Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gun Control: Why isn't it ever discussed this way?

Folks always talk about the threat of the government maybe doing something terrible and the need to protect yourself...but that's only one side of the coin. The other side is crazy Earl down the street who believes in black helicopters accumulating an arsenal. Personally, I think that the latter is the greater danger to folks in the U.S. at this moment. In fact, the people who most loudly talk about their need to own AK-47s, who have extreme paranoid delusions about the government, are precisely the people that I'm most afraid of owning high powered weapons.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Boston bombing---it punctures the jargon of authenticity

That has been built up over the notion of "Terror". Bin Laden and company carefully cultivated their image as complete outsiders to western culture, as people who represented some sort of pure alternative to the corrupted west....even though many of the people involved in 9/11 were partially westernized in general, had lived in Europe, and had studied in western universities. The people who committed the Boston bombing, on the other hand, left a large paper trail within the United States itself, that will no doubt be pored over, that will make it very hard to demonize them as the complete Other, as folks who had absolutely nothing in common with other people in the United States. The notion of the terrorist as a guy with a long beard in a flowing garment living in the desert actually benefits radical Islam, in my opinion, because it not only suggests to us that we have nothing in common with them--it says the same thing to them. If you have an oppositional construct like that, reality takes a hike and gets replaced by almost metaphysical constructs and ideas. John Kerry's lamentable declaration that the bombings were the face of Evil, with a capitol "E", is an example of what I'm talking about from the Western side, and is as unhelpful as declaring that westerners are the godless Infidels.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thoughts on the Boston bombing, and especially of the pictures that were released

Mostly the latter. The bombing was a tragedy. I think that something very interesting about the surveillance pictures is that you have someone probably carrying one of the bombs who is very inconspicuous, with bland clothing and a hat that's pulled down over his eyes, and who has lighter skin, standing next to someone who's very noticeable--a guy of probable Middle Eastern descent who's not trying to hide his identity whatsoever, and who is in fact wearing a bright blue shirt that brings attention to himself. To me, this suggests that the guy with the darker skin may have been someone who the (or one of the) bombers came up and talked to, trying to draw attention away from himself. Which doesn't mean that the bomber himself therefore couldn't have been Middle Eastern, but that he could be throwing people off through knowing that he was probably being photographed and surveilled.

**just in case anyone isn't aware of it, this post was based on the picture of the two guys that the New York Post ran, that turned out to be just random people in the crowd, one of which was Middle Eastern, who had nothing to do with the bombing.

No such thing as "the rootless", in my opinion

Or the "Deracines", to use the original term. I think that the dichotomy between country and city that sees the country as the repository of all values is false, and in fact ignores some of the hard facts about country living. I partially grew up in rural Michigan, and I can tell you that I was happy to get out of there, because of the stultifying idiocy of the people. I don't consider rural America to be more 'real' than urban America, and things like the Iowa Caucuses, nicknamed sometimes by me the Iowa Caucasian-us, are relics of a past world.

Maurice Barrés, who came up with the concept of the Deracines, also explicitly used it to promote anti-Semitism, by arguing that people who are Jewish are constant rootless individuals, who won't be at home in any community that they're part of, something false. Barrés also expanded his critique to middle class bourgeois folks, who he also conflated with people who are Jewish.

 That folks who live in bourgeois situations get a kind of threadbare perspective on the world, that's missing something, is sometimes true, but the antidote to that isn't to go back to rural life but to make the present life deeper, and, if desirable, to recover some of that depth within modernity itself instead of rejecting it in total.

...and John Richards at KEXP goes nuts over potential penalties for drunk driving

Taking a complete "law and order" position, as strict as possible. It's very ironic, in that folks are sometimes scared and intimidated by the admixture of conservatism I add to my socialism and liberalism, but I've never, in fact, advocated for extreme penalties like this....while folks who are straight liberal/progressive, without that admixture, at times go straight to the jugular with advocacy for immensely strict punishments when it suits their cause. 

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Young, wealthy, diplomat's life tragically cut short.

25 year old Anne Smedinghoff, enthusiastic about her job and from a rich suburb of Chicago, met her untimely fate in Afghanistan on Saturday. A graduate of an expensive private high school, and then John Hopkins University---one of the finest private universities in the country. Her father, "Mr Smedinghoff told the Associated Press: "It was a great adventure for her ... She loved it. She was tailor-made for this job."

In other news, Afghanistan's own army began to take over duties from the U.S. military.

Liberalism, Marxism, Conservatism---a natural progression

I look at it this way: Marxism corrects some of the flaws of liberalism, namely the ignorance of most of liberal theory to the class issue and to capitalism, and then conservatism in a moderate form corrects the defects that continue to exist after Marxism makes its corrections to liberalism. The potential for these latter defects was there from the start, but in my opinion was much less important and immediately relevant than the ignorance of social justice that many classical liberals displayed. After capitalism is taken on, and the basic ideas of personal freedom, freedom of speech, are established, it's proper to look at some of the flaws within the conceptions of liberalism---and to a certain extent in Marxism taken in a vulgar as opposed to a sophisticated sense. The latter would be represented by things labeled as Stalinism today. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Ethnic stereotypes and discrimination within 'white' ethnic groups in the U.S.

I posted a version of this a few weeks ago, then took it down, and am now reposting another one because I think it's worth saying.

Basically, I've had the experience on many occasions, when people somewhat get to know me, and like me, of assuming that because of my last name I'm Jewish. It's meant to be complimentary, in the sense that they think I'm possibly talented, and intellectually oriented, but it denies my own ethnic heritage, and demonstrates that the people who say this don't take into consideration the possibility that a person with a heavily Polish last name who is intellectual and talented could actually be Polish.

In point of fact, I've had people argue back to me, suggesting that I was possibly descended from Sephardic Jews who migrated to Hungary, which is absurd, despite also having Hungarian ancestry.

Stereotypes abound in American society, but while, in my opinion, whatever heavily negative stereotypes about people who are Jewish that once existed have largely been replaced by the character of the nebbish intellectual, when it comes to people who are Polish and Italian, the same negative stereotypes still apply.

I'm Italian as well, so forgive me for being sensitive on that aspect of the issue.

There are loveable Woody Allen type intellectuals....and then there are dumb Polacks and Jersey Shore and Mafioso goombah Italians.  If the idea of a Polish intellectual rarely comes up in American society, the idea that an Italian could be an intellectual is something that's almost unthinkable. Yet on a personal level, I know that I know more Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Schelling than 99.9% percent of Americans, if that.

I remember one of my roommates at Evergreen once affectionately posting a picture of a guy in a skullcap diligently studying at a desk at a Yeshivah on my door as a tribute to my studiousness.  I would have appreciated it much more if he had payed attention to who I actually was, not who he thought that I must be with my last name and with my facial characteristics and darker skin coloring.