Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Rumi poem about Jesus

via Sufi Reading of Jesus' Teaching Parables:

I called through your door,
"The mystics are gathering
in the street. Come out!"

you say: "Leave me alone.
I'm sick."

"I don't care if you're dead!"
Jesus is here, and he wants
to resurrect somebody!"

- Jelaluddin Rumi

Thursday, July 29, 2010

the 5th Dimension sings The Declaration of Independence

I went looking for this after reading the following comment at A Tiny Revolution: Sympathy for the Devils: "...the 5th Dimension musical group sang the Declaration of Independence to Richard Nixon in the White House. When they were done there was a stony silence, and then, following Nixon's lead, a perfunctory applause from the audience."

YouTube - 5th Dimension - The Declaration

the elephant of oppression: the failure of identity politics

Identity politics are the babystep in understanding injustice. Practitioners of identity politics (PIPs?) care about what they perceive from their cribs. They're like the blind priests examining the elephant. They feel the trunk, so they are sure it's a snake and rail at anyone who says the trunk is only the tip of the elephant.

ETA: I don't mean that all PIPs are adamantly intolerant of disagreement with their understanding of power. The extremists are a minority.

black and feminist superiority myths, a note about hierarchy

People who feel inferior are susceptible to superiority myths. Basic versions say their group is superior and will rule everyone someday. Extreme versions claim they deserve to rule because they once ruled, but lost their power through treachery. To radical feminists, the traitors in the matriarchal prehistory myth are men. To the Nation of Islam, the traitor is Yakub, who created the evil white race. (I've long wondered if Yakub inspired L. Ron Hubbard to create Scientology's Xenu myth.)

The palmed card in all myths of a superior past: If the ancient rule was so wonderful, why did anyone revolt? The mythical answer is usually envy or evil or some personal flaw, but if you look at history, there's only one thing that drives people to overthrow their rulers: a desire to end tyranny. The myths of radical feminists and black nationalists are no different in kind than the white supremacist myth of a benevolent Confederacy in which the slaves were happy under the rule of enlightened masters, but Yankees were jealous.

I prefer egalitarian myths.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

the personal is not political

I've been thinking about systems and the flaw of identity politics. That reminded me of the saying, "the personal is political," a term I agreed with before I began to understand power. The personal is not political. In politics, the personal is irrelevant. Only the action of a group can be political. The only political thing an individual can do is create something so powerful that it inspires others. Otherwise, the personal is only personal.

Someone suggested identity politics first flowered with second-wave feminism. I'm not sure that's true, but "the personal is political was embraced by and may have been coined by "me generation" feminists. Which led me to wondering about the self-absorption of identity-politics activists. A quick google brought up Psychology Today's Is The "Me Generation" Less Empathetic? It has no conclusions, but that's fine; I don't either. I'm still working on finding the right questions.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

wealth quote and stat of the week from Too Much Weekly

Too Much weekly:
Quote of the Week

“Across this country, schools are firing teachers, first responders are underfunded, and hard-working Americans are being denied basic services, all while our deficit reaches record highs. And yet, billion-dollar fortunes are exempt from paying their fair share of estate taxes. There is something wrong with this picture.”
Senator Tom Harkin, July 20, 2010, explaining why he is co-sponsoring legislation that would set a 65 percent estate tax on fortunes over $1 billion

Stat of the Week

How much has rising executive pay tilted America's income scales? One indication: In 1972, the nation's top 1 percent took in 7.75 percent of all income in the United States, excluding the capital gains from buying and selling stock and other assets. The comparable top 1 percent share in 2008: 17.67 percent."

How Goldman Sachs gambled on starving the world's poor - and won : Johann Hari

How Goldman Sachs gambled on starving the world's poor - and won : Johann Hari: "At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 percent, maize by 90 percent, and rice by 320 percent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people - mostly children - couldn't afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in over 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, called it 'a silent mass murder', entirely due to 'man-made actions.'"

(Thanks, JB!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

repossession in the USA news

2010 home repossessions may top 1 million - The Denver Post

Why Are Banks Withholding Highend Repossessions Over $300,000 From the Market? - Real Estate Channel Global News Center: "When these homes come onto the market, as they eventually must, prices will inevitably plunge."

links of the day

Beyond “White Anxiety”: Class, Race, and College Admissions: "...a recently-published study by Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford ... shows that working-class and poverty-class white students were significantly less likely to be admitted to private universities than wealthier whites with similar test scores. The opposite was true for students of color: poorer students were more likely to be accepted than those from better-off families."

The Willpower Paradox: Scientific American

Sunday, July 25, 2010

radical unfollowing and unfriending, a postscript

A friend on LJ left this comment: "You can make a nice courteous future-dated top post saying you have warm fuzzies for the entire Internet, and people are welcome to Friend you, but you can't possibly keep up with everyone and earn a living and write the books that you're expected to be producing."

I thought that was implied, and it may only need to be said for LiveJournalers, who can be remarkably polite about these things, but I'm very slowly learning that it's better to err on the side of being too clear, so: Everyone is welcome to friend me or follow me or read me via RSS or surf by my blog when the whim strikes.

I do have warmest fuzzies for the entire Internet. But, dang, y'all can be distracting sometime, and I'm a guy who needs to sit with his back to TVs in bars and restaurants 'cause I'm addicted to information. Or, as Jesus said with his "cut it out" metaphor, if something distracts you, stop doing it.

RSA Animate - Crises of Capitalism


RSA Animate - Crises of Capitalism

radical unfollowing and unfriending: I love you, but...

Trips tell me to simplify my life. The last (six thousand miles in three weeks, visiting family in Alberta, Minnesota, and Illinois) has said, "This is a lesson you will be learning all your life: Simplify!"

Part of the lesson is a harsh paring of online reading. I'm unfollowing many fine people on Twitter and unfriending far more on LiveJournal. Unfollowing is relatively easy: Twitter never felt personal. Unfriending is hard, partly because of the term, partly because I've had so many LJ conversations over the years.

The oddest thing is feeling sorry about unfriending people I know only as pseudonyms, whose race and age and gender I can't guess, whose names conjure nothing but a warm feeling. Severing those ties is like leaving a town: the people you like casually may never become good friends now, but you still have to go. If you meet those people elsewhere, you'll be glad to see them.

The hardest is unfriending people I love to see in the offline world and whose online life I enjoy. But I need to retreat, so I shall. This break-up line is mocked, but like many mocked lines, it's true: It's not you. It's me.

My main blog, it's all one thing, will continue. I'll keep forwarding it to Facebook, LiveJournal, and Twitter. I hope that by being around less, I'll be around better.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

tweets since LoudTwitter died


  1. Robert E. Lee is to slavery as liberals are to capitalism: aware that the system is built on suffering, yet unwilling to change it. via web 
    Lawrence, KS: Free State Brewing Co. is a "can I rent an apartment upstairs?" restaurant.
    Even the Washington Post will say it: Race isn't the problem -- economic inequality is http://bit.ly/cNydqQ

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 08:19 Currently Browsing: is.gd/drLhP #
  • 08:20 Previous tweet is for Willow Wagon at Tiny House Blog. #
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tweets of the day

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tweets of the day

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 14:40 Left-sided Cancer: Blame your bed and TV? bit.ly/bfPW2Y #
  • 20:35 Promotional tweets are boring. I've stopped following a few authors who are too much about the pimpage. #
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Friday, July 2, 2010

Malcolm X on revolution

From Malcolm X: Legacy of a revolutionary:
'[In] my opinion, the young generation of whites, Blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you're living in a time of revolution, a time when there's got to be change,' Malcolm told a group of British students in 1964. 'People in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change, and a better world has to be built, and the only way it's going to be built is with extreme methods. I, for one, will join in with anyone--I don't care what color you are--as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.'

Tweets of the day

  • 15:43 The Untold Story of The Iroquois Influence On Early Feminists bit.ly/c48sEr A bit idealized, but well worth reading. #
  • 10:57 New blog post: Dances With Wolves bit.ly/bB1sOT #
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Dances With Wolves

I saw Dances With Wolves when it was released and liked it a lot. What's not to like in a race traitor story? I've been a sucker for them forever, maybe starting with Little Big Man and A Man Called Horse, both of which I should see again. But then I noticed a number of anti-racism theorists knocking Dances With Wolves when complaining about Avatar, which made me wonder if I'd missed something. Then I saw Ta-Nahisi Coates say he was fond of the movie, so I decided to watch it again.

Quick reactions:

Black Shawl is a great character played by a great actress, Tantoo Cardinal. I wish she'd had a lot more screen time. She reminded me of Ojibwe women I've known: funny, capable, and unwilling to take any shit from men.

Kicking Bird, played by Graham Greene, is perfect. I would love to see a movie that was all about Kicking Bird and Black Shawl.

All of the Lakota characters and actors are mighty, mighty fine.

The first part of the movie is too slow. If I was the editor, I would run the opening credits over bits of the Civil War battle scene, then cut to Dunbar's arrival at the abandoned fort.

Kevin Costner, as Dunbar, gives a fine performance. The character is remarkably incompetent. The only thing he does to help the Indians is provide them with rifles, and he only manages to do that because a Lakota boy helps him.

Mary McDonnell gives a great performance as Stands With A Fist, but her hair is all wrong. She grew up Lakota. Her hair should've reflected that. I understand that in times of mourning, Lakota men and women cut their hair, so maybe her hair would've been loose for part of the movie, but at the very least, she should've braided it when her mourning ended. (In historicals, Hollywood almost always screws up the hair of the female star.)

And when she gives Costner a big welcome-home kiss and embrace in front of others, it felt too Hollywood. Maybe I'm wrong (I need to ask a Lakota someday), but my suspicion is a Lakota woman's welcome would've been more controlled. I think that was a moment of Hollywood logic, the director feeling the actors had to surrender to the moment so the audience would know they loved each other desperately. Americans have trouble reading polite passion.

There's a scene that Costner as editor should've included: the Lakota attack on the buffalo hunters. When Dunbar is able to accept that, he's truly changed sides.

There's a smidgen of classism in the movie: the only sympathetic white characters are Dunbar, a Lieutenant, and there are strong hints that the officer who shows up at the end is troubled by the way his men treat Indians. But historically, it was more likely that lower-class whites would go native than officers.

Quibbles aside, it's a damn fine movie. Will-Bob gives it 4.5 stars.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tweets of the day

  • 16:29 Jon Stewart explains corporations: March 16, 2010: In Dodd We Trust alturl.com/ywqw #
  • 16:53 Debt: The first five thousand years by David Graeber. Fascinating and short. alturl.com/xtn7 #
  • 23:44 Tucsonans, see this play! alturl.com/pmci #tucson #
  • 10:02 ACLU Study Highlights U.S. Surveillance Society bit.ly/9qrMhe #
  • 10:08 BP deliberately sinks oil with Corexit as cover up bit.ly/d1rWTu #
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Tucsonans, see this play!

A few years ago, John Vornholt told me about a great idea he had for a play. The description's below. Pretty much every time I saw him, I asked if he'd done anything more with it. It opened tonight, and it's damn fine work: sometimes funny, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes dramatic. See it!

Here's the info John sent me:

THE FIRST THIRD
By John Vornholt

Directed by
Dave Sewell

Opens June 30, 2010

On December 1, 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, the Selective
Service held a nationwide draft lottery on prime-time TV in an attempt
to make the draft more fair. Almost all deferments were canceled, and
every able-bodied man between the ages of 19 and 26 faced a certainty
of being drafted to go Vietnam if his birthday fell in the First Third
of the capsules drawn. On this surreal and fateful night, we join five
college seniors as their lives and futures are determined by a TV game
show, hosted by retiring General William B. Hershey.

Beowulf Alley Theatre
11 South 6th Avenue
Downtown Tucson
(Free parking in the Chicago Store lot across the street, and at
meters, after 5:00 pm.)

THE FIRST THIRD plays on these 7 dates:

June 30 - Wednesday - 7:30 pm
July 3 - Saturday Matinee - 1:30 pm
July 4 - Sunday - 7:30 pm
July 9 - Friday - 7:30 pm
July 11 - Sunday Matinee - 1:30 pm
July 15 - Thursday 7:30 pm
July 17 - Saturday 7:30 pm

Page on the Stage is a series of three original plays running in
repertory. The other plays are THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Gavin Kayner
and A WORK OF ART by Jonathan Northover.

To order tickets, please call 520-882-0555 or go to: www.beowulfalley.org.

Advance Tickets (June 1st-June 25th ): One performance - $12 each,
package of three plays - $30. At the Door and after June 25th : $15
each. Student/Military Rush (ID required): $10 Cash at the door, 15
minutes before curtain, space available.