12 August 2007

What I Mean by Liberal Society

in a liberal society these two things are prized.

Hitchens on Londonistan and Multiculturalism

nice essay -- and follow-up q&a -- in the august vanity fair.

i basically agree with hitchens here (which is happening more and more now that i've been indulging my contrarian personality quite a lot). he argues that britain, in an effort to follow the law of multiculturalism and allow hateful incitements by muslim extremists, is crushing the very spirit that makes multiculturalism such a wonderful thing. all multiculturalists -- and liberals, i would argue -- should be outraged by any utterance of hate and intolerance. i've suggested many times before that a good liberal isn't someone who is tolerant of all peoples and ideas, but rather is someone who encourages and fosters the main ideas of liberalism. this may mean that i'll be called untolerant for bashing southern white folks who don't like gays, but tolerance doesn't mean allowing discriminatory and unjust acts to go unchecked.

in a similar vein (that hitchens, always copying me), hitchens argues that a liberal society should of course encourage free speech, but not at the expense of the liberal ideals of that culture. immigration is great when it adds thoughtful and interesting ideas to liberal society -- even if it challenges those ideals just a bit. but when those immigrants demand that a liberal society change its constitution to conform to the very narrow parameters of their worldview, what they're really demanding is an end to liberal society.

anyway, it's a good read.

ps - it's nice to see hitchens defend multiculturalism in its true sense, and distance himself from rightwingers who misconstrue it to mean a tolerance for terrorist words or acts.

Or is Proust Reading Me?

in san francisco recently for work, C and i wandered into the greenapple bookstore. come to think of it was one of their warehouses, but that's not the point. the point is i saw proust's IN THE SHADOW OF YOUNG GIRLS IN FLOWER and decided that for $4.99 i could re-connect with some of the more enjoyable reading i did in college.

yeah. making it through this behemoth is going to be tough. here's a characteristic chapter -- i mean sentence:

"Since this was the beginning of a second life for both of them, among a circle of new people (except for personal friends from his bachelor days whom he went on seeing alone, and whom he did not wish to burden with the acquaintence of Odette, unless they themselves expressed the wish to meet her), it would have been understandable if, in judging the social standing of these new people, and thereby gauging the degree of self-esteem that their company might afford him, his standard of comparison had been based at least on Odette's former associates, if not on the exalted individuals among whom he himself had moved before his marriage."


22 April 2007

What Kurt Vonnegut Meant

he meant an end to Big Answers from Very Serious Men thinking Very Serious Thoughts about How the World Should Work.

he meant an end to literary conformity and t.s. eliot's elitist critical framework.

he meant a beginning to deep thought about the absurdities of life and how many of them are our own creations: governments and militaries run amok, nuclear weapons, fire-bombing, civilian casulties, american social hierarchies.

the problem is that we stopped believing him, or never fully believed him to begin with.

we are roughly 30 years beyond vonnegut's vanguard moment, if measured simply in temporal increments. the reality is that we're years behind his best ideas.

how terribly sad is that?

Yay, Nuggets

if the nuggets can play like they did tonight
for the rest of the playoffs, this could get very very interesting.

my heart gushes with adoration for allen iverson. just fucking gushes.

i've been a nuggets fan since i was little -- i even owned a bryant stith jersey once -- but i've never been as excited about a nuggets team as i am about this one.

UPDATE: the nuggets did not play like this the rest of the series. damn.

The California Paradox

the answer is no. the question is, does living in california for 8 months make you an expert?

i'll pretend anyway.

i'm noticing that california is one giant paradoxical fanstasia. for instance, we all really care very deeply about the environment. but i couldn't go to today's earth day celebration because EVERYONE DROVE THERE. highways were backed up for miles. there was no parking. we all drove clean-air-killing machines to go celebrate the environment. or, more accurately, to go celebrate the fact that we can show people we care about the environment. there is something so california about that.

this paradox extends to the man in charge of the state, the govahnatah. he is, supposedly, post-partisan. i disagree with this, actually, because i think what arnold cares about is not being non-partisan, but rather celebrating the fact that people think he is post-partisan. in all reality he's nothing more than a politician. he was elected not because people listened to and cared about his highly partisan right-wing platform. they voted for him because he's a fucking movie star and fuck it, we like it when he blows shit up and is all muscle-bound and shit. but when people saw what his politics actually are and let him know that they despised his rightist policies, he did what any politician who cares more about staying in office than principle would do: he caved in. he did whatever the opinion polls told him to. now, granted, in california the opinion polls by and large mirror my philosophy on things. so i'm not too upset by arnold's politicking. but please. don't call yourself post-partisan. if you had your way you'd privatize social security and the california pension system and everything else under the sun. you don't because if you try you'll go down in a ball of flames. it's not a lack of partisanship that has brought you to a second term.

the catholic paradox is probably the most interesting paradox i've come across. this city is hugely catholic, both from its white and its latino populations. but it's a sort of pre-vatican ii catholicism, one that shuns catholic social teaching on a lot of things and instead interests itself in the abortion debate, the gay marriage debate, and of course, the sexual abuse issue. there are no homeless shelters here. no infrastructure to speak of for those who are the displaced by capitalism. cities like chicago and new york may be struck-through with the bright colors of capitalism, but the catholic church in both cities helps to mitigate the harm that capital markets tend to do to marginalized populations. not so here.

interesting place, this.

From the Big 'L' Liberalism Department...

um, yeah.

a week removed from the whole VATECH episode, now that the heat of the moment has passed:

GUN CONTROL, BITCHES. a big fat steaming pile of gun control, placed on the front porch of every gun owner in the country, for each of them to step in.

sorry, we're revoking your right to bear arms -- a right that didn't really exist to begin with without some interesting linguistic gymnastics where the second amendment is concerned -- because GUNS ARE MADE FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN TO KILL PEOPLE.

if you still want to hunt, set traps. pretty sure there's no way the VATECH killer could have taken 32 innocent lives with bear traps.

"but dude, you're like infringing on our civil rights." false. and also, deal with it.

"yes, but we need the guns to protect ourselves during home invasions." also false, just a big fat lie big as karl rove's neck fat. there has never been a study that has proven, or even come remotely close to proving, that people who own guns are safer and will be able to protect their families from violent assault. NOT ONE SINGLE STUDY OR STATISTIC. it's not even anecdotal. it's just a made-up idea. on the other hand, studies have shown that

"A gun kept in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting (4 times), a criminal assault or homicide (7 times), or an attempted or completed suicide (11 times) than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense."

these are the facts. and they are irrefutable.

14 April 2007

In Which I Declare Steve Nash My Own Personal Jesus

i mean, is there any part of his game that is not technically perfect, and yet elegant and beautiful at the same time?


she doesn't even know us!!!

prior to the whole rutgers affair, i really couldn't stand don imus. he was unfunny, uncritical, and basically a full-fledged member of the power-whoring media elite.

ironically -- and quite sadly -- it's in his demise that we find that imus had the capactiy all along to examine critical intersections of race, class, and gender in this country, and to do so with a bit of eloquence, even.

don't get me wrong. i think it was right to can imus. i think limbaugh, and beck, and coulter, and o'reilly, and hannity, and every last monger of hate should be completely removed from the public airwaves. if assholes still want to listen to this crap, let them subscribe to it like they now do for howard stern. i mean, fuck, i have to pay to read paul krugman and frank rich and even david brooks (people should be paying me to read that utter utter simpleton) at nytimes.com.

what's more, we the taxpayers pay for talk radio. we own the AM and FM spectrum -- we pay for it with our taxes. the programming on there should not consist of very stupid people saying very stupid things. there should be discussion -- serious, thoughtful discussion -- of pressing and urgent issues. if we do have to have this kind of trash on our public airwaves, let it be the kind of beautiful trash brought by chris rock or dave chappelle. not only are they hilariously funny, they are edgy and provocative and thoughtful cultural workers. they reject simplistic ideas of human experience in favor of complex, nuanced, and unique ideas about what makes us human. they employ stereotypes not as answers to anything but as notions to be laughed at and then taken apart. (and if you think this is what deconstruction is, just stop using that word and go read derrida for the first time, butt-heads.)

instead we get coulter calling john edwards a f*ggot. we get o'reilly lying about -- jesus christ, everything.

but when imus, just before CBS let him go, said that -- "This phrase that I use, it originated in the black community. That didn’t give me a right to use it, but that’s where it originated. Who calls who that and why? We need to know that. I need to know that." -- it can't be read any other way than as an attempt to critically unpack the history and impact of a particular utterance. he wanted to contextualize the words "nappy" and "ho."

and while it's incredibly idiotic for him to try, in part, to blame hip-hop culture as a whole for this, he's certainly not the only one making that facile and false suggestion. yes, the ways in which hip-hop and rap musicians deploy certain racially-charged terms is deplorable. but they didn't cause him to so causually and maliciously denigrate a group of very very intelligent women. they didn't cause him to be so unthinking about his words for so so long.

and this is the problem with so-called shock jocks. they're not really funny. they're not causing anyone to think. they appeal to and exploit our desire to be horrible to our fellow people. it's not censorship or hypocrisy to push these assholes off the air.

and if we're forcing imus off, we should push others off too. but we won't. we'll let them continue to operate carelessly and without thought, and then we'll pretend to be outraged again when the next jerk says something equally stupid.

i for one am tired of paying for this bunk.

If by Heaven You Mean an Eight-Year-Old Boy...

and by ladder you mean my p*nis...

classic southpark, bitches.

Suck Me, Google

google is a big-brother piece of crap.

since i began this oft-lauded blog (my mommy thinks it's good), i resisted google's whorish attempts to seduce me into creating an account with them. ok, so they're already capturing every key-stroke i make in the confines of this blog -- and probably everywhere else, for that matter. but i've got to be one of the last like six people alive without gmail.

but this evening while logging on i didn't notice that the devilish blogger replaced its standard log-in with a link to creating a google account -- which, oh by the way, migrates one's entire blog into google and forestall's any further google resistance.


stupid really smart computerizers.

09 April 2007

The Tax Man Cometh

terrific cover on the new yorker this past week.

this is where our tax money goes. $463B. spent directly on the military. the figure is in trillions when you consider how much of our economy is driven by the military-industrial-congressional-complex (to quote ike).

what to do? cut military spending in half. triple the education budget and focus on technology, culture, international education, history, and writing.

there's a win-win situation possible here. liberals don't like paying taxes any more than conservatives. no one likes it.

the democrats should propose a budget that cuts military spending and forces the pentagon to become much more efficient. i for one can do without overly masculine military dicks dumping on the government when we spend ten times more on them than children without healthcare.

cut taxes for all but the very rich, and spend only on social programs and enough to keep our military on top (say, $175B). we can reduce the overall size of the government, pay fewer taxes, have a less-militarized and violent-prone culture, and have a better educated populace.

it's frickin time.

Military Appreciation

saturday evening C and i walked down to the padres game. the rockies were in town, so i was mildly interested.

unbeknownst to us it was military night.

there are a couple of things worth saying here. one is that there's no camo in baseball. ever. for whatever reason, the padres thought it would be cool to wear tan camo baseball jerseys as a show of support. it looked like the players had sneezed out of the their necks and all over their shirts.

the second thing is that, really, honestly, is this in any way supportive of the troops? just wear a goddamn yellow ribbon -- or (and call me crazy here), buy armor for the troops. i'm admittedly anti-war and anti-violence in general, but if we can't yank ourselves out of this crap-hole, let's at least do everything in our power to protect our troops. i see no point in going through the motions and pretending to give a shit, then not making any real sacrifice. i'm gonna guess that the good folks getting shot at and dodging bombs and such don't give a shit if a crappy franchise wears camoflage for them.

ugh. the irony is that MLB players, and certainly MLB owners, belong to the class of tax-payers george w. bush insists on giving a break. how about instead of wearing camoflage, voluntarily nudge your federal tax rate up to about 40%?

In Which I Catch Up on Three Months' Worth of Blog Posts

jan 1: happy new years! a year of handsomeness.

jan 2: who works the day after new year's?

jan 8: happy birthday, brother. sister's in town. we're drunk.

jan __: fuck bush for doing __ to the ___ out of ignorance. what a petulant dick.

feb 2: just shoot the damn groundhog already.

feb 8: great dinner at the tractor room.

feb 14: love is good and stuff.

mar 1: i can smell the march madness.

mar 15: ides of march. C's birthday. joke about opposite of ide. laughter.

mar 17: georgetown to the sweet sixteen AGAIN. eat it.

mar 23: georgetown. go home vandy. green didn't travel. mikan layup. legal. eat it.

mar 25: UNC-you later, bitches.

mar 31: are billy packer and jim nantz sleeping with greg oden? are the officials??

apr 2: glad THE ohio state suckiversity lost. matta can diagram plays on his huge nose. donovan better stay at florida. kentucky is dumb.


Back in Black -- Well, Light Teal

yes, yes, i've been a delinquent bastard. this is my first post of 2007. why the lapse?

a multiple-choice quiz will help. i haven't blogged because it's hard work maintaining my

a) handsome ruggedness
b) rock and roll lifestyle
c) supply of apple-tinis
d) the mooninites got me

definitely a.

26 December 2006

Iverson is the Answer

when will my long-standing love-affair with the nuggets bear fruit, is the question.


since i was a little kid, listening to nuggets games on the radio -- from alex english to reggie williams and dikembe mutumbo, to mahmoud abdul-rauf -- i have given my NBA love to no other team (though i still sport a slight crush on the bulls and raptors, the former because of MJ and the latter because i heart toronto). finally that love has been rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime player.

in his prime. wanting desperately to win.

oh, happy days!!!

Universal Reversal

california hearts universal healthcare.

and, really, we all should.

the reasons have been laid out a million times by a million people.

the most important reason it's becoming something to think about again is that the business community -- what you might call economic conservatives -- are rightly viewing healthcare expenditures a vast drain on resources that could be directed to research and development. there are ways to shift healthcare expenditures to the government without burdening people with new taxes. actually, people will probably be spending less under universal healthcare than not.


25 December 2006

Wither, Lou Dobbs

lou dobbs is a disingenuous liar.

i'm not saying that his concern for the perils facing the middle class in this country are misplaced. i think, actually, it's nice to have someone stand up for those of us who earn less than $70K a year. i just wish he'd do it properly.

two things about his populist crusade leave me more than skeptical.

one is that, while he wants the middle class to get a fairer shake, his antidote is a return to the form of economic isolationism spawned by the notion of american exceptionalism. both are crap, and partly responsible for the mess we find ourselves in now. for way too long people in this country were told by our leaders that america would always have the strongest economy and that all you needed to get ahead was hard work. this was true, in some ways, in the period after world war II. america drove the world's economy because it controlled the means and mode of production. this is true no longer. what we should be telling the middle class is what bill clinton tried to tell everyone, but was shouted down by nationalist idiots on the right and economic isolationists on the left -- that the only way for the american middle class to get back ahead is to go back to school, to learn global political economics, to increase our technological literacy, and to collaborate with other nations in doing so.

in his nightly tirades against illegal immigrants and internationalism, dobbs hypes up the worst ideologies of both the right (nationalist isolationism) and the left (economic isolationism), and fails to speak the harsh truth to americans: we've become fat, lazy, and dependent on a false sense of superiority.

the second concern i have with dobbs is that since joining CNN in the early 1980's he has helped create the economic mess america is in currently. he did nothing but push unfair "free" trade practices to his elite viewers without warning of the perils of increasingly divergent economic classes. that he issues such warnings now is of no consolation.

and this is why i don't take him at his word. if he were honestly concerned about the middle class he'd be telling them (us) the real truth about the ways in which economics, education, technology, and immigration converge to shape how america operates in a globalized economy.

the fact that he only plays to many americans' prejudices in speaking his form of "truth" proves to me that he's in this only to boost CNN's ratings and his own bank account.

24 December 2006

Man of the Year

i am pleased to announce -- and quite surprised, in some ways -- that time magazine has chosen me MAN OF THE YEAR.

yes, it's true. i didn't ask for such accolades, but i will gladly accept them.

also, i will accept cash donations. MAN OF THE YEAR carries with it certain responsibilities, one of which is to be rich and awesome. i've got the awesome; you guys give me the rich.

thanks bitches!