Saturday, April 14, 2012

What Those Words Really Mean

When someone says this relationship is over, what they really mean that he or she thinks his or her life is better without you, regardless of whatever nonsense they enflower the kiss off. There is only one response and, to be honest, it isn't dignified.

Watch the other Brel vids, he was the man.

Commerce and Art

Everybody, it's true, need a hook to sell whatever. However, I wonder why these four Norwegians picked ironic pixie women as their hook.  What the first two videos in which the ironic pixie women are ironically ironic and then the third in which four talented musicians make a joyful noise unto the lord, as it were.  As it comes up in the comments to one of them, I'll point out that while Katzenjammer may now mean hangover in German in the early modern period and at least through the 19th century it was German for Charivari.

 I came across this band via, of all people, Krugman. If you're interested, here is an hourish concert in Germany with the common language, natch, English. The video editing is sick making.

By my count each one plays stringed instruments, drums, accordion, and keyboard and two play trumpets and three, I think, play the xylophone.

It really is a shame that the hour long concert dealio shows so little  of the audience as it is a nearly perfect example of the contemporary German at play, which is to say stiff and self-conscious.


A video in Norwegian without subtitles of the band searching for Polar Bears:

Oh God

Jonah Goldberg has a new book coming out next month. In it, allegedly, he dismantles Liberalism with his own special brand logic chopping, lies, and bullshit:
According to Jonah Goldberg, if the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, the greatest trick liberals ever pulled was convincing themselves that they’re not ideological.

Today, “objective” journalists, academics and “moderate” politicians peddle some of the most radical arguments by hiding them in homespun aphorisms.  Barack Obama casts himself as a disciple of reason and sticks to one refrain above all others: he’s a pragmatist, opposed to the ideology and dogma of the right, solely concerned with “what works.” And today’s liberals follow his lead, spouting countless clichés such as:
  • One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter: Sure, if the other man is an idiot. Was Martin Luther King Jr. a terrorist? Was Bin Laden a freedom fighter?
  • Violence never solves anything: Really? It solved our problems with the British empire and ended slavery.
  • Better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer: So you won’t mind if those ten guilty men move next door to you?
  • Diversity is strength: Cool.The NBA should have a quota for midgets and one-legged point guards!
  • We need complete separation of church and state: In other words all expressions of faith should be barred from politics …except when they support liberal programs.
With humor and passion, Goldberg dismantles these and many other Trojan Horses that liberals use to cheat in the war of ideas. He shows that the grand Progressive tradition of denying an ideological agenda while pursuing it vigorously under the false-flag of reasonableness is alive and well.  And he reveals how this dangerous game may lead us further down the path of self-destruction.
  Goldberg's career built as it is on nepotism, ignorance, and willingness to lie shamelessly in the service of earning a buck is the reason, or one of the reasons, this country doesn't have nice things.

Who'da Thunk It?

This post from Mark French over to The Corner, surprisingly, makes perfect sense of the reason Zimmerman ought to be on trial.

Panic, They Cried.

The recent and entirely predictable failure of a failed and starving state to muster the technological wherewithal to launch a satellite/ICBM creates the opportunity to try and convince the gullible that North Korea will, all facts and evidence to the contrary, build and launch satellite/ICBM or other weapon of mass destruction.The failure was entirely predictable because NK is a failed and starving state and building and launching satellites/ICBMs cost a fortune. NK, it's will to succeed to one side, isn't a player in the we are armed and dangerous category.

On the other hand, the claim that
[o]fficials in Beijing tried to persuade Pyongyang not to go ahead with the launch but failed — either because they lacked the diplomatic skills or didn’t press hard enough. It raises new doubts about whether China can be a serious international player.Needs
Needs rethinking. It is more than slightly plausible that the Chinese don't care a hoot about the fear-filled fantasies of Western militarists, who are ever eager to either build more unnecessary weapons or launch wars doomed to fail. The Chinese might be perfectly happy to let the NK do fiddle about with expensive and doomed attempts to build nuclear arsenals precisely because it works to distract America and others from more pressing problems, like getting our economies in working order. Imagine the enormous economic benefits the Chinese elites and state have gained from the neoliberalization of the world economies.

If we ignored the fictive threats of nuclear NK and Iran and responded to the threat of terrorists in a proportional way, we might all be focused on repealing the neoliberal agenda and creating, not just here but everywhere, an economy based on humanistic ideals and goals.

Friday, April 13, 2012

North Korea

For some time now various bed wetters have been wetting their beds about Obama's failure to blow up North Korea as it sought to send its satellite/icbm into the dangeroussphere. In the event, the satellite/icbm broke into pieces in short order.

This outcome isn't surprising. North Korea has no money, can't feed its people, and generally hasn't the resources needed to make a decent airplane let alone a satellite/icbm.

Will this, one wonders, stop the bed wetters from wetting their beds when it comes to the next 50th rate country becoming a threat to whirled peas?

I suspect not.

In A General Sense

If anyone thinks that Ann Romney "raised" her family all on her own, they must also think that there is nothing odd about having a car elevator.

Balderdash, Nonsense, and Bullshit

As one looks round and about the world as it actually is, one of the more compelling conclusions is that the current system isn't all that hot. Indeed, looking backward at the long history of the present, one might conclude that the violence, both moral and physical,[1] necessary to create the various version of a centralized state aren't out weighed by the current misery and its likely continuation. Indeed, as you and I are not moral cretins, when we consider what is to be done, we conclude that it ought to be something rather different.

Perhaps, as Graeber suggestively suggests, the future might look like a society bound together by mutual respect and material reciprocity, which is really just another way of saying the future is not going to be a neoliberal laboratory for the creation of sociopaths.

On the other hand, if you have no moral center and don't particularly care if the world continues past your next paycheck, which is to say you are David Brooks, you might write of seeking an alternative method of social organization and melioration as a
prevailing service religion [that] underestimates the problem of disorder. Many of the activists talk as if the world can be healed if we could only insert more care, compassion and resources into it.
The very idea that improving the world depends on creating a nonviolent, nonhierarchical social solution is impossible because
[h]istory is not kind to this assumption. Most poverty and suffering — whether in a country, a family or a person — flows from disorganization. A stable social order is an artificial accomplishment, the result of an accumulation of habits, hectoring, moral stricture and physical coercion. Once order is dissolved, it takes hard measures to restore it. 
Leaving aside what Brooks knows about history and historiography, he seems to think that the socio-political order we currently enjoy, and by we he means America, is not only an but the ideal set of social, political , and economic relations and, furthermore, with no evidence at all, he implies that the long strange path to the present is a natural one.

These are both commonplaces of the neoliberal thinkers, whose job it is convince the rest of us that change is impossible because the inhuman and dehumanizing present is culmination of human progress and the ideal expression of humanities essential nature.

This position is, of course, balderdash, nonsense, and bullshit of the highest order. But it does show how Brooks sticks to his chosen profession with a tenacity that reality cannot dim nor possibility mar. On the plus side, given that he is wrong about everything, the efforts of those he belittles might indicate that they are winning.

He is a horrid little man, who like nothing better than to smother the potentially effective alternatives to markets because it pays the rent.

[1] By moral, I mean something like Elias' Civilizing Process.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What Cats Think

From Balloon Juice comes two videos of the inner life of cats:

I especially liked the fact that the whipped cream in the bathroom is not whipped cream.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Justice Post Racial Edition

From every corner of the intertubes comes word that Zimmerman is charged with 2nd degree murder. Good. Let's have a trial and see what kind of justice Florida metes out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Post Racial

This essay is worth reading. It is an intelligent discussion of the meaning of being a black American whose civil equality is always already understood to be contingent because he or she is a black American.

Post Racial

There is some good news to come out of the Derbyshire debacle.  While I disagree with the NRO's decision to fire him, I agree with his childrens' reaction to his "talk." As he explains
[b]oth took it with some skepticism, even some disgust in my daughter's case. Both have been through the public-school system and taken in a lot of the left-liberal PC indoctrination in which that system is marinated. So I'd have to say they weren't very receptive. Was there ever a time when kids listened to their parent's advice? But at least they've heard it, and know that there's another point of view besides the PC flapdoodle, a point of view held by non-crazy persons. One does one's best.
Derbyshire's wife is Chinese and, oddly enough, his "bi-racial" children find his advice to behave as if more often than not black Americans wanted to either rob, kill, or something them because they are, you know, racial inferior scientifically speaking. While there is all manner of positive representations of Asian Americans as a ideal minority this is a new development. Might it be that the PC public education that Derbyshire denigrates taught his kids the actual history of anti-Chinese, anti-Japanese racialist thought in these United States? Might it not be that there skepticism and disgust arose from that set of facts?


Much of the Old Bailey is online!! And searchable!! Good news!! Why? Because on 12 July 1683 justice was not perverted for one Jane Dodson, who was
an Old woman, was Tryed for a Witch, it being Swore against her, that she used divers Hellish Arts and Inchantations to destroy divers Persons especially that she lamed and distorted by her Cunning in Witchcraft and Sorcery, one Mary Palmer , and killed another as the Evidence believed, but not making it appear what means she used, or how the matter was brought about, and divers Persons appearing to Testifie her Life and Conversation, she was Acquitted .
Yeah "divers Persons" and the British tradition of not using torture. Nowadays? Not so clear.

Bikes and Scarcity

Do you think these Netherlanders are more or less happy because they had no access to cars?

or these Brits:

For much of the 1950s Europe was without cars and, from the looks of things happy enough.  The idea that a muchness of stuff is necessary for happiness.  The recent, and not so recent, carping on about poors with cell phones proving the greatness of America is the kind of brain-dead claptrap Buckley tried to bedazzle the Cambridge debating society to Baldwin's clear disdain.

It's not a question of crap and tat but of civil equality, which is nearly impossible to achieve when plutocrats write legislation.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Post Racial

The debate about Derbyshire has now, it seems to me, descended into a parody in which conservatives insist that we are all racists because all Derbyshire did was tell a few home truths. My claim is that WFB laid the ground work for the generally incoherent conservative case in this debate with James Baldwin. Baldwin argues that racism harms black Americans and destroys the moral, let's say, fiber of white Americans. Buckley argues, if it can be called that, that black Americans need to prove their fitness for citizenship and that if push comes to shove white Americans will fight to maintain white supremacy.  It is a shining example of the moral and intellectual emptiness of white supremacists and their signal failure to construct a compelling argument for white supremacy. They stink in the nostrils of decent people and, to blunt, they project on to the rest of us their baseless fears and general terror.

Here In Wisconsin

Scott Walker continues his laser-like focus on jobs and the economy by signing laws that have nothing to do with anything useful but do, in fact, take Wisconsin further down the road of religious wackadoodle misery and pro-business, which is to say anti-minority, nonsense. To wit:
– A ban on abortion coverage in policies obtained through a health insurance exchange, set to be created under the federal health care reform law starting in 2014. The only exceptions would be in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity.
– A woman seeking an abortion must undergo an exam and consult with a doctor alone, away from her friends and family. The doctor must determine whether someone is pressuring the woman into the procedure. Doctors who break the law could be charged with a felony.
– Teachers in schools that offer sex education must stress abstinence as the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Declares that sex education teachers do not have to address contraception. That’s a dramatic shift from current state law, which requires teachers to instruct students on birth control options.

The Democrats Made Them Do It

In a marvelously incoherent fashion Geoffrey Kabaservice "argues" that Democrats are responsible for the Republican war on women because the Party with NOW support, he declares but doesn't prove, defeated a moderate Republican congresswomen who was also a strong proponent for women's issues. He goes on to "argue" that the decision to protest the Susan Komen charity's decision to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood is another example of feminists insisting that it's the Democratic Party or nothing.

If you squint, the first example makes something like sense. Feminists organizations should support Feminists in the Republican Party as a means of making these important issues bipartisan. Then again, Kabaservice one example of a real Feminists amongst the Republicans and as a practical matter no one who works for women is welcome in the Republican Party.

The second example is just loopy. The Komen executive was, we now know, filled  with conservative maniacs and was actively working with at least one Republican activist to twists its policies into dopplegangers of the Republicans.

What's odd about all  this is Kabaservice makes clear that from at least Reagan on the Republicans have actively courted pro-life and religious wackadoodles that now are their base. The Democrats didn't have anything to do with this.  One lonely moderate Republican is not a movement. The REpublicans made this mess and they need to own it.