In praise of young girls, in defense of Roman Polanski

Child rapist Roman Polanski has been apprehended in Switzerland. Read all about it.

Outrage is palpable – on both sides. Yes, there are two sides. In addition to the “hang the pedophile” side, there’s the – if I might repurpose Wilde here – unspeakable in defense of the unconscionable crowd. Hey, lighten up folks. It’s not like the guy was a priest or anything.

Anyway, those in the hang-the-pedophile camp are offering up as aggravating evidence some wild shit Polanski said back in 1979.

“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!”

Appalling. Just disgusting, isn’t it? Continue reading

Questions for conservative-land

Yesterday, a regular commenter wrote, “I don’t understand why everyone in liberal-land is still so fixated on Bush.” I think it’s a fair question and i’m willing to take a stab at it. Liberal-land is still so fixated on Bush because Americans don’t unite around positive things; we run on fear and loathing. The continued fixation on Bush is, to some degree, a closing of ranks in liberal-land. The denizens of liberal-land also like to believe that Bush corrupted or destroyed whatever wholesomeness was left in America. He did his part, no doubt…a bang up job really, but he didn’t start the process nor did it begin to end when he left office. Liberal-land would generally prefer to ignore its own leadership’s role in the hollowing out of America. And, you know, everybody loves a villain. Just like conservative-land is busy demonizing Obama for all sorts of sins, real and imagined.

Since we’re asking rhetorical questions of ill-defined groups of people, i have a few for conservative-land…

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The Silly Season

It was, I admit, a bit of a surprise to discover that my new country has anarchists around. Not the Kropotkin bomb-makers, of course–the bomb-makers we do have don’t seem motivated by anarchy, exactly. It’s a much more reasonable form of anarchism, as far as I can tell, although I haven’t really investigated it in any depth. But, still, some folks I admire–artist Clifford Harper, folk group Chumbawamba–claim to be anarchists. And it’s not just here, I gather–there’s an annual Anarchist Book Fair in Ghent, and one in London, and who knows where else. This has probably been a good year for this sort of thing, considering the death of capitalism and all.

And they have certainly had lots of good news this week, of a sort. The English have always had a bit of a libertarian streak–just look how they drive–and those of that persuasion got lots of confirmation recently. For one thing, it’s autumn, which means it’s time for the annual party conferences. So last week we had the Liberal Democrats blowing themselves up a little bit, this week we seem to have had the Labour party disengaging completely from reality, and next week who knows what the Conservative party will manage to come up with. For another thing, it was just one of those weeks that had a lot of news flow that would make an anarchist smile.
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Nota Bene #85: Beer Votes and Rock Quotes

Summer is gone Continue reading

Did President Bush believe that Harry Potter was real? It sure sounds that way.

Not that this should come as any surprise, but we now have confirmation that the Bush administration refused to award Harry Potter author JK Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because the books “encouraged witchcraft.”

For a second, let’s set aside any arguments over whether or not Rowling’s work merits such a lofty honor and do something that we simply don’t do enough these days. Let’s dig beneath the surface silliness and examine the deeper implications of what this revelation really means.

Put simply, would you be worried about “encouraging” something you didn’t think was possible? It’s one thing to want to discourage, say, meth use or binge drinking or texting while driving or unprotected sex. Those things are real and they have real, observable consequences. Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the Eels pod

Another seed holds serve. We’re not surprised that AC/DC won, but we may have expected a slightly closer battle considering the magnitude of George Harrison’s solo career. The numbers: #7 AC/DC 47%; George Harrison 24%; Midnight Oil 16%; Smashing Pumpkins 11%; Fish 3%; Badfinger 0%. AC/DC moves on to the Great 48.

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God of war

by Terry Hargrove

General McChrystal has warned that the United States needs to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan or risk losing that conflict. President Obama is now considering his report. I don’t know what the president will do, or even what he should do, but the whole thing reminds me of a story,.

Boys love to play war. Any guy who grew up before 1970 probably took part in innumerable skirmishes, doomed charges, and pitched battles. I fell in heroic fashion three times during the Battle of Tillman’s Apple Tree, a personal record. My deep fascination with playing war didn’t end until my third minute of boot camp.

But unlike the Union and Confederate forces at Gettysburg, we wouldn’t stage mock battles if the sun was too hot. We still played war, but in a more civilized fashion: with plastic army men. Continue reading

Sundays with Uncle-God Momma: life is suffering

foursightThere are many renditions of Siddhartha Gautama’s life story and his becoming “The Buddha”. None of them are contemporary to his life, and all contain the motivations of their various authors as much as they detail Gautama’s path to enlightenment. Joseph Campbell chose the version penned by Ashvaghosha (c. 100 A.D.) for inclusion in The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology. I favor this version for the same reasons as Campbell, because it “…also devotes more precise attention than the Pali text to the crises of the intellectual search that preceded the finding of the Middle Way.” It is crisis of the intellect, or psychology, that provokes the mystic to search for answers to life’s great questions. The search, as it happened with Gautama, leads away from society and to the internal where the eternal resides.

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Red Sails in the Sunset

by Dawn Farmer

With thanks to Brian and Russ for the title idea…

Sydneysiders awoke to red dust on the 23rd. It was the biggest dust storm to hit Sydney since 1942. A second storm covered Sydney on Saturday, millions of tons of dust have been dumped on Eastern Australia. Australia is a dry nation; in July Melbourne was named the driest city in Australia. Recall that last year Melbourne suffered catastrophic fires?

What does a million tons of dust look like?
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Sparkman, collateral damage in the war on drugs?

Hard information about the murder of Bill Sparkman is difficult to gather. The FBI is now on the case and is backpedaling to the point of suggesting it might have been suicide for all we know. Really? According to the AP interview of Jerry Weaver, the man who found the body, Sparkman was stripped to his socks with his feet and ankles bound by duct tape. There was a gag in his mouth and duct tape around his neck. Apparently, an abandoned S-10 pickup truck was also nearby and Sparkman’s clothes were in the bed. That differs greatly from most of the initial news reports that said Sparkman was found hanging from a tree, and later amended to say that his feet were touching the ground so he wasn’t technically hanging. It’s gruesome and frightening any which way you arrange the details, but a very important amount of context has been left out of the entire media onslaught.

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Laptop of mass destruction: programmed to explode — or implode?

deproliferatorTHE DEPROLIFERATOR — No, the Laptop of Mass Destruction (LMD) isn’t embedded with a chip that can be programmed to blow up the world. Better known as the Laptop of Death, this computer was supposedly stolen from Iran complete with 1,000 pages of documents innocuously referred to as the “alleged studies.”

What they’re “alleged” to do is prove that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. In fact, “charges based on those documents,” wrote investigative reporter Gareth Porter in 2008, “pose the only remaining obstacles to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declaring that Iran has resolved all unanswered questions about its nuclear program.” Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the AC/DC pod

Results: Our latest pod featured yet another upset that wasn’t really a huge upset, as the unseeded but eminently worthy Dire Straits won handily. The numbers: Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler 48%; Jethro Tull 22%; Tom Waits 15%; #7 The Band 7%; The Buzzcocks 4%; Kansas 4%. Knopfler and Company advance to the Great 48.

S&R’s search for the greatest band of all time stays in the Hollywood Bowl region for our next throwdown, which is hosted by the unusual case of a band that lost its lead singer and somehow found a replacement who helped them scale even greater heights. AC/DC is going to be tough to beat, but the Highway to Hell is, in this case, paved with land mines. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: Climate disruption will disrupt volcanism too

carboholic

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Nature News reported last week that vulcanologists have concluded that climate disruption will increase the number of volcanic eruptions. According to the article, the reason is that climate disruption is expected to reduce the amount of ice present atop volcanoes and thus reduce the amount of material keeping volcanoes from erupting. Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: The Band pod

(Note to self – launching pods on Saturday morning leads to low voter turnout.) In one of the tightest contests yet, The Piano Man eked out an extremely close win over Cheap Trick, Indigo Girls and Soundgarden. The numbers: Billy Joel 25%; #11 Cheap Trick 21%; Indigo Girls 21%; Soundgarden 18%; X 11%; The Faces/Small Faces 4%. Billy moves on to the Great 48.

The quest for the greatest band of all time now steps over to the Hollywood Bowl region, where some epic forerunners of Americana head one of the more … let’s go with “intellectually challenging” … pods in the tournament. Something here to confuse everybody folks, so step right up… Continue reading