Monday, May 31, 2010

major lazer and la roux.



ive got a couple serious favorites on this mixtape right now.

blockades and blocked aid.

for all those gazans stuck between israel and hamas, im at a loss.



ive been pondering the israeli seizure of gaza-bound aid ships, aka the blockade and the blocked aid all day and i want to say i know what needs to be done, but the truth is... right now i have no idea.

i still remember the miserable day hamas won the elections in january 2006 and then the gruesome coup when hamas took control of gaza in june 2007.

of course i was seething at all the stupid policies i thought led to the situation in the first place, but all anger and blame aside, the question was and still is how to liberate gaza. i want to see hamas gone as much as anyone, but there is no way around it: gaza is firmly in the hands of islamists and simultaneously besieged by zionists. now what?

well that all depends on the the answer to this question: is the blockade working? i wish i knew the answer, but right now it looks like an epic fail.

oh how memorial day makes me yearn for the moral clarity of hindsight, but alas... gaza is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and as far as i can tell, there are no easy answers for gaza's 1.5 million people.

happy memorial day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

spill, baby, spill.

i just got back from a beyond awesome beach wedding and the best beach week probably ever. if you havent noticed with the post about dudus in jamaica, hanging around beaches and reggae for a week has definitely influenced my posts.

as i was chilling with multitudes of awesome people and basking in the beauty of rodanthe's beaches, i couldnt help but wonder about the bp oil spill. after combing the internet to learn more about it, i came across a few gems i thought id share.

as usual, some of the best info was in infographics. my favorite was at visual economics, but crude awakening (by zmgraphics for inforgraphicworld) was pretty awesome too. i also got some pretty good perspective from vizworld's biggest oil spills graphic. for a little more perspective, one of the most infamous oil spills, the exxon valdez, was about 40,000 tonnes, which ranks below 50th in the world's biggest spills.

so why is it so infamous? well the economist nails it as usual in spill, baby, spill, explaining that since oil is biodegradable, what matters most is where the spill is, because that determines its effects before the oil biodegrades.

also awesome, we both came up with the same witty titles for our material independently. true story.

edit: oh hey, one more little tidbit! theres a bit of a buzz surrounding the oil pollution act of 1990, but lemme clear a couple two three things up for you with bit about oil spills, tort law and libertarianism. quick summary... the law only limits a specific kind of "strict" liability at the federal level to $75 million, so the true liability for bp is theoretically unlimited, as it should be.

ill try get this up as a video as soon as its posted. oh zing, here it is...



edit again: this is awesome.

mia in the nyt.

this is awesome.

the paragraph on the born free video eloquently said exactly what ive been saying since i first saw it.

Unlike, say, her performance at the Grammys, which was a perfect fusion of spectacle (a nine-months-pregnant woman rapping in a see-through dress) with content (Maya’s fervor was linked to the music), the video for “Born Free” feels exploitative and hollow. Seemingly designed to be banned on YouTube, which it was instantly, the video is set in Los Angeles where a vague but apparently American militia forcibly search out red-headed men and one particularly beautiful red-headed child. The gingers, as Maya called them, using British slang, are taken to the desert, where they are beaten and killed. The first to die is the child, who is shot in the head. While “Born Free” is heard in the background throughout, the song is lost in the carnage. As a meditation on prejudice and senseless persecution, the video is, at best, politically na├»ve.



it just doesnt make any sense. some people thought it was about palestine, some about immigration, some about iraq. but knowing what i know, i immediately recognized it for what it was... it was about nothing. there is no conflict in the world that resembles that video, but still, the video was a perfect metaphor for m.i.a.

the video was, at best, a video about violent political conflict, and m.i.a. is, as an artist, an ambiguous banner for violent political conflict. conflict is something people otherwise tend to ignore or shut out, so i like that. but whenever she tries to go further, to dissect a conflict and/or choose sides, she shows how naive she really is. she is a musician, and now, an awesome pop icon. she is not politically sophisticated enough to actually be a rebel or conflict partisan, thats just her iconography.

but thats ok, because her music and her image are, after all, pretty great. ive been listening to xxxo and getting excited about the new album, which should be out around july. yum.

dudus.

christopher coke aka dudus, leader of the jamaican labour party aligned shower posse, has probably slipped away after some fierce gun battles in the tivoli gardens slum of kingston, jamaica. the invasion of the shower posse controlled garrison in western downtown kingston was sparked when jamaica's labour party prime minister bruce golding, a political beneficiary and benefactor of dudus, caved to u.s. demands for dudus's extradition. the indictment is pretty fascinating stuff.

kingston, jamaica is home to more than a few internationally connected criminal gangs, or posses, and while the shower posse is aligned with the jamaican labour party, armed gangs and their warlords span the political spectrum. political parties have actively contributed to the creation of garrisons, or gang-run slums, to create pockets of political support. the nexus of gangs and government makes for an all too easy-to-imagine slip into civil war, but despite eruptions of violence in the past, jamaica seems to bounce back. of course i still get nervous when jamaica tests the tipping point.

i just added born fi' dead, a book about the jamaican underworld, to my too-long-to-read reading list.

Monday, May 24, 2010

empathy.

in clever calculus i drew the future
because i had a story about the past

but who would listen? i was the village idiot
crusading against an imaginary fraud as an imaginary fraud's first friend

i deserved no air time: i was a profanity
i deserved no empathy.

at my worst i was blood with no pulse
staining our collective clothes
at my best i was a wound with no blood
displaying our insides to children

at my worst i was the village villain
purveying disgust and dementia
at my best i was simply hurt
by my own delusion or disposition

at my best i was a drunkard
reciting a black comedy
blackest in its depictions
but funniest in its fictions

i was the village idiot, fraud or fallacy
fame or family, they would not listen

we had mistaken a wolf for our dog
and dogs don't need sheep's clothing; they are already family

we tamed the intellect but not the surveyor
and we were sized up like a happy meal

and still i stand apart: a melting freudian split
an idiot disappearing over the horizon

safely out of audible range
muzzled for your comfort while wool adorns the podium

never mind the speaker's bloodstained teeth
never mind the speakers' increasingly audible hiss

the children are instructed to laugh:
never mind the pain.
this is how wolves play games.
you do like to play games, don't you?

don't you?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

skewed views from the national review.

just a little something on andrew maccarthy's national review article, aka last post's pleasant surprise... i thought his commentary on the israeli-palestinian conflict was so laughably oversimplified and infantile that i couldnt resist ridiculing it.

"Petraeus is echoing the narrative peddled incessantly by leftists in the government he serves and by Islamists in the countries where he works. According to that narrative, Israel’s plight is not a struggle for survival against immovable foes spurred by an Islamist ideology that must be discredited and defeated."

did he just say islamists peddle the narrative that israel is not struggling for survival against them? oh well that's just awesome. has this guy heard of hamas? cuz i'm pretty sure thats their whole raison d'etre. im going to go ahead and assume that was just poor writing and he didn't actually mean to say that.

ok so let me just state that quote inversely to get at what hes saying... according to this guy, the correct narrative would be: israels plight is a struggle for survival against immovable foes spurred by an islamist ideology.

hm... if by "immovable foes" he means the 4+ million refugees under de facto israeli government control, ok i'll give it to him. short of genocide or mass expulsion, they are indeed immovable. (by the way, googling mass expulsion is entertainingly relevant.)

but he lost me on the islamist ideology part. sure, there are islamists like the misguided supporters of hamas, but if we could wave a wand and make all the islamists simply disappear tomorrow, israel's plight would remain, so obviously it can't be that simple.

there would still be millions of people, arabs, muslims, christians, and secularists alike that would be an anathema to a "jewish and democratic" state of israel. and how does his argument account for all the people that advocate a single secular democratic state in all the land controlled by israel? maybe he doesn't know islamists actually aren't israel's only detractors.

"To the contrary, this view holds, it is the result of a mere political conflict."

ok, inversely: israel's plight is not the result of a mere political conflict.

universal suffrage for everyone under israeli control would make israel's basic law, which states that israel is a "jewish and democratic state," a contradiction... jews would be outnumbered. israel's basic law theoretically necessitates unequal democratic rights... sure sounds like a political problem to me.

ok no more quotes. i can and actually did go on for a few more, but you get the picture.

i mean... simple hypotheticals (like the elimination of islamism) make it obvious andrew mccarthy's idea of israel's plight is absurd, so why is the national review going with this crap? it always seems weird to me how conservatives have the same recurring problem of reducing complex issues into binary.

the idea that islamism is the crux of israel's plight is wishful thinking. but it's so disconnected from reality that if you're going to pretend complete and utter defeat of islamism (which would be nice) will solve the israeli-palestinian conflict and bring peace in the middle east, you might as well also pretend santa claus is bringing peace in the middle east in a bag next christmas. or perhaps more fitting for the national review, that jesus is bringing peace as soon as israel conquers enough land.

painting the israeli-palestinian conflict as a simple good vs evil battle where either israel or the terrorists win makes it easier for an idiot to understand, so i guess i can see why an idiot would want to understand it in just that way... unfortunately for this guy and the national review, reality is sometimes just a tad more complex.

petraeus on israel.



i probably shouldve assumed such an intelligent person with such an intimate understanding of the middle east would share my view's on america's israel problem.

i've always agreed with and supported petraeus on iraq, but i guess the thought of petraeus on israel had never even crossed my mind, so this was a pretty pleasant surprise.

if petraeus ever gets near politics, this pretty much guarantees that hes going to have my full support, because guess what... he's right.