All things weird and wonderful, 15

17 01 2012

Physics and nerve:

This child of the Midwest never surfed.

If—if—the waves got big enough on Lake Michigan, one might have some fun body-surfing, and I have some hazy memory of someone sometime with a board somewhere on the beach, but as big a lake as Lake Michigan is, it ain’t the ocean.

Now, water skiing, that I could do, though usually on one of the smaller (and warmer) lakes in the area. And I’ve gone jet skiing, which (like snowmobiling) is stupid and polluting and a lot of fun.

Anyway, I always thought of surfing as tossing oneself into a tidal wave like this, and I wondered how the hell anyone could do that. It was as if the waves were magic and the surfers, magicians.

I never considered that most surfers are not sliding down forty-foot walls of water, but are happily dinking about in six or ten foot waves, working themselves up to 15 or maybe 20 foot waves. Maybe they get a chance to crouch through a tube, but most are probably just trying to let it ride.

I could do that. Hell, there are places to surf in parts of Queens and out on Long Island, with waves big enough to get up and small enough for an old newby like me to give ‘er a try.

I just might. Maybe. Y’know, someday.

Could be fun.

h/t  The Daily What, Chris Bryan film





Martin Luther King, Jr.: American political philosopher

16 01 2012

Every man must ultimately confront the question, “Who am I?” and seek to answer it honestly. One of the first principles of personal adjustment is the principle of self-acceptance. The Negro’s greatest dilemma is that in order to be healthy he must accept his ambivalence. The Negro is the child of two cultures—Africa and America. The problem is that in the search for wholeness all too many Negroes seek to embrace only one side of their natures. Some, seeking to reject their heritage, are ashamed of their color, ashamed of black arts and music, and determine what is beautiful and good by the standards of white society. They end up frustrated and without cultural roots. Others seek to reject everything American and to identify totally with Africa, even to the point of wearing African clothes. But this approach leads also to frustration because the American negro is not African. The old Hegelian synthesis still offers the best answer to many of life’s dilemmas. The American Negro is neither totally African nor totally Western. He is Afro-American, a true hybrid, a combination of two cultures.

Who are we? We are the descendants of slaves. We are teh offspring of noble men and women who wer kidnapped from thie native land and chained in ships like beasts. We are the heirs of a great and exploited continent known as Africa. We are the heirs of a past of rope, fire, and murder. I for one am not ashamed of this past. My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us.

But we are also Americans. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. In spite of the psychological appeals of identification with Africa, the Negro must face the fact that America is now is home, a home that he helped to build through blood, sweat, and tears. Since we are Americans the solution to our problem will not come through seeking to build a separate black nation within a nation, but by finding that creative minority of the concerned from the ofttimes apathetic majority, and together moving toward that colorless power that we need for security and justice.

In the first century B.C., Cicero said: “Freedom is participation in power.” Negroes should never want all power because they would deprive others of their freedom. By the same token, Negroes can never be content without participation in power. America must be a nation in which its multiracial people are partners in power. This is the essence of democracy towards which all Negro struggles have been directed since the distant past when he was transplanted here in chains.

Martin Luther King, responding to the Black Power movement, in Where Do We Go From Here?





Mayan Campaign Mashup 2012: misc bits

15 01 2012

So unfair. So irresistible.

Greg Marmalard

Mitt Romney

I  should be better than this: comparing a presidential nominee to a fictional character from Animal House.

I really should. But like I said: irresistible.

~~~

On a more serious note, some conservatives in the Republican party are wondering if Mitt is really one of them, or whether he’d govern as a moderate if elected president.

To which I respond: not really, and probably not.

Not really: He’s an establishment guy, through and through, who smiles when he’s irritated and whose voice falls to a faux-whisper when denouncing the perfidy of the president. In the past, presenting as an even-keeled establishment type would have been more than enough to, well, establish oneself as a presentable conservative Republican, but today, among the excitables,  if you’re not constantly outraged, you’re suspect.

So he is, justly, suspect.

As to how he’d govern if elected, there’s a good chance, as others have pointed out, that he’ll try to do what he says he’ll do.

Yes, he governed Massachusetts as a moderate Republican—just as he said he’d do. Now he espouses conservative social policies, has surrounded himself with conservative advisers, and says he’ll govern as a conservative Republican.

Take him at his word. Really.

So to all of the excitables hyperventilating about the true shape of Romney’s malleable heart, settle down: he may not really be one of you, but he’ll govern as if he were—and isn’t that enough?

~~~

The former senator of Pennsylvania is shocked, shocked! that someone is lying in campaign politics:

The new ad by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future hits [Rick] Santorum on supporting earmarks, backing the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” raising the debt ceiling five times and voting to “let convicted felons vote.” The ad will be broadcast in South Carolina and Florida. . . .

“That is an absolute lie,” Santorum said of the ad’s claim. “I voted for a provision that that said if a felon serves his term, serves his parole and probation, and then after that period time he can be restored his voting rights, which is exactly the law that’s here in South Carolina. But we had a federal law at the federal level. … Gov. Romney should be saying to his PAC say take that ad down, it’s false. It gives the impression that I want people to be voting from jail.” [emph added]

Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.

(Credits: still photo from Animal House footage; WBUR.org)





Mayan Campaign Mashup 2012: Perry as [white folks’] champion

12 01 2012

You noticed who’s not there, right?

What, they don’t need a champion? What the hell?

And Perry looks rather too much like like the previous occupant of the White House in that shot of him standing next to his plane.

He has no chance of winning of course, but I like that he’s pissing away the millions given to him by conservative donors.

As I used to say when working for a left-wing paper and we were criticized for taking money from non- and anti-lefty advertisers: Spend it all—make them spend it all!

(This one’s for you, dmf.)





Mayan Campaing Mashup 2012: Mitt’s unwit

12 01 2012

Shocking news: I am not a fan of Mitt Romney.

I’m not at all clear why he’s running for president, other than that he wants to be president, and I don’t think he’d be any good at the job.

I also think that for all his professionalism as a campaigner, he doesn’t really understand what the presidency requires.

Matt Yglesias has a nice take on this:

Of course there is envy in America, but there’s also spite. And I think you see some of it in Romney’s reply. He has a lot of money, personally. That money is very useful to him in a number of ways. It lets him consume more goods and services. It offers him security against the ups and downs in life. It lets him be assured that his kids will have a leg up in life. But over and above that, Romney seems to revel in the idea of being better than the lower orders of society and resists the leveling impulse even though it would in concrete terms leave him with plenty of money.

I don’t know if he’s spiteful or not, but  statements about envy and [the out-of-context] “I like being able to fire people” make it difficult to conclude otherwise.

Narrative, man, narrative! You do not want to feed your weaknesses: it doesn’t turn the weakness into strength, but strengthens the weakness. Tch tch tch.

Anyway, this gives me another chance to pull out a much-used Rousseau quote:

[I]f one sees a handful of powerful and rich men at the height of greatness and fortune while the mob grovels in obscurity and misery, it is because the former prize the things they enjoy only to the extent that the others are deprived of them; and because, without changing their position, they would cease to be happy, if only the people ceased to be miserable.

This is not the impression you want to leave with would-be voters.

h/t  James Fallows





All things weird and wonderful, 14

11 01 2012

Be Good Tanyas over under around thru Townes van Zandt:

A friend who booked the BGTs to his venue observed that they fought like hell with one another. And then they got on stage.

That Townes, he influenced all the right people.





Mayan Campaign Mashup 2012: Mancrushing Ron Paul

11 01 2012

Katha Pollitt on lefties-for-Paul:

What is it with progressive mancrushes on right-wing Republicans? For years, until he actually got nominated, John McCain was the recipient of lefty smooches equaled only by those bestowed upon Barack Obama before he had to start governing. You might disagree with what McCain stood for, went the argument, but he had integrity, and charisma, and some shiny mavericky positions—on campaign finance reform and gun control and… well, those two anyway.

Now Ron Paul is getting the love. At Truthdig, Robert Scheer calls him “a profound and principled contributor to a much-needed national debate on the limits of federal power.” In The Nation, John Nichols praises his “pure conservatism,” “values” and “principle.” Salon’s Glenn Greenwald is so outraged that progressives haven’t abandoned the warmongering, drone-sending, indefinite-detention-supporting Obama for Paul that he accuses them of supporting the murder of Muslim children. There’s a Paul fan base in the Occupy movement and at Counterpunch, where Alexander Cockburn is a longtime admirer. Paul is a regular guest of Jon Stewart, who has yet to ask him a tough question. And yes, these are all white men; if there are leftish white women and people of color who admire Paul, they’re keeping pretty quiet.

Ron Paul has an advantage over most of his fellow Republicans in having an actual worldview, instead of merely a set of interests—he opposes almost every power the federal government has and almost everything it does. Given Washington’s enormous reach, it stands to reason that progressives would find targets to like in Paul’s wholesale assault. I, too, would love to see the end of the “war on drugs” and our other wars. I, too, am shocked by the curtailment of civil liberties in pursuit of the “war on terror,” most recently the provision in the NDAA permitting the indefinite detention, without charge, of US citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism. But these are a handful of cherries on a blighted tree. In a Ron Paul America, there would be no environmental protection, no Social Security, no Medicaid or Medicare, no help for the poor, no public education, no civil rights laws, no anti-discrimination law, no Americans With Disabilities Act, no laws ensuring the safety of food or drugs or consumer products, no workers’ rights.

And as she noted about his alleged anti-police-state stance: “Not to harp on abortion, but an effective ban would require a level of policing that would make the war on drugs look feeble.”

I, of course, have no problem harping on abortion. That’s one of the things a harpy does.

Anyway, it is telling that libertarians tend to attract the strong or those who consider themselves strong or those to whom it is really really really important to be stronger than someone else.

Have I kicked around Ayn Rand enough? No, I have not, mainly because I try not to think of Ayn Rand (and I have a story about reading her for the first time that’s just, pfffffffff, does not reflect well on me but I should tell you anyhow—but not right now). Still, this bit from Paul Bibeau* is a propos:

[L Ron Hubbard] “Fine,” he said huffily. “Who would you go after?”
[Ayn Rand] “Rich white college kids.”
“Jesus,” he said. “That’s… that’s perfect.”
“I know, right?”
“They’re the worst.”
“God, they’re horrible.”
“But what are you going to do to them?”
“I’m going to convince them… that they’re just too nice.”

Makes her almost likable—so clearly a parody.

I know, Ron Paul is not Ayn Rand (and no, his son Rand is not named after her), and she would probably disdain him because she disdained everyone who was not her (and who knows, possibly also herself as well, but, again, really prefer not to spend too much time thinking of her), but even if he’s not as interested in ripping off-while-misunderstanding Nietzsche as that third-rate author was, they’re both chewing on the same overcooked piece of fuck-the-weak spaghetti.

*h/t Fred Clark at slactivist