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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Open Letter to Cliff May at NRO

Comparing and contrasting the threat posed by Islamic terrorists and Soviet Russia, Cliff May answers some hypotheticals from John Derbyshire.

Derb:
Which major war have the jihadi armies recently co-won? How many armored divisions do they have? How many European nations have they subjugated and installed puppet governments in? What's their industrial capacity? How many engineers, doctors, physicists, chemists, mathematicians do they produce every year? How extensive is their espionage network? How many of our intelligentsia think they are a positive and progressive force?
Cliff May does his best to answer them, but most of his answers reduce to "It ain't WWII anymore, dude."

This one, though, this one caught me off-guard:
Q: How many of our intelligentsia think they are a positive and progressive force? A: Quite a few members of the left intelligentsia think they are a positive and progressive force but why do you ask? Why would you presume that what our intelligentisa think could determine the outcome of any war?
Wait....what was that?
"Quite a few members of the left intelligentsia think they [Al Qaeda] are a positive and progressive force..."
Is that even true? I don't think so...

Name names, Cliff. I'm trying to think of a few names that, even by right-wing standards, could possibly be construed as being Al Qaeda fans. I can come up with one: Ward Churchill, but even then, he's not part of the "left intelligentsia." Churchill's the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe!

So come on, Cliff. Name names or shut the fuck up.

Updated: Never mind, Cliff. You are clearly out of your mind.
Derb, you ask how they [jihadis] would set out to destroy us? Only lack of imagination limits the possibilities. But nuclear and biological weapons might certainly play a role. A series of 9/11's would not destroy all of us but would have more impact on America as we know it than anything that the Communists or the Nazis ever managed — whatever lethal potential they may have had within their arsenals and armies.
Thanks to your incredible remote viewing capabilities, we know exactly what would happen if there were a "series of 9/11's," with nukes and bugs too! Your hypothetical future is definitely scary, but without actually experiencing it for myself, I couldn't say it's worse than the Commies or the Nazis, who hopefully even a raging lunatic like yourself can recognize were, you know, pretty bad.

It's funny though, because you say:
"(T)he Soviets were evil but they were rational."
But this is the judgment of a dude who clings to the irrational fear of nuclear and biological attack. Like life is an action movie starring George Clooney.

Not Exactly a Feather in Your Cap, Hill

Also on CNN about Bhutto and the presidential horse race. Hillary Clinton commenting on Bhutto's assasination: (paraphrased) "I knew Bhutto for a dozen years and I knew her as a leader."

Did you also know that she propped up the Taliban when they took over Afghanistan and that she was corrupt as fuck, even by Pakistani standards? (Now that's corrupt!) Her assassination should remind us that Pakistan is an undeclared front in the "War on Terror" (whatever that means anymore), but it shouldn't make us forget that she wasn't the Pakistani version of JFK or MLK.

Updated: More on Hillary's "Women of Democracy" sisterhood with Bhutto. Not only is it a bit silly to brag about your relationship with a corrupt martyr, but it doesn't appear there was much of a relationship anyway, at least if we're to believe the Hillary in her autobiography.

The World Sounds Different to a Star Wars Geek

Wolf Blitzer is talking to Rudy Giuliani on CNN right now about the Bhutto assassination. (The media, if you haven't noticed, has been trying very hard to figure out the implications of this, not necessarily for Pakistani democracy but for the presidential candidates. Horse-race news coverage at its worst...)

At any rate, Rudy suggested we "redouble our efforts" in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Which led me to ask, so what, Darth Vader showed up and expressed the Emperor's dissatisfaction with the progress of the Death Star rebuilding?

The Benefits of Piracy

We all know that P2P downloading is considered piracy, but here's an interesting question: Should downloading the material of dead artists be considered stealing? Or preserving the culture?

I mention this because over the last couple of weeks I've downloaded over a hundred classic blues and jazz records through BitTorrent. First there were the 92 blues albums in the Blues Collection, with work by some of my favorite blues artists, Howlin' Wolf (dead), J.B. Lenoir (dead), Muddy Waters (dead), then there was the 24-disc Centennial boxset of the late Duke Ellington's work. Louis Armstrong's three-disc Disney songs collection? Well...Louis Armstrong is also dead.

Their recordings, of course, are no longer controlled by these dead men, but by the various business interests that control the rights. By downloading these records for free over the internet, I'm depriving these business interests of their revenue streams and thereby stealing from them. Technically.

But unlike more traditional forms of theft, there's a curious component to downloading that shouldn't be overlooked. Downloading makes the purloined goods (in this case, bootleg MP3s) more plentiful, not less. If I stole your car, you wouldn't have a car and I would (at least until I ditched it or sold it to the chop shop). But if I stole all the MP3s on your hard-drive, you would lose nothing and I would gain everything. Instead of one J.B. Lenoir MP3 existing out there in cyberspace, there would be two...and if someone stole from me, three copies, and so on and so forth.

This is bad news for the business interests who make money off the rights to dead artists' music, but it's generally good news for the culture, and for the artists themselves, whose immortality now depends on the merits of their work rather than its commercial appeal. Long dead, little known artist like J.B. Lenoir never sold very many records to begin with, and to the business interests whose main concern is making money, he wouldn't be a very viable property anyway. Oh, sure, they might release a record, only to let it go out of print after the first undersold run. They might license a Lenoir song to a compilation album, but even then: they're only making money because they don't have to spend any. The recording's already in the bag.

But the music of J.B. Lenoir has a greater significance than its status in the market place, a cultural and artistic significance that gives Lenoir's music its true value. It's this value, cultural and artistic, that our copyright laws were designed to preserve. The idea that artists should capitalize on their work in perpetuity (even after they are dead) is something new, and while it has made many people (not always the artists) gazillions of dollars over the years, I don't think "making money" should take precedence over "making good culture."

I suspect, at any rate, that J.B. Lenoir would dig the fact that some white boy from Colorado who was born long after Lenoir himself died really loves his music, and that he wouldn't really mind that the various business that own the rights to his music didn't get their cut.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Random Encounters With Annoying People

So I stopped off at 7-11 after work to grab some smokes and something to drink. As soon as I got out of the truck, I was approached by this cross-eyed gentleman with the familiar plaintive whisper of the panhandler. "Excuse me, sir," and before I could ignore him, he went into his spiel. "I don't expect anything, but if I could just make it to eleven dollars, I'd have enough for the Greyhound..." He continued, but I couldn't tell you what else he said, because I had stopped paying attention.

"Jesus fucking Christ," I muttered, realizing that what I had intended to be an internal thought had slipped out as audible words, unkind ones at that. Feeling bad, I dug into my pocket and produced four quarters, handing them over with a slightly embarrassed, "Here you go."

I never heard the rest of his story and that doesn't bother me. I know all the talk about Greyhounds and tragedy is bullshit meant to tug at my hearts strings. Ah, poor dude, begging outside a 7-11 on a cold snow-crusted night. He just wants to get on his bus and be on his way...

Yeah right. There ain't even a Greyhound station around here, man.

So I gave him a buck to atone for being an ass, and I think that's atonement enough. He was one step closer to his next hook-up or that last drink or the milk for his hungry baby. Maybe he's still out there, banking. Probably not. This is a poor neighborhood and we're all fighting over the same scraps.

Getting a job and contributing something to the world is probably easier, though.

His Mouth is Writing Checks His Body Might Cash

I must have missed this exchange during the Bronco game on Monday.
Generally I don't think there's anything wrong with taunting in sports, but I do think you need to earn it.

The Chargers might want to bolster their offensive line though. Rivers is going to need some protection next year...

When Libertarians Say Dumb Things

Megan McArdle:
"Contrary to popular belief, CEO's are not driving inequality trends; there are too few of them, and they aren't paid that well."
If we're comparing them to Powerball winners, maybe. But...

Aren't CEOs usually one of the most compensated individuals in their organization? You know, if CEOs aren't paid that well, then the rest of ain't getting paid shit!

Monday, December 24, 2007

John McClane Says

Merry fucking Christmas!To do on Christmas:

Open presents.
Hang with the fam.
Watch Die Hard, my favorite Christmas movie.
Make fists with my toes.
Smoke cigarettes and kill bad guys.

So what are you doing?

Merry Christmas

I hope you finished your Christmas shopping, because if you haven't...time is running out. I have it on good authority (NORAD) that Santa is making his sweep across the United States even as we speak.

Here's hoping Santa stays out of Crip neighborhoods, though. You know they have issues with red.

At any rate, here's hoping you all have a MERRY CHRISTMAS, and just to piss off Bill O'Reilly, Happy Holidays too.

Today's Blues Moment

The great J.B. Lenoir, I Feel So Good. I'm not sure the audio is from this video, but Lenoir's voice and easy guitar playing are good anyway. He actually performed in those tiger-striped jackets with tails and man, could he play.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The New Frankenstein

Here it is:Assembled by yours truly. Look upon my computer and quiver.

Iron Maiden's Plane

Yes, that's Eddie on the tail rudder.

Strange Dream

Last night I had a dream that I was playing 4-Square on the roof of a high-rise building with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I have no idea what that even means...