Saturday, May 31, 2008
This one is dedicated to Subhadra, who thinks Prince is the cat's pajamas. I always knew he was talented, but I can't fathom how he got so big. I guess I just don't like his face.
And those ridiculous costumes. I could forgive it in Elvis, because he was Elvis (but I admit his garish outfits turned me off).
I feel slightly better about Prince, though, after going to Wikipedia and discovering his given name really is Prince. I can't imagine a grown man naming himself that.
But from now on, maybe I'll just call him Knave.
Anywho, Prince recently covered a Radiohead song at Coachella and when people started posting it, his lawyers started making angry faces and very quickly the places that posted it suddenly unposted it, or found that the YouTube clip they embedded on their blog was no longer functional. Whatever. It's just Prince. But it's kinda screwed up that he basically lorded over the rights to someone else's song.
Radiohead thinks so too.
In a recent interview, Thom Yorke said he heard about Prince's performance from a text message and thought it was "hilarious." Yorke laughed when his bandmate, guitarist Ed O'Brien, said the blocking had prevented him from seeing Prince's version of their song.I am pretty quick with my internet trigger finger, so not only have I heard the song, but I liked it and I put it on my MP3 player. But Prince's attitude about the whole thing has ruined his music, or his performances of other people's music, for me. So, instead, here's some Radiohead. Screw Prince.
"Really? He's blocked it?" asked Yorke, who figured it was their song to block or not. "Surely we should block it. Hang on a moment."
Yorke added: "Well, tell him to unblock it. It's our ... song."
Mark Bittman, food writer for the New York Times, begins his spiel by admitting he is not a vegetarian. Yet he makes a cogent case for eating less meat, less dairy, and more plants. He says if you are "progressive", drive a Prius, and have gone green, you should probably be a semi-vegetarian.
Why only progressives, only probably, and only semi-vegetarian? I have no idea. Nevertheless, the man talks sense.
Ten billion animals are killed every year in the U.S. alone. These animals consume more antibiotics than we do. You really want to eat that?
Bittman shows how the food pyramids foisted upon us by the government are designed mostly by people in the food industry. You want to trust that?
Give him a listen. He eats meat, like you probably do. He won't bite you.
But the crap in all the food we eat might.
Friday, May 30, 2008
If you don't know about Turlough Carolan (or O'Carolan), that's a shame--he is one of the greatest composers ever.
This piece is performed by Ireland's musical gift to the world, The Chieftains.
I'm pretty accustomed to this. I've been doing this for four years and I have seen racism in these books so ugly that it often made me cringe. But when I came across this passage from imperialist author G.A. Henty, a prolific apologist of the British Empire during the Victorian Era, I had to bring it here, to a place Hector Diego could see it. I don't know anything about the ruler Henty is criticizing here, but the demonization of the man Wikipedia calls the "de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore" sounds a lot like the things that were said about Saddam Hussein before shock and awe. Not that Saddam or this fellow were good people, but the exaggerations that lead to horrific colonial wars are so familiar it's astonishing. Go back and read some of the things said on the floor of the House of Representatives before we invaded Mexico in 1848. It's the same thing, over and over.
From the preface to The Tiger of Mysore, by G. A. Henty:
While some of our wars in India are open to the charge that they were undertaken on slight provocation, and were forced on by us in order that we might have an excuse for annexation, our struggle with Tippoo Saib was, on the other hand, marked by a long endurance of wrong, and a toleration of abominable cruelties perpetrated upon Englishmen and our native allies. Hyder Ali was a conqueror of the true Eastern type. He was ambitious in the extreme. He dreamed of becoming the Lord of the whole of Southern India. He was an able leader, and, though ruthless where it was his policy to strike terror, he was not cruel from choice.More on Henty here.
His son, Tippoo, on the contrary, revelled in acts of the most abominable cruelty. It would seem that he massacred for the very pleasure of massacring, and hundreds of British captives were killed by famine, poison, or torture, simply to gratify his lust for murder. Patience was shown towards this monster until patience became a fault, and our inaction was naturally ascribed by him to fear. Had firmness been shown by Lord Cornwallis, when Seringapatam was practically in his power, the second war would have been avoided and thousands of lives spared. The blunder was a costly one to us, for the work had to be done all over again, and the fault of Lord Cornwallis retrieved by the energy and firmness of the Marquis of Wellesley.
The story of the campaign is taken from various sources, and the details of the treatment of the prisoners from the published narratives of two officers who effected their escape from prisons.
G. A. Henty.
Karma, or choice? Or both?
Yep, the old saw (well, old from at least the 1960's) about karma in the title to this post is certainly a fitting introduction to the concept of karma. The Station Agent posted on it in relation to Sharon Stone's somewhat irresponsible comment about the earthquake victims and their bad karma, I posted on it, and then a visitor named Dave posted on it, and that brings us up to the present.
Let me say here that most traditions of scholarship on karma, at least in their more advanced interpretations (in my opinion), grant that there is only karma, and good and bad is how we interpret it. For instance, you might think it's your bad karma that you missed your plane, but if it crashes you would change your mind on a dime. I just had to get that in, now let's set it aside and go directly to the issue here. What was the karmic reaction--karma phala--of Stone's remark? Read on, from Yahoo News.
"Stone's comments caused considerable anger in the Chinese media. The official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary Thursday she was the "public enemy of all mankind."
Really? Such an exaggeration is typical of the Chinese government, rather predictable. And Stone caused this negative vibration by her thoughtlessness. So the karma came back on her, in addition to influencing the Chinese authorities to become even more entangled in the net of karma. That's more bad karma for all concerned. And I'll bet Dave knows this, too.
However, a Buddhist may disagree, for in Buddhism (there could be exceptions in the vast ocean of Buddhist thought, but I don't think so), which is a metaphysical system of mental emphasis, intention is everything, not the action alone. This is why Buddhist monks in most Buddhist traditions can eat meat without violating the principle of nonviolence, so long as they did not cause the killing of the animal. I don't buy that, so while I respect Buddhism, I am not a Buddhist.
Not so for the Jains, who would say that intentionality certainly makes violence worse, but even unintended violence is a symptom of entanglement in the net of karma, and still culpable. Ignorance for the Jains, apparently, does not excuse one from the consequences of karmic law.
The Hindus seem to take a halfway position between the Buddhists and the Jains, but it's such a long story, and we'll save that for another day.
As for the Sikhs, I need to research that.
There are also the views of the Theosophists, New Age--which has been influenced by Theosophy--and other groups, on the issue of karma. In fact, the various teachings on karma are so vast that we cannot even briefly review them all here.
However, I believe we can safely say that even under the gaze of Buddhism with its philosophy of intentionality, both Stone and the Chinese government will likely not escape a negative karmic reaction to this affair--because Buddhism has a very sophisticated view of the mental processes that either entangle us or liberate us. A person may think they have no bad intention in whatever they are doing, but in vipassana meditation one can minutely analyze mental processes in order to pinpoint defilements, and remove them. These defilements lurk within the mind beneath the threshold of ordinary consciousness, and they--caused by bad actions and thoughts in the first place--entangle one further in karmic reaction. We have digressed a bit from our original discussion, but all to the good. We have pointed out our position that no one involved in the Stone/China episode will escape a reaction.
In my opinion, only the general principles of karma can be understood, not every detail. So this is another reason I am not a Buddhist. I subscribe to the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita--sometimes called India's "Bible" because of its widespread utility--which explains that even the very wise are bewildered in the subject matter of action, non-action, and prohibited action (please remember that the word karma means action, not the results of action--a modern gloss on the term).
Is there such a thing as group karma? Well, why not? But let's make one thing perfectly clear, as old Nixon would say.
The doctrine/fact of karma, at least as it has always been understood in Indic traditions, is inextricable from the doctrine/fact of reincarnation. This explains why someone is born into this or that condition, and it is that person's "karma". It also explains why 60,000 Chinese can suffer from an earthquake or 6 million Jews can perish in the Holocaust. It's because of whatever these people might have done in previous lifetimes, and not necessarily as Chinese or Jews. The same would apply to the victims of the attack on America, September 11, 2001. Perhaps some of them may have been Muslims who did violence to Christians and Jews, and now, in a weird (but logical) twist of karma they became Christians and Jews, and were attacked by Muslims?
Also, the lords or administrators of karma (a common concept for religions that understand karma, more or less) are quite competent to gather entities together from disparate situations, put them in a common situation, and give them their karma. And this karma can be "good" or "bad". Lets say a farmer likes the rain his karma brings him, and the owner of a resort hotel does not. But they are both getting the same karma, for different reasons, and with different attitudes toward it.
All of this seems to substantiate the Gita's declaration about the difficulties of understanding the details of karma.
Anyway, we have started a deeply interesting conversation about karma. The Station Agent, myself, Dave, the Chinese government, and Sharon Stone--and yes, all our visitors--are welcome to join in. It would be nice if all concerned gave a general reference for their views (chapter and verse not necessary).
While we are on the subject of the still sultry Sharon Stone, let us note that her good looks at the age of 50 are not likely the result of her karma, at least at the more elemental level. It is more likely that plastic surgery has been added to her karma.
Now, isn't it her karma that she had the plastic surgery? Yes and no. She made the decision to have that surgery, and all of our decisions are influenced by our previous karma. But at one point we must all make decisions that are not ultimately karmic. To deny this is to posit a strict determinism that is not compatible with the doctrine/fact of karma, for they both point to individual responsibility, not abdication of it or ignorance of it. Karma is obviously based on choice, but choice SHOULD be based in something else. Otherwise, what is the meaning of this rare human life? For the record, all Indic systems see the attainment of a human existence as very, very rare--and precious, because of the rational facility to understand really important things like, well, karma. So let's at least understand karma enough that we can conduct ourselves accordingly.
In closing, let me point out that the misconception that belief in karma is fatalistic comes from the Abrahamic religions, or rather, people claiming to represent them. Whether they misunderstood on a personal level and passed this misunderstanding on out of ignorance, or they were cynical about it, is difficult to say. Probably the former. There are certainly many sincere Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Anyway, they have gotten their karma, because the entire Western world has been discussing karma for at least 40 years now, and many are starting to get a grasp on this basic fact of life.
In my view, such a grasp would have less to do with theoretical understanding--a tall order in any tradition--and more to do with practical behavior. If we try to do the good and avoid the bad, and certainly, like Earl on My Name Is Earl try to rectify past bad actions with good actions in the present, we cannot go wrong.
Somehow, I have a feeling that we are all agreed at least on the last point?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Illegally abducted children united with parents.
"SAN ANTONIO - In a crushing blow to the state's massive seizure of children from a polygamist sect's ranch, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that child welfare officials overstepped their authority and the children should go back to their parents."
The Supreme Court specified that CPS could still monitor the living conditions of these children.
OK, that's reasonable enough. But was abducting them in the first place reasonable?
For something that could happen in the future?
I think we all know the answer to that. The only thing to do now is to bring a lawsuit against the Texas CPS, although I do not know if that is possible.
And really, there is only one punishment that could make up for what they did, but two wrongs don't make a right.
Someone could steal their children.
So I decided that from time to time, every couple months, I would do an update here at TWS for the members of the WoT dyaspora wondering what's new. In case you haven't heard, sadly, RJ passed late last year. When he died he was ever so close to completing his massive, 12 book series. Alas, the final book remains incomplete, though he did map out the book thoroughly before he died. A writer I am not familiar with by the name of Brandon Sanderson has been selected to finish the final book in the series, which will be called A Memory of Light. AMoL is due out in the Fall of 2009, I would not be surprised if it took longer. For one, I am willing to wait as long as it takes for Mr. Sanderson to get it right. Sanderson is blogging about his progress here.
A lot of Wheel of Time fans have wanted to see a movie franchise or a TV series made for many years. I think HBO would kick ass with this material if they did it right. RJ has long rebuffed the concept of a movie saying that he doesn't think people would want to see a movie that was 10 hours long. His books are quite dense, but I think I could write a really great two hour script that covered the material in the first book just fine.
Blogger Mike Perschon has a pretty good idea for a TV series based on WoT.
I started thinking about "Wheel of Time" as a television series. It's long enough to sustain several seasons, the iron is hot for the striking insofar as fantasy media goes, and the cast is basically Beverly 90210 (or whatever teen drama is currently hip - sue me, I'm old) meets Lord of the Rings. The cast would be young, attractive and cool, and the setting would be cool in the current deluge of fantasy films. But it's too damn long for a single film installment, so a television series makes the most sense. I got to thinking about how we watch television series, which is one episode at a time. I began to view the chapters in each book as "episodes" of "Wheel of Time" as a television series, and each book as a "season." I don't like every episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and there are some seasons I like better than others. Some of my favorite episodes are in my least favorite seasons. But I love the characters, and I want to see what happens to them, so I tune in. I love Rand, Mat, Perrin, and many of the characters in Wheel of Time. I want to see what happens to them. So I keep tuning in.Perschon points us in the directioin of a great WoT illustrator by the name of Seamas Gallagher, and WoT could use a good illustrator because, as Perschon puts it, "[Series cover page illustrator] Darrell Sweet is not only the worst possible choice for cover illustrator for this series, but also that he has never read any of the books, or in the case of the first one, not even a description of the major characters." An animated show using Gallagher's renderings of RJ's characters would be awesome. Check out his Ishamael -->.
Next April, as anticipation for the book really begins in earnest, the first ever JordanCon will go down in Atlanta, Georgia. Pre-registration is now open. If you dig the series it will probably be a fun time. I may have to go down there myself. It's either that or Lebowskifest.
In closing, here's a podcasters interview with Robert Jordan from 1994 after the release of, in my opinion, the high point of the series, Book 6, The Lord of Chaos.
Here's what she said. "I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else," Stone said. "And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?"
I'm with her on Tibet. I do not sympathize with that ruthless occupation (or any other ruthless occupation, thank you very much) and, frankly, the Chinese communist revolution hasn't worked out well at all. You don't need me or Sharon Stone to tell you that.
But Sharon Stone, these are people you're talking about. Roughly 68,000 of them. What she said is right up there with the crap Pat Robertson says about Hurricanes or the things Pastor Hagee, McCain's former BFF, says about gays in New Orleans causing Hurricane Katrina.
To her credit, Stone has apologized. They always apologize in the end.
I also bring this up because her use of the word karma kind of bothers me. This word has gone native over the last few decades and hit the culture big time with the popularity of the NBC sitcom My Name is Earl.
But Stone's use of the word epitomizes Americans' misunderstanding of the word. Hector Diego can explain karma better than anyone I've ever met, so I defer to him on the details, but it's important to understand that karma is not the revenge fairy. The American notion of karma, and this is what My Name is Earl makes fun of, is too closely connected to justice and it's kind of embarrassing.
Perhaps John Lennon had something like that in mind when he wrote "Instant Karma". Hector might know more about that one too.
By the way, my dad had the misfortune of meeting Stone back in the day on the set of The Specialist and she really made an impression on him. He called her the word John McCain uses for his wife when she plays with his hair.
The way these media people operate is driven by self-interest. At Fox "News", the self-interest of the on-air talent is driven not so much by ratings as it is by the happiness of Murdoch. So, if this works the way I think this works, the anchors at Fox News will be coming on board for the big win real soon. It may be a painful shift for some, but if Murdoch is truly gravitating toward Obama, then the heat generated by the media's loudest megaphone may not be focused on him come Fall.
Of course, Fox News is as viable, if not more viable than ever, with a Democrat in the White House. Remember the good old days?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Your tax dollar at work in the war on drugs
Rachel Hoffman was a young FSU graduate who was caught with a small amount of marijuana. To escape a long jail sentence, the police made her participate in a drug sting operation.
On May 9, 2008 she was found murdered by the big dealers she was supposed to lure into the police trap.
The Tallahasee Police Department shamelessly says it was her fault because she didn't follow protocol. Doesn't this tell everyone that the stupid drug war should stop?
! ! !
Read more here.
Now, having said that, I would like to argue, very briefly, that McClellan is not as bad as other late converts. This is the press secretary we're talking about. Press secretaries are born to be ignored. He's just their lawyer in the court of public opinion. If not him, then someone else would have done the same job either a lot better like Tony Snow, or a lot worse like Dana Perino. But it doesn't matter and they're rarely in on anything significant. This is not Ari Fleischer (now that dude was evil) we're talking about here. This dude was in over head from the beginning.
Having said that, McClellan is a long way from redemption. I'll check out your book, Scott, because I believe in redemption, but if you want to really get on the right side, just be ready to testify in a court of law against all you're old buddies when the time comes.
The Daily Show covered McClellan's surreal 2006 departure. I don't think McClellan and Bush will be rocking in those rocking chairs talking about the good old days when he was press secretary after all.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the President of the United States on January 20, 1961, he delivered one of the most important and inspiring speeches of all history.
At the time, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were in a life and death struggle over the issue of nuclear weapons. In that regard, Kennedy proclaimed, "So let us begin anew-- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."
Perhaps Senator McCain, who claims that Obama seeks to "appease" America's foes simply because he wants to speak directly to them, should study the rhetoric, the intent, and the spirit of Kennedy's address. Obviously, Obama has.
Here's the speech and its text.
I have been searching for a bloggable version of Quicksilver's "Don't Cry My Lady Love" from the first day The Walrus Speaks was started almost two years ago. The song may not be to everyone's taste, but you must admit the piano arrangement is superb.
That's the late Nicky Hopkins--a splendid musician in his own right, and one of the greatest session men of all time--on piano. And of course, the late Dino Valente (who wrote the Youngblood's famous "Get Together" under a pseudonym) on vocals.
You were supposed to listen to this beautiful music under the influence of a mind altering substance, but we now know that this is not necessary.
I have a feeling the surviving members of the band would concur.
The face of the future
...for the young at heart.
An article in today's New York Times indicates the mentality of Congress--stiff, retro, and without faith. "Mr. Obama’s advantage has been a surprise, given the prominence of the Clintons in party politics."
Why was I not surprised? The answer is in that old song.
"Fairy tales could come true, it could happen to you, if you're young at heart."
I guess I just never grew up.
Monday, May 26, 2008
From The Gainesville Sun:
Neat rows of miniature gravestones stretch for one mile east of 34th Street on the south side of 8th Avenue. Each of the 4,516 "gravestones," lovingly and carefully made by groups of people getting together for months preceding this Memorial Day weekend, bears the name, rank, date of death and hometown of these brave members of our armed services. Additional markers were ready for 2009.The Gainesville chapter of Veterans for Peace organized the event, which was also held last year.
I used to live three houses from the intersection where Memorial Mile originates and I used to walk this mile of road daily for months. The statues that normally span this stretch are of the nine planets (we include Pluto) situated roughly to scale. Seeing the head stones literally stretch from the Sun to Pluto is a shattering cosmic metaphor.
Here's a look at the Memorial Mile and the 4,577 monuments.
Greg Palast breaks it down:
Obama’s war profiteering tax, or “oil windfall profits” tax, would equal just 20% of the industry’s charges in excess of $80 a barrel. It’s embarrassingly small actually, smaller than every windfall tax charged by every other nation. (Ecuador, for example, captures up to 99% of the higher earnings).You may want to mention this to people you meet who are planning to vote for McCain. Oh, and by the way something, Barack, if you feel like jacking that tax up to, say, a hundred and twelve percent after you get elected, feel free.
Nevertheless, oilman George W. Bush opposes it as does Bush’s man McCain. Senator McCain admonishes us that the po’ widdle oil companies need more than 80% of their windfall so they can explore for more oil. When pigs fly, Senator. Last year, Exxon spent $36 billion of its $40 billion income on dividends and special payouts to stockholders in tax-free buy-backs. Even the Journal called Exxon’s capital investment spending “stingy.”
At today’s prices Obama’s windfall tax, teeny as it is, would bring in nearly a billion dollars a day for the US Treasury. Clinton’s plan is similar. Yet the press’ entire discussion of gas prices is shifted to whether the government should knock some sales tax pennies off the oil companies’ pillaging at the pump.
Christine Wicker, blogger, journalist and author of The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church, and Debra Dickerson, who wrote this article in Mother Jones, now have the numbers to prove that not only are evangelicals running from the Republican Party, their numbers were greatly exaggerated all along.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Here's Obama v. McCain.
Here's Clinton v. McCain.
And here's a hybrid:
While Clinton has an advantage nationwide, Obama's bounce from the networks finally pointing out that he, you know, won is gradually taking affect.
Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was the prototype for Saturday Night Live, and just as big in its day. It was also the first major comedy show that people left of center could identify with. Indeed, its contribution to American culture is inestimable. But please don't take it too seriously. Otherwise, how could you place a bet on your sweet bippy?
If you don't know what a sweet bippy is, why don't you look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls?
Sock it to me, baby.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
This world is damned rough these days, and I believe we need something light for a change, without emphasizing depth, importance, seriousness, etc. Just pure entertainment to soothe the senses.
Here's Roger Miller, 1964.
"Consistent with its title, the album [Another Side Of Bob Dylan] marks a shift away from the more overt, issue-oriented folk music that Dylan had previously been gravitating toward, dominating his previous LP, The Times They Are A-Changin'. This break from traditionalist roots prompted sharp criticism from influential figures in the folk community. Sing Out! editor Irwin Silber famously complained that Dylan had "somehow lost touch with people" and was tangled up in "the paraphernalia of fame". Most critics outside of these circles, however, praised its innovations in songwriting, which would have a tremendous influence on such legendary rock acts as The Beatles."
Pearl Jam re-invented the song back in 1992:
And of course, Bob Dylan.
And here's a handful of lesser known covers.
What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at "vegan potlucks" throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to "investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines."Perhaps Representative Paul would like to call for investigations?
The British are upping the ante on repressiveness as well.
The Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, controls the Iranian military and holds by far the most power in Iran.
From The Washington Post (December 2007):
Back in the 1980s if a Presidential candidate tried to say that the Iranian President, who happened to be Ali Khamenei, was in charge and not the dreaded Ayatollah Khomeini, they would have been laughed back into the seventies.
It's not just ordinary citizens who assume that Ahmadinejad calls the shots in Tehran. Last Tuesday, as President Bush tried to explain away a new National Intelligence Estimate reporting that Iran had shuttered its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, he argued at an awkward news conference that his administration's "carrot-and-stick approach" toward Iran had been working -- "until Ahmadinejad came in." But under the Iranian system, a president matters far less than the supreme leader. For all Ahmadinejad's bluster, he is not "the decider." It's the unelected and unaccountable Khamenei who sits atop Iran's labyrinthine political structure. He gets the last word on whether Iran should try to get the bomb or try to talk to the United States. So to deal with Iran, the West must get to know Khamenei.
The supreme leader is an enigma even to most of Iran's 70 million people. In fact, he's far more cautious, conservative and pragmatic than the bellowing Ahmadinejad. Khamenei wants a "Goldilocks" kind of Islamic Republic -- not too hot, not too cold. He's reluctant to tilt too far in any one direction and keen to keep squabbling factions on board. He says that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic but heartily approves of the knowledge and fuel required to build them. And he is even willing to work with the United States to bring stability to Afghanistan and Iraq -- as long as Iran gets to expand its regional influence by keeping its feeble neighbors under its thumb.(more)
Speaking of Ayatollahs, the person known as the most powerful man in Iraq is Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. We've been very fortunate that Sistani, a very pragmatic and patient man, has decided not to unleash hell against our occupation. There are indications his patience may have run out. This does not bode well. We need to go.
Some dude who left a comment, claiming to be a forensic psychiatrist--the guy you want on your side in a court battle, not the other side, although anyone who thinks forensics is an accurate science hasn't thought about it very much--thinks he has gotten the drop on our beloved Agent. He writes, "Take Obama and start a new country, leave the USA the hell alone. You are going from blog to blog with your drivel all over the internet. I could tell the first line or two with your code speak, what you were about and who you favored."
So now the Station Agent is becoming famous! He's all over the internet! And he deserves it. I'll tell you why.
The Jayman, as I like to call him, understands two very important things we should all understand.
1. The dialectical tension and strength between two of the greatest political thinkers in Western history, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Because of the wisdom of these men and their colleagues, the United States of America--no matter whatever else one could or should say about it--has the most stable form of government in recorded history as we know it. Jefferson and Adams constantly disagreed, but because they were the best of friends they remained in a civil dialog. So where they agreed, we must know that they struck gold. The disagreements were part of the digging process.
2. Jefferson's statement that a nation needs a revolution every twenty years. Obviously, he was not suggesting a violent revolution, so we must ask ourselves what Jefferson meant. And when we do that--according to time, place, and circumstance--we will discover what the Jayman, along with Jefferson, would mean by progress.
Now Jay Allbritton would further ratify two things.
1. Abraham Lincoln's famous statement, "I am for those means which will give the greatest good for the greatest number."
2. The understanding that Lincoln's statement, especially in today's world, must be applied holistically, and that means the entire planet, including the physical earth and all life that lives upon it. If people are starving or very oppressed somewhere, it affects all of us, or at least is a reflection of a tortured world that will eventually define our own neighborhood. If the environment has been so compromised that plankton in the sea die off, bees are no longer around for pollination, and you can't trust the food you eat, then stop-gap measures are too little and too late.
For all the reasons stated here, the Station Agent, now a featured writer at AOL, recommends the candidacy of Barack Obama, because Obama also understands these articles, and respects the intellectual legacy and spirit of Jefferson and Adams.
As for starting a new country, I'm sure Jefferson would approve.
He would call it the United States of America.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Here's my results as they pertain to the candidates left in the race.
A dangerous woman?
Finally some sanity has asserted itself in the FLDS fiasco in Texas, where "The Third Court of Appeals in Austin said Thursday that the state failed to show the youngsters were in any immediate danger, the only grounds under Texas law for taking children from their parents without court action."
"Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may someday have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme measure of immediate removal," the court said.
All of that sounds about right to me. We disapprove (well, some of us disapprove) of preemptive strikes on supposedly hostile nations. And who would condone preemptive arrests on individuals for crimes they may commit?
We must see that for most parents, being arrested is not as bad as having your children stolen from you--that is the worst thing in the world for both parents and children, barring real abuse--which CPS authorities never found.
Because they have arrested no one.
The parents and their children are not out of the woods yet, as the "humiliated" (the article says) CPS may appeal. In my view, government agencies should be humiliated, and what ever part of their work is not found to be worthy of humiliation--that's the good stuff that taxpayers are funding.
It is always better to err on the side of the people instead of the government. No?
Even if the people are weird and standoffish. A cult. Call it whatever.
I'll bet FLDS members will change their chauvinistic ways now, so this fiasco hasn't been entirely unproductive.
Just about 99%.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The proliferation of musical taxonomy makes me dizzy. For instance, this song by The Clash sounds like fairly innocuous New Wave to me, but it is listed as punk. What makes it punk?
Station Agent, help me out here.
Everyone is asking, does Clinton want to be VP? Hey, it's a pretty good job. I get the feeling that Hillary Clinton would love to be VP IF that means that she gets to have a comparable amount of power to Dick Cheney. More likely, Obama's campaign would like her to just go away. But being pragmatic about it, they should probably accept a more reasonable role for her, along the lines of Mondale or Gore, which is an active, public role. Bill Clinton made Al Gore the butt of many jokes over the years, but the two of them worked well together.
Okay, that's enough about that. We have probably six to eight more weeks of this discussion. I'm much more interested in beating McCain and so is Obama.
But I would like to offer some numbers, just because these numbers do not lie.
According to the Associated Press:
Obama 1649 / Clinton 1497
Obama 307 / Clinton 279
Obama 1956 / Clinton 1776
Needed to Win
Obama 70 / Clinton 250
Pledged Delegates Remaining: 86
Super Delegates Still Uncommitted: 211
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
"My Slumbering Heart" must be one of Rilo Kiley's genius compositions, or I know nothing about music. The music is complex, and so are the lyrics. It's about the pleasures of childhood, youth, and maturity. "It just feels good when you're coming home."
I like to call it "Gone Dreaming".
As great as they have always been, they're stronger now, an awesome bestial perpetual motion machine unleashed for ninety minutes a night. They are unbelievably tight professionals that will not play a substand show despite the venue. This band will not let down a single fan.
They are more creative than ever. I wish I had the acoustic version of "Alive and Kicking" they played last night. Instead, here's the equally awesome electric version from their live album. Please, see this tour.
The lyrics in "Here Today" about crying are apparent references to the death of both of their mothers in their teen years.
Here McCartney breaks down while performing "Here Today". If you are the type that still weeps for Lennon, now you can do it with Paul.
After 28 years, it still stings.
One of my Political Machine cohorts, Justin Paulette wrote a moving post about the news regarding Senator Kennedy's condition. Justin is what we in the blogosphere refer to as a conservative, or, in more sharp terms, a right winger. Yet he recognized, as I'm sure most Americans of just about all political persuasions recognized, that Kennedy's affliction transcends politics. Plenty of conservatives are weighing in with well wishes for Edward Kennedy.
Today a lot of people are talking about the childish antics of a cartoonish, heel radio host and the vicious piling on of readers in a right wing forum. Forget about all that. Just remember, the blogosphere is really a small place and the ghoulish few who are not worth mentioning are not representative of the mainstream of Republicans.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
"(CNN) — John McCain’s chief media adviser said Tuesday he is stepping down rather than campaign against Barack Obama. Mark McKinnon (left) said last year that he would leave McCain’s campaign after the primary season if the Arizona senator were to run against Obama. In a 2007 interview with Cox News, McKinnon said he would vote for McCain, but "I just don't want to work against an Obama candidacy." He added that if Obama were to reach the White House, it "would send a great message to the country and the world." The McCain campaign says McKinnon will remain a “major supporter” of the McCain’s presidential bid."
Why blog about a celebrity's diet? When the celebrity is Oprah, her diet is momentous--if it deviates from the dominant dietary paradigm. What she does, millions will follow.
"Oprah has decided to try a strict cleanse. In addition to being vegan, she'll forgo alcohol, wheat, and sugar—but luckily, you don't have to follow the same restrictions in order to experience benefits too! By simply replacing your normal animal-filled fare with vegetarian versions, you'll be on your way to a healthier you. That's right—you can replace the dairy ice cream in your freezer with soy ice cream and the beef burgers on your grill with Boca, and you'll still be making healthier choices. Why? Vegan foods are naturally cholesterol-free and higher in fiber."
I got all that from PETA, an organization that makes me quite ambivalent. The reason for my ambivalence is that I applaud their work towards animal rights, but I think that in some ways they are counterproductive to their own noble cause.
The main problem with PETA is that they do not endorse a vegetarian diet, they endorse a vegan diet, which means no animal products at all. So, no milk products, no honey, no eggs.
The problem with that is the difficulty of following such a diet. I have been a super strict vegetarian for over thirty-four years, and it is difficult even for me--the vegan diet, that is. I tried it once for a few weeks and discovered that it takes a rare person, having given up fish and land animal food, to go without milk products too.
Now if a strict vegetarian like myself (I don't eat eggs, either) has difficulty with the vegan diet, what is Joe Carnivore going to make of it? If he even tries it, he will most likely give it up before a week has passed.
What does it matter? Well, as a vegetarian activist I am committed to bringing as many people as possible to an innocent diet. I suspect the vegan diet turns as many people off to vegetarianism as it produces vegans, because people will not discriminate between these two diets and simply conclude that going without meat is too much of an austerity.
It's bad enough that folks think that all vegetarians eat is salad--which is absurd--but because they are not familiar with the innocent diet, that's what they think. PETA is not helping the situation by being exclusively vegan.
They remind me of Hillary Clinton, not that concerned with the bigger picture. If Paul McCartney reads this post, he might be disgusted with me because he is a big PETA supporter (although, to my knowledge, not a vegan, only a vegetarian). However, he will know what I'm talking about.
PETA's position is that farm animals are not treated well. My position is that they should be treated well. Because PETA is committed to veganism, they cannot agree that animals and humans can exist in symbiosis. They also do not agree that dairy products are healthy for humans. I maintain that a healthy human can benefit from dairy products used sparingly. But, like Hillary, they are stubborn.
Finally, I am really angry with PETA for their reference to ordinary ice cream as "your normal animal-filled fare" that can be replaced with "vegetarian versions" such as "soy ice cream".
! ! !
Since when is milk not vegetarian? Even ultra-vegan PETA has defined a vegetarian diet as not going far enough because of the dairy component. Now they are claiming that dairy is not even vegetarian. They have conflated veganism with vegetarianism, obviously, because they no longer want the public to be aware of the distinction--and the option.
They have stolen a word!
In the politics of representation, PETA has deliberately misrepresented veganism, vegetarianism, and dairy foods. Like Hillary, they are liars.
So I am frustrated with PETA, for they are so close to me in their aims, yet so far away.
Anyway, Oprah is doing good work in going vegan for awhile. Let's hope that people who follow her can see the forest for the trees.
If veganism doesn't work for you, go vegetarian. And if you can't be vegetarian, at least understand the principle and don't oppose it.
If you oppose it, I'm coming after you. Hopefully Oprah will be at my side.
Hillary and her followers should listen
to this man. He's honest.
Once you start lying, we were told as children, it is very hard to stop. Apparently Hillary and (some of) the fanatics that support her didn't listen to their mothers when they were growing up. I hardly see how this is respectful of women.
Here's Hillary's latest gem. "Clinton said she did not believe the campaign had been tainted by racism, adding that racism is apparently less tolerated in US society than sexism." Of course! That's why she is courting, and getting, the votes of white Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Because those places are sexist.
She also claims that she "speaks for all women and should stay in the Democratic race to the bitter end." Of course! The younger women who want Obama (and more younger women want Obama than want Hillary) are actually Hillary supporters, in a vast conspiracy to delude Obama into thinking he will be nominated, only to realize his campaign has feet of clay. This conspiracy will be revealed, of course, after Hillary wins the nomination.
Now for some of her supporters who make the same outrageous claims (not all of them are liars-especially the rare ones who know she is not as good a choice as Obama, admit it, and also admit they just want to see a woman President...I can respect their honesty). "Hillary's voice is OUR voice, and she's speaking for all of us," says WomenCount. I agree women do count, but if WomenCount says Hillary speaks for all women, they are--so ironically--not counting the women who want Obama. Because the divide is mostly between generations, we may conclude that the older generation has math problems, while the younger generation watched Sesame Street, and were schooled by The Count. So they can.
Hillary, when will you return to Scranton to go Bambi hunting and leave us in peace? Maybe when you finish your 12 oz Iron City?
Meanwhile the Count is busy counting superdelegates declaring for Obama. "One delegate, two delegates ah ah ah." The Count is no liar. Your mother should know.
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- Sam Cooke, Chain Gang
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- There's A Place
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Antique walrus print courtesy of FineRarePrints.Com