Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Trying to decide between crudités and canapés. Found this list of 50
quick canapé toppings:
- Goat cheese, top with chopped canned beets, an orange segment, fresh
- Fig jam, top with gorgonzola and prosciutto.
- Fig jam, top with goat cheese, chopped walnuts.
- Butter, top with thin-sliced bread-and-butter pickles.
- Hummus, top with olive tapenade.
- Sliced figs, drizzle with honey, sprinkle with sea salt.
- Mash avocado with salt and lime juice; spread, top with shrimp.
- Ricotta cheese, top with chopped roasted red peppers, sprinkle with
salt and pepper.
- Rub with garlic clove, top with sliced plum tomatoes; sprinkle with
- Butter, top with thin sliced radishes, sprinkle with sea salt.
- Toss canned tuna with lemon juice and zest, olive oil, chopped
parsley and salt; spread.
- Gorgonzola, top with sliced pears.
- Chopped grapes, wrap with prosciutto.
- Pesto and shaved parmesan cheese.
- Pesto, crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes.
- Pesto and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
- Mashed avocado, top with crumbled bacon and sprouts.
- Ricotta cheese, drizzle with olive oil, add dash of salt and pepper.
- Brush with olive oil; add thin slice of manchego, top with chorizo.
- Chop rotisserie chicken meat and toss with barbecue sauce, top with
- Mayonnaise with wasabi paste; top with lump crab meat.
- Mayonnaise and wasabi paste; toss chopped sushi-grade tuna with sesame
- Whip cream cheese and chopped dill; top with thin smoked salmon.
- Taleggio cheese, top with candied pecans or walnuts.
- Apple butter, top with crumbled blue cheese and chopped fresh sage.
- Saute finely chopped mushrooms in butter, season with salt and thyme,
top with shaved parmesan cheese.
- Saute thinly sliced onions in butter until carmelized; spread with
brie cheese, top with apple slices and carmelized onion.
- Thinly sliced apples and grated cheddar cheese; broil until melted.
- Butter, top with thinly sliced ham and a cornichon slice.
- Cranberry sauce, top with thin ly sliced turkey, sprinkle with sea
salt and pepper.
- Saute thinly sliced fennel and golden raising in olive oil.
- Combine cream cheese and chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce;
top with thinly sliced smoked turkey.
- Fresh tomato pulp; sprinkle with sea salt and fresh basil.
- Combine refried beans with chopped green chilles; top with pepper
jack cheese and broil until melted.
- Combine sour cream and cream cheese with horseradish; top with
thinly sliced roast beef.
- Halve asparagus tips lengthwise, steam and season with salt;
spread egg salad and top with asparagus tip.
- Wilt baby spinach, toss with crumbled bacon; top with chopped
- Toss finely chopped romaine with Caesar dressing and grated
parmesan; top with anchovy.
- Brie cheese, top with thinly sliced ham and a dollop of grainy
- Mascarpone; top with crumbled bacon and chopped grapes.
- Whip cream cheese with lemon zest, top with fresh raspberries.
- Nutella, top with orange marmalade.
- Mascarpone, top with thinly sliced melon and prosciutto.
- Orange marmalade, top with thinly sliced smoked turkey and smoked
- Saute thinly sliced apples in butter until soft; top with sliced ham.
- Creamy peanut butter; top with sliced bananas, drizzle with honey.
- Whip peanut butter and marshmallow fluff; top with shaved chocolate.
- Cream cheese; top with hot pepper jelly.
- Ricotta cheese; drizzle with honey; dash of pepper.
- Whip mascarpone and confectioners sugar; brush with espresso, spread,
top with shaved chocolate and cocoa powder.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Streamnotes (March 2018)
Pick up source
Monday, March 26, 2018
Music: current count 29517  rated (+27), 367  unrated (-11).
Tough week for me, although next week should be even rougher --
certainly harder to get anything done: memorial service for my sister
is Saturday, March 31, and various family and friends will be arriving
from Wednesday on. I'm going to try to wrap up Streamnotes early so
I won't have to deal with it late in the week. In any case, it will
be one of my shortest in many months, probably years. Also the grade
curve seems to have slipped severely: A-list currently just two long
each for new and old music, with a roughly even break. Possible, I
suppose, that my personal malaise is dragging down my grade curve.
Also possible I'm just not finding good tips. I will say that I gave
Christgau's grade A jazz pick (Mast) four plays before I gave up
on it. And I didn't find last year's Monk vault tape, Les Laisions
Dangereuses 1960 any better. As for the Ornette Coleman twofer,
the two Impulse albums it collects are the only official Colemans I
still haven't heard.
By the way, Ram Lama Hull has set up a website for
Kathy Hull, including a gallery
of some of her artwork. A
memorial service will be held for her at 1:00 PM at First UU,
7202 E. 21st St. N., Wichita, KS 67206.
New records rated this week:
- Heather Bennett: Lazy Afternoon (2018, Summit): [r]: B
- Chris Dave: Chris Dave and the Drumhedz (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B
- Caroline Davis: Heart Tonic (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Dogwood: Hecate's Hounds (2018, Nusica.org): [r]: B+(**)
- Bill Frisell: Music IS (2017 , Okeh): [r]: B+(**)
- Gwenno: Le Kov (2018, Heavenly): [r]: B+(**)
- The Heavyweights Brass Band: This City (2018, Lulaworld): [cd]: B+(***)
- MAST: Thelonious Sphere Monk (2018, World Galaxy): [r]: B+(***)
- Adam Nussbaum: The Lead Belly Project (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- Aruán Ortiz Trio: Live in Zürich (2016 , Intakt): [cd]: B+(***)
- Bobby Previte: Rhapsody (2017 , RareNoise): [cdr]: B
- Steve Reich: Pulse/Quartet (2018, Nonesuch): [r]: B+(*)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Kang Tae Hwan: Live at Café Amores (1995 , NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(**)
- Bill Warfield Big Band: For Lew (1990-2014 , Planet Arts): [cd]: B+(**)
Old music rated this week:
- The Barry Altschul Quartet: For Stu (1979 , Soul Note): [r]: B+(**)
- The Barry Altschul Quartet: Irina (1983, Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
- The Barry Altschul Quartet/Quintet: That's Nice (1985 , Soul Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Paul Bley/John Surman/Bill Frisell/Paul Motian: The Paul Bley Quartet (1987 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- John Surman: Such Winters of Memory (1982 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- John Surman: Withholding Pattern (1984 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- John Surman: Private City (1987 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- John Surman Quartet: Stranger Than Fiction (1993 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- John Surman: A Biography of the Rev. Absalom Dawe (1994 , ECM): [r]: B+(***)
- John Surman/Jack DeJohnette: Invisible Nature (2000 , ECM): [r]: A-
- John Surman: Free and Equal (2001 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- John Surman/Howard Moody: Rain on the Window (2006 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Roger Kellaway Trio: New Jazz Standards Vol. 3 (Summit)
- Otherworld Ensemble: Live at Malmitalo (Edgetone): April 3
- Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Rogue Star (Edgetone): April 3
Sunday, March 25, 2018
With Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster recently purged, Mike Pompeo
promoted to Secretary of State, torture diva Gina Haspel taking over
the CIA, and veteran blowhard John Bolton given the laughable title
of National Security Adviser, the closest the administration can come
to a moderating voice of sanity in foreign affairs is the guy nicknamed
"Mad Dog." Trump continues to replace his first team of "yes men"
with even more sycophantic wannabes, doubling down on his search for
the least critical, least competent hacks in American politics. On
the other hand, it's not as if delegating policy to the Republican
Party apparatchiki was doing anything to accomplish his vision of
"making America great again." Over the last few weeks he's not only
made major strides at cleaning house, he's pushed out several of his
signature trade initiatives. He seems determined to double down until
he blows himself up -- and surely you realize by now the last thing
he cares about is how that affects anyone else.
I don't say much about trade below, although I've probably read a
dozen pieces complaining either about how ineffective his tariffs will
be or how they'll lead to trade wars and other mischief that will make
us poorer. The first thing to understand about trade is that business
has already adjusted to whatever the status quo is, so anything that
changes it is going to upset their apple cart, much faster than it's
going to help anyone else out. So all restrictions on trade seem bad
to someone prepared to shout out about it. On the other hand, business
is eager to promote expansions to trade that offer short-term benefits,
especially before anyone who's going to be hurt can get organized. So
I take most of what I read with a grain of salt: not just because the
dialogue is polluted by interested bodies but because it's kind of a
sideshow. The question that matters is not whether there's more trade
or less, but what is the power balance between capital and labor (and
consumers, sure, but they're often touted by capitalists as the real
beneficiaries of lower-priced imports, something capitalists wouldn't
bother us with if they didn't stand to be bigger winners). The problem
with TPP wasn't that it reduced trade barriers. It was that it reduced
the power of people to regulate corporations, and that it sought to
increase corporate rents through "intellectual property" claims.
Aside from raising tax revenues, the purpose of tariffs is to protect
investment by organizing a captive, non-competitive market. However, in
a world where there is already more steelmaking capacity than there is
market, American steel companies won't make the investments to increase
steel production. Rather, they'll reap excess profits while the tariffs
last -- which probably won't be for long. Of course, that's not even
what Trump's thinking. He thinks he's penalizing foreign misbehavior
(like subsidizing investment then dumping overproduction). Maybe the
real problem is that Americans aren't doing the same things? But there's
a reason for that: we do all our business through private corporations,
which workers and citizens have no stake in, so we don't even have the
concept of directing investment where it might yield broad benefits.
On the other hand, note that if China decides to impose tariffs on
American goods, they're likely to back those up with strategic investments
to build competitive industries, temporarily protected behind those tariffs.
For an example of the kind of piece I've been ignoring (but spurred some
of my thinking above), see
Eduardo Porter/Guilbert Gates: How Trump's Protectionism Could Backfire.
Somewhat more amusing is
Paul Krugman: Trump and Trade and Zombies. Also see
Paul Krugman Explains Trade and Tariffs.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: The week's 4 most important political stories, explained:
John Bolton will be the national security adviser (replacing H.R. McMaster;
quote: "Bolton apparently promised Trump 'he wouldn't start any wars' as a
condition for getting the job, so maybe he won't"); Trump switched trade wars
(first, the steel tariffs got gutted by carving out exceptions for a bunch
of countries which make up a large majority of US steel imports; then Trump
announced new tariffs on Chinese goods); We have an omnibus ($1.3 trillion
in government spending, including a little for the wall and a lot for the
military); Facebook is in hot water over data leaks (above and beyond the
mischief they do of their own). Other Yglesias pieces this week:
The partisan gender gap among millennials is staggeringly large:
"Women born after 1980 favor Democrats 70-23."
The case against Facebook: actually, several cases, including that it
"makes people depressed and lonely," and that it's poisoning society:
Rumors, misinformation, and bad reporting can and do exist in any medium.
But Facebook created a medium that is optimized for fakeness, not as an
algorithmic quirk but due to the core conception of the platform. By
turning news consumption and news discovery into a performative social
process, Facebook turns itself into a confirmation bias machine -- a
machine that can best be fed through deliberate engineering.
In reputable newsrooms, that's engineering that focuses on graphic
selection, headlines, and story angles while maintaining a commitment
to accuracy and basic integrity. But relaxing the constraint that the
story has to be accurate is a big leg up -- it lets you generate stories
that are well-designed to be psychologically pleasing, like telling
Trump-friendly white Catholics that the pope endorsed their man, while
also guaranteeing that your outlet gets a scoop.
Everyone loves nurses and hates Mitch McConnell.
The myth of "forcing people out of their cars"
Donald Trump's threat to the rule of law is much bigger than Robert
Fred Kaplan: It's Time to Panic Now: "John Bolton's appointment as
national security adviser puts us on a path to war." Bolton may or may
not be the most consistent, most inflexible of neocon warmongers, but
where he has really distinguished himself is in obstructing any option
other than war. If he can't bully the other side into submission, he'll
launch an attack, convinced of American omnipotence and oblivious to
any evidence to the contrary. The job of National Security Adviser is
to offer the president a range of options. Bolton sees no range, and
Trump must know that. If Trump's been frustrated by being surrounded
by advisers who argued against launching a "preventive" war with North
Korea, he won't have any problems with Bolton.
For more background on Bolton, see
David Bosco: The World According to Bolton [PDF, originally from
2005]. More Bolton pieces:
Summer Concepcion: Bolton Set to 'Clean House' at NSC, Ousting Dozens of
Kary Lowe: If John Bolton Is Right, Pearl Harbor Was Perfectly Legal:
Based on Bolton's argument that a "preventive war" against North Korea
would be "legal." By the way, note that a peculiar thing about "preventive"
is that the adjective becomes meaningless the moment you apply it to nouns
like "war": "preventive war" == "war," plain and simple. The adjective hides
Gareth Porter: The Untold Story of John Bolton's Campaign for War With
Matt Purple: A Madman on the National Security Council.
Walter Shapiro: John Bolton is a hawk itching for war - and few are there
to stop him: Actually, a pretty awful piece, scoring reasonable points
against Bolton then squandering them by by focusing on "his Neville
Chamberlain moustache." Worst is this:
As for Bolton, he was the wild man in George W Bush's tragically misguided,
but sane, administration. Under Trump, though, he may end up as the sanest
man in the Land of the Crazy.
Trump may be crazy but it was Bush's people who lambasted "the reality-based
community" -- hardly a sane position. And doesn't "tragically" imply some
sort of noble intentions? Bush seized on 9/11 as an excuse for becoming a
"war president" mostly because he remembered war boosting his father's
approval polls (which sunk like a rock after the Gulf War ended, a mistake
GW never came close to repeating. As for Bolton being the sane one now,
that's based on what?
Philip Weiss: War-loving, Muslim-hating John Bolton wants to give 'pieces'
of Palestine to Jordan and Egypt: This, by the way, isn't necessarily
a bad idea, at least compared to indefinitely extending the status quo --
evidently the agenda of virtually every party in Israel. Of course, it
would depend on the sort of details you can't expect Bolton to support
or even imagine: equal rights for all Palestinians left in Israel; local
democracy for the Palestinian pieces (given that neither Egypt nor Jordan
are remotely democratic); a complete shift of security responsibilities
from Israel to Egypt/Jordan; some serious money for reconstruction and
Robin Wright: John ("Bomb Iran") Bolton, the New Warmonger in the White
Jen Kirby: The March for Our Lives, explained: "Thousands turned out
for rallies in Washington, DC, and hundreds of cities across the United
Nomi Prins: Jared Kushner, You're Fired: "A Political Obituary for
the President's Son-in-Law."
Matt Taibbi: The Legacy of the Iraq War: Fifteen year anniversary
piece of Bush's invasion of Iraq. I would put more stress on Bush's
earlier invasion of Afghanistan, and indeed the whole premise that
the overbloated US military should be trusted, if not to defend us
from attacks like 9/11 at least to avenge them. On the other hand,
Taibbi goes the extra step in showing how the misuse of the military
in the Global War on Terror is rooted in the much older multi-faceted
war the US fought against the workers and peasants of the world, the
one we sanitize by calling it the Cold War. He also ends memorably
It was for sure a contributing factor in the election of Donald Trump,
whose total ignorance and disrespect for both the law and the rights
of people deviates not one iota from our official policies as they've
evolved in the last fifteen years.
Trump is just too stupid to use the antiseptic terminology we once
thought we had to cook up to cloak our barbarism. He says "torture"
instead of "enhanced interrogation" because he can't remember what the
difference is supposed to be. Which is understandable. Fifteen years
is a long time for a rotting brain to keep up a pretense.
We flatter ourselves that Trump is an aberration. He isn't. He's a
depraved, cowardly, above-the-law bully, just like the country we've
allowed ourselves to become in the last fifteen years.
Posted before Trump's Bolton pick, but the likeness is pretty glaring.
Also looking back on America's recent wars:
Andrew Bacevich: A Memo to the Publisher of the New York Times.
One thing here is that I don't see how you can complain about the
Times' contribution to "having tacitly accepted that, for the
United States, war has become a permanent condition," without noting
a single thing that the Times has published on Israel in the
last, oh, sixty years.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Finally got around to sending out a letter to my various email contacts
regarding Kathy's death and memorial service:
By now, I reckon most of you have heard the tragic news that my
sister, Kathy Hull, died on March 12, around 4:30 AM. on March 6,
around 9:30 AM, she was struck by a car while in a crosswalk between
the parking lot and her office at Wichita State University. The car
was moving about 15 mph. Kathy was knocked to the ground, and his the
back of her head on the pavement, fracturing the skull and causing
various internal brain bleeds. She was stabilized and put into the
SICU at Wesley Hospital. Her prognosis was never clear, but the
bleeding was deemed inoperable. She suffered respiratory
complications, and underwent a branchoscopy to clear her lungs. She
was mostly conscious, only sometimes coherent, but toward the end
seemed to be getting better. The case worker was talking about moving
her to a rehabilitation hospital in Nebraska that specializes in
traumatic brain injury. Then her heart stopped during a routine
respiratory treatment, and they were unable to revive her after 30
There will be a memorial service for her on Saturday, March 31, at
First UU Church, 7202 E. 21st St. N., Wichita, KS 67206, at 1 PM, with
a reception following. There is no cemetery part. She has been
cremated, but only after Matt Walston took impressions for molding
death masks. There will be a get-together the following afternoon at
what is now Ram Lama Hull's house, 2228 S. Main, Wichita, KS 67213 --
the same house my parents bought a year before I was born. I'll be
supervising the food for both events.
Mike Hull came to Wichita last week and started photographing
Kathy's art and taping interviews with family and friends, so her
death may well yield more art. She was a remarkable and very
distinctive artist, and had been in a particularly fruitful period --
among other things looking forward to a showing of her massive Sacred
Spaces project later this year. We will, over time, make a concerted
effort to collect and display her work, as well as remember her
life. Over the next few days I'll put up a crude web page at
http://tomhull.com/ocston/kathy/index.php with some useful links.
I've rummaged through the address book for names, picking out the
few I'm pretty sure who at least met her. Figured I'd bcc to avoid
clutter (and accidental reply-alls), but that runs the risk of getting
discarded. If you know of anyone who should receive this, please pass
it on. If you have any more questions or just want to commiserate,
write back or call. Sorry I've been tardy in getting the word
out. Even before this it's been a pretty depressing period, and I
haven't felt up to much of anything. Perhaps, like my first wife's
death, this will be a wake-up call to start living again.
Names I picked out from address book:
Pat Baird, Dorlan Bales, Jan Barnes, Dorothy Billings, Connie Bonfy,
Janice Bradley, Dan Brown, Devoe Brown, Kathryn Brown, Ken Brown, Max
Brown, Susan Brown, Jane Burns, Kyle Burns, Georgia Christgau, Robert
Christgau, Leah Dannar-Garcia, Carola Dibbell, Sara Driscoll, Ingeri
Eaton, T.J. Edmonds, Gretchen Eick, Jerry Feder, Julian Fleron, Lou
Jean Fleron, Barbara Gingrich, Naomi Glauberman, Deborah Gordon, Bart
Grahl, Shan Haider, Don Hull[-], Josi Hull, Kirsten Hull, Mike Hull,
Rachel Hull, Ram Hull, Steven Hull, Kathy Jenkins, Linda Jordan,
Harold Karabell, Jim Lynch, Don Malcolm, Sonia Mayrath, Brenda
Metcalf, Susan Moir[-], Bill Morgan, Maher Musleh, Connie Pace, Russ
Pataky, Mike Poage, Arthur Protin, Rhonda Pyeatt, Eleanor Roffman,
Judy Kay Siler, Frank Smith, Jerry Stewart, Michael Tatum, Rannfrid
Thelle, Laura Tillem, Elias Vlanton, Bronwen Zwirner.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Music: current count 29490  rated (+14), 378  unrated (+10).
Miserable fucking week. I've developed an itch over much of my body,
which dermatologist couldn't identify but it treating symptomatically:
various steroid and non-steroid creams and lotions. Marginally better
today, but on top of everything else has kept me from feeling like doing
much of anything all week. One exception was that I did some cooking.
My nephew Mike, his wife Morgan and sister Kirsten flew into town to
try to document my late sister's artwork, which they mostly did in my
basement. First night they were working late and getting hungry, so I
threw together a quick pad thai -- one of the few dishes I always have
ingredients for, and takes less than an hour to prep and cook (mostly
prep). I was originally hoping to do a more substantial dinner on Monday
before they were to leave, but wound up fixing two more smaller dinners
in the meantime: Saturday was shakshuka (eggs poached in Tunisian tomato
sauce) and pan-roasted potatoes. Sunday was baked fish topped with tomato,
olives and capers, along with roasted potatoes. (I had a bag of Yukon
golds to work through). Also made an oatmeal stout cake. Those were just
For Monday I planned on doing Greek, and finally did some shopping.
We wound up crowded with ten adults and a two-year-old baby. I made
baked shrimp with feta cheese, roasted brussels sprouts and various
root vegetables (red potatoes, sweet potato, carrots, fennel, shallots)
with a lemon-caper dressing, green bean ragout, fried lamb liver tidbits,
horiatiki salad, and saganaki (fried kefalograviera cheese; also made
a batch with haloumi). Also leftover cake.
Mostly listened to oldies last week, except for late nights on the
computer. Even then, mostly picked pop records from recent
Christgau reviews -- but
two A and two A- records fell short for me, each getting two (some
three) plays. I didn't find the latest Chopteeth album, but checked
out two old ones. Only three records from my jazz queue, and they
all got multiple chances.
Unpacking includes records I forgot to list last week.
Kathy's memorial service will be
March 31, so things will start to get crazy again as that approaches.
I'll probably post a Streamnotes early next week to get it out of the
way, but it will be much shorter than usual.
New records rated this week:
- Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy (2018, Matador, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
- Ezra Furman: Transangelic Exodus (2018, Bella Union): [r]: B+(**)
- Hal Galper Quartet: Cubist (2016 , Origin): [cd]: A-
- Sergio Galvao/Lupa Santiago/Clement Landais/Franck Enouf: 2X2 (2017 , Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
- Lucas Niggli: Alchemia Garden (2017 , Intakt): [cd]: B+(*)
- Superchunk: What a Time to Be Alive (2018, Merge): [r]: B+(**)
- Yo La Tengo: There's a Riot Going On (2018, Matador): [r]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Black Panther: The Album (Music From and Inspired By) (2018, Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
Old music rated this week:
- Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band: Chopteeth (2008, Grigri Discs): [r]: A-
- Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band: Live (2010, Grigri Discs): [r]: B+(***)
- Walter Norris/George Mraz: Drifting (1974 , Enja): [r]: B+(**)
- Walter Norris/Aladár Pege: Winter Rose (1980, Enja): [r]: B+(*)
- John Surman: Upon Reflection (1979, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- John Surman: The Amazing Adventures of Simon Simon (1981, ECM): [r]: B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last two weeks:
- Chamber 3: Transatlantic (OA2): March 16
- Johan Graden: Olägenheter (Moserobie)
- Lauren Henderson: Ármame (Brontosaurus): March 30
- Monika Herzig: Sheroes (Whaling City Sound)
- Il Sogno: Birthday (Gotta Let It Out -17)
- Jon Irabagon Quartet: Dr. Quixotic's Traveling Exotics (Irabbagast): May 15
- Martin Küchen & Landaeus Trio: Vinyl (Moserobie)
- Dave Liebman/John Stowell: Petite Fleur: The Music of Sidney Bechet (Origin): March 16
- Johan Lindström Septett: Music for Empty Halls (Moserobie)
- The Maguire Twins: Seeking Higher Ground (Three Tree): March 30
- Diane Moser: Birdsongs (Planet Arts)
- Michael Moss/Accidental Orchestra: Helix (4th Stream): March 24
- William Parker: Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics (Gotta Let It Out): May
- Sonar With David Torn: Vortex (RareNoise): advance, March 30
- Joshua Trinidad: In November (RareNoise): advance, March 30
- Frank Wagner: Floating Holiday (MEII)
- Håvard Wiik Trio: This Is Not a Waltz (Moserobie)
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Started this on Sunday, but too many distractions kept me from
wrapping it up in a timely fashion. As I've noted already, my sister,
Kathy Hull, died last week. We've had visitors and all sorts of
chores to do, and I've been plagued by my own health problems. One
thing that I did notice was that the sense of horror I felt on hearing
the news was one I had experienced several times before: when, for
instance, my first wife died, and most recently when Donald Trump was
elected president. A big part of that sensation is the dread of facing
a future not of unknown and unimaginable consequences but of quite
certain pain and loss. The news since election day has merely born
out that expected dread. Numerous examples follow, and I'm sure I'm
missing at least as much more. One thing I suppose I should take
comfort from is that when we finally have a memorial for Kathy (on
March 31), we will have fond memories and a lot of art to celebrate.
When Trump's term ends we're unlikely to recall a single shred of
Of course, the two events are not comparable in any regard except
personal emotional impact on me. The key point is that the shock of
the 2016 election, the immediate apprehension of what the American
people just did to themselves, hit me pretty much as hard, with much
the same body chemistry. Of course, the grief tracks have been/will
be different. We will adjust to the impoverished world without her,
but the blow has been struck, both final and finite. On the other
hand, Trump and his Congress and Courts have barely started to take
their toll, which will only grow over time and won't stop when his
term ends. On the other hand, there are things that can be done to
alter or even reverse the course Trump has set us on. And there is
at least one thing I can take comfort in: I've spent literally all
of my adult life in opposition to whoever has held political power,
as indeed I would still be had Hillary Clinton won, but since the
1970s I've never been in such large or dynamic company. It's also
nice to feel no need to defend Clinton when she says something
tone-deaf (like her note that she won the urban areas that had
fared best under her party's neoliberal advancement) or any of
the other petty scandals she's prone to.
By the way, this week is the fifteenth anniversary of Bush's
invasion of Iraq. I took another look at what I wrote on
March 18, and much
of what I wrote then holds up; especially:
As I write this, we cannot even remotely predict how this war will
play out, how many people will die or have their lives tragically
transfigured, how much property will be destroyed, how much damage
will be done to the environment, what the long-term effects of this
war will be on the economy and civilization, both regionally and
throughout the world. In lauching his war, Bush is marching blithely
into the unknown, and dragging the world with him.
I probably tried too hard to rationalize the Bush case, and I
spent a lot of time fantasizing that Iraqis might wise up and figure
out how to play the PR game in ways that might limit the destruction.
That didn't happen first because the seemingly easy military victory
unleashed an extraordinary degree of American hubris, and partly
because it took very little resistance to change the American stance
from would-be benefactor to occupier and schemer. My other mistake
was in failing to see how much the US failure in Afghanistan, which
was already obvious even if less observed, prefigured the very same
failure in Iraq. Not that I was unaware of Afghanistan. Indeed, I've
always known that the prime mistake Bush made after 9/11 was driving
Even though this isn't appearing until Tuesday, I've tried to
limit the stories/links to last Sunday. Some later ones may have
crept in -- especially on the Cambridge Analytica story.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: The four most important policy stories of the week,
explained: Rex Tillerson finally got fired; Democrats won a very red
House seat: Conor Lamb in PA-18, a district Trump won by 20 points; Good
news at last for banks; The FDA proposed reducing cigarettes nicotine
Other Yglesias posts:
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's fiery statement about Sessions's
decision to fire him.
James Mattis is linked to a massive corporate fraud and nobody wants to talk
Caught lying about trade with Canada, Trump tweets some new lies about trade
Larry Kudlow will be Trump's next top economic adviser.
Conor Lamb shows that a pro-choice Democrat can win in Trump country.
How Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin became the Trump Cabinet's
most endangered member.
Republicans are reaping the whirlwind: Quick take on Conor Lamb's
Despite the internal tension and the 2-point popular vote loss, Trump
emerged victorious in 2016; the way was clear for a potential juggernaut
moving forward. If the GOP could adopt Trump's ideological synthesis
while backing away from his most disreputable personal qualities, they'd
be positioned to do extremely well.
But instead, they've done the opposite. Trump behaves as flagrantly
inappropriately as ever, but now the entire party is complicit in it.
In exchange, they've gotten Trump to largely drop his eclectic policy
approach in favor of a less popular hard-right agenda. And now they're
prepared to lose everywhere.
He's remembering Trump's "ideological synthesis" as something more
coherent than it ever was -- that Trump lost it so quickly just goes
to show how little grasp he had on it in the first place. Yglesias
goes on to say "America needs the GOP to pull out of the tailspin."
Actually, America needs the GOP to crash and burn so badly that most
current right-wing tenants are forgotten for a generation or more.
You'd think the person who wrote the following would recognize that:
On a policy level, the Trump-era GOP is pushing unpopular policies on
all fronts, from the looming deportation of DREAMers to health care
executive actions that are driving up premiums to a rollback net
neutrality to the dismantling of consumer financial protection rules.
These are enormously harmful to the short-term interests of millions
of people and to the long-term interests of nearly the entire country.
At the same time, Trump continues to act like a maniac -- just this
week, he fired the secretary of state over Twitter, deployed inappropriate
political rhetoric at an official speech to active-duty Marines, and
denied Russian culpability for assassinations carried out on British
soil -- and it's only Wednesday.
At the same time, he's enmeshed in an unprecedented level of personal
corruption; his business enterprises are set up as perfect vehicles for
interest groups seeking favors from the government to line his pockets
with cash. And the growing Stormy Daniels scandal suggests a whole new
dimension of possible corruption and lawbreaking over and above the basic
financial conflicts of interest and the shenanigans with the Russians.
Betsy DeVos tweeted a bizarre self-own about Michigan's public schools.
Maybe voters aren't as uninformed as elites like to think.
It's time to start taking the Stormy Daniels scandal seriously.
Everything we think about the political correctness debate is wrong.
Tara Isabella Burton: Mike Pompeo, Trump's pick for secretary of state,
talks about politics as a battle of good and evil. I don't doubt
that Pompeo holds such views, but his predecessor in the House (Todd
Tiahrt) was so much worse Pompeo at first seemed like a breath of fresh
air. That went stale with Benghazi!, which is undoubtedly what put him
on Trump's radar, and he's gone over the top playing up his stance as
a neocon hawk. The Senate should find his nomination alarming, but so
far more people have expressed more worry about Gina Haspel, his (well,
Trump's) pick to replace him as CIA director -- see, e.g.,
Matt Taibbi: Trump's CIA Pick Took Part in Silencing Torture Suspect.
By the way, Taibbi also wrote
It's Too Late to Worry About 'Normalizing' Trump. Decades of Policy Did
That for Him: "The current president is just too stupid to be
embarrassed about things his predecessors all did, too."
Ted Golshan/Jen Kirby: Florida pedestrian bridge collapses, leaving at
least 6 dead: what we know.
Jeff Hauser: How Jeff Sessions Is Sneaking Trump Allies Into Key DOJ
Positions That Normally Require Senate Confirmation.
Doug Henwood: Here's Why Labor Should Resist Trump's Tariff:
Some interesting numbers here:
While steel employment is off 54 percent since 1990, the production
of steel (by the Federal Reserve's measure) is up 18 percent. Between
1990 and 2015 (the latest year available), productivity per hour of
labor in the steel sector was up 151 percent. Labor's share of value-added
in the industry -- the portion of the difference between revenues and
costs of raw materials that's paid out to workers -- fell from 23 percent
in 1990 to 13 percent in 2015. . . .
We have some recent experience with steel tariffs, the ones imposed
by George W. Bush in March 2002. Bush lifted them in December 2003,
under threat of retaliation by the EU, with another politically
well-selected set of targets (Florida oranges, and Harleys again),
and complaints by domestic steel users. During the 21 months they were
in effect, steel employment fell by 9 percent, but production rose by
Bottom line seems to be that tariffs will help producer profits but
Sean Illing: Team of sycophants: a presidential historian on Trump's
White House: Interview with Robert Dallek. Starts by contrasting
Franklin Roosevelt, who encouraged frank arguments among his staff,
but doesn't point out the more critical difference: that FDR allowed
airing all the views because he wanted to centralize decision making
for himself, whereas Trump doesn't just delegate, he encourages his
minions to make policy without him (at least on matters he doesn't
understand or care about, which is to say that aren't directly tied
up in his brand identity). Dallek goes on to slander Warren Harding
("you have to go all the way back to Warren G. Harding in 1921 to
find a president as unqualified to hold office as Trump is"). The
most obvious likeness isn't their lack of qualifications but the
extraordinary level of corruption under both presidencies, but a
big difference was that Harding was at worst indifferent, Trump is
the foremost practitioner. Note that Paul Krugman came up with a
similar theme in
Springtime for Sycophants.
Lauren Katz: Ryan Zinke spent his first year in office selling off rights
to our public lands.
John Lanchester: You Are the Product: Review, dated 17 August 2017,
of three books about social media -- Tim Wu's The Attention Merchants,
Antonio Garcia Martinez's Chaos Monkeys, and Jonathan Taplin's
Move Fast and Break Things -- although he's mostly concerned with
Facebook. Useful background when you consider, for instance,
Sean Illing: Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a
key Trump-Russia link, explained;
Eric Killelea: Cambridge Analytica: What We Know About the Facebook Data
Matthew Rosenberg: Cambridge Analytica, Trump-Tied Political Firm, Offered
to Entrap Politicians;
Nico Hines: Cambridge Analytica Offered to Blackmail Politicians With
Sam Biddle: Facebook Quietly Hid Webpages Bragging of Ability to Influence
Dara Lind: The death penalty for drug dealers is a terrible idea. It's
also part of the White House's new opioid strategy.
Ganesh Sitaraman: The three crises of liberal democracy: Read
this because I just finished the author's very fine book, The
Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution. Here he recommends
another book, Yascha Mounk's The People Vs. Democracy: Why Our
Freedom Is in Danger & How to Save It, but I'm less than
convinced. Mounk evidently argues that there are three essential
groundings to liberal democracy: shared mass media controlled by
responsible gatekeepers; relative economic equality; and national
homogeneity (shared culture and identity). Mounk is right that
all three are stressed recently, however I'd say that the three
points have vastly different weights, and I'm not even sure that
the first (de-centralized media) and third (greater diversity)
are real problems. Inequality is not only vastly more important,
it perverts the others.
Jeff Spross: How vulture capitalists ate Toys 'R' Us: Seems like
behind every business failure there's a private equity company with
a long history of sucking cash out and piling on debt. In this case,
well, KKR and Bain Capital.
Emily Stewart: "We've been in a trade war for 30 years": a former Trump
trade adviser explains the case for tariffs: Interview with Dan
DiMicco, former chair and CEO of steel manufacturer Nucor.
Alex Ward, et al: Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director targeted by
Trump, was just fired: This story is most often presented as "now
he might not get his pension" -- he had already resigned, pushing the
effective date out to qualify for a pension, so his firing showed an
uncommon degree of vindictiveness. But it raises other questions, like
Emily Stewart: Jeff Sessions may have violated his recusal pledge when
he fired Andrew McCabe.
Robert Wright: How the New York Times Is Making War With Iran More
Likely. Of course, one could also write a piece on how making
Mike Pompeo Secretary of State makes war with Iran more likely --
indeed, war all over the place.
Jason Zengerle: Eating Away at Government From the Inside: Review
of David Cay Johnston's new book, It's Even Worse Than You Think:
What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America. And it's even
worse now than it was when Johnston handed his manuscript in -- for
instance, the book doesn't cover Trump's corporate tax cut. Still,
one especially apt insight: "The Trump administration deposited
political termites throughout the structure of our government. The
endgame is not just a smaller government, which Republicans always
say they want, but a weak government." This matters because weaker
government makes corporations stronger and less accountable to the
public -- indeed, to any moral constraint other than their bottom
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Working draft for a short obituary for the Wichita Eagle:
Kathy Hull, 60, died on March 12, 2018, after having been hit by a car
on the WSU campus. She was an artist, writer, dancer, musician, and
educator, having worked for 27 years in the Art Department at WSU. She
was preceded in death by her parents, and is survived by her son Ram
Lama Hull -- a notable artist in his own right -- by her brothers Tom
and Steve Hull, and by dear friends, many of whom she considered family.
A celebration of her life will be held on March ??, ?:?? pm at First UU,
7202 E 21st St N, Wichita. Memorials to Trust Women.
Wichita Eagle ran an article on Kathy today:
Nichole Manna: WSU staff member dies after being hit by car:
Kathy Hull, a visual resources coordinator in Wichita State University's
art school, has died after being hit by a car on March 6, according to
the university's newspaper, The Sunflower.
Hull's death was announced during a Faculty Senate meeting Monday
Graphic design professor Kirsten Johnson said Hull had inoperable
bleeding of the brain, the newspaper reported. She was hit by a car
while crossing between Wilner Auditorium and McKnight Art Center. The
newspaper reported Hull had been in the crosswalk at the time of the
Johnson called for the installation of speed bumps on campus.
Hull worked at the university for 27 years. Her son told The
Sunflower that Hull had a leadership role in creating an art
exhibit in 2002 called Sacred Spaces. It featured paper cranes,
mosaics and painted doorways to represent the five major world
religions. He said this was one the highlights of her career.
Joe Kleinsasser, spokesperson for the university, said Tuesday
morning that the accident is still under investigation. Once complete,
that information will be shared with the district attorney's office.
The driver of the car was a student, he said.
The reporting here was obviously mostly derived from the Sunflower
Jenna Farhat: Staff member hit by car on WSU campus dies:
A staff member who was hit by a car on Tuesday died this morning.
Kathy Hull, visual resources coordinator in the Wichita State art
school, went into cardiac arrest this morning as a result of complications
from her injury, according to her son.
Kirsten Johnson, a graphic design professor, announced Hull's death
during a Faculty Senate meeting Monday afternoon.
Johnson said Hull suffered from inoperable bleeding of the brain
after she was hit by a car at a crosswalk between Wilner Auditorium
and McKnight Art Center.
Ram Lama Hull said his mother was receiving respiratory therapy
when her heart failed.
"They attempted to keep her alive, but after thirty minutes I was
asked to make the decision to keep trying or to let her pass," Ram
Lama Hull said in a Facebook message.
"In years prior, she had been very clear about what she'd want me
to do in this kind of situation so I honored her wish to be allowed
"She remembered the attempts to keep her own parents alive and
didn't want that," Ram Lama Hull said.
While addressing the Faculty Senate, Johnson recalled when a history
professor was hit by a car on campus about two years ago. The woman
survived but "had to go through major rehab." The incident was cited
by campus police as a reason when they began issuing traffic tickets
"I'm sick and tired of this. This is the second time we've had people
hit in the crosswalk," Johnson said.
Johnson called for the installation of speed bumps on campus.
"I've never heard anything from administration," Johnson said. "And
now Kathy has died."
Johnson said Kathy Hull worked at WSU for 27 years and helped the art
history slide library transition to digital formatting.
"She was liked by the students and also by us (faculty)," Johnson
Kathy Hull's son said one of the highlights of his mother's career
at WSU was her leadership role in creating an art exhibit in 2002,
called Sacred Spaces. The exhibit featured paper cranes, mosaics,
and painted doorways representing the five major world religions.
He said his mother loved sacred geometry as an art form.
As I understand it, the Sunflower had an article last week on the
accident, but it greatly understated the gravity of Kathy's injury.
Ram, who used to work on the Sunflower, protested at the time.
As I understand it, Becky Tanner of the Eagle is writing a longer,
more personal obituary article. I know that Ram and Mike, at least,
have spoken to her.
Monday, March 12, 2018
Music: current count 29476  rated (+24), 368  unrated (+0).
Nothing to say about music this week. I woke up last Tuesday to the
news that my sister had been struck by a car while walking from the
parking lot to her work at Wichita State University. The car was not
going especially fast, but knocked her to the ground, and she smashed
the back of her skull on the pavement. The skull was cracked, and a
CT scan showed multiple brain bleeds. The Wesley Hospital ER stapled
the skull together, stabilized her, and put her in the Intensive Care
Unit. When we saw her, she was conscious, incoherent, agitated, very
frustrated. She developed respiratory problems, which they cleared up
(mostly) with a 3-hour bronchoscopy operation. After that, she seemed
to be improving, becoming calmer and more coherent, although she had
bad periods as well. I never got any meaningful review of her brain
scan tests. They were mostly described as "unchanged," and the bleeds
were deemed inoperable, so they focused on palliative care. There was
much discussion of transferring her to a "brain trauma hospital" in
Nebraska, possibly early this week.
Last night, around 4AM, Kathy's heart stopped. This occurred during
some form of respiratory therapy. Multiple attempts to revive her failed.
A friend was staying overnight at the hospital with her, and tells me
that they had "about half the floor in her room" and spent about 30
minutes before giving up. I don't know any more than that. The hospital
called her son, Ram, who called me about 4:30 AM. Our brother, Steve,
had come to Wichita on Wednesday, and planned on going in early morning.
He found out when he woke up, and called me. I couldn't go to sleep, so
I picked up and we talked about 7 AM.
I sent email to a couple of people before I went to bed. Ram posted
something very brief on Facebook. I shared it, then added my own note.
He'll be talking to a funeral director tomorrow, so we'll have a better
idea of schedule then. I need to call some people, and to catch up with
Ram and Steve, but in my current daze I figured I'd knock this out and
get it out of the way. I've had a miserable week, with my own problems
as well as this. Feeling shocked and helpless now.
New records rated this week:
- Blue Notes Tribute Orkestra: Live at the Bird's Eye (2012 , self-released): [r]: B+(*)
- Nubya Garcia: Nubya's 5ive (2017, Jazz Re:freshed): [r]: B+(**)
- Peter Kuhn: Dependent Origination (2016 , FMR): [cd]: B+(***)
- Peter Kuhn Trio: Intention (2017 , FMR): [cd]: A-
- Emma-Jean Thackray's Walrus: Walrus EP (2017, Deptford Beach, EP): [r]: B+(*)
Old music rated this week:
- The Free Spirits Featuring John McLaughlin: Tokyo Live (1993 , Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Christof Lauer: Christof Lauer (1989, CMP): [r]: B+(***)
- Christof Lauer/Wolfgang Puschnig/Bob Stewart/Thomas Alkier: Bluebells (1992, CMP): [r]: B+(**)
- Christof Lauer: Fragile Network (1998 , ACT): [r]: B+(***)
- Christof Lauer/NDR Big Band: Christof Lauer & NDR Big Band Play Sidney Bechet: Petite Fleur (2013 , ACT): [r]: B+(**)
- Mahavishnu Orchestra: Between Nothingness & Eternity (1973, Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
- Mahavishnu Orchestra: Apocalypse (1974, Columbia): [r]: C+
- Mahavishnu Orchestra: Visions of the Emerald Beyond (1974 , Columbia): [r]: B-
- Mahavishnu Orchestra/John McLaughlin: Inner Worlds (1975 , Columbia): [r]: B-
- Joe Maneri Quartet: Dahabenzapple (1993 , Hat Art): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe Maneri Quartet: In Full Cry (1996 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Joe Maneri/Mat Maneri: Blessed (1997 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Joe Maneri Trio: The Trio Concerts (1997-98 , Leo, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- John McLaughlin: Devotion (1970, Douglas): [r]: B+(**)
- John McLaughlin: The Heart of Things (1997, Verve): [r]: B+(*)
- John McLaughlin/Zakir Hussain/T.H. "Vikkur" Vinayakram/Hariprasad Chaurasia: Remember Shakti (1997 , Verve, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
- Shakti/John McLaughlin: Shakti With John McLaughlin (1975 , Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
- Shakti With John McLaughlin: Natural Elements (1977, Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
- Shakti With John McLaughlin: A Handful of Beauty (1976 , Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Didn't mean to write much this weekend. Just figured I'd go through
the motions, starting with the usual Yglesias links, to have something
for future reference, and to check how the update mechanism works on
the transplanted website. Guess I got a little carried away.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: 4 stories that really mattered this week: Trump
slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum; Gary Cohn says he's quitting:
the top White House economic adviser, formerly of Goldman Sachs; Trump
will (maybe) do a summit with Kim Jong Un; Red-state teachers are getting
angry: in West Virginia, most obviously, with Oklahoma and Arizona in
the wings. Other Yglesias pieces:
Globalists, explained: Evidently, some people view "globalist" as
an anti-semitic term. Today's example: Trump describing the departing
Gary Cohn as a "globalist." An older term is "cosmopolitan," although
I've found the German more interesting: "weltbürgerlich" -- citizen of
the world. Such allusions seem to be endemic with the alt-right, even
more so with Trump, but I'm not sure that it's useful at all to dwell
on them. Nearly everything that Trump and his ilk say that can be read
as anti-semitic is also wrong for other reasons, and people miss that
when they get hung up on anti-semitic stereotypes. One word that doesn't
appear here is "neoliberal," which is actually a better description of
Cohn -- including Cohn's differences from the Trumpian nationalists --
but doesn't seem to be part of their vocabulary.
The real danger to the US economy in Trump's trade policy: "It's not
the tariffs; it's what happens next.".
The DCCC should chill out and do less to try to pick Democrats' nominees:
"There's very little evidence that "electable" moderates do better."
Trump's trade demand to China is pathetically small: "The US-China trade
deficit rose $28 billion last year. Trump is asking for a $1 billion cut."
Actually, that understates the plan, as The actual trade deficit is $375.2
billion -- "a drop in the bucket." Moreover, the plan is just an ask: "Trump
is asking the Chinese to find a way to cut it by less than 0.27 percent but
acting like he's a tough guy."
Cory Booker's new Workers Dividend Act, explained: "A Bloomberg analysis
shows that of America's $54 billion corporate tax windfall, so far $21.1
billion has been kicked to shareholders in the form of 'buybacks,' almost
twice as much as has gone to employees in higher compensation and far more
than has been spent on capital investments or research and development."
Booker's bill seeks to rebalance that by giving people who work for companies
that do stock buybacks a piece of the profit. That's nice for them, but
doesn't help anyone else. It is, at best, a tiny step toward equality,
piggybacked on a larger step in the opposite direction.
The 17 Democrats selling out on bank regulation is worse than it looks.
I don't see a list or a vote total, so I'm not sure just who he's blaming,
but the bill in question is the Republicans' gift to the industry that sunk
the economy in 2008, a more/less significant rollback of the relatively
feeble reform package known as Dodd-Frank. For more on the bill, see:
Emily Stewart: The bank deregulation bill in the Senate, explained;
Ross Barkan: The rich and the right want to dynamite Dodd-Frank -- and
Democrats are helping them do it:
It's worth considering when bipartisanship can still exist in this deeply
polarizing moment. It cannot live where there is a growing national
consensus, as over the severity of climate change or the scourge of
It cannot live in any kind of economic matter that benefits the
working class or the poor, even after Donald Trump managed to shred
rightwing economic orthodoxies on his way to the presidency -- never
mind that he's governing like a Koch brothers pawn.
Democrats and Republicans can only come together to feather the
nests of the rich and powerful. Weakening Dodd-Frank confirms the
worst suspicions of any cynical voter -- that the political class
really is colluding to screw them over.
Trump's tariffs are a scary look at what happens when he actually tries to
govern: Good point, but I certainly wouldn't go this far:
The Trump era has, so far, gone better than anyone had any right to expect.
It's true that as problems arise -- flu, drug overdoses, Hurricane Maria,
school shootings -- Trump invariably fails to rise to the occasion. And,
from time to time, he for no good reason opts to pour salt in America's
racial wounds. His immigration policies are making us poorer and meaner,
while his health care and tax policies make our economy more unequal.
But on a day-to-day basis, life goes on.
Despite the frightening concentration of incompetence in the West Wing,
many critical posts -- most of all at the Departments of Defense and
Treasury and the Federal Reserve -- appear to be in the hands of basically
capable people. Trump's habit of relentlessly deferring to GOP congressional
leadership on policy issues is disappointing if you were a true believer in
Trumpism, but sort of vaguely reassuring if you found the idea of installing
a narcissistic rage-holic in the Oval Office alarming.
I'd submit that there's a lot more on the negative side of the ledger,
and little if anything on the positive. I'll also stipulate that most folks
won't understand the negative side until it comes crashing down on them
like a ton of bricks, but the number of people who this has happened to
already is non-trivial (especially immigrants of various degrees, and most
people in Puerto Rico). Policies by their very nature have slow triggers,
but that doesn't mean that today's decisions won't catch up with us sooner
or later. And while it's true that some of Trump's administrators don't
seem to be competent enough to destroy departments they loathe -- Rich
Perry, Ben Carson, Betsy De Vos -- others are more than capable -- Ryan
Zinke at Interior, Scott Pruitt at EPA, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
That Mattis and Mnuchin lack the same streak of nihilism has more to do
with the usefulness of their departments to rich donors than relative
James K Galbraith: Trump's steel tariffs are mere political theater:
Points out something I haven't seen noted elsewhere: similar tariffs
have been implemented twice before, first under Reagan and again by
GW Bush. Neither had any real effect, least of all on rebuilding the
American steel industry. Nor did they generate much controversy, as
they were mere "political theater" by politicians who were otherwise
reliable neoliberals. If Trump's generating more controversy, that's
probably because he's ideologically less trustworthy -- not that he
actually understands or believes in anything.
Jeff Goodell: Welcome to the Age of Climate Migration: "Extreme
weather due to climate change displaced more than a million people
from their homes last year. It could soon reshape the nation." Key
takeaway here: it's already happening, and it's measurable.
Jane Mayer: Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier.
Long piece, dovetails with and expands upon what I know about the
various Russia scandals.
Heather Digby Parton: Running for the White House Exits: Who Would
Want to Work for President Trump Anyway?
Matt Shuman: At Political Rally, Trump Repeats Call to Give Drug Dealers
the Death Penalty: Disturbing on many levels, partly because his ego
seems to require the periodic stoking, partly because he clearly figures
that what would appeal most to his base is public blood-letting. Curious,
too, that he actually cites China as his authority on how effective the
death penalty is at stopping drug traffic. (Of course, he could just as
well have cited the Philippines' Duterte, who like trump believes "act
first, due process later.")
Matt Taibbi: Trump Is a Dangerous Idiot. So Why Are We Pushing Him Toward
War? Provides many examples of people with serious foreign policy
credentials (i.e., a track record of having been wrong many times in the
past) doing just that: two that especially stick in my crawl are David
Ignatius and Kenneth Pollack ("of the American Enterprise Institute").
Meanwhile, in the States, the only thing about Donald Trump that any sane
person ever had to be grateful for was that he entered the White House
claiming to be isolationist and war-averse. That soon proved to be a lie
like almost everything else about his campaign, but Jesus, do we have to
help this clown down the road toward General Trump fantasies?
We have the dumbest, least competent White House in history. Whatever
else anyone in America has as a goal for Trump's remaining time in office,
the single most important priority must to be keeping this guy away from
the nuclear button. Almost anything else would be survivable.
Which is why it makes no sense to be taunting Trump and basically
calling him a wuss for negotiating with Kim Jong Un or being insufficiently
aggressive in Syria.
To get a glimpse of what passes for thinking in Pollack's brain,
take a look at his
Learning From Israel's Political Assassination Program, a review
of Ronen Bergman's huge (753 pp.) book, Rise and Kill First: The
Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations. Israel has
undertaken such "targeted killings" throughout its history, but the
rate (and indifference to "collateral damage") increased dramatically
after 2001. The US has followed suit:
There have been many who have objected, claiming that the killings
inspire more attacks on the United States, complicate our diplomacy
and undermine our moral authority in the world. Yet the targeted
killings drone on with no end in sight. Just counting the campaigns
in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the Bush administration conducted
at least 47 targeted killings by drones, while under the Obama
administration that number rose to 542.
America's difficult relationship with targeted killing and the
dilemmas we may face in the future are beautifully illuminated by
the longer story of Israel's experiences with assassination in its
own endless war against terrorism. Israel has always been just a
bit farther down this slippery slope than the United States. If
we're willing, we can learn where the bumps are along the way by
watching the Israelis careening ahead of us.
Pollack admits that "targeted killings" are a mere tactic in the
larger effort to suppress terrorism, and that there's no reason to
think they're particularly effective. He goes on to blather a lot
about COIN theory, without recognizing that Israel has never been
in the least interested in "winning hearts and minds." Israel's
sole goal, at least since Independence and arguably a good deal
earlier, has been to establish an ethnocracy and maintain it by
overwhelming force. They understand that they cannot convince
Palestinians to agree to a debased and subservient status, but
they persist in believing that they can maintain their two-tier
society by imposing domination and terror.
Pollack does fault Israel for being unwilling to accept the
"land-for-peace" option to actually resolve the conflict, but
he fails to understand why. For "land-for-peace" to work, two
things have to happen: the reason Israel might be willing to
give up land is to rid itself of Palestinians, thus ensuring a
stronger Jewish majority; having secured demographic dominance,
Israel could then afford to offer its remaining Palestinians
equal rights, ending the conflict. It is this latter point,
equality, that Israelis cannot abide. They would rather endure
perpetual conflict than to give up their superiority.
I doubt Bergman's book reveals much "secret history." Israel
has been bragging about their assassination program for many
years, and now that the US is wrapped up in its own murderous
program, they must feel little public relations risk. On the
other hand, the US does at least go through the motions of
presenting itself as "a beacon of freedom and justice" -- a
stance which is instantly discredited by its murder program
(not that many people outside America still believed it).
For a better review of Rise and Kill First, see:
"Rise and Kill First" Explores the Corrupting Effects of Israel's
Taibbi also wrote
The New Blacklist: "Russiagate may have been aimed at Trump to start,
but it's become a way of targeting all dissent." He notes the existence
of an outfit named Hamilton 68, which tracks everything that seems to be
approved by Russia's propagandists (especially through their bots), on
the theory that whatever Russia promotes should be opposed. "In fact,
unless you're a Hillary Clinton Democrat, you've probably been portrayed
as having somehow been in on it, at one time or another."
Peter Van Buren: What critics of North Korea summit get wrong: Well,
first he disposes of the idea that simply meeting confers legitimacy on
North Korea. He also makes a plausible case for starting the diplomatic
process with a photo-op of the leaders in general agreement. He doesn't
delve into the fact that the shakier of the leaders is Trump, both due
to his massive ignorance and his relatively weak grasp on America's
military and security establishments -- the clearest evidence there
is how cheerfully he concedes policy direction to the generals (e.g.,
Alex Ward: The past 24 hours in Trump scandals, explained: Seems less
like a headline than a feature column that could be rewritten each day.
This particular one came out on Thursday, March 8, and covers Trump being
sued by porn star Stormy Daniels, and Erik Prince lying about meeting
Russians in the Seychelles to discuss setting up a back channel between
Trump and Putin, and Trump attempting to influence people Mueller has
interviewed in the Russia probe. Tomorrow, and next week, and next month,
you'll get a slightly different list of scandals, but as long as the media
limits them to things Trump actually knows and does, they'll most likely
stay at this trivial level. The real scandals go much deeper, but unless
Trump tweets about them, how will White House reporters know?
Tuesday, March 06, 2018
Every Monday I knock out a Music Week post, with a list of the week's
rated records, an unpacking list, and an intro of some sort. I've been
feeling especially miserable for a week or more -- a persistent upper
back ache, and chronic itching over much of my body, with an odd tingle
on the margin between the two complaints -- so I cut my intro short. But
when I went to post it, along with the usual website update, I found I
couldn't access the server. In fact, the website had vanished.
I've had intimations this might happen. I've used the virtual server
at Addr.com since SCO shut down their original OCSTON server -- probably
2001. I've had occasional problems with the server company, where the
MySQL server would hang up, or I'd run out of disk space. Around 2005
I started a blog using the Serendipity software, which was built on the
MySQL database engine. At one point blog performance got so bad I created
a flat file cache of recent posts, something I called my "faux blog."
At one point Addr shut me down due to a virus infection in the blog. I
managed to repair that and get them to allow me back in. They were never
very responsive or supportive, but I managed to hobble along. And in one
important respect, I was stuck with them: at some point the blog grew
too large to get a proper database dump, so I lost my ability to move
Last year, when I ran into disk space problems, I found that their
support mechanisms -- everything from phone to chat to web forms --
had stopped working. For all practical purposes, there was no one on
their end, although the servers remained up and accessible, and they
kept billing me. That finally broke on Monday. I suppose it's possible
they may get rebooted, but that's starting to look unlikely.
So I went to bed Monday realizing that I would have to rebuild my
website somewhere else. The obvious choice for elsewhere is the dedicated
server I lease from Hosting & Designs, even though I can't say as
I'm any happier with their service than I've been with Addr. I host 6-8
websites on that server, and it's fair to say it's underutilized. Also
fair to say I'm not very adept at managing it. In particular, I've put
off doing a necessary software update for many months now. I'll need to
do that and some general maintenance before I get too involved in adding
my website. I'll need either to set up a new account or figure out how
to hang a new domain/website under an existing one. I'll have to archive
all the flat files on my local machine and transplant them to the server.
And I'll have to change the registrar nameserver records as well as my
And that still leaves open the question of what to do about the blog.
There's no easy way to rebuild that, especially since I haven't been
able to get a valid dump for many years. Given those difficulties, I
wonder whether it makes sense to continue using Serendipity. I've been
using WordPress on all of my current server accounts, so that's the
direction I've been leaning in -- just haven't made the jump for my
own blog, not least because it's so much larger. Perhaps the best way
would be to start a new blog going forward, while going back and trying
to restore as many old blog pages as possible using "faux blog" flat
files. As I recall, that would come to about 2300 pages, but obviously
I don't need them all operational to start.
Anyhow, when I went to bed Monday night, those were thoughts running
through my head -- not that I was looking forward to following them.
Then I got up Tuesday a little after noon to find out that my sister
had been hit by a car and rushed to the hospital. We had very little
information at first, finally resolving to go to the hospital and find
out what we could. By the time we left, we heard that Kathy was stable
and in intensive care at Wesley, and that her son Ram was there.
When we got there, we found out that Kathy had been walking across
the street between the parking lot and her job at the Wichita State
University art department when she was struck by a car moving about
15 mph. The car knocked her down, and she hit the back of her head
hard on the pavement, cracking the skull in at least two places, and
causing internal bleeding. At hospital, they stapled the skull back
together, and did a CT scan to measure the bleeding. They determined
that she had no other fractures, but she had abrasions and they put
her in a neck brace. They then moved her to the surgical ICU, where
we found her. She was mostly conscious but sometimes incoherent.
She had trouble breathing throughout the time I spent with her, and
was clearly agitated and uncomfortable, and probably in pain. They
didn't give her anything for the pain, as they wanted to be able to
assess her cognitive state. They scheduled a second CT scan for 12
hours after the first. I left about that time, so don't know what
that scan showed.
Monday, March 05, 2018
Music: current count 29452  rated (+29), 368  unrated (+1).
Most of what follows, including all of this week's A- ratings,
already appeared in
posted last Wednesday. After that I guess I slowed down a bit. Damn
little more to report.
I suppose I could offer a link to
The new (UK) jazz family tree, although I should note that it actually
offers only a rather thin slice of jazz in the UK, with nothing avant (aside
from Evan Parker), nothing trad, huge omissions elsewhere (some names that
leap to mind: Dave Holland, John McLaughlin, Howard Riley, Tommy Smith, and
John Surman, as well as younger musicians like Neil Cowley and Alexander
Hawkins). I haven't tried counting, but offhand I think I recognize about
a third of the names, mostly falling down where band members are expanded
(e.g., the other three-fourths of Camilla George Quartet). The author notes
that she started with Emma-Jean Thackray and Sons of Kemet and worked her
way out from there. Thackray didn't ring a bell, although I've heard of
her group Walrus. Sons of Kemet have a couple albums I like, especially
Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do (2015).
New records rated this week:
- Laurie Anderson/Kronos Quartet: Landfall (2018, Nonesuch): [r]: A-
- Brandi Carlile: By the Way, I Forgive You (2018, Low Country Sound/Elektra): [r]: B-
- Roberta Donnay & the Prohibition Mob Band: My Heart Belongs to Satchmo (2018, Blujazz): [cd]: B+(**)
- Electric Squeezebox Orchestra: The Falling Dream (2015 , OA2): [cd]: B
- GoGo Penguin: A Humdrum Star (2017 , Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Mike Jones/Penn Jillette: The Show Before the Show: Live at the Penn & Teller Theater (2017 , Capri): [cd]: B+(***)
- Femi Kuti: One People One World (2018, Knitting Factory): [r]: B+(*)
- Les Filles De Illighadad: Eghass Malan (2017, Sahelsounds): [r]: B+(**)
- Dave Liebman/Tatsuya Nakatani/Adam Rudolph: The Unknowable (2016 , RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(*)
- Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas: Sound Prints: Scandal (2017 , Greenleaf Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- Youssou N'Dour: Raxas Bercy 2017 (2017, self-released): [dl]: A-
- Amy Rigby: The Old Guys (2018, Southern Domestic): [r]: A-
- Shakers n' Bakers: Heart Love: Plays the Music of Albert Ayler and Mary Maria Parks (2017 , Little i Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Shopping: The Official Body (2018, FatCat): [r]: A-
- Steve Tyrell: A Song for You (2018, New Design): [cd]: B+(**)
- U.S. Girls: In a Poem Unlimited (2018, 4AD): [r]: B+(**)
Old music rated this week:
- Marion Brown: Afternoon of a Georgia Faun (1970, ECM): [r]: B
- Marion Brown: Duets Vol. 1 (1970 , 1201/Black Lion Vault): [r]: B+(**)
- Dorothy Donegan: Live at the 1990 Floating Jazz Festival (1990 , Chiaroscuro): [r]: B+(**)
- Chico Freeman: Tradition in Transition (1982, Elektra Musician): [r]: B+(*)
- Chico Freeman/Mal Waldron: Up and Down (1992, Black Saint): [r]: B+(**)
- Jelly Roll Morton: The Piano Rolls (1924 , Nonesuch): [r]: B+(**)
- Original Dixieland Jazz Band: The 75th Anniversary (1917-21 , RCA Bluebird): [r]: B+(***)
- Original Dixieland Jazz Band: In London 1919-1920 Plus the Okeh Sessions 1922-1923 (1919-23 , Retrieval): [r]: B+(**)
- Amy Rigby: Live at Cat's Cradle 02/26/2003 (2003 , self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Trio-X [Joe McPhee/Dominic Duval/Jay Rosen]: The Sugar Hill Suite (2004, CIMP): [r]: B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Martin Blume/Tobias Delius/Achim Kaufmann/Dieter Manderscheid: Frames & Terrains (NoBusiness): cdr
- Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin: Ninety-Nine Years (Libra)
- Gerry Hemingway/Samuel Blaser: Oostum (NoBusiness): cdr
- Kang Tae Hwan: Live at Café Amores (1995, NoBusiness)
- The Doug MacDonald Quintet/The Roger Neumann Quintet: Two Quintets: Live Upstairs at Vitello's (2018, Blujazz, 2CD)
- Todd Marcus: On These Streets (Stricker Street): April 27
- Wynton Marsalis Septet: United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas (2003-07, Blue Engine): March 23
- Erin McDougald: Outside the Soirée (Miles High): March 16
- Michael Morreale: MilesSong: The Music of Miles Davis (Summit, 2CD)
- Peripheral Vision: More Songs About Error and Shame (self-released): March 30
- Barre Phillips/Motoharu Yoshizawa: Oh My, Those Boys! (1994, NoBusiness)
- Roberta Piket: West Coast Trio (13th Note): April 6
- Jim Snidero & Jeremy Pelt: Jubilation (Savant): advance, May 4
- Spin Cycle [Scott Neumann/Tom Christensen]: Assorted Colors (Sound Footing): April 6
- Dan Weiss: Starebaby (Pi): April 6
A fragment I wrote for this, but ultimately chose not to use:
Something I meant to mention yesterday was the pair of New York Times
Sarah Bakewell: Steven Pinker Continues to See the Glass Half Full,
on Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism,
and Progress, and
Angus Deaton: Getting Better All the Time?, on Gregg Easterbrook's
It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear.
I had run across Pinker's book during a recent trawl for a Book Roundup
post -- my last one was
August 2017 -- and had written a bit about the subject then.
I'm sympathetic to the premise of these books, in large part because
I'm not so far removed from the 19th century that I can't comprehend
how much everyday life has changed for the better thanks to reason,
science, and engineering.
Sunday, March 04, 2018
Once again having to cut this short because I'm running out of time.
Didn't even watch the Oscars tonight, as I tried to gather these links.
Nothing terribly new below if you've been reading all along, although
the Putnam/Skocpol article might help, as well as Yglesias' near-weekly
posts on Republican voting setbacks. I suppose one thing that slowed me
down is that this has been an above-average week for palace intrigue,
even given renormalization after that's been the case for about 50 weeks
in the last year-plus-a-month.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: The 4 stories that mattered this week in Washington,
explained: Tariffs on steel; Trump went rogue on guns; Hope Hicks
is quitting; Jared Kushner is under fire.
Other Yglesias stories:
Jeff Sessions's dinner with Rod Rosenstein and Noel Francisco, explained.
A telling anecdote about Trump and the opioid abuse crisis: Trump
is appointing Jim Carroll to run the Office of National Drug Control
Policy, evidently because John Kelly didn't like having Carroll as his
deputy chief of staff.
Trump's corruption deserves to be a central issue in the 2018 midterms.
Well, it will be. The only real question is whether Democrats manage to
tar the entire Republican Party with the corruption so evident in the
Trump family. Right now this seems doable, given the prominent role of
big money donors in the Trump administration and the stranglehold over
Trump's agenda held by congressional Republicans, especially Paul Ryan
and Mitch McConnell.
Democrats just flipped 2 state legislative seats in Connecticut and New
Hampshire. I still think that the main reason Democrats have done
so well in interim elections is that the extent of the 2016 fiasco has
motivated stronger and more energetic Democrats to run for office. I
don't think we've seen much of an ideological shift thus far, and we
may not for some time, as we gradually sink into the depths of disaster
Republican rule is causing. Still, it won't take much more than a shift
of enthusiasm to tilt generic elections to the Democrats, and that
seems almost certain. Still, Republicans will have lots of money for
the 2018 elections, and will pull out all stops in their efforts to
whip up anti-Democrat hysteria. The question is how many times can
you cry wolf before people realize that the wolf is you?
Eric Holthaus: Nor'easters are now just as dangerous as hurricanes.
I haven't followed the news close enough to know how these pre-storm
threats have held up.
Eric Lipton/Lisa Friedman: Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears
Ears Monument, Emails Show. Previously I figured it was mostly about
uranium mining, but I guess there's more to it. Still, both fall under
the general rubric of corruption, as in political officials doing favors
that benefit big campaign donors.
German Lopez: A new, huge review of gun research has bad news for the
NRA: Nearly 39,000 people were killed by guns in 2016, yet the NRA
has managed to keep the federal government from sponsoring any research
into gun deaths, resulting in "a confusing empirical environment." RAND
Corporation has been looking into this, and have released the report
Lopez refers to. By the way, after Trump went off script on guns,
he's evidently been brought back to heel:
Trump met with the NRA -- and now we're back to not knowing what he wants
on guns. By the way, when Trump said, "Take the guns first, go through
due process second," it sounded to me more an attack on due process than
Andrew Prokop: Jared Kushner's many, many scandals, explained.
The white albatross mortgage on 666 Fifth Avenue is obviously the
top of Kushner's worry list, which makes you wonder why a businessman
in so much hot water would go pff imtp public service unless he thought
there was a lucrative business angle there. At the same time, note:
Caitlin MacNeal: NYT: Trump Has Asked John Kelly to Push Ivanka Trump,
Kushner Out of WH. Of course, not everything the New York Times
reports is fake news, but this is especially suspicious. Prokop also
This week's wild Trump White House chaos, explained, with more
on Hope Hicks' resignation and various rumors that "Kushner, McMaster,
Cohn, and Sessions are said to be on the ropes." Alex Ward delves
further into the Sessions affair:
The angry past 24 hours in Trump's fight with his own attorney general,
Lara Putnam/Theda Skocpol: Middle America Reboots Democracy: "We
spent months talking with anti-Trump forces -- and they're not who
pundits say they are." Skocpol wrote an early book on the Tea Party
movement and is quick to note that grass roots anti-Trump organizing
is not some sort of "left-wing Tea Party." They also note how little
the Democratic Party "professionals" grasp about what's going on,
and what's producing dramatic results.
Emily Stewart: All of West Virginia's teachers have been on strike for
over a week. West Virginia has trended Republican recently, taking
a very hard turn against Obama, so this comes as a surprise, but also
Avery Anapol: Oklahoma teachers planning statewide strike.
Stewart is evidently a staff writer at Vox. She had a busy week:
Trump's trade war will hurt everyone -- the only question is how
much: interview with Michael Froman, who was US Trade Representative
under Obama (which means he negotiated the TPP, which Trump, Sanders,
and ultimately Clinton opposed; indeed, he continues to defend TPP here);
Trump says China's Xi is "president for life" -- and maybe America
should try it ("probably a joke");
During a chaotic week in the White House, Trump quietly ramped up
his 2020 reelection campaign. The most important of these is
probably the one on the launch of Trump's 2020 campaign. In past
times, the main reason for starting a campaign early was to make
up for lack of name recognition, but that's obviously not Trump's
problem. Even then, it was rare to do so formally until after the
mid-term elections. That really only leaves one reason for Trump
to get such an early start: campaigns can collect money, so his
provides a way for supporters to stand up and be counted, while
allowing Trump to hire full-time propagandists and stage events,
something he seems to enjoy much more than actually fulfilling
the everyday duties of being president.
However, tariffs and trade have gotten a lot more attention; e.g.:
Zeeshan Aleem: Trump's trade tweets prove one thing: he doesn't
Alexia Fernandez Campbell: Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs have
angered nearly every US industry. Note that the stock market
fell 600 points the day after the announcement. Also note that
Trump buddy (and fellow billionaire) Carl Icahn somehow got out
in front of the stock crash -- see
Cristina Cabrera: Ex-Trump Advisor Sold Steel-Linked Stocks Before
POTUS Announced Tariffs. In case you're wondering about that "Ex-":
A longtime friend to Trump, Icahn served as a "special advisor" to the
President before resigning in August 2017 ahead of an incoming
New Yorker story that outlined his attempts to use his position to
help his investments.