Archive for the 'Culture' Category

Radiohead killed the record company.

Oct 12, 2007 in Culture, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

I paid $7 for mine. Salon reports the numbers, and they’re jaw-dropping.

The British music newsletter Record of the Day conducted a poll of 3,000 purchasers of the album. People paid an average price of £4, about $8, the newsletter found.

Because the band isn’t working with a record label, it gets to keep all that money. If it had sold its songs instead on iTunes, it would likely have seen less than $1.50 per album.

Which means that if all these numbers are right — 1.2 million units at $8 each — Thom Yorke and his pals are seeing a lot of green right now.

$1.50 per album through iTunes? Or hire some web geeks for a few grand to set up a site and a server, and rake in millions? Every single musician working out there today just did a double-take and ran to the bathroom to clean their soiled undies. Every record company executive started looking into other careers. And music lovers everywhere rejoiced…

…although I haven’t made up my mind if the new Radiohead is good. Better give it another listen.

-jb

This’ll piss off the people it’s aimed at.

Sep 25, 2007 in Culture, Politics

I’m not responsible for the America spoken of here. Republican Drama Queens wishing they could vote for George W. again and who deal in mock outrage (the Petraeus ad) though…begin yer teeth gnashing!

[youtube gQCUDqKNl1s]
Rufus Wainwright, “Going to a Town.”

-jb

This is how you jump the shark.

Sep 24, 2007 in Culture

From an interview with Zoe Bell, stuntwoman extraordinaire, star of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, and mega-babe:

And I think oftentimes I forget that Quentin is Quentin Tarantino, you know. I was definitely nervous about letting him down. More than just embarrassing myself in front of the masses, which occurred to me a little bit later, I was like, “God, I don’t want to be the person to fuck up a Tarantino movie.” I didn’t want to be anything less than what Tarantino’s standard is and I didn’t know if I had that.

He basically turned to me and was like, “Zoe, I’m Quentin Tarantino. I don’t make bad decisions and you’re my decision, so get over it.” Umm… Fair call. What are you going to do, fight Quentin Tarantino on moviemaking?

That would explain a lot of his recent bad decisions. Tarantino needs somebody to fight with him over his recent attempts at moviemaking. Kill Bill Vol. 1 was cotton candy, Vol. 2 was a pretentious-yet-scant fucking bore, and Death Proof was 30 minutes of movie stretched into 90, and then stretched into 120 for DVD release. The critics are still lapping him up for some reason, but after his career has spiralled downwards they’ll be saying they saw it coming.

BTW, all comparisons to Bush’s bubble and pro-Iraq war hawks pretending to have been critics all along are…completely valid.

-jb

Viva victory!

Aug 17, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Culture

Sharon, the legal czar over at our trusted friend Dana Pico’s group blog, ever ironically named Common Sense Political Thought, finally throws in the towel on our epic gay marriage debate.

Of course, she declares victory before scampering away. Yet I think on the merits of each reason she claimed gays don’t have a right to equal recognition of their marriages, I circumvented and surpassed her talking points. Sharon whined about my rough language, but freely and frequently dished it out herself. I waded through the muck and dealt with the logic just fine. And I feel just fine, despite being called all manner of names and having my faculties attacked at every juncture. Why? Because I know the difference between reason and rhetoric. I don’t really care what I get called (full disclosure: actually, it always stings, for about 2.5 seconds…), what concerns me is the thought that my reasoning might be in error, invalid, incomplete, or lacking elegance. Typically I feel I lack elegance, and that I’m missing something which will drive my points home into the heart of my opponent, but I take care that my premises are factual and that my conclusions validly follow from them. If not, it’s time to rethink my position, isn’t it?

I will admit, Sharon did make me dust off a few cobwebs and actually go look some things up. It’s been years since I bothered going twelve rounds with one of her kind, and she was one of the more sophisticated among them, heavy on legal precedent, careful to avoid too many explicit negative comments about homosexuality or any but the most vague references to religion. But in the end she was left tangled in her own rhetoric, mocking my strange practice of consulting the dictionary to define words, ignoring the precedent for my Constitutional philosophy, and refusing to answer a question as fundamental to the question of treating gays equally as “Is homosexuality a choice?” A red herring, said she. The very crux of it all, said I.

But, like Chomsky always says, don’t take my word for it. Check it out, tell me what you think. Did I refuse to answer any questions? Did I refuse to explain any position I took? Did I avoid Sharon’s actual arguments in favor of straw men I felt easier to take down? Did I misuse any logical fallacies, or rely on any for an argument (I said RELY, I’ll gleefully sprinkle some rhetoric on top of my logical foundations)? Did my arguments become stale, unable to flow or expand to accommodate new information given to me? Or was Sharon painted into a corner, left with no option but to repeat herself over and over again and marvel that it didn’t work on me?

The method of argument is a wonderful thing. All the noise dissipates, and it becomes quite mathematical. And opposition to gay marriage is fundamentally irrational. When all the facts are in, it simply doesn’t add up.

Incidentally, Andrew Sullivan’s wedding to his partner Aaron is approaching. His “jitters” are moving and, as always, thought-provoking. I wish him the best. One day this entire nation will honor the Constitution and recognize his humanity, and therefore his equality.

-jb

UPDATE: After shutting down comments, in a thread where I was severely outnumbered by rightwingers, Sharon writes a post titled, “Liberal Bloggers in the Echo Chamber.” Priceless!

Enjoy your echo chamber, Sharon…I’m not sorry to have disrupted it!

All over Battersea, some hope and some despair…

Aug 03, 2007 in Britpop, Culture

News to me, but obviously not to others, Morrissey was voted second greatest Living Icon by a recent BBC poll. Only David Attenborough, noted naturalist, could hold back what slate-gray Britain is most known for; legions of alternatively shoe-gazing/skull-bashing Dr. Marten and hearing aid sporting youths peckish for lyrics referencing Keats, Yeats and loves both lost and imagined. The nebula from his supernova will linger for billions of years, for he speaks to feelings that will never die.

[youtube G-q7-lH8cbs]

-mg

Farvael, Ingmar.

Jul 31, 2007 in Culture

I had recently, on a whim, watched Ingmar Bergman’s Persona for the first time and re-watched Wild Strawberries. Federico Fellini only had one equal. Bergman’s sense of chiaroscuro (light and dark, quite important for B&W films you probably already know) was so distinctive you can recognize an old Bergman movie just by looking at a few images. The scathing philosophical and religious dialogue against the pristine sunny backdrops of Sweden reveled in a similar contrast. The darkness in his films was cold, clinical, and ever lurked underneath every surface. Watching them today reveals their edges are still sharp enough to cut; only being buried in time and another language protects him from the wrath of the theo-cons. His films are so brave, one nearly cannot fathom them being made today.

The old man finally crossed over today at 89. Here’s a clip from Wild Strawberries, a film about an old professor on a road trip that turns pretty metaphysical as he spies on events from his early years he never witnessed. Death is presumably coming round the bend…or already passed. The question is raised, what would you learn if you could go back and see how people talked about you when you weren’t there…

[youtube 3O01zxTTrQY]

-jb

Video of the whenever I feel like putting up a video.

Jul 26, 2007 in Culture

Mountain Goats they eez pretty good. Singer John Darnielle is known mainly for his sexiness and dance moves, but if you listen closely to his songs, you’ll spy the lyrics hidden under a wall-of- sound Public Enemy-esqe industrial hip-hop war chant.

[youtube 1bSdRizGYb0]

-jb

Sicko fact checks quite well.

Jul 01, 2007 in Culture, Health Care, Politics

From CNN:

Our team investigated some of the claims put forth in his film. We found that his numbers were mostly right, but his arguments could use a little more context. As we dug deep to uncover the numbers, we found surprisingly few inaccuracies in the film. In fact, most pundits or health-care experts we spoke to spent more time on errors of omission rather than disputing the actual claims in the film.

Here’s an “error of omission”:

Americans do have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when it comes to nonemergency elective surgery such as hip replacements, cataract removal or knee repair.

So the Germans, with their socialized health care, still have us beat. And I wonder how long the wait for nonemergency elective surgery is for Americans that don’t have health insurance?

Gee, what are Rush, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and the rest of the moron liar propagandist brigade going to tell their listeners to prevent them from going to see Sicko? Make no mistake, they will do so, telling their listeners to trust them, trust them to watch this movie for them and decide what to make of it. Dittoheads can’t be trusted to be exposed to Moore’s treasonous films. Just imagine a Rush Limbaugh listener, sitting in his seat at the end of the movie, mouth hung slightly open, spittle rolling down his chin as he utters weakly, “Megadittoes, Michael.” It simply cannot be allowed to happen!

-jb

Rush told me so.

Jun 26, 2007 in Culture, Health Care

From an AICN contributor review of Michael Moore’s Sicko, which I am really anxious to see:

Michael Moore travels to Canada, the UK, and France to do a comparative study of how socialized health care is possible in these countries, and what the drawbacks are. Socialism has long been a dirty word in America, and scare tactics have been used to convince Americans that socialized medicine would be a slippery slope and the downfall of democracy. Yet, its all unfounded. Many socialized services are provided by the government such as free service from the police, firemen, libraries, etc., but why not free health care? As these questions are explored in Europe, the answeres are not drawn out or forced, because it simply makes sense. Is anyone going to argue that they would rather pay out of their pocket than have the government pay health care?

The answer I always hear in response to those questions is that taxes are really high in those countries. Taxes are higher, but you know what, they live pretty well in those countries, Canada included. This is something that some people who have never travelled outside of the U.S. don’t understand, and Moore does a good job of illustrating this with his travels. Most people are not living in squalor in Canada, France, and the UK. Its a health care system based on humanity, instead of trying to shaft people for as much money as you can, even when they’re sick. And they are still able to afford all the luxuries they want in life, and to live quite happily. It seems that those who fear higher taxes seem to think that socialized medicine will prevent them from achieving their dream of a big pimpin’ lifestyle with a mansion and numerous sports cars, when the reality is that these people are usually slaves to jobs they don’t like and are often afraid of leaving them for fear of losing their health benefits.

Having studied abroad in Austria for a year in college, I understand this perfectly. Growing up in Iowa, hearing about the world out there, even watching “European Vacation,” I wasn’t completely prepared for the prosperity and good health I saw. Fear of nationalized health care because you don’t want to live like those miserable people in France? A costly delusion that will continue to exact a steep price on our nation.

Michael Moore serves an important purpose. He isn’t an intellectual, he’s a feeler, and that’s how his films connect to the public. He nails the emotional perspective of the kinds of Americans who don’t often get covered in the media. And he does it best by simply pointing the camera and finding the real stories out there. Of course, Newsweek will run a fact-check article and find fewer quibbles than one would watching 90 minutes of Fox News, but there’s an important reason GOP propagandists need to keep people out of those seats.

-jb

A defeat for bigotry, a victory for marriage.

Jun 16, 2007 in Christian Right, Constitution, Culture, Politics, Religion

And for the Constitution.

AFTER WEEKS of intense lobbying and endless speculation about who might vote how, a joint session of the Legislature made blessedly quick work yesterday of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In a State House mobbed with revved-up campaigners on both sides of the issue, lawmakers took a quarter hour to dispatch the proposal by a decisive margin. The vote was a victory for decency and civil equality, and underscored Massachusetts’ long history of protecting individual rights.

Congratulations, Massachusetts, on leading America forward and eschewing the hatred and fear that the Republican party has worked so hard to stoke in America. Right now millions of “conservatives” (i.e. theocratic authoritarians exploiting the Bible) are gnashing their teeth in unrighteous, depraved fury. Their anger has been blocked, their hate-fever stunted, their assumed gratification of raw willpower over reason denied. They still have their bigotry enshrined in law in 49 other states in defiance of the Constitution, but in Massachusetts their Berlin wall of mindless oppression has had a healthy chunk knocked down, and it’s unlikely to go back up.

Time is on the side of equality. The state’s first same-sex married couples have already celebrated their third wedding anniversaries. With each year that passes, it becomes ever clearer that the sky will not fall; that the institution of marriage has been strengthened, not weakened; and that giving everyone the right to marriage makes Massachusetts a happier place overall

Anti-gay activists have done a good job of framing the debate, persuading millions of Americans that they’re not on the assault, but rather on the defense. Even Clinton signed the “Defense of Marriage Act.”

But what this has been is the ending of aggression and assault on the rights, humanity, and citizenry of America’s homosexuals. And that truth keeps seeping through, no matter what apocolyptic terror Christianists have shrieked. They lost the debate long ago, they lost the moral high ground, all they’ve had is the well-honed tools of propaganda, fear, and bullying, cloaked in a layer of self-righteousness more akin to Pigpen’s layer of grime. They have not been just, or good, or kind, and have certainly not paid much of any attention to the teachings of Jesus they supposedly put above all else. They have been hateful, divisive, dishonest, and ultimately evil in their actions, no matter how lovingly they gaze upon each other or what other good things they have done with their lives.

It is the hope and promise of America that liberty will prevail.

-jb

Hey, Daredevil wasn’t a bad movie.

Jun 10, 2007 in Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Culture, Politics

Our favorite commenter, quick to stand up and easy to knock down Dana Pico, has his own blog which I never read. I know that’s a bit selfish of me, but if I do read it, I’m just going to end up raining on Dana’s little party over there, and then what fun will he have? But today I thought I’d pick on one of his co-bloggers, Mr. Grey Ghost. Oy vey…

This week the star of the Catholic-bashing “Dogma“ went on CNN to bash President Bush (assailing the President’s administration as “one of the worse ever”) as well as Christians (calling them “neanderthals”.

First of all, Dogma was written by a Catholic and is definitely pro-faith, it was just anti-dogma. There’s no need to make up things about it, just call it what it was: a really shitty movie.

Secondly, calling President Bush one of the nation’s worst ever is fairly astute analysis, and Bush well deserves his bashing no matter how much rightwingers brainlessly tried to persuade Americans that George W. Bush was an unfairly abused minority unto himself. That aside, Mr. Ghost’s retort to “one of the worse ever” is this:

I mean, besides the fact that someone needs to school Ben on the administrations of Andrew Johnson or Warren G. Harding, is any Hollyweird liberal able to explain WHY they think the Bush presidency is so bad without using typical leftwing talking points?

So by Mr. Ghost’s math, Bush still not being as bad as Harding or Johnson excludes him from the broad “one of the worse”??? Why is it rightwingers seem perpetually challenged by the English language?

And what are “typical leftwing talking points” anyway? That Iraq was one of America’s greatest military blunders? That Bush has repeatedly violated the Constitution and the law, overseeing the elimination of habeus corpus? That he was dismissing Osama bin Laden up until 9/11/01? That he blew the pursuit of bin Laden afterwards and went off to start a war he’d already wanted before 9/11? That he seems to have little understanding of our system of checks and balances? That he’s defiled America’s standing in the world? That he invaded a country without knowing anything about the people there? That he hires loyalists and lackeys instead of qualified people? That he’s lied repeatedly to the American people about serious matters, not about where his dick has been? That he bungled Katrina?

Have I hit a “typical leftwing talking point” yet, or has everything I’ve said been objectively true, only disputed by a tiny minority of diehard Republicanists? The truth is that it’s too late to debate, we’re at the point where we need to start fixing the damage Bush has done.

Finally, Affleck did not call all Christians Neanderthals.

BEN AFFLECK: I think Huckabee actually framed his position in a much less dramatic way than had been made out. Which was he said it could be six days, or it could be six epochs, which I thought was much more along the kind of intelligent design lines than his position had been cast. In other words, he had been made out to a little bit of a kind of like a real sort of Neanderthal about it, a literalist.

He just called Biblical literalists Neanderthals.

And I’m sorry, folks, but if you think Adam rode a dinosaur to church 6000 years ago, that scraping sound you hear is definitely your knuckles on the ground. You have indeed either jammed your fingers in your ears to a mountain of scientific evidence and willingly chosen to believe a fantasy-land concoction whipped up by people who considered running water amazing technology, or you’ve been living in a cave. Either way, you may choose to believe ridiculous things but don’t whine when people can’t help giggling. It’s your burden, mate. Wear it with pride, or God will wonder whether or not you’re one of the truly faithful chosen:)

-jb

Liberal humor.

Jun 06, 2007 in Culture

This clip isn’t thinking about the children.

[youtube D3Lr70lwaVg]

-jb

Fallible Falwell, in the looking glass.

May 17, 2007 in Christian Right, Culture, Religion

The leader of the Christianist movement, Jerry Falwell, died knowing he would leave behind a legacy of political influence. He will not be around anymore to provide his insights, but he made sure others remembered them. Thom Hartmann made a good point this morning about the essential spark of spiritual communion with the universe that sends human beings rocketing down their individual paths in pursuit of the ultimate, and how that experience should be respected, but not necessarily everything that is done in its name. Jerry Falwell undoubtedly felt something very powerful, something perhaps beyond the scope of human comprehension, that provided an impetus for his lifelong crusade. Unfortunately, lifelong crusades are fairly common, and they tend to clash strongly. Jerry Falwell was, ultimately, a human being who, like pretty much every other human being, took that initial inspiration and slapped his human convictions all over it and labeled them as representative of that greater power.

Not necessarily anything wrong with that, as this roughly describes the experiences of most human beings. We must, in the end, still look at the content of these proclamations and decide, for ourselves, how close we believe them to be the truth. Whether you agree or disagree with him, this process will be largely unavoidable.

So, Jerry, what did you have to say while you were here on Earth? How close were you to the truth? Readers, decide for yourselves. From Essential Estrogen:

Rev. Falwell Quotations

“Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.”

“The whole (global warming) thing is created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.”

“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”

(Speaking about 9/11)”And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.'”

“Billy Graham is the chief servant of Satan in America.”

“The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invited by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.”

“I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!”

“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”

“If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.”

“Textbooks are Soviet propaganda.”

“The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi party is to Jews.”

“It appears that America’s anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men’s movement which may become the foundation for a desperately needed national spiritual awakening.”

I think it will be a long time before the damage Jerry Falwell did to the United States is undone. That initial, transcendant spark was turned into a worship and seizure of power. He rarely spoke of others with mercy, and I find it curious that so many strive to do him that favor. Perhaps they lead by example. I’ll let truth be the example.

-jb

A bunch of Jib-Jabbering.

Apr 02, 2007 in Culture, Media

Jib-Jab tackles the modern media. It seems to me that there is a high degree of relevance to this video about the news consumer. We definitely have a problem on our hands for which there are few easy solutions.

-jb

Leave Wikipedia alone.

Mar 23, 2007 in Culture, Education

The Leninists are in full furor over the Essjay “controversy” and have predictably dreamed up ways in which to create barriers to entry into the Ivory Tower of knowledge. The Lede has a short piece regarding Wikipedia and a number of the comments involve suggestions on how to make sure “serious scholars” are able to produce or promulgate knowledge. This, of course, flies in the face of all that Wikipedia is supposedly about. It’s also completely unnecessary since regardless of who you are, contributions are open for criticism and peer review. If an academic is unhappy with an article then they’re free to submit a contention and argue their case on the same playing field as everyone else.

-mg