Friday, September 12, 2008

This is getting ridiculous

John McCain was a POW, part MMDCXLVII.

For chicken little

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First contact

There's a reason they sequestered her away from the press:

Enabling, but not fully explicable

People’s practices have variable possibilities, democratic as well as nondemocratic. They draw their energies and orientations from the social imaginaries and institutional arrangements within which they are embedded at a given historical juncture. One might, following Charles Taylor, define “cultures of democracy” as a regional subset of the larger social imaginary, the enabling but not fully explicable symbolic matrix within which a people imagine and act as world-making collective agents. This regional imaginary is further marked by the primacy of the “political” in a people’s engagement with the world. In our times, not abruptly but following an enduring historical trajectory, a people’s mode of being political is imagined and constituted primarily within a democratic idiom. Nowhere is this more evident than in the unshakable link forged since the onset of modernity between the idea of democracy and the doctrine of popular sovereignty. Therefore, the boundaries of the political, always under contestation but not always identical with the democratic, are expressed in and through the practices of the people. The stress on “practices” is deliberate because they are, aside from their pragmatic and phenomenological valence, inscribed with (as in a habitus) and articulate (as with symbolic forms) a people’s collective values, sentiments, and understandings (as with theories). In short, a people’s practices might be regarded as an indispensable hermeneutic key to deciphering their political imaginary.

- Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, "On Cultures of Democracy" in Public Culture 19 (1).
(Note - I am okay moving from talking about "politics" to talking about "the political (as such)"... but I am not sure about the definite article in "the democratic.")

New Poll -- Borrowing Without Asking!

Hey all,

Go ahead and give us some feedback in the new poll up on the right. I'm looking to take the temperature of the OGians on illegal media downloads. I have a feeling we will have a diversity of opinion not seen since we all weighed in on the Biden pick (good times, I remember them fondly).

I also ask because I recently stepped up my downloading (or 'renting, as some would have it), as I missed the first half of the new Battlestar season and have no interest in waiting for it to come out on DVD, amongst other things. My daughter got wind of this and was all over my gravy about it. What do you all think, should I amend my ways, get back on the straight and narrow, wait a year to pay $79 for some BSG action?

Poll results will published Monday, so vote today!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Department of Hookers and Blow

All this time I've been thinking the action was in the Crystal City hotels across the interstate from the Pentagon. Who knew that the party was happening over at Interior? Next I suppose we'll be learning that the BLM actually stands for Booze, Lechers, and Meth.

Let it go Learn to read wobs

The media has gotten so hooked on the cheap high of the Obama/Hillary tiff that they'll try to spike a vein with any low-grade junk that comes their way:
Joe Biden told supporters at a town hall Wednesday afternoon that Barack Obama might have been better off choosing Hillary Clinton as his running mate.

“Make no mistake about this, Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America. Let’s get that straight,” Biden said testily when a voter told Biden he was glad the Delaware senator had been chosen and not Clinton.

I'm sorry, the only way to read Biden's statement is as a self-effacing pol speaking in defense of a colleague. You've got to be incredibly desperate for a fix in order to twist that into an admission that the Democratic campaign would be "better off choosing Hillary Clinton."

I know that detox is a bitch, but people really need to let this one die.

[updated]: per ez in the comments, I'm an idiot. How's that for self-effacing!

Welcome To My World

Sometimes it is nice to know that others are having the same problem as you, even if it is small consolation.

YouTube/Falsh videos stop working for me after 2 seconds in both the Firefox and the Chrome.

Work just fine with the IE.

As long as I am here, let me say that I liked the new Seinfeld-Gates surrealist commercial. Which I can't link to. Because I can't open youtube videos.

Is Anything Weirder than Liberalism?

Human history is full of earlier, hierarchical regimes…But the progress of what we call modernity, in its different forms, undermines all these traditional ideas and eventually makes them incredible. In the end, the only basis for stable legitimacy we can fall back on turns out to be that we should obey our rulers because in doing so we are really obeying ourselves.
- Charles Taylor, "Cultures of Democracy and Citizen Efficacy" in Public Culture 19 (1).

Lipstick Hot

and good on us for making it the entire 24 hours or whatever it was WITHOUT having had to comment. (h/t: dylan matthews as ezra klein - good read, btw.)

Your New Job

Not bad, huh? But it's 3 minutes long, so where it is supposed to run?

Enter the Strawman

Anyone else notice how McLame/PaLIEn aren't campaigning against any known arguments?

McLame/PaLIEn: My opponent wants to teach babys sex ed... we oppose.
McLame/PaLIEn: My opponent wants to raise everyone's taxes...we think that is unwise.
McLame/PaLIEn: My opponent doesn't even want us to drill for water...we like very much.
McLame/PaLIEn: My opponent thinks we should coddle all terrarists...we would liquify them, my friends
McLame/PaLIEn: My opponent supports all earmarks (even Alaska's)....we have always opposed all thing earmarkish.
McLame/PaLIEn: My opponent wants to put lipstick on all pigs....we are against it.

Is there a trend? How does one combat such tactics?


results of the past week(and a half)'s polling are as follows:


I believe Dave will be conducting the next poll....

but I shall return to polling in a few weeks
(much like Macarthur only without any troops)

Hillary Never Would Have Done This

In case you all missed it, Obama gave teachers the ol' "Fuck you" yesterday calling for more charter schools, merit-based pay, and making it easier to fire teachers who "aren't up to the job."

Obviously, Obama is pandering to the "independents" who, along with a great many Americans, have bought into the idea that by the very act of giving birth (or completing adoption papers), a person automatically acquires the knowledge to know when a teacher or school is "good" or "bad." Coupled with this intuitive skill is the fact that God conveniently correlates a teacher's crappiness with the performance of little Johnny or Sally in the classroom. When Johnny gets bad grades or does poorly on a test or (and you know I am just joking here) gets sent to the principal's office, a parent is able to know that this is a crappy teacher in action.

Obama's actions are stupid, stupid, stupid. He just threw teachers and teacher's unions under the bus. The Democratic Party now supports merit pay. Oh, I know that he will try to weasel when he's talking directly to the NEA and AFT. He'll try to say that "merit pay" can be based on any number of criteria. He'll try to say it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with testing. "Charter schools" could mean any number of things. "Vouchers" can mean any number of things. The important thing is we "reach out" and move into a "post-partisan" education policy.

Somehow Barack Obama thinks that the collective bargaining rights teachers in America should be modified or curbed or abridged or taken away so that it is "easier" to fire a "bad" teacher. Which is, of course, the subtext here. Obama needs to show that he's independent of those evil, evil teacher's unions who are dragging down education in this country with their insistence on quality at all schools. Their recognition that which kids from what background end up in their classes is not up to them, so paying them based on how these kids do on standardized tests is ludicrous. These crazy teacher's unions that believe that if employers want to fire their workers, there should be a written process as to how that gets done and that process needs to be negotiated.

The Democratic Party candidate for President just bought a whole host of right-wing talking points. And for what? Do you think that the Republicans are now going to stop attack the Democrats as being in the pocket of the teacher's unions? Does Obama think that joining with the Republicans in demonizing teacher's unions will mean that the Republicans will stop demonizing teachers? Does anything in Obama's experience lead him to believe that the Republicans will accept his proposals as fair compromises between two positions? That they will meet him in the middle?

Of course they won't. The goal of the Republican party is to smash public education in the US. Education is the great equalizer. The Republican party does not want equality. Hell, I think that's their official motto. They are not going to suddenly abandon that goal. They are not going to reach across the aisle.

The conversation in about education in America just took a giant leap to the right. Thanks to Barack Obama, who stood up to his allies instead of his enemies.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moral Relativism

You all know that I am not a smart man, so help me out here.

Having sex outside of marriage is a sin, yes? But apparently, not that big of a sin.

From what I understand, abortion is murder, which is a huge sin. Big time. Not having an abortion qualifies someone to be vice president and definitely overrides the sin of having premarital sex.

But, volunteering to participate in a war of conquest and killing someone (be they combatant, or, as is more likely, innocent civilian) is not murder nor a sin.

Do I have this right? Because, if so, it seems to me that it is fair to say that the decisions one makes are influenced by a particular set of circumstances and what is "right" or "wrong" can depend on those circumstances or even a particular point of view.


What happened to good drug etiquette?

Thanks to the NYT, I spent the evening familiarizing myself with the whole genre of Salvia trip YouTube videos (as an added bonus, it's also the first time I recall having seen the word "bong" appear in the Times). Back in my younger and wilder days, I was no stranger to all manner of psychedelics, and to be perfectly honest, I enjoyed them. Salvia, however, was my least favorite - I tried it once and had the worst experience of my life. It wasn't a good time. Some people enjoy it, and that's fine by me, but it's definitely not my cup of ('shroom) tea.

Watching the videos, though, made me realize we were downright civilized in our little adventures. A few thoughts:
  • Tim Leary always talked about "set and setting" in having a good trip. We always managed to either be outside in a safe environment, at a show or club, or some comfy place to chill out. Watching these jokers get blasted in their dingy apartments doesn't seem like a lot of fun to me.
  • You know what sucks when you're tripping? People pointing and laughing, and some jerk trying to "trip you out" with some sort of nonsense. People, just let the person enjoy their voyage.
  • You know what would've sucked even more? Someone waving a camera in my face and documenting my trip.
  • And really, posting it on YouTube? I don't care if the shit's legal, broadcasting to the world how fucked up you were is one of the stupidest uses of technology I've seen.

Take the advice from someone who's "been there," kids - turn off the camera, light up a doob, put on Dark Side of the Moon, and just relax. It's much easier on your constitution.

< /cranky old man >

Oh, fuck it. This one's pretty fucking funny.

The RNC in One Minute

From 23/6:

Presenting Matador Recording Artists...

Sonic Youth!!!?!?!? Talk about an idea 'whose time has come.' We'll see if it works out better than their previous stay with Gerard "CantStopTheBleeding" Cosloy over at Homestead?

Crap/Not Crap - Craft Union Voluntarism

The Federation adopted an equally interesting political strategy, for Gompers sought to make voluntarism and the craft unions' nonpartisan civic education a source of political strength rather than weakness. Trade unionists would debate and deliberate political issues within their own councils, formulating a cohesive set of policy demands. They would then present labor's agenda to each of the political parties, and educate their members on the parties' response. The AFL, as in the past, would not affiliate with a political party; in fact, the strategy would only work if they did not. Gompers itended to forge unions into a highly knowledgeable, independent bloc of swing voters, so that all parties seriously contesting elections would have to address labor's needs. Organized labor would not be apolitical or partisan but would pursue "aggressive nonpartisan political action." As he explained it, "labor does not become partisan to a polititcal party, but partisan to a principle." - Schools of democracy : a political history of the American labor movement by Clayton Sinyai

Part 2 of the Sub-Saga/Around L'Horn

  • Today I will meet with an anthropologist whose book about the labor movement i like a lot. This will entail my first jaunt outside of the house in many, many hours/days. After so much traveling, I am overcome with the odd sense of beginning the regular season. I hope it's a championship season (insert semi-finals reference here for all the sewanee blokes and women.)
  • How can it be possible that there will be a Ghostbusters remake with the Office people writing it?
  • Speaking of Ohio Rock Gods, do we all know the New Bomb Turks, whose first two albs rank alongside your Rockets to Russia and your Fun House and (especially) your Pink Flag? If you don't, get to know them with this well-written bit by the main man from Last Days of Man on Earth. It situates their music within the larger, overlooked Columbus scene.
  • And speaking of Last Days of Man On Earth, this post dedicated to the wide variety of left and right- political postures that accompanied the Great Punk Seven-Inches of 1986! It is a must-see.
  • Oh, and Wobs.... the Greatest-Ever, Better-Than-The-Velvets-Maybe? first Pere Ubu 7", over at the already-missed Detailed Twang.

Teh Youths for John McCain

Speaking of idiots on Facebook and the election...

Because I am on Facebook primarily in a "professional" capacity, I am "friends" with many (very young) undergraduates who are affiliated with the Women's Center and, hence, have access -- whether I want it or not -- to many details about the lives and happenings of 18 year olds. I generally try to skip over the embarrassing drunken photos they post of themselves (the bumper crop from the recent "Dress to Get Screwed" event on campus being the most recent example where it was necessary to avert my eyes). But when my news feed indicated that one of my young associates planned to attend the "I will not attend school on Wednesday, November 5 if John McCain is elected" event, I clicked out of curiosity.

This appears to be some sort of high school protest. And so far the response has been less than positive. My favorite comment:

Caleb Reid (Washburn) wrote
at 1:48am
screw that!!! I am will attend school with joy!!!!

the only reason I would not attend school would be in the case in that I am hung over from celebrating!!!

Brilliant. I am will weeping for the youth of today.

Monday, September 8, 2008

And he totally digs Clarence Thomas too

From IHE (second item):
Adam LaDuca, a Kutztown University student, quit his position as executive director of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans last week following criticism of comments he made on his Facebook page about Sen. Barack Obama’s lips, The Allentown Morning Call reported. LaDuca wrote that Obama has “a pair of lips so large he could float half of Cuba to the shores of Miami,” and later followed that up with a posting that said that “if sayin’ someone has large lips is a racial slur, then we’re ALL in trouble.” LaDuca told the Morning Call that he is not a racist, citing his admiration for Thomas Sowell, a conservative black economist, as evidence. “I have eight of his books and I think he’s brilliant and he’s a black man," LaDuca said. "If I were racist, would I be reading this stuff?”

To his credit, LaDuca didn't resort to the some-of-my-best-friends-are-black line because - obviously - they're not. All the same, pretty lame, Milhouse.

Oh, and Adam - you're a fucking racist.

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

Dear Editor of the Register Guard,

Back in my day, August 2008, there was a certain stigma attached to being an unwed teen mother. Now that Bristol Palin has received a standing ovation at the Republican National Convention, I am relieved to assume that this is no longer the case.

I am also assuming that organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, Dobson's Focus on the Family, and the Family Research Council will be joining with groups like Planned Parenthood and Doulas Supporting Teens in working to make sure teen mothers have all the support and information they need as they navigate difficult times.

Now that conservatives and liberals have joined together in recognizing that unwed teen mothers need society's support and encouragement, I also assume that we will see an expansion in the number of programs designed to help young mothers and an increase in funding for those that already do, no matter which party wins the presidential election.

Lastly, as long as I am making assumptions, I will go ahead and assume that, now that the Republicans are celebrating unwed teen mothers, we will be hearing a lot less about abstinence-only education, as we have just seen that no one really takes it seriously.

Community Queens

Thanks Chris Matthews! for at least being intellectually honest enough to ask the question: "is community organizer the new welfare queen? does community organizer have Al Sharpton connotations?"

Of course it does, Chris. As Chuck Todd and Mr. Rothenberg just attested to, most Americans glaze over when they hear the term. But for activists on the Right, "organizer" evokes "urban," "troublemaking," and, yes, ACORN.

We all know Obama has gained from bringing something of an "organizing model" to the national elections process. But we may have to agree with Todd and Rothenberg, that they may wish they'd left the discourse of organizers and organizing out of Barack's autobio.

Report from Prospectus-Burg

Okay. So I don't want to sound grouchy or anything, but how come none of you elders ever gave me a heads-up about the ugly truth that dissertations are completely insane? Oh, this is going to be a wonderful year. Oh, Human Subjects, indeed!

Also, there's the deep obligation I feel to treat my next year of living with all the respect that "going into the field" deserves, even though on the surface it almost seems like I'm not "going" anywhere. I'm going to see a lot of Oregon (and probably a lot of my own twenty-nine year-old self) in the course of listening to workers from the public/service sector talk about who they think they are and what the hell it is they think they are doing. What do they think elections are? What do they think unions are?

That is, if I can pull it off like I want to - and it seems like these things never, ever go as planned. And, lurking underneath my entire ethnographic program is the self-centered Lex Dexter question, wouldn't you rather work as an educator within unions than as an educator who teaches about unions? I'm not really sure I've the professional bona fides to qualify for either choice, of course. And that makes me wonder, shucks, if I shouldn't just try to figure out a way to flip houses or do freelance record reviewing or join the marines or publish an incoherent novel on a vanity press funded by my ebay revenues won when i hock my copy of Neu 2!


What we really need around here (other than more cowbell) is some DEVO to liven the place up. How awesome are these guys?


"That's Good"

"Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Making Somethings With Nothings - Sunday Addition

I'll tell you what, I'm glad to hear that Bar Obama and Wil Clinton are planning on a luncheon this week - you? Is Barry going to hire James Carville at some point? How involved are HRC/WJC willing to get? And does BHO stand to gain from a dose of the Clintons in specific geographic locations?

(ps - is the above photo fake? did Senator Barack Obama and former Governor Bill Clinton have some "casual embrace" moment that I missed somehow?)

Best. Rick Roll. EVER.

Sunday Tape - December 2007

(Download the Dec 2007 tape, which I gotta say showcases a lot of guitar rock despite some serious pop-dips.)

Can't Feel My Soul Teenage Fanclub, You can get this at insound for $6.64...don't be a fool! I love the great, Sonic Youth-y lead gtr run that comes in with the chorus. Less on the Big Star tip, this third track on the great alb showcases the "indie rock" side of the Fannies.

Spinning Shiner from the split with the Brandon Butler/Giant's Chair collaboration, the Farewell Bend. The only think that keeps me from worshipping Shiner are the vocs, which're a little bit bellow-y and dated. But the lyrics are sharp, and plainly put this band ranks with Chavez, Unwound and Giant's Chair in the just-below-slint tier of inventive 1990s gtr rock. The dark, descending hook and its doubly-dark, douby-descending reprise make it more than worthwhile endure the B- vocs.

The Silence Between Us, Bob Mould Golly, the advance single off of District Line, an album which seems bound for my 2008 top 5. At first the aggressive Yamaha chugging made me worry, but the chorus comes down with a sickness/sweetness/electricit that reminds me of "Helpless" from Sugar's essential Copper Blue.

Deluxe, Lush In the last year I've busied myself with investigations into the Brit-pop/shoegaze contemporaries of my beloved Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. I could imagine jumping rope to this song.

Golf Hill Drive, Boys Life And now the mixtape veers into dissonant guitar territory with the opener from this KC outfit's debut lp. Though their swan song, the Bob Weston-produced Departures and Landfalls, deserves mention alongside Ben Hur, Spiderland and Rusty when it comes to atmospheric hardcore of the 1990s... this is more than just their Tweez.

Blue Light, Mazzy Star Oh jeepers, this record will always remind me of a secret room we once built into our fraternity house. Staring out a window at a tree that looked like a face, thinking this sounds like the Velvets, then, this sounds great.

Ten Percenter, Frank Black (6/13/94, the Wetlands) this is actually from a live recording i found on the amazing captain's dead. The Wetlands was the kind of place that would have the occasional Earth Crisis show, but mostly showcased Blues Traveler, the Samples and John Densmore side projects. Enjoying this righteous recording in light of that bitta history really doubles my pleasure. Such a great guitar intro, the one that startes this song.

Stab Your Eyes, Kerosene 454 More from this band very melodic hardcore band, going further down the noisy emo road through this mixtape.

Mrs. E. Coli, Freemasonry This song - a crushing song marred, mebbe, by slightly pretentious vocals, is classic 90s Atlanta emo. In concert with the Hal al Shedad, Inkwell, the Forty-Two and others, Freemasonry comprised a 'moment' in Hotlanta that deserves mention alongside other key 90s scenes in Louisville, San Diego, Chicago, etc. Good thing the Shedad's own James Joyce has done the saintly work of compiling so many primary Hotlanta texts for download at his place, beyond failure. Par example, Freemasonry's sparrin' with the varmint is available to you through said lovely site.

Acetone Angels, Son Volt Here's Jay at the piano, dropping what plays like a classic Neil Young piano downer from Goldrush and/or Time Fades Away. 'Cept of course, these lyrics are simultaneously more opaque and more miserable. Beautiful.

Blue Vegas, The City on Film The thing about Braid/Hey Mercedes' guy Bob Nanna's "singer-songwriter" profile is that even it rocks hard with the shimmering SGs. Very beautiful arrangement, and I must confess I am something of a sucker for his crooning, tho I don't like the idea of it on paper.
Light Workers, Bright Channel Let me tell you I quite enjoy Bright Channel's Albini-produced s/t from a few years back. They have an ability to sound like U2, Codeine and Helmet at the same time.

Roland, Interpol I guess I just have a soft spot for baroque-y, melodic guitar punk. But it's in spite of, not because of, penchants for wearing all black, living in Brooklyn, etc.

Cast No Shadow, Oasis Ry-Ry Adams would have us believe these're a buncha real friendly blokes and shit, which is fine. All I know is that the Morning Glory alb is really something, all the way through. Do you disagree?

Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School, Warren Zevon The title track from a Zevon alb I checked out of the library, ripped, and took back, never to listen again. This came up on shuffle and I couldn't not love the choppy, chunky, stop-start guitars and Warren's absurd "call and response" mouth-moves. This guy definitely reminds me more of the poet Paul Muldoon than any other poet I can think of (that being a compliment.) I need to know more.

Pink Frosty (demo), Fugazi Just nice and creepy, slow-moving and bass-driven atmospherics from the massive and fascinating Instrument soundtrack. This alb, Red Medicine and End Hits
are easily my three fave Fugazi slabs.

The Eyes of Sarahjane, The Jayhawks I've screamed enough about this album, for certain. Varying a bit from their always-Byrds-y stock and trade, this song sounds like it could've been employed to powerful effects by the Bob Seger System-era Bob Seger

Running With Your Eyes Closed, Mojave 3 Hey, let's have fun with our girlfriends! We'll go skating!

Bossa Rocka, George Benson Quartet Yeah, another whimsical choice at the library! Standard, Blue Note-y jazz gtr fare from the late 1960s. A moody, snappy, swanky number - the sort of thing you'd like to have playing as guests arrive at your dinner party, except for the fact that said move ('Yo, I like guitar jazz, come in and get comfortable!') is endlessly contrived assuming you don't live in a wannabe Woody Allen movie.

Whirlweek, David Grubbs Now we're talking. From the beautiful and intelligent Spectrum Between, here's D. Grubbs at some of his most-not-unlistenable. I like to think I rip off his gtr playing every time I strap it on, but the troof is that I couldn't play with his fluency or his "individualism" anywhere, anytime.

Hey, Citronella!, 90 Day Men
Talk about a Rod Stewart-level waste of potential. This band started off great with tracks like this (and the whole first ep), only to slowly turn into a kinda stilted (if nonetheless interesting) Tortoise-y experiment. These days I hear one of the dudes is in TV on the Radio (who I guess I should check out?) Anyway, enjoy this creepy, tough and brash number from a band who, for a moment, seemed like a Great Leap Forward in the tradition of the long-missed June of 44.