Friday, September 30, 2005

Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett, America's self-proclaimed paragon of virtue (and of course large gambling debts) made this comment on a radio show:

''But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.''

The Bush administration said the remarks were "not appropriate." You think? How about making a real statement such as, "We are disassociating ourselves with Bennett, his money, and his advice." But then again, when you agree with such statements, I guess you wouldn't do that.

As for Bennett, he claimed that his comments were meant to make the point that using abortion to reduce crime was "morally reprehensible." Which would be true if this were Opposite Day.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

SEC Football=Class

This story of LSU fans pelting the Tennessee bus with beer bottles before the Monday night game reminded me of the classiness of SEC football fans. When I lived in Knoxville, the week before the Florida game, people would be driving around with paint on their back windows reading "Spurrier Swallows." Then there are the Florida fans pouring cups of urine on members of the Georgia band.

Class all the way around.

The New Yorker

I love The New Yorker. However, I've noticed that everytime they do a fashion or style issue, the number of advertisements rises significantly. And I'm wondering, is there someone over there who has this dream that The New Yorker could become the next Vanity Fair where some really good stories are enveloped in a sea of advertisements.

I know the profit margins for these kind of journals are smaller than ever these days. But I like The New Yorker as it is and I think that most of its readers do to. I can deal with the ton of ads every now and again for a special issue. I just hope that it stays every now and again.

Or maybe I'm just a crabby old man before my time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Martin Dies

My wife is presently working out of Houston for hurricane relief. She was telling me last night that they may have to visit the area around Martin Dies State Park. No one knew who he was so she asked me. That made me realize that very few people know who Martin Dies is anymore.

Martin Dies was one of the worst people to ever be a powerful member of the House. On this day when Tom DeLay steps down from Majority Leader, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a fellow Texan.

Dies founded the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1937 and served as its chairman from 1937-44. This of course was the committee that Richard Nixon used to prop up his career as a red-baiter. Dies, who didn't see much value in the New Deal, used his chairmanship to destroy the Federal Writers Project and other New Deal programs that employed artists and other commies. He claimed that the CIO was full of communists and came out against them and labor as a whole. A staunch segregationist, he was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan and spoke at several of their rallies. He hated the liberalism of Franklin D. Roosevelt and supported a group called the Texas Regulars in 1944 that wanted to deny FDR a majority in the electoral college. They were not successful but were a precursor to the Dixiecrats in 1948.

Dies is almost forgotten about today. He is an example of America's dark side that needs to be brought into the light. A truly evil man.

On the other hand, his state park is right next to Jasper, Texas, where James Byrd was lynched in 1998 by white supremacists who tied him up and dragged him behind their pickup. A very fitting locale for a man like Dies.

Quotes from a few critics of Dies:

Dorothy Parker: "The people want democracy - real democracy, Mr. Dies, and they look toward Hollywood to give it to them because they don't get it any more in their newspapers. And that's why you're out here, Mr. Dies - that's why you want to destroy the Hollywood progressive organizations - because you've got to control this medium if you want to bring fascism to this country."

Emanuel Celler: "Bluntly then, the present committee can make its choice. It can either adopt the Dies course of unfounded character assassinations, lynch-law, prosecutor-jury and executioner all in one - or it can proceed in a manner consonant with the American tradition of the right to be heard, the right of counsel and the right of confrontation of witnesses, placing emphasis on investigation of all foreignisms with honest judicious objectivity."

Bye Tom

It's not so sad to see Tom DeLay give up his duties as House Majority Leader. One of the most evil politicans of our generation, I will be surprised if this is not the end "Hot Tub" Tom DeLay's political career. I suppose it is possible that he will completely exonerated of all charges. But somehow, I don't think that is going to happen. I think that even the voters of DeLay's home district in Texas are likely to vote in another right-winger rather than reelect DeLay if he is convicted.

I have little reason to believe that David Dreier is much better than DeLay. But it's hard to imagine him being any worse.

Crystal Meth, The Currency of Life

OK, I cannot help but be amused that the Atlanta woman whose "faith" got her captor to surrender in fact survived through sharing her supply of crystal meth with him. Why do I find this amusing? Because I love it when the right takes up the case of someone as an example of what Jesus or morals or traditional values can do for you and then facts come to light that show the person dealing with life in other, more human ways.

The real lesson of this story is to have a supply of crystal meth on hand. You never know when it is going to save your life. Better go find some today!

The Giant Squid

So the giant squid has now been observed in the wild and photographed.

I am amazed that John Lurie and Dennis Hopper weren't the first to accomplish this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

He's A Good Fella All Right

I couldn't help but find the conviction of Henry Hill, whose experiences formed the basis of Goodfellas, for meth slightly amusing in a troubling sort of way. Not for the meth itself, but because he showed up for a pre-sentencing meeting with a parole office with a blood alcohol level of a mere 0.34%

You Don't Need To Be A Superhero. But Being Competent Would Be Nice

I find Michael Brown's defense of his response to the New Orleans disaster laughable at best and infuriating at worst.

No one's asking you to be a superhero you self-centered bastard. But you could have at least made some sort of plans to get people out there when everyone knew the hurricane could destroy New Orleans, you could have gotten involved immediately in rescue operations, and you could have informed the president of what was going to be necessary here.

But you know, Michael Brown is the real victim of Katrina.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Depressing Statistic of the Day

Percentage of homes on the Navajo reservation that have electricity:


Jose Saramago

I received this comment on a post I put up some time ago from artdectective, someone who had not read the blog before. It read:

I wandered onto your blog after noticing that you are one of four (myself included) who count Baltasar and Blimunda among their favorite books. I appreciate your cynicism and intelligent posts.

People, read your Jose Saramago. There is no greater living author. If you want to argue for Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Naguib Mahfouz, maybe. But in my mind, he is number 1. His method of storytelling is unmatched by anyone. His tales of irony and compassion, showing both the best and the worst in human nature move me like no other. He is in the magical realism tradition but takes it to levels very different from Garcia Marquez. If you want to read a story about what would happen to a group of people if Iberia split off from Europe and floated out to sea, he's your guy. If you want to know what would happen to a medieval couple in love if a priest they knew invented a flying machine, pick him up.

To me, Baltasar and Blimunda is his best work. But read any and all of them. I would also highly recommend The Stone Raft, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, and The History of the Siege of Lisbon. These are wonderful pieces of literature. You will be totally blown away.

And if this helps, the Vatican was furious when Saramago won the Nobel Prize in 1998, calling him an "inveterate communist of anti-religious views." Saramago really seems to care.

Here's a great discussion of Saramago's work.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Something I Don't Understand

Every now and I then I like to click on the "Next Blog" link on the upper right corner of my blog page. Sometimes you run across something interesting. I stopped doing this at work however when I came to a Brazilian blog that featuring topless women on the beach. I figured I would have trouble explaining that one away.

Anyway, every 4 or 5 blogs that come up are these absurd corporate blogs for this or that product. Are these actually effective? Do people actually go to these blogs for some reason or another? Maybe I am not so adept at understanding new forms of advertising but this makes very little sense to me.

Wife and New Orleans Update

As I mentioned in a post the other day, my wife has been assigned to help in the New Orleans relief effort. Interestingly, she's been assigned to Austin.

Now I have to say, if you are going to be assigned to something like this, could you beat Austin? I know she's working long days but she's received strict orders to go see Dale Watson play while she's down there and James McMurtry as well.

She's working out of Austin assessing places to put up temporary housing for refugees. It's a month since the hurricane and FEMA has still not even started this process. Government during the W era at its worst right there.


Wow, USC is kind of good. I was excited at the beginning of the USC-Oregon game and more so when Oregon went up 13-0. Then USC woke up. That is a professional offense. Oregon has good athletes and has never been known for a lack of speed. But Reggie Bush was just running circles around them. Leinart is great. Dwayne Jarrett is a top-notch receiver. The offensive line didn't allow any pressure all day. Wow, Wow, Wow.

Could they be the best college team of my lifetime? No doubt some of those Nebraska teams were truly great, as was the Florida national championship team, the Miami team of a couple of years ago with Willis McGahee, and the 1994 Penn St. team which has Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter, and Kyle Brady among others. But I think I'd take this USC team over all of them.

A Comeback for Woody?

I know that everytime a new Woody Allen movie comes out, his fans, or at least me, hope that it will be the comeback film. Each one seems irrelevant and just not worth watching. Could his new film, Match Point, be the exception? Early reviews sound promising. We can always hope. This should have very little meaning, but it's viewer rating on is higher right now than any Woody movie since Sweet and Lowdown. And let's face it. At this point, if he can still make movies as good as Sweet and Lowdown, I'll take it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I'm Glad Our Leaders Have Their Priorities Straight

Thanks to my friend Scott, the Largo Housepainter, for sending me this story of Montana Senators Max Baucus and Conrad Burns refusing to even consider returning $4 million in federal funds designated for building a parking garage in Bozeman so that money can be used to fund Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

So many points to make, so little time.

1. It's good to know that pork barrel politics will always be the top priority of Americans, regardless of the circumstances. And I thought giving a bunch of homeland security money to Wyoming and South Dakota was ridiculous.

2. Why in the hell are our tax dollars going to fund parking garages in Bozeman anyway? Shouldn't that be a locally funded project?

3. While I think Baucus and Burns are laughable as real leaders, I do have to say one thing that is sort of in their defense. While we should not be using our tax dollars to pay for parking garages, we also should not have to eviscerate what's left of the government's role in helping Americans on an everyday basis in order to take care of this tragedy. We could have all the parking garages we wanted if we would just repeal the Bush tax cuts. But ultimately, Americans care more about their tax rates than any single other thing in the world. Does anyone think that a national referendum asking Americans to raise their taxes, even temporarily, to fund reconstruction efforts, would have a shot in hell of passing? No way. As a nation, we still have no understanding of what it takes to have a functioning government and to provide the services demanded by the American people. Thus record deficits.

So Sad

Wouldn't it just be tragic if this derailed Bill Frist's presidential campaign?

Honestly, what would do him more damage, a SEC investigation into his stock dealings or his refusal to say that AIDS can't be spread by tears? I have no idea what the answer is.

No Great Loss

I am hardly saddened by the resignation of FDA chief Lester Crawford, one of so many examples of unqualified ideologues to receive Bush appointments. For background, see this letter from Planned Parenthood on Crawford and the choice he made to deny over the counter status to emergency contraception to women.

Too bad there's no reason to believe Crawford's replacement will be no better.

Friday, September 23, 2005

If You Don't Hear From Me For Awhile

If I disappear for awhile, it could be because Oregon is playing USC tomorrow. I am actually going to go to a sports bar in Albuquerque to watch the game. I may need to disappear into a drunken stupor to deal with what is going to happen. That stupor could end up with me in a coma, or I may just need to continue with the spree for awhile.

Prediction, USC 55, Oregon 30.

An extra drink is needed because the Yankees are now in first place. Sigh.

Why All The Posts All Of A Sudden?

Why, the answer is clear. Because I have lectures and powerpoint presentations to do for my class next week, response papers to grade, and 2 conference papers due on October 15, one of which I need to pull out of thin air.

It's all about avoidance.

What The Fuck Is Wrong With Idaho?

Thanks to my wife for sending this link about a lunatic weatherman in Idaho (What? They have lunatics in Idaho? Who knew?) who believes that Hurricane Katrina was caused by Japanese yakuza who had access to a Russian-made electromagnetic generator in order to get back at us for bombing Hiroshima.

Jesus Christ.

What the hell is wrong with Idaho? What is it about that place that attracts the strangest and scariest people in America. People make fun of South Carolina or West Virginia or Mississippi. But at least the people in those states tend to be understandable, though with clear exceptions. Idaho is just the godamndest nuttiest place in the nation.

Randy Weaver for Governor!

Teaching and Music

I am tremendously hard on myself as a teacher. If the lecture doesn't go to perfection, if I lead a discussion and talk too much or don't figure out good ways to turn the students off of tangents, of if I have a brainlock during class and forget what I am saying, which happens to me not infrequently, I get very angry at myself. Last night, I saw a student sleeping in the back. For some reason, I always internalize this as my fault, even though the kid didn't even have a notepad out and was probably only there because I had a short response paper due. It didn't help that I organized my lecture poorly which I doubt the students noticed but I sure did.

Well, in response I'm trying to think of how I can change up the lectures in order to hold students interests more. I'm talking about the 1920s on Tuesday so that should be pretty easy. I was thinking of showing part of a silent movie, as much because they should be exposed to the glories of silents as anything, and also using some music. I wanted to play maybe some Edgar Varese to give them an idea of how WWI affected art in the western world--I might read some of the stream of consciousness passages from Dos Passos' USA while it's playing. I am also going to use Dick Justice's "Cocaine", a song that has the greatest chorus line in the world, "I'm simply wild about my good cocaine", in order to show both the wildness of the 1920s and the ways that local folk music began to receive larger audiences during this time.

It could be fun, but I have to say that I've had mixed success using music before. I find it hard to get students to get past listening to the song and into analyzing it. So I end up talking about it more than I want to. I don't know if there's anyway around this, but if anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

John Stossel

An older post, but I need to point out Axis of Evel Knievel's discussion of one of the greatest assholes on TV, John Stossel.

Axis rips Stossel for his pro-profiteer stance on Hurricane Katrina. We talk of how biased and horrid so many TV "journalists" are. We talk of O'Reilly, Hannity, Will, and so many others. But for some reason, and maybe because he's on a show as trivial as 20/20, no one ever discussed what a pernicious fuck John Stossel is.

I have thought this for a long time. It really came to light a couple of years ago when I watched for some damn reason a Stossel special on ABC about why America was the greatest country in the world. The answer--the free market. What would make it better--a full conversion to supply-side economics. He put down as cranks and freaks anyone who criticized this. Who were his reasonable, fair, and balanced talking heads. Why none other than Milton Friedman and Dinesh D'Souza!! His only talking head opposed to these men was Jim Hightower who was completely used as a straw man for Stossel's pro-supply-side propaganda.

Give me a break, Stossel always says. I'd like to give him a break or two.

My Wife to New Orleans

Allow me to say here how proud I am of my wife, who is scheduled to go to New Orleans on Monday to assist in the relief effort. She'll be gone for at least a couple of weeks and quite possibly even a couple of months, but I suppose there are times to make sacrifices and this is one of them.

I have previously stated that maybe we need to consider not rebuilding New Orleans. However, if doing so is going to pay my rent, I am easily convinced the other way. My moral standards are always flexible and given to monetary influence.

New Music

Since I have had very little to blog about lately, I thought I would talk about the new music I've heard recently.

Bill Frisell, East/West--Frisell is always great. This is his second live album and the first in a least a decade. Having seen a show on the tour that the "West" disc is drawn from, I can say that not only does this album recreate a Frisell show very well, but also that the music represents the many kind of things that Frisell does. Over the last several years, he has interpreted a great many classic songs in his own style, something that he does remarkably well. From the "West" CD that I saw, he covers "Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." On the "East" disc he covers several songs, ranging from "Goodnight Irene" to "Tennessee Flat Top Box" to Henry Mancini's theme from Days of Wine and Roses. He also plays tunes of his "Intercontinentals" album and older albums as well. Personally, I like Frisell better in a slightly larger band than the guitar/bass/drums trio, but nonetheless this works very well and is an excellent example of his music.

Richard Thompson, Front Parlour Ballads--Richard Thompson hasn't put out a lot of albums over the past several years. I believe that this is his 2nd of the decade, though there is his performance from Austin City Limits as well. This is a pretty typical Thompson album with witty lyrics, weirdo songs at the end of the album, and great guitar playing throughout. I'm not sure that I would recommend this album over some of his other albums, but really, with the exception of the truly remarkable albums, they all tend to kind of blend together for me. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it's really not. All the albums are at least really good. If Front Parlour Ballads isn't quite as good as Shoot Out The Lights or Rumor and Sigh, well, neither are 99.99% of the albums in the world. The one real change with this album is that it is all acoustic and with few backing musicians. I kind of like electric RT better, but this works very well too.

Buddy Tabor, Hope: The First Step Toward Disillusionment. Never has a title said so much about a songwriter. Like RT, Buddy Tabor's albums often tend to run together, and again in that very positive way. No one else writes song like these. Like many of his albums, this is a combination of political tunes ("Jesus Loves Me More Than He Loves You"), sociological observations ("Methamphetamines"), songs about Alaska ("Caribou Song"), as well as songs about love, loss, and life. Just wonderful stuff. Two songs particularly stand out for me here. "Methamphetamines" is about Roseburg, Oregon, a town about 60 miles south of where I grew up. In this one, Buddy talks about how the shutdown of the lumber industry has affected the people of the town, with the story centering around a body shop mechanic and a meth junkie/whore that the guy knows who services the men at the log truck stop. (This is a true story evidentially). I have to find a way to incorporate this into my dissertation. The second song that really stands out is "Scatter My Ashes." This is the best song to end an album that I've heard in a long time. It's a basic story of a cowboy dying far away from civilization. This is a story that's been told a million times before, but rarely as well as this. If this is an album you're interested in, let me know since I don't think you can get it very easily.

Ry Cooder, Chavez Ravine--Cooder tells the story of the transformation of Chavez Ravine from a Hispanic community in LA to the home of Dodger Stadium within the context of the early Cold War and Red Scare of the 1950s. Cooder uses legends of Hispanic-California music such as Lalo Guerrero to tell these stories. Like most concept albums like this, it doesn't always hold together song to song. There's a kind of weird diversion into UFOs where a time traveler warns the residents of Chavez Ravine what is to happen to them. I'm not sure what this and a couple of other songs really accomplish, but overall this is a pretty good album with great music. Moreover, it has to be the best album ever about urban planning, a topic with untapped potential.

In the category of old albums that I've recently acquired, let me suggest Terry Allen's Juarez. Allen is more known for his sculpture than his music, but his music is really great. Juarez is certainly an odd piece. Developed in the mid 70s to go along with one of his art exhibits, it tells the story of 4 people who meet and shoot it out in Cortez, Colorado and ends with the two living ones escaping to Juarez. It's not exactly a country album, but I don't know what else to call it. It's mostly just Terry Allen on his piano telling these stories, sometimes through talking, usually through singing. My wife hated it but I find it a fascinating tale of the modern West and the border region. Some of his other albums such as Lubbock (On Everything) and Bloodlines are more traditional country I suppose. I'm also high on Terry Allen and these songs because I saw him play a show in Austin last year--like me he lives in Santa Fe but he hardly ever plays anywhere. The show kicked some serious ass. I didn't expect that. It rocked hard in a country way, including on a couple of these songs that are just piano on the album.

My wife recently got the new Death Cab for Cutie album and just ordered the Iron & Wine/Calexico EP--I'll try to review these when I get a chance to listen to them a couple of times.

Also, if you don't have Emiliana Torrini's Fisherman's Woman, get it. Get it now.

Monday, September 19, 2005

What Am I To Do?

The New York Times finally created their premium section which means that I can't read their columnists anymore unless I pay. Obviously I am not going to pay money to read David Brooks or John Tierney. What's more interesting though is the idea that people will pay for this. The Times seems to believe that it's columnists are so good that people will pay for them and that their product is so excellent that they can have a premium section, claims that I find debatable.

Bigger question is, what conservatives am I going to read now? Do I have to go into conservative blogs? I think I'd rather swallow poison. Though I'd rather do that than pay $50 a year to read Brooks and Tierney.


Should I be distrubed that a mouse got into my drawer at work where I keep my food? The answer is clearly yes. Can anyone say Hantavirus? I knew you could.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Clarence Gatemouth Brown, RIP

Another sad loss to the world of music this weekend with the passing of Clarence Gatemouth Brown. I was lucky enough to see Gatemouth twice. He was a badass dude. Cranky as all hell, he saw modern blues for what it was, the soundtrack to middle-aged white men's lives, and he resisted being called a bluesman to the point of actively getting angry at people who said it to him. He was a great guitar player but also an equally good fiddler. He could also whip out a mandolin, harmonica, or play the drums at any time. He mixed blues, country, jazz, cajun, and bluegrass into a style all his own and is one of the people I would most closely associate with creating a modern American music. Brown took all of these styles that he heard and blended them with his own personality to create great music.

Finally, a story. At a show a couple of years ago, a cell phone went off in the middle of a song. The crowd got very upset that someone would leave their phone on during a show. Turns out though, that the phone belonged to Gatemouth himself. He stopped the song, answered the phone, and proceeded to schedule another gig while in the middle of the one he was playing.

New York Notes

Far be it from me to make observations about New York City that haven't been made by other people. But I'm going to try to say a few things anyway. Longer posts on 9/11 and Ellis Island to come later.

1. Is it just me or do New Yorkers smoke more than the people of any other city? Maybe it's common still across the East Coast. But they certainly smoke more than people in the West.

2. I saw some great creative jazz while I was there. I have trouble understanding the lack of appeal for improvisational music. I went to the best club in New York for this. It might hold 50 people and was not full either night. Really, it's not even a club, it's just a little space on the Lower East Side. To me, and no doubt I am extending my biases here, it's akin to modern art. Yet, people will pay millions for a Kandinsky or Warhol or Pollock and wouldn't think of spending $15 on a Cecil Taylor album or certainly not a David S. Ware album. To me, both illuminate our fractured modern existence, the rapidity of change in modern life. For me, the music does this in a much more visceral way than painting does, which is why I suppose I prefer one form over the other. But I would think there would be some kind of correlation here. Yet, people will go to MOMA and talk about modern art and then put on their Wynton Marsalis or John Tesh albums when they get home.

3. Going through northern New Jersey between Newark and Manhattan was very interesting. Obviously, a lot of it is a wasteland of chemical plants, industrial ruins, and burned-out ghettos. But I found the spaces between the roads very interesting. There was an awful lot of marsh land with quite a few birds and other green spaces. I have no idea if the plants in the marshes are native species or not, but to say that northern Jersey is nothing but a shithole is to be not looking all that carefully.

4. Why are people so afraid of the subway and going to New York in general? Both times I've been there I've found people quite polite and ready to help you if you're lost. I've never seen or heard of anyone having problems on the subway. It's a great cross-section of life and diversity to ride the subways...which is maybe why the middle-class Midwest white tourists who come to see Cats or Rent don't go down there. Since you know, black people are looking to rob you or something.

5. New York really isn't a great town for history. I think there's more relics of the 18th century in Knoxville than in New York. I suppose that if New York was saving this and that for 200 years, it wouldn't be the dominant city that it is. That said, it would be nice to see a semblance of pre-1900 life and architecture there. You really have to look for it and know where to look to find it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Christianity at Work

Is anyone else sick of Christians using all available means to push Christianity and then complaining of persecution when people don't like it? A close associate of mine works for a large beauty supply company in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He sent me this rather lengthy forward that he got on his work e-mail from his co-workers. The title of the e-mail he sent to me was, "More hard evidence of the ruin of humanity." Commentary below.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke, it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking..............
Dart Test...
A young lady named Sally, relates an experience she had in a seminary class, given by her teacher, Dr. Smith. She says that Dr. Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons.
One particular day, Sally walked into the seminary and knew they were in for a fun day.
On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts. Dr. Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and he would allow them to throw darts at the person's picture.
Sally's friend drew a picture of who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend drew a picture of his little brother. Sally drew a picture of a former friend, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on the face. Sally was pleased with the overall effect she had achieved.
The class lined up and began throwing darts. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was filled with disappointment when Dr. Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats. As Sally sat thinking about how angry she was because she didn't have a chance to throw any darts at her target. Dr. Smith began removing the target from the wall.
Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced.
Dr. Smithsaid only these words... "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
Matthew 25:40.
No other words were necessary; the tears filled eyes of the students focused only on the picture of Christ.
This is an easy test; you score 100 or zero. It's your choice. If you aren't ashamed to do this, please follow the directions.
Jesus said, "If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you, before My Father."
Not ashamed pass this on.
Ashamed ...
delete it. Isn't it funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Isn't it funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.
Isn't it funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says.. Or is it scary?
Isn't it funny how someone can say "I believe in God" but still follow Satan (who, by the way, also "believes" in God ).
Isn't it funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and! they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
Isn't it funny how the lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but the public discussion of Jesus is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Isn't it funny how someone can be so fired up for Christ on Sunday, but be an invisible Christian the rest of the week. Are you laughing? Isn't it funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it to them.
Isn't it funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of me than what God thinks of me.
Will YOU pass this on? ... I did

I asked him what would happen if he started talking about Allah at work and giving people copies of the Koran. He said that of course some pretext would be created to fire him because "They couldn't have some Bin Laden sympathizer hanging around selling beauty chairs to Canadians, it's un-American."

I believe that's the best line I've heard in some time.

DeLay--The Buck Stops With Low-Level Officials

Tom DeLay blames local New Orleans and Louisiana officials for the post-Katrina disaster. Classy. But hey, shifting blame to peons worked great at Abu Ghraib, so why not in New Orleans?

Vassar Clements, RIP

In my blogging slump of the last few weeks, I neglected to post on something that I needed to. That's the death of the great fiddler, Vassar Clements. Clements was mostly a bluegrass fiddler but unlike many of early bluegrass musicians he was very open to playing other types of music. But unlike the second generation of bluegrass musicians who came to the fore in the 1970s, he could play other kinds of music tastefully and superbly. When I hear David Grisman going on in an 8 minute mandolin solo I get board. When I hear a Tony Rice record where he's covering Paul Simon, I sigh. When I hear Bela Fleck doing his thing, I lose interest. So many bluegrass musicians decided that they needed to fuse bluegrass with something else in order to make a living or be relevant or whatever. Clements didn't need to that. When he played jazz, he was playing jazz. Sure there was bluegrass in there but for that song he was a jazz violinist. The day after he died, I was listening to a local public radio station and the DJ played a Clements cover of a Sonny Rollins tune. It was so great. He was his own man and was able to make the song his own while keeping to the spirit of the original. He could swing, he could play traditional Appalachian dance music, he could play on rock albums. He was just a really great musician. The world will miss Vassar Clements.

How Bush Bears Responsibility for New Orleans

As Scott points out, Bush supporters like Chris Hitchens are ridiculing attempts to pin blame on Bush for New Orleans. I think that it's important to be real specific here on what Bush deserves blame for in order to deflect fools like Hitchens. Here's a pretty incomplete list of reasons Bush bears responsibility.

1. Scientists had said for years that this a major hurricane would flood out New Orleans. Hell, even I had read this before and I am no scientist. Bush clearly had no clue that people had predicted this for decades. He was totally unprepared for the presiden...oh wait, I mean the hurricane.

2. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was on a conference call the Saturday before the storm where scientists had said that this very thing was going to happen to New Orleans. Between Saturday and Monday when the storm hit, approximately nothing was done.

3. The merging of FEMA into Homeland Security was a clear disaster. That Bush doesn't care about FEMA showed again through his naming a man as its head whose previous job was taking care of show horses.

4. The way Homeland Security money was divided has left places like New Orleans and New York underfunded for their possible disasters while North Dakota and Wyoming, likely targets for neither terrorists nor natural disasters are significantly overfunded. Bush could have used political muscle to see that this money was divided according to need but to no one's surprise, he used it to fund conservative states.

Of course, had Clinton or Kerry been president, the same kind of disaster would have occurred. There's little reason to believe that any Democratic administration would have stopped the flooding of New Orleans. But at least, there would have been immediate action to get poor people out of New Orleans before the storm and FEMA would have the funding to act immediately after the storm to limit the damage.

Are there other ways that Bush is responsible for New Orleans that I am forgetting about? I'd like to have a wingnutproof argument when my students get offended by my saying it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Could There In Fact Be A Higher Power?

Me and religion have a pretty hostile relationship. But when I came home tonight, I began to wonder if there is a god of some sort. Why? Because when I walked in the door, my wife was making lasagne.

Fats Domino

Of all the stories coming out of New Orleans, this was one of the most shocking to me. Fats Domino was among the blacks of the city who could not get out before the storm. It's not 100% clear whether this was by choice or by necessity, but it is damned indictive of how the early rock and roll musicians got absolutely fucked financially. Honestly, I didn't know Domino was still alive but his story reminds me of Bill Haley dying drunk in a ditch in Harlingen, Texas. (I think it was there, anyway some south Texas border town.) These guys had to tour for years past their physical peak in order to make a living when their songs are played on commercials everywhere. There are probably thousands more heartrending and horrifying stories coming out of New Orleans than this one, but this one is particularly affecting to me.

Teaching New Orleans

I had a student walk out of my class this evening when I suggested that the reason that almost all those stuck in New Orleans were black had to do with long-term historical racism in America (I was lecturing on the rise of segregation). God, I hope all these college Republican types drop my class before the midterm.

On the other hand, it will be interesting to see what they do when I lecture on gay rights and talk about oral and anal cultures and how they reflect class differences among homosexuals in the early 20th century.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

New York Next Weekend

I will be in New York next weekend for a wedding. If there are any New York readers out there and you want to meet up for a drink, a baseball game, or whatever, drop me an e-mail.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rehnquist Dead

I am not the person to read for insightful analysis of the Court, but it's safe to say that things are going to get real interesting. Given that Roberts is being played as a moderate, I see no reason to believe that Rehnquist's replacement on the Court will not have Attila the Hun-type characteristics.

Consumption, the Individual, and the Corporation

In my Wednesday post on New Orleans and consumption, I asked what it would take for me to stop consuming so much oil. Mikaela commented by posting this paragraph from Ross Gelspan from an interview on Democracy Now.

"Unfortunately, it has to be political action. It's not lifestyle action. Even if we all sat in the dark and rode bicycles, it would not stop global warming, especially given the reliance on coal in India and China and on oil in Mexico and Nigeria and the developing countries. We need to take the lead in spearheading a rapid transition to clean energy. That will happen only through political pressure, and hopefully through pressure on the United States from a lot of the European countries that are already moving in that direction. This is not a technology issue. We have all these renewable sources right now. ItÂ’s really a political issue. And so, I would urge people to take political action to force this kind of change."

I have long been sympathetic to the idea that the real problems in consumption are corporations and nations and that individuals have little real control over these matters. But in this case at least, I have to partially disagree with Gelspan. There is no question that reliance on fossil fuels by nations of the developing world is playing a huge role in climate change and other global problems. When Gelspan says that people could stop driving and sit in the dark and it wouldn't make a difference, he's saying that individuals have no responsibility, that people can consume without consequences because it is the corporations and nations who are creating climate change and driving our oil-based economy. This I disagree with because he is making a false separation between these corporations and nations and the people who are involved with them.

It's one thing to blame Nigeria for domestic oil consumption and not blame the people too much because the average Nigerian actually consumes very little oil and because the possibility of democratic change is a lot more limited there than in the United States. Here it is a very different situation for many reasons:

1. Americans do consume a tremendous amount of oil. We don't just demand cheap gas. We demand cheap plastic goods. We take our groceries home in plastic bags. We use oil in our cosmetics.

2. The separation between Americans and American corporations is small. How many Americans hold stock in companies that produce oil or sell products based upon oil? How many more support ideas of free trade in order that they can make more money? Each American who owns stock in a company that is remotely connected to the oil trade has much greaterinvolvementt in climate change and oil consumption than others. The same with those whose jobs and lives are made easier through the oil industry. Furthermore, is there any evidence at all that some number of Americans that is within even shouting distance of a majority doesn't want even more oil consumption, cheaper gas, larger vehicles, more products made with oil. Individuals do hold a tremendous sway over oil consumption because we demand so much of it in so many aspects of our lives.

3. Since we live in a nation with some responsibility to its citizens, we do have greater responsibility for the oil consumption of our government and nation as a whole. To separate the demands and consumption of the average American to that of corporations or governments is like the arguments around false consciousness--it requires a serious leap of faith about an abstract people who believe like we do if we could only reach them. As I argued fairly recently in another post, this is strictly a myth. Who specifically are these people and how are they not speaking? Because it seems to me that they are speaking and that a lot of them are voting Republican--they are people who maybe agree with progressives on some issues but for whom gay marriage is a more salient issue than environmental protection or national health insurance. These are some of the same people who are buying SUVs and large trucks. To say that they are not fully invested in the oil economy and that they decisions they make are not reasonable, whether in politics or oil consumption, is to not respect the decisions these people make only because we don't agree with those decisions.

We certainly can not respect people who vote Republican, but we have to at least admit that they do act according to how they view their interests. How does this relate to oil consumption and individuals? Because to say that individuals don't greatly affect oil consumption, both with their choice of automobiles and through the myriad of other ways that we are integrated into a global petroleum economy is both to undermine real analysis of what to do about this situation and to perpetuate a myth that divides individuals & the corporations and governments that they are deeply intertwined with.