MSU to fascist: shut up!

Britain always has a ready inventory of neo-Nazis, skinheads, and Cromwellists, and recently one of them made a trip across the pond to share his hate and stupidity with kindred spirits in American campus conservatism. It’s good to see my undergraduate alma mater, Michigan State University, taking a stand against him, with numerous student activists shouting him down and telling him he’s not welcome.

Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo saw a very nasty reception when he made the mistake of visiting last December. Well done, I say–racist morons should learn to stay out of Spartan country.

Trance Tuesday: not every Tuesday


I really want to figure out how to make the right production mix to craft classic female leads for vocal trance music. Anyway I’m convinced there’s a formula that has to do with creating a husky, sensual echo sound that must involve multiple vocal tracks in layers.

Well one of the world’s foremost practitioners of trance at the moment, Gareth Emery, mixes a song that he used in a previous mix but lets the whole vocal track play through, unlike in the previous mix. The effect is a totally new understanding of the song’s meaning. Trance, at its best, is like that–equivocal but always intriguing.

Gareth Emery has a podcast that has become my favorite source of new trance music. Too much time is occasionally used for unenthused reading of listener emails, but most of it is good music.

Not that there’s much competition. It’s too bad Trance Tuesday, a more techie style trance podcast from San Francisco, only comes out every few months now. Certainly 2007 is not a high point for trance music, but it is a high point for Gareth Emery, whose podcast #40 exceeded expectations with an excellent hour-long mix set.

Other trance acts worth checking out right now include quirky Danish psy-trance outfit Flowjob and the always-brilliant work of Sander Kleinenberg, Paul van Dyk and Deadmau5 and Fine Taste.

Passed out drunk guy on ground

passed out guy

Don’t worry though–one minute the guy was flat on the ground, but a few moments later he was getting into a cab that I helped him to hail and heading down 7th Avenue toward Clement, muttering something about Garcia Street. He was probably just a little drunk, I don’t really know.

I was riding along Geary Boulevard on my bike late Saturday night-Sunday morning and the Inner Richmond bar scene was just about spewing out its leavings for the night. The two guys looking at him in the picture didn’t seem as interested in helping the guy a few seconds later when they saw I was using my camera phone. Too bad for them, though. They were in a public place and this photo is my property–their whines of “erase it” went unanswered.

Podcast 7

The podcast #7 comes to you directly from Haight Street and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Take a slightly psychedelic trip through this hipster mecca–the scene just forty years ago of the famous summer of love. [MPEG video; Webshots video] And as you just might hear me say over the din on the street during the podcast, thanks to everyone that has supported the site or downloaded the podcasts! Podcast #7

John Edwards's lackluster reply–from a January letter

I just received a response in the mail from John Edwards, who apparently signs his signature with a big black marker, about a January letter.

All that time for his staff to think about it didn’t really seem to help, in terms of addressing my actual concerns.  I mentioned the letter previously in an endorsement of Barack Obama [bookmarks],and it certainly wasn’t focused on Iraq [bookmarks,category] as the reply from the Edwards camp acted like.  In fact, in the letter that I wrote I was deriding the renewed bellicosity of John Edwards toward Iran [bookmarks,article] and arguing for less military adventures overseas.

This excerpt from the Edwards form letter I received just about sums up why he is not listening:

‘After withdrawal, we should keep sufficient forces in the region to contain the conflict and ensure that instability in Iraq does not spill over into other countries.’

First of all, the whole point of “withdrawal” is to get out.  “After withdrawal,” maybe it will be time to run our own country and leave this kind of violent aggression in the past?

Second of all, the whole point of the Iraq invasion according to some versions of the neoconservative master plan was that the “creative destruction” of Iraqi democracy would spread to the sullen dictatorships in the area and create a popular movement for change.  Instead it has uncorked the kind of madness that makes those stodgy old regimes look like a less bad solution than previously–including to their own people.  Indeed, governments in Syria and Jordan prize nothing higher than stability, and are worried about the American-caused instability spilling over onto their regimes.

Is it that Edwards and his campaign team just don’t get that, and are just stumbling along believing that something can be salvaged from the failed wars of the Bush administration [bookmarks]?  Or are they forgetting the lessons of Iraq and falling back into the war-loving, war-profiteering consensus that exists among most powerful members of the major political parties and the major media, popular will be damned?

I respect John Edwards and his wife and despise the nasty insults that vile popular conservative commentators have lobbed at them.  But Mr. Edwards certainly peaked politically four years ago and times have changed; it’s time to time to back Obama (unless he gets any squishier about Iraq, Iran and the so-called war on terror) against Hillary in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and election [bookmarks].

Review: The Simpsons Movie

Dan's Simpsons Avatar
It’s hard to believe, but some people don’t actually watch the Simpsons on TV and DVD or whatever, so if you are among that group don’t take my recommendation to see the Simpsons movie. It is filled with references, both concrete and abstract, to characters and incidents and even this review probably presumes a close knowledge of the classic series.

But if you understand this to be, as Lisa once said in an episode about the “Itchy and Scrathy Movie,” “the defining event of our generation,” then you will enjoy the numerous references to all sorts of Simpsons characters and plots of years past, cleverly woven together in a story that may get a bit syrupy and slow at parts [Marge and Homer’s marriage drama is a bit slow..] but offers so many new jokes and clever angles (Martin multiplying his force with a simple wooden board and taking his rage out on the bullies, Bart’s sudden taste for Jack Daniels, the customary stab at Disney, the NSA’s spying program, and other stuff) that it’s definitely worth seeing–and I don’t think I’d seen a movie in a theater for a year before seeing it today.

The satire is just a bit more over the top and visceral in the movie theater–and still the film seemed to have a much closer connection to reality than the show does, in terms of the random themes and characters–over the top socio-political satire and farce, with a much needed reference to Alaska’s reverse income tax from oil drilling funds.

Most of the elements are familiar, with (mercifully) only a rare new character introduced here and there, so the only thing really lacking for me was the close involvement of the Springfield community as key components of the plot–aside from Lenny and his part in setting the crisis in motion with his call to Homer and the obligatory mob scene. Classic old episodes revolved around town’s issues, but that is less true in the later seasons and anyway it might be hard to get the scope needed from a movie with a simple Springfield plot. Most of the story revolves around large-scale events that even involve (still-unconstitutional-for-now) President Schwarzenegger–so in that sense the movie is basically a large-screen, long-form episode fitting more into the later seasons of the show than the earlier ones.

It was quite entertaining–and in my opinion a sequel centering on Mr. Burns would be a good next project.

News from Afghanistan–that little-noticed disaster

An AP article (via reports some, well, pretty messed stuff about the shooting death of former NFL star in the Afghan backcountry.  It turns out fragging may be the cause:

‘Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.’

It appears that they’re fighting themselves over there so they don’t have to fight each other over here.

The Taliban were nowhere to be found.  No enemy bullets were found anywhere near.

Iraq and Afganistan are both going terribly, and have been for a while.  Time to withdraw from both and leave all this pointless killing behind.