Monday, March 29, 2010

Not good:

A federal appeals court says three Seattle police officers did not employ excessive force when they repeatedly tasered a visibly pregnant woman for refusing to sign a speeding ticket.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


The NYT has an article up about the Obama administration's ever more complicated position regarding the legal problems they inherited from the Bush administration regarding terrorists and Guantanamo Bay.

And it occurs to me that the problems of Gitmo are a perfect image of the forthcoming problems that the Republicans are going to have in repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The politicians may think getting rid of it--whether Guantanamo or health care--is a top priority. They may think it's a moral duty. And they may think that's what they were elected to do. But ultimately by the time they inherit the policy, they find that easy answers aren't forthcoming.

I for one think that Gitmo should be closed, and I do hope that Obama will find a way to do it, but in a way I think the Affordable Care Act is going to be even harder to shut down.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The best nation in the world: donation!

Given that Kendra and I are currently seeking donations to send our good Nicaraguan friends Iveth and Joselin to school for another year, it might be counterproductive to stump for another cause, but Rush Limbaugh might not leave the country without our help.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What do you call that kind of roll?

Director of the recent Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, helped bust an L.A. sushi restaurant for selling endangered Sei whale meat to customers. And, surprisingly, "illegally selling an endangered species product" is only a misdemeanor.

If you haven't seen The Cove yet, do so. It can be hard to watch in some parts, but it's very well done and a real eye-opener.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Plant a seed for you and me.


My favorite part about this video is the idea not that the seeds will produce bountiful gardens, but that in the economic apocalypse they will be the most valuable currency. Fuck skills. Capitalism dies hard.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bearded Brains

Let it be known that Victorian philosopher's had the best facial hair in the history of thought (pace Nietzsche):

From Wired: "Feds Move to Break Voting-Machine Monopoly." Apparently this is simply a matter of commercial monopoly, not a question of influencing elections. But I'm sure that this will be fodder for some right-wing radio host somewhere. Don't you get it? Obama is trying is conspiring with the Feds to stay president for life?


Glenn Beck, salt of the earth, thinks that the words "social justice" secretly mean "Nazism." Somehow this seems to stretch an already fraught logic. I'm starting worry that some large part of our country has fallen into a kind of crypto-mania. There's nothing too surprising to me in 9/11 Truth conspiracies; events like that (think JFK's assassination) are prone to conspiratorial thinking. And even Birtherism seems to me somehow intelligible as a paranoid kickback against the seismic shock that the election of Obama must have seemed for some. But those are just the tip of the iceberg.

Consider the recent "controversy" over the crypto-Islamism of the Missile Defense Agency logo. Clearly a conspiracy. And then there's global domination conspiracy theories that deal with any anxiety around national sovereignty, but especially those that cohere around global warming and cap-and-trade. The idea is, of course, that there is a global conspiracy to reduce America's prominence in the world by manufacturing data about the climate, which can only be solved by international forces. It's another Beck-ian cryptogram: global warming = slavery. And then there's the "liberal plantation," which basically says that black people tend to be liberal because they're lazy and want to be on welfare. And of course, there are smaller conspiracies, too, like the idea that Obama "sold" a judgeship for votes on health-care. You get the idea. This has become so much a part of our current cultural fabric that I've even seen it verge into non-political arenas. Have you heard that Peyton Manning deliberately threw the Super Bowl because, you know, he loves New Orleans?

I'm not certain what to make of all of this. I'm not totally convinced that this is unique to our moment, but it does seem like it. I think that there's probably some good cultural studies work to be done here to understand not just why people are drawn to conspiracy theories but why they seem necessary to certain times and places and what kind of long-term impacts they have on a culture. If these things deeply impress the minds of their adherents, it seems likely that scientific rationality has a rough road ahead in America. (Sorry Darwin.) My guess would be that these things are more temporary, fueled by topical cultural desires and the rapid loss of a demographic's symbolic ground. But, again, who's to say?

I would be curious to know what other conspiracies we can come up with.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


In honor of tonight's Oscars, a film that was nominated for best short animation a few years back, "The Myterious Explorations of Jasper Morello."

This, like all good things, comes via Kendra.

Friday, March 5, 2010

We're killing each other by sleeping in

When I wasn't looking, Blake Schwarzenbach, the former front man of Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil, formed and dissolved a band called Thorns of Life. Here's a video of Blake playing some songs solo:

My First Time/Vivid Green (Blake Schwarzenbach - Bar Matchless)

Thorns Of Life | MySpace Music Videos

Apparently Thorns of Life yielded no studio recordings, but Blake is now working with a couple of people in a band called forgetters (lower case "f"). I'll be eagerly looking forward to hearing something from this project.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To all my homies in the academy:

If ever you are in the enviable position of teaching the concept of "reification" to undergrads, might I suggest you teach them about the comodification of punk rock?

It's old story that gets daily older and less self-consciously ironic. Suffice it to say, not a year goes by when I don't feel like someone somewhere in the world is deliberately trying to make it seem like punk was never anything more than Hot Topic to begin with.

And then this happened:

In January 2010 Converse will release several shoes dedicated to The Clash. Most notably is the Converse London Calling shoes which celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the album. There will also be a pair of Converse Shoes that look like a jacket with buttons and Chuck Taylors with The Clash logos.

I don't even see that this could be potentially lucrative. It's just weird -- as I say, like someone is doing all of this on purpose, for ideological reasons rather than the profit motive.