Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Chalk One Up for the Good Guys
Scotland Yard managed to stop a plot to blow up civilian airliners.
And in other news, Robin Williams’ problems with alcohol is, somehow, an international concern. For some reason.
Vincent Carroll on Petroleumless British Petroleum and Petroleum Rich Alaska Oil Fields
Today’s Rocky has an editorial by Vincent Carroll that made me smile. That’s a tough job when I’m back up after just a few hours of sleep, facing another long day at the office, and wondering how to get my freelance clients to actually pay me without burning any bridges for the future. It’s also tough when dealing with a subject as irritating as oil production and the continued idiotic prices paid for the stuff in global markets (leading to, unsurprisingly, higher prices paid by me when filling up my little Mazda).
I figured that if it worked for me, it might be worth sharing.
Admittedly, that isn’t funny in itself, but the turn of phrase makes me smile.
I like words.
What is so funny about that? The idea that the opponents of ANWR drilling are paying the same as me at the pump and a goodly number of them are screaming for BP blood right now because, well, these prices are getting to be painfully high. I wonder how many of them have changed their minds about small footprint, limited drilling in the flat, desolate, mud puddle that is the portion of ANWR that would be open to oil production?
Which, come to think of it, maybe there isn’t anything funny about this stuff at all…
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Lanny Davis Discovers Something BIG
Don’t get me wrong: he has every reason to be appalled by the behavior of the anti-Joe left, but he couches the first part of his article in a kind of sanctimony that rankles. There have always been hateful, mean-spirited people on both sides of the debate. No political party owns righteousness, and no party ever will. It kind of gets down to my driving-in-traffic view of the world: I’m just as likely to be cut off on the highway by an arrogant, SUV-driving NRA member as I am by a latte-sipping, Volvo-driving PETA member. Once you accept that parties are made up of people who aren’t just you with different faces, you have to realize that your party probably contains a jerk or two--that political similarities don’t automatically bestow goodness on individuals.
So, yeah, it seems a little late in life to learn that lesson, but here’s to Lanny and down with the Joe-haters. Watching the netroots mobilize against Lieberman has been quite a spectacle, and watching them rip into their own has been mind boggling. The netroots are a vicious little group of people.
And, for the record, I am looking forward to reading his book, Scandal: How ‘Gotcha’ Politics Is Destroying America. I yelled a little about “gotcha” moments quite a while back and I’m looking forward to reading what he has to say on the subject.
Monday, August 07, 2006
On MTV and Race (Updated)
Is this a reliable snapshot of contemporary black culture in America?
There is more than a little bit of truth to this article by Stanley Crouch (linked today by Drudge). For a world wide audience, the image of black culture in the United States has been reduced to that of thugs, drugs, and sex--and the odd part is that so much of the world seems to have accepted that as a good thing.
Glorifying the violent, nihilistic edge of rappers and then deifying those slain in the most idiotic of gang clashes had the perverse effect of holding up some of the most unworthy voices as speakers for an entire culture. Popularized gang culture isn’t the total of black existence nor is it a guiding light for kids; but the look and attitude spread through movies, sports, and American pop culture far beyond black communities. Instead of celebrating the best of a people, the popular image of black culture as portrayed by MTV gave us some of the most base and disturbing parts of our culture in a larger sense (because drugs, promiscuity, and criminal behavior hardly belong to a skin tone) and presented it as the ultimate, authentic black experience. Then they dared us to want the experience for ourselves.
Worse, it joined in with football and basketball as a sort of underclass lottery. Kids in bad neighborhoods who idolize the thugs--the musicians, sports figures, and actors who “keep it real” by adhering to a dogma of violence, dishonor, and debauchery--want to find their own path to riches and self-worth in the same lamentable actions. That hard work, devotion, and education are more reliable avenues to fulfillment on almost every personal level.
This is hardly new, though. America has always liked outlaws. Rock and roll has always glorified sex and drugs; heavy metal gave us a kind of Dungeons & Dragons version of the occult to go with the usual revelry. Our popular movies have a history of celebrating old West outlaws, prohibition era mafia families. Given that, it’s no wonder that some artists wonder why it seems like such a big deal; why does rap music takes so much criticism for what seems like an extension of fairly normal American culture?
I would argue that the first and biggest sin of rap music is that the image was so big and so persistent that it drowned out any other view of black culture. While we like our outlaws--think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--we also acknowledged that they were aberrations. Rap music, though, defined the “real” black, American experience as being that which was portrayed in the videos and the lyrics. You might as well say that the totality of white culture in America mirrors the experience of a New York liberal--the reality of the American experience, regardless of color, is a much more complex thing.
Not that I completely blame the artists: they’re just making a living. But the minstrel accusation seems apt to me. Selling out dignity, decency, and the rest of black culture for the cash in some adolescent, suburban, white wannabe’s pocket does sound dangerously close to doing the old shuffle from my point of view. For my money, I’ll take the powerful social and political statements of Marvin Gaye. It doesn’t hurt that the level of talent is a little higher, too.
I believe that there is much more to black culture and contribution in our shared society than you’ll find in the words of someone like 50 Cent. It’s a shame that the view of black Americans championed by MTV might lead you to believe that I’m wrong.
Update: Kindly linked by my friend, Trench.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
A Rapture Just Waiting to Happen
If you’ve been worrying about the state of your soul and wondering how long you have to go before Jesus turns on the big Redivac in the sky, I present to you the answer to half of your questions. I call it the Rapture-ometer and I declare it wickedly odd. Click through to see just how close we might be to the end times.
Eschatology has never been so quantified.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Wow. Color Me Impressed.
I’m quite touched.
Update: And, in a conversational speed bump, I would like to note that I’m starting to believe that Castro is either dead or extremely ill. I find it odd that the Cuban government is making lots of “he’s feeling wonderful” kind of talk, but there hasn’t been a recorded message or picture taken of him that I’ve seen. I believe that the government is consolidating power behind the new leader before telling the world that Castro has either died or been incapacitated by infirmity.
Of course, that’s treading dangerously close to a conspiracy theorist’s shiny foil hate, I suppose, and I won’t be shocked if I find out that I’m wrong. But the situation does have sort of an odd feeling to it.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
President Bush Answers the Call of the Zomby
In my last post I pondered America’s involvement in helping Cuba find a path to freedom should Castro die. Apparently, President Bush wanted me to know that he has a plan in place. Which is, of course, why he chose a Spanish language radio station to discuss the issue.
I have no idea what Castro’s health situation is, but there is a giddiness in the air at the thought of his passing.
Update: Elephants in Academia (great name for a site, it should be noted) goes looking for reactions from the left. I try not to say bad things about TalkLeft because I respect the help she’s given a friend who is most certainly in need, but the reaction on her site made my eyes roll back with such force that it took three violent co-workers and a plunger to get me seeing straight again.
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