Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee rejoins Phillies!

this happened just moments ago. as a Phillies fan and Philly fan, I am beyond stoked. Of course, it never hurts to see the Yankees get fucked either. Is this now the best rotation in the modern era; all time? Who knows? Not me! But my other thought is this: how much longer until there are LeBron James comparisons, with regards to Cliff Lee's decision? There are some similarities, no? ...going to play w/ friends...loves the city...taking advantage of free agency...took less money....spurned New York... going to the team he felt had the best chance of bringing him a ring.. just sayin!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rat Girl: A Memoir, by Kristin Hersh

Kristin Hersh, primary songwriter and singer for the hard-to-categorize 80s/90s band Throwing Muses, has published a memoir, Rat Girl: A Memoir. It is based on a diary she kept from the spring of 1985 through the winter of 1986, a pivotal year in which her band moved from Providence, RI, to Boston. They became a fixture on the local music scene, began to get radio play, and eventually caught the attention of – and landed a recording contract with – 4AD Records. It was a year Hersh begins homeless, sleeping on the beach in Newport or in the abandoned apartment of a dead man in Providence or in the backyards of friends. She flees her own apartment because she fears its “evil energy” – this is the first indication of a mental illness, perhaps triggered by a bicycling accident, that deteriorates into a bipolar disorder and eventual breakdown. She’s prescribed lithium, which among other side effects causes her hands to shake uncontrollably when she plays guitar. Then just when 4AD offers to sign the band, she finds out she’s pregnant. She decides to stop her drug regimen and have the baby. When the band records their debut album, Kristin has to play the guitar sidesaddle to accommodate her belly, but at least her hands aren’t shaking. She is 19 years old. Vividly written, heroically composed in its accounts of chaos, blunt and unsentimental when confronting the series of personal disasters that accompanied the band’s emergence, Rat Girl is one of the best coming-of-age stories I’ve read in a long time.

As with Throwing Muses, so with this book: the high quality of the work isn’t in question so much as whether the work will find its ideal audience. (It was at #17,250 on Amazon’s Books List today.) Boston has long been an incubator for high-profile rock and roll, and Throwing Muses was just one among many bands that came out of Boston in the mid-to-late 80s – The Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr., ‘til Tuesday, Mission of Burma, and The Pixies among them. And Throwing Muses’ other songwriter was Tanya Donnelly, who later had her own band, Belly, and teamed up with Kim Deal of the Pixies to form The Breeders. Donnelly is also Hersh’s stepsister and plays a supporting role in Rat Girl. But it is easy to see (and you may remember) how the Muses got lost in that crowd; they did for me at the time – I can remember the college-radio hits like “Dizzy” and “Counting Backwards,” but flipping through my CD collection, I realized that I didn’t own anything by the Muses. Maybe in my attic are cassettes of The Real Ramona and Hunkpapa, or maybe I just heard them so often on friends’ stereos or on WFNX that it just seemed like I owned them. However, I have to admit that I found the Muses less accessible than those other bands, all of whose CDs I have long since ripped to my iTunes library. Belly’s debut sold more copies than the entire Muses catalog – and why not? Belly was smart, stylish, complex but catchy, great to play on headphones, in the car, or when hanging out with friends. Throwing Muses was also smart, but complicated as well as complex. Hersh’s singing is dynamic, forceful, and passionate, but also often agonized. In Rat Girl, we can see from where some of that agony came.

Hersh explains in her introduction that she recently came across the diary she kept that year. A painter friend had suggested it as a way to fill “the interim between making noise and artful sublimation.” She has reworked that diary into a memoir, and she sets off typographically those excerpts of the diary that she’s repeating verbatim; the rest, by implication, is an after-the-fact reconstruction of the diary’s raw contents. She also drops in lines from her songs – some from that time period, others from later work – when the lines resonate with the incidents in the story. This because, “Songs’re weird: they tell the future and they tell the past, but they can’t seem to tell the difference.” Statements like this provide clues to Hersh’s method. Rat Girl reads like a diary insofar as we follow Kristin’s day-to-day life in a straight sequence throughout the year, but the hand of the memoirist also shows in the development some of the incidents receive, the eloquence of certain passages that seems fresh and authentic but not spontaneous, and the ordering of certain images (the snake, for instance, about which more later) that gives the book a thematic coherence. The total effect seems consistent with Hersh’s stated intention: “This is my old diary’s story, riddled with enormous holes and true.”

In the first of the book’s four sections, Kristin is preoccupied with writing songs and then figuring out how to get her band’s performances recognized in the relative backwater of the Providence music scene (then as now, the Pawtucket Red Sox to the more famous franchise up I-95 at Fenway). She hangs out with painters and musicians and junkies in the park. She takes occasional classes at an unnamed Rhode Island college (which seems to be Salve Regina College in Newport) where her father teaches philosophy. Hersh’s father is a very minor character, and her mother, divorced from Hersh’s father and remarried to Donnelly’s, makes only minor appearances. The teenage Kristin swerves alarmingly from one predicament to the next, sometimes literally: her old car has a damaged exhaust system and Kristin says, “I’ve perfected the art of slowing to a stop” rather than trust her failing brakes. One wants to ask, Where are this child’s parents?! In fact, the closest Kristin comes to having adult supervision comes in the character of Betty, the “oldest student at the college” introduced by Hersh’s father to Kristin, who at fourteen was the youngest student at the college. Betty is Betty Hutton, a former Hollywood and TV starlet of some note – how the star of Preston Sturges’s 1944 The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek came to be Kristin Hersh’s mentor in 1985 in Newport is never explained. But Betty gives Kristin unstinting moral support and a steady stream of earnest (if cryptic) life-advice either in the student coffee shops or hiding out in the women’s room of the library. She faithfully attends Throwing Muses concerts, and at one moment seems a real-life Norma Desmond, in the next a guardian angel. (Hersh dedicates the book to her memory.) But until the band is under contract with 4AD and the company’s producer needs to coax performances from the erratic and third-trimester Kristin, no adult character is important enough to be given a name. For instance, Kristin is counseled by a psychiatrist when she gets her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and he helps her figure out how to back off her drugs when she decides to have her baby. But his name, she tells us, is unpronounceable. He is helpful and sympathetic – Kristin admits to him that she can’t remember his name so she calls him “Doctor Seven Syllables” and he chuckles, “Hee hee. Call me Seven” – but he’s also just one of the many “soothers” who can’t tell her how to be both a musician and a happy, healthy human being. The story’s central problem is that Kristin doesn’t want to be soothed or normal or happy. Nor does she want to lose access to “evil Kristin” – the voice she hears coming through her band’s best demo tapes. And worse, she doesn’t like that on lithium she no longer hears the voices or “sees the colors” that possess her when she is writing songs.

The tension between art and madness, the capacity of drugs to either conjure or soothe one’s demons, and the question of what will make a person truly happy: these themes put Hersh’s book not only in the tradition of rock and roll classics like Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries, but also in the broader scope of coming-of-age tales, from Catcher in the Rye on the popular and literary side to films like Igby Goes Down or Rushmore on the cult-cinema side. Hersh even riffs on a famous scene from Salinger’s novel: Kristin and Tanya are in a green room, waiting to go on stage and keeping the pregnant Kristin out of the nausea-triggering, smoke-filled nightclub. Kristin lies flat on the floor and they are reading graffiti on the wall. Tanya, Holden Caulfield-like, is annoyed by a “fuck you” written on the wall.

Tea tries to rub the fuck you off the wall with her thumb. The wall bends in ominously. “Careful,” I say. “That could be load-bearing graffiti.”
“I don’t understand,” she says. “Are they trying to make us feel bad? Why? That’s not nice.” She thinks. “Should we feel sorry for a person who writes fuck you on a wall?”
We both look at it. “Could it be an ironic fuck you?” I ask. We continue staring. It doesn’t look ironic. “Fuck just means sex, though, right?” I say. She nods. “So maybe they’re talking about expressing love.”
“Yeah, probably,” she says. “Like love ya!”
Love ya lots!”
Holden worries in Catcher in the Rye that, “If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the Fuck you signs in the world. It’s impossible.” For him, this impossibility is depressing, a cause for despair. But Kristin doesn’t rub it out – she assigns irony to it, which subverts its obscenity. She hasn’t made the impossible possible, but she has disarmed it. It’s a great example of how Hersh discovers in her younger, troubled self the assertions of a deeper sanity.

In the book’s second section, Hersh describes her breakdown, but in terms that are so closely linked to her composition of songs that Kristin doesn’t – and we don’t – realize that what’s happening to her is psychosis. She just thinks she’s got insomnia, or that she’s still not fully recovered from the bicycling accident. Since that accident, she believes she doesn’t write songs; rather she hears songs and then writes them down. She also believes the accident was no “accident,” but a witch casting a spell on her. She falls asleep one night in a friend’s apartment and wakes to an hallucination:

I see the snake before I’m fully awake. By the time I sit up, it’s gone. You gotta be quick with a snake.
Then I see it again out of the corner of my eye. Shooting my hand out, I reach for it. For a split second, I see something that looks like an X-ray of a snake, but all I feel is the cool wooden floor. I stare at my hand, flooded with adrenaline. There is no snake.
My mind races. What’s the vocabulary for this?
This is about as good as a description of psychosis gets – not that I can vouch for it as an accurate or true description of psychosis, not from experience anyway. But as description, this and the scenes that follow ring true; they convincingly create the effect of how words break down. It’s not Hersh’s vocabulary that fails, but the syntax that holds vocabulary together. The paragraphs become shorter, sentences become fragmented, dialog becomes telegraphic, even semaphoric – just gesturing and flailing. Kristin can offer only a set of unanchored impressions or, in reply to something said by others, only “Huh?” The problem, she realizes, is that the symptoms of madness described by her clinicians are also her personality:
They also say it didn’t happen suddenly.
“Are you sure?” I asked them. I went to sleep on Jeff’s floor and then woke up broken. That’s pretty sudden. But they say I’ve spent the last couple years living with symptoms like… well, like my entire personality.
In the second half of the book, as the band’s fortunes improve, Kristin is trying to understand whether she’s sick and the “therapeutic level” of drugs makes her better or whether she’s a musician “muted by medication.” This dilemma is never resolved. Instead, Hersh presents a series of scenes that portray the struggle. After one particularly intense vocal in a studio recording a demo, she has this exchange with the producer:

“Are you okay?” Gary asks me in my headphones after a particularly yucky take.
“Whaddya mean?” A young rat stops and looks at me. “I wasn’t talking to you,” I whisper to it.
“You weren’t?” Gary whispers back.
Yes. I mean no, I was.”
He pauses. “No, you were?”
“What did you mean, am I okay? Did it sound bad?”
“It sounded terrible,” he says. “In a good way.”
“Well, then, I guess I’m okay.”
So who is the crazy person here? And if it isn’t Gary, who thinks that you can sound “terrible in a good way,” then is it the singer who talks to hallucinated rats? Isn’t it crazy to be happy to sound terrible in a good way? The impressive power of the book comes from Hersh’s insistence on depicting these problems without resolving them. There is no simple answer. There’s just the complicated, distinctive music of Throwing Muses.

Instead of moving toward resolution, the story becomes further complicated when Kristin realizes she is pregnant. “I thought birth control worked,” she says to the pregnancy-test indicator. It is a terrific piece of understatement, and the whole thought process from the moment she knows she’s pregnant, through the decision to have the baby, to the realization that she’s putting at risk the long-awaited recording deal is handled in less than a page. When did she get pregnant? Who’s the father? These questions are ignored, passed over in the narrative. Because this isn’t a rock and roll star’s kiss-and-tell-all book: there is no “sex and drugs and rock and roll” here, at least not in the customary sense. There’s no sex at all, in fact, and the drugs are at first prescribed and later abandoned. What’s left is the music, the art. Or better, in this context – what’s left is creation, in several forms.

One can imagine the band’s reaction to Kristin’s pregnancy at just this point in their career. But as portrayed in the book, the band had already accommodated itself to Kristin’s illness and now they are ready to support her in her pregnancy. They help her select healthy foods; they insist the drummer “play quietly” during rehearsals; they decode the labels on vitamin supplements – is Vitamin C ascorbic acid or citric acid? Kristin has this latter conversation with her bass player while also discussing a fan’s reaction to Kristin’s pregnancy – a male fan during a show yells at her from the audience, “Haven’t you ever heard of birth control?”

“He was pissed off,” Leslie says.
“What the hell does that mean? What was he pissed off about?”
“Well,” she explains, “most people think teenage pregnancy’s a bad thing.”
I look at her. “It is a bad thing.” Leslie takes a bottle of pink juice out of the fridge, then sits in the seat across from me. She nods. “Nineteen is hardly a teenage, though,” I say.
“Yeah. But most people think you’re thirteen.”
That she looks 13 is news to the 19 year-old Kristin, but the memoirist Hersh had made it clear all along that part of what makes her younger self so bizarre and exceptional is that she looks so young and her intensity can be not just unattractive but off-putting. The pregnancy, seen this way, is just another example of Throwing Muses’s knack for bad p.r.

Which returns to my original point: Throwing Muses always found it hard to find its audience. They could be unattractive and off-putting. In this respect, Kristin Hersh belongs to the line of women rockers for whom sexiness was not the major selling point. Patti Smith is the most obvious precursor for Hersh, and in this book Hersh, like Smith, is a crafty and craft-full worker in words disengaged from music. But Throwing Muses could also be off-putting in the sense that their quirkiness defied conventional expectations about what a pop band or rock band or punk band could be. Rat Girl also frustrates if you were hoping for a conventional or “soothing” ending: There is no grand, climactic scene in the delivery room, nor an elaborate, celebratory record-release party. We never learn the baby’s name and wouldn’t know the gender if Kristin didn’t tell us, on the last page, “He’s my baby, so everything’s okay.” The next line, the last line is, “I absolutely did not invent this.”

Throwing Muses held together for nearly a decade, producing a string of critically admired commercial failures. Kristin Hersh continued -- and continues -- to record solo albums. Her highest-charting song was “Your Ghost” from her 1994 solo album, Hips and Makers. You can also find on line – for free! – her most recent album, Power + Light, with her current band project, 50 Foot Wave, which I also recommend highly. Its sound is closer to the take-no-prisoners rock of Throwing Muses than the acoustic arrangements of the solo albums. It’s a nice pairing – the memoir and the recent album. There is a sense in both of an artist who has maintained a clear vision of what her work should be. Rock music has always been about the problems of growing up; but it always has problems actually growing up. At 19, looking 13, Kristin Hersh suddenly grew up much too fast in just one year. Her “soothers” worried that she wouldn’t survive, that she’d kill herself – 20% of people diagnosed as bipolar, Dr. Seven Syllables tells her, eventually do kill themselves. But Rat Girl isn’t the typical “I survived my Rock and Roll Youth” memoir. It is always about how to create art, how to go down the rabbit holes and rat holes of imagination and what you might come back up with. Yeats says that politics is the argument with others and art is the argument with oneself. Hersh lived through and seems still to thrive in the argument with herself: these seem to be the only terms that ever really mattered to her, and to that extent she has given us an excellent portrait of the artist as a young woman.

Many scenes in Rat Girl are located along the stretch of Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue from the Rathskeller (“The Rat”) punk club in Kenmore Square to The Paradise showcase nightclub in Boston University’s West Campus. In 1985 and 1986 – not to mention a good number of years on either side of those dates – I was also located on that same stretch of road, a graduate student at B.U. I was more likely found in the Mugar Library, a couple blocks from The Paradise, or Fenway Park, just around the corner from The Rat, but I assume that I crossed paths on Comm Ave with Kristin Hersh or her bandmates at some point in those days. I’m a few years older than Hersh, and in 1986 I was teaching freshman comp and Intro to Lit courses to students Kristin’s age – an undertaking profoundly less interesting than fronting a rock band and even less likely to result in commercial success for its practitioners. However, teaching gave me the authentic non-commercial reward of working daily with smart, young people just discovering how language – both as words written and words read – is a powerful tool of self-discovery and self-invention. And I have happy memories of those times when I managed to put a good book in the hands of a person who was transformed by it. Often these were books about coming of age – Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer, for instance, were novels that, for the right kid at the right time, could make a brilliant, ordering light go off in that kid’s head.

It seems to me that Rat Girl, for the right reader, could be similarly transformative. Hersh’s prose is compelling, her tale is riveting, her self-deprecation is charming, and in her story, she doesn’t just come of age, she saves her own life. I suspect that there are many readers eager to hear this kind of story. I’ll bet that along the sidewalks of Comm Ave – along sidewalks anywhere – there are plenty young, intense, smart, unattractive Rat Girls and Rat Boys who can’t figure out if they are mad or possessed or just terribly out-of-place. Should such readers find this book, Hersh will have managed an impressive accomplishment: she will have demonstrated that the book (or song) you write as an act of self-preservation may also throw a lifeline to the reader (or listener) who needs to know that such acts occur and who can find there their own strength to persevere – that is, she will have found her audience.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Andy "&€%#£+! " Reid

Q: How many Andy Reids does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. Just pass the ball.

sent via miPhone...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What the Fuck has Obama Done so Far?

If you haven't seen this yet, you're missing out, plain and simple. Most of us know how much Obama, Pelosi, Harry Reid and the Democrats have accomplished the last two years. Too many people don't. Especially the less-educated and less-informed people of the country (Rush Limabaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity to name just a few).

Well, when you click on the title of this post, or here, you'll get dozens of the policies, bills and legislation that Obama and his administration have established and implemented the last two years, in a "couldn't-be-easier-to-read" format. Next time your whining "independent" or libertarian friend alludes to him not doing anything, just point them towards whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com and tell them to shut the fuck up.

I don't know who Shavanna Miller, Will Carlough and Richard Boenigk are, but they are to be seriously commended for thinking this up. Great job peoples!

below are just two screen shots. check the rest out now, here!

fuck the GOP, fuck the Teabaggers & fuck the "Independent" voter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Get a grip, people. Do just a smidge of #$%^*(@ homework!

from Atlantic's Daily Dish (image via Mark Shea)...sj

It's easy as pie to generalize to millions of people the crimes of a few. We Catholics have had it done to us. And we can have it done to us again. So we should be bloody cautious about insane schemes to do it to 18 million fellow citizens.

The grotesque excuse "But the the first amendment is dead, and Islam killed it. There is no 'freedom of speech' or 'freedom of religion' with the threat of Muslim violence hanging over your head" is rubbish. Cancelling the rights of 307 million people because you are, by your own admission, afraid is neither patriotism, nor courage, nor Christian fortitude. It is cowardice. And it is extra-special cowardice when you are ready to cancel your most precious national heritage because you are afraid of a speck.

Eat the Rich: Bill Maher's "New Rule: Rich People Who Complain About Being Vilified Should be Vilified"

He consistently nails it. Whatever the 'it' is. This New Rule from his recent "Real Time with Bill Maher" -sj

New Rule: The next rich person who publicly complains about being vilified by the Obama administration must be publicly vilified by the Obama administration. It's so hard for one person to tell another person what constitutes being "rich", or what tax rate is "too much." But I've done some math that indicates that, considering the hole this country is in, if you are earning more than a million dollars a year and are complaining about a 3.6% tax increase, then you are by definition a greedy asshole.

And let's be clear: that's 3.6% only on income above 250 grand -- your first 250, that's still on the house. Now, this week we got some horrible news: that one in seven Americans are now living below the poverty line. But I want to point you to an American who is truly suffering: Ben Stein. You know Ben Stein, the guy who got rich because when he talks it sounds so boring it's actually funny. He had a game show on Comedy Central, does eye drop commercials, doesn't believe in evolution? Yeah, that asshole. I kid Ben -- so, the other day Ben wrote an article about his struggle. His struggle as a wealthy person facing the prospect of a slightly higher marginal tax rate. Specifically, Ben said that when he was finished paying taxes and his agents, he was left with only 35 cents for every dollar he earned. Which is shocking, Ben Stein has an agent? I didn't know Broadway Danny Rose was still working.

Ben whines in his article about how he's worked for every dollar he has -- if by work you mean saying the word "Bueller" in a movie 25 years ago. Which doesn't bother me in the slightest, it's just that at a time when people in America are desperate and you're raking in the bucks promoting some sleazy Free Credit Score dot-com... maybe you shouldn't be asking us for sympathy. Instead, you should be down on your knees thanking God and/or Ronald Reagan that you were lucky enough to be born in a country where a useless schmuck who contributes absolutely nothing to society can somehow manage to find himself in the top marginal tax bracket.

And you're welcome to come on the show anytime.

Now I can hear you out there saying, "Come on Bill, don't be so hard on Ben Stein, he does a lot of voiceover work, and that's hard work." Ok, it's true, Ben is hardly the only rich person these days crying like a baby who's fallen off his bouncy seat. Last week Mayor Bloomberg of New York complained that all his wealthy friends are very upset with mean ol' President Poopy-Pants: He said they all say the same thing: "I knew I was going to have to pay more taxes. But I didn't expect to be vilified." Poor billionaires -- they just can't catch a break.

First off, far from being vilified, we bailed you out -- you mean we were supposed to give you all that money and kiss your ass, too? That's Hollywood you're thinking of. FDR, he knew how to vilify; this guy, not so much. And second, you should have been vilified -- because you're the vill-ains! I'm sure a lot of you are very nice people. And I'm sure a lot of you are jerks. In other words, you're people. But you are the villains. Who do you think outsourced all the jobs, destroyed the unions, and replaced workers with desperate immigrants and teenagers in China. Joe the Plumber?

And right now, while we run trillion dollar deficits, Republicans are holding America hostage to the cause of preserving the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 1% of people, many of them dead. They say that we need to keep taxes on the rich low because they're the job creators. They're not. They're much more likely to save money through mergers and outsourcing and cheap immigrant labor, and pass the unemployment along to you.

Americans think rich people must be brilliant; no -- just ruthless. Meg Whitman is running for Governor out here, and her claim to fame is, she started e-Bay. Yes, Meg tapped into the Zeitgeist, the zeitgeist being the desperate need of millions of Americans to scrape a few dollars together by selling the useless crap in their garage. What is e-Bay but a big cyber lawn sale that you can visit without putting your clothes on?

Another of my favorites, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said, "I don't know where they're going to get all this money, because we're running out of rich people in this country." Actually, we have more billionaires here in the U.S. than all the other countries in the top ten combined, and their wealth grew 27% in the last year. Did yours? Truth is, there are only two things that the United States is not running out of: Rich people and bullshit. Here's the truth: When you raise taxes slightly on the wealthy, it obviously doesn't destroy the economy -- we know this, because we just did it -- remember the '90's? It wasn't that long ago. You were probably listening to grunge music, or dabbling in witchcraft. Clinton moved the top marginal rate from 36 to 39% -- and far from tanking, the economy did so well he had time to get his dick washed.

Even 39% isn't high by historical standards. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91%. Under Nixon, it was 70%. Obama just wants to kick it back to 39 -- just three more points for the very rich. Not back to 91, or 70. Three points. And they go insane. Steve Forbes said that Obama, quote "believes from his inner core that people... above a certain income have more than they should have and that many probably have gotten it from ill-gotten ways." Which they have. Steve Forbes, of course, came by his fortune honestly: he inherited it from his gay egg-collecting, Elizabeth Taylor fag-hagging father, who inherited it from his father. Of course then they moan about the inheritance tax, how the government took 55% percent when Daddy died -- which means you still got 45% for doing nothing more than starting out life as your father's pecker-snot.

We don't hate rich people, but have a little humility about how you got it and stop complaining. Maybe the worst whiner of all: Stephen Schwarzman, #69 on Forbes' list of richest Americans, compared Obama's tax hike to "when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Wow. If Obama were Hitler, Mr. Schwarzman, I think your tax rate would be the least of your worries.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"get ready, criminals: hell is coming to breakfast"

Obama nails it. No ambiguity. Elizabeth Warren has been hired to protect Americans from evil, and put financial institutions, predatory lenders, and other criminal entities in check. This is what real change looks like, baby!

clicking on title of this post will bring you to HuffPo piece, filled with mad information and details on who she is, why she rules, and what the particulars are; including an incredibly-simple breakdown of just how easy it was for the mortgage brokers and financial services industry to hoodwink americans and just how they were responsible for the near-depression we find ourselves still in. Following are some excerpts....sj

"Anyone who knows her knows that she would only take a position that had real meat to it," said one source who had worked closely with Warren in the past. "I mean, seriously, you've seen her in action. Do you really think she's going to be anyone's lapdog? She bites hard."

"Republicans, too, began to endorse her. A former top official in the Reagan administration said a vote for Warren was akin to a vote for capitalism and free markets."

"Later that year, her opposition widened to include much of the House GOP. Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee introduced an amendment to the pending financial reform legislation intended to prevent Warren from ever heading the agency. It was defeated."

Wanna see why she rules? Watch this...

my current favorite song: Cold Cave's "Love Comes Close"

just discovered this. love it. poetic. sad. beautiful. and although one is instantly reminded of many other great artists from the past (and perhaps some bad ones), upon hearing this song and band, it doesn't bother me in this case, like it does other times; I still find this song highly original, and downright lovely.

"Love Comes Close" by Cold Cave

Everything changes - will all change again
Sun sheds the light as the life sheds its skin.
You kiss your wish to the heart of the world
Secrets are safe with, will not break the spell.

Come on, lets go home.
Buried in your womb.
Sing a song of death,
Til' there's none left.

Love comes close
But chooses to spare me
Death comes close
But ceases to take me
I want to twist, the knife a bit deeper
To siphon the love from the hearts I believed in
Look outside, world is exploding,
Stay inside, still never knowing.
Taking cover, with each other,
Sleeping off the century of hope.

Everydays changing will remain the same.
Silhouettes shy as rain rots the drain.
Everydays decay debases the dream,
The ghosts that will haunt you are not what they seem.
Still you say you're dead
To depravity,
But that can't be true, 'cause I know you can hear me.

Love comes close
But chooses to spare me
Death comes close
But ceases to take me
I want to twist, the knife a bit deeper
To siphon the love from the hearts I believed in
Look outside, world is exploding,
Stay inside, still never knowing.
Taking cover, with each other,
Sleeping off the century of hope.

(repeat once more)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the silly "mosque at ground zero" debate

Keith Olberman sums it up best. There are also some interesting facts in here I'm sure the readers were unaware of.... sj

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Virtual Runner 2010

This is one of many worthy causes, but it's one from which I can directly see the effects.

It's simple: I run some road races (and maybe a few cross-country), and whoever feels like helping out kids donates to the Epilepsy Association through my link. The donors are the "virtual runners" and I'm the actual runner they sponsor.

Why? My daughters have a friend named Lucy, who has epilepsy. A year and a half ago, it seemed that Lucy would never be able to return to school, play like any other kids, or even be able to learn her ABC's. Her seizures were that bad.

Thanks in large part to the Epilepsy Association, Lucy's parents (who are good friends of mine and Mrs. Pilgrim99) discovered a treatment regimen that includes a very strict diet which has transformed Lucy's life. Instead of life-threatening seizures, Lucy plays with her friends, is able to go to school again, and knows a lot more than just the alphabet.

If you are so inclined, please click the link to my donation page. If not, thanks for reading!

Epilepsy Association Virtual Runner

"I've Got Drugs" - by the Frogs

man, I gotta get some Frogs back into my rotation. perhaps the funniest band ever.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

sheeple? haters? barely-casual fans of B-Ball?

new poll!

"percentage of Americans who did NOT hate LeBron before he left Cleveland, that hate him now: 1.78%."

shoe fit?

Friday, July 16, 2010

America got better today! Another great achievement for Obama & the Democrats

This new financial reform legislation the Democrats passed yesterday is worth celebrating. It's a victory for those who prioritize fiscal responsibility, a victory for conservatives, progressives, libertarians, all Americans, really! This is what change looks like. This is what those of us who voted for Obama wanted. Like, fix stuff. He's delivered, with another campaign promise fulfilled, straight from the Democratic playbook (and platform). Again, thanks for NOTHING, congressional Republicans (w/ the exception of 2 or 3)! I've compiled a few of the best takes/articles on what the legislation means, what it doesn't mean, some of the people involved, and what's next. - sj

Wall Street Reform Passes
Ryan Grim
Shahien Nasiripour
Huffington Post

Nearly two years after major banks brought the global financial system to the brink of collapse, triggering a steep economic decline and crisis-levels of unemployment, Congress passed its Wall Street reform package, 60-39, with only three Republicans joining every Democrat (but one). The president will sign it into law next week.

The bill became stronger as the nation's focus moved from health care to Wall Street reform and became tougher still as the debate was held in the open on the Senate floor and during televised conference committee negotiations. Bank lobbyists were able to beat back the most serious threats to their business model, but enough significant reforms remain to earn the opposition of the American Bankers Association and other Wall Street titans.

When Democrats last reformed the financial sector in the midst of the Great Depression, they had several advantages that today's party lacks:
(click on title of this piece for more of the informative article)

FinReg Vote Passes, Will Become Law
by David Dayen

The Senate passed their cloture vote, as expected, on the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill. The vote was 60-38, with Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins supporting from the Republican side, and Russ Feingold opposing. Senatus says that the final vote will be taken up this afternoon, but I haven’t confirmed that. (UPDATE: It’s confirmed that passage will happen today, around 2pm ET.)

The bill is a landmark consumer protection and anti-predatory lending bill. It goes fairly far in that direction, though not quite far enough – the auto dealer exemption is a disappointment. But the mortgage reforms are actually pretty solid, and I have confidence that the consumer protection bureau can have an impact on ending a culture where certain predators in the financial services industry make their profits largely based on how well they can trick people.

As for the Wall Street part of the Wall Street reform bill, the public has no sense whatsoever that it will work. More important, most experts don’t either.
(click on title of this piece for more of the informative article)

FinReg vs Wall Street Reform
by Ezra Klein
Washington Post

Matt Yglesias calls it "the underrated FinReg bill," and I take that headline as a personal victory of sorts.

But he's right about the legislation. The desire for a bill that does more has obscured a clear picture of a bill that does a lot. "We’ve tended to focus much more on what’s not in the bill than on what is in the bill," Yglesias says. "What is in the bill is a consumer protection setup that would be considered a major progressive win as a standalone item. What is in the bill is a 'resolution authority' that will let future regulators avoid the bailout-or-crisis dynamic that plagued us in 2008. What is in the bill are regulatory tools that even Simon Johnson likes. The bill clarifies lines of regulatory authority and responsibility and should cut down on abusive 'competitive regulation.' "

I'd add a few more major wins. Bringing derivatives onto exchanges and into clearinghouses is a huge victory. In 2007, the over-the-counter -- and almost entirely unregulated -- derivatives market was worth about $700 trillion in notional value, and regulators had no idea what went where and few firms had serious capital or margin requirements. Those days are over.
(click on title of this piece for more of the informative article)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rockology - Part One

JT is an extreme artist, undeniably-hilarious, and one of the most creative people I've ever met. He's a friend, and also someone I've had the pleasure of working with in the recording studio. Original Sins (one of his bands), are, BY A MILE, the greatest rock band you never heard of. I will be posting some links to his website soon, and detailing more about him; including a list of records you have to go out and get. For now, enjoy this first installment of Rockology.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

¡ESPANA! Campeones del mundo.

It might not have been the prettiest match, but the better team did win.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LeBron, pro-sports, blathering & beyond...

I love LeBron James. I love watching him play. I love him because he flat-out dominates, and he does some things NO ONE before him has ever done on a basketball court. I love him because he's one of the best and most unique players to ever the play the game. And while I’ll concede that everything happening off the court currently is indeed nonsense, it doesn't take away from him having a lifelong respect for the game, being a true student of the game, a tireless worker on the court, a superb teammate and an extraordinary talent.

To be clear, LeBron’s #1 goal is to win a championship; preferably championships. It’s just plain silly to insinuate or think otherwise (he's apparently losing more than $20,000,000 if he leaves Cleveland, no matter where he goes). He’s already achieved pretty much every other goal there is in basketball, as well as life. He wants a championship like any other competitive athlete in any sport does. Can’t hate him for that. Feeding his ego and whatever other stupid assessments are being thrown about, with regards to his MO are either nonsense, or missing the point. Can we move beyond that now?

Since winning a championship is the goal, LeBron is simply looking at the best alternatives to facilitate that. In my opinion, if he goes to Miami or Chicago, he will most assuredly win at least one championship. If he stays in Cleveland he won’t; and if he goes to New York, it’s possible, however, it’s not a sure thing, like in the other places.

Personally, I SOOOooooo hope he doesn’t go to New York, for obvious reasons. Oh, not obvious? Okay, here’s why: because I love the guy, but I would have to stop supporting him and watching him play with the same passion I do now, because, well, he’d be playing for New York. And I, like the rest of America (NY residents excluded), hate all New York sports teams (although, I’ve always respected the Giants).

He’s a free agent, one of the best players in the NBA (as well as of all time), and he’s allowed to go (or stay) wherever he sees fit. These are the facts. Everything else is media & TV-induced mega-hype. Sure, he’s a star, and has an ego, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars, and is doing things a lot different than other people would, but who cares? With this ‘decision show’ he’s having, he’s also donating everything it makes to an awesome national charity. Let’s also not forget, that for every person who’s annoyed by the pomp & circumstance, there are ten who are WAY into it – or it wouldn’t be happening!

This brings me to my main point: I’m a bit shocked at all the whining and half-sincere blather I’m hearing this week about it all: LeBron not being a good role model, the NBA jumping the shark, “where are the league's values?,” “the game’s gone to pot!,” etc. These people talk about the current state of affairs in the NBA like it’s not going on in their favorite sport; like all other pro sports in America aren’t a mutated, dysfunctional mess also!

Peeps, news flash for you: every pro-sport in America is just as bad off and fucked up as the NBA, and has been for YEARS-ah. The games are a SHELL of what they used to be. Who you trying to kid? Don’t hate the players (unless they’re Kobe or NY players); first and foremost, hate the T.V. (and other mediums), advertisers, corporate sponsors and their desire to “win over the casual fan” of all these sports, for the sole purpose of making more money. After that, you can blame our economic model (capitalism), and the American people, themselves.

These are the entities who bastardized the actual game itself. The MLB, the NHL, NFL and the NBA have gone to shit the last 2 decades, and THIS is the real problem, not the pomp & circumstance, commercials, and dumb shows like LeBron’s having tonight. The games themselves have been compromised forever. The endless rule changes (for the worse), the post-season formats (and tv scheduling), the overtimes, and more, have turned all four major sports into an almost unwatchable affair.

If you still don’t think pro sports is more about entertainment than the actual competition, integrity of the play, and the game itself, then you don’t watch pro sports. The same goes for college sports these days. Hell, I have to go watch high school football games now, to see pure competition anymore. Enough with blaming the players, or whining about what sports are ‘becoming.’ They are ALREADY there.

Who are these people whining about LeBron and tonight’s show anyway? Are the throngs of people complaining even basketball fans? Probably not. Are they LeBron fans? Doubt it. Are they Kobe fans? Who are they exactly?

By the way, If they’re Kobe fans, they are hypocrites of the third kind: Kobe did the same thing in 2004 when he courted just as many teams, and took more time making a decision, for one. Even worse, the prima donna, selfish bastard did it when he was drafted by Charlotte, refusing to go anywhere but the Fakers. Why? So he could win championships! Worked out fine for him, no?

Let me say this now, for all the Kobe lovers/LeBron haters: NO one has more of an ego and selfish attitude off and ON the court, than Kobe (LeBron’s nowhere close to the personal dysfunction or terrible personality that Kobe embodies). While he is no doubt one of the greatest to ever play the game, and I’ll concede, more of a complete player than LeBron is (though I still think LeBron beats him one on one!), he is a total and undeniable punk and weasel.

And here’s another fact (and I suppose getting back to the root of LeBron’s decision today): If Kobe was on Cleveland, he’d have exactly no championships. If LeBron was on the Fakers, he’d have five championships.

In summary(!), LeBron is going to do what he thinks is best to get him some championships. It’s what ANYone would do, including you, reading this. You shan’t blame him for that. All the other absurdity and nonsense surrounding the decision is inconsequential. Completely. If you’re gonna be upset about all the hype, or ‘the game’ or what it’s become, be mad at those who made it that way. LeBron has nothing to do with that.

Friday, July 2, 2010

CA split evenly on Prop 19: the full legalization of marijuana

"..oh the times, they are-a changin'.." Bob Dylan said it best. Medicinal marijuana? Science has spoken; old news now. So here's where we are now with legalizing recreational use of weed, the same we all recreationally use coffee, beer, rum, whiskey, wine, cigarettes, prescription meds, and everything else (except, without all the the side effects and people dying). Once a state or two makes this law, the rest will surely follow. There just isn't a reason not to: it's safe, the legalization, taxation and distribution of it will save oceans-full of money on fighting the crime now surrounding it, and of course, most importantly, governments (local, state, federal, if it wants to) will make lots of money. Oh yeah, and the people like it (and the people are the government, right?). Here's an update from Firedoglake on CA's upcoming referendum to fully legalize marijuana (clik on title of this post for original piece).-sj

By: Jon Walker
June 30th, 2010
California Split Almost Evenly on Prop 19; Few Left Undecided about Marijuana Legalization

Proposition 19, the newly numbered California initiative to legalize, tax and regulate cannabis, would lose by a very close margin if the election was held today, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll:

"The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, also found that 48 percent of voters would support legalizing marijuana, compared to 50 percent opposed."

While voters who oppose Prop 19 slightly outnumber those who support it , the two-point difference is well within the poll’s margin of error, so the state is effectively evenly split on the issue. The numbers mirror the findings of a poll from the Public Policy Institute of California (PDF) taken back in May. It gave the pro-marijuana legalization side a slight edge, 49-48, also within the poll’s margin of error.

An interesting thing to note in both of these polls is how incredibly few undecideds there are. It seems almost all Californians have already taken at least a tentative initial position on the issue. Previous experience will tell you that persuading people to change their minds one way or the other is often a fairly difficult endeavor.

Prop 19 supporters’ best hope might be to find a way to increase turnout among young people (under-25 voters overwhelmingly favor legalizing marijuana, but tend to vote in very low numbers in midterm elections). If the issue remains this closely divided all the way through to November, Prop 19’s fate could easily rest on whether or not the issue gets young voters politically engaged in higher-than-usual numbers.

"I don't care - I want an iPhone 4"

just watch this. it's bleepin' hilarious. btw, I'm w/ the brown bear (if that's what they are), as all "appleheads" are!! (yes, u may need to sit thru a 30-second ad)- sj

iPhone 4 Vs HTC Evo - Watch more Funny Videos

Thursday, July 1, 2010

wow. she'll run naked through the streets if Paraguay wins it all? like woah.

I was pulling for Japan in their recent match against Paraguay, and I like Ghana and Netherlands, as well. But unless the Netherlands pull, what I consider to be a fairly big upset and beat Brazil, it will be an Argentina/Brazil final match for the biggest & bestest bragging rights ever. But nevermind them bollocks for now. Perhaps it might actually be best if Paraguay wins it all (though they have almost no chance of beating Argentina, even if they beat Spain this Saturday). Check this out. And don't you just love where she keeps her cell phone?!-sj

Paraguay's success at the World Cup continued on Tuesday, with the country's soccer team beating Japan on penalty kicks to advance to the tournament's quarterfinals. Now, with only eight teams remaining, the Paraguayans may have a few more fans to help win it all.

Larissa Riquelme, a curvy lingerie model who loves her national team, has been cheering the Paraguay squad on from Asuncion, clad in revealing outfits. The 24-year-old beauty has pledged to run naked through the streets "with my body painted with the colors of Paraguay" if Paraguay wins the World Cup.

The gorgeous football fanatic is not the first person to promise to streak in the event of a World Cup win. Argentina's coach Diego Maradona was the first prominent person to issue such a guarantee, and his team has also made the quarterfinals.

click title of this post for HuffPo story (and more pics).
click here for more.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gaga Love It...

Lady Gaga recently... "I love the rumor that I have a penis. I'm fascinated by it. In fact, it makes me love my fans even more that this rumor is in the world because 17,000 of them come to an arena every night and they don't care if i'm a man, a woman, a hermaphrodite, gay, straight, transgendered, or transsexual. They don't care! They are there for the music and the freedom. This has been the greatest accomplishment of my life- to get young people to throw away what society has taught them is wrong. Gay culture is at the very essence of who I am and I will fight for women and for the gay community until I die."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

really random observations...

You know how I knew the movie was going to be unwatchable? because for one, I saw the commercial for it. but mostly, because the show sucked. why did the show suck? because the writing sucked, the actors sucked, the casting sucked, and everything about it sucked. not to mention the fashion and "styles." Just LOOK at these outfits, hairstyles, and the accessories! For god's sake, that scarf-hat SJP is wearing is inexcusably-hideous! enough said. "Bomb, baby, Bomb!" Perhaps this is the very last time we ever HEAR or see this pathetic lot.

This is one of the best business names EVAH! It's a graphite/marble/tile/natural stone products shop, on Rte 611 in Horsham. It's called, "Let's Get Stoned, Inc." !!! May be THE best brick and mortar business name I've seen. I plan on going in here once just to check it out!

from the "art imitating life imitating art imitating life" department...I know 50 Cent is making a movie about a friend who dies of cancer, but man: W...T...F?! Then again, I've been whining about needing a new Robert DeNiro for almost two decades now; maybe we've found him in this homie!

Just love this - don't even know where I saw it/found it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

just desserts?

"It was a serious goring. Almost his entire mouth was destroyed. It's too early to talk of recovery."

what else is there to say, really? - sj

Paul Krugman dropping science....

Paul Krugman's recent piece in NY TImes...

May 20, 2010
Lost Decade Looming?

Despite a chorus of voices claiming otherwise, we aren’t Greece. We are, however, looking more and more like Japan.

For the past few months, much commentary on the economy — some of it posing as reporting — has had one central theme: policy makers are doing too much. Governments need to stop spending, we’re told. Greece is held up as a cautionary tale, and every uptick in the interest rate on U.S. government bonds is treated as an indication that markets are turning on America over its deficits. Meanwhile, there are continual warnings that inflation is just around the corner, and that the Fed needs to pull back from its efforts to support the economy and get started on its “exit strategy,” tightening credit by selling off assets and raising interest rates.

And what about near-record unemployment, with long-term unemployment worse than at any time since the 1930s? What about the fact that the employment gains of the past few months, although welcome, have, so far, brought back fewer than 500,000 of the more than 8 million jobs lost in the wake of the financial crisis? Hey, worrying about the unemployed is just so 2009.

But the truth is that policy makers aren’t doing too much; they’re doing too little. Recent data don’t suggest that America is heading for a Greece-style collapse of investor confidence. Instead, they suggest that we may be heading for a Japan-style lost decade, trapped in a prolonged era of high unemployment and slow growth.

Let’s talk first about those interest rates. On several occasions over the past year, we’ve been told, after some modest rise in rates, that the bond vigilantes had arrived, that America had better slash its deficit right away or else. Each time, rates soon slid back down. Most recently, in March, there was much ado about the interest rate on U.S. 10-year bonds, which had risen from 3.6 percent to almost 4 percent. “Debt fears send rates up” was the headline at The Wall Street Journal, although there wasn’t actually any evidence that debt fears were responsible.

Since then, however, rates have retraced that rise and then some. As of Thursday, the 10-year rate was below 3.3 percent. I wish I could say that falling interest rates reflect a surge of optimism about U.S. federal finances. What they actually reflect, however, is a surge of pessimism about the prospects for economic recovery, pessimism that has sent investors fleeing out of anything that looks risky — hence, the plunge in the stock market — into the perceived safety of U.S. government debt.

What’s behind this new pessimism? It partly reflects the troubles in Europe, which have less to do with government debt than you’ve heard; the real problem is that by creating the euro, Europe’s leaders imposed a single currency on economies that weren’t ready for such a move. But there are also warning signs at home, most recently Wednesday’s report on consumer prices, which showed a key measure of inflation falling below 1 percent, bringing it to a 44-year low.

This isn’t really surprising: you expect inflation to fall in the face of mass unemployment and excess capacity. But it is nonetheless really bad news. Low inflation, or worse yet deflation, tends to perpetuate an economic slump, because it encourages people to hoard cash rather than spend, which keeps the economy depressed, which leads to more deflation. That vicious circle isn’t hypothetical: just ask the Japanese, who entered a deflationary trap in the 1990s and, despite occasional episodes of growth, still can’t get out. And it could happen here.

So what we should really be asking right now isn’t whether we’re about to turn into Greece. We should, instead, be asking what we’re doing to avoid turning Japanese. And the answer is, nothing.

It’s not that nobody understands the risk. I strongly suspect that some officials at the Fed see the Japan parallels all too clearly and wish they could do more to support the economy. But in practice it’s all they can do to contain the tightening impulses of their colleagues, who (like central bankers in the 1930s) remain desperately afraid of inflation despite the absence of any evidence of rising prices. I also suspect that Obama administration economists would very much like to see another stimulus plan. But they know that such a plan would have no chance of getting through a Congress that has been spooked by the deficit hawks.

In short, fear of imaginary threats has prevented any effective response to the real danger facing our economy.

Will the worst happen? Not necessarily. Maybe the economic measures already taken will end up doing the trick, jump-starting a self-sustaining recovery. Certainly, that’s what we’re all hoping. But hope is not a plan.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Gong That Roared

April is National Poetry Month. A friend of mine, Cynthia, during this month, asks friends/people to give her a title. She then proceeds to write poems from the titles people give her. Cool, huh? I think so. Just a cool thing to do, seriously. I'm gonna do it next time April rolls around, I love the idea so much (as long as she doesn't mind me stealing her idea!).

So she asked me. I gave her the title, "the gong that roared." It was the first thing to come to mind, for the following reason: her husband is a drummer, and I was trying to coordinate borrowing a gong from him. Why? Because I'm currently assisting a rock band - Brother Eye - with a record in the studio, and the drummer and I, at the same exact time while listening back to a particular song, thought this one exact spot, called for a gong! It was truly strange when this realization hit both of us, simultaneously, in the studio. Seriously, what are the odds? Here is her poem:

The Gong that Roared
By Cynthia Wilson
Title by spacejace

An element of surprise,
when the music softens,
It was the gong that roared,
which is heard ever so often.
It was a discovery that occurred
with a meeting of the minds.
And a friend made it a reality
just in the nick of time.
This sound that triumphs
will wake the bored.
The gong created the element
that they needed to explore.
A vibration lingering,
with a gasp and a release,
Yes, the band loved it.
It was the missing piece.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

White Priviledge

Thoughts on this, anyone?

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"dude. we need you to use your skills to save the game; not destroy it!"

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner is fucking nuts. straight. up. He is also a true leader, resolute, and appears to be good person. He is most definitely the best at what he does: hyper-aggressively implementing the NFL's core value of clocking as much dough as stinking possible, even if it means kissing good-bye the game of football as we have come to love it.

Heard him on espn radio the other day w/ Mike & Mike. I'm paraphrasing, barely:

They were discussing ratings, viewers (aka "dollars" and "advertisers"), exposure, getting more people to watch - or rather, (gasp!) not...turn...away(!), etc, and Golic asked him, "so what have you done to kind of improve the issue, regarding teams that have already clinched, resting their starters for a game or two or three, at the end of the regular season?"

issue? what issue? being competitive?!

Goodell: "well, we've stacked the schedule so that there are 2 to 3 more divisional games, the last 3 weeks of the season this year, than last year" (meaning playoff spots and slots might still be hinging on the divisional games, and coaches wouldn't have the "luxury" of resting their players. He also said every game or almost every wk #17 game featured divisional opponents). "So, we're gonna see how that works out."

You have to play your divisional opponents twice a year. fine. who cares when they are? But then, this exchange:

Golic: "If that doesn't work, are you prepared to do something else?"

What a strange question to ask! "Do something else?" About what? Sith Lord, Darth Sidious setting a trap for Jedi Skywalker? I like Golic a lot, but c'mon, man, you're not playing anymore! There is no need to kiss the commissioner's ass every time you speak with him! As a matter of fact, you should be taking him to task! Tell him to take a chill pill! Seriously.

"How about making the GAME better!?!?"

Anyway, here was the Commissioner's answer: "We are definitely prepared. There are things we have discussed; several things. And we are prepared use them if we have to, to make sure we're putting the best product out there on the field for the people."

"WE ARE PREPARED TO USE THEM IF WE HAVE TO!" Does no one but me see the madness? Are they going to fine everyone in the organization $2,000 if Peyton Manning doesn't play 3 quarters the last game of the season, when they have home field locked up? (kidding, Roger, kidding; just a joke)!

ugh. I could go on forever - and I do at times - about the NFL's state of the union, right now; about how the rule changes the last 15-20 years have polluted the game, and made it weaker; much more. And I will, I'm sure of it! But now, I must open a bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva!

Oh, let me say, the NFL has, over the years (but especially recently, thanks to Goodell's leadership and GOOD ideas), done phenomenal, w/ regards to affirmative action initiatives, charity work, and helping to guide/steer the youth of today, who enter their ranks, among other great things.

I just can't stand that the NFL, Commissioner of the NFL (who genuinely admire, ans find interesting), and the other people running the league right now, are choosing to weaken the game, and destroy the history and traditions of professional football, instead of improving it. Especially, when they can still pocket their same billions doing the right thing.

...wow, I wasn't going to post about Goodell right now, just log some random/miscellaneous thoughts down on Soundgarden, Guru from Gang Starr dying, the Pope, of course, but I started w/ this one and brain cells were streaming!

Friday, April 16, 2010

South Park - facebook

Trey Parker & Matt Stone are STILL killin' it, after all these years.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"we don't want out government doing ANYthing for us!" *

*actual quote from a libertarian at a Glenn Beck rally earlier this year. some poor soul said the same exact thing at a tea party rally earlier today.

see earlier cx3 post for a 1 minute clip of "Somalia: Libertarian Paradise!"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Donovan McNabb: "I'd like to thank the ungrateful, over-expecting, oftentimes-racist fans of philadelphia"

this is from the onion. a classic from them, containing truths (both real and hidden), fun. I will be posting upwards of 10 rants (in the next few days) I've made on various sites, boards & blogs, from the last week. We in Philly will most definitely miss Donovan, however, not as much as we would've NOT missed Coach Andy Reid, if he was fired like he shoul've been. - sj

Sports News In Brief
Donovan McNabb: "I'd like to thank the ungrateful, over-expecting, oftentimes-racist fans of philadelphia"
April 10, 2100 - the Onion

WASHINGTON—During an emotionally charged press conference Monday, newly minted Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb expressed gratitude to the unappreciative, abusive, and intolerant fans of the Philadelphia Eagles for their total lack of support over the years. "I'd like to thank all the Eagles fans who were always there to demand the whole world from me every week, who expected me to do everything with almost nothing, and who blamed me for the team's every failure," said the six-time Pro Bowler, who also apologized for his failure to shore up the Eagles defense and his inability to keep Brian Westbrook healthy while leading the team to five NFC championship games. "I can't thank them enough for the constant insults or tell you what their lack of support meant to me when Rush Limbaugh made racist comments about me. My only regret, besides every fucking awful moment of the past 11 years, is that I couldn't give these people what they wanted most: drafting Ricky Williams back in 1999. No fans deserved it more." McNabb then wished probable Eagles starting QB Kevin Kolb luck winning the next 25 Super Bowls "because nothing else will be enough," gave all Philly fans the finger "because I can't give them all cancer," sighed with pleasure, and went to turn in his Eagles playbook to the Redskins' defensive coordinators.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Education is Slavery

Loved spacejace's link below, and started reading other things by the author. This piece on the changes in education funding struck me as very strong as well:

"Given the stakes -- which are nothing short of the future of the country -- it's quite possible that the way the conservatives have changed our national consensus on education may be the single most radical thing they've done over the past 30 years. (And yes, that includes sanctioning torture, which wouldn't have been even possible if we hadn't deprived two generations of Americans of a decent civics education.) Those of us over 45 still remember those very differnt assumptions about who deserved an education, and what college was for, and how it should be paid for. We're absolutely horrified at the way those assumptions have been turned on their heads. Everybody should be."

I've thought more than once that the disdain of the right for "intellectuals" and "academics" (people who - horrors! - spend a lot of time learning and thinking and trying to help others learn and think) was aimed at keeping the base as ignorant as possible by devaluing the institutions and people that exist to transfer and increase knowledge; such rhetoric has certainly been deployed with that aim in other countries.

None Dare Call It Sedition

This is a must-read, in light of the arrest of the militia nutjobs that planned to attack police officers, and the violent and overheated "eliminationist" rhetoric of the right.

From Campaign for America's Future:
it's time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of constitutional democracy in America. When they're in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they're out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all -- indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can

Full article: None Dare Call It Sedition

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wikileaks' "Collateral Murder"

OK, I know this is heavy. And I want to say right from the front that I do not know that this is murder except insofar as I see all war as such. A near as I can tell, the soldiers are by and large being good soldiers: as this analyst notes, begging a guy to give you an excuse to shoot him means that you are exercising control and following the rules of engagement; while what they have to say disturbs me deeply, I agree that their language is relatively low key, and their attitude a reflection of necessary dissociation. I think that the second shooting goes beyond the rules of military engagement as I understand them (I'm going off the overview here), but hope I'm seeing these soldiers making a terrible unintentional error, not knowingly committing war crimes by firing on recognized civilians. I feel awful for them...what a thing to live with. And I feel terrible for them even before that, for the things they have chosen to do, and the ways it hurts and changes them.

My real concern is that this pretty much does reflect war: as the above link notes, "90% of what occurs in that video has been commonplace in Iraq for the last 7 years, and the 10% that differs is entirely based on the fact that two of the gentlemen killed were journalists."

With respect to our military (in which people I know, love, and admire currently serve) and all here - I know spacejace has served, and he knows my pacifist stance - should we not take a hard look at the rules of engagement? At least 100,000 and possibly over a million civilians have been killed since we arrived in Iraq, and it's a tragedy and a trauma encompassing everyone involved. The way we fight guarantees that innocent people will be killed, and when you look back over the history of wars, civilian casualties outnumber military deaths. Is there any way to at least keep the warring limited to professional combatants? I admit, I'm not sure that there is. And if there is not...well, that's where we start getting into the value of war as a method of misery reduction.

Edited to add this link. This scenario would get us to a million casualties, I think.

Also ETA this: "By now we’ve heard plenty of people’s opinions on the now famous WikiLeaks video showing the U.S. military killing 12 Iraqi civilians — from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Stephen Colbert to Josh Stieber, a former soldier turned conscientious objector who would have been on the mission over Baghdad that day. But missing from the discussion have been the voices of Iraqis themselves, those who witnessed the slaughter, and especially those whose loved ones were killed."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Howdy, Folks!

For me, there’s something “at a party with 99% strangers” about this first blog post. I have that awkward blurty thing going that I always fight right when I meet people, when I have no idea what to say unless, God be praised, baseball is in season. But I will start by thanking spacejace for inviting me to post here: I’ve enjoyed the thoughts of the other folks in the community, and hopefully I’ll justify my invite to the party.

I guess I should do a quick rundown of my stats: I live in San Francisco, and am the mom of a toddler whom I adore, and am hitched to her dad, whom I also adore (lucky me). I’ve got a spectacularly impractical B.A. and an almost equally spectacularly impractical M.A. (yes, English) from a couple nifty universities, the resources of which I was apt to underutilize; on the up side, the Master’s got me interested in human rights issues, which is sort of the direction I’m headed in these days, and certainly one of the things in which I’m most interested. At this point, I’ve spent about half of my adult life either learning or teaching in higher education; the other half is split about evenly between working retail, being a mom, and being a total dumbass. I’ve found both halves of my life pretty useful, and the “being a total dumbass” part invaluable.

Like I mentioned, these days, I live with my husband in San Francisco. For the last year or so, I’ve gotten to be a full-time mom to my soon to be three-year-old daughter, who thinks she’s a dinosaur these days, which her mom thinks is freaking awesome. I’m interested in all kinds of things: mainly, I’m interested in figuring out what the hell is wrong with the world, because even more so, I’m interested in figuring out how to fix what’s wrong. I am 100% certain I will never, ever even come close to getting my hands around those things, but hey: shoot high! Politically, I’m…weird. Spiritually, I’m a Friend, of the quite liberal sort (which can be used as insight into the political weird, especially if you salt it with the fact that I am somewhat knowledgeable about and no fan of authoritarianism).

So…what will I be yapping about? Just…ideas, I guess. National and international events will likely be starting points, but I’m hoping (with your help), to do some interesting analysis and contextualization. I may just also poke at what I think is an interesting idea, and see what comes of it – there are often interesting, unexpected, and illuminating connections to be made that you don’t know about until you get to them. I am an enthusiastic learner, which is to say that I place value on listening openly to all perspectives, and if I hear something that makes more sense that what I’m thinking, I’m happy to have been offered the chance to see things more clearly – I’d not remain more ignorant than I have to, and am pleased to have clarification of the state of affairs.

Today's idea is this one:

If you don’t know, this is about whom he is talking.

This is one of those ideas that I can't believe nobody (including me) came up with before now: it’s brilliant, and I freaking adore it. I have seen the people who show up with messages of love to counter the Westboro Baptist Church’s hate (in fact, I was one when they swung by SF a couple months ago), but what this person does breaks the frame of what is going on in a way that my telling the WBC folks that I loved them despite their misguided assholery just didn’t (though I adore these people).

To me, there are a couple of interesting things to ponder about this, alongside the more readily apparent awesome of worthy groups getting more funds (and you’d have to think they’d do well under those circumstances – I’d clean out my wallet, and I can’t be the only one). The first is wondering how, should the practice become widespread and effective, the WBC theology-type-thing would handle their protests resulting in positive good for the groups to which they so virulently object. It would certainly drive them around the twist emotionally, but would they modify their message delivery system? Currently, I’m leaning no: “nuanced” isn’t a word that anyone is going to use to describe Fred Phelp’s notions of religion (also missing: “grace-filled,” “loving,” and “any marbles at all”), and I suspect that he feels like one rails at the sinners as they laugh and mock (I’d bet good money he’s a big fan of Jeremiah ). Still…it might give them pause.

The other, and to me more interesting, thing that I am led to wonder is if we should really want for them to stop showing up places. I mean: yes, if it’s because everyone has gotten themselves a highly qualified round-the-clock shrink and a firm commitment to reentering reality. But it’s worth thinking about with what they will replace these demonstrations. Honestly, I’m not sure what that would be…billboards? Sky writing? Ads during Glenn Beck (sorry – couldn’t help it)? Right now, it seems likelier to me that they would have to retreat into electronic communication. They’ve already got themselves a web page, a Facebook page, and they tweet merrily away, so it’s not like they aren’t already there. But I’m not sure that they will be content with that: if their worldview requires things that the picketing provides (which it likely does – that’s an incredibly structured thing Fred Phelps has going, whether or not the structuring is conscious), I’m not sure that bodiless written screeds and vlogs are going to satisfy their need for the abject immediacy of required Godly confrontation with those they perceive as the hellbound vile. That is not to say that the general public is going to suffer too greatly if their illness is quarantined in cyberspace, but I suspect things in the Phelps circle would get even weirder and uglier: Fred Phelps teaches predestination of the elect, and I’m betting that no church member is considered 100% definitely elect except for Fred Phelps, meaning that any of them could become targets for the frustrated need. Because I am firmly convinced that there are good and terribly damaged people who need help somewhere inside the gleeful judgers of others (apparently, they missed Matt. 7:1-2), not to mention small and deeply psychologically vulnerable children, I hate to see that poison get even more concentrated within the group. You have to figure that within a couple generations of Phelps getting the shock of his afterlife , things will start normalizing around there, but isolating the group and plugging vents doesn’t seem like the best way to minimize damage to the next generation of Phelpses, who get to live with the hatred that we only have to look at on signs. It may be tempting to want for them to keep their bile to themselves, but it seems to me that the greatest harm that the Phelpses really do is to themselves, and all that isolating them does is increase the harm where it is already at its greatest. Add to that that them coming to town gives us a chance to stretch those valuable First Amendment muscles, provides the opportunity for the community to counter-protest (often in heartening numbers), increases awareness of the unacceptability of hate, creates spaces for dialog, and potentially raises funds to address the problems which the WBC exemplifies, and I find I want for the Phelpses to keep hauling their hatefest around the country. Yeah, they drive me nuts, but when I get past that, I’m finding there’s a bigger picture, complete with additional details, to take into account.

And this all gets me to back around to that video. When I see the person in it advocating using a WBC protest as an opportunity for wider good, I see him asking us to make our pictures bigger and more detailed, and to not only extend the boundaries of our contexts, but ground ourselves more firmly in reality. Implicit in his appeal is the idea that our contexts should expand beyond the immediate confrontation between a hate group and those who are appalled by them, to the organizations the WBC protests and the missions (often life-saving) of those organizations. He asks us to think about what larger principles are worth investing in, with the WBC as a compelling counterpoint. And once we’ve made those determinations, reality calls: the possibly dismissible as clearly troubled Phelpses are the far end of a globe-spanning spectrum of hatred still overcrowded by all sorts of less exuberant and clearly sane folk. The situation yet requires remedy, and if we want to see change, we’d probably do well to think of the groups that fight it when we decide how we spend our money (on ourselves, or something bigger?). In my minimal personal experience (seen ‘em once), ground zero of a WBC protest felt limited to the people present and the immediate debate. The idea of raising funds rejects that frame (one that sure works for the Phelpses), replacing it with a much larger one – one that accommodates a much larger picture. I find that seriously f$#%ing cool.

So...some questions – can we make the framework even bigger for this one? Or is there another framework we can think of that is in desperate need of a roomier replacement?
Let me all know what you think, and nice to meet you!

P.S. An addendum to the Facebook note of mine that spacejace posted: I was somewhat delighted to learn that if you divide the cost of the 2008 campaign cycle (the most expensive ever at $5.3 billion) by the number of Americans (308,984,000), we’ve got a per-person cost of $17.15 (or $38.40 per taxpayer, of which there are 138 million). Midterm cycles cost about half as much. It makes one wonder why the damn things aren’t already publicly funded….wait, I don’t wonder that at all.

P.P.S. Fave song listened to while writing this: it's a tie between these two:

(“when I was driving once I saw this painted on a bridge: "I don't want the world, I just want your half")