Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Books < $$

I love used book-stores. Not only because of my money-neurotic Presbyterian upbringing, or because of the money-nut attitude that says a paperback mass-market is supposed to cost between 0.75 and 1.95 or a trade paperback 3.95-5.95, or because I used to work in bookstores where I got books free or cheap, or because my home town's public library (I realize in hindsight) was the only place I felt safe as a child, or because I love the 0.25-cent book racks that sit outside used book-stores, or because I love to read so much that I could never afford to pay the absurd inflated prices that are charged for new books.


Because I think that books are permanent, and life is temporary. Because I like the idea of writing that lives past when I die. Because I like the idea of owning and loving a book that someone else owned and loved before me.

Because on the Thames embankment in 1974, I bought a small, leather-bound copy of the Three Musketeers, with a bookplate inside the cover that read "St Thomas School", and the typed inscription "To Thomas F----, Sixth Form Latin." And then, in a fountain-penned scrawl, "To Claude, in memory of Thomas, killed over Kiel, 1941."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Joe Lieberman and the PMRC

No question that Frank Zappa would take Joe Lieberman, Tipper Gore, Bill Bennett, Michael Medved, and every other "moral-arbiter-by-appointment" in a Steel Cage death match.

FZ testified before Congress, where he reamed the Senators, and then cut up the testimony into the spoken-word, album-length "Porn Wars":

The reason for this hearing
is not to promote any legislation,
(indeed, I don't know of any suggestion
that any legislation 'd be passed),
but to simply provide a form
for airing the issue itself,
for ventilating the issue,
for bringing it out in the public domain.

Senator Hollings?

I've had the opportunity to ah,
attend a, a showing you might say,
a presentation of ah,
this Porn Rock as they call it.
In the tested pornography,
one of the things to look at
is that it does not have any redeeming social value.
Ah, there could be an exception here
because I haven't attended that presentation.
A redeeming social value,
I find that it's inaudible.
I have a hard time understanding it.
And, Paul, since I travelled the country for three years
and they said they couldn't understand me,
maybe I could make a good rock-star, I don't know.
But in all candour I would tell you it's,
it's outrageous filth.
So I'll be looking from this senator's standpoint
not just to bring pression,
but to try to see if there is some constitutional provision
to tax, or procedure can be used on the Congress
to limit this outrageous filth.

Senator Trible?

Rape, incest, it's outrageous filth...
Sexual violence
Now, the effects of such lyrics on a well adjusted child may
not be cataclysmic
It's outrageous filth!
A lot of the emotional damage is more subtle
Fire and chains and...leather
It's outrageous filth!

Tools and presentations in some twisted minds...
...effects of such lyrics on a well adjusted child may not be
...Porn Rock...
A lot of the emotional damage is more subtle
Fire and chains and...leather

This must be the end of the world!
All the people turning into pigs and ponies
I can't let it happen to me!

What is the reason for these hearings...
Thank you, I think that statement...
...tells the story of these many...
Listen you little slut...
What is the reason for these hearings...
Listen you little slut!
Listen you little slut!
Mixture of drugs...
Sex! Sex! Sex! Sex!...

I might be interested to see what toys your kids ever had

Why would you be interested?

Just as a point of interest in this ah...

Well, come on over to the house and I'll show them to you.

I, I might do that!

Now, the effects of such lyrics on a well adjusted child may
not be cataclysmic
It's outrageous filth!
A lot of the emotional damage is more subtle
Fire and chains and...leather
It's outrageous filth!
Tools and presentations in some twisted minds...
...effects of such lyrics on a well adjusted child may not be
...Porn Rock...
A lot of the emotional damage is more subtle
Fire and chains and...leather

Thank you very much, Mr. Zappa.
You understand that ah,
the previous witnesses were not asking for legislation
and ah, I don't know,
I can't speak for senator Hollings,
but I think that the prevailing view here is
that nobody's asking for legislation.
The question is just focusing
on what a lot of people could feel that could be a problem.
And you've indicated that you at least understand
that there is another point of view.
Really nearly over the year...

Senator Gore?

Thank you very much, ah, mister chairman.
I found your statement very interesting and,
ah let me say although I disagree with
some of the statements that you make,
and have made on other occasions
- I have been a fan of your music, believe it or not -
and I, I ah respect you as a true original and,
and ah tremendously talented musician.

Wait a minute!
Maybe I could make a good rock-star, I don't know
Comics, comics, comics daddy!
Maybe I could make a good rock-star, I don't know
Comics, comics daddy!
Maybe I could make a good rock-star, I don't know
Comics, comics, comics daddy!

They don't even understand their music...
of course nobody does, but ah...
They don't, they don't even know what they're doing
I've, I've seen 'em a couple of times...
Did you, did you see their uniforms?
Which ones? They're the red ones?
All those rhinestones of their rings and things like that
Do you know what I...
Golden May hoof-covers

Maybe I could make a good rock-star!
Gonna drive my love inside you!
It's outrageous filth!
Comics daddy!
Rock, rock, Porn Rock!

And I think your suggestion is a good one
if you pledge those words.
That would go a long way for...
All we have to do is find out how it's gonna be paid for...

No question!
Burn the building!
Burn! Burn! Burn!

If I could find some way constitutionally to do away with it I would!

This issue is too hot...

So I'll be looking from this senator's standpoint
not just to bring pression,
but to try to see if there is some constitutional provision
to tax, or procedure can be used on the Congress
to limit this outrageous filth.

We'll get back to de whimp
and his low-budget conceptium of personal freedom
in just a moment.
But foist, welcome to:
What de fuck gwine on here?
A celebratium o' de American way o' life!
I see some y'all be FROWNIN'...
'cause mebbe y'think what I's tellin' ya' is a LIE!
Am I right?
Les' jes' have a test...
How many o' you nice folks think I knows what I's talkin'
An' how many thinks my potato been bakin' too long?
Now...how many you folks is CONVINCED
de gubnint be totally 'UNCONCERNED'
wit de proliferatium o' UNDESIRABLE TENANTS
An' how many folks believe THEY number won't come up,
next time de breeze blow fum de Easterly directium?
Les' face it, peoples!
Ugly as I mights be,
Ain't that right, SISTER OB'DEWLLA?
Hmm hmm! Oh, oh yeah! Thass right!

Senator Gorton?

Mr. Zappa, I ah, am astounded at the ah,
courtesy and soft-voiced ah,
nature of the comments of my friend
the senator from Tennessee.
I can only say that I find your statement
to be boorish, ah, incredibly and ah,
insensitively insulting the people who were here previously.
That you could manage
to get the first amendment
of the Constitution of the United States
a bad name - if I doubt that you have the slightest
understanding of it - which I do not,
and have the slightest understanding of the difference between
government action and private action.
And ah, you have certainly destroyed any case
you might otherwise have had with this senator.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Is this private action?

I don't think this is constitutional...
The voluntary labelling is NOT censorship...
Bend up and smell my anal vapor!
The voluntary...voluntary...voluntary...
...is not censorship...
Is this private action?
In chains...
Listen you little slut...
There's no absolute rock...
There's no absolute rock...
Well... ... Bend up and smell my anal vapor!
There's no... There's no...
Mr. Zappa, thank you very much for your testimony.
Thank you.
Next witness is John Denver...

"I think it's important to be on the right side of history"

Nothing scares the multi-national corporate governments than a rich man with a platform and a conscience. Clooney says "I think it's important to be on the right side of history." As another man with a platform and a conscience, Hunter Thompson, said:

"well, shit on that. George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or the people I respect in this world. we did not vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today... Who does vote for these shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking halfwits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush?

" they are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill "gooks". They speak for all that is cruel and vicious in the american character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us... I piss down the throats of these nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck Them."

"In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly-mobile- and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together. Not necessarily to win, but to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep... but we owe it especially to our children, who will have to live with our los and all itsl ong-term consequences. I don't want my son asking me, in 1984, why his friends are calling me a "Good German".

And it doesn't hurt that Clooney helped carry the greatest movie ever made.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Get away from my alma mater, you hateful harpy

To the President and Trustees of Indiana University:

As an alumnus of IUB (2000) I am appalled and disgusted by the University's provision of a platform at the IU Auditorium for the rabble-rousing hate speech of Ann Coulter. This was not and is not a free-speech issue: this was hate speech inciting violence.

The President, Trustees, Union Board, and Campus Republicans have shamed themselves by permitting this event to go forward. I am disgusted that the stage on which I was privileged to witness so many great performances has been defiled by Ms Coulter's cheap, theatrical demagogics.

I am proud of the education I received at Indiana and have backed up that pride with donations. But I will never do it again until the University issues an acknowledgement, over the President's signature, that Ms Coulter's appearance on the IU Campus was a dreadful, shameful mistake for which the President, Trustees, Union Board, and Campus Republicans owe the entire IU community, past and present, their deepest apologies.


Dr Coyote

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Catherine Keener on Charlie Rose

All I can say is:

Damn. Too tall, too smart, too mature, too self-reflective, too brunette for Hollywood. She's a great argument for independent film!

How can DIY *not* be a political act?

Alternet can't figure out if DIY is a political act or just more conspicuous consumption. Note to editors: there is no way that making something for yourself, as opposed to buying it, can fail to be a political act.

As someone who has been teaching people how to make things for themselves for almost 40 years, I can say with reasonable certainty that Making is better than buying.

Here endeth the lesson: Selah.

"Trusting the free market to achieve public good..."

...is like trusting Ken Lay or Dick Cheney to submit an honest tax return.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BushCo=Halliburton=concentration camps

Oh, no, wait, never mind...they're only "detention centers."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Up Netflix!

Can I just say that, anytime I watch a film from Netflix (tonight: Disc 2 of Smiley's People with Alec Guinness), I feel like I've put one over on the airheads who program my region's cable offerings?

Hippocratic courage

California doctors are refusing to administer lethal injections in the scheduled execution of Michael Morales. If states shouldn't kill, then quadruply doctors shouldn't. They are brave and honorable, and they have the courage not to kill. How tragic that so few politicians have like courage.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Disappearing the evidence

That National Archives document that used to be public information? Well, it's not anymore, along with 54,999 other items. Note that the CIA accelerated the reclassification program after 9/11. Wonder why?

Rush Limbaugh is a cowardly racist punk

Rush assumed Sherrod Brown must be black because his name "sounded like it." That must be like assuming Rush is a drug addict because his name "sounds like it."

"huh-huh, huh-huh...dude, you said 'rush'".

Oh, wait--he is a drug addict, isn't he?

World Council of Churches speak truth to power...

Representives of "more than 350 mainstream Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches. . . . includ[ng] the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, several Orthodox churches and Baptist denominations, among others" together condemned BushCo's Iraq war and the suffering it has created.

"We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war. We acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name."


We're winning. But it's a long haul...

Philip Slater's inspiring article on the victory of "Connecting Culture." I would only add that Buddhism and the other contemplative traditions have recognized for millenia that patience, discipline, compassion, and a sense of detachment from fixed outcomes are essential to an lasting change for the better

Zappa: they hate it when we laugh

FZ said it, Python demonstrates it, now Smirking Chimp puts it altogether: BushCo according to Mr Gumby.

in the "rats leaving the sinking ship" department

Tom Ridge, the biggest Bush-fascist of them all after Ashcroft, is now Monday-morning-quarterbacking his former bosses. Must have a book deal in the works.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

why rewriting FISA would be an admission of Bush's guilt

Good eye, TChris. He points out that the gutless Pat Roberts's plan to rewrite FISA in order to make Bush's actions legal retroactively is a tacit admission that Bush broke the law.

Republicans continue to back away from Sen. Roberts' suggestion that FISA be "fixed" to better allow court review of NSA's domestic wiretaps. "I'm not sure that's exactly what Pat meant,'' said Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, on CNN's "Late Edition.''
Good insight. What this implies is that they'll have to leave the law to stand. And that means that Justice can still investigate Bush's authorizations as illegal.

10 years for the Duke-stir

That's sufficiently harsh that I bet they're trying make him roll over on others. Prediction: the Duke-stir will take other congressmen and lobbyists down with him.

First he's mis-diagnosing via TV screen, now he's using his MD to parse constitutional law..

Fuckin' Bill Frist.

5-deferment Dick

Dick Cheney is a punk and a coward.

[update] Josh Marshall agrees.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Supreme Court/Eminent Domain/Bush Lib 1, homeowners 0

Just in time to have been approved by the Supreme Court, eminent domain is now being used to seize homes around Dallas for the Bush Library. This kind of shenanigans is precisely why real Texans, and real conservatives, hate Bush.

Cotton Hill and "Homeland Security's" rent-a-cops

Bethesda, MD librarian kicks the ass of two "Homeland Security" officers trying to police patrons' WWW usage. I love the following passage "A librarian intervened, and the two men went into the library's work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men."
Reminds me of the "King of the Hill" episode in which, having been appointed to the Neighborhood Watch, Hank's daddy decides he's empowered to arrest and chastise at will.

Moral of the story: if all you've got is an ill-fitting hat and a tin badge that says "Homeland Security," don't fuck with a librarian who believes in the Constitution.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a religous fable on Dick Cheney...

Rudepundit's odd, dark, and very sad meditation on how painful it must be to be Dick Cheney. Very moving: those who create evil inhabit the hell realms.
Tibetan Wheel - Hell
"Created by hate: 8 Hot Hells; 8 Cold Hells; 8 Crushing Hells; 8 Cutting Hells"

Your comments are contemptible, you opportunistic jackass

Dear Representative Campfield:

I write from Lubbock, the heart of Bush territory, to tell you that your comments on the Cheney hunting accident are absolutely appalling.

To make the following comments reveals the most callous disregard for the realities of this event:

"Our VP is now clearly pro gun and anti lawyer. I say not a bad start. I am taking up a collection to send a few democrats off on a hunting trip..."

You have made light, in the most contemptible way possible, of a life-threatening accident. Do you think Mr Whittington's family will find your comments amusing? Do you possibly imagine that such comments as these will ingratiate you with the Bush White House? All you have done is reinforce the public sense that Republicans are callous, obtuse, spoiled, and arrogant.

You had deservedly minimal media visibility to date, but I guarantee your stupid opportunism has deep-sixed your further political aspirations. Like Jean Schmidt, your attempt to gain the national spotlight by doing the White House's hatchet-work is going to backfire on you entirely.

I'll wager money your email is running at least 2-to-1 in condemnation of your cowardly, opportunistic, syncophantic comments. Good luck in the private sector.

Most sincerely,

Dr Coyote

Monday, February 13, 2006

Frist: he's just stupid

He's a remarkable stupid M.D. and, damn, he's a an imbecilic politician. Frist actually thinks that pushing a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is a good political move.

Prediction: his party will bitch-slap him down and tell him he's not allowed to talk presidentially anymore.

Ethnicity's a construction, not an inheritance, but...

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Normally, when playing the music(s) I play, when someone asks if I'm from that music's ethnic community, I'll say "no," because I know the music demands learning and discipline, not a simple genetic inheritance. But when old-school conservative James Webb says that the Bush-lite Republicans have "lost the Scots-Irish", I might cop to that appellation:

These are the "red state" voters. They are family-oriented, take morality seriously, go to church, join the military, and listen to country music. They strongly believe that no man is obligated to obey the edicts of a government that violates his moral conscience. They once formed the bedrock of the Democratic party -- from Andrew Jackson until Vietnam -- but have been moving to the GOP ever since. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Webb called the Scots-Irish in America the "the secret GOP weapon."
The only one of the above that even remotely fits me is "no man is obligated..." But I'll add to the above that persons of Scots-Irish character, even if not ethnicity, don't suffer chickenhawks gladly:

Any one of my barefoot, claymore-swinging, horse-thieving MacGregor and Orr ancestors would have kicked the shit out of these cowards on general principles.

Homeland Security regrets free press, asks for "do-over"

Now they're trying to shut down the 'Net, in the event of a "terrorist attack from blogs." I got news for you fellas: it didn't work against Gutenberg or the samizdat press, either. And the Pope and Stalin were both smarter and meaner than you guys.

"I had other priorities"

Maybe if Cheney had served in Vietnam (instead of receiving 5 deferments) he'd know how to shoot straight.

"The 101 Most Dangerous Professors in America"

David Horowitz's new book tries to intimidate professors into silence. I feel like HST felt about Nixon's enemies list:

"I would almost have preferred a vindictive tax audit to that kind of crippling exclusion. Christ! What kind of waterheads compiled that list? How can I show my face in the Jerome Bar, when word finally reaches Aspen that I wasn't on it... There is slim satisfaction in the knowledge that my exclusion from the list of "White House enemies" has more to do with timing and Ron Ziegler's refusal to read Rolling Stone than twith the validity of all the things I've said and written about that evil bastard."

HST: Rude Notes from a Decompression Chamber in Miami
Rolling Stone # 140, August 1973; Reprinted in 'The Great Shark Hunt' Warner Books

To which I'll only add, paraphrasing the Chimp-in-Charge:

Bring it, you punk-ass motherfuckers. I'd be glad to be on your fucking list.

"It should break your heart to kill"

Brian Turner's poetry speaks truth to power.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

to CNN

I am deeply disappointed by Senior Analyst (sic) Jeff Greenfield's comments regarding the remarks by President Carter and Reverend Lowery at the Coretta Scott King funeral. Perhaps Mr Greenfield is unaware that it is solidly and appropriately within the tradition of African-American oration for a minister speaking at a funeral to address, not only the deceased person's life, but also their beliefs and their convictions about what "remains to be done." Reverend Lowery in particular acted very much in the spirit of both Dr and Mrs King when he "spoke truth to power." Perhaps Mr Greenfield has forgotten that the first duty of a minister is to defend his flock, which is precisely what Reverend Lowery did.

It was formerly also the case that journalists were expected to speak on behalf of the public and the disenfranchised, but Mr Greenfield has long since forfeited any claim to such a noble calling, in favor of shilling for the Washington power elite. I wonder if he misses his lost journalistic integrity?


Dr Coyote

Why would any lover of God be *against* protecting Gaia?

86 evangelical leaders have spoken out in support of efforts to reverse global warming. They are to be thanked. But, it begs the question: why would anyone who claimed to love God be opposed to protecting Her/His creation?

"You're a terrorist if you look like a terrorist"

It'd be laughable if it weren't so fascistic.

attendance and "can I *please* do a make-up?!?"

Here's what I do. I essentially have a zero-tolerance policy for unexcused absences, "because the work we do together in class is impossible to truly replace--if you miss it, it's gone." Absences are only excused if (a) there is contact from student to TA or professor *in advance* of the deadline (email works well for this, as it's time-stamped) and (b) if there is a doctor's note or other documented major emergency. I don't believe that permitting unexcused absences helps our students learn that choices have consequences.

Having said that, we still have a good ly number of absences--usually, because students at this Uni often have to travel for concert tours which are important to our recruiting. In the case of these or similar excused absences, I set a single makeup time, which is *outside the regular class schedule.* Typically this is a Tuesday or Thursday morning at 7am, as classes at the Uni begin at 8am.

This does a couple of things: it almost completely obviates schedule conflicts, which are the single hairiest part of scheduling makeups, and the thing I most resent doing--I don't think it's our staff's obligation to cater to idiosyncratic individual schedules. Moreover, it cuts down on "semi-voluntary" absences: if a kid knows that a makeup will require getting up at 6:30am in order to stumble into a 7am makeup session, s/he is much more likely to make the effort to get to the originally-scheduled class.

Moreover, it rewards the ones who truly want to excel: the hard workers are also, typically, the ones most likely to be willing to get up early.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Shrub gets slapped in church

Guess the Boy Wonder thought he'd get a free ride and a victory grin at Mrs King's funeral. President Carter and Reverend Lowery thought otherwise. It's a bitch when it's not a captive audience, ain't it George?

[update] And on top of that, CNN snipped out of their coverage the 23 second standing ovation which Reverend Lowery's remarks received.

Monday, February 06, 2006

mourning the Big Easy

Aw, Jesus. "Big Easy" is on cable. Whether you like Dennis Quaid or not. Gawd, they really did get that New Orleans was different. And it's all gone now.

Those bastards. Those fucking bastards. They don't even know what we've lost. And they never will--Dick Cheney wouldn't recognize Aaron Neville if Aaron was in the midst of kicking his ass--which Aaron no doubt would. And we'll never get it back.

When Aaron Neville can't bear to go back home, you know that home is gone.

why we fight

'Cause, where we stand right now, FIFTY-NINE Repuglican Congressional seats are vulnerable. Tell yer friends!

Natalie Maines smacks the Shrub

If there were any question, not only would Jack Murtha, Viggo Mortenson, or George Clooney take the entire chickenhawk White House in a steel-cage death match, but so would Natalie Maines. Memo to the Preznit: she's a real Texan--she stands behind what she says, and she's not afraid. You go, girl!

In the "why do the evil ones live so damned long?" department

Reverend (sic) Ian Paisley has been spewing racist, pig-headed, inflammatory, "zero-sum game" hatred for 40 years, allegedly in support of Ulster Protestants and Loyalists. My own understanding of the Troubles has been vastly nuanced by meeting people of good heart on both side of the sectarian divide, but can I just say that there would be a lot less hatred, and a lot better chance for peace, if the Rev would just go to Jesus already?

[Update: I've got it--let's just allow the Rev and the Rev to inhabit their own parallel universes, and would everybody stop listening to them?!?]
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Friday, February 03, 2006

sanity during evaluations

Originated in a comment to One Bright Star.

During evaluations (re-appointment, 3rd-year, tenure, etc, etc): staying away physically and mentally from the arena of your evaluation is a good idea, but here's an additional thought:

Part of what we have to do in academia is to sell the content, value, and interest of our research and teaching not only to the principle targets (disciplinary peers and students) but also to those who hold the purse strings and the appointments. There's nothing wrong with thinking about ways to clearly, engagingly, and collegially explain what we're doing and why to colleagues who may not otherwise understand it. In fact, it's a great opportunity to learn new ways to articulate our research to diverse and non-specialist audiences.

So, if you get dossier-comments that seem to betray lack of understanding of the content, value, and/or relevance of what you're doing, you can use that as an opportunity to think about new/more accessible/more direct ways of articulating that value.

Mostly, if the mentors and various-stage evaluators are doing their jobs, a candidate knows far *before* the watershed date if there will a problem, and most candidates therefore are fine at the actual date--but the feedback, *especially* if it is less-than-uninformed or "doesn't get" what you do, can be a useful tool for honing self-presentation.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Shh....don't tell anyone

Since 7:30 this morning, I've written one and delivered two lectures (in one of which I played tunes and talked while my students danced and sang, and in the other of which I spent 80 minutes talking about African aesthetics, social values, religion, and music as they were transformed in the New World), given two consultations to grad students, led an ensemble rehearsal, practiced for a couple of hours, watched the Mavs stomp the Bulls (sigh...wish it was still the MJ/Scottie/Rodman combination), written comments for 80+ student proposals which my Stunningly Brilliant TA's had prepared the ground for, and at 12:14 am writing this final post to articulate, once again (after working as a carpenter, oilfield mechanic, guitar teacher, data-entry tech, janitor, grocery-store clerk, bookstore manager, bouncer, guitar studio manager, university gymnasium security) that This Sure Beats Working.

Damn. Extra "Thank-you" prayers tonight.