Friday, June 17, 2005

Since I've been tagged:

by Greg Angelo of Cutting to the Chase, I really should have the courtesy to accept, and so I shall:

Total volume of music files on my computer: 21.3 gigabytes of music currently resides on the hard drive. Most of it obscuroid, hard-to-find, out-of-print jazz with a bit of hip-hop, electronic & industrial tunes, and other dangers lurking. One of my colleagues was rather amused to learn that there actually was a group named African Head Charge.

The last CD I bought was: Sound System by Herbie Hancock. It was the 1984 follow-up to his Futureshock album. No Rockits to be found on the album per se, and I like the album a bit more than Futureshock - Hancock incorporates a number of elements & textures in Sound System that make it a pretty cool listen. To me the stand-out track was "Junku" which was mainly a collaboration between Hancock and Foday Musa Suso who adds his beautiful kora playing to the mix of high-tech keyboards, Laswell's funky basslines, and Ayib Dieng's percussion wizardry. It's not really jazz, nor is it funk per se, nor is it quite early hip-hop or world music. The album is truly its own thing.

Song playing right now: "Ndan Ndan Nyaria" from Herbie Hancock & Foday Musa Suso's wonderful 1985 album Village Life.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me: Wow. That's a tough one. I'll do a mishmash of songs that either hold tremendous meaning and/or are receiving a lot of current play in the cd or mp3 players. In no particular order of preference:

1. "Ja" by Art Ensemble of Chicago. I first heard this tune on an ECM sampler album (Music for 58 Musicians). The tune was basically my first exposure to free jazz. The piece starts out almost structureless, with these layers of sound created by sax, trumpet, bass, percussion, and a bunch of so-called "little instruments' (things like whistles, bells, and other found objects). Somewhere in the middle of the tune, the musicians go into an almost reggae mode with vocals before returning to the original theme. It might have been a bit much for my then fifteen-year-old ears (I was about a year away from discovering college radio), but the tune left an indelible mark and to this day I'm still an AEC fan.

2. "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed. I first heard that tune while riding with some friends on our way to God knows where in the wastelands of suburban Sacramento. Must have been about 16 at the time. I recall getting the idea that rock lyrics could easily be considered poetry and recall wishing that I could write poetry like that cat. Although this is my fave Lou Reed tune, there's so much that he has penned and performed with The Velvet Underground and in his subsequent solo career that I really dig. If you ever wondered where some of my poetic influences came from, that tune piping through cheap speakers in a beat-up 1960s Chevy is definitely one.

3. "Your Last Affront" by Black Flag. This was a tune off the instrumental e.p. The Process of Weeding Out. I'm an unabashed Henry Rollins fan (another cat who can write poetry), but when the instrumentalists like Greg Ginn and Kira were unleashed in the studio, they could really kick out the jams. Think of punk meets metal meets jazz improv in some dive bar near closing time.

4. "Bubblz" by Antipop Consortium from their 2002 album Arrhythmia. That whole album rocks the house, but that track in particular is a personal fave and one that I look for excuses to play whenever possible. The musical backing is spare - the dj sticks to a basic funk synthesizer & drum line with a conga player added for texture, while the emcees drop raps that flow like some of the best beat-era poetry. There's a lot of great underground rap that I dig, but this tune and this album are the ones that get the nod.

5. "Becalmed" by Brian Eno on the 1975 album Another Green World, was actually the first solo Eno tune that I ever heard (I was familiar with his collaborations with David Bowie, Talking Heads, and U2), and it comes close to the ambient music that Eno of course is quite famous for creating. The tune starts with what sounds like a gentle synthetic breeze over which Eno gradually layers a Rhodes piano and synthesizers creating a soothing and almost otherworldly effect. I can imagine myself on a nearly isolated beach, with the sun slowly setting in the west whenever I hear that tune. The day after I heard that on the radio (I was listening to Michael Benner's late night talk show on some SoCal AOR station - a show a friend turned me onto) I had to find my way to the nearest Tower Records store to find that tune. Been an Eno fan ever since.

I know I'm leaving something out, but so it goes.

Five people to pass the baton to: I'm feeling both existential and lazy tonight, so here's the deal. If the spirit moves you, consider the baton passed onto you. Just let me know that you took the baton by tracking back to this post or by dropping a line in the comments! Peace.

Wake up and smell the coffee

It's Friday morning. You know the drill. Brew that perfect cup of java, and catch up on what's going on:

US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war. Imagine that! Of course the possibility that the US was using napalm (among other illegal incendiaries) in, for example, Fallujah was raised a number of months ago by Dahr Jamail, and the potential that Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena would weigh in with her own investigations into the bombing of Fallujah may have led to the attempt to assassinate her.

The war criminals who currently reside in the White House have this to say about the prisoners who have been locked up indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay: 'we can lock them up forever'.

Scott McLellan offers a lame defense of the White House fantasy that the Iraqi resistance is in its "last throes".

But at least we have improved homeland security, right? Apparently not. Turns out that alerting residents of such trivialities as tsunami warnings is "hard work" - our GOP-run government has more important things to do, such as create the sort of right-wing police state that McCarthy would have wet dreams over. Actual homeland security - screw it..

Notable anniversaries for June 17th


The Wikipedia also reminds us that today is Jello Biafra's 47th birthday. The former Dead Kennedys frontman was one of the great lyricists and commentators from the 1970s - early 1980s heyday of American punk & hardcore. It's hard to believe that when I saw his first spoken word tour following the DKs break-up he was still only a 20-something. It was thanks to cats like Jello Biafra and the cats who ran Maximum RocknRoll that I got exposed to a wealth of alternative political viewpoints (let's just say that it is highly doubtful that I would have been turned on to Chomsky in my late teens otherwise).

Today also marks nine years since Thomas Kuhn passed away. His book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was required reading in graduate school (at least at the University of Missouri-Columbia's Social Psychology program - I owe my advisor Ann Bettencourt props for turning me on to his work), and it provides an apt description of how science ordinarily works, and what's involved in shifting from an old established paradigm to a new paradigm.

"Send us a postcard from Iraq if you think this war is such a good idea!"


Jesus' General has very patriotically offered his rationale behind Operation Yellow Elephant and an Operation Yellow Elephant Briefing. And don't forget to tell these fine young College Republican men and women to "send us a postcard from Iraq".

Note: Above image courtesy of Serephin.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Postscript to the previous entry:

Leave it to Jesus' General to tell it like it is:
Rep. Mike Pence
US House of Representatives

Dear Rep. Pence,

As one of Congress' boldest defenders of our holy crusade in the Middle East, you understand the enormity of the problem our armed services now face. As recruiting goals go unmet for months on end, our military becomes less and less able to meet the threats we face in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Brazil.

On Friday, June 24th, you will have an opportunity to do something about it. That's the day you speak at the 56th College Republican Biennial Convention. You'll have an audience of hundreds of enthusiastic, hyper-patriotic, war supporting, military age men and women, each listening closely to the words you speak. Those words should be, "Your nation needs you in Iraq. It's time for you to trade your business management books for body armor and head out to the nearest recruiting office."

Think of the impact you'll have. These young men and women are the cream of young conservatism. The example they set will encourage thousands of their peers to follow suit.

Please don't squander this opportunity to turn our recruiting woes around.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

Note to men and not men of my militia and Ladies Auxiliary Corps. Don't let down these fine Republican children of privilege. I expect all of you in the DC area to be at the convention carrying signs and handing out recruitment brochures. I've set up a special comment thread to help you get organized for OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT, below.

If you're not in the DC area, you can still help by spreading this message by email and comment to other blogs in our great nation.

Emphasis added. As I said before, to the 101st Fighting Keyboard Division, put up or shut up.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Our College Republicans are in a half-asleep daze. So here's a stiff cup of joe along with another cup of "shut the fuck up." A couple bloggers have some words for the 101st Fighting Keyboard Division: Trooping the colors by Steve Gilliard and The Rude Pundit offers A Rude Note of Encouragement To College Republicans. The bottom line: if you're one of those "good Americans" who go around bragging about how wonderful Bush's war is and go around dissing the rest of us who have good reason to oppose this war, then put up and join up, or shut up. If you're "too old" but have kids of enlistment age, drag them down to the nearest recruiting office. This goes doubly if you're one of those well-to-do folks (upper middle class and rich), as I'm sick of seeing a disproportionate number of young low-income people put in the position of being bullet stoppers for your president's folly and your macho pretentions. And while we're at it, if you really want to support the troops, short of demanding that they be brought home (which is my basic position), demand that your Republican president and your Republican congress stop trying to cut veterans' benefits. Our vets get a raw deal as it is once Uncle Sam is through with them. Don't give the Republicans a free pass to make their lot even worse. Oh yeah...and fuck your lame assed magnetic yellow ribbon stickers.

See also, The American Swastika.

Notable anniversaries for June 16th

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Notable anniversaries for June 15th

Via Wikipedia:
  • 1913 - US troops under General John 'Black Jack' Pershing massacre at least 2,000 Philippine men, women and children at Bud Bagsak.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Wake up America! Here's a strong cup o' joe to help you come to your senses! No cream or sugar: merely pure fresh-brewed coffee made extra strong just for you.

First, a description and download via Information Clearing House, of the very powerful film Hijacking Catastrophe. Check it out, if for no other reason, than because honest dissent is truly patriotic. (Quick update. Credit where credit is due - by Free Iraq deserves mad props for the tip in this post, Some dots are getting connected!)

See also, FBI Whistleblower: White Supremacists Are Major Domestic Terrorist Threat. This is a theme also covered quite aptly by David Neiwert on his blog, Orcinus (see blogroll on the right-hand side of your screen).

A few days ago, Raed Jarrar offered a straight-forward Iraqi Road Map:
Three simple steps:

Sorry >>> Bye-Bye >>> then some War Crimes Tribunals and lots of Compen$ation.

Iraq is for Iraqis; they're free to do whatever they want after the foreign occupiers go away.


Finally, Sensenbrenner attempts to pull the plug on Conyers' Downing Street Minutes investigation hearings, though as it now turns out, the DNC is kindly hosting these very important hearings. This is the sorry state of our constitutional republic (or what's still left of it): Congress now longer does the American people's business - only the business of the party in power, the GOP.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Quotable

So, when 59% of Americans say US troops should be withdrawn from Iraq , the administration will be tempted to say silly things like 'it was "vital" for U.S. peace and security that "we complete the mission by training Iraqis to provide for their own security, and then our troops can return home with the honor they have earned."' No matter that miniature cataclysms strike Iraq almost daily now creating scenes that cause the gorge to rise; that the lies with which Bush wooed his first love are falling around his ears; that the torture rack fair creaks with overuse in Guantanamo ...

The occupiers will not give up their foolish, murderous crusade, will not close Guantanamo , and will not drop their stupid lies . They know, despite their disavowals, that the Iraqi resistance is not for turning. They know it is a legitimate national liberation struggle which doesn't target civilians . But, the goofy project for world domination speaks with a louder and finer voice in the ears of US policymakers than humility or good sense. Actually, if either of the latter were to take hold, Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney may well commit seppuku live on Fox television.

From the often worth reading Lenin's Tomb.

Wake up and smell the coffee

To go along with your Tuesday morning brew: The perpetuation of Arab disunity. Can you say "genocide"? I knew that you could.

NBC VERIFIES MEMOS! Has the dam burst!? We can only hope.

And before I forget: Raw Story has more confidential memos that our neoconmen would rather you not see, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The last two are in pdf format. Somehow these leaked out via those wonderful internets, and before they could go down the memory hole, it was too late. The truth shall set us free.

Today is International Webloggers' Day

You can read a bit more about it here, and while you're at it, Wikipedia has a history of blogs worth checking out. My own blog was born almost two years ago (still have til August 15th before the actual 2-year blogversary) as part of a wave of lefty bloggers who came on the scene in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. Certainly, there were a number of blogs that inspired me - including Daily Kos, Another Day in the Empire, Calpundit (now Political Animal), Not Geniuses, and Seeing the Forest, among others. It took about a week to finally settle on a blog name that I liked (partially a homage to my favorite radio stations, which were typically located on the left end of the dial, and partially as an indicator of my own political leanings).

Monday, June 13, 2005

Freaky

Gay Warning Labels - apparently some fascist thug who is a leader of the Christian Coalition (which I will continue to contend has nothing to do with any form of Christianity that I would find recognizable) thinks it would a wonderful idea to coerce gays into wearing "warning labels." I wonder if these clowns have in mind something reminiscent of the old Nazi-era pink triangle:
The pink triangle (rosa Winkel) was a symbol used by the Nazis to identify male prisoners in concentration camps who were sent there because of their homosexuality. Every prisoner had to wear a triangle on his or her jacket, the color of which was to categorise him according "to his kind". Jews had to wear the yellow badge, lesbians the black triangle.

As Republic of T reminds us:

In fact, there’s a whole book on the subject, and two movies (both of which I highly recommend), but I doubt Banuchi reads much besides the KJV.

This is a movement whose footsoldiers are already campaigning to ban — or at least put warning labels on — books with gay content. So, putting warning labels on people next, doesn’t sound like a far leap. After all, as Brauchi said, it makes us much easier to find…and (as he didn’t come right out and say) round up, if needed. Considering that this movement has nascent re-education camps already set up for us, Brauchi’s statement — I think — makes the Nazi analogy apt now.

It makes me wonder why some think we should play nice with these people now. In the meantime, I’ll wait for other religious conservatives to speak out against Banuchi’s statement. But I won’t hold my breath.

Link: German site with mugshots of concentration camp prisoners with pink triangles.


Food for thought. At bare minimum the fascist elements that do exist in the US are increasingly rearing their ugly heads. Be aware.

The Path To War

The Raw Story Has Got the Goods.

This is amusing:

What is wrong with this CNN poll?

Public Television: Will Congress Flip Elmo the Big Bird?

This week's topic at Progressive Blogger Union is “Proposed Funding Cuts to the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.” Public television has been a favorite scapegoat for right-wing cultural warriors for as long as I can remember, and last faced a significant threat about a decade ago in the wake of Newt Gingrich's "Contract on America."

For me, PBS stations have come across as a generally useful hodgepodge of children's and adult educational programming (my dad to this day still refers to the local PBS chanel as the educational chanel), some news programming, and of course British comedies. My first exposure to Monty Python's Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers came from a local PBS station, and I am of course quite grateful to this day. My three-year-old daughter is a big fan of Zoboomafoo and Teletubbies, and my son used to dig on Arthur and Dragon Tales. And of course each of my kids has so far had at least some period where they dug on Sesame Street (which along with Mister Rogers Neighborhood was a staple of my tv viewing as a youth).

If you're out in my isolated part of the world, about the only source for televised news from around the state of Oklahoma is via Oklahoma City's PBS station. Otherwise, you're stuck with news from outside the state which is useful for severe weather alerts and precious little else. Our PBS news programming is about as close to "fair and balanced" in the true sense of the phrase as anything you're likely to find here in my state, and hence it is very much appreciated by me.

Funding has already been so severely cut as it is that programming is not nearly as up-to-date as it was during my childhood and adolescence, and I can only imagine what PBS stations would be like if even more severe cuts were imposed. I suppose corporations might fill in some of the void, although PBS is already too mersh for my comfort as it is. I wouldn't be that surprised if those few genuinely educational offerings were cut out altogether as simply not commercially viable or some such nonsense like that.

That said, it should be noted that PBS, like any other mass-media entity, is beholden to whatever masters it serves - to a large degree those masters are similar corporate and political elites as the ones reigning over the other networks. Hence, one shouldn't expect PBS to challenge the dominant powers that be. In that regard, PBS is truly safe as milk. The viewpoints that get expressed may be a bit broader, but always within tightly-defined boundaries - and that's something I don't expect to see changed regardless of the outcome of the latest funding battle. The only thing that might change is how restricted those boundaries of speech are to become in future programming.

If you want something truly rebel-rousing, look elsewhere - like the blogs, for example (or various independent and international media outlets).

(This post is presented in solidarity with the Progressive Blogger Union. For more information, please visit: their website.)
Tag: PBU24

Notable anniversaries for June 13th:

Quotable

Here's a stroll down memory lane:
...Let us be clear. Saddam is not a threat to the U.S., and never has been. He is merely yet another cowardly and murderous thug, much like the countless other despots and autocrats, from Marcos to King Fahd to Ariel Sharon, the U.S. has added to its payroll when it served our needs, and whom we then backhand when we need economic stimulus, or when the president needs a boost to his approval ratings, or when the corporate pals of the Bush WASP mafia need more billion-dollar petrochemical and defense contracts. Aha. Perhaps this is why.

We are, in short, going to attack and massacre Iraq for the oil reserves, to protect America's corporate interests, to feed the gaping maw of the military-industrial complex. Same as it ever was.

But let us be perfectly clear: We are most definitely not cranking up the appalling war machine for your sake, or for the country's protection, or for our commendable standing among our humanitarian allies.

We are not doing it to defeat terrorism (it will have the exact opposite effect), or to make the streets safer for our children, or because they've found big scary WMDs (they haven't -- not a one) -- or even for Iraq's own good. And to believe we are is, quite simply, to be wholly misinformed and openly, flagrantly, deliberately deceived.

Do we understand this? We must, we absolutely must, try and understand this...

Mark Morford, January 10, 2003

Something to think about some 1700 dead US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis later. All for a pack of lies.

Wake up and smell the coffee

It's Monday morning, and back to the grind. Let's start the work week with some thoughts on the economy: Armageddon It. Will the global economy really collapse so spectacularly and suddenly? Is the only true path to regime change in the US paved with fears of a financial debacle?

See also Juan Cole's analysis of the latest Memogate news: Bush and Blair Committed to War in April, 2002 - Leaked Cabinet Briefing Shows British Knew War was Illegal.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

June 12th has numerous notable anniversaries:

Here's a few, courtesy of the Wikipedia:

Wake up and smell the coffee

No cream or sugar: just the caffeine. And here's something else to wake you up: Blockbuster A1 Stories in the Sunday Papers - more on the Downing Street Minutes scandal. As Susan Hu notes, none of this is really all that "new" in the sense that Claire Short (formerly with the Blair administration) was saying the same things back when she resigned from her cabinet position. But hey, it'll all be news to a lot of Americans!