31 October, 2007
30 October, 2007
On beer and philosophy
Oh, who the hell am I kidding. On beer.
Tonight, we were served a beer from a Canadian brewery that billed itself as a Coloradan-style pale ale. For the uninitiated, Coloradan style apparently equals "tastes like Fat Tire Ale", and Fat Tire Ale tastes like dirty socks.
To be fair, the New Belgium brewery does have some good beers, but to bill Fat Tire as a Belgium-inspired brew is a grave disservice. And now to discover that Fat Tire is the template for a particular style of beer - well, let's just say I'll be avoiding Coloradan-style ales from here on out. Socks. Yuck.
On the plus side, I had two pints of Bell's 8000 batch this evening, modeled on a Belgian style wietbier, but a little hopped up and with a hefty 9% ABV. This beer was absolutely true to its billing (and I'd have a hard time describing Belgian style to anyone, but I know it when I taste it - think Chimay). I've never known a Bell's brew to go wrong, but this one was truly outstanding.
Labels: Flotsam and Jetsam
29 October, 2007
GTFF-ateer done good
Did you feel the rumble?
That's because last week America's colleges were rocked, rocked! by the biggest conservative protests ever! David Horowitz unleashed Islamo-Rastafarianism Awareness Week upon unsuspecting coeds, revealing the insidious plot hatched by dreadlocked jihadis hellbent on destroying America by subjecting us to endless playbacks of Exodus and enveloping us in a haze of sweet, sweet ganja smoke.
What's that? Islamo-fascism you say? Whatever. My point remains. Rocked.
While campuses dig out from the ivy-covered rubble, here's a few highlights you may have missed:
- Did you know that IFAW was actually just another lame attempt by Horowitz to gain some media exposure? It's true!
"I'm a prominent conservative but no one is inviting me to speak at their campuses," Horowitz said in an interview with The Hatchet. "I had to create an event."The real reason Horowitz isn't invited to speak on campus is because freakshows play better at the circus midway - or on the quad, for that matter - than in the lecture hall.
- One group wasn't content to just listen to the battle cry of "Fascist!" being lobbed by partisans on both sides of the ideological spectrum. No, the Young America's Foundation at Michigan State University did them one better and invited a real live, honest-to-god fascist, British National Party chief Nick Griffin, to address the campus about Islam! When one of America's premier Islamophobic websites mentioned that maybe, just maybe, this wasn't the best choice of speakers, the head of YAF-MSU had this to say:
In case you do not read Little Green Footballs, the blog is pro-Muslim, left-wing, politically correct, and basically a front for neoconservative foreign policy (instead of defending their culture, they want to build schools in the Anbar province). They are basically a puppet of the multiculturalists and believe that Islam is not the enemy of Western civilization and Christendom. Only Bush-bots read the Little Green Footballs blog.Burn! I think...
Many of the comments on the LGF blog are critical of Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, and paleoconservatism. If you are not a big government, globalist, middle-class-hating, promoter of economic treason, then LGF doesn’t like you.
LGF and Al Qaeda both have something in common: they hate Western civilization and those who stand up for it.
- The real tragedy of IFAW is that no one, not one single campus, booked Pamela Oshry Geller for a speaking engagement, thus depriving countless students of the benefits of her trenchant social analysis:
So there you have it - consider yourself informed of the imminent threat and grateful that you weren't drowned in a tidal wave of hilarious propaganda! As for me, I'll be welcoming our Islamo-Rastafari overlords with open arms. Jah rule!
Punk Rock Monday
Because who doesn’t love Sebadoh on a Monday morning?
“Jealous of Jesus”
“Gimme Indie Rock”
“Soul and Fire”
Labels: Punk Rock Monday
28 October, 2007
I just finished Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and even though the story isn't new (for those of us familiar with the story of neoliberal development over the last 30 years), the book still has a lot to recommend for it besides Klein's engaging prose.
Reaching back some 60 years to the immediate aftermath of WWII, Klein describes how the Friedmanite free market ideology has been imposed on a global scale. While the details of the story are familiar, it's Klein's narrative that is eye-opening, telling the tale as a succession of shocks - catastrophic events (be it a military coup, a brutal invasion, or Mother Nature lashing out), structural readjustment and other policies designed to radically re-tool a nation's economic apparatus, and the literal shocks associated with torture, among other means to guarantee the compliance of a recalcitrant population.
Klein's real contribution involves her identification of disaster capitalism, a more sinister outgrowth of the military-industrial complex and monopoly capital that has dominated the latter half of the 20th Century in the U.S. While I'd balk at Klein's assertion that this is a new form or phase of capitalist development, there are certainly some novelties that are worth discussing. Capital, of course, is constantly in need of new markets. With economic globalization nearly a done deal, Western capitalists have instead begun to turn to devouring the state apparatuses that have for so long provided the support necessary to stay in business. Basic functions of the state (in particular, security services) have been outsourced to private contractors, available for hire (a means by which the state serves to redistribute public moneys to private citizens in the form of profit). With the basic functions of the state being privatized, indisputably resulting in rising levels of economic and social inequalities, and a shrinking tax base brought on by "small government" fundamentalism, these services will soon be only available to those who can afford them. The economic instability that neoliberalism has wrought increases the need for such security services, placing the system in a position where the is a perverse - indeed amoral - incentive to promote instability in order to maintain profitability. I'm by no means doing Klein's argument justice here.
That's not to say that there's some teleological principle at work here, but once a market has been created, actors within that sphere are nothing if not vigorous in defending the turf they've staked out. In many ways, it seems like the tide is ebbing away from the neoliberal highwater mark. That said, the marked change in the dynamics of capitalist development following 9/11 are definitely worthy of our attention, and Klein's book is a welcome addition to the story for a non-academic audience.
25 October, 2007
Reading between the lines
In a WaPo article in which oil experts speculate that an attack on Iran is unlikely because of the turmoil it would cause in the oil markets (like that scenario stopped the last few wars), this little snippet caught my eye:
"Certainly when you lose 2.5 million barrels a day of Iranian production, which is the most likely case scenario, that will literally just make the market go berserk," al-Awadi said. Asked whether the companies he worked with had contingency plans, he said, "The oil industry does not have contingency plans. We are not military people."
The senior executive from the European oil company said that his firm does not have contingency plans, either. "You come to a point where you say it's indefinable," he said. "You sit around and ask, 'What would we as a company do differently?' The answer is nothing. You deal with it at the time."
Given that the demand for oil is famously inelastic, am I wrong for reading those comments as "Contingency plans? It's you sorry fuckers who are going to need a contingency plan! When all hell breaks loose, we plan on locking the gates, pouring the margaritas, kicking back with our feet on the desk, and watching those petro-profits roll on in!"
24 October, 2007
What's a little sacrilege among friends?
Because you may have missed this little morsel in a comment thread at The Bellman, there's an exciting new translation of the Bible being put together! For example, Luke 2:8-21:
8Then there wuz sheep-doods in teh field, an they wuz watchin teh sheep in teh dark. Iz vry vry boring. srsly.9 An suddenly, visible angel! An glory! O noez!!10 But teh angel sed, "is ok, you can has gud news for all teh doodz!11 Todai in da city ov David, you can has sayvur! is Christ da Lord! w00t!12 Is sign fer u, find da baybee wrapd like brrito in a big fud dish."13 An suddenly, moar angelz! They sez, 14 "w00t to teh Ceiling Cat! An peace fer doodz he luffs! Kthxbai." 15 An when da angelz go invisible again, sheep-doodz sed, "sweet, nao we find teh brrito-baybee sayvur!"16 So dey left da sheeps (sheeps r vry borng) and found Joe an Mary and da baybee in da fud dish.17 An when dey saw it wuz baybee an not brrito, they told evrywun he wuz kewl,18 An all teh doodz who herd were lyke, "neat-o brrito!"19 An Mary wuz lyke, "o rly?"20 Teh sheep-doodz sed, "Yay fer Ceiling Cat! Was not invisible brrito!"21 On dai noomber ate, it wuz tiem 2 circumcize him (iz laik getting fixd) an they called him Jesus, 'coz teh angel sed it wuz a kewl name.
Labels: Flotsam and Jetsam
It's about time
Given how freaked out a lot of Americans are about the prospect of sharing a bed with their child, it's nice to see that the NYT published a balanced article on the practice of co-sleeping.
ms. wobs and I had initially planned on having wee wobs sleep next to our bed in a little free-standing basinette. However, given the boys voracious appetite, especially in the wee hours, it soon became apparent to us that it would make more sense if we just let him sleep with us. It wasn't always easy - l'il wobs is what I would call an "active sleeper" - but in my mind, the benefits, both for us and for him, far outweighed the drawbacks. We were also very fortunate to have a pediatrician and a community that was supportive of the practice (and who offered important safety tips). Snuggling up with my child as we drifted off to sleep was, I think, a really great form of emotional bonding, and there's something really charming about having his smiling face be the first thing you see upon waking up (even if he's waking you up at 6 AM).
We "bed weaned" the boy shortly after moving to DC (he's still an active sleeper, and that plus the fact that he's, well, big made the decision a no-brainer - our bed ain't big enough for the three of us!). He was good about starting off in his bed, but then would try to join us in the middle of the night. It took a few nights of putting him back in his own bed and helping him get back to sleep, but now he spends the entire evening on his own, only rarely joining us shortly before it's time to get up. We still nap together, but he's well on his way to independent sleeping.
My point isn't to press the superiority of one sleeping arrangement over another. Different families will figure out their arrangements based on their own particular (and legitimate) needs. What's depressing is that those families who choose to co-sleep with their child are often made to feel shame for choosing that particular arrangement. I hope the Times piece presages a more tolerant view of co-sleeping families.
As for me, if I had it all to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing, and if more children are in our future, I'll look forward to curling up with them for an evening's slumber.
In heaven there is no beer
Oh my lord, the Brickskeller is a beer drinkers paradise. Tonight, I had an insane imperial pilsner which was everything you'd expect - light, crisp, and highly drinkable - but with a whopping 10% ABV. Nice. I also had a Rogue Hop Heaven, which apparently had hops hand-picked by specially-bred children that were transported on a silk pillow for the dry-hopping process. Whatever the kids in Newport did, they made a fantastic hoppy ale that has that wonderful eyes-rolling into the back of the head quality, without sacrificing complexity of flavor. On top of that, we were treated to (as part of the session) an awesome Brooklyn Brewery German-style lager (a little on the sweet side, with some interesting spice notes) and a smoke cask Arrogant Bastard. I've typically avoided the Bastard, as it tends to put an early end to my evenings, but the smoke cask version was something else.
Oh, and I learned some philosophy. Something about compatiblism and David Hume. All I know, is that if we were given free will, we created beer, and that's good. And if everything is determined, then we were supposed to create beer, and that's good. Isn't philosophy grand?
22 October, 2007
Profiles in douchebaggery
We've all known for quite some time that John Bolton is a world-class douchebag. However, even I was surprised that his diplomatic ineptness wasn't due so much to douchebaggery, but rather never evolving past the mindset of a 12 year old:
Bolton's recounting of these episodes adds to the growing body of insider accounts about the inner workings of the Bush administration, though this is one of the first by a leading conservative figure. It will likely cause angst at the State Department and in some foreign capitals, including London, because of Bolton's depiction of the diplomatic exchanges. In typically pugnacious style, Bolton lashes out at his opponents in the administration and overseas, repeatedly referring to European Union diplomats as "EUroids" and foes in State's East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau as "EAPeasers."
Right, "pugnacious." Try juvenile.
Just say no
Punk Rock Monday
Back in the 1920s, ragtime musicians boomed from dancehall to dancehall, singing bawdy tunes about plentiful booze, good cocaine, and loose, loose women. Before there was punk, the ragtime troubadours were punk as fuck. Flashing forward some eighty years, the Inkwell Rhythm Makers were my favorite band in Eugene (apologies to certain regular readers). It was always a joy to come upon them busking some street corner – at the Market, on 13th by the University, wherever. I hope you enjoy their old-timey punk sensibilities as much as I.
“You Ain’t Talkin’ to Me”
“Talking to Myself”
“Sindereller” (I particularly like the old-timey processing of the video here – nice touch!)
“Working at the Peanut Stand”
Labels: Punk Rock Monday
21 October, 2007
Sunday night bambino blogging
Labels: bambino blogging
18 October, 2007
Niche markets I was unaware existed
17 October, 2007
Step away from The Fountainhead
Sure, when all of us were narcissistic seventeen-year olds, the novels of Ayn Rand held a certain thrill for us. But most of us moved on to other things, like making out with members of our preferred sex and bonghits. Lots and lots of bonghits. But what happens if this Randian obsession continues? Let's look to the fine thinkers of the Ayn Rand Institute for answers!
Exhibit A: Sure, Christopher Columbus was a con-man and a third-rate sea captain responsible for the mass enslavement and extermination of the indigenous populations in the Caribbean. But on Columbus Day, we're not celebrating the man, we're celebrating the entire project of Western Civilization, from Aristotle to Einstein and beyond! Which, to me, begs the question, if we're going to have a day to celebrate the glory that is the West, why not an Aristotle Day or an Einstein Day, rather than a day that celebrates a really, really bad individual? Oh, because the former probably diddled little boys and the latter was a socialist peacenik? Right, Columbus it is, then.
Exhibit B: Did you know that every time you drive your Prius or buy organic vegetables, you're actually supporting nihilistic eco-anarchists hell-bent on wiping off the planet any trace of human existence rather than, say, a multinational corporation or a farmer looking to support his weed habit? It's true!
Both are reason enough to re-think any plans you had of giving Atlas Shrugged a second read. But if you need more proof, there's always Exhibit C.
15 October, 2007
You, me, and a bucket full of Punk Rock Monday
Captain Beefheart is the musical bridge between Zappa and the Minutemen. Fast and bulbous, man!
"She's Too Much for My Mirror" and "Human Gets Me Blues" from Belgium (the Europeans always "got" the Captain way more than those of us on this side of the pond) in 1969:
"Hot Head" from 1980:
"Safe as Milk," also from '80:
Labels: Punk Rock Monday
14 October, 2007
Sunday night bambino blogging
I give you Cornholio...
And for a bonus moment, as relayed by the vivacious ms. wobs - l'il wobs apparently got a chocolate kitty from somewhere this week. After unwrapping it, he had the following conversation with it: "What's that, kitty? You don't want me to eat you? But you are made of chocolate!"
11 October, 2007
Scheduling their way into electoral irrelevance
The New Hampshire primary has been for far too long a far too big influence on presidential politics. If they want to have their primary in early December, I say let 'em. They can vote, the rest of us can go on opening our prezzies, drinking ourselves stupid on New Year's Eve, and forget about what a handful of white "presidential wine tasters" thought of the candidates.
And don't think I'm not looking in your direction, Iowa.
Daring to dream
Bill Richardson sets goals where angels fear to tread:
Yet the challenge for Mr. Richardson is whether he can break out of the “also ran” status as the fourth-ranked candidate on the Democratic side and knock off one of the top three, with his aim, according to his campaign staff, squarely on the person in the No. 3 spot: Mr. Edwards, who has been losing ground lately as the Clinton and Obama campaigns devote more resources here.
That's right, baby. The governor of New Mexico has his sights set on being Number Three. I'll no longer tolerate all this talk about Hillary being the candidate driven by blind ambition when it's clear that Richardson's all-consuming drive for the show spot eclipses her settling on just the presidency.
Philosophy tastes better with beer
The ever prescient ms. wobs, being the cultural maven that she is, signed us up as members of the Smithsonian Institute (which, as I understand, gets us into the Smithsonians for free... wait a minute). They offer a variety of different activities, and we've decided to sign up for a philosophy discussion group that meets over beers at the Brickskeller. So, for the next six Tuesdays, we'll be swilling brew and discussing the Meaning o' Life with an underemployed philosophy professor from the University of Maryland. I'm imagining it'll be a lot like the Thursdays at High Street that I loved from grad school, but without the annoying departmental politics, the having to feign interest in someone's research in some bizarre backwater of post-structural theory, or the threat of comically horrendous bike wrecks.
Week one will be a discussion of determinism, a topic on which I should be able to hold my own until after the sixth pitcher, wherein the conversation will degenerate into an incoherent stalemate on the relative merits of the humanistic versus the structural Marx.
Looks like I'll have to find a beret and a pack of Gauloises.
Labels: Flotsam and Jetsam
09 October, 2007
Chubby's the hairy one. No, hairier...
It seems that the way to deal with the end of a really shitty, sad day is to celebrate a life the way that we with Irish blood do best - with whiskey and words.
I never meant to adopt Chubby. When I went to Greenhill on December 20, 1996, I had plans to adopt a one-year old Aussie Shepherd that I had spied a few days earlier when I had come to visit. By the time I had shown up to adopt, the pooch had already been snapped up by someone else. Bummed, I walked, head down, to the end of the shelter, and then headed back towards the exit. As I was about to pass through the door, I glanced into the last cage on the left, and there he was, curled up on a pad at the other end of the stall watching me. I stopped and bent down, he padded over to say hi, and that was that. The Greenhill folks said he had been there for five months. Apparently, people don't take a cotton to adopting three-and-a-half year old dogs. Fortunately, I did. His name prior to my adoption was Blackie, which was a step removed from Darkie or Coolie, so I decided to rename him Chubby, after the Medeski, Martin & Wood tune "Uncle Chubb." A short time later, I learned, much to my chagrin, that Chubby was a colloquial expression for male tumescence. But the name stuck.
I suppose you could say I got the dog I deserved. One who was completely neurotic, wholly trusting, and entirely loyal. I never worried about Chubby running off on me - indeed, sometimes I wish he would've given me a little more space. He always seemed to be underfoot. But if I left a gate open in the yard, he'd be waiting on the stoop when I came home. He was so loyal, if I'd leave him with friends, he'd stick to them like white on rice. Chubby wasn't much of a swimmer, but I remember my friend Nick telling me about a time when they took him camping, and a group had decided to swim across a small Cascade lake. Assuming Chubby would stay put, Nick joined them. Upon reaching the other side of the lake, Nick looked back to the far shore to make sure the dog was still there - he wasn't. He was paddling across the lake to join the swimmers. Nick was Chubby's ticket back to me, and the dog would be damned if his ride home would leave without him.
It's hard to say goodbye to a friend who has stuck with you through thick and thin for eleven years. He was there when I'd come home heartbroken. He was patient with me through some hellacious hangovers. He'd curl up next to me on cold mountain nights in the woods. He accepted a new family member when l'il wobs came home and welcomed him as part of the pack (however grudgingly). He was fiercely protective, growling down the shady characters who'd show up at my door when I was stupid enough to live with heroin dealers.
I had to watch the life ebb out of his body this morning. He went peacefully, leaving me with a hand full of tissues, eyes full of tears, and a heart full of pain. But it was the right thing to do. Fare thee well, Chubby. I hope the Puppy Hereafter is full of endless belly scratches and rawhide bones that never end.
This is as much a wake as a eulogy, and wakes are about sharing memories. If you knew Chubby and would like to share any fond rememberances, please do so. Or, if you'd like to take a chance to offer a memory of one of your own four-legged friends, share away. Make me smile on a sad day.
07 October, 2007
So I haven't been blogging much as of late
And I have a good excuse. Well, excuses, really. Last week, we had a series of Big Meetings at work. There were some positive aspects to this - I got to have a very brief exchange with our newly-endorsed presidential candidate and some free meals and booze; but I also had to sit through a lot of meetings, not all of which were in the realm of the terribly exciting. On top of that, my parents are currently in town, which in many respects is really great, but adds another bunch of tensions and relationships to negotiate.
Let's see, what else. On Friday, I broke a cap off of one of my teeth, leaving an incredibly attractive gaping hole in the side of my mouth. If there's one thing I love, it's a trip to the dentist. If there's a silver lining to this, it's that the tooth that broke has already had a root canal, so it doesn't hurt at all. Ya-fucking-hoo.
To top it all off, on Tuesday morning I'm taking my dog into the vet for the last time. He's sitting here next to me, watching me type this, as trusting as he's ever been. I know I should feel like I'm doing the right thing - he's so old, he's confused, he can barely climb the stairs he needs to get in and out, his hair is falling out in clumps, and he's very obviously in pain. Honestly, I should have faced up to these facts before I left Oregon and subjected him to a week cooped up in a Volkswagon Beetle - and some of you even told me that. But there's no way that taking a being you've known for eleven years in to draw his final breaths feels like the right thing. It's supposed to be humane - it is humane - but it just makes me feel like a shitty pet owner. Hell, I tried to get people to take care of him in Oregon so I wouldn't have to deal with these end of life issues, because, really, I am chickenshit about it, but here we are. To date, it's the most difficult thing I've had to do. I mean, it's one thing to deal with the death of a loved one - it's incredibly painful, but at least you're not making an appointment to see them off. That certainty, that finality, the clinical-ness with which it will all occur... I don't know. I hate it, even though I know it's necessary, and it's making me incredibly sad.
So yeah, I haven't been blogging much lately. I don't really feel like posting happy pics of the kid tonight or sifting through YouTube clips. Or really doing much of anything more than spilling my guts and my sorrow.
Labels: Flotsam and Jetsam
06 October, 2007
Maybe next year.
02 October, 2007
Organizers take note
01 October, 2007
Hey! It's the Punk Rock Monday!
What better way to start off October than with some giants of the 80s Twin Cities Scene, the Replacements? Famous for performing exceedingly, obnoxiously drunk, I managed to find some excellent archival footage of the ‘Mats performing at Minneapolis’s famed 7th Street club in 1981. While later recordings would expand the range of their sonic palette, these clips feature them when they were almost hardcore.
“Goddamn Job” and “Junior’s Got a Gun”
“Kids Don’t Follow”
And a souped up cover of the Beatles’ “Slow Down”
Labels: Punk Rock Monday