Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Yippee ki yay motherfuckers!
This short editorial was found on the Roosevelt Institute’s website and was written by Henry C.K. Liu. I’m reposting it here in toto—hopefully Henry won’t mind—because it’s a breathtakingly simple—and brilliant—way to help get the country out of this mess. Call it New Deal II, call it Socialism, call it whatever you want, this is a great idea, one worthy of a think tank bearing the Roosevelt name. At a certain point, they ARE going to have to do something like this—there are simply too many unemployed people to tell them all to go fuck themselves when their unemployment checks run out, don’t you reckon? If the Tea party types like Sharron Angle and Alaska’s Jo Miller get their way, WHAT do they expect will become of the people whose UI has ended and who face homelessness and destitution?
Obama and Congress have done plenty—too much if you ask me—to bail out big business, the banks and Wall Street. If Obama doesn’t get his thumb out of his ass and DO SOMETHING BOLD AND MEANINGFUL for the poor in this country, there are going to be riots and violence breaking out all over the place. But it doesn’t have to be that way, as this short essay points out:The first year of the Obama presidency has been a monumental disappointment. By now, the President’s populist rhetoric of “change we can believe in” rings hollow against the hard data of the sad shape of the economy.
The critical bottleneck to recovery is the continuing loss of jobs. Conventional economic wisdom asserts that employment is the lagging indicator. Unemployment cannot be expected to fall until after the economy recovers. But in an economy that suffers from overcapacity due to low wages, as the world economy does today, economic recovery from excessive debt cannot be achieved without full employment with living wages to produce the needed rise in demand to absorb overcapacity. The government, despite its enormous power to intervene in the economy on the supply side, is stuck in a self-perpetuating vicious cycle of stagnation caused by unemployment that in turn causes stagnation.
Yet all is not lost. The President needs only to reestablish his political leadership with bold and effective action to deliver help directly to deserving workers rather than to failed undeserving financial firms that are allegedly too big to fail. One way to do this is for President Obama to use the coming State of the Union address at the beginning of the second year of his presidency to announce that he will be the first president in US history to abolish unemployment in the US economy. He will be the president who will smash the destructive myth that structural unemployment is needed to hold down inflation even in a deflationary cycle.
This is not an impossible task. The US now has 6.5 million unemployed workers, 4 million of whom joined the unemployment rank during the first year of the Obama presidency. The President can introduce a Full Employment Program starting February 1, 2010 to give a job to every American who wants one, to be funded by a Full Employment Fund constructed out off already-appropriated but yet unspent bailout and stimulus money. These jobs can be socially constructive jobs such as teachers, nurses, caretakers of children and seniors, police, artists, health workers, writers, inventors, etc., with the prime function of increasing demand in the economy.
At the rate of the 2008 national average wage of $42,000, a program to fund 6.5 million jobs will cost $2.7 trillion a year. In the past two years, the government has committed over $20 trillion in various form of bailout and stimulus packages, with very little to show for it in the form of economic recovery. The not-yet-spent portion of this $20 trillion can fund full employment for more than three years at a declining rate. As this money is injected into the economy in the form of living wages, the resultant rise in demand will increase the utilization of the capital assets to reduce overcapacity. A balance between supply and demand will be maintained by full employment to permit the economy to grow again.
The resultant growth in the economy will reduce the spending rate of the Full Employment Program way before the allotted money is depleted. With full employment, the US economy of $14 trillion GDP can grow at a 6% annual rate, producing an additional GDP of $560 billion the first year. The $2.7 trillion Full Employment Fund will be repaid in less than 4 years.
That is a change we can believe in.
Roosevelt Institute Braintruster Henry C.K. Liu is an independent commentator on culture, economics and politics.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
An amazing interactive animation where you can zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn the scale of things along the way.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
As is (tragically) the case with the Velvet Underground, there is precious little sync-sound footage of Iggy Pop and the Stooges in their heyday, although there was a fair amount of silent Super-8 film that was shot. (A guy I know purchased an old film projector at a flea market that came with silent footage of Iggy onstage circa 1973, believe it or not. He later sold it to Vh1).
As far as I am aware, the sole “live” footage that exists of the Stooges comes from the Cincinnati Summer Pop Festival of 1970 (AKA Midsummer Rock Festival). Appearing on a bill with Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, Mountain and Traffic, the group performs “T.V. Eye” and “1970” as Iggy leaps into the crowd—probably inventing crowd-surfing in the process—smearing peanut butter all over his chest. It’s one of the most primal and primitive rock and roll moments of all time and resulted in the iconic photograph above. Thank the gods that this footage exists, too. [For the Stooges section, go directly to 6 minutes in on the clip].
Note the square announcer’s reaction: “That’s… peanut butter!” Years later Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys took credit for bringing the tub of peanut butter from his home in Dayton, OH and putting it into the Iggster’s hands.
Here’s a link to a vintage Creem magazine article about the Stooges from Lester Bangs and a recent article about the festival from the Cincinnati CityBeat.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
How contagious is yawning? Enough that I'm yawning right now just from writing about it. Admittedly, I'd never given it much thought, but I always kind of assumed that contagious yawning—that tendency to pick up a yawn from the people around you and pass it on like the evil videotape in The Ring—was something all humans were susceptible to.
But that seems to be over-generalizing a bit. Everybody spontaneously yawns. Even fetuses. And around 40-60% of us will yawn if someone else around us yawns. But that's neurotypical adults.
There's a growing collection of research showing that very young children, and people with autism spectrum disorders, don't succumb to contagious yawning. In fact, contagious yawning is currently thought to be related to the development of empathy and the ability to distinguish our own mental states from those of others. One study, done in 2007, even found that psychology students—who presumably spend a lot more time than average thinking about other people's mental states—were more susceptible to contagious yawning than engineering students.
Oh, and yawning, in general? Yeah, nobody really knows why we do that.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010
Apparently, as your ability to control impulses declines with age, so does your ability to smooth over other people's feelings via white lies and omissions. The upside to this: Advice from old people is more likely to be honest ... if a little on the painful side.
Scientific American reports on a recent study that's supposed to show how dwindling executive function can simultaneously impair your social graces and improve your Dear Abby skills.Researchers recruited 19 undergrads and 32 adults in their 60s and 70s. They split the older adults into two groups, based on the adults' abilities to control their behaviors and impulses--called executive function, which naturally declines with age. Then the researchers showed all three groups a photo of a visibly obese teen, along with a list of her complaints, like trouble sleeping and lack of energy--symptoms associated with childhood obesity.Sadly, I'm not sure we can declare this an unequivocal win for cognitive decline. After all, "honesty" is a relative thing, dependent on your own beliefs. The same process that might prompt your Grandma to offer useful and empathetic weight-loss advice is probably also the driving force behind somebody else's Grandma's tendency to yell racist epithets at the mailman.
What advice could they offer this girl? Well, only half of the higher functioning adults and a third of the college kids brought up the girl's weight as the possible source for her problems. But 80 percent of the adults with cognitive declines mentioned weight. They also gave twice as many helpful tips, like more exercise, a better diet, and delivered them with more empathy.
Both old ladies are telling you what they really think—which seems to be what this study is actually about. But being willing to tell people what you really think doesn't necessarily equal good advice.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Sinead has taken alot of shit over the years for being fearlessly outspoken. Her uncompromising stance on Catholicism, the Pope and the Priesthood pretty much ruined her career as an artist. I respect and admire her. Were she not a woman, would she have been treated so brutally by the press? Tell it like it is, sister!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Knitting Factory Records this week released a third set of Fela reissues in an ongoing series. The portion out this week is titled Zombie, after Fela's well-known track of the same name, which you can download here as an MP4. Seriously, it's okay, we have permission! Go on and download that classic afrofunky track!
This set includes material originally released from 1976 through 1980.I would add that significantly, it was during this same period that Fela's Kalakuta Republic compound burned to the ground (February 18, 1977) after a thousand armed soldiers attacked its residents. During that assault, Fela's mother was thrown from a window by soldiers. She fell into a coma, and died two months later.
This period of Fela's storied career saw his Kalakuta Republic increasingly under siege from the Nigerian government, and the clear rise of his vitriol as it fermented into scathing musical diatribes. (...)
Tracks such as "Authority Stealing" and the international hit "Zombie" are great examples of Fela's unfiltered outpouring of raw anger towards the oppressive Nigerian government. Interestingly, the 1976 album Upside Down features the vocals of Sandra Isadore - the American woman who introduced Fela to the Black Power Movement. Music Of Many Colours is collaboration with American vibraphonist Roy Ayers.
The titles that are being released are: Zombie (1976), Upside Down (1976), Music of Many Colours (1980), Stalemate (1977), Fear Not For Man (1977), Opposite People (1977), Sorrow, Tears and Blood (1977), Shuffering & Shmiling (1978), No Agreement (1977), V.I.P. (1979), Authority Stealing (1980).
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Here's a great story about the song, that was my favorite Clash song of all time:
(from Marc Campbell at DangerousMinds
Janie Jones was a sixties pop celebrity who went from the clubs of swinging London to a jail cell in 1973. Janie had fleeting success as a singer, releasing several singles, including a novelty hit called ‘Witches Brew”, and performing in nightclubs on bills with David Frost and Peter Cook. But she was mostly known for her uninhibited sexuality and ‘fuck you’ attitude toward the stodgy and hypocritical British establishment. She hung out with actors, politicians and rock stars, including Marc Bolan, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield. But her biggest claim to fame was when she was arrested and imprisoned for running a prostitution ring. Her high rolling friends were shocked at what was considered a harsh sentence for something as benign as arranging “dates’ for some of London’s most famous hipsters. This was the sixties after all, the era of free love. It was as if she were being punished for the behavior of an entire generation. Janie’s bust made her an instant cause celebre and the fodder for countless tabloid headlines.When sentencing Janie Jones to seven years in prison in 1973 after she’d faced charges for vice and corruption, Judge King-Hamilton called her one of the most evil women he’d ever sentenced. Janie first hit the headlines in August 1964 when she appeared topless at a premier. A friend of hers, film producer Michael Klinger, had his new production ‘London in The Raw’ opening at the Jacey Cinema in Piccadilly. Topless dresses had proven to be something of a sensation in Paris and Klinger asked her if she would turn up at the films premier in a topless dress. She was known by her real name Marion Mitchell then and was accompanied by one of her sisters, Valerie. The two arrived in a Rolls Royce, stepped out of the car and let their wraps fall to their elbows, putting up a bold front for the photographers. “One must keep abreast of the times,” she said.After Janie was released from prison in 1977, she became a punk icon when The Clash immortalized her in the song “Janie Jones.” She developed a close friendship with Joe Strummer, who supposedly idolized her, and Joe wrote a song for her called “House Of The Ju-Ju Queen.” Along with the rest of The Clash and members of Ian Dury’s band, Joe went into the studio and recorded the tune with Janie doing the vocals. Joe paid for the session. Due to contractual reasons, the record was released with the band credited as The Lash.In the video that follows, The Clash perform ‘Janie Jones” in 1977 and Janie sings “House Of The Ju Ju Queen” and “Letter To Joe.” While The Clash’s song is a classic, neither of Janie’s songs are particularly memorable, though “Letter To Joe” is heartfelt and tender, but as pop culture artifacts they’re rock history. Joe Strummer’s muse: Janie Jones… who, by the way, is still very much alive.
Punk stars like Joe Strummer had also known what it’s like to have been vilified by the press. But Jones has nothing but admiration for the man whom she now claims, gave me back my dignity as an artist. As a display of her continued affection for the ex-Clash frontman, in 1992 she asked her good friend (and songwriter of some repute) Tony Waddington to translate her feelings into song. Two days later, he’d written ‘A Letter To Joe’ for me. I just seem to inspire songwriters, she says.
And here’s “Witches Brew”...
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Gymkhana (Jim-kah-nuh a.k.a. Jim Conner) - An automotive sport that takes place in a parking lot, an abandoned airport, an international shipping port or epic 86 year-old european track that requires drivers to skillfully maneuver their cars around a series of cones, slaloms, turns, figure eights and possibly a 51-degree bank using extreme acceleration, breaking and drifting.
Similar to "autocross" Gymkhana courses are often complex, and memorizing the course is a significant part of this type of motor sport.
In an effort to take the Gymkhana concept to a new level, the driver searched the world over to find the ultimate playground. this is the result.
Shot just south of Paris, France in Linas at l'Autodrome de Linas --Montlhéry, this 1.58 mile oval track, built in 1924, features banks as steep as 51 degrees, which is more than double the standard incline of most NASCAR ovals. Chosen by the "star" driver" for this specific reason, the ramp-like banking proved to be a unique and exciting challenge. The driving physics for the stunts performed were totally unknown until he attempted the maneuvers during filming.
My friend Seth Rosko just told me this guy actually owns DC shoes and is a Skateboarder, go figure he'd drive a car like this.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I'm surprised I did not hear about this earlier, because this sort of documentary is so totally up my alley. Nevertheless, this looks amazing. I’m going to request a screener so I can review it on DM. This looks unmissable. From the filmmakers’ website:
America’s 50-million strong Evangelical community is convinced that the world’s future is foretold in Biblical prophecy - from the Rapture to the Battle of Armageddon. This astonishing documentary explores their world - in their homes, at conferences, and on a wide-ranging tour of Israel. By interweaving Christian, Zionist, Jewish and critical perspectives along with telling archival materials, the filmmakers probe the politically powerful - and potentially explosive - alliance between Evangelical Christians and Israel…an alliance that may set the stage for what one prominent Evangelical leader calls “World War III.”
The film opens with portraits of three Evangelical families –James and Laura Bagg, a Connecticut couple who work as military jet-propulsion engineers, Tony and Devonna Edwards in McAlester, Oklahoma, and Dr. H. Wayne House in Salem, Oregon—all certain that upon Christ’s Second Coming they will be “raptured” or lifted into the skies to join Christ while the rest of humanity suffers for seven years during “The Tribulation.” The Edwards’ daughters, in particular, struggle with their own future. If they are raptured soon, how will they ever marry, or have children of their own? [RM note: How sick and twisted is it to inflict this kind of “thinking” on children? Horrifying to contemplate what emotionally destructive superstition like this can do to people’s lives. But, of course, the invisible man in the kingdom in the sky said it in the magic book, so therefore it must be true.]
Despite their very different lives and locations, all three families find the modern world laden with symbolism that suggests the End Times are at hand, and they proclaim the immense importance of Israel, where the battle of Armageddon will leave the earth ravaged, before Christ creates a new and perfect world.
The film then follows Wayne House and fellow minister Robert Dean as they lead a Christian Study Tour group to Israel—among the tens of thousands of Evangelicals who pour into the Holy Land each year. As Wayne and Robert baptize their entourage in the River Jordon, sing the US national anthem on the Sea of Galilee, proclaim love for Israel, and describe how the Dome of the Rock, one of the holiest sites in Islam, must be destroyed in order for Jesus to return, a revealing and controversial relationship between Christian Evangelicals, Jews, and Muslims emerges.
Finally, we follow Wayne House and Robert Dean to a massive gathering in Dallas, Texas, where Evangelicals debate, in highly sophisticated terms, the need to spread Biblical literalism to counter the dangerous effects of post-modernism. The climax of the conference comes as Pastor John Hagee, the enormously influential Texas Minister of an 18,000-member megachurch, declares, “World War III has started.”
Waiting for Armageddon
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Ed Lover, looking back as he's pulling away.
Kenny Lee, holdin' it down.
DMC excited and honored with Jay's son, Jayson to the left and Run's son, "Diggy" to the right.
Russell, Jayson, DMC, Fred "Bugs", Ed Lover
I went out to Hollis Queens, NY with my old friends Kenny Lee, Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner. Russ and RunDMC&Jam Master Jay were to be immortalized in the sidewalk "Hollis Walk of Fame" by Hollis Playground, right on The Ave. amoungst others. We had a great time, seeing some of the old crew and friends is always cool, Hurricane was there as well as Diggy (Run's Son) and Jay's oldest son, Jayson, OG hip hop radio DJ extraordinaire, Fred Bugs, MTV's ED Lover (also being honored in the walk), and last but not least one of the brightest souls out there DMC, Darryl McDaniels, with his right hand man Erik Blam. The whole event was orchestrated by Orville Hall and his "Hollis Famous Burger" & Hip Hop Museum. Thank You.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
September 7, 2010via AlterNet
Dear Rahm Emanuel,
I read this week that — according to a new book by Steven Rattner, your administration's former "Car Czar" — during White House meetings about how to save the tens of thousands of jobs that would be lost if GM and Chrysler collapsed, your response was, "Fuck the UAW!"
Now, I can't believe you actually said that. Maybe Rattner got confused because you drop a lot of F-bombs, or maybe your assistant was trying to order lunch and you said (to Rattner) "Fuck you" and then to your assistant "A&W, no fries."
Or maybe you did mean Fuck the UAW. If so, let me give you a little fucking lesson (a lesson I happen to know because my fucking uncle was in the sit-down strike that founded the fucking UAW).
Before there were unions, there was no middle class. Working people didn't get to send their kids to college, few were able to own their own fucking home, nobody could take a fucking day off for a funeral or a sick day or they might lose their fucking job.
Then working people organized themselves into unions. The bosses and the companies fucking hated that. In fact, they were often overheard to say, "Fuck the UAW!!!" That's because the UAW had beaten one of the world's biggest industrial corporations when they won their battle on February 11, 1937, 44 days after they'd taken over the GM factories in Flint. Inspired by their victory, workers struck almost every other fucking industry, and union after union was born. Had World War II not begun and had FDR not died, there would have been an economic revolution that would have given everyone — everyone — a fucking decent life.
Nonetheless labor unions did create a middle class for the majority (even companies that didn't have unions were forced to pay at or near union wages in order to attract a workforce) and that middle class built a great country and a good life. You see, Rahm, when people earn a fucking good wage, they spend it on stuff, which then creates more good paying jobs, and then the middle class grows fucking big. Did you know that back when I was a kid if you had a parent making a union wage, only one parent had to work?! And they were home by 3 or 4pm, 5:30 at the latest! We had dinner together! Dad had four weeks paid vacation. We all had free health and dental care. And anyone with decent grades went to college and it didn't fucking bankrupt them. (And if you ever used the F-word, the nuns would straighten you out in ways that even you couldn't bear to hear about).
Then a Republican fired all the air traffic controllers, a Democrat gave us NAFTA and millions of jobs were moved overseas (hey, didn't you work in that White House, too? "Fuck the UAW, baby!"). Unions got scared and beaten down, a frat boy became president and, like a drunk out of control, spent all our fucking money and our children's money, too. Fuck.
And now your assistant's grandma has to work at fucking McDonald's. Ask her for pictures of what the middle class life used to look like. It was effing cool! I'll bet grandma doesn't say "Fuck the UAW!"
Hey, don't get me wrong, Rahm. I fucking like you. You single-handedly got the House returned to the Dems in 2006. But you and your boss better do something fucking quick to put people back to work. How 'bout making it a crime to take an American job and move it out of the country? In other words, treat it as if It were a fucking national treasure like you would if someone stole the Declaration of Independence out of the National Archives or some poacher stole eggs out of the nest of an America bald eagle.
Or how 'bout arresting some of those Wall Street guys who fucking stole our money, the money that ran the American economy. Now that would take some fucking guts.
And maybe, just maybe, that one act of real guts might save your ass come November 2nd.
Oh, I can just hear you now: "Fuck Michael Moore!" No problem. But Fuck the UAW? How 'bout if I just leave off the ‘A’ and the ‘W’?
Monday, September 13, 2010
Save the world.
Where were you the first time you heard those three little words?
It’s a phrase that has slipped off the tongues of hippie parents and well-intentioned teachers with a sort of cruel ease for the last three decades. In Evangelical churches and Jewish summer camps, on 3-2-1 Contact and Dora the Explorer, even on MTV, we (America’s youth) have been charged with the vaguest and most ethically dangerous of responsibilities: save the world. But what does it really mean? What has it ever really meant -- when uttered by moms and ministers, by zany aunts and debate coaches -- to save the whole wildly complex, horrifically hypocritical, overwhelmingly beautiful world?
Social scientists and the media seems to have made an ugly habit in the last few years of labeling my generation as entitled, self absorbed, and apathetic. Psychologist Jean M. Twenge argues that, largely because of the boom in self-esteem education in the '80s and '90s, young people today “speak the language of the self as their native tongue,” in her book Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- and More Miserable Than Ever Before. Tom Friedman dubbed us Generation Q for quiet in the pages of The New York Times, writing, “Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good.” And morning shows can’t resist a segment on how entitled Gen Y is in the workplace and what their bosses can do to tame their positively gargantuan egos.
I think they’ve got it wrong. They’re missing a class analysis. And they’ve mistaken symptoms for the disease. We are not, on the whole, entitled, self absorbed, and apathetic. We’re overwhelmed, empathic, and paralyzed. The privileged among us, are told over and over that it is our charge to “save the world,” but once in it, we realize that it’s not so simple. The less privileged are gifted their own empty rhetoric -- American Dream ideology that charges them with, perhaps not necessarily saving the whole damn world, but at the very least saving their families, their countries, their honor. We are the most educated, most wanted, most diverse generation in American history, and we are also the most conscious of complexity.
In Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer writes: “Absolutism and relativism have ravaged not only the things of the world but our sense of the knowing self as well. We are whiplashed between an arrogant overestimation of ourselves and a servile underestimation of ourselves, but the outcome is always the same: a distortion of the humble yet exalted reality of the human self, a paradoxical pearl of price.” In other words, we know that -- simply by virtue of being born at this time, in this place -- we are privileged, and furthermore, responsible to share that privilege. But we also know that making good on either promise -- saving the world or saving our families -- is not nearly as simply as our kindergarten teachers or our aspirational parents made it sound.
We know that soup ladling isn’t enough, that Western values are sometimes imposed on other cultures in the guise of good works, that charity often serves to disempower a person in the long run, that too many nonprofits are joyless and ineffective places, that we have so much to give and yet so little. We’ve watched our own parents -- many of them immigrants with big American Dreams in bright lights -- be disrespected by the supposed promise land. We’ve taken human rights and women’s studies classes where first world arrogance was put in sharp relief to third world ingenuity. We’ve experienced the painful irony of walking our donation check, earmarked for Indonesian hurricane relief, to the mailbox in our own poor Oakland neighborhood, which we were gentrifying by our mere existence.
I marched against the Iraq War, along with upwards of six million other people across the world, and President George Bush called it a “focus group.” Despite all of my phone banking and wonky obsessing, he was re-elected for a second term. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq raged on. Abu Ghraib hit the headlines. The wealth disparity yawned larger and larger. My first nonprofit job was one long exercise in disillusion and freelance writing was often alienating. I felt as if I had been sold a bill of goods. The world was a cruel, unjust place and, far from saving it, I felt stuck in it.
Looking for solace, I had lunch with my favorite professor from Barnard College, where I’d been an undergrad just a few years earlier. Professor Dalton was the one whose gospel of a true calling or arête (Plato), of a social contract (Rousseau), of the power of love (King), had set me on fire at 20 years old. I would leave his class vibrating with grand notions of what it meant to live an ethical, examined life, and how I might shape mine to reflect all this learning. Just five years later, I felt extinguished. The real world was not a place of perfect forms and pat answers. It was messy, bureaucratic, painful.
But instead of soothing me, it seemed that my professor had his own desperation to battle. “Where is your generation’s outrage?” he asked me. He told me stories of lecturing on the Holocaust, only to have one of his student’s ask, “Is this going to be on the test?” When I visited his classroom, slipping into a seat in the back, I saw laptop screens alight with Facebook and Zappos as he spoke passionately about the “miracle, mystery, and authority” of Dostoevsky.
The conspicuous lack of outrage, however, was not limited to the privileged. Consumerism and celebrity worship distracted the students that I worked with two afternoons a week at a low-income public high school. They were more interested in brand name bags and tight sneakers than fighting inequity. They wanted to know how they could get rich, not how the rich perpetuate systems of oppression.
And I couldn’t really blame them. The political and cultural landscape circa 2005 prized status over courage, safety over innovation, and pre-professionalism over finding one’s true calling. Anyone stubbornly dedicated to social change was destined for a harsh lesson in what Martin Seligman calls “learned helplessness” -- when one has grand expectations, and finds them repeatedly unfulfilled, the unavoidable next stop is Despair. It was a time when the wind was knocked out of our collective sails. I, for one, was left standing on the shore of my own good intentions wondering what ever happened to my dreams of “doing good.”
And then a new day dawned.
It would be hard to overstate Barack Obama’s significance in terms of his influence on young people and our notions of good works. I’m not talking exclusively about the thousands upon thousands of young people that joined his campaign, knocking on doors, sending text messages, descending on Iowa and Florida. Of course, those kids were transformed forever by their experience of standing up with a leader they finally believed in.
But there is a broader, even more profound effect that his leadership has had on us. It’s given us an opportunity to see our own sensibilities, our own idealism, our own complex identities reflected at the highest level. Barack Obama is the America we dreamed about when we were little kids sitting in that classroom with Dorito cheese under our nails. He is the grand symbol, the big victory, the fireworks that we so longed for.
Which is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, his election has made a lot of young people believe in the political process again, reflect on their own civic duty, and learn more about community organizing. On the other hand, all the hype that has surrounded his candidacy has revived one of our more dangerous delusions -- that “saving the world” is about heroics. In fact, the world will not be saved. It will be changed. It looks more like your mom -- her palm on your fevered forehead, her handwritten schedule for sharing childcare with neighbors, her letter to the editor to the local newspaper -- than it does your president. Activism is a daily, even hourly experiment in dedication, moral courage, and resilience.
We must abandon the “save the world” and American Dream rhetoric for a language that is still inspiring, but also pragmatic, a language that we can use like a bridge over the chasm between what our parents and teachers told us about good deeds, about success, and what the real world needs every day. We must transcend school-required community service and resume-padding activities in favor of the kind of work that keeps you up at night because you believe in it so deeply. We must resist paralysis and the sort of numbing our generation has made ourselves infamous for (drinking, drugging, shopping). We must soothe the critics and pessimists in their own heads and act.
Jane Addams once said, “We may either smother the divine fire of youth or we may feed it.” I believe that outlandish expectations, crushing bureaucracies, out-of-touch political leaders, doomsday media coverage, and empty rhetoric about service and success only serve to suck the oxygen out of our hugely promising generation.
Instead we must look to one another for the spark. We must integrate lessons from the visionaries and pavement-pounders of yesteryear, but not become burned by waiting for their version of social change to manifest. Nor must we be relegated to sanitized point-and-click activism alone. Technology aids us, but it doesn’t define us. Our work, our hearts, our ingenuity are what determine our legacy.
The strangest thing happened on the way to my thirties. I realize that I wasn’t going to live forever. And it made the prospect of paralysis -- the option of overthinking and wallowing in my own disillusion about what I’d been told, in contrast to what I was observing and experiencing -- all seem like a whole lot of wasted time. Certainly there is need for reflection, research, and self-examination before we just too enthusiastically into “doing good,” but we are also a generation with a tendency to stew.
We’ve learned how to analyze well, perhaps too well, thanks to our curricula in critical thinking and our hard-working teachers. We can intellectualize any solution into tatters with our finely sharpened swords of cultural relativity. And it’s honorable that we’ve got those skills and that we’re not afraid to use them.
But as George Jackson says, “Patience has its limits. Take it too far and it’s cowardice.” We must be fearless in our analysis and our action. We must accept that we will fail and try anyway, try to fail always more exquisitely, more honestly, more effectively. We must wake up in the morning naively believing in the power of our own dreams and the potential of our own gifts, and go to bed exhausted and determined to do it all over again -- with maybe just a bit of a different tactic, a little less ego, a little more help.
What else are you going to do? Give up?
Of course you’re not. You’re not going to do that, because you are part of a long line of people who didn’t do that, because you live in a country that was actually founded on the assumption that you would be audacious and rebellious and inexhaustible in your pursuit of a more perfect union. You’re not going to settle, because you’ve seen how that kills people, how resigning and consuming and forgetting are surefire ways to deaden a soul. You’re not going to give up, because it would be terribly boring. You’re not going to give up, because you owe the world, this nation, yourself, bravery in the face of suffering, vision in the face of stagnancy, and blood, sweat and tears in the face of injustice. The good failure is your debt for being here. Now. In this beautiful, horrible place.
We have the opportunity to live our lives consciously in spire of all the soporific influences, to act even when we know how complex the prospect of doing so is. Our charge is not to “save the world,” after all; it is to live in it, flawed and fierce, loving and humble. As children of the eighties and nineties, we are uniquely positioned to fail. The bureaucracy we face, the scale of our challenges, the intractable nature of so many of our most unjust international institutions and systems -- all of these add up to colossal potential for disappointment. No matter. We must strive to make the world better anyway. We must struggle to make our friendships, our families, our neighborhoods, our cities, and our nation more dignified, knowing that it might not work and struggling anyway. We must dedicate ourselves each and every morning to being the most kind, thoughtful, courageous human beings who ever walked the earth, and know that it still won’t be enough. We must do it anyway.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
If That 'Mosque' ISN'T Built, This Is No Longer America
I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero.
I want it built on Ground Zero.
Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you.
There's been so much that's been said about this manufactured controversy, I really don't want to waste any time on this day of remembrance talking about it. But I hate bigotry and I hate liars, and so in case you missed any of the truth that's been lost in this, let me point out a few facts:
1. I love the Burlington Coat Factory. I've gotten some great winter coats there at a very reasonable price. Muslims have been holding their daily prayers there since 2009. No one ever complained about that. This is not going to be a "mosque," it's going to be a community center. It will have the same prayer room in it that's already there. But to even have to assure people that "it's not going to be mosque" is so offensive, I now wish they would just build a 111-story mosque there. That would be better than the lame and disgusting way the developer has left Ground Zero an empty hole until recently. The remains of over 1,100 people still haven't been found. That site is a sacred graveyard, and to be building another monument to commerce on it is a sacrilege. Why wasn't the entire site turned into a memorial peace park? People died there, and many of their remains are still strewn about, all these years later.
2. Guess who has helped the Muslims organize their plans for this community center? The JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER of Manhattan! Their rabbi has been advising them since the beginning. It's been a picture-perfect example of the kind of world we all want to live in. Peter Stuyvessant, New York's "founder," tried to expel the first Jews who arrived in Manhattan. Then the Dutch said, no, that's a bit much. So then Stuyvessant said ok, you can stay, but you cannot build a synagogue anywhere in Manhattan. Do your stupid Friday night thing at home. The first Jewish temple was not allowed to be built until 1730. Then there was a revolution, and the founding fathers said this country has to be secular -- no religious nuts or state religions. George Washington (inaugurated around the corner from Ground Zero) wanted to make a statement about this his very first year in office, and wrote this to American Jews:"The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy -- a policy worthy of imitation. ...3. The Imam in charge of this project is the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. Read about his past here.
"It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens ...
"May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants -- while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid."
4. Around five dozen Muslims died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Hundreds of members of their families still grieve and suffer. The 19 killers did not care what religion anyone belonged to when they took those lives.
5. I've never read a sadder headline in the New York Times than the one on the front page this past Monday: "American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?" That should make all of us so ashamed that even a single one of our fellow citizens should ever have to worry about if they "belong" here.
6. There is a McDonald's two blocks from Ground Zero. Trust me, McDonald's has killed far more people than the terrorists.
7. During an economic depression or a time of war, fascists are extremely skilled at whipping up fear and hate and getting the working class to blame "the other" for their troubles. Lincoln's enemies told poor Southern whites that he was "a Catholic." FDR's opponents said he was Jewish and called him "Jewsevelt." One in five Americans now believe Obama is a Muslim and 41% of Republicans don't believe he was born here.
8. Blaming a whole group for the actions of just one of that group is anti-American. Timothy McVeigh was Catholic. Should Oklahoma City prohibit the building of a Catholic Church near the site of the former federal building that McVeigh blew up?
9. Let's face it, all religions have their whackos. Catholics have O'Reilly, Gingrich, Hannity and Clarence Thomas (in fact all five conservatives who dominate the Supreme Court are Catholic). Protestants have Pat Robertson and too many to list here. The Mormons have Glenn Beck. Jews have Crazy Eddie. But we don't judge whole religions on just the actions of their whackos. Unless they're Methodists.
10. If I should ever, God forbid, perish in a terrorist incident, and you or some nutty group uses my death as your justification to attack or discriminate against anyone in my name, I will come back and haunt you worse than Linda Blair marrying Freddy Krueger and moving into your bedroom to spawn Chucky. John Lennon was right when he asked us to imagine a world with "nothing to kill or die for and no religion, too." I heard Deepak Chopra this week say that "God gave humans the truth, and the devil came and he said, 'Let's give it a name and call it religion.' " But John Adams said it best when he wrote a sort of letter to the future (which he called "Posterity"): "Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it." I'm guessing ol' John Adams is up there repenting nonstop right now.
Friends, we all have a responsibility NOW to make sure that Muslim community center gets built. Once again, 70% of the country (the same number that initially supported the Iraq War) is on the wrong side and want the "mosque" moved. Enormous pressure has been put on the Imam to stop his project. We have to turn this thing around. Are we going to let the bullies and thugs win another one? Aren't you fed up by now? When would be a good time to take our country back from the haters?
I say right now. Let's each of us make a statement by donating to the building of this community center! It's a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization and you can donate a dollar or ten dollars (or more) right now through a secure pay pal account by clicking here. I will personally match the first $10,000 raised (forward your PayPal receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org). If each one of you reading this blog/email donated just a couple of dollars, that would give the center over $6 million, more than what Donald Trump has offered to buy the Imam out. C'mon everyone, let's pitch in and help those who are being debased for simply wanting to do something good. We could all make a huge statement of love on this solemn day.
I lost a co-worker on 9/11. I write this today in his memory.
"The man who speaks of the enemy / Is the enemy himself."
-- Bertolt Brecht
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I have to admit this is a genius idea for a TV show. As bleak, as vicious, as mean-spirited—and just plain wrong—as this is, I know, for sure, that if I was living in Iraq, I’d watch this show. Tell me you wouldn’t watch this, too:
Yikes! Tell me this guy wasn’t pissing down his own leg when this exchange took place:
An Iraqi reality television program broadcast during Ramadan has been planting fake bombs in celebrities’ cars, having an Iraqi army checkpoint find them and terrifying the celebrities into thinking that they are headed for maximum security prison.
The show “Put Him in [Camp] Bucca” has drawn numerous protests but has stayed on air throughout the fasting month, broadcasting its “stings” on well-known Iraqi personalities.
All of them were ensnared by being invited to the headquarters of the private television station Al Baghdadia to be interviewed, but en route to the station a fake bomb would be planted in their car while they were being searched by Iraqi soldiers, who were in on the deception.
The unwitting celebrities are then secretly filmed, Candid-Camera-style, as they reacted with shock, disbelief and anger as fake checkpoint guards shout abuse at them: “Why do you want to blow us up?” “You are a terrorist.” “How much did they pay you to do it? You will be executed.”
Soldier : “Which group you are working for?”
Television Host: “Al Qaeda for sure.”
Guest: “I am an actor. What are you saying? Is this a game or what?”
Soldier: “This a military checkpoint. What do you think we are playing here? You have got a bomb in your car.”
Television Host: “Why are you doing this? Why are you putting me in such trouble?”
Guest: “I am a family man. I have two kids. How could I do this to my family? I am telling you the truth, it’s not me who planted the bomb.”
Punk’d, Iraqi-Style, at a Checkpoint (New York Times)
Friday, September 10, 2010
Fifty-three years ago, Jefferson Thomas joined eight other black teenagers in integrating Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas. The reaction against them was immediate, pervasive and frequently violent. White mobs spit and screamed at Thomas and the other Little Rock 9 when they showed up for school. The state's governor tried to use the Arkansas National Guard to keep the black students out, saying that following the federal mandate would only result in social disruption and that integration would have to wait until some unspecified time. And Thomas' father was laid off, probably as punishment for his son's decision.
Through it all, friends say, Thomas kept his sense of humor and used it to boost the spirits of the other Little Rock 9. He took his inspiration from a hymn, "Lord, Don't Move My Mountain, Just Give Me the Strength to Climb."
"It seemed that overnight, things stopped being so bad," he said. "The same things were happening, but they didn't hurt me as much. I didn't feel like I was a failure. I felt victorious because I made it through the day."
Thomas died last Sunday, from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 67. He is the first of the Little Rock 9 to pass away. Little Rock Central High School has since become a National Historic Site. The photo of Jefferson Thomas—along with classmates Minnijean Brown and Thelma Mothershed—is from their online archives, where you can also listen to oral history recordings, read about the lives of the Little Rock 9, and get a deeper understanding of the events surrounding public school integration. Personally, I like this shot because it shows Thomas and his classmates in a candid moment, looking like normal teenagers, rather than people from a history textbook. That reminder, that historic figures are people, is important to keeping their experiences—and the lessons we ought to be learning from those experiences—fresh and real. History isn't just facts for a quiz.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
from his "Revenge of the Electric Car" blog, the director of one of the great documentaries of the last decade: "Who Killed The Electric Car".
Chris Paine and the Revenge crew (Sean, Craig, Jessie, and Jessica) are proud to say that they are among the first film crews ever to professionally film mass production of an EV. (Of course, this is mostly because no one has made them in so long.) Since GM will be one of the first to the EV market with its Volt in 2011, we came to film them being put together through the multiple stages of the car manufacturing process. Chris is pleased to announce that he and his crew were there live to see the completion of Chevy Volt pre-production car #100 at the Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Michigan. The delivery was made at 9:25AM, August 25, 2010. The baby is 177 inches, 3500 pounds. One fine beauty. And accompanied by quite a few of the Volt’s siblings in all colors.and in the comments section i found this little diddy:
How the world has changed in five years!
In 2005 we were editing Who Killed the Electric Car? and trying to put together the pieces behind the ridiculous decision by car makers to terminate their advanced electric car programs. Now here we are in 2010, as welcomed guests of GM no less, watching electric cars roll off the assembly line for the first time since the EV1 stopped production in 1999. So it was very, very cool to see! And we feel that some very real changes are coming to the car industry.
In short, we had a great final shoot in Detroit.
Being in a state-of-the-art factory certainly updates every cliche of 1950′s car manufacturing. Robotic body and frame welding, magnetic delivery systems for motor/engine marriage to the carriage, dashboard installation by hand, battery pack installation by dolly, tires being torqued into position by wrench jockeys… it was a glorious sight. Hamtramck has an extremely complex integration of Auto Union procedures (and Hamtramck has a great local Union from what we could tell), management, workers, managers, conveyor belts carrying car parts, hundreds of components and thousands of processes. Torque pressure monitors, zipping airguns, palettes of parts, and layers of quality control processes. People plus machines plus computers plus experience.
Our favorite visuals of the shoot were or those Volts being manufactured on the same line as old-school gasoline guzzlers. How great to see a new Volt coming off the line after 6 Cadillac SRXs. With consumer demand for EVs (that means you, gentle reader) and continued government support, one day that ratio will be reversed. 1 Cadillac SRX to every 6 Volts. Or better yet the Cadillac SRXs will be electric too.
"Seems the electric car killer really hasn’t changed their ways".
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Every day, President Obama reads ten letters from the public in order to stay in tune with America's issues and concerns. "Letters to the President" is an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the process of how those ten letters make it to the President's desk from among the tens of thousands of letters, faxes, and e-mails that flood the White House each day. August 3, 2009.
bonus. "I got a letter from the government...":
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
So this brings me to a cool post i found at BoingBoing today that reinforces the idea of taking care of your books:
(click on image to see it full size)
now click here and go buy one of mine and do what ever you want to it!
Monday, September 6, 2010
Somewhere in America, a psychology graduate student is doubtless preparing the definitive thesis of the modern conservative mindset. After all, the Bush years produced a cottage industry of analyses on the roots of Dubya's "dead or alive, bring 'em on" macho talk. And now that Sarah Palin has added "impotent" and "limp" to a right-wing vernacular replete with over-sexualized and even homoerotic terms like "bend over" and "ram down our throats," it's clear that the leading lights of the Republican Party could use a little couch time with Dr. Freud.
As authors including Tom Frank (What's the Matter with Kansas?) and Rick Perlstein (Nixonland) among others have thoroughly documented, the conservative narrative of victimization, violation and persecution by coastal liberals and Ivy League elites - even when Republicans are in power - long predates the likes of Sarah Palin and even Richard Nixon. But in recent years, the not-too-thinly veiled innuendo of the new vulgarians on the right has descended to appalling new levels.
Even before the election of Barack Obama, right-wing radio host and Viagra enthusiast Rush Limbaugh debuted "bend over" as a Republican talking point. Before regularly using terms like "man-child" and "little boy" to describe the first African-American president, Limbaugh declared "Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, 'Have your way with me'" to black and progressive voters. (In case listeners had any lingering confusion about his metaphor, he later added "anal poisoning" to his repertoire.) After Obama's inauguration, Limbaugh announced ""We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president." And in August 2009, Limbaugh coughed up this metaphorical two-fer:"You people are out calling us Nazis, saying we're running around with Swastikas. We get tarred and feathered as Nazis because we don't just bend over, grab the ankles and let you guys ram whatever down our throats you want."As he made clear during the 2008 election, among the "we" was Sarah Palin. Her Troopergate scandal, Limbaugh insisted, was just "pure sexism in Alaska on the part of these old boys trying to get rid of Sarah Palin, and she didn't put up with it, and she didn't bend over and let them have their way."
By now, references to and imagery of Barack Obama "raping America" is standard fare for the GOP's amen corner. But for the political party obsessed with the biblical admonition that it is better to give than receive, another orifice has come to dominate conservative rhetoric. And it lies at, so to speak, the other end of the spectrum.
On virtually every issue from the stimulus to health care and so much more, Republicans claim that Democrats are "jamming" or "cramming it down our throats."
Before she introduced cojones, impotent and limp into political oratory, Sarah Palin was already one of the Republicans protesting that Democratic policies were tough to swallow. In January, Palin warned about "the big growth of government and health care takeover measures that it seems Capitol Hill wants to cram down our throats today." During a single March appearance with Sean Hannity, Palin three times used some variant of the "shoved down our throats" sound bite. In November, as Politico reported, the half-term Governor blasted President Obama's policies as "back assward":Of course, Palin was just mouthing the party line amplified by her Fox News colleagues.
Palin then criticized the president for "punishing [small businesses] by forcing health care reform down their throats, by forcing an energy policy down their throats that ultimately will tax them more and cost them more to stay in business."
In January, Glenn Beck, too, cautioned Democrats about biting off more than they could chew, warning, "they see the response to health care and the debacle that they're jamming down our throats [and] they are becoming desperate." A month earlier, Sean Hannity lectured guest Lanny Davis about the health care reform bill "your Democratic friends keep ramming it down America's throat." And when his mind isn't on getting a nice loofah rub or writing soft core porn, Bill O'Reilly is also complaining about the members of the Democratic Party and the left:"I, and many other white journalists, now don't do nearly as many reports on African Americans or their problems because we don't want to be put in a situation where our opinion is taken out of contest, rammed down our throat as Media Matters and all these other sleazeoids do."And it's not just the media mouthpieces of the Republican Party. When they aren't fretting about President Obama wanting to "ram it through" Congress, the brain trust of the GOP is screaming about Democrats "jamming it down the throats of the American people."
Wyoming Senator John Barrasso made that point repeatedly, even on the floor of the Senate. Appearing on Fox News with Liz Cheney last month, Barrasso blasted the Affordable Care Act, insisting again:Of course, Barrasso was just taking his cue from the Republican leadership in the Senate. Earlier this year, John Cornyn (R-TX) joins the ranks of Republicans choking on health care reform, claiming the American people "want their country back" and "don't want the elites here in Washington deciding what's best for them and then trying to jam it down their throat whether they like it or not.", Minority Leader Mitch McConnell mouthed his opposition on Fox News:
"This was passed, this health care law was passed with people yelling and screaming, do not force this down our throats, we don't want this!"And now, the Tea Party, too, is getting in on the hot, opposition action. And for a political movement founded on "tea bagging" as metaphor, they are very in your face about it.
"But the American people who are already quite angry about the effort to jam this down their throats are going to be even angrier...But I think the fundamental point I want to make is the arrogance of all of this. You know, they [Democrats] are saying, 'Ignore the wishes of the American people. We know more about this than you do. And we're going to jam it down your throats no matter what.'"
Take, for example, Matt Kibbe of Freedomworks, the right-wing money machine helping fund the ersatz grassroots Tea Party movement. Democrats, Kibbe declared, "jammed the stimulus bill down our throats" and "this health care bill down our throats." As Huffington Post reported, Tea Party favorite Rand Paul wrapped his lips around the same expression when defending coal mine operators:Paul claimed Obama "cares nothing about Kentucky and cares even less about Kentucky coal.""We have a president who is forcing the EPA down our throats."And so it goes.
In recent years, a growing number of studies have revealed the conservative mind to be uncomfortable with uncertainty and often immune to empirical evidence contradicting its most deeply held beliefs. In The Political Brain, Drew Westen suggests that this is due in part to the neurology and emotional processing of the brain. Given their sexually-laden rhetoric, today's Republicans clearly need help from Sigmund Freud's successors. Because if their words are any indication, conservatives have something besides politics on their minds.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
from Sparrow Media:
One year ago Cassi Amanda Gibson visited their handmade skatepark and emailed us photos. Since then the kids of the skateboard union and Jackson Mubiru, the union’s founder, have consistently inspired us and everyone else who we shared their story with.
To say that skateboarding will put an end to a 20 year long civil conflict would be naive, but the principals exercised by the Uganda Skateboard Union have, and will continue to change lives for the better. In a region where international non-profits and NGO’s providing aid are often viewed with skepticism, or viewed as parental, these youth have created their own social epicenter where their positivity and creativity is infectious.
Their numbers are growing exponentially every day, and with the growing numbers, gear and resources are being run through faster then they can arrive in the region. Sparrow was stoked to team up with Sky High Skateshop, Special Sauce, Supreme, and Boundless NYC in helping provide the Union with over 100 pairs of brand new skate shoes, dozens of new decks, trucks, clothes, books & magazines. The kids were stoked too. Cassi and her sister Nicolette returned to Kampala twice over the course of the year to bring the kids more supplies and to film a short video for sparrowmedia.net
Please donate to the Uganda Skateboard Union via Pay Pal via email@example.com
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Does it seem odd to you that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is still north of 10,000 despite the fact that no one has any jobs, the economy is puking blood and a bruised and battered mainstream America long ago exited the stock market?
Why wouldn’t the stock market be thriving while the rest of us are on food stamps and living in tents? Wall Street and the banks got the bailout, they aren’t going to lend anybody anything and they are paying themselves FAT BONUSES with your tax dollars. Let there be no mistake about it. The financial class have tied up all the productive capital in this country and are skimming off the top to enrich themselves. That’s the way the game works. It’s all legal!
And it’s obscene. If the general population would stop watching Fox News and worrying about a “mosque” (that isn’t even a mosque) long enough to figure out how they’ve been fucked up the ass sans lube by the plutocrats, there would be rioting in the streets. Instead they think that what we really need are an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and to repeal healthcare reform. (Shudders).
That’s why this new thought experiment/essay, by my super smart pal Charles Hugh Smith is so important to read and share with others. I was thrilled when I read this and I think you will be, too. Talk about a dangerous mind. Wow.
Think what this thought bomb, injected into the national conversation would do. Talk about this idea with your friends, post the essay on Facebook and call talk radio to seed this into the dialogue there.
Imagine if a meme like this spread and took hold. It could—easily—happen. It would turn the national conversation upside down! Now do your part!What if the Fed and Treasury distributed $1.3 trillion directly to households rather than disburse it to prop up bank lending? At least some households would use the funds to pay down debt, meaning the money would flow to the banking sector anyway, but with one critical difference: household debt would actually decline, leaving household balance sheets in better shape and owing less interest every month.Read the entire essay
With quantitative easing, the idea is to increase the debt load on households; with a helicopter drop of fresh cash, the idea would be to reduce the debt load that is crushing many households. Banks would benefit, too, as more consumer debt would be paid off in full compared to the current policy of promoting heavier debt loads. The negative consequences of pushing more debt on households is also obvious: more loans become uncollectible and go into default, creating more loan losses for banks.
If the cash transfers were broadly distributed, the subsequent spending would be more representative of sustainable demand than other means of stimulus, such as costly and ineffective “job creation” programs.
Most importantly, the status quo monetary policy distorts economic activity towards debt-based financial assets and debt-financed durable goods such as the “cash for clunkers” program to boost auto sales.
According to the status quo, adding more debt to households is the cure to our economic malaise. But for most households, high debt is the disease, not the cure, and adding more debt to “stimulate spending” is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
Some might argue that a direct deposit of freshly issued cash into households would be inflationary. But other economists argue that if inflation is a monetary issue, and a helicopter drop of cash is fundamentally fiscal, then the worry over sparking inflation is misplaced.
What seems clear is that expanding bank credit through quantitative easing policies of funneling trillions of dollars into banks isn’t working. Putting the same money thrown into banks ($4 trillion) into households’ accounts would certainly put the money where it could either be spent or used to pay down debt—both of which are direct “cures” to over-indebtedness and a no-growth economy.
The sums of money squandered on bailing out banks are difficult to grasp. So I’ll make it easy: if the Treasury printed up $1.3 trillion in cash, that would be enough to give $10,000 to all 130 million households in the U.S.
Even $10,000 to each household would enable a lot of debt to be paid off. Those without any debt could save/invest/spend it. That would certainly do more for the economy than throwing another $1.3 trillion to “extend and pretend” the banks’ insolvency.
Would such a distribution set up a political expectation for another $10,000 next election cycle? Very likely. Would that be positive? No. But all policy is a series of trade-offs, and a helicopter drop could be “sold” as one-time only.
Would it trigger massive inflation? Doubtful. The national debt is about $13 trillion, so adding 10% to it with a “helicopter drop” is not going to change the long-term debt problem much. The GDP is around $13-$14 trillion as well, so it would amount to a one-time 10% boost in GDP. Total personal income is around $8.4 trillion, so a $1.3 trillion helicopter drop of cash would be about a 15% boost to personal income.
Would it really do much to lower indebtedness of the American consumer? No. Total debt in the U.S. is about $52 trillion—governmental, corporate and private. Mortgage debt is around $10 trillion, and consumer debt is around $2.4 trillon. (These are approximate; a web search will confirm the round numbers.)
While $1.3 trillion won’t do much to change the outlook for inflation or future debt crises, it sure would give a lot of households one last chance to set things on a more positive course. $10,000 could wipe out a high-debt credit card without wiping out the creditworthiness of the household, or it could finance a move to a locale with more employment. It could replace a vehicle on its last legs with a better used car.
Would some people squander a one-time “last chance to set a new course” helicopter drop? Of course some people will. But that’s not the point. The point is that the nation has received zero value from trillions in quantitative easing, and so if even 10% of the 130 million households do something useful with their $10,000 in cash then that would be one heck of a lot more than we’ve gotten from the trillions thrown down the rathole of a venal, corrupted, insolvent banking sector.
Throwing money at banks hasn’t done anything but reward financial Power Elites via privatizing their gains and transferring their losses to the taxpayers. Throwing money at households won’t solve the nation’s problems either, but it would give households a one-time chance to do something useful with a chunk of cash. If 90% of the households blew it, then it would still end up somewhere in the economy, which is more than can be said of the trillions thrown away on QE.
In the long run, it wouldn’t make much difference to the nation’s fiscal situation, but to households on the edge, it might make a very significant difference.
What If We Ditched Quantitative Easing and Just Printed (and Distributed) Cash? (Of Two Minds)
Friday, September 3, 2010
I was turned on to "Go-Go" by none other than Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye, when i was just getting into hip-hop circa '82 these two would always get me listening to some of their own home grown tapes. Trouble Funk, E.U. Redds and the Boys, Rare Essence and others... especially on long drives, 45 minute grooves, records that go from one side to the next before a jam is done. I was always grateful. It's amazing to me that Go-Go has never really spread beyond the Washington DC area, other than some hard core fans here and there, and it's still thriving to this day! Live shows, radio shows, public access on cable TV, it's still going down!
Thanks DangerousMinds for this post!
The Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown, with his Soul Searchers
Background information on David N. Rubin’s 1990 documentary Go-Go Swing is pretty hard to come by. But that hardly takes away from how deep a snapshot it is of the highly regional Washington D.C. brand of funk called go-go.
Developed first by jazz guitarist and singer Chuck Brown (whose group the Soul Searchers were at the top of D.C.’s scene), go-go is characterized by its laidback but dynamic funk rhythms accented with heavy conga beats, freaky keyboards, blasting horns and call-and response vocals. And its been a staple of the mid-Atlantic scene for the past 35 years.
Go-go reached a crest during the 1980s, as bands like Trouble Funk, E.U., Rare Essence, Redds and the Boys, Hot Cold Sweat, the Junk Yard Band and others got signed and discarded by various majors and independents. E.U.’s performance of “Da Butt” on Spike Lee’s School Daze was a coup as far as national exposure for the music.
Go-go has retained its shine to this day, as plenty of R&B artists dabble in its rhythms to this day, and D.C. troupe Beat Ya Feet Kings bringing next-generation go-go dance style to a range of tempos and genres.
Rubin’s doc goes deep into the context of the go-go scene, dealing with the trials, tribulations, mournings and celebrations that are all part of living in D.C. Check out the whole thing—it’s really worth it.
Part II || Part III || Part IV || Part V || Part VI
Here's some footage of the excellent go-go rhymer D.C. Scorpio performing “Stone Cold Hustler” at the Capital Center, backed by the Soul Searchers.
One of the most classic Go-Go recordings that actually made it to a record.
Touble Funk "Drop The Bomb" (short/edited version)
Rarely are these groups captured on studio recordings that are any good, but here's a few undeniable classics:
Trouble Funk "Pump Me Up"
Chuck Brown "Bustin' Loose"