Monday, December 29, 2008
"Before he was secretly buried on a dark winter morning in a lonely Icelandic churchyard at the age of 64 (there were only four people in attendance at the hastily arranged funeral) . . . before his last ailing days of bad kidneys and rotting teeth (he had all of his fillings removed, convinced that U.S. and Russian agents would otherwise send radio signals to his brain) . . . before the long hours whiled away at a Reykjavik bookstore, a place that vaguely reminded him of one from his Brooklyn youth (in both, he read comic books and studied chess) . . . and before his decades of ghostly peregrinations through the world, like a profane monk or an idiot savant searching for perfect exile (from Pasadena to Hungary to the Philippines, where he supposedly had a child, and on to Japan, where he supposedly married and was arrested and imprisoned for a passport violation) . . . before his bizarre eruptions (he applauded the events of 9/11 as “wonderful news” and believed, among other defamations, that the Jews wanted to eradicate the African elephant because its trunk was a reminder of an uncircumcised penis) . . . and before the spectacle of meeting his one-time nemesis, the former world-champion chess player Boris Spassky, for an anticlimactic 1992 rematch in war-torn Yugoslavia despite U.N. sanctions against it (in front of whirring cameras, he spat on the U.S. order forbidding him to play) . . . even way back before their original 1972 meeting, called the Match of the Century, when the eyes of the world were riveted on him as a shining emblem of American will, innovation and brilliance (the match in which he took on the Soviet chess machine and single-handedly crushed it, but not before the fabled call from Henry Kissinger, urging him to put aside his jumbled demands and just play) . . . even before his brazen, almost obnoxious deconstruction of a cavalcade of grandmasters who stood in his path to Spassky (he won 20 games in a row, the longest winning streak in modern chess) . . . before he traded the rags of his youth for his new wardrobe of expensive suits . . . before his mind slowly unhinged and he became a walking paradox (the anti-Semitic Jew; the anti-American national hero, the wastrel-wizard of his craft) . . . yes, before the whole circus of his life unfolded, he was a 13-year-old kid in the first flush of the thing he most loved in the world: chess."
Sunday, December 28, 2008
It was nice to meet some of the local artists that came out to hear us. We went to Horsehead afterwards, but then ended up at the local Rogue public house (Old Crustacean on tap!) and had a nice hang with Roger and Heather. Roger is also known as "chefkirk," an artist (and fellow vegan) who makes music with no input mixer...some very engaging music, I enjoyed the following video of one of his performances:
Thursday, December 25, 2008
But the Pinter Pause will live on. Or will it? (Read the link.)
From the AP:
Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter dies at 78
By PAISLEY DODDS – 1 hour ago
LONDON (AP) — British Nobel laureate Harold Pinter — who produced some of his generation's most influential dramas and later became a staunch critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq — has died, his widow said Thursday. He was 78.
Pinter died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer, according to his second wife Antonia Fraser.
In recent years he had seized the platform offered by his 2005 Nobel Literature prize to denounce President George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the war in Iraq.
But he was best known for exposing the complexities of the emotional battlefield.
His writing featured cool, menacing pauses in dialogue that reflected his characters' deep emotional struggles and spawned a new adjective found in several dictionaries: "Pinter-esque."
"Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles," the Nobel Academy said. "With a minimum of plot, drama emerges from the power struggle and hide-and-seek of interlocution."
His characters' internal fears and longings, their guilt and difficult sexual drives were set against the neat lives they constructed in order to try to survive. Usually enclosed in one room, the acts usually illustrated the characters' lives as a sort of grim game with actions that often contradicted words. Gradually, the layers were peeled back.
"How can you write a happy play?" he once said. "Drama is about conflict and degrees of perturbation, disarray. I've never been able to write a happy play, but I've been able to enjoy a happy life."
Pinter wrote 32 plays; one novel, "The Dwarfs," in 1990; and put his hand to 22 screenplays.
The working-class milieu of his first dramas reflected his early life as the son of a Jewish tailor from London's East End.
Born Oct. 30, 1930, in the London neighborhood of Hackney, he was forced along with other children during World War II to evacuate to rural Cornwall in 1939. He was 14 before he returned. By then, he was entranced with Franz Kafka and Ernest Hemingway.
By 1950, Pinter had begun to publish poetry and appeared on stage as an actor. Pinter began to write for the stage, and published "The Room" in 1957.
A year later, his first major play, "The Birthday Party" was produced in the West End.
In it, intruders enter the retreat of Stanley, a young man who is hiding from childhood guilt. He becomes violent, telling them, "You stink of sin, you contaminate womankind."
The play closed after just one week to disastrous reviews, but Pinter continued to write and was most prolific between 1957 and 1965.
"With his earliest work, he stood alone in British theater up against the bewilderment and incomprehension of critics, the audience and writers, too," British playwright Tom Stoppard said when the Nobel Prize was announced.
"I find critics on the whole a pretty unnecessary bunch of people," Pinter once said.
In "The Caretaker," (1959) a manipulative old man threatens the relationship of two brothers, while "The Homecoming" (1964) explores the hidden rage and confused sexuality of an all-male household by inserting a woman.
In "Silence" and "Landscape," (1967 and 1968) Pinter moved from exploring the underbelly of human life to showing the simultaneous levels of fantasy and reality that occupy the individual.
"The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear," Pinter once said. "It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, and anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its true place. When true silence falls we are left with echo but are nearer nakedness."
"Betrayal" (1978) was reportedly based on the disintegration of his marriage to actress Vivien Merchant, who appeared in many of his first plays.
Their marriage ended in 1980 after Pinter's long affair with BBC presenter Joan Bakewell. He then married Fraser. Merchant died shortly afterward of alcoholism-related disease.
During the late 1980s, his work became more overtly political; he said he had a responsibility to pursue his role as "a citizen of the world in which I live, (and) insist upon taking responsibility."
In the 1980s, Pinter's only stage plays were one-acts: "A Kind of Alaska" (1982), "One for the Road" (1984) and the 20-minute "Mountain Language" (1988).
Off-stage he was also highly political: Pinter turned down former Prime Minister John Major's offer of a knighthood and strongly attacked Blair when NATO bombed Serbia. He later referred to Blair a "deluded idiot" for supporting Bush's war in Iraq.
He said he deeply regretted having voting for Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Tony Blair in 1997.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Pinter a "great playwright and lucid, agitated and uncompromising humanist."
He called the Nobel "a belated consecration of his immense work, but also an homage to a man's courage and commitment against all forms of barbarism."
The prize gave Pinter a global platform, from which he frequently and bitterly decried the Iraq war.
"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law," Pinter said in his Nobel lecture, which he recorded rather than traveling to the Swedish capital of Stockholm.
"How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?" he asked, in a hoarse voice.
Though he had been looking forward to giving the Nobel lecture — calling it "the longest speech I will ever have made" — he canceled his attendance at the award ceremony, and then announced he would skip the lecture as well on his doctor's advice.
In March 2005, Pinter announced his retirement as a playwright to concentrate on politics. But he created a radio play, "Voices," that was broadcast on BBC radio to mark his 75th birthday.
"I have written 29 plays, and I think that's really enough," Pinter said. "I think the world has had enough of my plays."
Pinter's influence was felt in the United States in the plays of Sam Shepard and David Mamet.
Friend and biographer Michael Billington said Pinter "was a political figure, a polemicist and carried on fierce battles against American foreign policy and often British foreign policy, but in private he was the most incredibly loyal of friends and generous of human beings."
"He was a great man as well actually as a great playwright," Billington said.
Pinter is survived by his son, Daniel, from his marriage to Merchant.
I have a history of strange encounters with dachshunds...
My parents wiener dog got into the Christmas spirit this morning, bringing us a pre-gift-opening delicacy:
Mmmm....dead squirrel! Probably roadkill...which reminded me of a few roadkill links that you might enjoy this happy day:
A roadkill artist.
Roadkill recipes: Pan-Braised Squirrel.
(I wonder if you can substitute soy product?)
Generic roadkill recipes.
(Includes Moose-and-Squirrel Meat Balls.)
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Photos I took of India Cooke (violin) and Joelle Leandre (contrabass). They put in a terrific set as special guests this year. It was a pleasure to meet and hear them. This set took on special meaning, as Joelle's father had just passed away the same week. She flew in from France to do the performance, and was flying back to be with her family the next morning.
(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)
(To enlarge any photo, just click it)I'm writing to you from the snow covered house of my parents overlooking the beautiful Cottage Grove Lake in central Oregon. It is awesome here! After picking me up, my parents took me to the Wandering Goat for, as I've said before, the best espresso I've ever had. Now I'm just kicking back here recovering from the 28 units I took last quarter...
Last weekend, David Borgo and I (KaiBorg) played at the International Society for Improvised Music (ISIM) 2008 Conference held this year at University of Denver, Colorado Lamont School of Music. The facilities, and the hosts, were wonderful. The performance facilities are a few years old and in fantastic upkeep with nice sound equipment. Another big congratulations to Ed Sarath and ISIM executive director Sarah Weaver for a great conference.
The man who introduced me to the world of creative music, Professor John Rapson. In the early 80s he introduced me to a wide variety of musics while I was a student at Westmont, and also introduced me to my now friends and compatriots Vinny Golia, Wayne Peet, Alex Cline, Nels Cline, John Fumo and more. In conversation with my PhD committee chair (David Borgo) Rapson said he "started me on the descent," and Borgo said with a smile, "Yes, and I'll finish it..."
Bottesini: Paul Riola, Michael Vlatkovich, Doug Anderson, Antwon Owens, Glenn Taylor, James Hoskins, Vinny Golia
Paul and Michael
I had the pan friend seitan with mashed potatoes, gravy and mixed vegetables! Wonderful stuff...
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Incredibly sad, four members of a family gone.
"Two witnesses who spoke to the pilot said the aircraft lost one engine over the ocean, and the other failed over the neighborhood. The jet crashed less than a quarter-mile from University City High School and two miles west of the Miramar runway."
Somewhere the decision was made to return the crippled jet by flying over a residential neighborhood and high school.
Notes on the behavior of some humans: a neighbor said there were "souvenir" hunters (talking about eBay) that they chased out of the backyard...horrible. That, and the tv/camera people in our backyard all afternoon, added to make the day even more surreal.
Also: Cheers to the emergency services (fire and police). They were there very quickly, going into a deadly and toxic scene.
The quote above and story below are from the local paper, The San Diego Tribune.
3 killed as fighter jet crashes in San Diego
Pilot ejects seconds before impact; child missing, presumed dead
By Steve Liewer,
and Debbi Baker
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS
A military jet crashed around noon Monday in a University City neighborhood.
A mother, her young child and the child's grandmother died at 4416 Cather Ave. when the disabled F/A-18D Hornet crashed into the house in a fiery explosion, authorities said.
A second child was missing and presumed dead before the search was suspended at 6 p.m. because of darkness, said Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Authorities plan to resume the search this morning.
The county medical examiner has not released the victims' names. The children's father, a businessman who was at work, could not be reached for comment.
Next door at 4371 Huggins St., Robert Johnson sat in the living room with his daughter, Heather Certain, and her 2-year-old son, Nicholas, when they heard the explosion outside. Then a huge fireball filled the picture window looking out at the front yard.
“The house shook like an earthquake,” said Johnson, 56, who was about to leave for his job as a volunteer guide at the USS Midway Museum. “I saw the flames right there in front of my house.”
All three fled out the back door.
The jet pilot had ejected safely and was in good condition at San Diego Naval Medical Center as of 9 p.m., said a hospital spokeswoman.
Also last night, the senior pastor and some congregants at the victims'church, the Korean United Methodist Church of San Diego in Clairemont, told the TV station KNSD 7/39 that a 36-year-old mother was in the home with her two sons – a 2-month-old and 1-year-old. The mother worked as a nurse at a hospital.
The woman's mother also was in the house.
The family recently moved into the house because they needed more space after the baby's birth, the church members said, and the grandmother flew over from Korea shortly afterward.
“Just like any other immigrants, they tried so hard to take a root in this new community,” the Rev. Daniel Shin, senior pastor of the church, told the TV station.
The crash destroyed two houses and damaged three others near the intersection of Cather and Huggins. Inky smoke billowed from the ruined houses for most of the afternoon. Administrators at nearby University City High School kept students indoors until their regular dismissal time.
A pilot from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station flew the two-seat aircraft, said base spokesman Maj. Jay Delarosa.
The unidentified student pilot was en route from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, which has been operating in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego for several days while aviators practice day and night carrier-landing drills.
Two witnesses who spoke to the pilot said the aircraft lost one engine over the ocean, and the other failed over the neighborhood. The jet crashed less than a quarter-mile from University City High School and two miles west of the Miramar runway.
A firefighter on Huggins Street inspected the wreckage from yesterday's crash of a military jet. The Marine Corps is expected to lead an investigation into the crash.
A man witnesses described as the pilot of the crashed fighter jet sat on the lawn of a house in University City after he ejected safely yesterday.
“(The pilot) was talking to air traffic control,” said Col. Christopher O'Connor, the commanding officer at Miramar. “He said he had a problem.”
Dennis Connor, 50, said he was on a hill in the neighborhood when he saw the plane approaching at a 45-degree angle.
He said the jet hit the pavement on Cather Avenue near Huggins Street, just short of Interstate 805 and open space in Rose Canyon. The impact sent debris flying between two houses and set three on fire.
Connor said the plane, which had clipped treetops, was just seconds from the ground when the pilot ejected. It was smashed into pieces, with a turbine from an engine being the only part that Connor could distinguish.
“Everything was just mangled aluminum,” he said.
Steve Diamond, a retired naval aviator from Tierrasanta, found the pilot in a tree behind a house just east of University City High School. He helped the man, whom he described as a lieutenant in his 20s, down from the tree.
Diamond said the pilot told him that after he lost power in the first engine, a decision was made to get the jet to Miramar on the remaining engine.
“He was making motions with his hand, like he was trying to throttle up, and he said there was no power,” said Matthew Gorsuch, a former helicopter door gunner in the Navy who lives near the crash site. “He said he was trying to find a clearing, but he ran out of time.”
Through it all, Gorsuch said, the pilot had just one concern. “The only thing he cared about was where his plane had landed. That was the only thing he asked about. That was all he had on his mind.”
In October, the Navy and Marine Corps temporarily grounded 636 older Hornets after a routine inspection revealed cracks in several of them.
But the aircraft, a workhorse of the Navy and Marine Corps fleet, has generally performed well in more than two decades of service, said John Pike at the defense-oriented GlobalSecurity.org.
“It is not a widow-maker,” Pike said.
The Marine Corps is expected to lead an investigation into yesterday's crash. A naval official said flight exercises from the Abraham Lincoln won't be affected by the incident.
F/A-18s routinely fly out of Miramar, a once-rural base now hemmed in by development.
Nora Bhes, who lives a block from the crash site, said she has been concerned about possible crashes because of low-flying military jets.
“They come so close that you can't even talk,” she said, breathing through a scarf because of the acrid smoke yesterday afternoon.
Others in the area marveled over their narrow escapes.
Postal carrier Bill Dusting had delivered mail – a Korean-language newspaper – to the victims' home a few minutes before the crash. He heard a “pop-pop” sound from the sky. That was the sound of the pilot ejecting.
“I looked up and saw the plane,” said Dusting, an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service. “It was unreal, except this was real.”
Dusting ran to his right and was still running and staring over his shoulder when the jet slammed into the house at 4416 Cather Ave.
After Johnson, his daughter and his grandson scrambled out the back door with the family dog close behind, they made their way to Huggins Street.
They saw flames in front of their house and Johnson's Oldsmobile ablaze in the driveway. The jet's fuselage was in the street surrounded by smoke and flames, and a parachute was descending above the crash scene.
Johnson came back for his mother-in-law, who lived across the street, and saw her trying to put out the flames with a garden hose. He escorted her to safety.
The victims spoke little English, Johnson said. They worked in their yard frequently and always smiled. It haunted Johnson to think of the close call that took their lives – and spared his.
“We all live at the edge of mortality,” he said. “It could have been us just as well.”
Staff writers Keith Darcé, Lisa Deaderick, Sharon Heilbrunn, Robert Krier, Angelica Martinez, Rick Rogers, Peter Rowe and librarian Merrie Monteagudo contributed to this report.
Monday, December 08, 2008
This is awful, who knows how many people are dead. Several house engulfed in flame. The pilot ejected, my neighbor saw him/her. This is so terrible. They fly over here all the time, and it feels like they are coming into the houses sometimes. This time they did. Thankfully, not mine, but this is so terrible, I hope people weren't there. I was in the shower, and I hit the ground when several explosions happened. Louder than guns or backfire, I had no idea, I thought I was dead. I hear the whining noise, metal grinding, rattling, scattered explosions. And then it hit. Screams from the street and the high school nearby. Several house were visible in flames from my front door/balcony.
Photos I've taken here.
[Taken from my balcony.]
Thursday, December 04, 2008
This is kind of like a "punish the musician" fee...or maybe a musician tax?
I'm off to Denver, CO (Lamont School of Music, University of Denver, Colorado USA) to perform at the International Society for Improvised Music Third Annual Conference with David Borgo in KaiBorg...should be fun, a great lineup, including Michael Vlatkovich and Vinny Golia...I think Vinny might've drove his car...imagine checking that many horns.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Happy Birthday to the amazing and inspiring Claude Levi-Strauss. He turned 100 yesterday...
“He represents an extremely subversive vision with his interest in populations that were disdained. He paid careful attention, not touristically but profoundly, to the human beings on the earth who think differently from us. It’s a respect for others, which is very strong and very moving. He knew that cultural diversity is necessary for cultural creativity, for the future.”
Read the whole NYTimes article here.
(Is it just me, or does he look like William S. Burroughs...? See two posts below...)
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Just what everyone wants: Angry Vegan T-Shirts!
[Addition: It is SAFE to shop our products...Amazingly sad, the zealousness of consumption lead to death...
From the NYTIMES:
By JACK HEALY
Published: November 28, 2008
A Wal-Mart employee in suburban New York died after being trampled by a crush of shoppers who tore down the front doors and thronged into the store early Friday morning, turning the annual rite of post-Thanksgiving bargain hunting into a frenzy.
The 34-year-old employee, who was not identified, was knocked down by a crowd that broke down the doors of the Wal-Mart at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y., and surged into the store. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 6 a.m.
The police said that three other shoppers were injured and a 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to the hospital for observation.
One shopper, Kimberly Cribbs, said she was standing near the back of the crowd at around 5 a.m. on Friday when people started pulling the doors from their hinges and rushing into the store. She said several people were knocked to the ground, and parents had to grab their children by the hands to keep them from being caught in the crush.“
They were falling all over each other,” she said. “It was terrible.”
The Nassau County Police said the man’s exact cause of death had not been determined.
On Friday, Wal-Mart released a statement saying that the man who was killed had been working for Wal-Mart through a temp agency. The company called the death “a tragic situation,” and said it was working with police.
“The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority,” Wal-Mart said in a statement.]
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thu Nov 20, 2:24 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.
Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).
"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.
"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.
The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.
Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including "self-identified elected officials," was one which asked respondents to "name two countries that were our enemies during World War II."
Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.
Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.
Asked about the electoral college, 20 percent of elected officials incorrectly said it was established to "supervise the first televised presidential debates."
In fact, the system of choosing the US president via an indirect electoral college vote dates back some 220 years, to the US Constitution.
The question that received the fewest correct responses, just 16 percent, tested respondents' basic understanding of economic principles, asking why "free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning?"
Activities that dull Americans' civic knowledge include talking on the phone and watching movies or television -- even news shows and documentaries, ISI said.
Meanwhile, civic knowledge is enhanced by discussing public affairs, taking part in civic activities and reading about current events and history, the group said.
Monday, November 17, 2008
President-Elect Obama's First Big Mistake
Its great to see President-elect Obama aggressively taking on the economy prior to his taking office. Unfortunately, the economic advisory team that he has put together looks more like a semester's worth of great guest speakers for an MBA class than an economic advisory team that can truly help him.
There are a lot of great minds on the list:
Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Laura Tyson, who served as Clinton's top economic adviser; former Fed Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson; Time Warner Inc. Chairman Richard Parsons; former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman William Donaldson and Xerox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Anne Mulcahy.
Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Roel Campos, an ex-SEC commissioner, and Warren Buffett are also on the advisory board.
Notice anything missing?
Not a single entrepreneur. Yes Warren Buffett started a business, but he will be the first to tell you that he "doesn't do start ups". Which means there isn't a single person advising PE Obama that we know of that knows what it's like to start and run a business in this or any economic climate. That's a huge problem.
[read whole post here]
Well, now today, ouch! Now, "That's a huge problem," Cuban!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team, was charged with insider trading in shares of Mamma.com Inc, an Internet search engine firm, the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday.
Cuban, one of the five finalists to buy the Chicago Cubs pro baseball team, faces civil charges by acting on nonpublic information and selling shares of Mamma.com to avoid more than $750,000 in losses, the SEC alleged.
According to the SEC, Mamma.com invited Cuban to participate in a stock offering that would be conducted at a discount to the market price after he agreed to keep the information confidential.
However, within hours of receiving information, Cuban called his broker and told him to sell his entire position in the company, the SEC alleged.
When the offering was publicly announced, Mamma.com's stock price dropped 9.3 percent from the prior day's closing price.
Calls to Cuban's lawyers were not immediately returned.
Mamma.com has since changed its name to Copernic Inc.
(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai, Robert MacMillan; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I like this quote: "When policy-making resumes in Washington, citizens, activists and the media should vigilantly 'follow the money' to ensure that these representatives always remember that voters, not contributors, elected them."
Hopefully we all won't be so enamored by "The Change" (sounds like a M. Night Shyamalan film) that we get distracted from following the money.
Check it out: OpenSecrets.org
Here is one example of the articles they run...
Money Wins Presidency and 9 of 10 Congressional Races in Priciest U.S. Election Ever
Published by Communications on November 5, 2008 3:19 PM
WASHINGTON -- The historic election of 2008 re-confirmed one truism about American democracy: Money wins elections.
From the top of the ticket, where Barack Obama declined public financing for the first time since the system's creation and went on to amass a nearly two-to-one monetary advantage over John McCain, to congressional races throughout the nation, the candidate with the most money going into Election Day emerged victorious in nearly every contest.
In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning, according to a post-election analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The findings are based on candidates' spending through Oct. 15, as reported to the Federal Election Commission.
Continuing a trend seen election cycle after election cycle, the biggest spender was victorious in 397 of 426 decided House races and 30 of 32 settled Senate races. On Election Day 2006, top spenders won 94 percent of House races and 73 percent of Senate races. In 2004, 98 percent of House seats went to the biggest spender, as did 88 percent of Senate seats.
"The 2008 election will go down in U.S. history as an election of firsts, but this was far from the first time that money was overwhelmingly victorious on Election Day," Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said. "The best-funded candidates won nine out of 10 contests, and all but a few members of Congress will be returning to Washington."
Overall, 95 percent of House incumbents and 93 percent of senators won re-election on Tuesday. (This includes incumbents who lost their primaries but does not account for several other races featuring incumbents, such as the Minnesota Senate race, where a recount is pending in the contest between incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.) In the prior 10 years and five election cycles, an average of 97 percent of House members and 86 percent of senators won re-election.
Average Pricetag for House Seat Exceeds $1 Million
The average cost of winning a House race in 2008 was nearly $1.1 million, based on pre-election finance reports, and almost $6.5 million for a Senate seat. Marcia Fudge, a Democrat running in Ohio's 11th District to succeed the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones, spent the least to win a House seat--just over $46,000 at last report. For the Senate, Wyoming Republican John Barrasso was the bargain-buyer, spending $1.4 million on his re-election.
Funds received and spent in the final days and hours of the 2008 campaign will not be reported to the FEC until Dec. 4, but as of Oct. 15, all congressional candidates who ran this cycle had spent almost $1.4 billion in the last two years. The Center has estimated the total cost of the 2008 elections for Congress and the White House at $5.3 billion, including candidates, national political parties and outside issue advocacy groups. That would make '08 the most expensive U.S. election ever.
"The politicians who were just elected potentially owe their campaign contributors billions of dollars for helping them win," Krumholz said. "When policy-making resumes in Washington, citizens, activists and the media should vigilantly 'follow the money' to ensure that these representatives always remember that voters, not contributors, elected them."
The national party committees reported spending more than $865 million--$440 million by Republicans through Oct. 15 and $424 million by Democrats. Issue advocacy groups--commonly called 527 committees--spent nearly $200 million to influence federal elections and issues, with liberal interests accounting for about 60 percent of that.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Click here for the whole NY Times article.
Obama and the War on Brains
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: November 9, 2008
Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.
Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.
We can’t solve our educational challenges when, according to polls, Americans are approximately as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution, and when one-fifth ofAmericans believe that the sun orbits the Earth.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Ah, this all is very entertaining for me, I mean, all they want is equal space on public property next to the Ten Commandments...the Golden Ratio, nectar brandy, mummification of small animals...what's not to love?
Read more about the Summum here on Wikipedia.
From the New York Times:
PLEASANT GROVE CITY, Utah — Across the street from City Hall here sits a small park with about a dozen donated buildings and objects — a wishing well, a millstone from the city’s first flour mill and an imposing red granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments.
Thirty miles to the north, in Salt Lake City, adherents of a religion called Summum gather in a wood and metal pyramid hard by Interstate 15 to meditate on their Seven Aphorisms, fortified by an alcoholic sacramental nectar they produce and surrounded by mummified animals.
In 2003, the president of the Summum church wrote to the mayor here with a proposal: the church wanted to erect a monument inscribed with the Seven Aphorisms in the city park, “similar in size and nature” to the one devoted to the Ten Commandments.
The city declined, a lawsuit followed and a federal appeals court ruled that the First Amendment required the city to display the Summum monument. The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments in the case, which could produce the most important free speech decision of the term.
The Summum church was founded in 1975, and it contains elements of Egyptian faiths and Gnostic Christianity. “Summum,” derived from the Latin, refers to the sum of all creation.
Followers of Summum believe that Moses received two sets of tablets on Mount Sinai and that the Ten Commandments were on the second set. The aphorisms were on the first one.
“When Moses came down from the mountain the first time, he brought the principles of creation,” Mr. Temu said. “But he saw the people weren’t ready for them, so he threw them on the ground and destroyed them.”
Summum’s founder, Corky Ra, says he learned the aphorisms during a series of telepathic encounters with divine beings he called Summa Individuals.
Mr. Barnard has represented the Summum church for many years. “They’re odd,” he said of his clients, with an affectionate smile. “They’re strange. They’re different.”
Bernie Aua, the church’s vice president, said the court case should not turn on how his religion was viewed.
“We have this thing called the Constitution,” Mr. Aua said. “The fact is, it’s a public park. And public parks are public.”
Monday, November 03, 2008
Mig Greengard's The Daily Dirt Chess Blog:
I need to have this posted over my desk...
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Wage violations, child labor violations, bad check writing, cruelty to animals...
Troubled Iowa Meatpacker Defaulted on Loan, Bank Says
By JULIA PRESTON
Published: November 1, 2008
A federal judge has appointed a temporary receiver for a kosher meatpacking company in Iowa after a bank said that the company had defaulted on a $35 million loan and that it had written $1.4 million in bad checks.
The loan foreclosure against the company, Agriprocessors Inc., was the latest in a cascade of troubles that have come after nearly 400 illegal immigrant workers were arrested in a raid in May at its plant in Postville, Iowa. On Thursday, Sholom Rubashkin, the former chief executive, was arrested in Iowa on federal charges of conspiring to harbor illegal immigrants.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Cedar Rapids, First Bank Business Capital of St. Louis claimed that Agriprocessors had failed to maintain enough cash in designated bank accounts to stay current on the revolving loan it took out in 1999. The lawsuit was first reported Friday on the Web site of The Forward, a Jewish newspaper.
The suit also claims that Agriprocessors violated the loan terms by diverting nearly $1.4 million from First Bank accounts to another bank to issue payroll checks on Oct. 24. First Bank learned that those checks were returned for insufficient funds, the lawsuit says.
The suit says Agriprocessors had begun to fall behind on the revolving loan during the quarter that ended March 31, suggesting that its financial woes predated the raid, which decimated its workforce.
The bank asked the judge to appoint a receiver immediately, saying that a bank representative had been expelled from the Postville plant after a meeting on Thursday. The judge, Linda R. Reade of Federal District Court, appointed the temporary receiver late Friday and set a hearing for next Wednesday.
The bank reported that Agriprocessors owed $188,000 to an electrical company and warned that electricity to the plant could be shut off, causing “millions of dollars of fresh and frozen products” to spoil. The suit says millions of chickens “are in danger of starving to death if not fed.”
Aaron Rubashkin, the company’s owner and the father of Sholom, put up $2.2 million in collateral, in addition to some of the property at the huge Postville plant, and Sholom Rubashkin put up $1 million, the suit says.
Last week, Iowa authorities levied $10 million in fines against Agriprocessors for wage violations, and Aaron and Sholom Rubashkin are facing criminal charges for child labor violations.
Lawyers for the company could not be reached for comment.
Friday, October 31, 2008
In the midst of all the political madness of the Presidential election, don't forget a very important proposition on the ballot for California: Proposition 2.
Even if you eat meat, this is good for your state, your health and even better for the animals. And don't buy into the myths. Read more at:
The Humane Society of the US
California Veterinary Medical Assn
Center for Food Safety
Union of Concerned Scientists
Consumer Federation of America
California Democratic Party
California Council of Churches
However, if you want to be a true environmental warrior and political radical, go vegan.
How is it radical to be a vegan?
Better for the environment, by far: Cuts down on the enormous amount of pollution and environmental damage created by factory farms in the maintenance, slaughtering, preparation, and transportation of animals.
And, once again, the continual theme of the love affair between the government and corporations:
And don't forget...it is pretty darn good for your health...
Go veg, and VOTE YES ON PROP 2.
"Not only in the commercial world but in the realm of ideas as well, our age is holding a veritable clearance sale."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Besides having great knowledge, and selection, of tea, they are doing their bit to help. From the San Diego Tribune:
When Dow is down, that means it's tea time
By Penni Crabtree
October 28, 2008
Ah, if only it were gin.
But for Dow Jones-jangled nerves – and for most these days, nerves are singing like a taut silver wire – a free cup of soothing tea might just be what Wall Street ordered.
And maybe a not-so-free scone to accompany it. Or so hopes Ronald Eng, proprietor of Infusions of Tea, a San Diego tea shop that on Oct. 15 began offering customers free cups of afternoon tea on any weekday that the Dow Jones industrial average closed at a loss of more than 100 points.
On the first day of the promotion, the Dow closed at 8,577, down 733 points. Since then, it has fallen at least 100 points on five out of eight weekdays, including yesterday's drop of 203 points, which translates into about 150 free cups of tea.
“We've been giving away a lot of free tea lately,” Eng said with a laugh. “My dad said we should have made it higher than 100 points.”
Still, Eng said customers appreciate the gesture, and while some welcome a free cuppa, people are still buying their favorite blend. The promotion ends Friday.
“For us, it's a way to show hospitality,” said Eng, who started the shop in the Costa Verde shopping center on Gennesee Avenue in 2003. “People are just down a little bit, and tea is a nice, soothing pause.”
Of course, on the days the Dow is up, the sign changes: Dow O.K., but you are welcome to come in anyway.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Behold, I show you the last man. 'What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?'—thus asks the last man, and he blinks.
The earth has become smaller, and on it hops the man who makes everything small...'We have invented happiness'—say the last men, and they blink." —Nietzsche (Quoted in Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking? page 64).
"The last men blink. What does that mean? Blink is related to Middle English blenchan, which means deceive, and to blenken, blinken, which means gleam or glitter. To blink—that means to play up and set up a glittering deception [emphasis mine, jk] which is then agreed upon as true and valid—with the mutual tacit understanding not to question the setup." —Heidegger (What Is Called Thinking? page 74).
Heidegger, continued on page 82:
"We must not take it to be the same thing as the merely superficial and incidental wink by which we signal to each other on special occasions that in fact we are no longer taking seriously what is being said and proposed..."
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
"McCain suggests Obama tax policies are socialist"
And corporate bailouts aren't?
Brad Henkel sent me the following pic he took between dog-walking gigs on Wall Street the other day. (Hey, musicians got to make a living too.)
It is of Nader's visit to NYC:
Thursday, October 16, 2008
From the Huffington Post:
"In a phone interview with CBS' Katie Couric, Joe Wurzelbacher said Barack Obama 'tap dance[d] ... almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr.' "
Listen to the interview:
Saturday, October 11, 2008
It is interesting how the technique of "othering" by Senator McCarthy is being used in today's politics. Still. McCarthyism lives on.
I think Bob Shrum hits the nail on the head...
"The McCain campaign crossed the line today from negative character attacks to the kind of character assassination that plays to the basest impulses and incites the most dangerous reaction. We've seen the prelude this week in the McCain crowds and in Sarah Palin's well-rehearsed, carefully telepromptered and increasingly ugly diatribes. But the intent became undeniable with the new McCain ad that falsely charges that "Obama worked with terrorist William Ayers when it was convenient"--which all but alleges that the candidate was there planting bombs.
"McCain had to back off and almost apologize at an event in Minnesota when a questioner in his crowd alleged that Obama was "an Arab." McCain meekly had to explain, over the evident unrest of his supporters, that Obama wasn't dangerous.
"But who was responsible for leaving people to think that he was dangerous in the first place? The McCain campaign grab-bag of tarnished tactics has trafficked in soft hate and hard fears about "the other." It has been said that everything in America ultimately comes back to race. But with Republican campaigns in trouble, starting with Barry Goldwater and continuing with Nixon's "southern strategy" in 1968, it really always does come back to race.
"The McCain forces have taken this to a new low; there is no way to deny the deliberate, conscious attempt to portray Obama as unAmerican; not "one of us" as Pat Buchanan said tonight on "Hardball"; someone "who doesn't see America as we do," in the venomous patois of Palin.
"In all decency, it is at least worth mentioning, even as we note that Obama is not an Arab or a Moslem, that there is something profoundly unAmerican about denigrating all Arabs or all Moslems as suspect or evil. Or, for that matter, something profoundly unAmerican about playing to the old prejudices that many assumed would prevent any African-American from ever becoming President in their lifetimes. The appeal to intolerance is amplified by commentators like Buchanan and William Kristol, who urge the McCain campaign to pound away at Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. They have a list of names they want McCain to flourish and a wave of innuendos they want McCain to raise. Joe McCarthy would recognize this; it's the smear technique that he virtually patented. To borrow a phrase from that period, a phrase that shattered his reign of intimidation, maybe we ought to ask the McCain forces, the candidate and his supporting commentariat, 'Have you no sense of decency left at all?'"
Here is the whole post.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Click here for Joad Cressbeckler's political profile.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Also: for the scoop on the truth/lies/exaggerations of both parties, I look at:
It will be interesting to see what they have to say about this.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
"Is this an elitist point of view? Perhaps, though it seems only reasonable and patriotic to hold candidates for high office to high standards. Elitism in this sense is not about educational or class credentials, not about where you went to school or whether you use 'summer' as a verb. It is, rather, about the pursuit of excellence no matter where you started out in life. Jackson, Lincoln, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Clinton were born to ordinary families, but they spent their lives doing extraordinary things, demonstrating an interest in, and a curiosity about, the world around them. This is much less evident in Palin's case."
Click here for the whole article.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
We had a blast last night, playing at San Diego State University's NWEAMO. A great audience, including luminaries such as Roger Reynolds and his delightful wife, Karen. This event is quite a wide mix of styles, wonderfully organized by Joe Waters.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
KaiBorg at STEIM
Amsterdam was awesome! We landed, caught a taxi to STEIM Laboratories, had a sound check and did a gig. A whirlwind of a first day. The folks at STEIM (STudio for Electro-Instrumental Music) were delightful to work with: Taku, Joel, Nico, Erika, Minouk, and the worlds best electro-acoustic sound man, Kees. Visiting musicians there at the same time as us included, Yutaka Makino (U.S./Japan, laptop, did a set with dj sniff…who is Taku), Jack Wright (U.S., saxophones, he ALWAYS shows up, if I’m in California, NY, New Mexico, anywhere, he seems to be there or have just been there), Grundik Kasyansky (Russia, feedback synthesizer, objects), Guillaume Viltard (France, double bass) and Andreas Otto (Germany, cello, laptop). It was a smoking show, with a lovely audience. Another full house. Really nice to experience that again on this tour. After the show, an ex-pat from the U.S., John, who plays saxophone and moonlights as a tour guide, took us all on a mad dash about town, beginning with Café Gollem (my choice, they have Westvleteren-arguably the best beer in the world) and all over town, including a romp through the red-light district, where we joined all the other tourists. Pretty funny, it really is a tourist spot, to see all these groups of elderly travelers being led through the district looking at the “lingerie models” as if they were at Country Bear Jamboree at Knott’s Berry Farm or It’s a Small World at Disneyland. John gave us a great introduction to the town. (I only wish I could remember his last name.)
I can’t say enough positive things about what STEIM is doing. They take this space off of Utrechtsestraat and by populating it with interesting, creative, adventurous and intelligent people, convert it from just another space into an exciting place/destination where like-minded people have an opportunity to create and present works using new media. I believe this is their key, it is not so much the technology they make available (which is important) but the environment populated with engaging people. When you look at their history, and the people that have passed through their doors, you see a broad view of the recent history of electro-acoustic music and emergent technologies…I say that because they embrace a diversity of approach to those who are accepted into residency there. Whereas other spaces/places focus on specific aesthetics, STEIM brings in people who do hardware, software, incorporate traditional instruments, new instruments, improvise, compose, create installations, do video, a wide variety of styles from DJs to quarter-tone trumpet players, and the list goes on. Inclusiveness is their mantra, as opposed to the exclusiveness of others. What a fantastic organization, and it was rewarding to be there when they announced they had received funding (that was in question!) for another fours years when, sadly, many other organizations in The Netherlands had been cut.
The rest of our stay in Amsterdam was spent visiting friends, eating great food, drinking great coffee and beer, making new friends, visiting museums and galleries (Including the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum), and just wandering/exploring this vibrant, energetic, yet kind city. Highlights included hanging with Michael Moore, Joel Ryan, Michael Vatcher, Anne LaBerge, and Sean Bergin. What a rich/deep pool of musicians in that town…
Great restaurants with tasty vegan options included: The Golden Temple, De Waaghals, Bolhoed and the all present Maoz Falafel!
Highlights for beer: Definitely Café Gollem, a nice break from the ubiquitous Heineken and Grolsch.
Great places to hear music besides STEIM: Bimhuis, De Engelbewaarder (don't miss Sean Bergin's Sunday open session, wonderful!), and Alto Cafe (hit and miss, saw a great piano trio there, but also an AWFUL blues band).
What a great city, I hope to go back for a longer stay.
David, Yutaka and me
with Jack Wright at Cafe Gollem
The perfect espresso at Koffie Salon
Coffee with Joel Ryan
I can't escape!!! Even in Amsterdam. This was at a cafe on Utrechtsestraat.
Enjoying a Cuban Montecristo with the ubiquitous Heineken
Watching John Hollenbeck at Bimhuis
at De Waaghals
by the Flower Market
David's last night, at Cafe Gollem
Breakfast with Michael Moore
Visiting Jody (married to Michael Moore) at an Absinthe shop
Moore, me, Borgo, Sean Bergin at De Engelbewaarder
with some friends at Alto
with Vatcher at Palm Guitars
Last day, at the Rijksmuseum. Night Watch blew my mind.