maybe i should have explained some of the reasons why i like the robbery-and-parachute/d.b. cooper scenario for flight 370 (still do). well they turned the plane intentionally, and i think they cut communications right at the intersection between malaysian and vietnamese airspace. maybe the pilot was simulating extremely precise routing back over the peninsula in order to make a jump, though obviously such a thing can't be non-life-threatening. surely if it was terrorism we'd have heard something from a perpetrating group or even a posthumous message from the terrorist: if that's the point, you want people to know who did it. a hijacking is a super-theatrical event; this wan't that. so we're down to mechanical failure and this robbery notion, and i think the latter does better with the bizarre flight plan, weird communication darkness, etc. admittedly they all seem unlikely. so then i'd wonder if there was some valuable item that was regularly transported on this flight, so that the pilot might know it in advance, or suspect that the thing was sponsored by someone who knew well in advance that this item would be on board. right so why am i writing this? dunno really.
“Clapper lied in the name of security, Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy,” Paul said, adding that the intelligence director “should be tried for perjury" (ruth marcus this morning). it is, i say, astonishing and encouraging that such a person is a united states senator. and again, i predict a scandal around him in the next few weeks, lobbed to fox by clapper &co. he is saying this about people who have all his communications for the last decade. guts, son. if he and everyone around him is clean, which would make them very unusual humans, then i'd worry about debilitating illness or extremely non-foul-play death. or they'll send squads of agency hookers with webcams, etc., for they have sworn a scared oath to protect the american people!
back to my rummaging among lp's, in revival on a new turntable. i was a completist on the stones through the 90s; i bought everything. i really love the early albums. actually i really...like the early beatles albums too; it's only later that they slipped into mind-numbing hooha. in the comparison, the beatles circa, say '64, are a much more competent band, but the stones had an incomparable energy.
jagger isn't a great soul singer, like don covay or whomever it may be, but there's something amazingly present and compelling about his voice and approach: it cuts through the recording quality: quite the little knife. the recordings have an immediacy that sounds great from here, especialy on vinyl, enhanced by their particular kind of quasi-competent roughness. the boys were punks in the then-contemporary acceptation of the term, and it would also not be wrong to think of their first few records as proto-punk in the later meaning of 'punk'.
despite the gigantic hugeness of the stones, these recordings are a bit lost; they've been re-processed and selected on greatest hits packages (starting with hot rocks) so many times that the overall effect and many great songs have been kind of misplaced.
england's newest hitmakers: the rolling stones is quite barely-competent, which has its charms, but also does not quite make it. so let's start with 12x5 (1964). it's covers of r&b, r 'n r, and soul songs, with three originals ("good times, bad times", "grown up wrong", and "congradulations", which really is mis-spelled on the album cover). those aren't the best moments, though they hold up relatively well. jagger's limitations show as he struggles through "under the boardwalk", for example. it leads off with chuck berry's "around and around", which the stones used as an early signature. the guitars show exactly how you get from the 50s to "satisfaction", and the remarkable liveness of jagger is matched by the super-presence of richard's rhythm guitar. jagger plays a fair amount of harp on the album, and plays it fairly well, again with ineffable compelling presence.
up and down, but also a coherent suite and sound, lost when one listens to selected cuts on mp3's. the two cuts that get picked out for play most often are "time is on my side" (by jerry ragavoy; the stones heard it in the irma thomas version) and the bobby womack thing "it's all over now". the former is one of my favorite moments in the history of recorded music.
the rolling stones, now! (1964) is the first album of any sort i really really loved (though i was introduced to it later, being 7 when it was released, by my bro jim). i think they hit a perfect point here: they'd cleaned up a bit and gotten more competent as performers and writers, but they had not lost the slighly shambolic quality that signified reality and distinguished them from the cutesiness of the beatles. i still have jim's copy: disintegrating cover and a massively scumbled up surface. i think it's one of the best ten albums of the rock era (and i'm going to make sticky fingers #1). oh man the covers kill: "down home girl", e.g., or "mona" (the bo diddley tune). but now, just a few months later, it's the originals that really lay waste to the terrain, and they stack up extremely well to the jerry butler and the solomon burke. "heart of stone" and "surprise, surprise", for example, could be soul classics if we counted white folks as soul artists then.
and then out of our heads, and again the cover/original mix. and we can leave it there, because now they crystallize into what they became: the very definition of rock: "satisfaction". still they're working directly and with complete comprehension in the black american tradition, as on blow-away construals of "that's how strong my love is" (the great o.v. wright) or "play with fire".
msnbc's approach this morning: breaking news! day 14! the search for 370 continues...ps after a half hour we'll get to 'russia masses troops on its western border'. they've turned cnn into the southern indian ocean: an infinite expanse of nothingness, with some little bits of debris. it's a devastating indictment of their editorial meetings.
one thing about a hierarchical organization based on coercion, incorporating an ethic of obedience, such as a military: it's a rape factory, more or less by definition. if people didn't want other people to be raped - or indeed to rape &/v be raped themselves - they wouldn't tolerate this sort of organization.
I published this piece yesterday over at Veterans Today and at The Defeatists. While I get more readers at Veterans Today, the software doesn't allow for music to be openly displayed which means the pieces lose some integrity; more than that, a lot of the comments I get there are really out to lunch.
My last post about Paul Ryan the Gombeen Man got a lot of interesting responses...and then the Irish guy made it all about him and was upset because I didn't get it that the IRA bombing campaigns were bad for Ireland. He also blamed the Famine on the Catholic Church and the dumb Irish peasants who had too many babies causing the land to be exhausted. Politely told him to feck off, as they say, and tell the folks in Connemara or in any pub in Dublin about his great theories...anyway, this is about the Crimea.
I've been searching for a metaphor, and the one that historical orientation past, present, future might go a long way toward explaining the disconnect between the Russian Federation and the rest of the world...In struggling for my own metaphor, I had thought that Barrack Obama is a digital guy dealing with a digital universe and Putin, the Tea Party, and so on analog guys dealing with reality as an analog creation. TMind over matter, you don't mind, it don't matter. In Putin world, what we can do doesn't matter because he doesn't care. Frankly, the cited article in The Guardian really added so clarity and the KAL cartoon also made a big difference.
while everyone is speculating, i'll pitch in on flight 370: it's a d.b. cooper scenario, baby. enrich and ditch, then let the plane fly on into mysterious immortality. so i'd wonder if there was something extremely valuable on that plane, and look for them hopping out as they came back over the peninsula. now as to whether you can jump out of a 777: dunno!
so apparently rand is going to remark this evening that it is not clear who is running the government of the united states. it is a united states senator, hinting at the awful truth: intelligence coup. the brennan-feinstein conflagration is where this pinches immediately on the senate. got a little prediction for you, though. in the next few weeks, some sort of scandal will bloom around rand paul. if it does, here is the likeliest etiology: leaked by intelligence sources through several insulating layers to rachel maddow or chris hayes. they're going to want msnbc doing to him what it did to christie: day after day of relentless coverage. or honestly, fox is almost as hostile, and that's where you'd want to destroy him for the republican nomination. they will want him to understand who did it, so they will convey their own responsibility one way or another.
so here's an argument that one might hear at some point from putin, which i feel even angela merkel might receive with a certain sympathy: the greatest threat of totalitarianism, everywhere in the world, is presented by the government of the united states. the government of the united states is engaged in a new imperialism on a new terrain. these are capacities that should be interpreted by everyone, starting with the citizens of the united states, as presenting an extreme threat: i want you to really think about the access to power that this world-wide surveillance/control provides. any country in the world can and should represent this thing as an invasion of sovereignty. the blackmail possibilities alone - on ceo's, political leaders (including the domestic congress and supreme court), military people - are crushing. they have all the passwords, hence access to infrastructure systems, missile systems, everyone's accounts, etc. in this light, that putin has sheltered snowden makes him plausibly a brave fighter for freedom in the face of an emerging world totalitarian state. this is, putting mildly, ironic.
Put up a lengthy new piece over at The Defeatists...some good stuff in it. Tim Eagan wrote a great column this weekend on what a debased slug and hypocritical slime Paul Ryan is and why so extracts and links plus Bob Geldorf swearing at the monied establishment in Europe and the US.
Basically, Paul Ryan's appeal to the racist right with his use of the "poverty-entitlement-safety net qua cushion" is the same argument that cost Ireland 3 million people I70 years ago. It was a bad argument then, and it's worse now.
i will be on the al-jazeera english show "the stream" live at 3:30, talking with a cool panel about contemporary anarchism. now, al-jazeera english is not al-jazeera america, nor is the stream on aja the same as the stream on aje. and plus aje is "geo-blocked" in the states. one might be able to access it here, and maybe i'll be able to post a link to the video at some point.
there seems to be a gender oscillation in country music: 2013 was women, now the whole chart is dudes. i liked the female phase better. country music by boys is pitifully formulaic and predictable right now, for one thing in the lyric themes: if it's not her amazing ass in those tight jeans, the glory that is beer, and country boys and girls getting down down by the river, it's not saleable. unlike conway, though, these guys wear tighter jeans than "she" does. it's beginning to seem like they have computers in nashville generating lyrics in a mix-and-match process. the reductio ad absurdum is the oeuvre of the repellant luke bryan, and specifically the recent #1 hit "drink a beer", which, unbelievably, is supposed to be a highly evocatve tear-jerker. no matter how much one loves country music, the thought intrudes that maybe the whole thing was a terrible mistake, if this is where it led.
oy the emotion! the beeyar!
so all the guys below often work within the pop country cliches, some to better effect than others.
first eric church. i have liked him on and off; among other things i have been a bit obsessed by the perverse gospel love song "like jesus does". however, the outsiders rings false to me; i do not believe the countrier-than-thou redneckesque persona, and even though i can see some of the moves, like working into a zztopy hard blues rock on the title cut, i don't find the whole thing very interesting or convincing. sometimes a dude is out there trying too hard to be a badass to really work on the melodies. his dark side has a dark side, see. something like "that's damn rock 'n roll" is just silly. well, i do ultimately like the voice, especially when it quiets down a bit. like i'll take "a man who was gonna die young".
alright now we go to a pair, working in something like the same style (as one another): dierks bentley and david nail. these are rather odd names, i admit. they are traditional in themes and song structure, but the emphasis is definitely not fiddle and pedal steel; they create a smooth, mid-tempo overall effect in which it is somewhat difficult to recall one song rather than another. but the songwriting at its best in both cases is good. i do think bentley's "i hold on" is a thing they'll be constantly refinding on country stations for the next twenty years. but it's also the best song on riser. the album's consistently pretty good, though.
nail's #1 "whatever she's got" hits all the themes mentioned above like they are, um, roofing tacks. now, on the other hand, i heard it a couple of times on the radio and then found myself whistling it around the house, bellowing it in the shower, etc. so you can do even this if you do it in an extremely hooked-up way. i do like i'm a fire (er) best of these three. there are number of good songs, notably "broke my heart", and nail often deploys very simple three or five-note figures that are memorable, a contribution to the country arsenal. as the album goes on, he favors a constant harmony with a female voice, including lee ann womack on a fine cover of "galveston".
let me say this about the mood-ring girl who's never the same, makes her mind up just to change it, keeps you waiting around while she paints her toenails bright red, and do's whatever she wants etc: (a) she better be really really pretty, and (b) even if she is, it's going to wear off pretty quick.
that dianne feinstein is issuing broadsides against cia hacking is truly remarkable. no member of the senate has been as enthusiastic for secrecy, surveillance, and in general the national security state. for god's sake she had better let this make her think again about the whole kit and kaboodle, for this is happening to all of us. one thing i would certainly infer from the clarity and directness of feinstein's attack: she is clean: no affairs, addiction, tax evasion, significant campaign finance violations, delinquent children, embarassing internet searches or diseases. otherwise she would have been silenced. the idea that the intelligence services (or, as i prefer to think of them, syndicates) are subject to the oversight of anything or anyone is obviously ridiculous. they are the overseers.
republicans have condemned the all-night climate-change yapyap in the senate as "political theater". but what's cool about it is that it's avant-garde political theater, a step beyond the autistic drama of artaud; it's like beckett, though with less I-the-Genius hooey: theater without an audience, or indeed theater to which it would be impossible for anyone to pay attention. it's both the culmination and the annihilation of the very idea of theater. the blankness, the sheer repetition, the vitiated collective rhetoric, the automatism: it is both an example and, implicitly, a critique, of the postpostmodern era, a perfect correlate of these, the last days. the charcters are postpersons, not really distinguishable qua moral agents from their podium. really, a devastating portrayal and a profound critique of this era when even airliners, like ratiocination, disappear into an interdimensional wormhole.
i define 'terrorism' as military-style action directed primarily at non-combatants. by that standard, both allied and axis "strategic" bombing campaigns in ww2, culminating in dropping atomic bombs on japan, constituted terrorism on an extreme scale. (just for the hell of it, with regard to the approach of monuments men, it would be worth thinking about the great works of art and cultural treasures of various sorts that were destroyed by allied bombing, such as dresden. i think the total would be far more than the germans stole.) one theory that would fully justify such action would, believe it or not, be basic statism: hobbes leviathan, for example, or rousseau general will: the state is really all of us as a single individual: we all have one will, etc etc. why are you paying taxes, whether for food stamps or stealth bombers? because you're paying taxes to all of us together, because we're all in this together. well then if you're at war with 'germany' the average peasant woman who just wants to forget about politics and war is as legitimate a target as goering; indeed they are the very same person. if you feel that 'america' is messing up your region or your religion, you should kill any american you can: your flying airplanes into skyscrapers is as valid as your complaint against the 'nation'. if you're in a total war with 'japan', then your goal is kill japan, i.e. on this excruciatingly wrong theory absolutely every japanese person qua single agent. and it's not just nationalism/statism, but collective consciousness: oh what shall we do about 'the jew'? 'the jew' is all the jews as a single person. oh well, annihilate them all, no matter the differences and distances, no matter how irrelevant to any actual grievances a particular cell in the giant jew organism is. what shall we do about the negro? here's an individual: the bourgeosie: liquidate that individual. you should think about this every single time you effortlessly deploy any collective, group, or national identity.
i watched a bunch of the last day of cpac. now i want to consider this "nuanced analysis", attributed by dan balz to henry olsen, who distinguishes four factions of the republican party: somewhat conservative, very conservative, moderates, and liberals. i say this is a perfect example of what i call "spectrum blindness": you can't see anything about anything if it has to fall on the left-right spectrum. so, rand paul, who killed the straw poll, is a severe peacenik, screamingly anti-nsa, and more or less sympathetic to gay marriage and marijuana legalization. but he's anti-welfare-state in a big way, and will start by savaging government spending. sarah palin who finished the whole thing up with a masterful if substanceless stand-up routine howled small government throughout, except for the part where she was extremely about increasing military and intelligence spending. rather a silly juxtaposition. there was a lot of anti-immigrant talk, and jesus and "pro-family" (=anti-gay) stuff came from a number of speakers. then you have heldover bushy national-security state pure huge gov hawks. now when you try to range these extremely incompatible positions by which is very and which is somewhat conservative it obviously makes no sense, and these factions are more incompatible with one another than with the obama they all hate. so, you've got to go: libertarians; neo-cons or military-security hawks; religious/social reactionairies; and chimerae such as palin. it's amazing that people can keep going 'sorta right, right, very right' when it just obviously has nothing to do with reality. who's further right: palin or paul? dan balz has no more idea than anyone else, really.
While I might have a lot to say about the Defense proposal which has already been overtaken by events, or the invasion of Ukraine which has really been unfolding since Boris Gudonov's defeat of the Tartars and the beginning of the Russian state, I decided to look at things through something I kind of understand...and Gettysburg is a great example of how badly things can go...and serves well as a metaphor for things could have been better, could have been worse but ultimately, wouldn't change a lot.
while people lob little hitlers at each other and casually call one another fascists, try this thought experiment: quick, without looking something up, sketch out the basic positions of fascism. oops you don't know what it means. now look it up, guess what, you still don't know what it means. as a real historical political ideology it was just a grab-bag of random elements, completely incoherent, and at this point it has no more content than "asshole" or whatever. ok ok! i've done it too.
of all institutions, both among those that are and among those that are not, i am least impressed by "international law". i quote peter simons' review of tim crane's the objects of thought (tls, february 28): "But Crane, in line with both common sense and Husserl, denies that there really are any non-existent objects." a controversial position indeed! and yet perhaps illustrated by this case.
so now the line is that putin is "crazy", a "wild card", a "loose cannon", "out of touch with reality" and so on. amazing how the media will just mirror the crap officials are spouting, just as though they are incapable of thought. maybe it's all part of the attempt to scribble a little hitler mustache on the man. it's ridiculous, and i also don't see strategically how it's part of a sensible approach. for one thing, it keeps up the idea of extremely underestimating putin, which i feel might, in retrospect, not be seen as having been the best approach.
in fact, putin's finding fascists everywhere too, while people ask whether it's the cold war again, etc etc. i think one should respond to the facts on the ground now, not mount fantastic recapitulations of the ideological idiocies of times gone by.
meanwhile, hillary, zbig and many others are using hitler in the 30s to understand putin now, or rather to pursue some propaganda aim that is rather hard to fathom. surely the only possible idea in going all hitler/appeasement is to mobilize europe for war. is that your idea? because if not what you're saying is idiotic. now, it's easy to think that if you want to deal with the present you have to know the past, if you forget it you'll repeat it, you have to learn the lessons of history, and a dozen other cliches. but really history blinds as much as it reveals: some dude on al jazeera was saying putin's stuck in the 30s, but he was himself just doing that 30s hitler thing. people pull out things like 'sudentenland' first of all to establish their credibilitty by bewildering non-historians, and second to have various manipulative propaganda effects. you think if you place what's happening now in 1937 or 1856 you'll understand it. no, you'll just be talking about 1937, and not even that. you'll blind yourself to what is happening in the unique now. you want a slot to stick it in, no matter how badly it fits: you're trying to understand what's happening now a priori without engaging it at all. it's all ideological blinders; it's all digression, distraction, misdirection.
kerry says that putin is engaged in a 19th century act. obama says that putin is on the wrong side of history. many's the time i've said this: this is a completely ridiculous structure of thought. history has no particular goal, and if it did it would not be the contemporary welfare mega-state or however obama of hollande envision it. no, you can't turn time around and commit nineteenth century acts. really the complete conceptual impossibility and anti-empirical a priori horseshit of this basic stance has got to go. if obama is sure that he knows the direction of history, which is for the world to become whatever he thinks it should become, this would be described in other contexts as psychotic. time runs in one direction at one pace and history, as far as we can tell, could end up anywhere or nowhere at all.