Sunday, November 11. 2007
Fell behind this week, so don't have much to report here. One reason is that I've been battling a Flash bug that forces me to kill off whatever I've managed to accumulate in my browser tabs, or sometimes just kills the browser on its own. I've wound up disabling Flash, which is something of an improvement -- would be even better if the browser didn't keep asking me if I'd like to install Flash so it can cripple my system again. Another reason is that I've already spun off something on Pakistan, of which there's bound to be more and more. I also haven't gotten around to following up on things I noticed. For instance, the New York Times has a big article today [Sunday] on a multi-billion-dollar satellite boondoggle -- not a big surprise, maybe not a surprise at all, but huge enough to take note of. This weekly installment has been struggling of late -- well, I've been struggling of late, taking it with me. Don't know whether it's worth continuing, but as long as it keeps coming up non-empty I guess I might as well.
Francis Davis: A Composer Ascendant. That would be Maria Schneider, whose new Sky Blue has Davis reaching not only to Gil Evans but to Duke Ellington for analogues. It's not so much that I disagree -- there's not much I do disagree with Davis on -- as that I'm so utterly unconvinced that I have trouble believing there's even reason for such a discussion. ("Offhand, no jazz composer has used the human voice so effectively as an orchestral element since Mike Westbrook utilized Norma Winstone on Love Songs, a 1970 album" -- offhand, I'm not sure that anyone has ever, but Luciana Souza?) I have the record down as a marginal dud candidate, just like the two others I have heard. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person who listens to jazz who doesn't get her. I guess I'm stuck. I like the Gerald Wilson better, but not so much as the previous one (In My Time). I have some amount of intrinsic resistance to big band records, but there are plenty of exceptions. Haven't heard the Harris Eisenstadt record. He's done interesting stuff in the past.
Patrick Cockburn: In the Kandil Mountains with the PKK. At last some reporting to provide context for Turkey's repeated threats to invade the Iraq War's one purported success, the effectively independent Kurdish region. Verifies that the PKK are based in an Iraqi haven and are able to inflict nuissance attacks on Turkey. But it is also true that Turkey has done a poor job of consolidating the gains they made in arresting PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and reconciling Kurdish resentment. It also looks like the real conflict is between the Turkish military and the moderate Islamist Erdogan government -- the former sees aggressive action as a way of rousing nationalist sentiment, while the latter depends on Kurdish support for their margins. Like most (probably all) such conflicts, the bad guys are on both sides, but the ones with the most power (in this case the Turks) are the ones most negligent in not attempting to defuse the situation -- and as usual it's their power advantage that convinces them that they can depend on force to impose their way. I don't believe that Kurds have any intrinsic rights to a nation state, but one exists in Iraq for the simple reason that Iraq's abuse of the region has discredited any claims Baghdad may have. If Ankara can't do any better, they'll wind up in the same situation. One thing Cockburn doesn't go into is what the Americans are doing about this. Nothing helpful, I suspect -- not least because Bush has set the model for resorting to force as the answer to all problems.