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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Iran

Matt Yglesias thinking like an Iranian:
And, indeed, it's not clear that a policy of appeasement would be wise. True, we've seen rational leadership even from vicious dictators like Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, but the contemporary United States is led by religious fanatics, which introduces a new element into the equation. What's more, the USA is the only country on earth to have ever actually deployed nuclear weapons. Indeed, current political elites are so war-crazed and bloodthirsty that they not only engineered the 2003 attack on Iraq -- a country that tried to appease the Americans by eliminating its nuclear program and allowing IAEA inspectors to certify that it had done so -- but they continue to deny regretting it to this day. And that includes not only radicals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but so-called "moderates" like Hillary Clinton as well.
Uh yeah, dude...

Appeasement doesn't work, not even if you're trying to appease the United States.

Do Not Read This Story If You Hate Mexicans - It Might Change Your Mind

Don't expect to hear about this story from your favorite right-wing talk show host.

The only stories they like about illegal immigrants are the ones where they commit crimes and stuff. Anything that hints at their inherent humanity, the wingers have no use for...

Understanding Glenn Beck

I think I have an idea why Glenn Beck is so hostile to environmentalists, and by extension, environmentalism in general. It's part of his stand against political correctness.

Exhibit A.

GLENN: I'm dreaming of a, fill in the blank.

STU: Of white Christmas.

GLENN: What do you think it would be?

STU: Please don't tell me it's a green Christmas.

GLENN: Go ahead and say it. Stu, a fun Christmas?

STU: I'm dreaming of a green Christmas.

GLENN: No, no, no, no. That's what you would think it is.

STU: Right.

GLENN: If you were going to be on the bandwagon of the, you know, hip new movement and, you know, politically correct.

STU: Did they admit what it really is and say it's a red Christmas?

GLENN: Green and red go together; happy holidays.

STU: They do, don't they?

GLENN: Here's the thing, Stu. It's I'm not dreaming of a green Christmas. I'm dreaming of a green holiday.
Am I reading that right? He doesn't come out and say it, but it seems that Beck equates "being green" with "being on the hip politically correct bandwagon."

Hey, I'll admit that "being green" has become a market meme. On the way to work this morning, I heard a radio commercial touting a car's environmentally friendly impact. A couple weeks ago, NBC was positioning themselves as a "green" company with their "Green is Universal" campaign. You got Wal-Mart selling fluorescent bulbs and Japanese carmakers pushing hybrids.

But is all of that because it's politically correct to be green? Or because there is now a place in the market for environmentally friendly products and practices?

Count me amongst those who think the market's new sensitivity to environmental issues is a good thing, something that should be celebrated and encouraged, not openly mocked and maligned.

But then again, I'm not Glenn Beck and I don't get my weird Mormon panties in a twist because a company tries to go green.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Glenn Beck Challenge

My brother is a big fan of Glenn Beck. We were debating illegal immigration one day and Beck came up. Half-jokingly, I dismissed him as that "weirdo Mormon" and promptly made fun of his "weird underwear." True, it was a cheap shot, but I was only half-serious. Wearing funny underwear is no less weird than, say, pretending to drink the blood of Jesus or praying towards Mecca five times a day, at least for me.

When it comes to trashing religion, I'm an equal opportunity offender. But Beck's religion isn't the reason why I make fun of him. No, that would be his bonafides as a right-wing hack job.

"But he's not a right-wing hack job," my brother says. "He's funny."

That I believe. Before he became a right-wing hack job, I understand he was primarily a radio funny man. But then 9-11 happened... Er, actually I don't know what inspired Beck to go from radio comedy to radio commentary, but it's been quite lucrative for him.

He's got a new book coming out, too, which my brother wants for Christmas. Guess what it's called? An Inconvenient Book. So clever, and yet strangely original...

From the Amazon description:
In this appraisal of America's woes, conservative TV and talk-radio host Beck (The Real America) lays lighthearted siege to everything that makes the world worse. [P]olitical correctness is the biggest threat this nation faces today, he declares, as it makes us prey for Islamic fundamentalists, renders taboo the roots of our economic troubles (poor people are, in fact, lazy, he argues) and creates rampant distortion in the media. Beck goes paragraph for paragraph with global-warming alarmist Al Gore, merrily slaughtering the sacred cows of the environmentalist crowd.
Of course, I can't critique the book without having read it, but I can lay into a few of those positions.

For one, I am sick and tired...sick and fucking tired of the right-wing global warming skeptics. Tired of them.

Yes, yes, we all know that global warming is Al Gore's pet issue. We all know he's made a lot of money and won a lot of awards making sure that "Al Gore" and "environmentalism" are synonymous. Surely all of that can be divorced from the larger point that mankind has an effect on our environment and we can choose whether it will be a positive effect or a negative effect. We can really nerd out on the specifics, debating all day and night whether the ice caps will melt and sink New York City, but it is pure folly to pretend that human activity (especially industrial activity) has little to no environmental impact.

That claim is not only patently false, but also quite ridiculous. All one needs to do is look at the pre-industrial cultures that obsoleted themselves through careless use of environmental resources. Read Jared Diamond's book Collapse for a few examples.

I'm not sure what Glenn Beck thinks he will accomplish by going "paragraph for paragraph with global-warming alarmist Al Gore, merrily slaughtering the sacred cows of the environmentalist crowd." Does he think ridiculing Al Gore will make our environmental problems go away? Or does he think that we don't have any environmental problems?

This is an important question to answer. It means the difference between Glenn Beck being a fucking idiot, or a mean-spirited hack? (And neither are things one should aspire to be, in my book.)

At any rate, my brother issued me a challenge. Listen to Glenn Beck's radio show for a week and see if I still think he's a right-wing nut job. I'll try, despite my visceral dislike of all things talk radio, and I'll even have an open mind.

But if he starts blasting global warming by sniping on Al Gore, or bitching about Islamic fundamentalists but saying nothing about Christian fundamentalists, or going off on immigration, I'm going to tune out.

In other words, I expect that I'll be tuning out on day one...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Mojo

Tool at the Pepsi Center

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last night, I went to the Tool concert at the Pepsi Center. I had floor seats and managed to get pretty close, but when I lost my buddy Brian in the mosh pit, I got the hell out of there and watched the show from a safer distance.

I had a great view of the drum kit and got to watch Danny Carey pound through the set in its entirety. Last time I saw them, he was obscured by a pillar. I was also close enough to see Justin Chancellor's intricate finger-work on his bass and, as one listen to any Tool song will confirm, the man is a master.

They played for two hours, giving the ten minute treatment to each song, trying to hypnotize the audience with a UFO laser lightshow, abstract imagery on the screens, and delicious polyrhythms. And for the most part, it worked, especially for the stoners I'm assuming.

The omnipresent aroma of weed smoke made me wish I had brought my own. I could have smoked a joint on the Pepsi Center floor, where the Nuggets play and the Avalanche skate... But I didn't. Instead I just inhaled deeply and enjoyed the show.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bill Brasky

Big Daddy posted a Bill Brasky skit from SNL that I had never seen. I love those Brasky skits.

Here's another one with Alec Baldwin:

"He once breast fed an injured flamingo back to health."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Couple Facts

22.2% of the people in my neighborhood live below the poverty line.

It's 49.9% Hispanic/Latino, 15% black.

55.9% are under the age of 29.

My zip code is the poorest in the surrounding zip codes, but also the second most populous.

Check out your neighborhood's stats here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Today's Blues Moment

Courtesy of the legendary Skip James. And I mean he really was legendary.I'd rather be the devil than be that woman's man...

Press Release About My Schedule

The new guy got fired today. Actually, he was still a contractor still so it was more like he just didn't get hired. It's been coming on for a while now. He aggravated the shit out of me before I went on nights, but then I didn't see him (or anyone else for that matter) until last week. He was on thin ice to begin with, but then he lied to the boss...

At any rate, here I am, not even a week and a half into my new schedule, and my schedule's changing again. Instead of working 10-6, I'll work 7 to 5, and instead of Sun-Thurs, I'll be working F-M. Yes...Friday through Monday. Through the weekend.

That hurts. But only slightly.

There are a few pros:

* It's day shift. Definitely a bonus in the social category.
* I get all the holidays off this year, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. It has literally been years since that was the case.
* Four ten hour days, which means one less day of commuting, one day less gas, one day less aggravation.
* A three day "weekend" every week.
* More opportunities for overtime.

It turns out there is a bright side to vagaries of shift work.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Son House Blues

So the great long-hair experiment is over. I went and got a haircut yesterday, one of those severe military style ones. I'd put up a picture if I had one, but instead how bout some more old-school blues?

A Press Release About My Alarm Clock

For the last couple of years (years?) I have woken up with this song, Nina Simone's Feeling Good. It's a fitting wake-up call, with lines like, "It's a new dawn, it's a new day."

The CD also has a few great jazz songs on it, so when I get up and just let it play, I find myself coming back into my room after a shower with the soothing sounds of Count Basie playing One O'Clock Jump or Duke Ellington playing Rhapsody in Blue. Day after day of listening to these songs I have an intimate familiarity with each note and rhythm and what's more, I don't love them any less.

Yesterday I retired my old jazz wake-up CD in favor of a kind of dueling bluesman compilation of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters songs.

Today was the first day I woke up to this.

"When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'"
-Sam Phillips