Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Latest Wake-Up Call

Diane McWhorter has been doing a lot of research on Nazi Germany over the last few years, and she makes some comparisons to our current state of affairs in an article at She does a good job at pushing through the emotionality that seems to drive (and discredit) such comparisons, presenting instead a sober analysis of the power-hoarding and civil-liberty crushing tactics of both the Nazis and NeoCons, and how they manage(d) to get away with it. It reminds me of a bumper sticker I recently read: "Blind Faith in Bad Leadership is not Patriotic."

From Slate:
"The relevance of Third Reich Germany to today's America is not that Bush equals Hitler or that the United States government is a death machine. It's that it provides a rather spectacular example of the insidious process by which decent people come to regard the unthinkable as not only thinkable but doable, justifiable. Of the way freethinkers and speakers become compliant and self-censoring. Of the mechanism by which moral or humanistic categories are converted into bureaucratic ones. And finally, of the willingness with which we hand control over to the state and convince ourselves that we are the masters of our destiny."
This is a must read article.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Just Good Music

A high quality Detroit-centric mix series. Highly enjoyable home listening. Top Notch. Really Great. Just Good Music.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Map My Run

My brother turned me on to this great site. It uses Google maps to allow runners to map and measure (even in altitude) their runs. I just went out for a quick jog this morning, and I have mapped it here. A useful site already, but it looks to get even better when they add new "training" features. I think I'll be using this often in the future.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Buy Nothing Day

It's that time of year again, when we must decide where and how to shop for loved ones who are surely expecting gifts around the holidays. Those Canadians at Adbusters have been trying to subvert our post Thanksgiving shopping excess for years now. I don't know if I can get away without spending today, but I'll be very mindful of each dollar I fork over, where it might end up, and what kinds of practices I'll be supporting by spending it.

From the BND 2006 Press Release:
Kalle Lasn, co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, which was responsible for turning Buy Nothing Day into an international annual event, said, “Our headlong plunge into ecological collapse requires a profound shift in the way we see things. Driving hybrid cars and limiting industrial emissions is great, but they are band-aid solutions if we don’t address the core problem: we have to consume less. This is the message of Buy Nothing Day.”

As Lasn suggests, Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing your habits for one day. It’s about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste. With six billion people on the planet, the onus if on the most affluent – the upper 20% that consumes 80% of the world’s resources – to begin setting the example.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tighten Up

The cover art of the week. On first sampling, the record is a mediocre affair with the lovely exception of the title track(s, part 1 and part 2). Funky soul dance goodness, please. I found a dusty copy in the recently opened Uncle Sam's Record Emporium of Old Town Lansing for 4.70. At Uncle Sam's all the prices seem to be caculated to come out to very convenient sums when Michigan's 6% sales tax is added (do the math, dummy).

According to Rolling Stone, Tighten Up is the 265th greatest song.
After Bell got his draft notice, in May '67, he wanted to record with his group, the Drells, before he got shipped off to Vietnam. He pulled out "Tighten Up," one of the group's old demos, and remade it as a strutting funk vamp. Bell got shot in the leg in Vietnam; the song went to Number One while he was in a military hospital trying to convince people the song on the radio was his.
Also, the cover may be the inspiration for next Halloween.

Robert Pirsig Interview

As long as we're on the topic of self-discovery, did you see the Robert Pirsig interview in The Observer? It's an event, as the 78 year old author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" never does interviews and says this will be his last. It sure seemed like he had some answers when I read ZATAOMM 10 or so years ago, but when someone seems so troubled, it's sometimes hard to distinguish whether he's sane in an insane world or just insane. Hence the appeal, I suppose. From The Observer:
He sits in a hotel room in Boston and tries, not for the first time, to make some sense of his life. He is, he suggests, always in a double bind. 'It is not good to talk about Zen because Zen is nothingness ... If you talk about it you are always lying, and if you don't talk about it no one knows it is there.' Generally, rather than analysing, he says, he would rather 'just enjoy watching the wind blow through the trees'. Reclusion has its discontents, however. 'In this country someone who sits around and does that is at the bottom of the ladder, but in Japan, say, someone who goes up into the mountains is accorded great respect.' He pauses, laughs. 'I guess I fall somewhere in between.'

The Poetry of the "Beach House" album review.

This one paragraph of a review of an album by a band I have never heard of before (my interest was sparked by a half banner ad on emusic that reads: "Beach House. Perfect Winter Music.") did 90% of the convincing to drop 9 precious emusic downloads on the eponymous album by Beach House.
Drone/dream-pop/space-rock/whatever you wanna call it is a defiantly middle-class music: a quaint, privileged rebellion against the blacks and whites of the day-to-day bustle, against the expectations of parents, responsibility and life, a longing stare into a safer and softer version of this spinning orb, a space without hardened edges, lights, opinions or ends. With its meditative pauses (it's all pause, really), it's basically the musical equivalent of that post-high school year in Europe, only rather than self-discovery in a German youth hostel, it's salvation through the hum of an EBow.
What's an EBow? And what does it say for me that this paragraph speaks to me so? Hm. Well, back to my meditation exercises and philosophy curriculum. I never had a post high-school year in Europe, and I still haven't recovered. Link.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Boulder Carbon Tax

Someone in Boulder, CO has heard my plea, and a carbon tax has been approved.

From NYTimes:
The tax, to take effect on April 1, will be based on the number of kilowatt-hours used. Officials say it will add $16 a year to an average homeowner’s electricity bill and $46 for businesses.

City officials said the revenue from the tax — an estimated $6.7 million by 2012, when the goal is to have reduced carbon emissions by 350,000 metric tons — would be collected by the main gas and electric utility, Xcel Energy, and funneled through the city’s Office of Environmental Affairs .

The tax is to pay for the “climate action plan,” efforts to “increase energy efficiency in homes and buildings, switch to renewable energy and reduce vehicle miles traveled,” the city’s environmental affairs manager, Jonathan Koehn, said.

The goal is to reduce the carbon levels to 7 percent less than those in 1990, which amounts to a 24 percent reduction from current levels, Mr. Koehn said.
The next step would be to extend that tax to the gas pumps in the city as well.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Skateboarding Girls

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wet Met?

Either the lighting was unfortunate, or this guy (left) just wet himself with excitement.
Photo from NYTimes.

Hemp Gospel in Slate

Chances are that a good portion of what's hanging in your closet is made from cotton. The fiber is tough to grow, so cotton farmers use enormous amounts of energy-intensive, CO2-emitting chemicals and fertilizers. To produce one pair of regular cotton jeans takes three-quarters of a pound of fertilizers and pesticides. Each T-shirt takes one-third of a pound. The farming of organic fibers, by contrast, releases less CO2 into the air and uses 50 percent less energy. Cotton, hemp, bamboo, ramie, linen, and silk can all be grown organically. (And hemp and bamboo are pretty good for your CO2 count, even when they're not organic, because they need little if any fertilizer to grow.) Organic wool, alpaca, and cashmere are also excellent choices. So is lyocell, a textile made from wood pulp. Anything in your closet made of nylon, polyester, or acrylic, on the other hand, comes drenched in CO2-laden petroleum (not literally, but you get the idea).
Dress green and support hemp! Check out my local retailer on the web, Clothing Matters. Almost every piece of clothing I have bought over the past 2 years has come from these folks. I love them and the clothes they sell.

Are you on

I've just set myself up on If you are not familiar, it's kind of a cross between my bookmarks, flickr, and my myspace site. I put up links to pages I think are cool for whatever reason, add tags, and then I can cross reference all kinds of things. Other folks who liked the same site, other sites with the same tags, etc. etc. You should be on too, because there is an economy of scale here. A certain collective consciousness is coming closer and closer to perfection through sites like this one. Check it out, and put me in your network. Right now, I only have two links on my page, but they are both lengthy articles by the great David Foster Wallace, and both highly worthy of your undivided attention. I'm looking forward to seeing what you think is

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Carbon Tax Now!

Seems like a great idea to me. I'm on the verge of writing my congressfolks. We need to limit emissions ASAP. George Soros likes it too, but apparently a lot of people in Texas aren't so keen on Mr. Soros. Google "carbon tax" for a plethora of info.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Just back home from a whirlwind jaunt to the D, where the Dems held their victory party in the always confusing confines of the Ren Cen. Michigan Dems did well, national dems even better, and today, Rumsfeld is out! Maybe tomorrow Bush will resign!

The party in Detroit was over relatively early, as the key races (Stabenow and Granholm) were called very early. By midnight all speeches had been made, and partiers broke off to their more intimate gatherings. Today we met Granholm at the IHOP where she addressed the media and ate breakfast with her family, shook hands, stood for pictures with the locals, and then walked out to light applause.

I love election day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Great Sentence.

"She asked for nothing, refused his gifts, disappeared into an inaccessible dimension of her own for most of every day but always returned, demure and self-effacing as ever until she undressed, after which she was a fire and he her slow but eager fuel."

- Salman Rushdie, from "Shalimar The Clown"

I've just begun this book and so far it has my mind so excited that I have to put it down every page or so just to let it sink in. I've never read Rushdie before but I think I am becoming a big fan.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Photog Journal

Today, Arizona Senator John McCain spoke to me. We were face to face and he addressed me as an individual, looking me in the eye.

He said me "Don't go there." Or something to that effect, at least. I tried to remember his comment verbatim but became distracted and it went foggy.

He was lending some facetime to Devos' campaign on a factory tour in Grand Rapids. I was apparently in a forbidden space too close to some large piece of machinery pumping out metal parts. I gave him a thumbs up. I felt like a starstruck idiot.

McCain is not a big man, but he has a steely glint to his eye. The few times we made eye contact I felt as if he saw something in me that made him edgy. Maybe it was the huge camera, or maybe he was picking up on the fact that I couldn't stop calling him a shill for the party over and over in my head.