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., 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")