. Exaggerate the public persona.

But hey, he sure looked lovely prancing around in his flight suit last May.

Dude, Where's My Job?

A couple resources for those who want to get the lowdown on corporations who outsource jobs overseas:

Who Moved My Job?

Exporting America: a list regularly updated by Lou Dobbs.

What the Bu$hCo thinks of outsourcing:

"Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade," said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, which prepared the report. "More things are tradable than were tradable in the past. And that's a good thing."

That's right: your job is just another form of international trade. A good thing? For whom? It's certainly not a good thing for the people who end up out of work. Of course let us not forget that the GOP itself seems pretty pleased to outsource its fundraising phone banks to India. Now that's real patriotism...NOT.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Protect Academic Freedom

Read this

Send a message to your Senators.

An Oklahoma Anti-Bush Sign Sighting

I thought this was pretty cool. A Warr Acres pawnshop owner apparently placed a message on his sign that read 512 US Dead No WMDs Found WOW!. Not surprisingly, this stirred up some controversy.


I gathered that the Feds have given up on the anti-war subpoenas

Magpie at Pacific Views has the down-low. I'd say this is definite good news.

Alice Coltrane

Her discography

Alice was John Coltrane's second wife, whom he married in the early 1960s and who was a regular member of his band during the last year and a half of his life. She made a name for herself as a hardbop pianist, but she also was an accomplished harpist. This latter instrument became a prominent feature on her solo recordings and gigs after John's untimely death. Her first solo recordings (1968-1970) fit in nicely with the avant-garde scene of the time, and she and her bandmates demonstrate that they can swing and skronk with the best of them. It's with Journey in Satchidananda that Alice really begins to shine as a unique voice in jazz. That album not only featured the harp prominently, but also introduced a fair amount of Indian (tabla, sitar) and Mediterranean (oud) instrumentation. The pieces begin to move more slowly and seem intended to induce a calm meditative trance. As the 1970s progressed, Alice began to add strings to the mix, creating a pastiche of sound that draws on jazz, Indian classical, and 19th & 20th Century Impressionism. After recording for Impulse!, she moved to Warner Bros. for her final albums (1975-1978). I can only imagine what must have gone through the minds of WB execs when they heard her recording sessions, as she moved increasingly away from jazz and increasingly toward traditional Hindu musical meditations. She must have been an absolute nightmare for the marketing types. If she had to leave the jazz world, she at least left on a high note, with a live piano trio album that was released in 1978. After that, she essentially retired from the jazz scene and concentrated her energies exclusively on her Vedanta Center in California, where she has gone by the name of Swamini Turiyasangitananda.

Most of her recorded work is currently in print, with the exception of several Impulse! recordings (which may or may not see the light of day depending on the whim of the conglomerate that now owns the Impulse! catalog, Vivendi-Universal). Albums I especially dig: P'tah the El Daoud, Journey in Satchidinanda, Universal Consciousness, and Eternity (I especially dig the first two on this list). World Galaxy is also pretty strong, and features her interpretation of her late husband's classic "A Love Supreme." I haven't picked up Transfiguration yet, although from what I read it appears to be a strong recording that nicely synthesizes her hardbop and free jazz roots and her Indian musical sensibilities in the context of a piano trio.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Don Cherry

His discography

Cherry was one of the greats of avant-garde jazz and an early world music pioneer. Played in Ornette Coleman's group during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and participated in a number of avant-garde jazz dates as the 1960s progressed. The dates he led for Blue Note (Complete Communion, Symphony for Improvisers, and Where is Brooklyn) are rightly considered classics of free improvisation. By the end of the 1960s and throughout the remainder of his career, he became increasingly interested in world music, and the trumpeter became a multi-instrumentalist (e.g., gamelan, bamboo flute, Doussn'Gouni). Albums from this latter phase tended to be rather meditative and drew upon not only various jazz traditions, but also traditional Native American, Mediterranean, African, and Asian influences in order to weave a sound that often was much more than a sum of its components. He also participated in Codona with multi-instrumentalist Collin Walcott and percussionist Nana Vasconcellos, which released three very beautiful albums for ECM in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Cherry's albums are in and out of print, and many can be painfully hard to find. Of those currently available, Complete Communion, Mu (a duo with Ed Blackwell from 1969), Brown Rice (his musical blend of fusion and world music elements), and the first Codona album all are highly recommended. Also recommended are Ornette Coleman's early recordings, where Cherry shined on his pocket trumpet.

Just an aside: he was born in Oklahoma (just gotta give props to a fellow Okie).

This Ain't You're Daddy's GOP

Where Have All the Conservatives Gone?

Now there's a good question. What I learned about conservatism came mainly from my parents. My dad grew up during the Great Depression, and mom was born before the post-WWII Baby Boom. Both came from rural backgrounds, were raised as Protestants, and themselves had parents who through some hard work and good fortune managed to build better lives for themselves and their families than had their forebearers. My parents were pretty solid Republicans during the bulk of my childhood and up until recently. From what I gathered from them in conversation, they tended to view conservatism in terms of fiscal frugality (both at the personal and government levels), a healthy respect of the Constitution, a general distrust of highly centralized governments, a desire to maintain the status quo. When I speak with my parents these days, they seem quite horrified with what the Bushies and their enablers have done on their watch. I haven't had the opportunity to discuss with dad the once-dormant McCarthyism that has reared its ugly head in the last couple years, but I can guess that he's not pleased with it (he remembers all too well the McCarthy period of the 1950s and held a rather dim view of all the blacklisting and whatnot that went along with that era). I have been able to discuss some economic concerns with both parents, and quite frankly they are worried -- probably less about their own fate, but about what their kids and grandchildren face as a result of Bu$hCo's budget priorities. The impression I get is that my folks don't recognize the GOP any's not the party they identified with years ago. I also get the impression that those who identify themselves as conservatives who are expressing skepticism about the neocons in the White House and Congress are themselves disproportionally elderly. Whatever conservatives once existed are increasingly an endangered and soon-to-be extinct species. And, unabashed liberal that I am, I find myself increasingly mourning their demise.

Terrible Lies or Fantasy Land

You be the judge. At this point, regardless of one's ultimate conclusion, there is consensus: Bu$hCo claims do not square up with reality.

March 20, Global Day of Action


The despots in the White House would love to stifle another round of anti-war protests. Let's collectively flip them the bird.

Grachan Moncur III

His Discography

Review of Mosaic Select Series Box

The final link describes the Grachan Moncur III box that marks the debut of Mosaic's new Select series. Collected on three discs are his two solo albums on Blue Note (Evolution, and Some Other Stuff), and his collaborations with Jackie McLean on several Blue Note albums during the 1960s. The man has a way of composing and playing (trombone) that is both experimental and beautiful; cerebral and soulful. Any description I could offer would fail to do his work justice, as I am not a musician by trade. What I do know is that his compositions and recordings are excellent for putting me in a mood to write, as well as just chilling out and concentrating/meditating on the music itself.

Monday, February 9, 2004

The Meet The Press Scorecard

CLAIM vs. FACT: The President on Meet the Press

Once again, I find the following heuristic helpful: whatever Bush says, imagine its opposite -- the opposite is likely to have considerably more truth-value to it.

100 Billion Washingtons

Spent on the war as of this weekend. And counting.