Sunday, September 30, 2007
(11:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
9/11 Tourette'sLast week, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show diagnosed Rudy Giulliani with "9/11 Tourette's." At the time, I thought, "This is the perfect catch-phrase for liberal blogs." A Google Search reveals that the term has gotten some moderate play outside of direct links to the Daily Show clip, including a reference on the "big time" blog Talking Points Memo.
Still, its status is tenuous. The only thing that can guarantee the triumph of "9/11 Tourette's" would be for Atrios to adopt it and then beat it into the ground. Though his influence on the blog debate has sharply declined since his blog's implosion in the wake of the 2004 elections, no one does a catch-phrase like Atrios, who gave us the now omnipresent "Friedman Unit" and the more recent "Very Serious People."
Accordingly, I propose that we start a letter-writing campaign.
Friday, September 28, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Called Unto HolinessI confess that a comment from The Girl earlier this week made me realize that the word "Nazarene" has become little more than a synomym for "passive-aggressive" in my mind. I confess that this seems like a positive and healthy development.
I confess that I've been moderately dragging my feet on a large project and am starting to see that on a certain level, I just don't want to be done. I confess that my desire not to have it drag out forever will hopefully clear this problem up within the next few days.
I confess that reading German seems to be getting more difficult over time. I don't necessarily expect steady progress, but I'd hope to at least remain stationary.
I confess that I am very pleased with how the PhD Student Association meeting went on Thursday. I confess that I'm especially proud that I ordered precisely the correct amount of food and that I ad-libbed the line, "Would you take it personally if a glacier ran over your house?"
Thursday, September 27, 2007
(9:16 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
House season 1 bloggingAs I make my way through the DVDs of the first season, I note another reason to love the show: the plot arc about the businessman who becomes the new chairman of the board is an extended critique of the widespread idea that everything (for instance, a teaching hospital) has to be run "like a business."
And of course, House remains one of the only properly ethical characters on TV today.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
(4:34 PM) | Brad:
Mid-Week Jazz: Sidney Bechet EditionThe other day I got a wild hair up my ass, and I decided to dive into Sidney Bechet's Complete Blue Note Recordings. And today I got an even crazier hair, and realized I'd not done any jazz blogging in close to a month.
I've become slightly obsessed with Bechet in recent months. Partly because of his acerbic personality, partly because he was one of the few people ever to be able to go horn-to-horn with Louis Armstrong, and partly because he stayed so consistent throughout his career. Some people downplay his importance becaues he never really evolved. But, you know, not everybody knows how to reinvent themselves, and the best they can do is make music within the constraints of what they already know and do. And, dammit, there's nothing wrong with this. Sometimes, the wheel can and should remain what it is -- let others drive the car where they will, but let the wheel keep turning in its own symmetrical purity.
That was far too defensive an introduction. From here on, I'll let the music speak for itself.
"Original Dixieland One Step"
"Jackass Blues (alt take)"
"Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll"
(10:48 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Special Wednesday EditionI hate it when a so-called "friend" agrees to do Tuesday Hatred for me and then all-too-conveniently "forgets."
I hate that for me, there seems to be no middle ground between keeping up with my RSS feeds and thus having no unread items when I actually want to sit down and read (as when I'm eating lunch) or else letting it go and having, for example, 71 unread items.
I hate standing on a bus, especially during the long ride down Lake Shore Drive. I hate it when obviously harmless homeless people ask me if I'm scared of them.
I still hate that there was no Twin Peaks season three. I hate how disappointed I was by A Scanner Darkly.
(1:59 AM) | Brad:
In Lieu of Prison Break Blogging ... Football Blogging!1) Week Three really exemplified what I meant when I said that the AFC West would be the most competitively ugly division in football. It's not too late for the Chargers to change course and play like a team that finished 14-2 (rather than the team that choked in the first round of the playoffs), and I still think they'll win the division, but right now it will only be because Oakland and Kansas are unqualifiedly awful (how either of them won in Week Two is really beyond me), and Denver has somehow forgotten how to play quality defense.
Relatedly, it's not too late for Thomlinson to pull out some magic. After all, of the thirteen remaining games, six are against his AFC West rivals. I expect a big game this week against the Chiefs.
2) The Patriots' next two opponents: the Bengals and the Browns. I was wondering when Ohio would finally get punished for the '04 election. Some would say living in Ohio is punishment enough, but no, getting destroyed spectacularly on the football field is a far greater punishment in the Buckeye State.
Also, the fact that I look like an extra from Witness makes me extremely partial in these matters, but I'm really liking Carson Palmer's beard.
3) Everybody I know who loves defense says they want their team to develop a shutdown corner. But, how realistic is this? How many truly lockdown cornerbacks are there in the league? Champ Bailey, Asante Samuel (who is not nearly as good as he thinks he is), and ... who else? I know there are a few more names one might throw out, but the one I think gets overlooked (except by his wife when she is coming at him w/ a kniff) is Nick Harper. That guy doesn't get many interceptions, and he isn't flashy, but he just does not get burned very often.
Speaking of interceptions, how important a gauge are they, really, for one's defense? I lived in Cincinnati for several years, and heard more than my fair share of talk about the Bengals' ability to cause turnovers. It's one thing to cause a turnover because you hit a guy w/ the ball so hard, or w/ such a technique, that he coughs up the ball; but it is totally different if you happen to be in the right place at the right time. And this is exactly what most interceptions are. Does good coverage cause them? Sometimes, but most good QBs are going to throw the ball away when there is no discernible defensive breakdown or gap. When he doesn't, he either makes a helluva throw, and even the opposing team's fans has to be impressed, or the ball is batted down or picked off. In that respect, coverage causes a turnover. But how many more times do you see an interception caused by a QB just chucking the ball down the field blindly in the face of an oncoming blitz (every week if you're a Bears fan -- or a Packers fan the past two), or the WR running a horrible route (hello, Buffalo) -- or some combination of the two (that's for you, Chiefs, 49ers, Saints)? I'll wager a guess that a good 80% of the QBs in the league aren't consistently good enough (and by 'good', I'm referring to how they compare to the defenses against which the play) to have even a majority of their interceptions come via coverage.
4) Nov. 29, Green Bay goes to Dallas. Is this game going to decide NFC supremacy? -- which, by the way, is at this point about as prestigious as winning your fantasy football league. Is there anyway Dallas doesn't win this game? Or will the NFC be so bad that Green Bay will win it without ever mounting a rushing threat?
Speaking of Green Bay, is anybody else bothered by Favre's throwing motion in that Wrangler jeans ad of his? Were the producers so afraid of him actually throwing the ball and piercing the chest of somebody on the set that they told him not to follow through with his arm?
5) Unabased pleading: Please arcane football coverage rules, please don't let me get stuck w/ the Seattle-49er game and there not be a game on the other channel!
Unabased complaint: fucking DirectTV ... damn you for your inability to be installed in my building!
** Upset prediction: Arizona knocks off Pittsburgh at home. Or, at the very least, Pittsburgh won't cover the spread. **
Monday, September 24, 2007
(1:22 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
More Objectively Pro-Iran BloggingBeing upset that Ahmadinejad wants to make a gesture of solidarity with the victims of 9/11 is irrational and indefensible, and actively forbidding him from doing so is even worse. He had nothing to do with 9/11 -- indeed, he was not even in power when it happened -- nor did Iran. Like virtually everyone on earth, I'm sure that he views the 9/11 attacks as a genuine tragedy.
Or is 9/11 now an honorary part of the Holocaust, such that a Holocaust denier would desecrate it?
(9:05 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Bleeding Edge of Cultural CommentaryWhich Star Wars episode was better, Robot Chicken or Family Guy?
To refresh your memory on Robot Chicken:
Here is the scene Mike mentions in comments:
Saturday, September 22, 2007
(9:51 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Change of PlansI was hoping to read through the Koran on my flight out to the AAR in San Diego, but it looks like that might not be a good idea.
Friday, September 21, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Still More Twin PeaksI confess that I had expected them to "wrap up" the series to some degree! Come on, ABC! Were the ratings really that bad? I confess that there is every indication that Twin Peaks season three would've been awesome.
I confess that even though it only takes a couple hours, cleaning my apartment always makes me really tired. I suspect the fumes of cleaning products have something to do with it.
I confess that as of this thread, every argument I've ever had with John Holbo has now officially been rehashed at least twice, leaving us free to discuss new topics.
I confess that I haven't gone out enough lately -- I've gone into hibernation mode. I confess that dealing with disappointment by burying myself in my work is a fine strategy until the task at hand is completed.
I confess that in recent years, I have handled boredom less and less well. The Netflix subscription should help with that.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
(7:32 PM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
21st Century Yacht RockHayley and I were watching an episode of Conan when the very bland musical guest James Blunt started playing.
Hayley remarked, 'This is totally 21st Century yacht rock.'
I couldn't agree more.
"This is Hollywood Steve and you've caught me murdering a homeless person."
(9:47 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Further Thoughts on the Nuclear QuestionIn the abstract, the fewer nuclear weapons exist, the better. Following on Voyou's comment to my previous post, however, in the concrete situation, it's hard for me to get worked up about proliferation among Third World countries when the country that has the most nuclear weapons is (a) the only country to have ever actually used them and (b) the only country whose mainstream political discourse includes people who think that an unprovoked nuclear strike would be a good idea.
In such a situation, getting a nuclear deterrent is the only reasonable choice for a country that finds itself in the US's crosshairs -- to the extent that Iran actually is pursuing a nuclear program, that's just further evidence that we are dealing with a fundamentally rational actor, rather than an "insane terrorist state." The problem in the post-Cold War era is not that the US is now faced with asymmetrical warfare from undeterrable "irrational" rogue states, but rather that the US itself has gone insane.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
(3:05 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
I'm now mainstreamYglesias agrees with me that Iran getting nuclear weapons would not actually be a big problem.
People never seem to learn that once you "admit" (which you "have to") that we can't tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, the debate is already over -- talking about whether we should use "diplomacy" or the "military option" is a total waste of time, given the actual existing executive branch. It's just like when everyone "had to admit" that Saddam had WMDs and it was such a horrible thing, so that the liberals were all stuck in the structurally weaker position of prefering diplomacy but "having to admit" that diplomacy wouldn't work without a credible threat of force.
(By the way, does anyone else notice that this aspect of the Iraq war vote has completely disappeared from liberal public discourse now that we're again talking about "diplomacy" vs. "force" in relation to the "threat" of Iran? Back in the day, talking about how the vote to authorize war was really a vote for putting the pressure on Saddam diplomacy-wise was considered a pretty good defense. Now that the same thing is happening again, all the mainstream Democratic politicians are once again refusing to take concrete action to constrain Bush's military options on Iran. Presumably if war with Iran happens, in four years we'll all be hailing as potential saviors the very people who failed to stop the fucking thing before it started -- then acting super-surprised when they don't do "what we elected them to do." It's the same fucking thing -- it could really be happening again. And even if the Democrats are better insofar as they wouldn't have actively started the war of their own volition, they're likely to be pretty useless when it comes to either preventing or stopping whatever war Bush decides to launch. I have no idea what "we" can do about this situation.)
The only reasonable thing to do is to refuse to buy into the idiotic, paranoid frame that somehow the most powerful nation in world history is going to be "threatened" by some lame-ass Third World dictatorship. Being afraid of such losers is just pathetic, especially given that we held up pretty well under a genuine existential threat (i.e., the USSR) within living memory. If liberals actually want to look strong, they should refuse to be intimidated by people like Saddam and Cheney -- but of course, taking a stand like that would require actually stepping outside of the framework created by the right wing, which is apparently completely impossible.
(7:22 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Tuesday Hatred: Limp DicksI hate that this isn't the new logo for Teh valve.
I hate blogger-academics. More to the point I hate how disproportionately effected I am by the opinions of blogger-academics. I hate the limp-dicked niceness of most academic blogs such that they can't even muster up a circle jerk. I hate that a certain confused Lacanian-Rationalist still thinks Adam and myself have our rhetorical heads up our asses. I hate that quite a few blogger-academics who self-style themselves as populist progressives want to champion Richard Dawkins. These are the same assholes who want to take Michael Moore to task in the name of truth and accuracy. I hate that people don't realize how much of a prick and coward Dawkins is. He refused to debate Conor Cunningham "on principle" after they were both invited to publicly debate one another at Oxford even after Cunningham promised he wouldn't use the word God once. I hate what passes for "funny" on academic blogs.
I hate that labour in America is on the whole unorganized. I hate that we could never have a general strike because most labour in America is either very blue collar ('Tomorrow no one gets fries!') or very white collar ('Tomorrow all the call centers stop!'). I hate how fucking hopeless the political situation is in Anglo-phone countries. I hate that the Chasers might be charged and sentenced for the stupidity of Howard's security forces.
I hate that my wife has been gone for a month and yet my work output has been about the same as when she was here. (A digression: I hate that the British MA is called a dissertation and the PhD a thesis. Partly because I like the verb dissertating.) I hate that I don't think my version of clean will match up with her version of clean. I hate that I can't sleep and so I'll likely just stay up until 5 am when my train leaves. I hate that I have to wash my hair to get laid.
Finally, I hate that my cat has been pissing blood for a week. I hate that the meds aren't working faster.
Monday, September 17, 2007
(6:46 PM) | Brad:
Continuing the Weblog's Slide Into The Puerile Depths of Pop Culture ObscurityI wanted to blog every Monday of this year's NFL season, but a somewhat spur of the moment roadtrip to Seattle last week scuttled my plans. I was back late Sunday night, but I was in no shape to assess what had transpired the day before. Plus, I'd only been able to catch bits and pieces of the Bears-Chargers game on the radio. Fortunately, this weekend I was able to be as slothful as I wanted to be. Fresh from the high that was Kentucky's 40-34 throttling of Louisville on Saturday, I sat down Sunday morning very excited.
A few random thoughts from my day on the couch:
- Fantasy football owners of Joey Galloway, be very very wary. I've seen this before. He is one of the ultimate in fantasy teases. You bench him, and he ends up torching New Orleans for 135 yards and 2 TDs. You start him next week, and he gets two balls for 40 yards and a fumble. I'm telling you, beware.
- Braylon Edwards hasn't been in the league long enough to develop a hard and fast reputation, but the Browns definitely have. I don't see him doing quite so well against Oakland next week ... and, I think Oakland will get its first win of the season.
- Speaking of which, good people of Oakland, please don't show up to the Browns game next week -- or any other games this season for that matter. I really don't want to get stuck with the Raiders on my tv every week. It's bad enough I'll have to avoid the 49ers winning ugly every week. (Is there a worse looking 2-0 offense than the Niners?)
- Speaking of ugly, the AFC West may very overtake the NFC North for ugliest (but most competitive) division in football. (In fact, this year's NFC North might be one of the most interesting divisions. After two weeks, which of those teams would you count out of making the playoffs in the NFC?)
- I hate to think it, but the Steelers might win the AFC North with relative ease.
- I really wish LaDanian Thomlinson had a blog so he had an immediate outlet to whine after every loss. It's a good thing he wears the tinted glass on his helmet, otherwise we'd see him crying after every failed third down against the Patriots.
- If the Bengals don't fire their defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan this season, and possibly even Marvin Lewis, two things should happen: a) fans should turn in their season tickets, and b) the first-team offense should refuse to take the field. I love that I actually read some columns talking about the "surprising" Bengals defense stopping the Ravens last week. Back up. Read that entire sentence. They got a bunch of turnovers from.... the offensively inept Baltimore RAVENS. It's shocking that they gave up 500+ yards to the Browns -- nobody knew they were that bad -- but c'mon. Some perspective, please.
- I was ready to crown Indy the team to beat after they destroyed the Saints last week. Well, not so fast. Indy is still great, don't me wrong. They look about as good as they were at the end of last season (which, is a couple of steps below where the Patriots are now, but hey!). It's just beating up on this Saints team doesn't look to be a big deal right about now. It almost makes me wonder if everybody took it easy on New Orleans last year, via NFL mandate. I'm not saying that people threw games. Save that for the NBA. Just eased back, so as not to blow them out of the water early in the game. Make it exciting in the fourth quarter. If you win in the fourth fine ... but keep it close. Remember, the Saints were a couple of late stops and scores away from a losing record last year. Hmmm.
- I was asking somebody before the Chargers game ... why is everybody so big on them in the first place? They hire Norv Turner? And then, outside of Gates and Thomlinson, what other weapons do they have? Are any of their WRs even starters in your fantasy leagues -- the true measure of a championship caliber team?
- A friend's observation from last night: "John Madden is so precious. Everyone else has reached the point of being so bad, that I actually enjoy him now."
- Edgarrin James = Pro Bowl comeback season? Great game for him yesterday, and he actually looked nice and fiesty in the Cardinals otherwise abysmal loss against the 49ers last week.
- The Houston Texans should campaign the NFL to switch conferences. Who could beat them in the NFC right now?
- Quentin Jammer has such a kickass good porn name for such an overrated corner.
- Unrelated: Eat My Black Meat 2 on Spice is a little pricey.
- I may not leave my wife for Feist, but I would certainly invite her into the relationship. Interestingly, upon revealing this to a friend with whom I was watching last night game, he pointed out to me that my porn fantasies almost always revolve somebody who resembles my wife. Aww. Love ya, honey!
- Not entirely apropos of nothing, during the 49ers-Rams game, the announcers kept using the term "muff," as a kind of shorthand for "muffed punt." I need to rewatch the telecast, but I swear I remember the announcer say, "That's the second muff of the day," "They're all over the muff," and "They recovered the muff." Unfortunately, I did not hear, "All these guys here (circling them on the screen) dive for the muff, and miss it."
- So, the kid in the new psychadelic Peyton Manning ad ... that's his inner child? Huh? Oh ... and yes, Marvin Harrison in the tank of sharks, clearly some kind of subtle indication of him staying in the closet because of his homophobic head coach. Clearly.
- Ben Stiller just needs to go away. Maybe he'll learn from Owen Wilson's mistakes. Cut WITH the wrist, Ben. WITH.
- And LAST (unless MNF is esp. noteworthy), we need to start a pool to see how long it takes ESPN to cut the cord on the Emmitt Smith experiment. He just forgot the last name of the Redskins QB, and then couldn't then w/in minutes, couldn't remember which team the Eagles were playing. Kevin Everett is clapping his hands right now better than Smith is w/ basic football knowledge recall.
(3:56 PM) | Brad:
More Dirty Thoughts
I was in Seattle last weekend -- hence the absence of Weekend Jazz then (no excuse this weekend) -- and was positively delighted when I found this postcard.
Like all truly great works of art, the beauty of this image is that it is really open to innumerable interpretations. As Ruskin once wrote, "I say that the art is greatest which conveys to the mind of the spectator, by any means whatsoever, the greatest number of the greatest ideas; and I call an idea great in proportion as it is received by a higher faculty of the mind, and as it more fully occupies, and in occupying, exercises and exalts, the faculty by which it is received." Be it, for example, a graphic depiction of a nerdy lad whacking a penis or a piece of poo with a baguette, Ruskin's description fits.
He would be proud.
(12:44 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Prison Break returnsAfter discussing one of the greatest shows ever this weekend, it seems appropriate to address Prison Break's improbable third season, which begins tonight. Hayley and I became addicted to this show during its first season, and I continued watching out of a combination of inertia and morbid fascination.
The entire second half of the second season busily squandered the credibility it had gained when rogue Secret Service agent Kellerman shot rogue FBI agent Mahone, and when I saw that they were apparently going to extend it still further, I was frankly appalled. Yet now that Brad has alerted me that tonight is the season three premier, I am almost tempted to watch. After all, I have to get up early for class on Tuesdays, so it's not like I'm going to be going out on Monday nights -- and there are still so many loose threads! Will Sucre find his kidnapped wife? Will Scofield and Sarah ever see each other again? What the hell is going on with this weird conspiracy angle? What's up with the prison Scofield and Mahone are thrown into in the last episode? Will Mahone "get his life back"? Perhaps I should put it to a vote.
Since Brad also notes that I have tended to blog a lot about both Prison Break and House, I feel I should point out that apparently every member of the cast of Prison Break got their start as one of House's patients. I also saw "T-bag" on an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent last night.
Another actor who gets around a lot, without you necessarily noticing: Brian Cranston, best known as Hal of TV's Malcolm in the Middle. Watch for him, and suddenly he turns up everywhere. For example, in Little Miss Sunshine, he was the agent who failed to sell Greg Kinear's motivational program, and he was also the dentist with porn in the waiting room on an episode of Seinfeld.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
(5:46 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Soundtrack of MoodinessStars, "Your Ex-Lover is Dead," from Set Yourself on Fire
Regina Spektor, "Samson," from Songs
Beck, "Lonesome Tears," from Sea Change (also this whole album)
Califone, "Michigan Girls," from Quicksand/Cradlesnakes
Bonnie "Prince" Billy, "Master and Everyone," from the album of the same name
Further research into the timeless question from High Fidelity: Do I listen to pop music because I'm miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?
(1:17 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
My Alma Mater Sucks AssFellow Olivet grad The Girl sends me a story in fucking Newsweek about the latest stupid fucking controversy there. Those idiots are on my resume forever. What was I thinking?
(10:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
More on Twin Peaks, season 2I just finished disc 4 (out of 6) last night, and wow -- it really, really drops off after they solve Laura Palmer's murder. The plotline where James wanders off by himself and becomes a repairman for someone who's really trying to frame him &c. is just idiotic. I've heard rumors that Lynch reasserts control at the end, such that it's worth suffering through this dry spell, so discs 5 and 6 remain in my Netflix queue, along with the movie.
Oh, and what's with the creepy eye-patch woman having super-strength all of a sudden? (Setting aside for the moment her bizarre belief that she's back in high school.) And the hotel owner's sudden reenactment of the Civil War? And how the hell did Leo suddenly wake up from his invalid state with his full strength after weeks in a wheelchair and no solid food? And exactly how many "embodiments of evil" can you have in play at any one time? And seriously -- is James capable of more than one facial expression? And does Donna have any moods in between total calm and raving hysteria?
These are all questions I hope the remaining discs will answer for me.
Friday, September 14, 2007
(8:21 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Twin Peaks Season 2I confess that yesterday I bought a new set of pots and pans. The reason for this extravagance is that the scratched teflon pot that I use nearly every day started to smell like something was burning when I drained the pasta. I confess that I have probably been slowly poisoning myself, but I made sure to get stainless steel pots this time.
I confess that this week I experienced a major disappointment in my personal life, but then a major positive event in my professional life. I confess that I'm glad they came in that order.
I confess that doing an index is mind-numbing work, but sometimes one needs a numb mind.
I confess that I agree with John Holbo that we are in the golden age of TV. I confess that watching TV series (such as House, MD) on DVD is really the way to go. I confess that so far Netflix is going well and that I might want to upgrade to the three-disc plan. I confess that my queue is overloaded with pretensious foreign films, which apparently is a common malady of people who are first starting Netflix. I'm hoping that the House thing brings me back down to earth.
I confess that I'm going to get back to writing this weekend, and I'm looking forward to it.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
(9:52 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Rod Blagojevich: IdiotOur idiot governor is now generously "bailing out" the CTA by advancing it $24 million from next year's budget, in order to avert the "doomsday" scenario of fare hikes plus route cuts. This seems to be essentially the equivalent of getting a payday loan while job-hunting, then declaring victory.
The thing is, the only reason the situation has come to this point at all is that the governor has promised to veto the only realistic and sustainable plan put forward to fund transit -- a regional sales tax and real estate transfer tax increase. The reasoning? Taxes are involved. The bill to implement this plan passed with a substantial majority, but not a veto-proof majority.
So this effort to look like he's swooping in and saving the day while the legislature dicks around just makes me hate Blagojevich more and more. Maybe it will make legislators angry enough to pass the transit funding plan with a veto-proof majority, just as a fuck-you.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
(1:17 PM) | Brad:
Cunninglingual ConfessionsI hate talking about my dreams about as much as I hate hearing others talking about theirs. But sometimes exceptions must be made. Sometimes, the erotic and horrific and humorous all come together in a most perfectly sublime harmony. Last night's dream was an example of this. I offer the dream now without any commentary, filling in as few narrative gaps as possible.
For some reason, in some place, I've chanced upon a meeting with Hillary Clinton. Nothing formal, mind. We're just chatting. And, I'm surprised to learn, she is a cool lady. In my dream-world, there is a second female presidental candidate, and Hillary's disdain for her is harsh and hilarious. Sure, I deeply disagree with Hillary's political positions and proposed policies, and I tell her so, but I find myself enchanted by her raunchy sense of humor and quick wit.
At some point, after descending via a strange, circular elevator that spirals down a pole for no good reason, I find myself in a limousine with Hillary Clinton. Her cell phone rings. I find it odd that she hands it to me, but it is perhaps odder still that it seemed normal for me to answer it. On the other end is Bill Clinton. "Hey, Brad! It's me, Bill. Can you put Hillary on the phone?" How does he know my name? How does he know I'm with his wife? In a moment of slight paranoia, I get a sense that they've put together this elaborate rendezvous, using their connections and their power, and for a split second suspect I should be be frightened.
But .... the next thing I know I'm going down on Hillary Clinton. That's right, me, between her milky white thighs, slightly stubbled skin, blue skirt over my head. (Sadly, I cannot report on the gynecological conditions experienced, as my dream-perspective remained as though that of camera from the upper-right corner of the back seat; but for the sake of fun we'll just assume she's gone Brazilian.) Bizarre enough, I suppose. And yet, remember, Hillary is on the phone with Bill. What is she saying, I wonder? Is she talking politics, discussing dinner plans, etc.? No, in fact. She is talking dirty to him. Very very dirty.
And then, I woke up.
Monday, September 10, 2007
(8:17 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Richard DawkinsI hate that I am not this good at Tetris (via Unfogged -- the video is just as good without sound, for those watching from work):
I hate not knowing how to respond to this post at The Valve. The best I can say is that it may be funny in-itself, but not in-and-for-itself. It probably would've been better (on its own terms) if Mr. Roberts had done "totalitarianism" instead of "fascism."
I hate that the inevitable blowback of structured procrastination is the feeling that reading over 100 pages in a day is nonetheless "getting nothing done."
I hate that the CTA is cutting the Western Express bus, because getting to the Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village area on the local bus during the day takes forever. I also hate that the fare increase for Chicago Card users is so out of proportion to the overall fare increase -- it seems that they might've been able to save more routes if the fare increase had been more equitable. Nevertheless, I continue to hate it when people are constantly down on the CTA. It's definitely a flawed system, but the way some people over at the CTA Tattler talk, it's like the CTA exists solely to rape babies.
I continue to hate slow drains. I have mentioned this hatred many times, and I think that it may actually be the thing I hate most in the world. I need to conduct further study before committing to that, however.
I hate coin-operated laundry. I hate going to the bank to get a roll of quarters, because then it feels like I'm using "real money" for laundry, but I also hate the change-jar mentality of hoarding every piece of change I get. I hate it when I get down to the laundry room and find that I have somehow mistaken a nickel for a quarter -- it has only happened once, but it obviously made a huge impression on me.
I hate how mildewy our shower curtain has become. It is truly an abomination unto the Lord. I hate that I once considered putting it into the washing machine, not grasping the very obvious drawbacks of such an approach. I've also thought about summoning a priest as described in Leviticus. I hate that the NRSV has "leprous disease" in place of the more traditional "mildew," but I think it does make for a funnier passage. I love that God is so straightforward about the fact that He is the one striking the house with leprosy.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
(1:47 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Call for Abstracts: "Radiohead and Philosophy"Reader Brandon Forbes is attempting to put together an edited volume, and I am posting this announcement at his request:
Call for Abstracts – Radiohead And Philosophy: I’m A Reasonable Man, Get Off My Case
Greetings esteemed readers and contributors of The Weblog. I am currently in discussions with Open Court Press on editing a volume in their Popular Culture and Philosophy Series on Radiohead. The tentative title of the volume is listed above. The goal of the volume is to collect a selection of essays by fans of Radiohead who also happen to be critical thinkers engaged in philosophical work. I am especially interested in approaches to their music which reflects a continental sensibility. For instance, I am planning on contributing a chapter investigating OK Computer in light of the concept of alienation found in Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man and Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. Abstracts utilizing thinkers such as Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze, Zizek, Agamben, Badiou, and Ranciere in dialogue with Radiohead are to be preferred, but a good ole fashioned Plato vs. Radiohead would not be shunned either. Importantly, these essays will be targeting the cursory student of philosophy who first and foremost is a Radiohead fan, i.e. the armchair philosopher who can’t get enough of “Karma Police.” Thus, the tone of these chapters is decidedly NOT academic – jargon-filled discussions with secondary literature, for instance, will not fit in this book’s setting. Another way to look at this project is to see it as a way to introduce fans of Radiohead’s music to philosophical ideas that dialogue well with the band’s oeuvre. If you are interested in participating, I would recommend looking through The Beatles And Philosophy, Bob Dylan And Philosophy, The Grateful Dead and Philosophy, or Pink Floyd and Philosophy (forthcoming in October) to get an idea as to what kinds of essays have been published in this series before. Unlike most academic essay collections, Open Court’s Popular Culture and Philosophy series does offer the chance to receive compensation for contributing, so there is a definite possibility of receiving a monetary return for your effort. Plus, who doesn’t want to walk through Borders or Barnes & Noble and pull a book off the shelf in the philosophy section that you’re published in? Right now this is an open call for the next few months, but the sooner you send me your abstracts, the likelier the chance they will be included in the project. Please forward your proposed abstract and/or any questions to me at email@example.com.
(9:56 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Substantific MarrowJohn Emerson, one of the blogosphere's most dominating presences, has released a book entitled Substantific Marrow. (As the link will show, this book has already been extensively reviewed, but my hope is that my review will start a "second wave" of interest -- which was, indeed, my strategy all along.)
At this point, I have read nearly every essay in the book, and I can testify that this book is consistently entertaining, surprising, and informative. Emerson has a unique gift for uncovering oddball facts and a very readable style. The essays are generally short, making this collection suitable both for brief reading sessions (train rides, lunch breaks, etc.) and extended ones. My only complaint is the rather superficial one that he set the entire book in Arial -- but that's appropriate, given that it's a compilation of his website in book form.
Overall, you should buy the book.
Friday, September 07, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: A Shot in the ArmI confess that Bitch PhD has stolen the confessional concept. I confess that I never have anything "real" to confess because I don't interact with people often enough to have committed any notable sins.
I confess that I've been increasingly dreading this semester and have been more generally afflicted with angst and self-pity, and I just need to calm the fuck down. I confess that I may have seasonal affective disorder. I confess that maybe drinking more coffee wouldn't be that big a deal.
I confess that, on a visceral level at least, I don't actually care about the environment or factory farming. I confess that I'm not at all conscientious about recycling and that my token gesture toward animal rights is to mostly buy free-range eggs -- and I don't even buy eggs very much lately. I confess that my main issue with litter is the untidiness of it. I'm a fastidious person, so I pick up after myself. Apparently others don't.
I confess that I support expanding public transit mainly because driving stresses me out and because I object to traffic congestion and suburban sprawl on an aesthetic level.
I confess that I seem calm because I'm very easily riled up, and I seem detached because I'm really needy.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
(10:08 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
David PetraeusThe Wikipedia entry for the infallible oracle of Iraq contains an interesting anecdote:
As battalion commander of the Iron Rakkasans, he suffered one of the more dramatic incidents in his career when, in 1991, he was accidentally shot in the chest during a live-fire exercise when a soldier tripped and his rifle discharged. He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, where he was operated on by future Senator Bill Frist. The hospital released him early after he did fifty push ups without resting, just a few days after the accident.He's never seen combat duty, but rest assured: the guy is heroically committed to his administrative duties.
This kind of story would really help him in his world-historical presidential run -- and, incidentally, I would be totally in favor of him deciding to run as a third-party candidate. We really need a candidate out there whose entire platform is continuing an unpopular and hopeless war.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: Profound BoredomI hate the feeling that I'm just killing time until I can justify going to bed. I especially hate it when I have this feeling for multiple days in a row.
Monday, September 03, 2007
(12:20 AM) | Brad:
Weekend Jazz: Not Quite Dueling BanjosI'll cut to the chase with tonight's introductions. Four duets/duels, each with two masters of his craft.
On January 7, 1925, wishes were filled when Clarence Williams put Louis Armstrong & Sidney Bechet together and let them battle for musical supremacy. The result is the Red Onion Jazz Babies' "Cake Walking Babies From Home". It is generally agreed that this is one of the few times that anybody challenged (and perhaps bested) Armstrong in a cutting session. A second version was cut that day, under the band name Clarence Williams' Blue Five. You can listen to this faster version, often considered Armstrong's "revenge," here.
It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that bebop came into its own with our second song. Dizzy & Bird ... "Shaw 'Nuff".
In 1956, John Coltrane wasn't unknown, but he wasn't "John Coltrane" yet. In fact, for many he was that frustrating saxophonist in Miles Davis' Quintet. Fortunately, Sonny Rollins, along with Miles Davis, was always where the rest of the jazz world followed later. How else to explain the tremendous battle that is "Tenor Madness."
And last, the year is 1991. Picture a skinny white high school junior sporting an afro, large-framed glasses, and a "This is your brain ... This is your brain in hell" t-shirt. He is at home alone, listening to his latest prize, A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory. Ever since, he's never forgotten the lyrics to "Check the Rhime." 'Tip & Phife, not so much dueling as fusing. But, all the same, a thing to cherish.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
(8:47 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
War in IranOn 9/11, I was initially panicked that the US would use the attacks as a pretext for war. I opposed the Iraq War from day one. Now I am terrified by the prospect that our hated, corrupt, lawless president will start yet another war, this time in Iran -- even moreso given that the Democrats are so concerned about looking "tough" on this issue.
So far my record is at 100%. At this point, every sane person agrees with me that Iraq was a bad idea. But say what you will about how just and wonderful Afghanistan was -- it was an abject failure. Bin Laden is still at large, the country is still in ruins, the lovely Western-style democracy we so generously brought them is a farce. And yet, no matter how much "competence" was applied, the idea of starting a massive air war against one of the poorest countries in the world in response to a terrorist attack by non-state actors is fucking idiotic. Plus the Authoriztion to Use Military Force has provided the Bush administration with a loophole to claim omnipotence.
In every respect, it was a complete clusterfuck, yet it seems like virtually every American believes it was a just war. No -- in reality, it was meaningless violence perpetrated on some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and it was a blank check to an evil and bloodthirsty administration with nothing but contempt for law and democracy. So congratulations for being so realistic and clear-headed on that one, everyone out there.
And now "everyone admits" that Iran is seeking nukes and it would be the biggest fucking crisis in the world if they got them. Mainstream opinion has converged! Iran is "a threat," and the only question is whether to use "diplomacy" (which would presumably be run by people who fucking want a war) or "the military option." Well, let me just say that (a) it's not clear to me that they actually are seeking nuclear weapons and (b) it's especially not clear to me why it would be a world-historical problem if they had them. Obviously the fewer nuclear-armed countries, the better, but at the same time the only country ever to have actually used nuclear weapons is the United States. In this particular case, Iran having a nuclear deterrent could actually deter the US from doing something criminally insane, so it might even be a net positive. But at this pace, we'll never really know how that would've played out since they're five to ten years away from nuclear weapons anyway.
And surely when the smoke clears, we'll find that -- oops! -- turns out they weren't developing nukes after all! Stupid "everybody"! Better luck next time!
(8:02 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Parallax View (2006) and The Parallax View (1974)Last night I watched The Parallax View, a 1974 conspiracy thriller starring Warren Beatty and directed by Alan J. Pakula. My goal in doing so was, as noted Friday, to discern if Zizek's failure to mention this movie in his 2006 massive tome The Parallax View was an elaborate joke. My results were inconclusive.
Here is the plot: a senator is assassinated. The camera, but somehow none of the people present, can see that there was a second gunman and that the man who everyone assumes killed the senator never actually fired a shot. A government commission concludes that the killer was acting completely alone. Long-haired reporter Joseph Frady (Warren Beatty)'s ex-girlfriend (or something) was among those present for the assassination and notices that many of the others who were also there have died in mysterious accidents; when she dies, too, Frady is on the case. He visits a hick town and is almost killed in the course of investigating the death of a judge who witnessed the assassination, but discovers materials in the small-town sherriff's house relating to a "Parallax Corporation," which apparently trains assassins. He figures out how to answer the questions on their entrance exams so as to indicate homicidal tendencies. There's some kind of boating accident involving a character whose role was unclear to me (the whole thing is pretty compressed), in which Frady is presumed dead. After his "death," he decides to try to join up with Parallax, and part of his training involves watching a montage of disturbing images:
To make a long story short, Frady really thinks he's playing these conspiracy people for fools, but it turns out that they were planning to frame him for the assassination of another senator, and the commission ultimately decides that Frady acted alone and was motivated by his paranoid obsession with the "fake" conspiracy in the previous senator's death. (IRONY!) It's fairly clear that he's being naive -- for instance, his handler tells him that something in his (pseudonymous) past doesn't check out, and so Frady just changes the last name of his pseudonym and comes up with another stupid story out of thin air, yet his handler never questions his identity again.
This last part is the key Zizekian theme of the movie: Frady doesn't realize that his "gaze" is included in the situation in advance and so is not being a good dialectical materialist. His lack of success in his attempt to uncover the conspiracy can thus be blamed on his lack of theoretical rigor. Other themes: Frady is operating "between the two deaths" (he is presumed dead and actually has an obituary printed, etc., meaning that he's "symbolically" dead); he acts as a kind of "vanishing mediator," discrediting "conspiracy theorists" while advancing the actual conspiracy.
That's all I was able to come up with, really -- at least in terms of the plot. Further analysis of the montage seems like it might be more productive in this respect. An unrelated note: Has anyone ever noticed that apparently every actor in the 70s mumbled their lines?