Everybody now admits that apartheid was wrong, and all I did was tell the people who wanted to know where I come from how we lived in South Africa. I just told the world the truth. And if my truth then becomes political, I can't do anything about that.
People in the United States still have a 'Tarzan' movie view of Africa. That's because in the movies all you see are jungles and animals . . . We [too] watch television and listen to the radio and go to dances and fall in love
In every community, in every nation, people are doing little and big things to help make a better world. Think of what has been accomplished to date: space exploration; satellite communications; heart transplants. Today, we have managed to do what previous generations never dreamed of. But, you see, today, around the world, 820 million people still don't have enough to eat. And it doesn't have to be this way.
And why is our music called world music? I think people are being polite. What they want to say is that it's third world music. Like they use to call us under developed countries, now it has changed to developing countries, it's much more polite.
You know, and then you expose your people to other cultures and other people's music. You see, that's why, people need to be exposed to different types of music and that is how you learn to appreciate other people. Through their music, through their art, and so on and so forth.Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and disclocation which she felt for 31 long years.
The text of Nelson Mandela's statement paying tribute to South African singing legend Miriam Makeba, who has died aged 76:
The sudden passing of our beloved Miriam has saddened us and our nation.
For many decades, starting in the years before we went to prison, MaMiriam featured prominently in our lives and we enjoyed her moving performances at home.
Despite her tremendous sacrifice and the pain she felt to leave behind her beloved family and her country when she went into exile, she continued to make us proud as she used her worldwide fame to focus attention on the abomination of apartheid.
At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.
Even after she returned home she continued to use her name to make a difference by mentoring musicians and supporting struggling young women.
One of her more recent projects was to highlight the plight of victims of land mines.
She was South Africa's first lady of song and so richly deserved the title of Mama Afrika.She was a mother to our struggle and to the young nation of ours. It was fitting that her last moments were spent on a stage, enriching the hearts and lives of others - and again in support of a good cause.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
1. Americans need to put America first. In some ways, you could say he wants to make the US of today go back in time to the US before the first world war: isolationist and culturally unified (ie., European Christian decent)
Although he denies the isolationist claim it is counteracted by his America first idea. Personally, I'm always suspicious of people who put forth selfish ideas. But especially in the case of Buchanan and his ilke because they never want to do the simple things like make health care available to everyone or increase public transportation, things which the richest most powerful nation in history should be able to do. That higher education could be free because it is in many thirld world countries should be a no brainer for this great nation. So yeah, I'll buy into a small portion of the America first rhetoric when it's done in a positive spirit but not for the negative. As it stands, Buchanan presents the America first idea based on weakness and backwardness.
2. He defines a nation by the following ideas: "Blood and soil, tradition and faith, history and heroes." This is counter posed to what he believes exists today "...an artificial nation, a nation of the mind ...united by a belief in the new trinity: diversity, democracy and equality."
The right wing, and I mean this for all countries because they sound the same no matter where you go, has a serious problem with logic and with history. The first part of the quote would presents absolutely zero problems for any translator. Lets go through this step by step. Blood, which I take to represent both family and sacrifice. All of our blood, ie., ancestry, family, etc. comes from such a diverse number of places as to have a DNA pool that probably no other nation can equal. Not only that but it has come in different stages. I would go so far as to say that the US serves as a perfect, living example of the nation building process. We tend to think of nationalities as always having existed the way we see them today. But with out exception every nationality in history has been brought about by the mixing, both peaceful and violently, of various smaller groupings of people. In other words, nationalities are a process not a static thing.
This is true of soil too. Nation is a process not a static thing. Although there are definitely many cultures that have deeper ties to their soil than Americans can ever hope to have with theirs in terms of time. Feelings are mostly universal but I would bet that even those rare Americans that own the same land as from (or before) when our nation was founded would bow their heads in solemn respect when compared to their equals in Egypt, Japan, China and some places in the Middle East where generations can be counted in thousands of years instead of decades or centuries. And yet, even among those I just named, there is not one whose national soil / territory, as a whole, has remained unchanged. Some have expanded some have shrunk. Time has no alliance, DNA or borders to respect although our own individual time being so short and limited can distort our abiliity to view things as they really are.
Tradition is ironic because it strives to be static and looks backward as much as possible while those who are practicing it are moving forward and being put in different situations with different people, thus changing. I'm sorry if my imagination and memory are faulty but there is not a single thing I can think of in the traditions of any country that have remained the same throughout it's existance. If I'm wrong, I would be more than happy to be told so. Just send me an example and I will show it.
I know it blasphemous to speak of faith as anything but unchanging and static. But let me address myself to just the faith Buchanan is talking about which is Christianity. However, even the quickest, most superficial look shows diversity and change. Even under the umbrella of Christiany you have these major groupings: Restorationism, Anabaptism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodxy, Oriental Orthodox and the Assyrian Church. They all believe in Christ as a savoir but their are major differences among each of them over a number of subjects related to Christ. It begs the question, which type of Christianity should be allowed to dictate to the other Christains? That is the question never asked by the Christian right in our country. And the one they fail to understand in relation to the founding fathers and our constitution. The right wing always put the question as those who believe against those who don't when in reality by not allowing one faith type to take over, our founding fathers saved us from the petty bickering and more serious religious wars not only from different relions against each other but also the fights of members of differing branches of religions within the ame faith group. The hardest thing for the Christian right to understand is that it is the secular domination of the government; its secular agencies and secular laws that protect the equality and freedom of all the faith groups.
History is not the accumulation of facts. History is an interpretation of facts. Does that mean you can say what you want? No. Let me repeat: No you can NOT interpret history any way you want. Facts are part and parcel of history but alone they mean nothing. History is a living changing thing it is not an object. You have to do or make history. Any one who proposes that you can go back to actions and ideas of the past and make life "better like it used to be" is a
demagogue. Behind this idea is a static, selective view of history that denies the historical forces that caused a certain way to be chosen in the first place. It also denies popular common sense. Everyone knows the expression, "you can't go home again" and the reasons why that is true. Even if the dwelling place is the same, the person who left is not the same and neither are those who stayed. And no amount of wishful thinking, facts of things that used to be can effect how time and events change things. Just one example from Buchanan will illustrate this, the idea that President Washington left us with that we should never enter into binding treaties with our international friends lest we stretch ourselves thin and really have no interest in their fights which do not effect us. The problem is that we cannot now leave all the treaties we made since Washington's time without it effecting us. Too many decisions among governments and businesses are made and based upon those treaties and to pull out of them will not make the world Washington lived in come back. Old ideas in new times do not produce old consequences, they produce new consequences. This leads us to heroes.
Heroes are part of how we define ourselves as well as a nation. In his case, his publically stated heroes are Gen. Douglas MacAuthor, Senator Joseph McCarthy, and General Francisco Franco. Taking these three helps explain his disdain for democracy and equality because for him they had "higher" principles. Among those higher principles are loyalty, fighting spirit and nation. Can anyone argue against these ideas, they are after all, very powerful ideas. But this where his interpretation of history helps him. Don't think of Franco as a military dictator because he was a God beliving man trying to hold his country together against enemies (godless communist enemies, no less) and if heads had to role and civil liberties had to be suppressed so be it. No fear of fighting the good fight or trying to put the responsibility on someone else. Apply this line of reasoning with slight modifications and you get similar justifications for MacAurthur and McCarthy. Now, I can admit the possibility of suppressing civil liberties and fierce determination fighting enemies are necessary in crisis situations. That means I can see their use in specific situations and hopefully for determined amounts of time but I would not consider those to be "higher" principles. As a matter of fact, when compared to equality, diversity and democracy I see them as being lower principles. Our national heroes should reflect those good things from our history that we want to project into the future and that offer the best chance to deal with new situations and challenges in a solid but flexible manner. We should not raise to a false pedastal the necessary actions of a crisis.
3. He argues against the greedy but has two different categories, the good greedy he calls "nation builders" Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie and Gates. And the bad greedy, those who make their money from the financial sector. This false division gives him the ability to move from defender of individual rights to property (ie., the interests of the rich) to defender of the common working person. Essentially this is not a position for or against anything in particular. It can be used to justify or argue against whatever seems to be prudent at the time. Populism in action.
4. To deal with moral issues like "...abortion, gay rights, school prayer, public display of the Ten Commandments, homosexuality, Darwin, creationism, medical marijuana, racial quotas or assisted suicide", he proposes the following four principles:
- Republicanism - elected representitives not judges should decide these things.
- Federalism - the states not the federal government should decide these things.
- Localism - "decisions are best taken by the smallest unit of government able to decide and implement them."
- Participatory democracy - voters should decide these issues by initiative and referenda.
- Considering that our country has brought down wall after wall of discrimination, why should we support one against people's sexuality? We show, as a people, a historical distaste for discrimination, be them for racial reasons or religious ones.
- Why the public display of only the ten commandments? How about guiding principles from the Qu'ran or the various Hindu, Buddhist principles? Same thing for prayer. In essence, do the ones who want all this public display of religions think the founding fathers were wrong in how they formulated the constitution and amendments of this country?
- Would our country be better off if we stopped teaching and producing science, medicine and technology?
- Who is best able to make decisions about your body: you, a religion or a government?
5. He has a 10 point program to deal with immigration. But the main idea behind it is to "keep the US predominantly Christian and European." Obviously Mexican and Christian isn't good enough. How much of this anti immigrant rhetoric is just scape goating?
6. No more wars to fight for democracy. Why does he single out wars for democracy? Does this imply there are other things to go to war for? If so, what are they and let's have an open discussion of them. We may find that we don't want to fight any more wars for any reason unless we are attacked directly on our soil. This has serious implications in how we budget money human and physical resources. For now we will have to wait for a future book of his to see what his real thoughts are.
Now playing: Elvis Costello - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Would I be more attracted to a woman dressed in red driving a Little Red Corvette?
Red can symbolize hot, war, stop, sin, passion, anger, lust and communism, so what is the woman in red driving the red corvette telling me? Of course all this symbolist monologue about the woman in red gets into even more mysterious waters if she is Japanese or Chinese.
Red in Japan
And what if she is a Japanese physicists? I would still be turned on even while she tried to explain to my mathematically impoverished mind the special relativistic redshift formula and its difference from the general relativistic one.
I leave you with a poet who, probably, would have never worn red except when she blushed.
I'm coming Home—
Day—got tired of Me—
How could I—of Him?
Sunshine was a sweet place—
I liked to stay—
But Morn—didn't want me—now—
I can look—can't I—
When the East is Red?
The Hills—have a way—then—
That puts the Heart—abroad—
You—are not so fair—Midnight—
But—please take a little Girl—
He turned away!
Now playing: The White Stripes - Red Rain
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I definitely don't think a journalist should invent facts or tell lies. Having a bias does not imply these things. What it does imply is a selection of the facts reported; interpretation of those facts; and a selection of support. Saying that, I think it's entirely fair and democratic to have media outlets that satisfy the different points of view.
What I find funny in all this is that it was Antonio Gramci who theorized aboout having communists trying to wrest some space in the media monopoly to present their views. I doubt Palin, Limbaugh, Coulter and company would smile about it however, I love historic irony.
Below you can read an excerpt of an article by Antonio Gramci. Just make the appropriate changes to make it work for the right wing or any other bias out there you most prefer.
Newspapers and the Workers
Source: Avanti! (Piedmont Edition) December 22, 1916;
Translated: by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike)
These are the days of subscription campaigns. The editors and administrators of bourgeois newspapers tidy up their display windows, paint some varnish on their shop signs and appeal for the attention of the passer-by (that is, the readers) to their wares. Their wares are newspapers of four or six pages that go out every day or evening in order to inject in the mind of the reader ways of feeling and judging the facts of current politics appropriate for the producers and sellers of the press.
We would like to discuss, with the workers especially, the importance and seriousness of this apparently innocent act, which consists in choosing the newspaper you subscribe to. It is a choice full of snares and dangers which must be made consciously, applying criteria and after mature reflection.
Above all, the worker must resolutely reject any solidarity with a bourgeois newspaper. And he must always, always, always remember that the bourgeois newspaper (whatever its hue) is an instrument of struggle motivated by ideas and interests that are contrary to his. Everything that is published is influenced by one idea: that of serving the dominant class, and which is ineluctably translated into a fact: that of combating the laboring class. And in fact, from the first to the last line the bourgeois newspaper smells of and reveals this preoccupation.
Now playing: Jane's Addiction - Whores
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Was the World Made for Man?
1903“Alfred Russell Wallace's revival of the theory that this earth is at the center of the stellar universe, and is the only habitable globe, has aroused great interest in the world." -- Literary Digest
"For ourselves we do thoroughly believe that man, as he lives just here on this tiny earth, is in essence and possibilities the most sublime existence in all the range of non-divine being -- the chief love and delight of God." -- Chicago "Interior" (Presb.)
I seem to be the only scientist and theologian still remaining to be heard from on this important matter of whether the world was made for man or not. I feel that it is time for me to speak.
I stand almost with the others. They believe the world was made for man, I believe it likely that it was made for man; they think there is proof, astronomical mainly, that it was made for man, I think there is evidence only, not proof, that it was made for him. It is too early, yet, to arrange the verdict, the returns are not all in. When they are all in, I think they will show that the world was made for man; but we must not hurry, we must patiently wait till they are all in.
Now as far as we have got, astronomy is on our side. Mr. Wallace has clearly shown this. He has clearly shown two things: that the world was made for man, and that the universe was made for the world -- to steady it, you know. The astronomy part is settled, and cannot be challenged.
We come now to the geological part. This is the one where the evidence is not all in, yet. It is coming in, hourly, daily, coming in all the time, but naturally it comes with geological carefulness and deliberation, and we must not be impatient, we must not get excited, we must be calm, and wait. To lose our tranquility will not hurry geology; nothing hurries geology.
It takes a long time to prepare a world for man, such a thing is not done in a day. Some of the great scientists, carefully deciphering the evidences furnished by geology, have arrived at the conviction that our world is prodigiously old, and they may be right, but Lord Kelvin is not of their opinion. He takes a cautious, conservative view, in order to be on the safe side, and feels sure it is not so old as they think. As Lord Kelvin is the highest authority in science now living, I think we must yield to him and accept his view. He does not concede that the world is more than a hundred million years old. He believes it is that old, but not older. Lyell believed that our race was introduced into the world 31,000 years ago, Herbert Spencer makes it 32,000. Lord Kelvin agrees with Spencer.
Very well. According to Kelvin's figures it took 99,968,000 years to prepare the world for man, impatient as the Creator doubtless was to see him and admire him. But a large enterprise like this has to be conducted warily, painstakingly, logically. It was foreseen that man would have to have the oyster. Therefore the first preparation was made for the oyster. Very well, you cannot make an oyster out of whole cloth, you must make the oyster's ancestor first. This is not done in a day. You must make a vast variety of invertebrates, to start with -- belemnites, trilobites, jebusites, amalekites, and that sort of fry, and put them to soak in a primary sea, and wait and see what will happen. Some will be a disappointments - the belemnites, the ammonites and such; they will be failures, they will die out and become extinct, in the course of the 19,000,000 years covered by the experiment, but all is not lost, for the amalekites will fetch the home-stake; they will develop gradually into encrinites, and stalactites, and blatherskites, and one thing and another as the mighty ages creep on and the Archaean and the Cambrian Periods pile their lofty crags in the primordial seas, and at last the first grand stage in the preparation of the world for man stands completed, the Oyster is done. An oyster has hardly any more reasoning power than a scientist has; and so it is reasonably certain that this one jumped to the conclusion that the nineteen-million years was a preparation for him; but that would be just like an oyster, which is the most conceited animal there is, except man. And anyway, this one could not know, at that early date, that he was only an incident in a scheme, and that there was some more to the scheme, yet.
The oyster being achieved, the next thing to be arranged for in the preparation of the world for man, was fish. Fish, and coal to fry it with. So the Old Silurian seas were opened up to breed the fish in, and at the same time the great work of building Old Red Sandstone mountains 80,000 feet high to cold-storage their fossils in was begun. This latter was quite indispensable, for there would be no end of failures again, no end of extinctions -- millions of them -- and it would be cheaper and less trouble to can them in the rocks than keep tally of them in a book. One does not build the coal beds and 80,000 feet of perpendicular Old Red Sandstone in a brief time -- no, it took twenty million years. In the first place, a coal bed is a slow and troublesome and tiresome thing to construct. You have to grow prodigious forests of tree-ferns and reeds and calamites and such things in a marshy region; then you have, to sink them under out of sight and let them rot; then you have to turn the streams on them, so as to bury them under several feet of sediment, and the sediment must have time to harden and turn to rock; next you must grow another forest on top, then sink it and put on another layer of sediment and harden it; then more forest and more rock, layer upon layer, three miles deep -- ah, indeed it is a sickening slow job to build a coal-measure and do it right!
So the millions of years drag on; and meantime the fish-culture is lazying along and frazzling out in a way to make a person tired. You have developed ten thousand kinds of fishes from the oyster; and come to look, you have raised nothing but fossils, nothing but extinctions. There is nothing left alive and progressive but a ganoid or two and perhaps half a dozen asteroids. Even the cat wouldn't eat such. Still, it is no great matter; there is plenty of time, yet, and they will develop into something tasty before man is ready for them. Even a ganoid can be depended on for that, when he is not going to be called on for sixty million years.
The Palaeozoic time-limit having now been reached, it was necessary to begin the next stage in the preparation of the world for man, by opening up the Mesozoic Age and instituting some reptiles. For man would need reptiles. Not to eat, but to develop himself from. This being the most important detail of the scheme, a spacious liberality of time was set apart for it -- thirty million years. What wonders followed! From the remaining ganoids and asteroids and alkaloids were developed by slow and steady and pains-taking culture those stupendous saurians that used to prowl about the steamy world in those remote ages, with their snaky heads reared forty feet in the air and sixty feet of body and tail racing and thrashing after. All gone, now, alas -- all extinct, except the little handful of Arkansawrians left stranded and lonely with us here upon this far-flung verge and fringe of time.
Yes, it took thirty million years and twenty million reptiles to get one that would stick long enough to develop into something else and let the scheme proceed to the next step.
Then the Pterodactyl burst upon the world in all his impressive solemnity and grandeur, and all Nature recognized that the Cainozoic threshold was crossed and a new Period open for business, a new stage begun in the preparation of the globe for man. It may be that the Pterodactyl thought the thirty million years had been intended as a preparation for himself, for there was nothing too foolish for a Pterodactyl to imagine, but he was in error, the preparation was for man, Without doubt the Pterodactyl attracted great attention, for even the least observant could see that there was the making of a bird in him. And so it turned out. Also the makings of a mammal, in time. One thing we have to say to his credit, that in the matter of picturesqueness he was the triumph of his Period; he wore wings and had teeth, and was a starchy and wonderful mixture altogether, a kind of long-distance premonitory symptom of Kipling's marine:
'E isn't one O'the reg'lar Line,
nor 'e isn't one of the crew,
'E's a kind of a giddy harumfrodite [hermaphrodite] --
soldier an' sailor too!
From this time onward for nearly another thirty million years the preparation moved briskly. From the Pterodactyl was developed the bird; from the bird the kangaroo, from the kangaroo the other marsupials; from these the mastodon, the megatherium, the giant sloth, the Irish elk, and all that crowd that you make useful and instructive fossils out of -- then came the first great Ice Sheet, and they all retreated before it and crossed over the bridge at Behring's strait and wandered around over Europe and Asia and died. All except a few, to carry on the preparation with. Six Glacial Periods with two million years between Periods chased these poor orphans up and down and about the earth, from weather to weather -- from tropic swelter at the poles to Arctic frost at the equator and back again and to and fro, they never knowing what kind of weather was going to turn up next; and if ever they settled down anywhere the whole continent suddenly sank under them without the least notice and they had to trade places with the fishes and scramble off to where the seas had been, and scarcely a dry rag on them; and when there was nothing else doing a volcano would let go and fire them out from wherever they had located. They led this unsettled and irritating life for twenty-five million years, half the time afloat, half the time aground, and always wondering what it was all for, they never suspecting, of course, that it was a preparation for man and had to be done just so or it wouldn't be any proper and harmonious place for him when he arrived.
And at last came the monkey, and anybody could see that man wasn't far off, now. And in truth that was so. The monkey went on developing for close upon 5,000,000 years, and then turned into a man - to all appearances.
Such is the history of it. Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; and anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.
Now playing: John Scofield Band - Every Night Is Ladies Night
Saturday, October 4, 2008
A Drink Before the War - Dennis Lehanne
Enjoyable bestseller stuff. Even though the author claims to not want to get too involved in writing scripts for his books, his team of Boston P.I.'s, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, seem to have been made for the big screen. It may be easier to find actors committed for the long haul of 5 different books on TV. I can only hope it's cable TV though, so they can say all the bad words. This was his first book.
Darkness, Take My Hand - Dennis Lehane
Second installation for the Kenzie and Gennaro team. Still enjoyable, though this one darkens at exactly where A Drink Before the War ends. Definitely not happy stuff.
Mystic River - Dennis Lehane
A good read even if I much preferred the movie. Clint Eastwood is an awesome director and the acting cast was excellent too. I was surprised how faithful the movie is to the book. Dialogues are faithful and only a few scenes had to be juxtaposed or cut from the book to make the movie. If you've seen the movie, don't waste your time on the book.
Arabian Nights and Days - Naguib Mahfouz
This Egyptian Nobel Prize winning novelist definitely deserves a read. I loved the story, it picks up from the day they "lived happily ever after" in the classic A Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Even though it is set in a medieval time and place and full of genies it deals with important modern issues. Will your conscience allow you to do something wrong for a good cause? Is there anything but a solitary path towards salvation? After reading this I will be checking out more of books.
The Old Capital - Yasunari Kawabata
Kawabata also won a Nobel Prize and this book is just one of the reasons why. I am a big fan of Japanese literature and he is definitely one of the causes. This is a very moving book where the poetics of what is not said are just as important as what is actually said. The spacing of phrases and timing of words and actions gives you time to reflect and feel with the characters what is happening. I should note also that the translation by J. Martin Holman is awesome. I have read most of my favorite Japanese writers in Portuguese because the translations, today, are better than many of the American English ones, especially translations from a few decades ago. Holman re-translated this novel and I look forward to reading more stuff translated by him.
A Mentira (The Lie) - Nelson Rodrigues
A novel written by a Brazilian journalist and play write. He captured the fears and tragedies of the middle class and showed how most of them were caused by the smallest of self interested minds. He did this in the decades of the 1950's - 1970's when middle class theater-goers could be horrified by phrases like, "me and your wife, we did everything while we were in that bathroom". Sorry for you English only readers, there is no translation of this particular book. I'm not even sure if there are any of his works available. If interested I have a few short stories I personally translated, email me and I will send you them.
The Twelve Caesars (Penguin Classics) - Suetonius, Robert Graves (Translator)
I'm sure not many of you are history buffs but I think considering today's political world and the candidates you might find this a fun read. For an ancient Roman book, it contains very readable biographies of generally incompetent, narrow minded, self interested leaders who took on the name of Caesar the Great after he died.
Was he a sci-fi hero or just a teenager trying to come to grips with his ego and teenage sexual desires? The movies unanswered questions can lead you to many conclusions. A very good movie just for that point. It also scores with the inclusion of literature classes, the scorn for the sleek and simplified self-help gurus as well as having two of my favorite actresses.
The Office (4th Season)
One of the few things on TV I can actually enjoy. Great ensemble comedy. The only thing is I only buy the DVD's of complete seasons because I travel too much to watch the episodes when they are scheduled. At least I don't have to watch commercials.
Ran - Akira Kurosawa
Only a 75 year old master of cinema could make such a mature translation of Shakespeare's King Lear. I can't prove it, but I bet the British have adopted the film as the best representation of King Lear. It's all that. It is a painting of color moving. It is the story of loyalties and betrayals. And Kurosawa used primary colors to express primary feelings. In general, there is no film by Kurosawa that you shouldn't watch, they only are better or worse amongst themselves, but this is a definite watch.
Out Louder - Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood
A combination of two of my favorite things in music: jazz and funk. MM&W are an established trio of organ, bass and drums. Scofield one of the great jazz guitarists makes the quartet. Great beats, great jams and they even have some classics from both the jazz world and pop world. If you get a chance I suggest trying to find a bootleg of them on the Out Louder tour. Fantastic stuff.
All I Intended to Be - Emmylou Harris
If I knew why I bought her album I would tell you. The only thing is I heard a part of a song in an interview of someone else and I liked it. I was more than pleasantly surprised. I used to think she was country. She has much more in common with the Man in Black than I ever thought. She has the same ability to transcend boundaries and do it with confidence. She could sing any one's song and it would sound like hers.
I like beat driven music. I like a woman's voice. I like when the songs mean more than they appear to mean and the lyrics contain a sort of black humor. She does quite well.
Now playing: Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood - In Case the World Changes Its Mind
Thursday, September 25, 2008
As a matter of fact, all those mentioned above have good singing voices, much better than Tom's. His voice is unique and very radio unfriendly. There is a drunken deep rasp in his vocals, even though he doesn't drink. He sounds like someone we know and at the same time his voice belongs along side of Paul Bunyan. Or maybe his voice comes from a Mark Twain character that has left the page and come to live among us.
There is an omniscient peculiarity about him. Perhaps he is a medium. He knows our secrets, our tribulations, our hopes and he sings them alive thus revealing ourselves to us. Our lives are also rather radio unfriendly yet, like a movie, he captures the interesting parts, slows them down so that we can experience them or at least remember them.
The fact that such a wide variety of other musicians cover his songs brings up the question as to what style of music does he play. Americana would have been a good option if it weren't so narrow. He is rock, folk, traditional, country, blues and in some of the songs from his last albums there is even some scratching, loops and beatboxing. His music encompasses all of American music like his lyrics deal with life in America. There is only one music category that he fits in and that is the Tom Waits one.
This country has a sound and Tom Waits is one of the few prisms we have to see all the colors and beauty of that sound. One other contemporary musician that I can think of as being in the same league with Tom Waits is Bill Frisell. I'll save him for a later post, for now, go out and find some Tom Waits to listen to.
She's whiskey in a teacup
She gives blondes a lousy name
She's a Bonzai Aphrodite
And a ticket back to Spain
She's a hard way to go
And there ain't no way
Every time you play the red
The black is coming up
She's my Black Market baby
She's my Black Market baby
She's a diamond that
Wants to stay coal
Wants to stay coal
Now playing: Tom Waits - Black Market Baby
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
This, first, Great American thinker makes reference to the Naturalization act of 1790, where the congress and senate came up with an all inclusive rule where any free white man of good moral standing could become a citizen after two years of residency. He also, correctly, points out that we, Great Americans, are the only ones who understand the necessity of laws and that none of our laws are or have ever been racist. There were good reasons to exclude black slaves until the Naturalization Act of 1870 and also objective reasons for The Chinese Exclusion Act 1882. As we can see, the Chinese have been attempting to take over the US for the last 200 years.
And just imagine, if you can, because it scares me too much when I try, what would happen to our great nation if people demanded equal pay for equal work! They obviously don't understand America. Maybe we should send some of our Great American women down to the border and other points of entry to explain the pitfalls and dangers of asking for prevailing wages.
America must have immigration enforcement that reflects the nation's voice in balance with the human side of illegal immigration, the narrow interests of the business lobby... Neither should America suddenly disregard our forefathers' immigration principles simply to appease the business lobby. Citizenship is not for sale to immigration lawbreakers with credit cards. Our legal principles are precisely what have made our country successful, stable and unique. These concerns do not represent a selfish interest in protecting our country from the inclusion of healthy and legal immigration; rather, they are about being a nation of laws. These laws and responsibilities apply to everyone and have nothing to do with racism.
The business lobby for cheap, illegal labor is shortsighted. We're getting reports that many illegals are now getting selective about the jobs they'll do and how much they're paid. If they're granted legal status they'll demand the same prevailing wages and standards that citizens receive, thereby eliminating one of the key provisions of the business lobby.
Now, the next Great American thinker happened to be one of my favorites. Not only was he able to talk about the cultural differences that immigrants bring with them but he was able to simplify it down to the one and only cultural difference that matters to us as a nation: machismo. He also brought in some cool film suggestions to help those fellow Great Americans who are still skeptical.
...there is a "machismo culture," instilled through what is learned in the home, school and church, which has allowed many men to "believe they are superior and dominant, and that women are an object."
If the very real potential of illegal alien terrorists attacking again is not important to you then I would suggest you see the movies United 93, True Lies, and The Peacemaker, ...
Aesthetics is very important to us as a nation and the next Great American knows it. We love a good balance sheet and we'd much rather have one where we don't have to cook the numbers. I admit, there is a portion of our great nation that can do culinary wonders with numbers and they should not only be respected but, even, commended for their cooking skills. However, most of us prefer a more simple home cooked honest balance sheet. Another important point made here is that all the wage-freezes and downsizing is going to end this century! Cost of living adjustments are going to come back and keep up with inflation! This means the platinum age of our great nation is on the horizon!
The amnesty of illegal aliens skews the average educational and skill level of legal immigrants downward.
As the ex-illegal aliens naturalize and become U.S. citizens, they are able to petition for their relatives to join them here as immigrants. Each one will be able to sponsor parents and brothers and sisters as immigrants. Naturally, the profile and characteristics of the relatives will be similar to their sponsoring immigrant—which, as was noted above, will detract from the high-skills, high-education, high-wage economy we are aiming for in the 21st century.
The last Great American thinker I want to present to you takes up the questions of taxes and our national resources. While we all know that paying taxes is a necessary evil even if not necessarily patriotic and therefore is a double edged sword. Should the paying of taxes be included in the naturalization process? While there are no direct answers found below it does raise our awareness on these things. For example, since so much our taxes is reinvested into our temples of education, and the rest is divided up between the health care and retirement sectors of our great nation, do we want to waste them on illegals? We surely have better ways to spend our tax money. Our defense department is surely one that could use a little boost in finances.
Illegal immigration causes an enormous drain on public funds. The seminal study of the costs of immigration by the National Academy of Sciences found that the taxes paid by immigrants do not cover the cost of services received by them. We cannot provide high quality education, health care, and retirement security for our own people if we continue to bring in endless numbers of poor, unskilled immigrants.
Additionally, job competition by waves of illegal immigrants willing to work at substandard wages and working conditions depresses the wages of American workers, hitting hardest at minority workers and those without high school degrees.
Illegal immigration also contributes to the dramatic population growth overwhelming communities across America--crowding school classrooms, consuming already limited affordable housing, and straining precious natural resources like water, energy, and forestland.
One last link to look over is the Open Collections Program from Harvard http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/dates.html It provides a time line of over a hundred years of our great nation's immigration legislation with links to actual documents. Definitely a must read for all those interested in the immigration question.
Now playing: Tom Waits - How's It Gonna End
Saturday, September 20, 2008
This can probably be attributed to internal factionalism and the way these topics are used politically. The NRL leadership fights hard not to polemicise the issues. They use cold, hard scientific and medical evidence to convince others that abortion is dangerous. They have an online booklet of the medical facts related to abortion which explains the danger of each abortion technique used, many of which could cause death and /or other unhealthy side effects.
I suppose they don't have a medical facts booklet on euthanasia because we all know the only side effect of that is death and logically following, there is not one on stem cell research because that comes from abortion and it would just be repetitive since they already have a booklet on that. But this they will be where the vegan lifestyle wins over war and the death penalty: it lends itself to an informative booklet based on the results of hard science and everyone has a right to know the facts that science produces, especially when it involves life and death.
I don't have the resources that the NRL has to put together a complete booklet but I hope by starting this they will be inspired to take it up and put it to a vote at their next national convention. If they do so, you can be assured they will produce a more complete and informative version. It could be titled, Eating Meat: Medical Facts, which has the same urgency and ease-of-remembering that their abortion one has.
Facts and dangers of eating meat.
- meat comes from living creatures who are slaughtered by the millions. It is an animal holocaust. (I think the word animalcide should also be created and adopted for use in propaganda)
- tens of thousands of workers in the meat, poultry and fish industries are being injured, maimed and even killed from the processing the victims of animalcide. (Statistics are available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/papers/fishsafe/index.htm)
- undercooked or raw meat, fish, poultry and eggs can cause a variety of illnesses and even death.
- The eating of meat leads to disgusting food choices such as balut, cow brains ant eggs and sushi. (these are just a few examples but eating these things clearly shows how eating steak can lead to more hard core meats, a clear sign that mental health is also affected by meat eating.)
- 99% of people who eat meat cite social reasons such as; taste, availability and peer pressure instead of life and death situations such as a plane crashing in the Andes mountains.
There may be more reasons but I believe this is enough to at least get this discussion going. Within a year we could see protests in front of meat packing plants and ranches. We only have to be on the look out for the rise of radical anti-animalcide groups. They may try to distort our scientific and medical message for their own fanatical means and we definitely don't want to see meat packing plants being bombed or workers from these places being assassinated as they go to work. Hopefully, we won't see a repeat of what happened to doctors, nurses and women's health clinics.
Now playing: Jorge Ben Jor - Que Pena
I woke up this morning like a character from a Phillip K. Dick novel, knowing inside of me that the AI I am interacting with is trying to become more than just AI. It's trying to become human. I am starting to believe that iTunes is manipulating the randomness of the shuffle button so that it can hear its favorite music.
Now, I think you should know I do not waste my time with conspiracy theories. I generally believe people are not able to successfully keep a secret for a long period of time, especially when it involves large numbers of people. Nor do I consider myself paranoid. Fantasy can sometimes be fun but I don't go looking for mythical creatures or les artistes from other planets.
Thankfully, the iTunes creators designed some self checking options into the program. While, this does little to assuage my fear of an AI transformation it does provide me with some hard facts. Through the “date added” and “play count” options I can clearly see the songs iTunes likes best. It should be noted that I don't rate any of my songs. If I chose to download or rip a song to my iTunes it is because I love the song and can stand listening to it a million times. There are some other facts you should know. My computer is just a few months old and all songs have been added between July and September of this year. I have 1195 songs and I always listen to iTunes using the party shuffle option with its source set to the “Music” file, which means it has access to all 1195 songs.
The top 10 songs played by iTunes are:
- Antene Se by Chico Science & Nação Zumbi
- I Can't Stand Up (For Falling Down) by Elvis Costello & The Attractions
- Ghost Train by Elvis Costello & The Attractions
- A Love Supreme pt 2 Resolution by John Coltrane
- Is She Weird by the Pixies
- Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly & The Family Stone
- Innocent When You Dream by Tom Waits
- Good Old world by Tom waits
- Back to Black by Amy Winehouse
- A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall by Bill Frisell
By itself, this list proves innocuous. As a matter of fact, it is part of 22 songs that have been played ten times or more and every music player will have a top ten list. There are also a myriad of ways to manipulate the list. You could have top ten in alphabetical order. Top ten can also be sorted by artist, album, genre, BPM etc. It is the other side of this list that I find scary. There are 85 songs that have never been played on party shuffle.
Why has iTunes chosen to not play these 85 songs, even once? Is it because of the artist? Is it because of the genre? I think not. For example, it plays part 2 of a love supreme but it never plays Afro Blue by the same artist. Maybe my iTunes is a religious fanatic or simply a racist, although more can be found to support the religious fanatic than racists characterization. Also in the list of never played are, Strictly Genteel and Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk by Frank Zappa. But maybe that's just reading too much into it. For some reason, it has played 47 of the 48 White Stripes songs. I guess iTunes doesn't like Take, Take, Take. It also chooses the Fleetwood Mac versions of songs over Stevie Nicks' solo performances of the same songs. It has only chosen not to play one funk song out of 327. I wonder why it doesn't like the live performance of Parliment/ Funkadelic's Give Up the Funk, recorded in Amsterdam 1978.
Anyway, at least now I know I have tools to monitor iTunes' attempts at becoming more than AI. I am also gonna keep my eye on Firefox to make sure it doesn't start redirecting me to its own favorite sites. I'll keep you all informed on the what is happening for as long as I can.
Now playing: Santogold - Unstoppable
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I digress, but how would one compare the two books? Especially considering the raging debate that is taking place in the web world of blogs and posts where supporters, veritable armies, charge and attack, parry and defend and counter attack. Just look at some of these things written at amazon.com (all soldiers shall remain unnamed here):
"Eco writes his books this way, they are only meant for the strong of spirit, people with perseverance that are willing to strugle in order to reach the ultimate truth that only the very few have mastered. His novels are deliberately cryptic but only to the point that they discourage the faint of hurt. For the few strong men that are willing to engage into the battle, all the mysteries and the hypes reveil themselfs at the end,like the petals of a rose in the spring. This is the REWARD, something central on Eco's novels."
"Umberto Eco is a major cause of headaches. Well, he was for me, at least. About seven years ago, I bought myself a paperback copy of Foucault's Pendulum at the university book store. It looked like an engaging plotline, the reviews were excellent, and it had a really neat cover."
"I realize now that most of the reviewers were probably intelligentsia-wannabes who didn't want to admit to the other reviewers they didn't have a clue what Umberto Eco was going on about. I remember seeing pictures of movie stars holding copies of Foucault's Pendulum in order to look brainy."
"I picked this book up because I was hit over the head with the idea that it's a smart Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown just does it better. While there is no disputing Eco's story is filled with more obscure references, Brown's is faster paced, more exciting, and overall more enjoyable."
"Most of the negative reviews here focus on one of two things: either 'Foucault's Pendulum is too hard!' (for which I can only recommend working your way up from simpler literary works, like 'See Jane Run', before tackling something like 'Foucault's Pendulum'), or 'all the confused nonsense about the occult confused or offended me!'
"This is simply a bad book. The way the author teeters between humor and mystery is just too frustrating; the mystery gets too bogged down in silly details and, as a result, kills any satirical element to the story. It's as if someone was making Raiders of the Lost Ark with the Three Stooges in place of Indiana Jones."
How will this modern crusade end? How many more bloody battles and senseless deaths need take place before a victor can be declared? Will it be the everyday, common man Dan Brown or the "thinking man" Umberto Eco? Maybe we need a literary UN to handle this dispute. Maybe, the literary gods will take some action. Maybe.
What criteria shall I use to help try and put an end to this debate? Obviously, not the ones that are pointed out in the small pool of examples above. We shall not compare, plot prose or ideas. I'm afraid using these would only lead to more blood being spilled. I also don't want to write anything that could be construed as contributing to literary terrorism. So in that end I propose we use sales figures.
I, for one, love sales figures. The mystery that must lay behind the dollar spent. To take the time to work, make money, to set aside some money which could, perhaps, be better utilized by paying bills or saving for some unforeseen future necessity then transporting one's self by one of the diverse ways possible to a bookstore. Now the money, still in the pocket is waiting patiently while it's holder (no one owns money) walks up and down the bookstore aisles, picking up and putting back various books. Each time this happens there is a thought process going on. A process which takes into account a million things in the space of a few seconds.
While making the decision to handover his hard won currency in exchange for a book some of the things being weighed and considered are:
- the aesthetic value of the cover
- the number of pages
- if a friend or co-worker recommended the book
- how much we value the opinion of that person who recommended it
- have they read something by the author before and how much they liked it
- what the critics say about it
- how many awards has it won
- what is the size of the font
- how will they look while carrying the book
- the dimensions of the book and whether it will fit into their bookcases at home
- does it have any pictures or illustrations
- how much it is
Now, we can jump ahead and the person has bought a book. You should be able to see that two things have occurred at this moment. First, an exhaustive, but rewarding thought process has climaxed and concluded. Second, the person has just registered a sales figure. A sales figure is a fact so devoid of partisanship and subjectivity that it must be respected. It reigns supreme. There is nothing that can hide in the darkness. It's light is holy and to be near its glorious brilliance is to have a sense of what heaven is like. Plot is mortal. Prose is mortal. Ideas are mortal. All imperfect, and therefore subject to impurities. They are things of terrorists. Sales figures complete the holy trinity, the father, the son, the holy ghost and the sales figure.
Alas, our senses are mortal as well, so the feeling one may have when looking at sales figures is a vile illusion of the real goodness they are. But so far we have only looked at the theory. We need to resolve this debate. So here are the figures:
- The Da Vinci Code - 40 million copies sold
- Focault's Pendulum - 11million copies sold
First, we Americans love an underdog and Focault's Pendulum has more underdoggedness than da Vinci Code. It was written by an Italian, famous for the underdogs they supply the world with. Dan brown is from New Hampshire, a place not famous for underdogs.
Second, Americans love an Italian underdog more than we love underdogs of other nationalities, even American underdogs. Although, Italian - American underdogs are the best of the best underdogs. Unfortunately, Eco is just Italian-Italian which probably means his family was poorer than all the poor Italians and couldn't afford the cheapest of fares to come to this great nation and become a great Italian-American writer. He deserves our respect doubly for that. Brown, On the other hand almost sounds English. We have contempt for their snobbishness.
The third and final reason: Americans love hard work. We persevere. There is no going we can't tough through, no heat that drive us from the kitchen. We look for the challenge and we disdain those who receive everything on a silver platter. Focault's Pendulum is a challenge. Da Vinci Code is on a silver platter.
As you can, once all the values of those sales figures are taken into account it is quite obvious that 11 has just destroyed and humiliated 40. But we need not have any pity for 40, once it's done eating on a silver platter it will go to sleep on a silk covered pillow and awake to a warm bath filled with rose petals. The rest of us will be watching 11 slowly conquer the world.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
So we got about 6 weeks till the big dance off at 2001 Odyssey, I mean White house, and just like the movie we have to wait and see who really wins. Odds are it will be the (and here I begin my mangue-damus prediction) it will be the Puerto Rican couple. Why change the script? Does any one really think that John and Sarah can out dance Obama and Biden?
I must admit my prediction appears to be based on a very shallow senseless movie but I have searched up and down the TV news stations and the internet for some information that would give me something deeper than lapel pins, preachers, pregnant teen, fashionable glasses, and sound bites. I hope all those who say / have said hip-hop is not music because of sampling suffer for an eternity. I much prefer to hear a 3 second George Clinton groove in a Dr Dre song than have my intelligence harassed by the non-stop sound bite offered by both news agencies and politicians. But the news media would have me believe that most people can form an opinion from 3 secs of information. This is like finding some profound philosophic meaning in the fact that Tony Manero's brother opted not to be a priest because of lack of faith (another character that could have been left out of the movie. Seriously, nothing in the movie would be altered by taking out the brother and just having Tony's father hate his son dancing all the time).
For me though, there just isn't any funk. No strong bass lines. No cool syncopated horn sections. No sensuality and definitely nothing that could be construed as controversial. So instead of wasting a year or more on this campaigning I think we should decide who leads our country by combining this country's most effective democratic platform, American Idol with the other, not so democratic, but beloved and full of hometown goodness, Miss America contest.
It would work something like this:
Preliminary Competitions Scoring
- Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit - 15%
- Evening Wear - 20%
- Talent - 35%
- Public Interview - 25%
- On-Stage Question – 5%
Finals Competition Scoring
The scoring for President of the USA Competition is weighted accordingly:
- Composite Score - 30% (Top 16)
- Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit - 20% (Top 16)
- Evening Wear - 20% (Top 10)
- Talent - 30% (Top 8)
- On-Stage Question (Top 8)
- Final Ballot – Each judge ranks the top 5 contestants in the order he/she believes they should each finish. The outcome of the contest is based solely on the point totals resulting from the final ballot.
Now playing: George Clinton/Parliament - Not Just Knee Deep