Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Man's Singing My Song, Son...

Check out Joe Bageant's "Revenge Of The Mud People". It's often a wonder to me that nearly ever facet of American progressives, from mainstream Democrats to your harder core leftists, have pretty much given up hope on white rural working-class poor, especially considering the success of past progressive policies. Sure, poor crackers ain't the most oppressed segment of society, but it's a life definitely full of more bleak prospects than makes one is comfortable. And I will freely admit it's a group that seems to give easily to those who thunder hatred and loathing of some "Other" as the Orwellian source of all their problems rather than, you know, the guys who are actually running things.

Still. I have to think that if you don't give people hope, they'll turn to fear and loathing much easier. There's at least some power in it.

I Don't Have Much Evidence Of Anything, Actually

Blame it on Amanda at Pandagon. Then read the blog, it's pretty damn good. Anyhow, Ten Views I Hold Without Evidence:

10. Somewhere, if I just look hard enough, I'll find a message board/chatroom/comments section/whatever where politics and current events can be discussed and political ideologies can clash in a respectful yet passionate manner without either side ever bringing up something that happened 30 years that makes the other side look bad even though it has no connection whatsoever to anything at all going on today.

9. Eventually, a stable, active and, above all, influential political party will arise from the great unwashed that will focus solely on what affects the people rather than big corporations. It will remain untainted of "Big Money" politics and useless, empty "family values" hoo-hah. It will represent the interest of all Americans' basic human rights as put forth in the Constitution. And it will nominate candidates who don't come off as chat-room loons to the vast majority of the population.

8. A new network or national publication will sweep the nation with pure, uncut journalism. Reporters will stick to the facts rather than just swapping gossip, and pundits will explain but not opine. Stands, however, will be taken. This network/publication will recognize its role as watchdog of the public trust, and will not kowtow to the interests of advertisers or the well connected.

7. The broad scope of religious belief in this country will no longer be tied to the voices of hate and separation. Religions of all faiths will reject the idea of "us versus them", and will show the true power of their faith through their deeds and actions. No longer will "I'm a deity-fearing individual" give a person moral carte blanche.

6. Atheists, agnostics and other non-believers will no longer be seen as "lost" or "confused" or "angry". Like believers, they'll be judged on how they act on their philosophy instead of getting pity for not "know the Lord/Allah/Buddha/Bob/The Goddess".

5. Education and critical thinking will make a comeback. Teachers, researchers, theorists and other assorted persons will have to fight off promises of wild monkey sex from legions of admirers, and Sylvia Browne will have to get a job at a gas station. Anyone who ever says anything along the lines of "Well, the consortium of Science Industry CommieNazi Power Elite are just trying to suppress information on the wondrous gifts laundry balls can bring humanity" will be slapped good and hard.

4. One fine day, people will no longer worry about anybody's sex life but their own. All women aren't crazy, and all men don't think with just their respective tallywhackers. This new-found freedom from worrying about who is potentially boning who (and how) will eek out into the rest of the cultural sphere, bringing a new-found awareness of people as simply people, rather than "men versus women" or "straight versus not-straight", and people will cut that shit out.

3. Swamp Dogg is America's greatest living pop musician. Willie Nelson is probably a holy man and if not worshipped, he should at least be given all the free pot he can smoke.

2. Elvis is still the best there ever was. He rules, even in spirit, mightily atop an iron throne looking down from the jagged peaks of Mount Awesome, and one day, all will recognize.

1. This is the best shape humanity’s ever been in, but it ain’t the best of all possible worlds. Not by a long shot. That’s still to come.

But I have been wrong before.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Earth Rolls On...

I'm sure he enjoyed the ride. If you dig on Southern Soul music - and who has any use for someone who doesn't - check out D.A. Pennebaker and company's Only The Strong Survive. Pickett's in it, still raunchy, and it's a good time all 'round.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Keeping America Safe From Table Daintzers

Nice to know the CIA is keeping busy. Apparently, a stripper at Atlanta's famous Clermont Lounge was questioned at some length by agents of the CIA. No, seriously.

Officials from one of the world's most powerful and prominent intelligence-gathering agencies, a group that not only fought America's Enemies during the Cold War but also almost single-handedly shaped the directions of countries in Latin America and throughout Asia, apparently have the time to irritate go-go girls. Now, in that august agency’s defense, there were some questions. Tabby Chase did also work as a dominatrix and held political beliefs that ran counter to Red State America. Can't have that, of course. She was also known as someone who didn't just love the president to pieces, and probably worst of all, was trying to hook up with a group that brought a circus to kids in war-torn Iraq. That, of course, is just flat-out unAmerican.

Now. Keep all that in mind the next time you hear someone say the only people who have to worry about the government investigating their lives are people who are breaking the law.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Year Of The Cock, Indeed...

Ya know, I've been vacillating of whether or not 2005 was a good year or a bad year. But, some thoughts...

POLITICS


Still as ugly and nasty from all sides as it's been since 2000, the world of dirty deeds done expensive as hell in Washington is taking a much weirder turn of late. The wire-tapping fandango has got me all confused. The White House has been for the past couple of years by-passing the laws of the land to tap the phone of people living in the country - and here's the bad part - without warrants, even though a 1978 law allows warrants for wiretapping a phone for national security reasons allows to be granted for up to 72 hours after the tap draws blood. This is illegal. The New York Times apparently found out about this sometime last year disturbingly close to the November Presidential election, yet sat on the info at the request of the administration.

I'm still unaware of just how this hit the public consciousness, beyond rather suddenly, just before Christmas, but it's out and being talked about. The President has basically told his critics to jump on if they're feeling froggy. Why? Because it's all in the name of Fighting Terror!, and that means maybe spilling a little Constitutional milk to save the American pie, and anyway he's the President so there. And, no, they aren't gonna be forced by the mean ol' liberals to actually back any of this up. We just have to take the president's word. I'm serious.

The vast majority of people paying attention are at different levels of concerned, if my judgment's anything to consider, and both sides of the ideological spectrum do recognize that desperate times do occasionally call for desperate measures, but aren't sure if that particular axiom qualifies in this situation. Should the president have this much power, even in wartime? And does the War On Terror - a tactic, not a state or nation or even an agreed-upon group or ideology - even qualify? If we're fighting terror, when does it end? When all the soldiers are out of Iraq? How long is long enough? And if the president can disobey a law if he feels it's necessary - which is about the only justification Bush is giving - where do we draw the line? Why should we trust the president, any president, just on his or her word, especially given the government's rather unpleasant past concerning secrecy, lies and spying on its own people? And more specifically, I’m supposed to trust this guy? Come on.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that the very first person who has no choice but to follow the letter of the law is the person charged with enforcing it. No excuses and no exceptions. There is, of course, a very vocal minority of folks who are totally in favor of domestic spying sans warrants, and indeed, are convinced the president has the moral purity and clarity - indeed, he's the only man since Jesus to posses such - to undertake such a firm stand against civil liberties, and the fact that a similar move by a Democratic president would have them howling for blood is just something an anti-American terrorist lover would say. But I try to avoid those people these days, just for peace of mind. These people aren't well and they frankly do not have our best interests at heart.

Anyhow, weird year politically. I have no idea where it's going, if the fear and loathing will get worse, or if the public is had about enough of the horseshit. I've no idea if the Democrats will even be worthy of loathing or if the Republicans will regain their sanity and collective moral compass. I've no idea if the Libertarians or Greens will be worthy of taking seriously, or if Roy Moore will lead off the real loons and leave the rest of us in peace. Personally, I'm just ready for everyone, everyone to cut the shit.

POP CULTURE


I have no idea. Seriously, I haven't been paying attention. The only current events I keep up with that aren't pure politics are religion, and that's just politics in fancy dress. A new pope, Intelligent Design and a war on Christmas. Sure. I do know the White Sox won the World Series for the first time since the Big Bang, and apparently nobody gave a damn, poor bastards. I also know about Tom Cruise making an ass of himself on "The Today Show", but that's just because Scientology is fucking hilarious. I know the economy is if not exactly shaky, per se, it still isn't quite stable, but I don't know enough theory to really say nor do I have enough cash to really be able to worry too much about it.

The new "Dcotor Who" was okay, and the only movie I saw that came out this year - theatre or home release both, if I recall correctly - was The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which was likewise okay. The Terry Schiavo boondoggle was an embarrassment to the species and prime example of why human beings maybe shouldn't be allowed to handle sharp things. Hunter Thompson did what he apparently felt he had to do. Lots of famous folks died, but so did a lot of non-celebrity-type folks, and the Earth continues to roll on. Astronomers found two great big rocks out past Pluto, and some physicist somewhere, if memory serves, has managed to stop, more or less, a beam of light. That's neat. I haven't read any books published this year, haven't played any video games, and, apparently, I look like that Bo guy from "American Idol".

To the best of my recollection, the only new music - as in, not a compilation or re-release - I bought this year came from The Chasers, Donnie Chambers, and The Dictatortots, all locals. I have absolutely no idea what's "hot" in mainstream music, apart from brief snatches of country radio, and I'm equally clueless when it comes to "non-mainstream" stuff, whatever the hell that is. Nor, frankly, do I care. It's not some sort of statement on the quality of modern music that all I've been listening to this year is country music from my childhood and earlier, soul music predominately of the Southern variety, and rock & roll and rhythm & blues from before The Beatles. It's not a conscious statement, anyway; I have no control over my subconscious.

ESCHATOLOGICALLY


Nature, in her infinite wisdom, took this year to remind us just why she's often referred to as a "mother". The year started on the bad foot with the tsunami that swamped Southeast Asia just before Christmas 2004, and things basically went downhill from there. Of course, we saw the longest hurricane season on record, with 26 named storms. Katrina. A horrible natural disaster exuberated by bureaucratic incompetence mendacity, partisan mendacity, and cultural shit-assery. It was not our finest moment, and we really don't seem to be even trying to make ourselves look better. An earthquake in Central America followed one in Pakistan that I've heard to as "wiping out a generation". Hyperbole, perhaps, but it was ugly. Uncontrollable fires in the Western United States and killer tornadoes in the East. And according to this month's National Geographic, amphibians all over the world are in danger of extinction and it's not (totally) our fault.

But, remember: there's nothing to global warming, and you're a class-warfare-waging, anti-capitalist enviro-whacko tree-hugger if you even suggest otherwise.

PERSONAL


Hell, I don't know. I really haven't found anything better to do than what I'm doing, but it's no big deal. I'm enjoying myself, at any rate, and I admit I probably don't look as hard as I should, but that's how it goes. My thirtieth year on this planet came and went, but I was busy reading about zero-point energy. I quit drinking for no real good reason other than it'd gotten boring. I don't know for sure, but I really don't see myself starting again. I'm a little bit better on bass and guitar than I was last year, but I really don't have much inclination to do either. Nor, despite this rather lengthy missive, do I have any real desire to go back to writing for a living or any other attempts at publication. Still single and still couldn't be bothered to do otherwise.

My folks are still making me laugh, and apart from a bad turn for both health-wise, they're still watching baseball. My brother is still doing his thing in his own peculiar way, which is the only way to accurately describe the experience. My maternal grandmother's still watching the world go by, and my paternal grandfather is hanging in as best he can. My uncles and aunts are all alright, probably the best shape they've ever been in, group-wise. My cousin Lacey, the baby of my bunch of cousins, got married this summer. Lots of folks I know had babies. My cousin Jamie is working on his second. People I haven't talked to since high school are still experiencing life. My friends are still my friends despite me not really making it easy for them to maintain the position, which probably says something pretty good about humanity somehow or another.

Good year or bad, I can't say. However, if this is any indication, I personally have good vibes for the Year of the Dog.

Music For The Masses, Naturally

I'm not real sure if it should be held against them, as it might be the wishes of their label, but if this is for real, Coldplay is even wankier than I thought. Long story short, the band's new CD has been manufactured in such a way that it can't be burned or copied - though I'm told there's easy ways around that, generally involving a magic marker - and a DRM certificate included that sets some more restrictions.

Among other gems, the DRM - which is only visible after the CD jewel case is opened - notes "(t)his CD can't be burnt onto a CD or hard disc, nor can it be converted to an MP3". Also, because of the anti-piracy measure, the CD "may not play in DVD players, car stereos, portable players, game players, all PCs and Macintosh PCs." Why all the hubbub? Quality, of course. It‘s just to ensure the glassy-eyed drama queens that make up the vast majority of Coldplay's fan base get the purest whine possible. Sure.

Now. I'm not a fan of Coldplay by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I really have any venom for them. Call it a case of them just not being interesting enough to me to warrant a reaction. Still, if it's their doing, it's some serious Rockstar Bullshit, as bad as Garth Brooks' nonsenseconcerning used CD's back in '93. I won't defend illegally sharing files, but trying to tell a listener what he or she can and can't do after it's been purchased is the height of out-of-touch greedy jackassery. If it's the doing of Virgin Records, well, I wouldn't be surprised.
Thanks to Atrios