Sunday, May 31, 2009

What now?

Interesting question. On a personal level I've discovered that I've reached a point in my life where my interests have become self sustaining. Not financially self sustaining yet, but psychologically self sustaining in that I've worked so hard at building up areas of life that I'm concerned with that I really can't change. The neural flexibility is going and I've got to deal now with what I've already established in order to direct my life.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama's press secretary uses the redneck defense in response to rape photo allegations

The redneck defense being "You can't trust the British newspapers". Not only "the allegations are false" and "they're overblown" but that the whole British media is unreliable, unlike the U.S. media of course. It's a stunning display of bullshit that rivals the worst of Bush's reign. It literally has to be read to be believed:

"“I don’t want to speak generally about some reports I’ve seen over the past few years in the British media,” he said. “And, in some ways I’m surprised it filtered down. Let’s just say if I wanted to read — if I wanted to read a write-up of how Manchester United fared in the Champion’s League cup, I might open up a British newspaper.

If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I am not entirely sure [British papers] would be the first stack of clips I picked up,” deadpanned Gibbs."

Not only is this insane, something that rival's Rumsfeld's gnomic declaration about unknown knowns and known unknowns, it's a stab in the back for Obama supporters and for Progressives in general. Is this what "Change you can believe in" is about? Slandering an entire country's media when they publish reports about something that you don't like?

Yet, I see the article in The Nation, at the front page of their site, telling me how I have to help hold Obama to the progressive values he came to power on. While the timing is coincidental, I have to say that, in the words of others, I don't have to do anything but die. Fuck you're idea of having me have to get behind Obama instead of being critical of him in order to ensure he carries through his campaign promises.

Let's shame him into doing so, not try to do it by approaching him on our hands and knees. I'd rather die on my feet than serve on my knees, to use another expression.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Would you suppress photos documenting rape to protect the troops?

Because that's what Obama is apparently doing. These photos likely contain documentation of war crimes, and Obama's refusal to release them is an obstruction of justice, as well as an insult to standards of justice in general----I mean, if there aren't any photos of rape then the people who are photographed raping people can't be brought to trial! If soldiers sexually assault detainees, but there aren't any pictures released, and the military is unwilling to prosecute them, did it really happen? Obama's answer to this seems to be 'no'.

The (partial) rejection of nihilism, a selection from "Sun and Steel" by Yukio Mishima

"One might object that thought belongs, essentially, to the night, that creation with words is of necessity carried out in the fevered darkness of night. Indeed, I had still not lost my old habit of working through the small hours, and I was surrounded by people whose skins unmistakably bore witness to nocturnal thinking.

Yet why must it be that men always seek out the depths, the abyss? Why must thought, like a plumb line, concern itself exclusively with vertical descent? Why was it not feasible for thought to change direction and climb vertically up, ever up, towards the surface? Why should the area of the skin, which guarantees a human being's existence in space, be most despised and left to the tender mercies of the senses? I could not understand the laws governing the motion of thought -- the way it was liable to get stuck in unseen chasms whenever it set out to go deep; or, whenever it aimed at the heights, to soar away into boundless and equally invisible heavens, leaving the corporeal form undeservedly neglected.

If the law of thought is that it should search out profundity, whether it extends upwards or downwards, then it seemed excessively illogical to me that men should no discover the depths of a kind in the "surface", that vital borderline that endorses our separateness and our form, dividing our exterior from our interior. Why should they not be attracted by the profundity of the surface itself?"

Thomas Aquinas and the betrayal of the mystical, classical, tradition

In my opinion at least. One could see the synthetic philosophy of Thomas Aquinas as representing the final triumph of the barbarians over Rome, the final capitulation of ancient philosophy to a people who neither understood it or really cared. The synthesis of Aquinas makes definite things that for a millennia before him had been seen as being indefinite and not easily describable. For instance, the attitude toward the nature of God flowing from the apophatic tradition would have lead to a less all encompassing theology. The apophatic tradition says that God can only be defined negatively by what it can be demonstrated that he is not, rather than what he is. God is therefore not finite, not composed of matter, not subject to natural laws, not limited in space, not possessed of the same organs of sense that man has, on and on. If you approach life with the notion that you can never directly know the final answer, it counsels against trying to synthesize Christianity and Aristotle in order to make a system. By exalting logic over the skepticism that says that logic may not be enough to understand the mysteries of life and of the world, Aquinas started a coarsening of philosophy that ended with the old ways of thinking about things, ways that were mostly rooted in Plato, being forgotten altogether.

The Orthodox Churches, on the other hand, never went down that road and so still preserve some of the ancient attitudes towards life and thought, and philosophy, although they're looked on as being archaic and strange these days.

Yet I am not a Christian, so what would I know.

A clearer explanation of the merger between free will and critical judgment in Kant

It involves linking the ideas contained in the regular critical evaluation of things that makes up general judgment to the particular features of free will and decision making.

Critical evaluation, critical thinking, in this sense is the merger of creativity with a general set of concepts about how the world functions, used to evaluate particular facts in the world. Kant uses the example of art. Creative evaluation of a work of art through the application of learned concepts to the work in question can produce an informed, considered, critique of a work.

If you use that same critical evaluation not just to passively examine facts in the world but to evaluate potential actions by you in the world, or to reflect on actions already taken by you, you are merging the idea of free will under the direction of reason with an aesthetic, conceptual, way of evaluating things.

The substance of the critique in this case would be a critique of potential action by the individual or a critique of actions previously taken by the individual. Hopefully, as in the case of critiques made of general facts in the outside world, the product of these evaluations will be more than just the quirky output of one person's worldview. Here Kant, in the establishing of partially learned, partially sensed and intuited, rules of thumb, smuggles the Platonic ideal into things.

If any sort of learned rule of thumb that describes the world in a way that rises beyond a completely individualistic standard is valid to one degree or another, what happens when you compare two or more different rules of thumb? By comparing the two or more with each other you would start a dialectical process reminiscent of Plato's reasoning, which would almost necessarily come up with ideas of rightness reminiscent of the Platonic Archetypes. Indeed, Kant ascribes the rightness of these rules to the connection between the reasoning involved and the Transcendental ground of existence, meaning that there's an apriori connection of some kind to these rules as well as an empirical, observed rule.

If the archetypes are back, then a completely new, transcendental, area of thought is opened up where we can still approach the unknown through Platonic dialectic, even though the faculties of the mind have been demystified by the various critiques of reason, practical reason, and possibly judgment.

Intersection of Judgment and freedom in Kant's intro to Critique of Judgment

According to Kant, Judgment can provide the bridge between the pure will and pure sense of freedom, on the one hand, and the world of nature on the other. It can do this because the Judgment connects our rules of thumb about the world to both experiences received from the world, and experiences we desire to create in the world.

I can either act through just wanting to act, or I can act based on a more philosophical understanding of life. I can act, or I can reflectively think about what I'm trying to do on a more basic level, how it fits into the picture, what the picture is. All of this constitutes the application of the faculty of Judgment to issues of free action.

I'm thinking of how to navigate through my life, what my big goals are. In thinking about them I rely on the sort of rules of thumb or collected wisdom about the world that I've received or generated myself, and my thought goes two ways: first, how my action fits into the big picture, and secondly, how the big picture could manifest in particular ways. I make a judgment about my desire, I also make a judgment about an external situation and how the structure of it is set up.

The judgment connects the particular with the perceived universal. I say perceived because it likely isn't a true universal, but rather our rule of thumb. In the case of the self, the particular is the particular desire, decision, or will. In the case of the external world, the particular is the particular situation or fact that we're examining.

So, in other words, using your faculty of judgment, integrating your thinking about yourself with more general philosophical thinking about the world, can indeed increase your potential freedom, because applied philosophical thinking gives you more tools to direct your life with than you would otherwise have.

*on edit: Kant seems to be establishing several layers of action, that are reminiscent of Kierkegaard's thought on the subject. First, the basic moral sense derived from practical experience about what happens if I do something to you or if you do something to me, Second, the moral sense derived from philosophical judgment, which considers morality and the exercise of free will in a much broader context.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here is an interesting idea from Kant: that the Imagination is necessary for human freedom

Well, this may be my spin on it, based on reading the Introduction to the Critique of Judgment that I mentioned below. The Imagination is the faculty of fantasy, of being able to make up situations and other fictional elements that aren't really there. It derives its subject matter from the world, and is sort of an abstraction from the world, yet there's an element of it that's creative unto itself. It could be that the application of the product of fantasy to reality, trying to find a bridge between the two, ensures the existence of freedom, because whatever faculty produces fantasy is purely subjective, purely personal, purely the product of the person him or herself. Through fantasy we can liberate ourselves from being bound by stimulus and response and come up with more creative ways of acting and of understanding the world around us. Through actively fanning the power of our imagination we can gain the base material necessary for a more creative engagement with the world around us, which is related to our freedom of action. Our freedom of action is increased the more we increase our imagination and attempt to analyze the world an ourselves based on ideas that our imagination has produced.

**on edit: Creative Critical Reasoning. This could be a term for what I'm talking about. What we call critical reasoning always has a creative component to it, it's always the combination of creativity with reason in order to make judgments about external facts. Sure, you can further analyze your conclusions and work out the very reason centered logical consequences of the judgment, and you should to one degree or another, but at the beginning folks are generally guided by creative intuition as much as they're guided by pure reason. This intuition is usually built up over a period of time, so that the more you do critical reasoning on a subject the better your intuitions get, but even so they're still not purely rational in the sense that a logically diagrammed set of propositions is.

Must finish the intro to Kant's Critique of Judgment

The intro of that particular work being where he provides a general outline to the reasoning behind all three of his Critiques. Reason: I was reading "Sun and Steel" by Yukio Mishima and realized that some of the ideas he was using came from Kant, even though superficially, very superficially, it's a book about physical development as opposed to a kind of over-emphasis on the life of the mind.

Favorite of the moment: Zuckerzeit by Cluster

Very good psychedelic Krautrock. Out there, good, unusual. Most Krautrock albums fit that bill, but I think that Cluster in general investigates the further reaches of them...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Work in the U.S.: emphasizing form over content

At least this is what I've found. What I mean is that folks who employ others in the United States value being able to follow directions to a 't' over actually understanding what the job is about and then doing it based on this understanding. Don't get me wrong; when you're doing something, working on a finished product, you need to be able to put touches on it that finish it to a 't', but the difference between that and just teaching a person how to formalistically do a job, with little or no explanation about why a particular step is being taken, is extreme. To start out formalistically and then penalize people who want some more insight into why something is being done is to put the cart before the horse, to assume that instant, unthinking obedience is the way to get the most out of your employees. What it leads to is people who don't have the sort of independent thought necessary to truly do the job, who can say 'yes sir', 'no sir' but have little real input. Take this attitude and multiply it across the U.S. economy and see where it's gotten us: stupid and lazy imbeciles who don't work hard enough or intelligently enough to compete with the rest of the world, including countries where they have virtual slave labor. But we can sure say 'yes sir' to the lazy little middle manager ahead of us.

"Democratic Socialists? Democrats Not Half That Good" by Bob Fitrakis

The article is good except that Fitrakis engages in typical DSA, Democratic Socialists of America, Michael Harrington worship. Harrington's book "Socialism: Past and Future" is a very good intro to socialism, one written by a person who can translate it out into terms familiar to many people, and DSA is a good organization to introduce people to socialism, but both have serious, serious, flaws.

"The Republican National Committee recently dropped its resolution to brand the moderate pro-corporate Democratic Party “Socialists.” As the late, great Democratic Socialist leader Michael Harrington liked to tell it when he testified before a dying Senator Hubert Humphrey on the Humphrey-Hawkins Work Bill, that would theoretically guarantee every American a right to a job, Humphrey bluntly asked him “Is my bill socialism?” Harrington replied, “Senator, your bill’s not half that good.” "

So says the token socialist. Harrington, interestingly enough, blasted the entire New Left, including specifically SDS, and therefore alienated himself from virtually all of the organizing that took place during the '60s and early '70s. It wasn't until the mid '70s that Harrington seems to have regained some prominence.

"Michael Harrington was the architect of the Great Society and the War on Poverty. His book, “The Other America,” stands as a lasting monument to the principles of Democratic Socialism. When both the Democrat and Republican Parties were ignoring the 22% of U.S. population living in poverty during the Eisenhower years, it was Harrington who documented their desperate plight. "

That is completely false. Kennedy did read "The Other America" and it did influence his policy, but to call Michael Harrington the architect of the Great Society and the War on Poverty is to stretch the truth beyond all recognition. Harrington never had a job in Washington, he was always an outsider who was occasionally consulted by folks inside the beltway. More importantly, my understanding of "The Other America" is that it wasn't a call to action about 22% of the population living in poverty. Instead, it declared that only "pockets of poverty" existed, in places like Appalachia and some parts of the South, but that in general U.S. society was doing pretty well. That is what attracted people like Kennedy to "The Other America". By defining the problem as "poverty", Harrington also sacrificed the idea of Class in exchange for something more socially acceptable to the mainstream of society.

Perhaps the most absurd thing Harrington was involved with was becoming the President of the Socialist International, the federation of Social Democratic parties around the world, despite the fact that there was no substantial social democratic movement in the United States, although people may have been informally for it, and despite the fact that in any case he wasn't connected with any sort of mass social democratic party. You have on one side the German social democrats, a powerhouse who reformed German society in the wake of the Second World War, and on the other side Mr. Harrington, who isn't the head of anything in the U.S. because a social democratic movement doesn't exist there. Yet Harrington became the head of the international confederation of social democratic parties.

The hero worship of Michael Harrington has reached absurd heights. Maybe they should take a look at something like, oh, let's say the New Left, in tandem with the more traditional social democratic provisions instead of just paying attention to one side of the equation.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Hiroshima bomb by North Korea?

Folks, don't go overboard on this. Hiroshima is a big word, but the truth of the matter is that probably all of the nuclear weapons that the United States, Russia, and others have all many, many, times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. You have to take into account that that was the first generation of atomic weapons. People have been working on developing them for sixty years since then, and Hiroshima strength has been surpassed for a long, long, time.

It's unclear what North Korea wants to do with their newfound strength. My guess is that being antagonized from the international community benefits them, specifically benefits the regime of Kim Jong-Il, because it allows them to continue their internal propaganda about the rest of the world wanting to destroy them. My sage advice would be for the international community to step up efforts on bringing North Korea back into the fold and not to antagonize them by threatening war against them. If the U.S. and company take the bait and escalate threats against them, they will increase the chances that North Korea will actually use the bomb against someone, even if it means that there society will be destroyed as a consequence.

Much like the conduct of the U.S. in both invading Afghanistan and Iraq proved Al Qaeda's point about the U.S. being more concerned with spreading their influence than caring about human rights, making war on North Korea would prove the government's points about the U.S. That the U.S. actually does resemble in a very broad way the picture that North Korea paints of it doesn't change the fact that there's no excuse for acting stupidly towards a small country with no influence on the international scene. The U.S. has always in the past directed its forces towards overthrowing and restructuring regimes that had more moral legitimacy in countries that were more important; by overthrowing North Korea, you know, it'll hurt the U.S. tough guy street cred.

The unawareness of the Self: an idea gotten from Aion by Jung

From the first four chapters of the book that recapitulate Jung's philosophy. Jung arranges the psyche in a line from the part that we're most conscious of to the part that we're least conscious of in this fashion: The Ego, The Shadow, The Anima, and the Self.
It may sound strange to consider the Self to be the part that we're least conscious of, but the self that Jung talks about is the Self as seen by others. I in my everyday life am my ego, the person or consciousness that immediately thinks, but I know that there are more aspects to what are 'me' than my immediate consciousness. I also know that the person that I perceive myself as being is not the same person that other people perceive myself as. I can detect my shadow self, the repressed opposite of myself where the dissident impulses and ideas that go against my conscious grain are stored, fairly easily. I can, as Jung says, with a little bit more difficulty determine what impulses come from my Anima, which is a sort of manifestation of the unconsciousness that intrudes on the world of the ego in order to act as a corrective to over-rationalized ways of perceiving the world. In fact, it's probably the Animus, the dissident part of the ego that objects to over-intuitioning on the part of the mind that's more important in my case, but I digress. Anyways, I can gain consciousness of both of these things, the shadow and the Anima, but even so, how it is that I appear to people outside of myself, who have no context for who I am, who only first see me and then hear me talk, is something that I have to really, really, work at in order to piece together. This is possibly harder in my case because I've tried on a conscious level not to fall into stereotypes, or to specifically break stereotypes when I've come in contact with them. Now, one of the definitions of the Self is that which others perceive immediately that you don't suspect, and this is both true to me and means that because of my self work it's harder for me to detect what exactly that content of thought is.

The Anima is easy to become aware of, by contrast, because it has an organic, deep, psychological connection to the Ego as the representative of the unconscious who appears as something you see or perceive in the outside world. A person can go far, far, far, down in becoming aware of the unconscious mind, until you get contents that are almost totally cthonic and primal. However, the thing is, no matter how far down you go with your own unconscious mind you still have not perceived how it is that others perceive you when they come in contact with you cold, or even how your friends perceive you after they've gotten to know you for a while. As opposed to the unconscious mind, that perception is totally outside of the embodied ego.

Here's a random cool YouTube video: Tenacious D on Space Ghost Cost to Coast

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Smile! The US Sees You Coming,High in the sky, down on the ground, agents with high-tech tools guard the border" by Tonda MacCharles

An excerpt: "

DETROIT – About 15 meters before a car from Canada reaches the border inspection booth, the screenings begin.

A camera snaps your license plate.

An electronic card reader mounted on a yellow post scans your car for the presence of any radio-frequency ID cards inside. If there is an enhanced driver's license embedded with biometric information, its unique PIN number is read without you offering it.

The Customs and Border Protection computer connects with your province's database and in less than a second – .56 to be exact – your personal information is uploaded to a screen in the booth. A second camera snaps the driver's face.

Welcome to the United States of America.

If Canadians were under the impression that the Canada-loving U.S. President Barack Obama would heed pleas to loosen border controls to ease trade and traffic, there should no longer be any confusion. He has not."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fears

I have a strange, irrational, fear sometimes that fucking up in a small ways will lead to a chain of causation that will come back to haunt me later in unseen big consequences. By that I don't mean stuff I write, because, well, you roll the dice with that one and accept what you get. Instead, I mean small errors, trivial things. Maybe I'm OCD. In fact, that's very likely

Just checking, but, no, the U.S. didn't sanction either Portugal or Spain during Salazar or Franco

Silly me. I was pretty sure they hadn't but, well, these are the things you Google in the morning just to make sure of.

Civil suit, criminal charges, threatened against Evergreen State College Performance Artists

Doing political theater on campus. The group in question is called the "Middle East Solidarity Project" and what their disruptive crime was was putting up a mock checkpoint of the kind that Palestinians face every day, first in the front of campus and then in front of the library, and acting towards passers by like the Israeli Army acts towards Palestinians. Every once in a while a volunteer was thrown to the ground and had their wrists bound together with zip ties.

The place to find out information about the street theater is http://cxpj.wordpress.com/2009/05/. Click on the link to issue #2 to read about the demonstration.

It may be good to send a nice e-mail or two, to Art Constantino, the Dean of Students, expressing opinions on the issue. In fact, if you want to, there's a direct link to an e-mail form to Art Constantino here: http://www.evergreen.edu/studentaffairs/home.htm. You scroll down to the bottom of the letter (which is about general safety issues on campus) and then click on Art's hotlinked name and it'll take you right to it.

There has been a bizarre anti-activist reaction at Evergreen by both the administration and by parts of the student body in general, from what I gather. Part of it no doubt has to do with the fact that activism by students at Evergreen, particularly SDS, has been really effective and has by accounts harshed the high of normally apolitical hipsters who have had actual issues outside of literature put in front of them.

The great irony of that is that while these folks have for a long time taken a cynical view of activism and politics which says that people really don't care, the country as a whole, outside of Evergreen, is becoming more politically liberal and progressive.

I haven't lived in Oly in two years, but these are some impressions that I've gathered from various sources.

So the country will probably have the last laugh, which doesn't help people out in the short term though...

...and he throws Plame's suit under the train

In an amazing way: "The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court not to hear an appeal of a lawsuit brought by Mrs. Plame and her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, against several top Bush administration officials. ....

"The decision of the court of appeals is correct and does not conflict with any decision of this Court or any other court of appeals," said the brief filed by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, and Justice Department attorneys Mark B. Stern and Charles W. Scarborough. "Further review is unwarranted." "

and he loved Big Brother.

This is a nightmare and a right hook against the American people. Doesn't the government have zero business interfering with the judicial process? I guess Obama is now determining for us whether or not Court of Appeals decisions are correct or not.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Torture and authoritarianism wtih a message of Hope: Obama's recent speech

Here are a selection of very interesting paragraphs from that speech:

"After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era -- that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.

....

Now let me be clear: We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. ....

....

The second category of cases involves detainees who violate the laws of war and are therefore best tried through military commissions. Military commissions have a history in the United States dating back to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. They are an appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war. They allow for the protection of sensitive sources and methods of intelligence-gathering; they allow for the safety and security of participants; and for the presentation of evidence gathered from the battlefield that cannot always be effectively presented in federal courts.

....

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here -- this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We're going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who've received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture -- like other prisoners of war -- must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. .... We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.

....

On the other hand, I recently opposed the release of certain photographs that were taken of detainees by U.S. personnel between 2002 and 2004. Individuals who violated standards of behavior in these photos have been investigated and they have been held accountable. There was and is no debate as to whether what is reflected in those photos is wrong. Nothing has been concealed to absolve perpetrators of crimes. However, it was my judgment -- informed by my national security team -- that releasing these photos would inflame anti-American opinion and allow our enemies to paint U.S. troops with a broad, damning, and inaccurate brush, thereby endangering them in theaters of war.


In short, there is a clear and compelling reason to not release these particular photos. .... Nothing would be gained by the release of these photos that matters more than the lives of our young men and women serving in harm's way.

....

.... But I have never argued -- and I never will -- that our most sensitive national security matters should simply be an open book. I will never abandon -- and will vigorously defend -- the necessity of classification to defend our troops at war, to protect sources and methods, and to safeguard confidential actions that keep the American people safe. ....

....

.... We must not protect information merely because it reveals the violation of a law or embarrassment to the government. ....

....

.... I will never hide the truth because it's uncomfortable. .... and when I release something publicly or keep something secret, I will tell you why. ....

....

.... I know that these debates lead directly, in some cases, to a call for a fuller accounting, perhaps through an independent commission.

I've opposed the creation of such a commission because I believe that our existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability. ....

....

....But nothing will contribute more than that than a extended relitigation of the last eight years. Already, we've seen how that kind of effort only leads those in Washington to different sides to laying blame.

....

.... On the one side of the spectrum, there are those who make little allowance for the unique challenges posed by terrorism, and would almost never put national security over transparency. ....

....

Now this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. And unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can't count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end. Right now, in distant training camps and in crowded cities, there are people plotting to take American lives. That will be the case a year from now, five years from now, and -- in all probability -- 10 years from now. Neither I nor anyone can stand here today and say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives. But I can say with certainty that my administration -- along with our extraordinary troops and the patriotic men and women who defend our national security -- will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe. And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda. Because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies, and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are, if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals. This must be our common purpose.

I ran for President because I believe that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together. We will not be safe if we see national security as a wedge that divides America -- it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people and as one nation. ....

"

...and now the Huffington Post is charging people for being interns

Link brought to you via This Modern World.

It isn't cheap either: $15,000 is the bidding price for the privilege of getting an internship at the respected HuffingtonPost, where bloggers supply most of the content there for free.

You have to ask yourself where exactly is the meat in the blogging world. According to the article, HuffingtonPost justifies the bidding by saying that being a blogger there gets you great exposure, and presumably prestige. But what exposure does HuffingtonPost really bring you? Exposure within the demi-monde of the online blogosphere, which is in large part a collective circle jerk? Within the world of folks who actually write to a wider audience that's not integrated into the borg like incestuous hive mind of liberal bloggers, regular commentators of those bloggers, and regular commentators of those bloggers who are also bloggers? Exposure, in other words, of the sort traditionally associated with straight writing and journalism?
The meat isn't there, there are no real terms that this exposure translates out to, and unless you can produce some your exposure is only theoretically effective. Which means that if you bid on this internship you're shelling out money for something that will only theoretically, hypothetically, get you the sort of attention that could lead to some prestige in the real world, and that, I should add, doesn't seem to have a good track record of actually doing so.

As the economists say, you need to evaluate the cash-value of this, and right now the cash value for being a HuffingtonPost blogger is next to nothing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

...and Cheney outright justifies torture

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Cheney outlines his support of torture....yet the Republicans are upset that Pelosi claims the CIA mislead her on what tactics were being used? I assume that since they're so concerned that their interest is motivated by punishing people who knew about torture but didn't object to it. Maybe it would be good to start he witchhunt with Dick Cheney, otherwise, quite frankly, shut the fuck up. Now for Cheney:

"In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations.

In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The words, the words...

While writing, I started to think of an idea from Merleau-Ponty. Merleau-Ponty was a semi-existentialist thinker whose insight was that no matter where we are or what we're doing we're bound to create meaning. We are meaning creating creatures. I exist, I look at the world, I formulate a response to it that's a personal judgment of meaning, whether I share this personal meaning with other people or not. The ego formulates both judgments and words. Words flow from judgments of meaning made by individuals in reference to some outside reality. To live, we not only have to judge but to formulate our ideas into words, and once our ideas are formulated into words we have the awareness that the words fail to capture the essence of what we wanted to communicate. So we're trapped trying to define and redefine the words we use, the thought that we participate in, in order to communicate the sort of purer sort of meaning and insight that we see when we judge things or form a judgment on the world.

The words are the sieve through which I try to communicate meaning. To me, words and expression in sentences and clumps of sentences is a game of chess, pitting myself and my want to express myself against the limitations of the language that I find myself in. The words themselves, in and of themselves, are nothing, and I don't mind experimenting with juxtapositions or formats that are unusual if they have the potential of cutting through some of the miasma and baggage that communication in writing necessarily presents one with.

Writing is different from speaking, as certain philosophers have elaborated ad nauseam, and I feel that writing is closer to the basic expression of meaning than speech is, because writing implies its audience within itself while speech in general has to be newly recreated over and over again.

The Old Rawstory and the New Rawstory, "Poll: 91% of conservatives think Obama is socialist, Marxist, communist or fascist"

Wow, how the otherwise mighty have fallen. The above linked to article screams it's percentage in its headline, but then goes on to say that the figure was arrived at by a voluntary poll at a site dedicated to conservative politics. Not surprisingly, only a few percentage points of people thought Obama was a mere liberal. So in other words the poll doesn't mean shit. Then, the results are juxtaposed with the results from a real semi-randomized poll of people that revealed that sixty three percent of people think that Obama is taking the country in the right direction. The conclusion that the author thereafter draws? That while most people approve of Obama's policies, conservatives are hardening their stance. This is uncalled for. There's absolutely no proof of that. All you have is one online poll of the viewer of a conservative website, nothing to compare it to in terms of how the percentage of folks who think of themselves as conservative feel about Obama. There's nothing there. I'm sure that if you took an online poll from the front page of a neo-nazi message board that you'd find a high percentage of people there not agreeing with Obama's politics, but a poll from there would not really say a thing about conservatives in general.

Please, RawStory, get away from the blogging about the news habit and start just reporting the news again.

History of Violence bigger review

Being a person who had several brushes with the law before going straight, and not only going straight but becoming extremely studious and hardworking regarding academics, the ending of it was a little too close for comfort. I think I'm too biased against the whole situation to really write something objective. The kind of mom and pop, very white, rural midwestern setup that they all lived in is pretty much what I've been struggling to get away from for a long time, because of what I see as the inherent hypocrisy of it all, people hiding behind small town values. Marrying a cheerleader and having that sort of life, it just brings back too many memories, memories that mostly accentuate just how far away that ideal existence was from my personal life while growing up in the country in the midwest. Personally, there's a part of me that would have liked to have that life, to have had some sort of idyllic existence where I could be on the football team, be an all American kid, and have some good wholesome success, but that's not the way the cards were dealt in my case. Those lives of stability so often seemed to be accompanied by money and at least small town scale power, great lubricants to grease the wheel of normalcy.

Other times I'm glad that I wasn't granted that, because the factors that shaped my life were indicative of greater society as a whole, as it really is, and by coming to the root of how society functioned I came to an explanation for why things were like they were in my case.

A History of Violence by David Cronenberg

Preliminary observation: it's strange isn't it how the idiot bullies in these movies always have Brooklyn accents and slightly darker skin, even when the town that the movie takes place in is in the middle of the country in the Midwest.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The origin of Southern justice

By which I mean the tradition of injustice and corruption being established as normal procedure in many places in the South, something that while declining is still present. My vote for the origin of it is the lack of enforcement of the 14th amendment, designed to give African-Americans equal rights. The 14th amendment guarantees that neither life, liberty, or property can be taken away without due process on the State level as well as on the federal level, meaning that it would be a federal crime for a state to do so. This was basically a dead letter until the Civil Rights era, which you can see by looking at the pictures of post-cards featuring lynchings on them; not only could people kill without consequences they could advertise the killing ahead of time then circulate evidence of it in the most public way possible without fear of reprisal. I would argue that if something like that is possible, a lot of more minor encroachment on civil liberties by the authorities are probably going on as well, and probably not just in relation to African Americans.

It's been said before and it'll be said again: we need to use the same criteria for examining the Afghan war that we used for Iraq

I mean, we have to start asking just why we're there, what the point of being there is, and why was this started in the first place. What are the objectives? There don't appear to be any, short of a vague "defeat the Taliban" urge. And why do we want to do that? The Taliban aren't nice people, but the reason we're in Afghanistan is that we blamed the Afghan state as a whole for 9/11 because the Taliban let Al Qaeda establish a base and training grounds there. This was a sort of collective punishment that was, in my opinion, illegal although the U.S. used all its power in the UN to strong arm a resolution approving of it. The thing we should have done after 9/11 is to initiate an international police action in order to specifically catch the people who were responsible for 9/11 and bring them to an accepted international court for justice. Unfortunately, among other things, the U.S. had protested the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands as being too lenient, because it wasn't a puppet of U.S. style conservatism, so some kind of international justice was out of the picture. The Taliban themselves recognized that the U.S. was being hypocritical on the subject of bringing Al Qaeda to justice: one of the pre-invasion communications with the Taliban featured them offering to extradite Osama bin Laden to the U.S. if the U.S. government would provide them with evidence that bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks. This was a reasonable request that we'll never know was sincere or not; the U.S. argued that giving basic evidence against bin Laden would compromise national security and so refused. Meanwhile, an investigation was going on in Germany, where most of the hijackers had spent significant amounts of time, that was largely ignored in the U.S. although a book based on reporting done in "Der Spiegal" by eventually issued in English and is still widely available.

In my opinion, all of this adds up to the invasion of Afghanistan being a pointless exercise that as of now needs to be stopped. Motivations like the possibility of a natural gas pipeline that could have connected the Caspian Sea region with the west, and which Hamid Karzai was directly involved in, need to be examined once again. The invasion of Afghanistan was the product of Bush's fevered mind and needs to end as soon as possible.

We cannot ensure that the Taliban will not come back to power in Afghanistan, any more than we could assure that radical Shi'ites would not come to power in Iraq. We have no business dictating to the Afghan people what is or is not acceptable. If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, so be it. It's not our problem. There is no victory possible, only defeat now by withdrawing or defeat later by withdrawing after more cold bodies have been produced.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A topical YouTube video from a group called WKUK

Moon Bears.

Biographical information

I was born and raised in Romeo Michigan, did a stint of time in Almont up the road, another stint in Imlay City, before moving to the suburbs themselves and graduating from the Roeper School in Birmingham Michigan.

Romeo was a nice Victorian town north of the Detroit area. I lived within the village itself and then in the country roughly between Romeo and Almont, on a one mile road with seven houses on it. Almont was its ugly redneck brother up the road, where although not literally every person was fucked up, a large contingent of folks had no acquaintance with some essential aspects of the modern world, like non-Christian centered liberalism. The kids seemed to be more progressive than their parents, who were in many cases sheep fucking country folk. I had the distinction of living down the street from a Country farm supply store and feed silo. Imlay City, even father up the road, was ironically better because it was, as the name suggests, a bigger place.

Although Roeper was probably the biggest turning point in my life, helping out with the transition from person who may have had some potential to educated individual, the liberal/commie school that folks think is Roeper is truly not responsible for the stuff on this site. I was far on the way to all of this when I started there, even though it may have been somewhat less sophisticated.

Then, I had two quarters at NYU, one quarter at the infamous Quaker peace college (with a fucking nasty, inhuman, bureaucracy attached to it) Earlham College in Indiana, before dropping out of society for about four years, eventually finishing up school at one of our finest public institutions of higher learning: The Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington.

Now I live in Seattle.

Books read the summer after high school:

Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche, Karl Marx: selected writings on sociology and social philosophy, and Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Deleuze and Guattari. Actually, while I got pretty far in Anti-Oedipus I had to eventually admit defeat.

The text cites an enormous number of theorists who you have to be familiar with to go further. I think it was when I figured out that I'd have to read a fourth psychologist, Melanie Klein, on the part-whole relationship that I kind of admitted defeat. And the book is primarily about society and is not a psychological treatise. I had read Freud, Reich, was reading about Lacan, as well as dipping my foot into social anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss by the time I kind of gave up. But it did have quite an influence on my thinking, in ways that I'm not even consciously aware of.

Interesting concept by Wilhelm Reich: that the subconscious extends down into the body

Through the interaction of muscles and the nervous system. According to Reich, traumatic incidents are recorded not only as psychic events but also as muscular stress that accumulates and doesn't ever discharge. The way this works is that traumatic psychic events cause an involuntary muscle tightening, like in the throat or the diaphragm, but also in the muscles of the back, of the abdomen, and of the face among other places. The insight that Reich had was that while psychological counseling could deal with the psychic trauma and cause a spontaneous loosening of the corresponding muscular inhibition, the reverse could be true as well: by physically manipulating the tensed areas the traumatic event could be brought into consciousness and then dealt with.

Examples of trauma recorded in muscles, from a non-professional: tightening in the vocal chords of people who have had the expression of their opinions stifled, tightening in the faces of people whose displays of emotion were criticized.

Goog Glenn Greenwood article: "The Myth of the Parasitical Bloggers"

Having to do with the plagiarism of Josh Marshall by Maureen Dowd, arguing first that bloggers aren't parasitical and that secondly it sometimes goes the other way aroundHere. It's really the first issue that I want to talk about, the notion that bloggers don't contribute anything but are instead just vampires on real journalism. While this may be the case if a blog is simply a collection of one line posts saying "Awesome article! Go Here!" and nothing else, in general this is not the case. There's a term for what bloggers do that has a long and distinguished history: essaying.

The idea that folks have only just recently collected news accounts and commented on current events through them is completely false. Books and books of analysis and reflection have been written based on collected reports on subjects, where the authors weren't necessarily the ones who did all of the collecting. True, there's a continuum between purely writing without referants and doing straight reporting, with many folks establishing a sort of middle path through adding interviews and ideas gleaned from things closer to primary research, but pure essays have always been accepted as having a place, with often the only thing giving them the required 'credibility' being the author cracking a book of local history and reading it, for example.

What makes essays valuable is the analysis, ideas, and perspective that come out of them. One news event might be analyzed from a certain perspective by an essayist that contributes something totally unexpected to the understanding of the story, and that can in turn influence people who are going out in the field and collecting primary source material for the same news that bloggers are supposedly parasites on. In fact, the etymology of "Essay" is illuminating: Essay is essentially the same word as 'Assay'. To assay something, like a mineral, is to apply chemicals to it that break it down into its component parts in order to figure out what the substance is composed of. Essayists assay the news, analyze it, and hopefully achieve some sort of synthesis from the component parts that they've found, turning the substance into a new and unexpected whole.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My writing style is being infiltrated by Facebook, Forró

And no, you can't be my friend. I'm listening to a cd of Brazilian "Forró" music, accordion heavy stuff from the Northeast of the country, and was going to start out the article "John is currently listening to "Brazil: Forró (Music for Maids and Taxi Drivers)". I still haven't forgotten Brazilian music or culture. Forró has a nice beat to it and lots and lots of energy, with a sort of call and response format between the main singer and a chorus of backup singers. The album actually is subtitled "Music for Maids and Taxi Drivers" because of a conversation that the guy who compiled the album had, strangely enough, with a Taxi driver. On hearing that he was going to put together an album of Forró the driver asked him why he was doing that since 'only maids and taxi drivers' (inexact quote) listened to that style of music. The Tropicalistas took an interest in it....

Social justice sells these days, and I've seen two Tropicalista CDs, both made in Russia, that talk about the movement being not just music but also about social justice, but not expanding on that concept whatsoever and telling people just how all of that relates to social justice.

I'll have to go to the actual country of Brazil one of these days. If anyone out there is willing to pay for Portuguese lessons for me, plus airfare to and from the country, plus expenses for staying there, please step up to the plate.

Ahh, the mystery of Dick Cheney's undisclosed location solved

It was a room in the basement of where he lived. According to Rawstory, Biden recently made the disclosure:

"Ever wonder about that secure, undisclosed location where Dick Cheney secreted himself after the 9/11 attacks? Joe Biden reveals the bunker-like room is at the Naval Observatory in Washington, where Cheney lived for eight years and which is now home to Biden. The veep related the story to his head-table dinner mates when he filled in for President Obama at the Gridiron Club earlier this year. He said the young naval officer giving him a tour of the residence showed him the hideaway, which is behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communications equipment. The officer explained that when Cheney was in lock down, this was where his most trusted aides were stationed, an image that Biden conveyed in a way that suggested we shouldn’t be surprised that the policies that emerged were off the wall."

So, we go from undisclosed super-secret location to Biden giving people tours of it and calling Cheney a nutcase, more or less. I like this turn of events. The idea of Cheney's hidey-hole being in his residence isn't a completely new idea. There were reports of massive construction projects centered on putting something in under his house in the wake of 9/11. In fact, the neighbors complained about the round the clock activity and noise, but were ultimately told to STFU by the government.

I think that our security has now been horribly compromised by Joe Biden. And our sense of wonder. I would much prefer the truth of Cheney's secret location to be some sort of bunker constructed at the bottom of a missile silo in Wyoming like in "Spies Like Us" than for it to be a room in his basement, or in a subbasement as the case may be.

It appears that Bush literally thought he was doing God's work and confronting evil while in the White House

This is truly outrageous, and not in the Gem sense. From ABC News:
"The briefs, known as the Worldwide Intelligence Update, were prepared by Rumsfeld and often hand-delivered to Bush, and only circulated among a handful of Pentagon leaders and the president, according to GQ's Robert Draper.

A March 31, 2003 brief cover-sheet depicted a U.S. tank roaring through the desert with a biblical quote from Ephesians: "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

An April 7, 2003 cover sheet depicted an image of Saddam Hussein under a quote from the First Epistle of Peter: "It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."
**

I think that this is offensive beyond belief and that it should be a very large heads up, a very large red flag, that we really, really, need to investigate Bush and Cheney in order to find out just what the hell went on in the past eight years. And prosecute them for it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Apparently, it can never get too white trash for Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio says hi to his neo-Nazi supporters, poses for pix, by Dave Neiwert, from Crooks and Liars. There's an interesting video of Sheriff Joe there with some counter protestors of an anti-Joe Arpaio, anti-racial profiling, march. The video was taken by some of the counter protestors. Of course, I suppose Sheriff Joe made an honest mistake when posing for a picture with a guy with a shaved head in a counter demonstration that had a large confederate flag. Hell, there'd be almost no way to know that that boy could have been one of them neo-nazis.

It's interesting that the article says that this neo-nazi, who like Sheriff Joe is apparently Italian, has made part of his pseudonym "Lombardi", referring to the north of Italy usually thought by white supremacists to be more German than Italian. Right. You and me both know that this kid is a few generations down from being just off the boat from Sicily.

RNC head Steele complains about potential tax deductions for same sex married couples

Which is what he appears to be doing in this paragraph:

""Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for," Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. "So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.""

I would think that giving tax cuts to billionaires would have a bigger impact on government financing.

The tragedy of decadence, or, what links 17th century French aristocrats with poor minority youth in the U.S.

Decadence, or what people refer to as decadence, can be a fun thing, hedonism, indulgence, but there's an older sense of the word that I think is not completely obsolete. It's the kind of decadence signifying corruption and decay that's associated with court life in 17th century France under Louis XIV. Young aristocrats drank, ate, screwed, without any limitations whatsoever, but what makes it a decadent period, in my opinion, is that the happiness of that time probably masked severe frustration and limitation.

France under Louis XIV was the very definition of an absolute monarchy: power flowed down from the person of Louis XIV and his household alone, power was not shared with anyone else. This was a problem in that the aristocrats of France had a tradition of being somewhat involved in the politics of the kingdom, in decision making, and in setting policy. Since there was no way to kill all the aristocrats Louis did the next best thing: required them to live in Versailles where they could have all the fun they wanted without having any potential of actually exercising any real influence. In the place of traditional offices Louis XIV instituted token and completely symbolic roles, such as the person who presented the robe to the King in the morning, who had the privilege of doing other mundane tasks, that the aristocrats filled and eventually learned to compete for. On the other end of the spectrum anyone who was perceived to be scheming against the King, or, to be quite frank anyone in the court who was ever heard to say anything negative about Louis XIV to the wrong people was dealt with very harshly. One male noble was heard to exclaim while drunk that Louis was really just a stupid country squire and that Versailles was just a rural manor house; he was ordered into permanent exile in the middle of nowhere, for the rest of his life. This is the background on which the decadence of the court took place.

So while the aristocrats partied, drunk, ate, and indulged themselves, they were no doubt aware that although they were having a good time they could not have any personal power besides being hedonistic as long as Louis XIV lived.
Looked at that way, one has to wonder if some of the debauchery was a kind of alcoholic consolation as opposed to a kind of happy frolic. Indeed, if you read de Sade, who although he lived roughly a hundred years after this time period seems to have embodied the ethics of it, you almost immediately detect a tension between a praise of hedonism and a belief that the world is fundamentally unjust, that the powerful exploit the weak mercilessly, and that the people who do this will never be brought to justice for what they do.

This dovetails with the experience of poor minority youth in the United States in that it seems that the 'gangster lifestyle' that many kids do choose to pursue isn't done so just because they think it's cool so much as because the traditional ways of social advancement in society are closed to them. Because of their skin color they experience hostility on a daily basis, they go to crumbling schools where they get next to no education, and they get no support when they want to do something like go on to higher education, despite all the bill boards and programs that may make it seem otherwise. In the face of all of this, the impulse must be to withdraw from legitimate society altogether and instead try to make a life for yourself outside of the law.

Well shit, we're still idiots here

Obama being elected doesn't seem to have changed that. Witness the media coverage of Nancy Pelosi and the whole "when did she know about torture" debate. The gambit, which is an obvious attempt from people in the CIA and in the Republican Party who are themselves pro-torture to direct attention away from themselves and to trash the Democrats, is being treated as actual news and as an actual controversy. Good thing that TV shows don't challenge people to do long division.

I have a suggestion: focus on the fucking people who actually tortured and on torture itself.

I think it's much more important that Cheney has repeatedly in recent weeks publicly justified using torture, for instance.

Writing and Reality

This is inspired by Yukio Mishima. Paul Schrader's good film "Mishima, a life in four chapters" starts out with an extended narrative sequence where Mishima talks about the contradiction between writing and action, how he started with words before he had developed action. The sequence is taken almost verbatim from "Sun and Steel", Mishima's extended essay on the development of the body and the relation of body to thought and writing. And, although it's not necessarily important to this, the early biographical material connected to the sequence is taken from "Confessions of a Mask", Mishima's first book. Anyways, I didn't really understand what Mishima or Schrader channelling Mishima, meant by an opposition between words and reality until very recently.

The problem of understanding the concept, at least for me, stems from the loaded meaning that the "Word" in the sense of writing has in Western culture. In the beginning was the word, and the word was god, and the word was with god, and the word walked among us. From the New Testament.

But I substituted in my mind "Writing" for "Word" and the meaning straightened itself out.

The thing about writing, no matter whether it's fiction writing or not, is that to generate writing you don't have to have any connection with reality whatsoever. You could literally spend the entirety of your life in a small house with no appreciable connection to the outside world and still produce lots of writing. People sometimes seem to think that there's some sort of mechanism that would prevent someone who had no experience of the outside world from writing stories that folks could identify with and understand, but nothing like that exists. People extremely isolated from the world may produce fiction that's distorted and unrealistic, but they can still produce fiction. The fantastic, distorted, nature of the sort of fiction associated with folks isolated from life points to the essential problem: while writing can be done by anyone, anywhere, in any situation, the legitimacy of the writing is undermined if there isn't a deep enough connection to actual real experience present.

Pure living is unreflective, and pure writing has little connection to reality, so in order to have some sort of validity to what you produce you have to involve yourself in some way with the subject matter that you're writing about. Yet, there's a twist to it all: not only can people write in whatever circumstances they find themselves, no matter what the actual experience they have regarding the subject, but if you are a writer, if you're drawn to writing, you want to write whether you actually have adequate experience to base your writings on or you don't. Burroughs said it in a short phrase of common sense: if you're a writer you by definition write. And you write because you like to write. This leads sometimes to people cutting corners.

The exact ratio between facts and writing based on those facts that is necessary for a very good story, fiction or not, is something that has yet to be defined. Also, even though it's fairly easy to judge whether or not a piece of writing is good, or a piece of thinking about a subject is good or not, there's not a parallel indicator in reality indicating if it's "real enough". How do you know when you've absorbed enough reality regarding a subject so that you know that you can intelligently write about it? How can you know that the subject that you're writing about really fits into the big picture like you think it does, and that it's not something other than you think it is?

What is in fact the essential structure of reality, or of social reality and human culture in all of its variety, extending down into nature itself? The sociological facts may be sobering.

* * * *

I'll get back to this subject.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's funny: "Real Socialists" have been quoted responding to the Republican resolution

On the Democrats, labeling them socialists. First elsewhere, now in the Colorado Independent. It's entertaining to me because they act like "Real Socialists" are this kind of exotic animal living on the veldt somewhere in a far off continent. In truth, if they wanted to see what "Real Socialists" thought about the Democratic Party they could ask Barbara Ehrenreich and Jim Hightower, both of them "Real Socialists" who also have the characteristic of having name recognition. People read Ehrenreich and Hightower's books. Maybe pointing out that these folks too are socialists would help convince folks that "Real Socialists" aren't this exotic, rarely seen, species, but something that more people are familiar with than is otherwise admitted.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A song I like: The Curse of Millhaven by Nick Cave

From the album "Murder Ballads":

"I live in a town called millhaven
And its small and its mean and its cold
But if you come around just as the sun goes down
You can watch the whole town turn to gold
Its around about then that I used to go a-roaming
Singing la la la la la la la lie
All gods children they all gotta die

My name is loretta but I prefer lottie
Im closing in on my fifteenth year
And if you think you have seen a pair of eyes more green
Then you sure didnt see them around here
My hair is yellow and Im always a-combing

La la la la la la la lie
Mama often told me we all got to die

You must have heard about the curse of millhaven
How last christmas bill blakes little boy didnt come
Home
They found him next week in one mile creek
His head bashed in and his pockets full of stones
Well, just imagine all the wailing and moaning

La la la la la la la lie
Even little billy blakes boy, he had to die

Then professor o'rye from millhaven high
Found nailed to his door his prize-winning terrier
Then next day the old fool brought little biko to school
And we all had to watch as he buried her
His eulogy to biko had all the tears a-flowing

La la la la la la la lie
Even gods little creatures, they have to die

Our little town fell into a state of shock
A lot of people were saying things that made little sense
Then the next thing you know the head of handyman joe
Was found in the fountain of the mayors residence
Foul play can really get a small town going

La la la la la la la lie
Even gods children all have to die

Then, in a cruel twist of fate, old mrs colgate
Was stabbed but the job was not complete
The last thing she said before the cops pronounced her
Dead
Was, my killer is loretta and she lives across the
Street!
Twenty cops burst through my door without even phoning

La la la la la la la lie
The young ones, the old ones, they all gotta die

Yes, it is i, lottie. the curse of millhaven
Ive struck horror in the heart of this town
Like my eyes aint green and my hair aint yellow
Its more like the other way around
I gotta pretty little mouth underneath all the foaming

La la la la la la la lie
Sooner or later we all gotta die

Since I was no bigger than a weavil theyve been saying I
Was evil
That if bad was a boot that Id fit it
That Im a wicked young lady, but Ive been trying hard
Lately
O fuck it! Im a monster! I admit it!
It makes me so mad my blood really starts a-going

La la la la la la la lie
Mama always told me that we all gotta die

Yeah, I drowned the blakey kid, stabbed mrs. colgate, i
Admit
Did the handyman with his circular saw in his garden shed
But I never crucified little biko, that was two junior
High school psychos
Stinky bohoon and his friend with the pumpkin-sized head
Ill sing to the lot, now you got me going

La la la la la la la lie
All gods children have all gotta die

There were all the others, all our sisters and brothers
You assumed were accidents, best forgotten
Recall the children who broke through the ice on lake
Tahoo?
Everyone assumed the warning signs had
Followed them to the bottom
Well, theyre underneath the house where I do quite a bit
Of stowing

La la la la la la la lie
Even twenty little children, they had to die

And the fire of 91 that razed the bella vista slum
There was the biggest shit-fight this countrys ever seen
Insurance companies ruined, land lords getting sued
All cause of wee girl with a can of gasoline
Those flames really roared when the wind started blowing

La la la la la la la lie
Rich man, poor man, all got to die

Well I confessed to all these crimes and they put me on
Trial
I was laughing when they took me away
Off to the asylum in an old black mariah
It aint home, but you know, its fucking better than
Jail
It aint such bad old place to have a home in

La la la la la la la lie
All gods children they all gotta die

Now I got shrinks that will not rest with their endless
Rorschach tests
I keep telling them theyre out to get me
They ask me if I feel remorse and I answer, why of
Course!
There is so much more I could have done if theyd let
Me!
So its rorschach and prozac and everything is groovy

Singing la la la la la la la lie
All gods children they all have to die
La la la la la la la lie
Im happy as a lark and everything is fine
Singing la la la la la la la lie
Yeah, everything is groovy and everything is fine
Singing la la la la la la la lie
All gods children they gotta die"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Art That Kills, Tape Delay, Apocalypse Culture, Secret and Suppressed

All very good publications. I'm going to focus on Art That Kills and then touch on the rest more briefly.



Art That Kills is a compilation of interviews with people who were/are associated with the industrial music genre as well as fringe culture during the '80s and '90s. It has interviews with Satanists, makers of degenerate art, folks who write to serial killers and collect the art they make, film makers who break all the rules, on and on and on. You may notice that Marilyn Manson is on the cover of it. In case you didn't know, Marilyn Manson is probably the most mainstream of all the folks they interview. It's sort of a descent into madness, decadent madness, of a very good kind. It and all the rest of the books are also tests to see if you're really for freedom of speech or not. It's easy to defend folks when they're somewhat on your side, but lots of people featured here make a career of thumbing their noses at '80s style political correctness, which is a different animal altogether from the stuff right wing radio hosts call political correctness.

A classic example of that would be Mike Diana, a cartoonist who was prosecuted and convicted of obscenity in Florida....and who the ACLU didn't touch. Mike Diana makes art that regularly features things like gigantic cocks splitting people in half while they're being mutilated by the person who belongs to said cock. I think Mike Diana is great, and not just for the shock value. Many of his stories have a great dark, sarcastic, sense of humor, like the one about the Magic Wiggle Woggle. The Magic Wiggle Woggle was a miraculous creature a kid caught one day. He claimed to have psychic powers, and convinced the kid to kill his best friend. After the kid did it the Wiggle Woggle laughed, said it was just a joke and that he didn't really have psychic powers, and swam away...

Nice.

I like most of the folks featured in the book, and am not intimidated by the mere presence of right wing Satanists. I'm more grown up than that, quite frankly.

Anyways, if you like the fringes, and for me at least the fringes are a comfortable home, than this book is an essential introduction to the real underground. I know, I know, this isn't all that underground culture consists of but it's a huge big whopping part of it and one that's rarely acknowledged even by "underground" writers.

Next, in a slightly different vein, is Tape Delay

Tape Delay is subtitled "Confessions from the Eighties Underground" and unlike Art That Kills is focussed solely on recording artists. The dramatis personae have quite a lot of overlap with Art That Kills. Here's a list from the blurb:

"Contributors: Marc Almond, Dave Ball, Cabaret Voltaire, Nick Cave, Chris &Cosey, Coil, Einsturzende Neubauten, The Fall, Diamanda Galas, Genesis P.Orridge, Michael Gira, Matt Johnson (The The), Laibach, Lydia Lunch, New Order, Psychic TV, Boyd Rice, Henry Rollins, Clint Ruin, Sonic Youth, Mark Stewart, Swans, Test Dept, David Tibet (Current 93)"

Then, well, Apocalypse Culture and Secret and Suppressed need little introduction. Apocalypse Culture features cultural overlap with the artists featured in Art That Kills, while Secret and Suppressed has the distinction of mixing real suppressed culture with conspiracy theories that have a higher likelihood of truth to them than most.

Both are good. We're in the realm of "industrial music for industrial people", and these books are sort of an acid test to discover if you fit that bill or not. Are you an industrial person or aren't you?

Obama, if you don't want to do the time, don't do the crime.

This is in relation to Obama's refusal to release more photos of prisoner abuse. The quotes are here:

"The president "believes their release would endanger our troops," a White House official says, adding that the president "believes that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court."

Could I say in response that if you don't want evidence of a crime to become public knowledge you shouldn't have committed the crime in the first place? Obama is now the Commander in Chief. As such he has inherited the mantle of the position from Bush and is now the person upon whom responsibility for these things devolves. It's not an argument that Obama isn't responsible because these things happened under Bush's watch. As long as he obstructs justice he himself is responsible.

Let's do a little thought experiment: say that there's a country that's doing terrible things to a minority group, that the country is herding people into camps and starving them to death. Lets say that we have good relations with the country, and that an American reporter has been to the camps and has taken pictures. What would we think of a government that tried to censor the release of the pictures because it may jeopardize the relationship between the two countries? We'd say that they were totally hypocritical and were acting contrary to basic considerations of humanity and international law.

This is what Obama is doing. It's essentially trying to cover up the war crimes that the U.S. has committed by saying that releasing the evidence would endanger the group that has committed them. and that for all we know is still committing them.

The U.S. Army should pay the price for having done this, and Obama is shielding them from experiencing the full consequences of their actions.

If Iraqis hate the U.S. military for doing this then more power too them. I'd hate a group of people who abused detainees like this. The argument about further attacks fails because although we can know that the revelations about the exact crimes that the U.S. military has committed will make people angry we cannot know if this anger will in fact translate out into further attacks on the U.S. Army troops there, or if it would who would do it. It's a hypothetical future situation, while the matter of documenting the crimes that have already been committed is very concrete.

Os Mutantes, the mutants, when they played in Seattle

I was lucky enough to be able to see them play in person on their '06 reunion tour. One thing that stuck out is how they looked, which in itself represented some of what their music was/is about. From what I gather, Brazil is very much like European countries such as Italy in that everyone dresses to look their best at all times whether they have money or not. You're judged in part by the clothes that you can afford and wear, and informality is not the order of the day. When the mutants took to the stage, they were dressed in ways that would make them stick out on the streets of Seattle, or basically any other place, with the possible exception of New York City. Into this presumed mix of formal clothing you had folks coming on stage with ripped jeans, old punk t-shirts, and brightly colored dread lock hair extensions. The lead singer Zella Duncan had a dress on that was so aggressively not in style, along with no make up, that I actually thought that she was a transsexual who hadn't fully transitioned. Sergio Dias, the amazing, amazing guitarist, was dressed in an 18th century jacket with ruffled shirt underneath. All of this was a shock to a good portion of the audience who expected nice Brazilian music made for tourists.

Indeed, the first act, the person opening for them, was a pseudo-skilled guitarists from the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle who played Bossa Nova-like music. I say Bossa-Nova "like" music because he pretty much just noodled around doing something that appeared to be Brazilian but which in fact was just his superficial examination of the style. Like Esteban, the guy who played on the mail order channel but who really didn't know what the hell he was doing, at least in my opinion; for all I know "Esteban" is really a guy named Steve from Ohio who knew a good gig when he saw it and so decided to become Mr. Latin guitarist. Anyways, the opening act played what could be termed "Brazilian music for white people", not confrontational, not something that would bring out any serious emotions, just something along the lines of the Girl from Ipanema and all the rest of the songs that Stan Getz and company recorded with Brazilian folks in the '60s. Vague, haunting, something that wouldn't ruin your night in Rio. Os Mutantes come from the other end of that spectrum, with their recordings being even worse than what they put out onstage in the sense of trying to generally destroy that kind of music. So when Mr. Brazilian got off the stage and the mutants came on there appeared to be some shock from certain quarters that were expecting a continuation of what they'd just heard; they'd probably seen the an announcement for them that didn't specify just how far they were from Mr Brazlian and decided to check it out.

In any case, it was a night to remember. Going out to the parking lot where my car was I overheard two guys talking saying "Well someone liked them, they knew the words to the songs."

*by the way: if you want to have a little bit of the experience of the Os Mutantes reunion tour, check out the double CD set "Live at the Barbican Theater". It's a live recording from their London show.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Currently reading: Aion, by C.G. Jung, and The Real Work by Gary Snyder

The latter because Gary Snyder is coming to Seattle later this month. I'm just at the beginning of Aion, but if the rest of the book is like it then the style is much clearer and precise than Jung usually is. The back of the book of Aion describes it as, well actually the back of the book doesn't know what to make of it. It points out the four chapters I'm referring to as being a good guide to Jung's thought as a whole, but then doesn't seem to understand what he's getting at with the other ones. He's talking about the development of the self to self realization using cultural symbols present in the west from the Christian era onwards, with some excursions back to the classical period, as the means of expressing the process. Very interesting, and it's the only work of Jung that I've seen that resembles the clarity that's present in most of fellow psychologist Wilhelm Reich's work.

Reich's "The Mass Psychology of Fascism", "The Function of the Orgasm", and "The Murder of Christ" are sharp and to the point without being reductionist. "The Murder of Christ" is a rare poetic excursion of Reich into history in order to analyze the Christ myth in light of his ideas about healthy biological/psychological functioning. Christ becomes an example of an eminently healthy man in an unhealthy situation, where because he wanted to teach people to simply be in harmony with the life force as opposed to having them follow him they turned against him and crucified him. He didn't give them what they wanted. It's an interesting book, and recommended.

Gary Snyder's "The Real Work" is billed as the sequel to "Earth, House, Hold", which is a book of essays, interviews, meditations about the state of the world and possible ecological and cultural alternatives to where the world is heading. Snyder was/is one of the second wave Beat poets and one whose work crossed over to the hippy generation quite well. What "The Real Work" is is applying those sorts of principles to real life and making them work in practice. I haven't read "Earth, House, Hold", but I don't think that my appreciation of "The Real Work" is suffering much for that; the book is pretty self explanatory if you have a general background in counter-cultural ideas about living off the land, ideas that may be familiar to people at least partially because of Snyder himself, although folks as diverse as Scott Nearing and Edward Abbey contributed to it as well.

I'm reminded of something Emmet Grogan wrote in "Ringolevio"

Which was that when he was writing carefully argued articles supporting the Irish Republican cause for an Irish paper he barely had any readers, but that when he later started writing hardcore pornography that was illegally published and distributed in London, his work became highly popular. Hopefully, if I start writing more along the lines of "Shit that I find interesting"---whether it's overtly topical and political or not---this won't happen.

Possibly taking the blog in another direction

It might be hard to believe, but I've tried to raise the schizophrenic focus of this blog from being simply on "Shit that I like" to being on "Current News and Events Analysis, plus a little bit of shit that I like". Well, I'm considering turning the blog purely into a "Shit that I like blog", with a completely personal focus. This would lead to things that I haven't written about here, like metaphysics, wicca, neo-paganism, being written about, as well as stuff that doesn't go with the zeitgeist of the times but that is just stuff I personally find interesting. If this change happens, I'll put an announcement up and subtitle the blog "Lost Highway series 2". So, if you find writings about metaphysical stuff up here as well as about random books that I'm reading, you'll know what has happened.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Obama takes a broad general view of things

And gives a 90 day extension to military tribunals for Gitmo detainees--the same tribunals he opposed and that are basically kangaroo courts where the people accused have virtually no rights and where initially they had to fight to get representation from a non-government appointed lawyer.

People familiar with William S. Burroughs will recognize the title of this post as deriving from his piece "When did I stop wanting to be President?". When talking about the endemic corruption of his home state Burroughs declares that he wasn't necessarily opposed to it---indeed, he'd learned to take a "broad, general view of things"---but that his aspirations were of a humbler nature: to become commissioner of sewers, where he and fellow appointees would "Wallow in corruption like contented alligators".

Apparently, the military has been lobbying Obama to ease back on his plans to close Gitmo and stop the tribunals once and for all, and of course a moral force like the brass of the U.S. military has to be respected.

The antiquity of Native American societies.

It hit me a little while ago that the timeline that's been given for Native American migration to the Americas has been interpreted in a very wrong direction by many white Americans. The timeline for migration across the Bering strait is from 10,000 BC to 15,000 BC. Usually, white Americans have taken the Bering strait migration hypothesis as an indication that Native Americans are recent migrants to the Americas and so have societies that aren't as advanced as Old World ones. There's a big problem with that, though, and it's apparent if you look at the timelines of the most ancient civilizations in the Old World. For instance, Sumerian civilization dates from 6,000 BC on up. Egypt only has what would be called the very beginnings of a developing civilization around 5,000 BC, and this is very far away from what we normally think of when we think of Egypt. The earliest dates for writing confirmed to be an ancestor of Chinese, according to Wiki, are between 6,000 and 5,000 BC, with the evidence coming from rock carvings.

All of these dates are within the timeframe of Native American migration to the United States and North and South America, meaning that the Native American presence is just as old as Egyptian civilization, Sumerian civilization, and (some parts of) Chinese civilization.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Memes.... something that people should read sociology in order to rid themselves of.

This just sort of pisses me off because it's a replication of info that's been part of studies in popular culture, media studies, and sociology in general for a long, long time. A meme is an idea that's passed around, circulated, and that remains part of human popular culture. There could be a "God Meme", a "Corrupt politician" meme, a stereotyped "Menacing Anarchist" meme, etc..., and these things would be echoed in popular culture, make their way onto television, become part of the news media's own frame of reference for interpreting things. Sounds interesting? Yes, the base concept is interesting, but it's been fleshed out by sociologists for a long long time and Richard Dawkins, the genetic researcher who coined the term, obfuscates things by putting it in a scientific framework, making a parallel between the circulation of these things and the diffusion of genes. Genes...Memes, Media Genes. My frustration is that if the people who like the Memes stuff really wanted to get into it they could find tons and tons of interesting thought on the subject written by social scientists, but because they approach it from a biological science perspective they usually spend time in the wrong section of the bookstore. They could find lots and lots of stuff, but they probably won't because they're not looking in the right places.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Yugoslav Marxist Anarchists

Not naming any names, but I think it's interesting that a person can take the ideas of the Marxist-Humanist Praxis group from Communist Yugoslavia, accentuate it's libertarian aspects, and call it anarchism---and be praised for it as a new and original thinker, while someone advocating the same things but not calling it anarchism, calling it humanist Marxism, would be denounced for being an authoritarian. What's "Andy" in Slavic languages? Isn't it "Andrej"? I think so.

*on edit: part of this is just me being hypercritical. In the end, a lot of this is just formalistic criticism.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Enlighten Up!

Seems that people are glad to pour hip condescension on the movie, billed as an exploration of Yoga by a skeptic that ends with his Yoga devotee director losing her cool. We'll have to see once it comes out on DVD.

In the meantime, the glee in skewering Yoga that's out there points to the reality of atheism's skeptical point of view: folks who come off as naive pigs.

Coming up next,

Needles: the true story of acupuncture as told by a skeptic.

Herb: a journey into the dangerous world of health supplements.

The Slaves of the Living God: an insightful journey into the oppressive world of Tibetan Buddhism, where a charismatic leader presents himself as God incarnate to gullible followers.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A critique of Nietzscheanism and it's relationship to liberalism

Notice I'm using the word "Nietzscheanism", denoting people who follow Nietzsche rather than solely the man himself. There's been a focus for a long time on the authoritarian criticism of Christian morality that Nietzsche offers, with anti-Christian being defined by folks as being accepting and worshipping power, recognizing inequality, turning your back on love and compassion, dividing people into folks possessing slave morality and those with a higher, a-moral, morality so to speak. While these qualities definitely are anti-Christian there's a curious one sidedness to them, one that stems from Nietzsche's writings themselves but has been thoroughly and totally adopted by these followers. To explain this one sidedness let's look at Rome.

Rome was Christianity's whipping boy, the embodiment of everything bad and unjust that early Christian society perceived existed in the world. The martial, Caeser like, traditions in Rome were condemned but what was also condemned was the hedonism and pleasure seeking of the Roman world. Sex and the like of sex was condemned, as was homosexuality. Traditions of indulgence in the good life, from fine possessions to excessive consumption of fine food were reviled. The book of the Revelations of St. John, commonly known as the Book of Revelations, has a very interesting section where John outlines some of what he sees as being wrong with the world, and he names things like cities where they have gold and silver jewelry, gemstones, and rich material possessions as corrupt and negative. This aspect of pre-Christian Roman paganism is almost never discussed by Nietzsche and hardly ever mentioned by Nietzscheans who talk about power and inequality.

Nietzsche did in fact mention this sort of hedonism in his first book, "The Birth of Tragedy", where he identified it as belonging to the Dionysian archetype as opposed to the more severe Apollonian one, but it exits his work after that, certainly towards the end.

Christianity, then, can be opposed not only by opposing love and compassion but also by opposing the restrictions on pleasure and instinctual fulfillment that has been present in it from the start. Or, alternately, you could oppose Christian ethics by just opposing the restrictions on pleasure....you'd be quite a libertine for doing so. It would be Caligula's pre-Christian pagan ethics as opposed to Caesar's pre-Christian pagan ethics, which brings me to the next subject: Liberalism.

The charge has been thrown out there that liberalism is just Christian ethics without Christianity and that recognizing liberal values as being valid is tantamount to approving of Christian values. But if you look at what proponents of liberalism in the 17th and 18th centuries were actually putting forward, an alternative to that view comes about.

Libertines, present in French and English society, believed that personal liberation and a liberal mindset entailed an acceptance of hedonism and a hedonistic lifestyle. For them, indulging the senses and opposing being a modest, religious, person were two sides of the same coin. Their liberalism challenged the aspects of Christianity that we've already mentioned. In fact Peter Gay subtitled the second volume of his history of the Enlightenment as a whole "The Birth of Modern Paganism" because of the high praise that classical values got from the proponents of Enlightenment liberalism.

So liberalism appears to be potentially anti-Christian. More than potentially, in fact, as liberal values are still a threat to reactionary Christians, as the battles over things like gay marriage and drug legalization prove. The folks that the Christians are opposing aren't the neo-Social Darwinists who have a Nietzschean perspective, they're the liberals who want to pursue their liberty unhassled by their fellow men.

Nietzscheanism is only one attitude towards Christian society, one that can be opposed without yourself falling into the trap of advocating Christian values, in any form.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Proclus and labor law

Found myself studying both today. Proclus is a late neo-platonic philosopher and head of Plato's academy. His thought is really interesting because like most latter day Platonists he synthesizes Plato with Aristotle's criticism of him so that a unique mix comes out. So...late Platonists and collective bargaining.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Somedays you feel like an arrogant self centered shit, sometimes you don't...

Case in point: a weekend seminar (albeit at a community college) about Civil Rights Law. We only got into Due Process, one of the simplest and most fundamental concepts relating to civil liberties, towards the end of the second day....and the folks in the small group where we discussed due process rights didn't seem to understand that the Fifth Amendment has rights other than due process in it and, no, you can't use Double Jeopardy as an example of an infringement of your Due Process rights, and neither can you use the prohibition against self incrimination. Also, fourteenth amendment due process rights aren't infringed by illegal search and seizure....that's the fourth amendment. There's also a difference between fifth amendment and fourteenth amendment rights that you should know and understand...

Sometimes I sit here with academic books and think that I'm just kidding myself, that I'm just being an uptight elitist prick, but then disasters like the weekend seminar happen. Even the instructor was incompetent. I asked him to give an example of how a certain principle was used against women in the 19th century, and he not only didn't answer but when I asked again "But how does this relate to women?", he started giving an example, then stopped saying that the example didn't really fit what he was talking about, then went on to rehash the answer that he had given me the first time.

Funny, the secret of the Master Mason degree

Or third degree in Freemasonry. The funny thing is that it isn't actually a Master Mason degree, not in the sense that the previous two degrees corresponded with degrees granted in guilds. The other two are pretty straightforward: that of an apprentice beginning his career, that of a Fellowcraft or Journeyman refining his knowledge. In the other degrees it's said that the Master Mason degree corresponds to a sort of masterly retirement and that entered apprentice and fellowcraft correspond to youth and adult hood. But that's not really how it is. Instead, the degree of Master is in my opinion a continuation of the Fellowcraft degree. The degree of Master is not really given, but a drama communicates the idea that the key to the Master degree was lost and the Temple, the allegory for the candidate's personal work on himself , remained unfinished. Therefore, the person who is initiated into the Master degree has to do what was sort of indicated in the Fellowcraft degree: leave the temple and go out on his own to find the truth. The process of initiation ends with the candidate becoming an emancipated individual, someone who has to find his own truth without the benefit of a temple system to help him out.

This is why there are so many degrees above that of Master Mason. And why there are more masters than there would be if it was truly a degree only given to people who were older than just in their prime of life.

Reading an insane right wing article about the "Real Che Guevara"...

That's been recycled lately because of a new book by that name, I can't help but remember when the right wing was criticizing left wing college professors not simply for having left wing views but for writing books that were not accurate academically but were motivated by ideology. In those debates, conservatives, whether rightly or wrongly, portrayed themselves as the folks taking the intellectual high ground. Nowadays U.S. conservatives are on about the intellectual level of Rhesus monkeys and just as shrill, but are still amazingly enough criticizing the other side as being dishonest academically, even though they probably don't have a clue what that actually means.


The article in question is Here.
It's interesting that the author refers to a "famous" speech by Che Guevara from 1961 and yet the only references to it that I could find running the quotes through Google were other right wing articles that repeated the same claim with no attribution.

Those pesky, biased, intellectually deficient lefty professors indeed.

I'm sorry, but it's just so funny. There was a very good two volume (now three volume) study of the intersection between African, specifically north african, ideas and Greek and Middle Eastern culture called "Black Athena", that was lambasted and even provoked a volume of collected essays written against it. The problem there is that "Black Athena" is one of the most highly footnoted and well researched scholarly books that I've ever come across. It's not what people seemed to think it was, which was an uncritical Afro-centric rewriting of history.

I'd like to see the author of the Che Guevara article, or his followers, produce one paper, just one, written on the level of Black Athena.