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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Open-Source Politics (+ Trippi WSJ op-ed)

I started this post way back on November 8, but got no further than pasting in this link from The Nation:

The Rise of Open-Source Politics
by Micah L. Sifry
Posted November 4, 2004

To be honest, I still haven't read it myself. But figured I'd publish it, esp after coming across this DailyKos post which excerpted this Joe Trippi WSJ op-ed.

More on these and related topics later...

Slate goodness

Lots of links to Slate.

Starting with an excerpt from Monday's edition of their great international papers : What the foreign papers are saying:

In a particularly illuminating commentary, the Times of Britain recounted a scene that unfolded on Kiev's Independence Square a few days ago: Lech Walesa, the shipyard electrician-turned-Solidarity-founder-turned-Polish-president greeted Ukrainians who were out protesting the election results and asked them, "What took you so long?" The symbol of Eastern European popular revolution wiped snowflakes from his face and commented, "It might be freezing cold, but I can see that it is politically hot!"

Indeed, it's hot and getting hotter by the day, and much of the European press is focused on fears that the disputed election could lead to a civil war in Ukraine or a split into two separate countries.

The Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda posed a blunt question: Regardless of which candidate ultimately takes office, what will happen to the half of the country that supported the other candidate? The Italian La Repubblica fretted that tensions between the two sides are running so high that neither leader may be able to contain the situation. Both France's Le Monde and Spain's El Pais endorsed new elections as the best solution to the crisis caused by the faulty vote-counting. (Translations from the Russian, Italian, French, and Spanish courtesy of Deutsche Welle.)

I was going to just excerpt that first paragraph, but couldn't resist extending it to the link-rich 3rd one.

Next: have been planning a post on the medicinal marijuana case that is before the Supreme Court this week. I'll have to do that, but for now here a Slate dispatch:

supreme court dispatches Oral argument from the court.
Dude, Where's My Integrity?
Medical marijuana tests the Supreme Court's true love of federalism.
By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Monday, Nov. 29, 2004, at 3:49 PM PT

So Lithwick looks at in the same light that I was going to: federalism/states' rights. I'll still put up my comments, along with some local Yay Area flavor (like this).

Finally: that same edition of Today in Slate slipped in this profile of Derek Walcott:

books Reading between the lines.
The Odyssey
Derek Walcott, the greatest living English-language poet.
By Adam Kirsch
Posted Monday, Nov. 29, 2004, at 3:47 AM PT

Had an e-mail exchange with some guys earlier this year that culminated with a reference to Walcott. Thanks to my anal archiving of e-mail, plus Yahoo Mail's new and improved search capabilities, I found it. I'll put it in a comment.

letters from a Bush supporter

I actually know--and still talk to, in fact still consider a friend--a Bush supporter. To be fair, it doesn't sound like he's an active supporter of Bush. More a reluctant voter for W. We exchanged some e-mails after the election, and he took the time to write out his thoughts. I've given him a pseudo(acro)nym of EGB ("El Gato Blanco"). Our exchange is reproduced below.

I'm guessing most of my readers (if there any of you out there) are firmly anti-Bush, which is why I sought out his thoughts and wanted to put them up here.

It started with this e-mail he sent me on Monday, Nov 8:

--- EGB wrote:

> Shoo-
> Drop some election science on me....
> Gotta tell you, I voted GW and did not feel strongly or even great about my
> vote. Demos gotta get a stronger, more charismatic candidate. No one
> wants C-3PO in office. I didn't like the campaign they ran either.

My reply:

From: Me
Date: 11/10/04 07:18 PM
Subject Re: Kerry goes down


I agree with you, Dems need to come up with a stronger candidate than
Kerry. don't know if that will happen in 4 years. Also we need to
refine the message(s), and find a way to communicate it. (I say "we"
not b/c I consider myself a Democrat all the way, but I am firmly in
the opposition to Bush rule.)

I gotta say though, I couldn't have imagined voting for W this time.
I really do think 4 more years of a Bush Adminstration is dangerous.
for our society and for the world. i guess we'll see. maybe things
will work out the W has faith they will. or maybe things have to get
worse before they better. my hunch is it's the latter.

but i guess W would say i'm one of those coastal overeducated liberal
"elite", outside of the American mainstream.

glad to hear you didn't feel strongly about the vote for W. what
didn't you like about the Kerry campaign? what did you think of the
Bush (Rove) campaign?

hit the blog for what i'm reading/thinking...URL should be at the
bottom. i'll also start doing more music posts soon.


Here's his reply to that:

Subject: Re: Kerry goes down
To: Me
From: EGB
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 08:40:22 -0600


As strange as it sounds, I was one of those that was undecided until
virtually the time I hit the polling booth. I guess it came down to
Kerry talking a good game, talking about how "I have a plan: w/
healthcare, Iraq, jobs creation. But I never heard any details or
granularity around those plans. I never really heard what he was
going to do that was so radically different from what W was already
doing. He just said go to my website in the debates...

I have read parts of the blogs you sent. I am no big W supporter. I
think he made his mark with his response to 9/11, and by coincidence,
luck or by policies he's instilled, we haven't had another. I give
him the benefit of the doubt, and homeland security is issue #1 to me.
Iraq is turning into a question that was a personal
agenda item for him. But do I believe the world is better off without
Hussein in power? Without a doubt.

I consider myself slightly right of center, more on the fiscal side
than anything. But I can't stand the Repubs. bible banging
stuff...equally the far left bugs me as much. I have no time for the
extremists either way. Also, this may sound bad, but don't
underestimate the redneck contingency in this country. Nascar's
popularity stuns me....and that society backs W 100%. Dems used to
have some presence south of the Mason-Dixon, but that is 100% red now.

The Dems have to run campaigns that clearly state their positions, get
better party definition in terms of what they stand for, don't
mudsling (if the Repubs are doing it....rise above that behavior), and
as shallow as it sounds, I am influenced by the charisma of the
candidate. Bush cannot speak, but you can at least see his intensity.
I truly believe Clinton's wins were because he was smooth, handsome
and believable. People buy into those things. It's as much or more
the candidate's impression as it is his stance on the issues.

I picked up some Musiq, aka Musiq Soulchild I heard off of the heart
and soul of the cities KMOJ. I think you'd like him.


He followed up shortly after with this addendum:

Subject: Re: Kerry goes down
To: Me
From: EGB
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 08:59:22 -0600

The point I was going to make about the 'necks but forgot to in the
previous email: The last two dem presidents have been from the south:
Clinton and Carter. And obviously the Bush's were. The south is very
provincial around "its own". I think you have to run a dem from down there
so you can swing some of those votes. But it's pretty clear that we're
becoming a polarized society in terms of ideals, values, beliefs.


I came back with this short one...

From: Me
Date: 11/11/04 12:01 PM
Subject Re: Kerry goes down


thanks for taking the time to write our your thoughts. it's good to
hear your perspective on these things. like you said, things are
getting so polarized. one consequence of that is that people aren't
having conversations and listening to others' points of view.

do you mind if i post what you wrote on my blog? i'll strip off your
e-mail address, so it would be anonymous.

most of my readers (if i have any) have feelings similar to mine:
voting for W was out of the question...and we're shocked and amazed
that he got 51%. so it would be good to get your POV up for

also, i want to reply, b/c you raised a bunch of interesting points:
iraq, homeland security, the bible-bangers, the rednecks, the south.

but i got to try to focus on work today. i'll try to set aside some
time this weekend to write out my thoughts...


...which elicited one more from EGB:

Subject: Re: Kerry goes down
To: Me
From: EGB
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 11:16:41 -0600

Go ahead and use whatever in your blogs, I just can't have any hate
mail coming at me at work. I don't mind being shredded on the blog

I do agree that to formulate more solid opinions, you have to have
intelligent (or in my case halfway intelligent) input and perspective
from all sides. If you associate and deliberate with 100% people of
like mind, your opinions can get skewed so far that way that one can
easily see how things spin out of control to the frenzy level. That
is how extremism starts: closed-mindedness and closed associations.
It starts by associating with who you think are people of like mind to
you, but then once ideas start feeding off each other you get a
snowball effect. In the end, I bet a lot of people who get swayed
severely politically to one side or the other, if they were of a truly
objective mind (could analyze themselves from a higher perspective),
would question how they got to the point where they are at. Because I
bet most didn't start that way. Maybe they think they became better
informed on their beliefs...but did they? BTW I'm not accusing you of
being a over the top lefty by any means and I don't throw you in that
category. We haven't talked politics since 11th grade H Col Writ Lab
when you were telling me Public Enemy was bringing the truth. And
anyway, there's nothing wrong with having strong convictions to one
side. I just have a hard time believing that there are indeed people
out there that agree with their candidate's positions and ideals from
top to bottom. I'm admittedly not as informed on everything as I
should be, and I recognize that. But I did try to stay subjective
throughout the debates and tried to gauge the media's spin on the
candidates both ways. There will always be the lifelong, turn the
brain off, vote party-line people on both sides. But there were a lot
of people like me that could be swayed depending on what's important
to them at the time of the election, and Kerry obviously missed on a
lot of those.

Bottom line in my opinion: you can't win when people voting for your
guy are just going that way because they are anti-W. There were not
enough true pro-Kerry's in the end, people that were sold on him as a
candidate. Most of the people I talked to that were going Kerry were
doing so because they hated W. Had the dems had a more charismatic
candidate, he would have won in a landslide.

Are you going to write a book someday or run for office?

I bought the latest Musiq CD....don't have the name off the top.


Don't have much more to add at this point. Just wanted to get it up, as something for you all to consider.

PS: Is it cheating and/or poor blog-netiquette to create entries consisting of e-mail correspondences? Maybe, but I think it's a good thing if it's done conscientiously and responsibly. I've gotten permission from each person whose words I've posted, and also made it all anonymous. If done like that, I think blogging e-mail can be valuable--it makes public some of that vast amount of dialogue that happening privately over e-mail. Let me know your thoughts on this.

more on Ukraine: Ina is blogging, Tulip Girl

Ina put some entries up today! Go to

She had the good idea to fill in the previous week by excerpting some her e-mails (something I was doing in the first couple weeks post-(U.S.)election as well). So I'm sure she won't mind if I post this e-mail she sent me last week:

Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 04:00:29 +0300
From: Ina
To: Me
Subject: Re: Article: Premier Victor in Ukraine Vote; Abuses Are Seen


Yeah, it is an amazing time to be here, especially for my friends --
they are enjoying it, it is really like watching history happen
firsthand! We were at Independence Square in the crowd of people that
the NYT has pictures of a bunch of times -- although it's pretty cold
out there, so we weren't out there non-stop like some people.

It's late here (3am) and it's pretty intense -- the people at the
presidential administration are standing face to face with thousands
of militia...the pictures on TV are pretty crazy. Apparently at 10am
tomorrow Yuschenko is supposed to try to take over... I don't know if
we'll head down there, since it could really get ugly... Hopefully
everything will be resolved peacefully.

Well, I'm off to bed -- I'll try to send more updates! Have a good
trip to TX!!


Ina also sent me a couple more Ukraine-related blogs:, written by a friend of hers who's also in Kiev on a Fulbright; and another one that was e-mailed to her,

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to get a comment to my previous post, and (apparently) from someone that I had blogged--TulipGirl. Go here for the comment.

I buried the Guardian's Special Report:Ukraine link at the bottom of the previous post. Thought I'd bring it to the fore, plus highlight this very brief but decent interactive guide: A brief history of Ukraine

Also buried in the previous post was this essay. Wanted to emphasize it again, since it provides the kind of "larger historical and political perspective" that I'm seeking to blog (and that applies not only to this particular essay, but to the entire OpenDemocracy site):
How Ukrainians became citizens
Alexander Motyl
25 - 11 - 2004
The massive popular protest against Ukraine’s fraudulent election is a pivotal moment in the country’s – and Europe’s – history, says Alexander Motyl.

Haven't yet followed through on the good intention to start contributing some $ to an OpenDemocracy subscription. But I think I will. It's essential we support media outlets like this. As they write here, "It’s in our name: is dedicated to opening up a democratic space - free thinking for the world."

Speaking of supporting good media, our first issue of The Nation arrived over the weekend. After subscribing in that post-election mania (specifically, while writing this post), I had some 2nd thoughts: was I just descending further into the lefty echo chamber? But those regrets are gone after reading through the Table of Contents: columns by Jonathan Schell, Alexander Cockburn and George Lakoff (all of whom I'd been planning blog entries on), and a surprisingly great Books and Arts section: an essay about Romare Bearden by Arthur Danto, with an accompanying interview with Branford Marsalis; and a review of two books about Orwell.

Once I actually read these, I'll have to do separate post.

Monday, November 29, 2004

the Ukraine: the revolution is being blogged

I've been bugging Ina to add to her initial post. Been meaning to throw up an entry of my own about happenings in Ukraine. No point in posting news stories really, since they'll be out of date by the time you read this (well, here's a good one from today's LATimes: Ukraine Crisis Deepens Amid Separatist Talk).

If I had the time right now I'd try to summarize what's happened and throw in some thoughts on the matter--but that will have to happen at later time. For now, this'll be a meta-entry. Pointers to people who are really blogging this, adapted from an e-mail I sent to the fam this morning:

  • : blog from someone (an american i think) in kiev. it looks like it goes in depth, and it has lots of pictures. in fact, it looks like he may be blogging from a tent in Independene Square. I haven't read much of it yet, but it looks like election coverage starts with this Nov 23 post.
I made my way to the PoMoClog via a Slate Today's Papers e-mail (same one that had the LATimes link above). But that led to a bunch more:
well, no doubt the list could go on and on. just look at the "blogroll" on any one of the above. or try Googling ' "revolution will be blogged" Ukraine' ...

Finally, a good essays from OpenDemocracy:

How Ukrainians became citizens
Alexander Motyl
25 - 11 - 2004
The massive popular protest against Ukraine’s fraudulent election is a pivotal moment in the country’s – and Europe’s – history, says Alexander Motyl.

OpenDemocracy is becoming one of my favorite sites. To the point that I'm thinking about subscribing.

Also, a Comment from the Guardian, that I think was in one those blogs:

Freedom's front line
Europe must give immediate and total support to Ukraine's velvet revolutionaries
Timothy Garton Ash
Thursday November 25, 2004
The Guardian

Might be worth it to drop in on the Guardian's Special Report: Ukraine page, say for their history links.

Which reminds me, I wanted to highlight this link which is included in the Moytl Open Democracy essay (I'll say it 1nce again, hyperlinked essays/journalism are great). Here is the Amazon page for that book:

Borderland: A Journey Through The History Of The Ukraine
by Anna Reid

NPR: Fremont schools

Listen to this story...

Immigrants Weigh Splitting from Calif. School System
Morning Edition, November 29, 2004

"In Fremont, Calif., immigrant students are earning top grades, and their affluent parents are threatening to create their own school in order to keep standards high."

spinners -> subtle distinctions?

Started editing and adding to this post, about a compiling a soundtrack for Fortress of Solitude. Starting going off on the possibility that Lethem was inspired by the Spinners when he imagined the Subtle Distinctions into existence, so I moved it here to a separate entry.

Obviously it's that as simple an equation as "Subtle Distinctions = Spinners"; Lethem clearly also drew on, for example, themes from Marvin Gaye's life when imagining certain aspects of Barrett Rude Jr.

But after browsing through my copy of The Blackwell Guide to Soul Recordings, (see also here, for a review of that book and many others), it would be hard to believe that Lethem didn't absorb the Spinners' particular story. These lines about Spinners lead Philippe Wynn caught my eye: "No one lucky enough to have seen Wynne perform with the Spinners will ever forget him," and in the next graph: "In 1977, in the wake of Rubberband Man, Wynne left the group for an erratic solo career (which included some memorable recordings with George Clinton's P-Funk Mob) prior to his death at age 43 on July 13, 1984." An unforgettable lead, an erratic solo career, an early death ..and memorable recording with P-funk?? That last, esp, seems to be too much to be just a coincidence. (Of course, Lethem could have read no more than those few lines for his construction of the Barrett Rude Jr. and the Subtle Distinctions; Lethem's genius is no doubt up to that.)

(Blackwell conspicuously omits the cause of Wynne's death. AllMusic's Spinners bio has this: "Though none of Wynne's solo records were big hits, his tours with Parliament-Funkadelic were well-received, as were his solo concerts. In October 1984, he died of a heart attack during a concert in Oakland, CA.")

More parallels with the Subtle Distinctions: the Spinners were a Motown band; again from Blackwell, but this time from entry for Motown's The Best of the Spinners: "Clearly the talent was already there during their Motown years, but the group was mostly overshadowed by the label's established star roster, and it took the changeover to Atlantic and the crucial additions of Philippe Wynn as lead singer and Thom Bell as producer to boost them to superstar status in the 1970s.)"

Almost makes me want to track down a copy of The Chrome Collection; if the liner notes are as good as the ones Dylan Ebdus wrote for the Subtle Distinctions' box set, I would get it. But I'm guessing The Very Best of the Spinners or, if not that, then A One of a Kind Love Affair will suffice.

But wait. From customer review of The Chrome Collection: "One of the highlights is the 60-page booklet, with some truly excellent writing featuring some interesting anecdotes even I, a Spinners fanatic, hadn't heard before. The notes about how Thom Bell produced the group are priceless." Might have to get this after all:

spinners chrome collection
Originally uploaded by suman_ganguli.

Postscript: Some other results from Googling the Spinners and the Chrome Collection:

AllMusic's page, which starts: "The Spinners were the greatest soul group of the early '70s, creating a body of work that defined the lush, seductive sound of Philly soul."

A feature, that came out around the time the Chrome Collection did (turns out "Rhino Records is a division of AOL Time Warner, as is CNN"):

Motown's mistake, soul music's legends
'Chrome Collection' highlights Spinners' music

By Todd Leopold
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Post-postscript: Was oddly unaware until just a moment ago that we do have one Spinners track in our collection: "It's a Shame" is on Disc 4 of Hitsville USA, which it just so happens I ripped into iTunes the week before last. A nice track. Pre-Wynn though; again from Blackwell's writeup of Motown's Best of the Spinners: "Their biggest success came in 1970 with the Top 15 hit "It's a Shame" (written and produced by Stevie Wonder), with new member G.C. Cameron taking the lead vocal."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Neruda en espanol

A lucky find on Thanksgiving Day was a copy of Neruda's Selected Poems in Ina's room. Not sure when, where or why she bought it.

Never realized nor had it pointed out to me, that a facing-page bilingual edition of some poetry is a great way to learn a new language. (Maybe Ina picked up this edition of Neruda's poems when she was taking Spanish at STC (then STCC) that summer? Perhaps she was even inspired by that facing-page edition of Goethe's Faust that I read for a some UofC (HiPSS?) class, and then loaned her way since she was getting into German. That was in her room too, BTW, but I didn't reclaim it this time.)

Building some Spanish skills is a project I've been meaning to spend put some time and effort into. Thought about it while I was at Cornell--really should have taken a class while I was there, or at least drawn on Marcelo, Ricardo et al for some lessons.

In Ann Arbor, instead of Spanish, spent some time thinking about learning some Italian, hoping to take advantage of Simeone as an instructor--but we didn't get very far with that either. Simeone and I did attend the first class of an Ann Arbor community education Spanish course, down at Pioneer High, in June 2003, but (luckily) we didn't get our registrations in for the course, and so the instructor didn't even let us sit in for the 2nd half of the evening.

So then I made studying Spanish one of my New Year's plans last January--along with a few other endeavors I haven't fully followed through with: doing yoga on a regular basis, studying some Buddhism. In the past couple months I have done a bit more with the Spanish; motivated mostly by the fact that we're headed to South America in less than three weeks. I put in a subscription to Piensa en Espanol, have been carrying a copy of Living Language's Spanish book in my jacket. (Quick reviews: haven't used the two editions of Think Spanish that I've received all that much, but I'm not too impressed. My impression of the Living Language materials is consistent with what I thought of the Italian book & audio lessons--not great, but decent for getting a base of some phrases on the cheap. My strategy for aquriring the Living Language courses: checking the CDs out of the public library and ripping them, and then buying the book.) Also bought a copy of this Berlitz Spanish book at my new favorite bookstore in the 'hood, Dog-Eared (since it was only $4.86!); haven't used the Berlitz book much, but it looks to be pretty good--esp since it gives phonetic pronunciation guides for each phrase.

More on my discovery of Neruda en espanol later. It's time for breakfast now.

from Mission (cont'd)

Back in Mission SF now (or YB, as I was saying to Anj last night we should call it), but "con'td" from the previous post b/c this'll be a continuation of Thanksgiving weekend wrapup. Which I didn't even start in the previous post really.

We BART'ed to SFO last Wed evening and caught a redeye to IAH (George Bush Intercontinental--we were rather tempted to take a picture with the rakish sculpture of the elder Bush on display in the terminal). Endured a 3-hour layover with the sun coming up, then caught the short flight down to MFE. Both flights solid packed.

Our 2 + 1/2 days in Mission (TX) went by quick. Barely left the house in that time. Thurs was the Thanksgiving meal, just a couple hours after we got there. Watched some football, some of the Twolves-Pacers game on TNT, the 2 Netflix discs we'd brought with us (Streets: San Francisco and Michael Moore's original go at populist agitprop, Roger & Me. Though Anj and I crashed before the end of the latter.)

Friday lounged around the house most of the day. (Though Anj did get us out for a longish walk through Cimarron. As on every recent visit to Mission, the quantity of new home construction is astounding. Previously, for example, it had been the orange groves to the immediate west replaced by palatial mansions behind gated walls. This time, the previously empty scrubby fields to the north filling up with more modest--but still upscale--homes.)

Fri evening our only venture out of the house--a puja at an apartment of one of the Bengali families my parents have met over the past couple years. As my mom remarked, the growth of their nascent South TX Bengali community is remarkable.

BBQ'ed Saturday for lunch--wrote the previous post just after we'd finished--and then flew back to SFO yesterday evening.

TBC in a separate post...

Saturday, November 27, 2004

from Mission (TX)

I thought I'd have the chance to do some posts while we were down here in Mission for Thanksgiving, but now it's only a few minutes before we leave for the McAllen airport to catch our flight back to SFO.

A funny coincidence that Anj and I moved into the Mission (SF) earlier this year, while my parents have lived in Mission (TX) for the past nearly 4 years. Nomeclature has similar roots: our Mission is named after Mission Dolores, the Spanish mission (@ 16th & Dolores) which was the first European settlement in SF; established 1776. Contemporaneously: the Spanish laid claim to the area around the Rio Grande, site of the La Lomita Mission, after which the town of Mission was named (see this site).

Got to take off for the aiport now, so more later.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

itunes: free "mixtape"

The mixtape has gone virtual. Apple's iTunes Music Store started offering a 25-minute "Street Official Mixtape, Vol. 1" for download--free. I downloaded it a few weeks ago, but only listening to it for the 1st time right now. It's actually quite good. Mostly artists I haven't heard of, a few that I have (KRS-1, Gift of Gab, Planet Asia, Rasco, Masta Ace).

If you have iTunes on your machine, clicking on this link should lauch iTunes and take you to the right place in the Music Store. Or put "Street Official Mixtape" into Google, or just search the Music Store with that.

Sounds future volumes will be available on a monthly basis.

Another handful from Salon

Salon keeps coming with quality content. I can't keep up. Haven't read these yet; posting them so that I can eventually get to them (and so I can delete the newsletter from my inbox in the meantime) as link archive.

The concept of federalism and states' rights has come up in response to the election results (see this post). Salon gives it a deeper look:

If at first you don't secede
Feeling they've lost any say in how the nation is run, liberals are turning to an unfamiliar philosophy: States' rights.
By Michelle Goldberg

A couple more I haven't had a chance to read yet:

Presidential debate
Reporter Greg Palast and Salon's Farhad Manjoo debate the election results in Ohio.

The good soldier takes his leave
Policy experts and former U.S. diplomats weigh in on Colin Powell's resignation.
Compiled by Jeff Horwitz

And finally, a couple on topics that I was going to blog entries on sooner or later. I'll put them up, and hopefully incorporate them into separate entries:

Firefox -- the flag bearer of free software
Mozilla's browser is taking market share away from Microsoft. Sometimes, slow and steady really does win the race.
By Sam Williams

Ode to an Ol' Dirty Bastard
He left behind a violent legacy and possibly a dozen children. But the Wu-Tang Clan rapper also helped forge an irresistible pan-Asian-ghetto-gangsta style.
By Pete L'Official

Friday, November 19, 2004

Marvin Gaye & Barrett Rude Jr. (+ W. Kim Heron)

Started this post way back on Nov 18, but got no further than this link:

Marvin Gaye: a life marked by complexity
April 8, 1984
Free Press Staff Writer

Only getting back to it now (Nov 30). The point I was going to make was the parallel themes in the lives of Marvin Gaye and Barrett Rude Jr. I think I started this post on the day that I'd finished Part One of Fortress of Solitude: just after the shooting. I still think the parallels are there--in the religious upbringing, the relationship with the (live-in) father, the coke, the deadly confrontation. But it was only after reading the brilliant Part Two that I realized Lethem sort of set us up with the cliffhanger ending to Part One.

Also wanted to put up this Marvin-related link:

music box Pop, jazz, and classical.
"Let's Get It On" … Again
The remix of Marvin Gaye's classic is better than the original.
By David Ritz
Posted Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004, at 3:40 AM PT

PS: The W. Kim Heron obit/profile was quite a find. Had no idea Heron used to write for the Free Press. I've been following his work in the Metro Times over the past few years. See, for example, the following two MT pieces, which are two of my favorites (in fact, I blogged them before, here):

As I wrote 17 months ago, the Griot Galaxy/Faruq Bey profile is fascinating for its portrait of
'post-riot' Detroit at odds with what you usually hear--Detroit as a boho's paradise. (Came across this related and similarly fascinating site earlier this year: )

And the latter "new school Detroit historians" piece led me to start reading Sugrue's The Origins of the Urban Crisis. I still haven't picked it up again after dropping it 1/2 way through. (Googling for the Amazon link led me to this study guide, which would be of use if I do get around to revisiting the book.)

PPS: The author of the Slate piece also authored a biography of Marvin: Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Photos of war

Two related links that I came across today. First, a week-old blog called Fallujah in Pictures.

Then, a column that appeared on Salon:
The heartbreak of war
For one reader, a single photograph brought home the inconceivable horror that is Iraq

By J. Scott Smith
Those links reminded me of a lengthy essay by Susan Sontag on war photography that was in the New Yorker a while back, and that I tried (unsuccessfully) to get through. A Google search turned up that she wrote a book on the subject:
Regarding the Pain of Others
by Susan Sontag

Google also turned up a review of that book, by none other than Hitchens:

New York Observer, 3/17/2003
Sontag Looks at Images of War

by Christopher Hitchens

NYTimes: 36 Hours

A nice feature of the NYTimes Escapes section is its "36 Hours" feature. I was going to e-mail this link to Arun after mentioning it to him yesterday, but figured I might as well blog it:

In Downtown Los Angeles
Thanks to a massive revitalization project, downtown Los Angeles is quickly becoming a destination for culture hounds and lovers of the avant-garde.

Past "36 Hours" features that have caught my eye include Ithaca and Ann Arbor. (No doubt there's still a clipping of the Ann Arbor one on the wall in Angelo's--right, Simeone?) Oddly those two came in consecutive weeks. Two of "my cities." (Allusion there to a Borges quote that's been with me for a while, which I came across in this Times Book section piece a few years ago (Google truly is amazing). More Borges soon.)

Just came across this one in browsing through the "36 Hours" archives (although unfort the archived columns don't include the nice maps):
ESCAPES | December 26, 2003, Friday
JOURNEYS; 36 Hours| Oakland, Calif.

Plenty more in the archives that I'm tempted to put up. St. Paul and Chicago (couple more of my cities), Berkeley, Boston, San Luis Obispo, Palo Alto, Seattle, Vancouver, Bend (Ore.). I saved the hard copy of the Denver column from a few weeks ago, since Anj is headed there in a couple weeks. Ina e-mailed me the Napa column from a few months ago.

Look through those archives if you've got a trip coming up, if you're looking to plan a trip...or just want to see how they do one of your cities.

Final thought: the entire concept of a column centered on 36 hour trips is indicative of an urban, affluent, and overworked lifestyle. I was struck by this when talking to a friend who's a lawyer in Ann Arbor. He said he hadn't taken a real vacation in at least 2 years--his work makes it difficult to be away for an extended period of time. But he's off on weekend trips almost as often as he stay in town.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Kaplan in Slate: on Colin & Condi

In addition to the Salon newsletter (which I wrote about here), I also signed up for the Slate's newsletter(s). A bit annoying b/c you have to go through MSN, but worth it, b/c Slate also has good content.

For example, Fred Kaplan has been putting up good commentary. Here's a sampling on the Secretary of State shakeup:
Why Powell Had To Go
And how will Condi fare as his successor?
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, Nov. 15, 2004, at 3:06 PM PT

Journalism w/ hyperlinks is great. The above column links to these earlier ones of his from last spring:

Condi Lousy
Why Rice is a bad national security adviser.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004, at 3:17 PM PT

The Tragedy of Colin Powell
How the Bush presidency destroyed him.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Thursday, Feb. 19, 2004, at 9:56 AM PT

Poking around Slate also turned up this dialogue from last January:
Liberal Hawks Reconsider the Iraq War
Jan 12-16, 2004
The list of participants is amazing: Christopher Hitchens, Paul Berman, Thomas Friedman, Fred Kaplan, George Packer, Kenneth Pollack, Jacob Weisberg, and Fareed Zakaria.

I'll have to highlight that dialogue in a separate entry. Can't leave it buried at the bottom of this post.

One last comment and link regarding the cabinet changes over the past week. A friend asked me over e-mail what I thought. I replied that my impression is similar to what Josh Marshall wrote in this TPM post: the White House (Bush-Rove) is consolidating power.

excerpts from "Tuff", "Fortress of Solitude"

My man Brady first turned me on to the words of Paul Beatty. Still haven't checked Beatty's poetry, but I read The White Boy Shuffle a few years back (checked out a copy from the Cornell Library), and then borrowed a copy from Tuff (from Madhu) earlier this year.

Must have been raving about it to Gene, b/c he blessed me with some choice excerpts from Tuff over the e-mail yesterday:

  • "A thick layer of blood and junior college brain tissue..."

  • "He had one leg over the windowsill and a bullet hole in him that,
    like everything his mother ever told him, went in one ear and out the other."
  • "A one-time, mind altering goldmine. I'd call it eternal Bliss.
    A dope fiend's everlasting gobstopper. I'd be Willy Wonka up
    in this MF. I'm tellin' you."

Been working through Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude over the past few weeks. Most of my reading it has been on the commute between the Mission and Parnassus. In fact I'd e-mailed a couple passages to Joel a couple weeks ago, b/c of the Brooklyn connection.

Read this passage on the Muni this morning, which I e-mailed Gene to return the favor:

"Junior, on waking, often staggered first to the stereo whose red lights still glowed, to
re-drop the needle on whichever long-player had lullabyed him the night before, so when
in robe or pajamas he took possession of his stoop it was with strains of Donny
Hathaway's Extension of a Man or Shuggie Otis's Inspiration Information at this back.
If the volume was sufficient and the Dean Street bus nowhere near, Abraham Ebdus, five
doors away, could hear the music, faintly. Junior came sound-tracked, wore a halo of
music like a wafting smell, literal funk."

Had to Cc that to Greg too, since by nice coincidence I borrowed his copy of Inspiration Information (the Luaka Bop CD reissue) just two weeks ago.

More on Lethem and Fortress of Solitude in future posts.

PS: Originally wrote and posted the above on 11/11. Later that day Brady wrote me with one of his favorite lines from The White Boy Shuffle:

“They would be a lot better off if they simply called Scoby a god and
left it at that, but no way they’ll proclaim a skinny black man God.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Robson's T-wolves season preview

Britt Robson always comes correct on the T-wolves. Here's his preview of this season:

City Pages, 11/3/04
A Season on the Brink: Will a healthy Wolves roster take the team forward or backward?
Britt Robson

We'll see what happens over the remaining 77 games, and how they do in April, May...and hopefully into June.

Mullah Dobson

We happened to flip on "This Week" a week ago Sunday just as George Stephanopolous was interviewing James Dobson. See this TPM post for an amazing excerpt.

Shortly afterward, Joshua Marshall started aptly referring to him "Mullah Dobson": see this TPM post.

Then at the end of last week Slate ran a profile:

James Dobson: The religious right's new kingmaker.
By Michael Crowley
Posted Friday, Nov. 12, 2004

Spread the info on how extreme the religious right is--and to what extent they are seeking to leverage their power in Washington.

show recaps

Anj just left for Hawaii this morning (think it's this she's attending), so after I get some job applications out this week, I'll have nothing better do than catch up on some blog entries.

Namely, planning to write up recaps of a couple of shows we hit over the past week:
Also I'm going to hit a couple show this week while Anj is out. Tonight Little Brother and Foreign Exchange* are playing Blakes in Berkeley. And Friday maybe I'll go around the corner to Bruno's, to catch some cats who played at the aforementioned Hybrid Project: SkunkFunk and Felonious (go here and scroll down to "Best Hip-Hop Group; Best Band Name"; or go to their site here, though they got some weird site design/popup issues).

(The common theme here: the culture of live hip hop that the Roots have inspired, a culture and a community is centered around It's how Little Brother broke and how Foreign Exchange connected. No doubt Felonious take inspiration from them too; see the conclusion to this article, for example. Though that article points out that the roots go much deeper than the Roots. Back to Low End Theory, and back beyond that to Gil-Scott Heron and the Last Poets. (A coincidence on that: see this post and Brady's comment.))

So look for recaps on this week's shows as well.

*: Further evidence that NPR is hip here.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Platinum Pied Pipers, Fresco-style, Fatsouls

Actually started this post last Sunday (Nov 7). Just finished it up now:

Taking a break from the barrage of political entries. Like I wrote earlier, in its previous incarnation, Steady Blogging concentrating on music and literature--the good stuff. So here's a musical post.

Anj and I haven't gone out to listen and/or dance to music all that much since arriving in the Yay in January. A quick recap, AFAIK recall: Aceyalone in Feb at Slim's, where we met up with Adam, Josh, and Greg (the latter two we literally met at this show); a hip/trip-hop show at Milk in March, where we met up with Andre's lil bro Mischa; Amp Fiddler at Cafe du Nord in early June; John Beltran and John Arnold at Milk in early July; Common in late Aug; Federico Aubele, again at du Nord, in early Oct. That's about it.

But things are picking up. Anj and I made it out two weeks ago (Fri, Oct 29) to a club called Mighty. What drew us out was "Wonder-full," which fully lived up to the high expectations we had for it. We rolled in around midnight--just as Spinna and Bobbito went on. They went tag team for the 3 hours that we stayed, and as advertised they played strictly Stevie. They kicked it off with "Higher Ground"; later a Ray Charles cover of "Living for the City," followed immediately by the original...a late night highlight was Spinna dropping Dwele's "Down Jimmy" (a lascivious remake of "Too High.")

Then last Friday I went back to Milk to see the Platinum Pied Pipers do a live gig at Milk, and then, compliments of flavorpill, hit Mighty again for some afterhours deep house--Ron Trent on the decks!

PPP @ Milk were great. It was another night by the guys at fresco-style. They seems to be a quality crew. Not only bringing in great guests (it was them who brought Beltran and Arnold in July; and check the past events on their site), but also dropping quality tunes themselves: prior to PPP coming on, one of them (Yoshito I believe) played a great set--early '90s hip hop into broken beat...highlight for me was Dwele's 'Truth.' (Got me to revisit Subject this past week--album's is not as disappointing as I first thought.) And not only are they quality promoters and DJs, they seem to be friendly too. Another one of them (Kento) told me that next month they're bringing Dego in to do a set! (And he claimed to remember me and Anj dancing around at John Arnold gig in July!)

Then PPP came on, and they didn't disappoint. Waajeed on turntables, Saadiq on bass (both of them decked out), Tiombe Lockhart and Georgia on vocals. Seemed like they're still working out their live thing, but it was still soulful and funky. Think they did everything that's on their Ubiquity 12"...though I was waiting for their cover of "Open Your Eyes" but it never came.

A strangely memorable moment was when they did introductions, to the instrumental of "Your Precious Love." Something about seeing and hearing so much of Detroit's musical history right there: the soul of Motown, which reaches back to the rhythm & blues that made the trip North; and reaches forward into the funk of the '70s (Stevie again, of course...but don't forget that P-funk is originally a motorbooty affair). Keep an eye on Ubiquity and Waajeed and Saadiq's

Afterwards we dropped in on the opening night for "Full Circle", a new night at Mighty by local crew Fatsouls. Listened to Ron Trent drop some deepness for an hour or so. Only track I recognized was Candido's "Thousand Fingered Man." (Amazingly, Candido was on the bill at this show for the SFJazz Festival last weekend, but Anj and I didn't have the time or energy to make that one.)

If we have the energy, we're going to hit Mighty again tonight. This week they've got Alton Miller. If Ron Trent and Alton Miller are indicative of the caliber of guests they're going to be bringing in for this night, we'll hopefully be regulars.

dropping science: RNAi

In addition to the music, books, and politics, I'll try to drop some science up in here from time to time. Actually, I was just thinking earlier this week that I should combine my access to the scientific literature with my interest in political/policy matters, and go deeper on the stem cell issue.

That's a larger project. For now, a couple features on an area of biology that's not getting as much attention in the wider press, but seems to be getting as much if not more in the scientific community: RNA interference.

Actually, RNAi did surface in the mainstream press this week (if you're a member of the "cultural elite" that is, and actually listen to public radio):

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
RNA Treatment Used to Lower Cholesterol in Mice

Researchers use a technique that selectively shuts off genes to lower levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, in mice. The findings, reported in Nature, suggest that RNA interference may be a revolutionary development for medical science.

Here's the item that came through Science's weekly e-mail alert:

10 November 2004
Fighting Cholesterol With RNAi

New delivery system may clear a major hurdle for therapeutic RNA

If you want to further in depth, just so happened I was flipping through our office copy of Scientific American, and came across this article:

Scientific American
Oct 2004
Hitting the Genetic Off Switch
By Gary Stix

A host of start-ups is speeding development of a new class of drugs that block the action of RNA

Unfort SciAm doesn't provide free access to their print edition articles...but at least you have the reference.

"we live in brooklyn": the fortress of solitude soundtrack

This occurred to me just now, while listening our recording of Roy Ayers on Gilles Peterson's Worldwide. They dropped the classic "We live in brooklyn", and with Roy talking about resonated heavily with my current reading of Fortress of Solitude. Had one of those why didn't i think of it before moments: this book demands a soundtrack.

I've been taking a few notes on Brooklyn geography, but not on the musical references, which are plentiful. Here are a few ideas for the soundtrack:

spins by Barrett Rude Jr:
Stevie Wonder
Shuggie Otis
Donnie Hathaway

to evoke Barrett's former life in the Distinctions:
classic Philly soul, along the lines of the Spinners, the Stylistics, the Dramatics
(esp the Spinners; see this post)

some coked-out soul/funk, to evoke Barrett's life on Dean St:
probably Sly

in honor of the double feature @ the Duffield:
some "Norman Whitfield-Rose Royce pizzazz" off the Car Wash soundtrack

MFSB - "Love is the Message"

the newly discovered breaks that Mingus drops in his basement lair

the punk that Dylan discovers @ Stuyvesant High:
Clash, Talking Heads, ...

"Rapper's Delight"

something by Marvin, that resonates on his relationship with his father

and of course:

"Play that funky music whiteboy"

more on this later.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Molly Ivins: "Mourning in America"

Just forwarded to me by Brady:
Mourning in America
Getting over it by getting organized
By Molly Ivins
Definitely worth reading. (Also worth looking around the WorkingForChange site.)

Ivins makes a good point in relating the Bush Admininstration's "pro-business" anti-regulatory policies to current events like Merck's recent problems with Vioxx.

What Ivins writes about the FDA no doubt fits with the previous post about the EPA: "We have a toothless regulatory agency in the pocket of the industry it is supposed to patrol. We have an administration-wide contempt for science and plain facts."

And it's all disguised under inoccuous rhetoric--all they're doing is "maintaining economic competitiveness."

Keep the forwards coming.

Bushies & the environment

Environmental issues got largely ignored in this campaign.

(Though one of the most memorable moments for me was in the 2nd debate, when Bush wrapped up a rather pointed question regarding his Adminstration's record on the environment with this: "I'm a good steward of the land. The quality of the air's cleaner since I've been the president. Fewer water complaints since I've been the president." I was torn between laughing, crying, and vomiting. Yet more evidence that Bush is clearly not a member of the reality-based community.)

Here's something from the Times:
G.O.P. Plans to Give Environment Rules a Free-Market Tilt

The administration is moving ahead with agendas that
include revamping air pollution laws and opening the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration.

Here's an excerpt:
"The election is a validation of our philosophy and agenda," Michael O. Leavitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in an interview. "We will make more progress in less time while maintaining economic competitiveness for the country. That is my mission."

Folks, that's the head of the EPA talking. Clearly the environment is not going be getting much protection from this Administration. It's their coded language and doublespeak again: what do you think "maintaining economic competitiveness" means? (With these guys in power, the P in EPA should stand for "Pillage," not "Protection.")

And Leavitt slips in the party line about this election being a mandate to push through their "philosophy and agenda."

Be aware. Be very aware.

Tonight in the D: Roots, Common, DJ ?love

Check out what's happening in Detroit tonight. Prices are steep though.

Anj and I are going to see The Roots (+ others) this Saturday in Oakland, at this.

> Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 11:22:57 -0800 (PST)
> From:
> Subject: (313) TONIGHT in D-TOWN
> :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
> TONIGHT! Thursday . November 11 . 2004
> The Roots & Common @ St. Andrew's Hall
> 8pm | $35
> feat.
> DJ ?UESTLOVE |Philadelphia|
> wsg
> dj Edwin Fabre |Detroit|
> [known as "Detroit's Rich Medina"]
> 10pm - 2am
> $15 | $10 w/concert ticket stub | 18+
> PEEP: | |
> | |
> :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

BTW, "Fifth Avenue Downtown" is the bar/pool place built into the side of Comerica park. A nice spot, with big windows facing across Woodward towards the Fox and State Theatre.

I think Anj and I have only been there twice though. Once once after a Sunday night
Roots show at the State, when Scott Z was still doing his Instant Vintage thing there. I think that was Feb 2003. Now that I think on it, that was the Roots show for which I actually sat down and did a writeup. Posted it on the old blog; go here to read it. Unfort never did a writeup for Common's Electric Circus show, which we caught at the State about a month later.

The other time at 5th Ave was in May of that year, also a Sunday night, post-Movement. Spinning that night were Theo Parrish and Rich Medina, though Anj and I didn't last all that long.

More on Republicans' supposed fiscal conservatism

More from Hugh, following up on this post and the chart he put together:
"Republicans claim that Clinton lucked into the technology boom and then mismanaged it to the point that it crashed right after he left office. They refer to it as the 'Clinton Depression.' The cognitive dissonance is amazing. You look at this chart and you've got 30 years of history that tells one very clear story, and they will still find excuses for why it's not their fault. Reagan had to spend to conquer the Soviets, Bush I had to spend to win the Gulf War, Bush II has to spend to win the Iraq war and get us out of the Clinton Depression. I sound like a broken record, but again you can't argue with them -- it's a belief system founded on faith, not reason."


this came through the 313 list today, with the subject line "crazy african electronic shizz":

Take a quick look at the photos at least. Then check out the mp3 posted at the bottom of that page: demo made in Kinshasa (mp3)

Can you say DIY?? Lovely.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

From The Onion...

This was forwarded to me just now by Johnee. Can't really improve upon his introduction to it: "Only THE ONION could state it so succinctly."

The Onion | Nation's Poor Win Election For Nation's Rich

WASHINGTON, DC—The economically disadvantaged segment of the U.S. population provided the decisive factor in another presidential election last Tuesday, handing control of the government to the rich and powerful once again.

"The Republican party—the party of industrial mega-capitalists, corporate financiers, power brokers, and the moneyed elite—would like to thank the undereducated rural poor, the struggling blue-collar workers in Middle America, and the God-fearing underpriviledged minorities who voted George W. Bush back into office," Karl Rove, senior advisor to Bush, told reporters at a press conference Monday. "You have selflessly sacrificed your well-being and voted against your own economic interest. For this, we humbly thank you."

Added Rove: "You have acted beyond the call of duty—or, for that matter, good sense."

According to Rove, the Republicans found strong support in non-urban areas populated by the
people who would have benefited most from the lower-income tax cuts and social-service
programs championed by Kerry. Regardless of their own interests, these citizens turned out in
record numbers to elect conservatives into office at all levels of the government.


Follow the link to read the rest...

Another response from MN...

Asked another good friend from MN for his assessment of the post-election mood there. Here is his reply:

Subject: RE: e-mail/blog
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2004 11:39:14 -0800
From: P-diddy
To: Me

S- thanks for sending the info along and I have jumped on the blog a couple times in the last week (checked out Ina's as well per your tip).

The mood here is mixed. I think people are tying to take solace in
the fact that the DFL gained 14 seats in the state legislature on
11/2. Gives folks hope on the local level and helps them completely
ignore how depressing the bigger picture is.

75% of the city of St. Paul voted for Kerry (% is similar in MPLS).
It is the suburban ring and rural folks that have somehow been
convinced that voting Republican is going to save their soul. Their
belief that W and his posse's moral values are a better choice than my
kid's future, is what is the most disturbing. They fear gay marriage
and other perceived social ills to such a degree that they are willing
to sell out the environment, burn all diplomatic bridges and create a
supreme court that will merge the church and state.

I agree that it comes down to how do we educate/re-educate. There was
a time in this country that you could find someone who lived outside
of city who harbored a progressive thought or two. Now once you leave
the city, hit the suburbs and slowly blend it rural landscape you are
in a red electoral sea. It is one thing to have a disagreement with
someone who believes in fiscally conservative policies, but quite a
different thing to be facing half a nation who think that Jesus is
telling them to act like an idiot.

It will be interesting to see how motivated folks on my side of the
aisle are. Everyone seemed outraged on 11/3, but emotions are often
fleeting. I hope not.

Good words there.

Though my man goes a little far in implying that there are no progressive folk outside the cities anymore. And I don't mean the isolated progressive souls out there lost in a red wilderness. One of the interesting things that jumped out at me from the maps showing county-by-county results was that the Iron Range looks to be maintaining its DFL roots.

Go here, and scroll down to "Election results by county"--doesn't northern MN stand out? Or go here. (And contrast that with the scary maps of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, which hardly had a county go blue among them.)

Part of the raison d'etre of Steadyblogging is to get your views, thoughts, and reactions on all this, and to share them amongst us. So send me e-mail and I'll put them up like the above...or you can always use the Comments feature.

3 internet radio streams...

This was at the tail end of this week's .listd (check out their website--esp if you reside in or around the D):

internet music streams (because good music makes things better)

1) Dublab: - We like dub, you like dub
(and if you don't, you should), and sometimes we also like to smoke
dub. But thats besides the point, for a little audio R & R, Dublab
is the perfect remedy.

2) Compost Radio: - Hosted by Michael
Rutten, this is solid internet radio because of his vast selection
and taste of good music across the board. The show changes once
every two weeks so that everyone can have more than just one

3) - We would be
fronting if we didn't show some hometown love. Featuring a
chockfull of dj sets from this side of the tracks, here is the
opportunity to listen to a dj set that compliments your current

Coming soon: more internet radio and mix archives (and most with a 313 flavor)....

Lemann profile of Karl Rove

I buried this link at the bottom of a previous post, but it deserves its own entry. It's more essential reading: a lengthy and eye-opening profile of Karl Rove, written by Nicholas Lemann. It appeared in the New Yorker in May 2003. I read it back then (while I was stuck at home recovering from that surgery), and then later last year found that someone had archived it online (I first blogged it last November; go here).

It's more timely than ever, now that people are wondering who Rove is, and how he engineered last week's electoral victory. So here it is again:

The Controller: Karl Rove is working to get George Bush reelected, but
he has bigger plans.
by Nicholas Lemann
"Profiles," The New Yorker Magazine
May 12, 2003

Respect the architect.

PS: More on Lemann in a future post.

Salon newsletter

Used to read Salon on the regular back in the day (late '90s), but haven't been over there much in the past few years. Partly it was just another site to visit, and they lost out since they put up an extra barrier to their content: in order to read their articles, you either had to pay for a subscription or get a "Free Day Pass" by watching an ad.

But their content is quality, probably as good as anything on the web. So I just subscribed to their daily newsletter; here's a sampling of what's been featured this week:

From Mon Nov 10:
The curse of Bush II
Yes, the devastation will be extreme. The good news? He'll sow his own destruction.
By Dennis Jett

From Tues Nov 9:
The future of America is blue
Five million more young people voted this time, and most went Democratic.
By Lisa Chamberlain

Joyful and triumphant
The religious right is in heaven at the prospect of remaking the Supreme Court.
By Michelle Goldberg

From Wed Nov 10:

The Texas chainsaw massacre
With Bush's victory, the Lone Star state's right-wing ethos reigns supreme.
By Robert Bryce

Was the election stolen?
The system is clearly broken. But there is no evidence that Bush won because of voter fraud.
By Farhad Manjoo

Tom Wolfe's animal house
America's patrician journo-novelist goes back to college and finds -- surprise! -- the halls of academe strewn with beer cans, pizza boxes and used condoms.
By Priya Jain

For each of those, "Get a Free Day Pass" to read the entire article. (Not that I have--I'm putting them up here b/c I want to get back to them at some point myself.)

Eventually I'd like to graduate to Salon's RSS feeds, but I haven't figured out how or where to handle such feeds.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"The fight goes on..."

If you need encouragement and ideas--and we need both of those at this juncture--check out The Fight Goes On: Progress Report Readers Write Back

It's a collection of the post-election responses sent in by readers of The Progress Report (the newsletter of the Center for American Progress). There are numerous ones that I'd like to quote. Here are three:

  • "If progressive ideas and individuals are going to have any hope of turning America around and back towards the center, we have to set out a 10 to 40 year plan to change the minds of Americans and to create a climate in which progressive ideals will become paramount in the minds of Americans. It will be a slow and long battle. If conservatives could stay with their agenda for 40 years then we must be prepared to do the same. There will be small victories along the way and events might conspire to give us the opportunity to make dramatic inroads but we have to begin a constant drum beat in the same ways that conservative have done in the past and will continue to do so in the future."

  • "Election evening, I felt so angry, frustrated, and disappointed in our country. I had so much energy that I wanted to channel to change, but was too angry to figure out how. The next day, I found myself sharing my feelings and beliefs at work in a way I hadn't before. I was able to talk with Bush supporters without either of us getting escalated, just informed. I decided that in the next four years, I will communicate with others what I read (since I know most don't read your emails (sorry!) or the many books out there on the lies of the Bush administration) in a calm informative way, to teach them what I've learned. I won't wait until 6 months before the election or shy away from conflict. I also plan to be very active politically throughout the year, writing letters and calling my legislators, not just assuming others will do it for me. And finally, I have pledged to give more money to environmental groups and be more environmentally conscious since I know the current administration won't!"

  • "Dear Progress, You are doing a great job on issues and research. But there's a real need for personal connection and identification, some might call it emotional intelligence, among progressives. The evangelical community is growing, especially in the suburbs. They answer an emotional need among our fellow citizens by providing a caring, supportive community with many of the services--schools, child care, elder care--that government also provides. They choose the religious-based service because they are part of a community that reinforces their feelings.

    We talk about statistics and issues. They talk about love, redemption and salvation. We have to find a way to connect with them, and we can't do it in the conventional ways of argument and debate. In my view, we should make a personal, emotional connection with that group and they aren't all in the red states.

    I'm saddened that progressives too often ridicule and put down the evangelical community. It's very hard to persuade someone you don't respect. I have serious differences with them, but I fundamentally understand their yearning for a supportive community. One bridge that could be helpful would be the revive the talk about family leave. Another would be to begin a conversation about granting partners legal standing to visit hospital patients.

    Go for the gut. Make them feel the pain of their positions, and offer acceptable alternatives. Hope this is helpful."

Many many more are posted here.

Map madness

Thought I'd collect the various map links that I've come across and/or people have sent me:

In this post, I linked to
Simeone sent me a link to maps showing the results of American Presidential Elections 1932-2000.

A blog called The Blogging of the President just had Map Weekend. One unusual and no doubt controversial map they have is Voting: Free vs. Slave States.

Finally, just noticed that Marcelo sent me this link to a set of maps showing election results, population, and numbers of college graduates.

PS: Arun just sent me this link, which has a fantastic set of maps. I've come across the work of the latter two co-authors of that page, Cosma Shalizi and Mark Newman, since they're both prominent researchers in the field of Complex Systems and they're both at Michigan.

Revisiting the Civil War

There's a growing anger here in Blue America directed towards the South. Krops forwarded me this link this morning. And that was just hours after I heard this perspective on KQED this morning:

Tue, Nov 9, 2004
Look Away, Dixieland

Ex-Southener Malcolm Maclachlan wonders if the results of last week's election suggest the country would be better off if Dixie had won the Civil War after all.
Host: Malcolm Maclachlan

Follow the link and click on the "Listen" link to hear it.

I was going to refrain from posting the link, out of a sense of decorum. But I forwarded it to a few friends, and two responses that I got back convinced me to post it. The 1st one read: "my sentiments exactly, I love it." The 2nd one:
"i'm in; i would support the forced secession of those latter parts. when that lobby picks up steam, i'll that guy is angry! and don't be a sell-out! post that shit. blog it!"
I couldn't back down from that, so I had to blog it.

Seriously: if that's how a lot of us feel, it has implications. Implications, as I wrote in my initial post-election entry, for how "united" the United States will be.

As Arun suggested to me last week, tables may be turning w/ respect to states' rights. It makes sense that the progressive elements in this country will start to seek some autonomy with respect to social issues like gay marriage and abortion (if a Bush-packed Supreme Court seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade, as some of Bush's "Christian" supporters are already manuevering towards; for more on Dobson's exchange with Stephanopoulos, see this TPM post). OTOH, the reactionaries who have currently have control of the federal government will seek to limit that autonomy.

As I mentioned earlier, it's time for us to study federalism.

A crazy coincidence regarding that: after adding The Federalist Papers ("Classics of Social and Political Thought" anyone?) to my post-election reading list, I revisited this essential profile of Karl Rove, That was written by Nicholas Lemann, and appeared in the New Yorker in May 2003. I'd read it back then, but I didn't recall that Lemann closes the piece by examining Rove's reading list--and discussing a few of The Federalist Papers with Mr. Rove.

(Google turned up this irony: "For many years, [Leo] Strauss taught Classics of Social and Political Thought, one of the University’s most famous core classes." That's from this Maroon article, headlined "Kristol will speak on U.S. policy." More--much more--on Strauss and the UofC neo-con connection in future posts.)

Republicans are fiscally conservative??

I asked some friends for some more information on the economic issues we're facing with respect to more Republican rule. Hugh responded within minutes with this:

"Let's start with this little chart that I put together showing federal debt accumulation by year. Debt is different from deficit in that it also takes into account the money that is stolen from social security to keep the deficit down, so the debt numbers are higher than the deficit, but it's the same trend."

Join the reality-based community. Click on the image to get an enlarged view.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Juan Cole's commentary: essential

Prasad raised the point last night that it is essential that we be aware of what's happening outside of our own media bubble. Lately, that has been taken to mean the domestic divide between conservative vs liberal media (as a friend put it in an e-mail, it's right-wing radio, Fox News,, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, et vs the NYTimes and NPR. To the latter you could also add PBS, Air America,,, and a number of other blogs. To the prior,, a number of other blogs.)

But Prasad's point was that we should be aware of how events are portrayed in media around the world--particularly in the Middle East.

This reminded me of Juan Cole's blog, since he seems to do a tremendous job of reading and commenting on what's happening the Arabic press. Not to mention the level of detail and historical context he brings to current events. Particularly timely given what's happening in Falluja today. He opens his latest entry, for example, as follows: "The Pakistan Times does among the best jobs of summarizing the horrific news from Iraq on Sunday..."

Add "Informed Comment" to your list of sites to visit on the regular.

PS: Prasad mentioned that remarkably little material gets translated into Arabic, as evidence of the dearth of free flow of ideas in the Middle East. Just noticed that Juan Cole is seeking to address this. He's soliciting donations through his website for what he calls the "Americana in Arabic Library Translation Project."