I think I am going...

May be enjoyable and will certainly be better than what I usually do on a Friday night, ie nothing.
I tend to enjoy participating in cultural events more at times when I "shouldn't". Friday night is a good night for politics, and Super Bowl Sunday is a good day for the Opera (I did this back in 2008 - I even got dressed up. The music itself was fantastic, which is really why I went of course, but it did feel nice emerging from the Kennedy Center with no clue as to what was "really happening" in the USA).
Anyone wanna come with? Send an email!


Understanding Wealth

It has been said (pre-recession, though I am not sure how much has changed) that many, if not a majority of Americans, consider themselves wealthy, which is why class-based politics "doesn't work". How can you propose tax increases on 1% of the population when 50% of the population believes they are in that 1%?
Many of those Americans don't live in NYC, DC, SF or LA, so maybe it makes sense that they felt (feel) this way.
I have a way to put it into perspective. Maybe this will convert one or two of the fifty to one hundred and fifty million people that need to be converted.
I have a client who spent $1 million on the A/V components insalled in his residence (oh and, of course, this is not his only residence, nor even his primary one). This person's net worth is reported at around $7.8 billion (he is NOT close to being the wealthiest person in America). Granted, that is not all cash, but still...
...spending that $1 million was the equivalent of...
... spending one cent out of $78...
... spending ten cents out of $780...
... spending $1 out of $7,800...
... spending $10 out of $78,000...
... spending $100 out of $780,000.
Even if you had $780,000 to your name and were to spend in proportion to the aforementioned person, you would just barely be able to buy a decent DVD player and a cable to hook it up to... your old TV.


It's not that I'm going nowhere, it's that it is happening so slowly

Still good:

New to me as of a few months ago; now heard daily:

Waited 5 years for this to come out on vinyl since I first heard it, and they only put half on(!):

"Cynical", "Cowardly" and "Unimaginative"


I think my feelings on it are thus:
Being a big supporter of Euro-style soccer, ie those games where, to use an overused comment, soccer is really like chess, with an observable and verifiable strategy, I really felt yesterday's game was the ass end of that. The bad side of intellectualism. Calculated. Passionless. Tedious.

I never thought I would say this, but at least there was something entertaining, if infuriating, about the constant Italian dives four years ago. At least I had the opportunity to scream at the television set four years ago (and I was at work behind the bar at a nice place - I was wearing a vest AND an apron!) whereas I think I was mostly incredulous during this past game. Was that really the final? Of what?

Due to the boring overtime, which finally provided the opportunity for what seemed a pointless goal after so many minutes, I missed my bus back from Washington, DC. I took the train instead. Spain, Netherlands, you owe me $160 (or 1/3rd of all the money I had yesterday).



Quick One

(Maybe I am not the first to write this, but it bears repeating if I am doing so)
Note to any sympathetic writers, regardless of status:
Please replace the word "confidence" with the word "belief" whenever writing about economics, and more specifically, the feelings of consumers or investors. Sure, it is a subtle substitution but i think it does slightly subvert the notion that that there is any intrinsic rationality to free-market capitalism, especially when compared to other, more maligned forms of socioeconomic organization.


Netherlands Beats Brazil!

Anyone have a link to a video stream on the Internet???

I am not kidding! I don't care that I already know the result!

Please leave a comment.



Stop Saying...

Blood and Treasure
Every time I hear people talk about Afghanistan, I hear those same two words. What bugs me:
1. Always seems like a bad attempt at being more poetic by being indirect. Who uses the word treasure outside of a movie about pirates? I lose blood if I get a bad paper cut.

2. This attempt at being poetic also seems to obfuscate what is really being lost. Tax money that could be spent on improving the lives of people anywhere and everywhere, and fucking people's lives.

3. Framing the worth of the war in these words always makes it seem like the people critical of it think of it merely as a bad investment, something we are not getting a good return on, which not only ignores all of the moral and ethical issues of war, and not only places the discussion within the context of a view of life that literally cannot escape value judgments completely informed by capitalist practice, it is also that it seems to forget that success in Afghanistan would not provide the West with the kind of return on its investment that seems to be expected with this particular phrase. Because ultimately what will guarantee peace in that region are functional governments who truly work for the benefit of their people, even at the risk of not doing what we want them to.

4. And after all of that, what really gets me is just the lack of creativity. In the context of how they are being used, there are so many synonyms possible that when I hear people continue to use those same two words, it strikes me as if they are just conduits of memes without the capability for independent thought, in which case, why should they be talking about war in the first place?

R O 16 P 3

The quarterfinals are upon us, so here are the last few thoughts rattling around my brain in regards to the World Cup. I think I came up with a few jokes a few days ago but sadly they have all gone missing from my brain cells.

First off, I obviously didn't get to see the last games of the round in question.
As far as I can tell, no real surprises. Maybe some more flubbed calls? Who knows. I rarely watch the highlights of games because they are so lacking in the whole-game context that makes soccer so enjoyable to watch.

Netherlands vs. Slovakia would have been an interesting game to watch given my penchant for the Netherlands but also "eastern European upstarts." I guess it was a win-win that I didn't have to think about, though I am sorry I didn't get to see it.

Brazil won.

Secondhand reports say that both teams played rather timidly, but I would have still enjoyed watching Paraguay and Japan go to penalty kicks. It doesn't happen enough. Congrats to Japan for making it that far.

Spain vs. Portugal is a game I don't have anything to say about.

I was going to write a list describing the relative amount of frustration I would experience should certain teams win, but all I can say is that another Brazilian victory would just be boring to me unless the final game is truly one of the best I have ever seen. Really, I don't have much of an issue with most of the other teams. I would normally include Germany with Brazil, but they are younger, more diverse, and, from what I hear, playing in a different style than they used to. I want to see for myself!

So this is a boring entry but at least provides a sense of resolution. Maybe to you too.

Belated But In This Case...

... Certainly better than not at all.

The Baffler is back (and maybe has been for a while - I gave up checking the website years ago).

In case you don't know, the Baffler is a sporadically-published journal of social thought that existed mostly in the 90s and is(?)/was edited partially by Thomas Frank, who wrote some good essays and then books about the commdofication of culture back when most journalists were still "swingin' on the flippity flop with Sub Pop"* before shifting his focus to government. Especially in the 90s, The Baffler was refreshing in lacking the influence of cultural relativism and certain "French people". Check out the new essays but also be prepared to spend some time with the .pdfs of older issues, too. At least as concerned with the forest as the trees, some of those critical essays are, sadly, not as outdated as they should be.

*Plenty of Euro-Marxists were writing about that subject before Frank was even born but whereas if the focus of some of those writers might have been the contrast between high culture and the mass culture disseminated by corporations, Frank's journal, influenced by the seemingly-discredited notion that pop music could change the world, worked to contrast the mass folk culture of post-Punk (chronologically, not necessarily stylistically) Indie rock (call it Version 1.0 - the version that asked something of its participants instead of constantly reorganizing itself around their whims) against the very same mass culture that caused Adorno, et al, so much pain.

(of course the 60s and 70s and 80s happened too, but the 90s were different - you just gotta go read for yourself)