Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32080  rated (+33), 227  unrated (-2).
Held this back an extra day, as I couldn't quite get it together
on time. Cutoff was late Sunday evening, after posting
Weekend Roundup, so I've already got a jump on next week.
My listening was even more scattered than usual last week. My
A-list finds all came so early that by weekend I forgot that I
had any. I hoped Michael Tatum's new
A Downloader's Diary -- his third this year after a prolonged
lean patch, and his first since moving to Seattle -- would offer
some major discoveries, but started with Blarf's Cease &
Desist and found it really wasn't for me. Several other records
impressed but didn't wow me. Two I had dismissed earlier got new
spins, and minor grade upticks. Tatum's review of Purple
Mountains is especially insightful, but describing the album
as a "suicide note" doesn't do much to draw me in.
Tatum started writing his column in August, 2010, intent on
filling in the void left by the second sacking of
Christgau's Consumer Guide (by MSN Music). Christgau rebooted
at MSN in
2010 with his Expert Witness blog, while Tatum continued his
monthly columns into 2014 (skipping a couple along the way). I
tried to help out by
publishing (and archiving) his columns.
In April 2014, he moved to
later that year with a piece called
The Pause Button. Since then, he's self-published (most recently
at Medium), while I've intermittently updated the archive. After a
couple thin years, he's made a strong return to form this year, with
three columns so far. He's one of the sharpest and most lucid critics
around, and deserves your readership and support.
Meanwhile, Christgau has been publishing his Expert Witness blog at
Noisey, but that ended in
With no new publisher forthcoming, Tatum might have had another
hole to fill. But Christgau has come up with a new scheme to keep
publishing new Consumer Guide capsule reviews. He's launching a
subscriber newsletter, based on Substack, called
And It Don't
Stop. It will cost you $5/month to get a once-monthly batch
of new reviews sent to your e-mailbox, plus there will be various
extras -- he explains his plans here, in
It's a Start. Subscribers will get their first batch of
reviews delivered on Wednesday, September 18.
As you probably know, I built and maintain
with its database of 17,271 albums and 1,372 articles (or more,
as that easy-to-find number is actually a subset). At some point
(undecided at present) I'll add those new reviews and pieces to
the website. This isn't fundamentally different from the various
timelocks we've been using for years, where publishers insist
that their payments merit a period of exclusivity. I don't have
any real solutions here, but I do believe that we're all fortunate
to have Christgau continuing to write for us. Subscribing helps.
Back to my list this week, aside from Tatum's picks, most of this
week's records are things I became aware of feeding data into my
metacritic list. I
started this year's list by collecting mid-year lists, but then I
made two discoveries/decisions: rank info in the lists wasn't very
useful (most lists were unranked, and many were shorter than EOY
lists so the scales didn't quite fit), so I just started counting
references without any weighting; also, I found that I could rather
easily supplement the lists with AOTY's ratings lists organized by
publication, so I started adding those in (first for publications
that didn't offer mid-year lists, eventually for nearly all non-metal
sources), usually using 80+ as my standard (90+ for AMG and Exclaim!,
where 80s are ultra-common). Thus, I've been able to pick up new
records as they're released. The sampling is not as good for post-July
records, but it gives newer records some recognition. Thus far, the
top-rated August/September releases (points in front, my grades in
brackets at end, just before that is the AOTY score and review count):
-  Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell (Polydor/Interscope) 85/28 [A-]
-  Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (Mom + Pop) 76/29 [-]
-  Bon Iver: i,i (Jagjaguwar) 80/31 [-]
-  Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (Bella Union) 79/24 [A-]
-  Marika Hackman: Any Human Friend (AMF) 84/19 [-]
-  The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (Frenchkiss) 75/20 [A-]
-  Charli XCX: Charli (Asylum) 79/20 [**]
-  Clairo: Immunity (Fader) 74/21 [***]
-  Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild (Sacred Bones) 79/20 [-]
-  The Murder Capital: When I Have Fears (Human Season) 86/14 [-]
-  (Sandy) Alex G: House of Sugar (Domino) 83/14 [-]
-  Rapsody: Eve (Roc Nation) 86/7 [***]
-  Kano: Hoodies All Summer (Parlophone) 86/12 [-]
-  Shura: Forevher (Secretly Canadian) 79/18 [-]
-  Jay Som: Anak Ko (Polyvinyl) 79/20 [-]
-  Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic) 71/22 [***]
-  Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops (Joyful Noise) 77/14 [-]
-  Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (Columbia) 85/4 [A-]
-  Sheer Mag: A Distant Call (Wilsuns) 76/11 [**]
-  Tool: Fear Inoculum (Volcano/RCA) 79/20 [-]
I'm most surprised that Saadiq has gotten so few reviews. I'm less
bothered that Lana Del Rey's point total only places her album at 31.
That's a structural problem due to the fact that more mid-year lists
were counted than ratings. AOTY's 85 score for the album rates it at
17, with 28 reviews topped only in the top 100 by Sharon Van Etten's
Remind Me Tomorrow (84/35), Thom Yorke's Anima (82/29),
Bon Iver's i,i (80/31).
I'll note that two 1970s rockers died last week: Eddie Money and
Rick Ocasek. The former never interested me much, but I had one of
his compilations on my unrated list, so figured I should check it
off. Tried looking on Napster before going to my shelves, and found
a later 2-CD 35-song edition in place of my 1-CD 15-cut item, so I
wound up reviewing both. Ocasek, of the Cars, was more important,
but I didn't have any unfinished business with them, so didn't
bother. Last one of their records I played was the Cars' 1985
Greatest Hits, giving it B+(**), which is about where I
pegged their first two albums (both B+ in my database).
I did some work on the Jazz Guides last week. I still have some
group albums to fold in -- I left them out of the first pass because
they involve more cross-referencing -- but otherwise am up to date
(through August). Current page counts: 1791 + 829.
One thing that slowed me down in getting this out was that I
started writing up a postscript to Sunday's
Weekend Roundup. Despite vowing not to slip down any rabbit
holes, I had trouble doing that. Spent much of today figuring
I would polish this up a bit, but didn't manage that either.
For what it's worth, I wrote these further notes on Monday:
- There was a breaking story that I barely touched on, but which may
prove to be the week's most important. Start with:
Everything we know about the Saudi oil attacks and the escalating crisis
in the Gulf. The first problem here is that "everything we know"
isn't very much, especially when you discount what various parties with
their own ulterior motives have tried to claim (a list that starts with
Mike Pompeo). Several sources noted that the Houthis in Yemen had claimed
responsibility. Saudi Arabia has been bombing them for years now, so they
have motive, but Pompeo doesn't see how they could pull such an attack
off. The only other claim I've seen is here:
Iranian drones launched from Iraq carried out attacks on Saudi oil
plants. That would still involve flying drones 500-600 km, so I
have to wonder whether it wouldn't have been easier to smuggle much
smaller drones into the area, especially given that you don't need
a lot of firepower when you're shooting at something as flamable as
an oil refinery. Still, the real problem here isn't a "whodunit" or
even its contextualization -- Saudi hostility and aggression against
their neighbors (both direct, as in Yemen, and through proxies) is
clearly at the root of this incident -- but a question of what the
real powers will do next. Trump almost immediately tweeted that an
American retalliation was "locked and loaded," awaiting only the
Saudi government's direction. The implication is not only that Trump
has subordinated American interests to the Saudis (as he has even
more emphatically to the Israelis) with scant care for whatever the
consequences may be. On the other hand, maybe the Saudis are coming
to recognize how vulnerable they are to blowback from their wars.
Too early to tell how this dangerous story sorts out.
There is something very unsatisfying about the various Bolton
links. While Bolton was well understood and his views roundly opposed,
it isn't clear what he actually did while in the Trump administration,
or whether he actually had any effect beyond adding to the chaos. A
fly-on-the-wall insider account might help, although it's equally
likely that no one will ever make any sense out of US foreign policy
during the Bolton year-plus. A couple of odd data points: Bolton was
fired after the Taliban deal was scuttled; before Bolton was
fired, Trump seemed to be more open to meeting with Iran than after,
as exemplified by his post-Bolton "locked and loaded" tweet. I've
never had any doubt that Bolton was pure evil, but the first week
without him has already brought into question Jeet Heer's title,
John Bolton's ouster makes the world safer. Yet another piece
I should have linked to: Robert Mackey:
Threatening new war for oil, Donald Trump calls his own offer of
Iran talks "fake news".
I wasn't very happy with the Bacevich and Walt pieces on
Afghanistan, or for that matter with Ward's piece on how the Democrats
debated Afghanistan. Lots of things in US politics make it very
difficult to extricate ourselves from wars that are going badly,
and it seems like everyone falls into one such trap or another.
On Samantha Power, also see: Jon Schwarz:
A memoir from hell: Samantha Power will do anything for human rights
unless it hurts her career.
What bothers me most about the Jonathan Franzen fracas is how
fervently his critics cling to stark and simplistic either-or dichotomies,
when the actual problem is complex, with complicated tradeoffs that can
be very hard to get at, let alone discuss rationally. It could take a
book to unpack that line, especially as I've come at it through old
problems in philosophy. But really, climate change has been happening
for decades now -- Bill McKibben's first (1989) book on the subject was
The End of Nature, and he wasn't talking about some hypothetical
future. That leaves us with two obvious problems: how to adapt to
the world we have altered (and will continue to), and how to limit
further damage. Recognizing the already-occurring changes in no way
excuses us from trying to keep the situation from worsening (Franzen
says as much, although you'd have to read him to find out, as his
critics' cariacature lose such details).
Also thought I'd note why I didn't link to anything on Tuesday's
election in Israel: I basically didn't find anything very interesting
on the subject. Still, if you're curious, you might read Zack Beauchamp's
Israel's election, and how Benjamin Netanyahu might lose, explained.
Nearly everything I read predicted a Netanyahu win -- as did everything
before the previous election, even though it ended with Netanyahu unable
to form a government. Latest results I've seen are "too close to call,"
with Netanyahu/Likud trailing Blue and White by a very slim margin (25.7%
to 26.3%), which probably means another hung election.
New records reviewed this week:
- Franco Ambrosetti Quintet: Long Waves (2019, Unit): [cd]: B+(***)
- Blarf: Cease & Desist (2019, Stones Throw): [bc]: B-
- Peter Brötzmann/Alexander von Schlippenbach/Han Bennink: Fifty Years After . . . Live at the Lila Eule 2018 (2018 , Trost): [r]: A-
- Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (2019, Drag City): [r]: B+(*)
- Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely (2019, Matador): [r]: B+(**)
- Frankie Cosmos: Close It Quietly (2019, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(**)
- Deerhunter: Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (2019, 4AD): [r]: B
- DSC [Leon Lee Dorsey/Greg Skaff/Mike Clark]: Monktime (2019, Jazz Avenue 1): [cd]: B+(*)
- Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For (2019, Musical Fanzine/Get Better): [r]: B+(*)
- Avram Fefer Quartet: Testament (2018 , Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***) [11-08]
- Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (2019, Bella Union): [r]: A-
- Jayda G: Significant Changes (2019, Ninja Tune): [r]: B+(*)
- Tim Hecker: Anoyo (2019, Kranky): [r]: B
- The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (2019, Frenchkiss): [r]: A-
- Cate Le Bon: Reward (2019, Mexican Summer): [r]: B
- Derel Monteith: Connemara: Solo Piano Improvisations (2017 , self-released): [cd]: B+(**) [10-18]
- Derel Monteith Trio: Quantity of Life (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(*) [10-18]
- Muna: Saves the World (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(**)
- Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis: Beautiful Lie (2019, Next Waltz): [r]: B+(**)
- Sheer Mag: A Distant Call (2019, Wilsuns): [r]: B+(**)
- Elza Soares: Planeta Fome (2019, Deck): [r]: B+(**)
- Colin Stranahan/Glenn Zaleski/Rick Rosato: Live at Jazz Standard (2018 , Capri): [cd]: B+(*) [09-30]
- Taylor Swift: Lover (2019, Republic): [r]: B+(***)
- Emi Takada: Why Did I Choose You? (2018 , self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
- Wilma Vritra: Burd (2019, Bad Taste): [r]: B+(*)
- Charli XCX: Charli (2019, Asylum): [r]: B+(**)
- Thom Yorke: Anima (2019, XL): [r]: B-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock (1969 , Craft): [r]: B+(***)
- Jambú E Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia (1974-86 , Analog Africa): [r]: B+(***)
- Eddie Money: The Essential Eddie Money (1977-95 , Columbia/Legacy): [cd]: B-
- Eddie Money: The Essential Eddie Money (1977-91 , Columbia/Legacy): [r]: C+
Grade (or other) changes:
- Stef Chura: Midnight (2019, Saddle Creek): [r]: [was: B+(*)] B+(**)
- Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (2019, Drag City): [r]: [was: B+(**)] B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- The Raymond De Felitta Trio: Pre-War Charm (Blujazz)
- Laszlo Gardony: La Marseillaise (Sunnyside): October 24
- Ben Markley Quartet Featuring Joel Frahm: Slow Play (OA2): September 20
- Tish Oney With the John Chlodini Trio: The Best Part (Blujazz)
- Peterson Kohler Collective: Winter Colors (Origin): September 20
- Markus Rutz: Blueprints Figure One: Frameworks (OA2): September 20
Sunday, September 15, 2019
No time (or stomach?) for an introduction.
Some scattered links this week:
Andrew J Bacevich:
What to know what's next for Afghanistan? Ask Vietnam. I have my
doubts about the analogy, but the final point about carelessness is
well taken. Related: Stephen M Walt:
We lost the war in Afghanistan. Get over it.
A generation of economists helped get us into this mess. A new generation
can get us out. Refers to Binyamin Appelbaum's book, The Economist's
Hour, for the first assertion.
A shared place: "Wendell Berry's lifelong dissent."
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Trump wants to cut the safety net. It kept 47 million people out of poverty
What if the only Democrat who isn't too radical to win is too old?
Perhaps the reason neoliberals argue for Biden on electability grounds
is that they recognize their positive program has no real appeal beyond
the wealthy liberal donor class. At least with Biden, you get a cipher
who signifies no big changes without even trying to explain why.
Watch Liz Cheney and Rand Paul fight over who Trump loves more:
As befitting his very large ego and power and very tiny brain, Donald
Trump is constantly surrounded by people trying to manipulate him. . . .
On most issues, Trump does not know what to think, so he gravitates
toward whatever position is expressed more sycophantically. The
"debates" within the party therefore play out in the form of competitive
groveling for his favor. . . . The secret here is that Paul and Cheney,
while anchoring opposite sides of an intellectual debate within their
party, both consider Trump a moron, but each thinks he or she can gain
influence with him and his supporters by presenting the other one as
John Bolton era ends with no casualties except Bolton's dignity:
Talk about lowering the bar: "The fact we made it through Bolton's
17-month-long tenure without killing tens of millions of people
counts as a major win." More on Bolton:
How Trump learned to make 9/11 a racket. Related: Zak Cheney-Rice:
The uses of 9/11.
Trump has figured out how to corrupt the entire government. Given
what he had to start with, it couldn't have been that hard. Trump's
contribution was his venality and utter shamelessness, along with his
implicit guarantee that none of his minions would bear any risk for
doing business. (Note that Tom Price, Scott Pruit, and Ryan Zinke
managed to lose their jobs anyway. But nobody's holding their breath
waiting for Bill Barr to prosecute them.)
None of these stories by itself has the singular drama of a Teapot
Dome or a Watergate. Indeed, the mere fact that there is so much
corruption prevents any single episode from capturing the imagination
of the media and the public. But it is the totality of dynamic that
matters. A corrupt miasma has slowly enveloped Washington. For
generations, both parties generally upheld an assumption that the
government would abide rules and norms dividing its proper functioning
from the president's personal and political interests.
The norm of bureaucratic professionalism and fairness is a pillar
of the political legitimacy and economic strength of the American system,
the thing that separates countries like the U.S. from countries like
Russia. The decay of that culture is difficult to quantify, but the
signs are everywhere. Trump's stench is slowly seeping into every
corner of government.
Wilbur Ross's threat to fire NOAA officials over a tweet turns Sharpiegate
into a real scandal.
Manny Fernandez/Miriam Jordan/Zolan Kanno-Youngs/Caitlin Dickinson:
'People actively hate us': Inside the Border Patrol's morale crisis.
The moral logic of humanitarian intervention: A writer I never expect
much from takes on a subject I'm not interested in (Samantha Power), least
of all by him. Still, this raises real questions, like what gives her the
right to decide who to "protect"? And how "humanitarian" is it really to
intervene with anything from Seal Team 6 to full infantry divisions? And
once you've done it so badly, what makes you think the next time will be
any different? As Filkins notes, "during her years in the White House, it
became clear that benevolent motives can have calamitous results."
What went down in the Third Democratic Debate: The "live blog"
transcript, followed by
Who won the Third Democratic Debate?. More links:
Lisa Friedman/Coral Davenport:
Trump administration rolls back clean water protections.
President Trump wages war on government and expertise, and our institutions
Did Brett Kavanaugh perjure himself during his confirmation hearing?
"New allegations are raising questions about whether he met the very
high bar for perjury." Not the only Kavanaugh piece this week:
Saudi oil attack prompts more incoherence from Trump administration.
The best case for and against a fracking ban.
Israel and the decline of the liberal order.
The forces that are killing the American dream: Review of Nicholas
Lemann's Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of
the American Dream. For another review, see Robert Christgau:
To bust you shall return.
The Republican Party is (probably) not doomed. Refers to, and argues
with, Stanley B Greenberg:
The Republican Party is doomed, which starts:
The 2020 election will be transformative like few in our history. It will
end with the death of the Republican Party as we know it, leaving the
survivors to begin the struggle to renew the party of Lincoln and make
it relevant for our times. It will liberate the Democratic Party from
the country's suffocating polarization and allow it to use government
to address the vast array of problems facing the nation.
It's possible the GOP is on the cusp of maxing out its appeal with
rural voters and its capacity to bend election law to its own ends.
But any persuasive case for the party's imminent demise must explain
why the party's structural advantages will fail it. Establishing that
Republicans have alienated a majority of Americans is insufficient.
If this country were governed by popular sovereignty, the GOP would
already be dead.
Greenberg expands on his argument his new book: R.I.P. G.O.P.:
How the New America Is Dooming the Republicans. Also on Greenberg:
Dare we dream of the end of the GOP? Goldberg, by the way, also
Mazel tov, Trump. You've revived the Jewish left.
Jonathan Franzen's climate pessimism is justified. His fatalism is not.
I cited Franzen's article,
What if we stopped pretending, favorably last week, so I was surprised
to find the article widely attacked from the "left" -- I've lost track of
the tweets (Roxanne Gay is the one name I recall), but this riposte by
Jeet Heer seems typical:
Jonathan Franzen pens another environmental disaster story ("the famed
novelist is resigned to a global ecological catastrophe because his
imagination can't move beyond the status quo"). I'm generally dismissive
of complaints about "leftist thought police," but that pegs Heer pretty
well.has little more
to offer. Levitz is only marginally more sensible, conceding the facts
if not the attitude. Other articles (mostly against) Franzen:
Biden camp thinks the media just doesn't get it: "The vice president's
allies say neither detractors in the media, nor his rivals on the stump,
understand the root of his appeal."
The Supreme Court has delivered a devastating blow to the US asylum
US has spent six trillion dollars on wars that killed half a million
people since 9/11, report says: George Bush effectively responded
to Osama Bin Laden's 9/11 taunt with: "You think that's terror. I'll
show you terror." Bush and the political class brought America down
to Al Qaeda's level within weeks, and kept digging for 18 years and
counting. While Bush is gone, the politicians and pundits who backed
and blessed him have continued his path of destruction.
Anya van Wagtendonk:
Congress has only three weeks to avert another government shutdown.
Tweeted this along the way:
Bush effectively responded to Bin Laden's 9/11 taunt with: "You think
that's terror. I'll show you terror." Bush and the political class
brought America down to Al Qaeda's level within weeks, and kept digging,
18+ years: [Link:
U.S. has spent $6 trillion on wars that killed 500,000 people since
Monday, September 09, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32047  rated (+27), 229  unrated (+2).
I've had a couple weeks of nagging technology problems. Got up and
found both computers dead, resembling an overnight power shutdown but
no indications of that anywhere else in the house. Both are on UPS's.
One definitely has a bad battery, so turns out to be very interruptible.
The other (my main computer) remains a mystery, and repeated a few days
later, but second time was easier to power cycle. No data loss, but a
bit unnerving. Main computer developed a speaker glitch after that,
introducing a lot of static into music I was streaming. Haven't figured
that out either, but switched to secondary computer for streaming (but
speakers are inferior). It's old and I'm finding it extremely slow. The
thing that bothers me most is how slow it is to wake up: closer to a
minute than the 2-3 seconds of the main computer. Monitor has something
to do with that, but slow as it is, it still displays connect status
5-10 seconds before getting a screen image. Tempts me to build a new
one, especially as some newer and faster technology has become
Synology backup server appears to be working, although I've only
set up two machines to backup so far, and I haven't checked them for
updates carefully. More things I need to learn about it. One source
of frustration is that I'm using an appliance router/firewall that I
don't totally understand. In particular, I have it providing DHCP
addresses, but it doesn't seem to provide DNS, so my computers have
no way (other than fixed /etc/hosts addresses, not necessarily right
with DHCP) to find my other computers. Looking at the router manual
now, and don't see anything about DNS (although it does have stuff
on DHCP and DDNS).
Most disconcerting glitch of the week was not being able to log
into my dedicated server last night to post my
Weekend Roundup. I've been informed that CPanel (the web server
management gui interface software) has been bought up by the same
vulture capitalists who own Plesk (their competitor). CPanel's
management is celebrating their newfound monopoly by raising their
prices, and enforcing this by requiring new licenses, breaking my
server. Took several hours to get the hosting company to fix it,
and will cost me more bucks in the future (CPanel is already almost
a third of my monthly charge). Things like this make me wonder if
the server's worth the cost and trouble -- or perhaps remind me
that it isn't.
Lots of other things made life difficult. I could begin to enumerate
them, but may not come out the other end. Some of the just boil down
to being old and decrepit, which no one wants to hear about. Much pain
the day I tried to cook dinner for friends, ending with two planned
dishes abandoned, my kitchen stool crashed to the ground, and the front
door handle falling off. On the other hand, the dishes I did manage to
finish were magnificent:
duck à l'orange; a
salad with grilled asparagus, zucchini, and bread cheese, over arugula
with roasted tomatoes and basil pesto; a
sweet potato gratin, and spiced carrots;
with triple chocolate mousse cake for dessert (Laura has a pic on Instagram,
but I can't find it).
Some of these things cut into my listening time, which was pretty
scattered anyway. Two records I had held back from last week managed
to slip over the A- cusp. After making a dent in my new jazz queue,
I got stuck on Avram Fefer's Testament, which I've played at
least five times without writing up a grade. Release date isn't until
November 8, so I'm tempted to put it aside until then. At some point
I started looking for country music, and was struck at how the first
four albums I sampled -- Tanya Tucker, Molly Tuttle, Dee White, Matt
Carson -- wound up at the same B+(**) with different virtues and flaws.
Four more records were easier to spread out (Mercury Rev, Highwomen,
Weldon Henson). Checked out a couple of old Bobbie Gentry albums
after listening to Mercury Rev, and was surprised to find that the
"classic" was a much bigger mess than the revival.
Thought I'd work on a Book Roundup mid-week, then got confused by
some sloppy bookkeeping. I managed to clean that up, and will try to
have a post ready mid-week (but the way things are going, could be
months). I'm slowly trudging my way through Tim
Alberta's American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican
Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, which is a useful map
of the various schisms on the Republican side since 2008, although
it falls short of exploring the deeper roots of their cravenness and
corruption. That's kept me from reading a couple of promising books
I picked up at the library: Joseph Stiglitz's People, Power, and
Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent, and
Astra Taylor's Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When
Also got a third book at the library, which I'm definitely not going
to read but should at least crib some notes from: Mining the Social
Web: Data Mining Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Github, and
More (3rd edition). The one thing I want to do with it is to copy
down a list of on-line resources, especially the APIs. On the other
hand, I'm not finding many things I want to do in the examples. Maybe
I should build a tech resources link page, if only for my own use. (I
had several long ago, didn't update it, and finally disconnected them
to stop getting mail from wannabe adds.)
New records reviewed this week:
- Matt Carson: No Regrets (2019, Bunba): [r]: B+(**)
- James Carter Organ Trio: Live From Newport Jazz (2018 , Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Avishai Cohen/Yonathan Avishai: Playing the Room (2018 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Marco Colonna/Agustí Fernandez/Zlatko Kaucic: Agrakal (2017 , Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
- Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019, Polydor/Interscope): [r]: A-
- Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Between Two Worlds (2019, Ridgeway): [cd]: B+(*)
- Eliane Elias: Love Stories (2019, Concord): [r]: B+(*)
- Frode Gjerstad/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Matthew Shipp: Season of Sadness (2018 , Iluso): [bc]: B
- Weldon Henson: Texas Made Honky Tonk (2018 , Hillbilly Renegade): [os]: A-
- The Highwomen: The Highwomen (2019, Elektra): [r]: B
- Florian Hoefner Trio: First Spring (2018 , ALMA): [cd]: B+(***)
- Urs Leimgruber/Jacques Demierre/Barre Phillips/Thomas Lehn: Willisau (2017 , Jazzwerkstatt): [r]: B
- Mercury Rev: Bobbie Gentry's the Delta Sweete Revisited (2019, Partisan): [r]: B
- Ian Noe: Between the Country (2019, National Treasury): [r]: B+(***)
- Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (2019, Drag City): [r]: B+(**)
- Michele Rabbia/Gianluca Petrella/Eivind Aarset: Lost River (2018 , ECM): [r]: B
- Rapsody: Eve (2019, Roc Nation): [r]: B+(***)
- Enrico Rava/Joe Lovano: Roma (2018 , ECM): [r]: B+(*)
- Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (2019, Columbia): [r]: A-
- Leo Sherman: Tonewheel (2019, Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Tanya Tucker: While I'm Livin' (2019, Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
- Molly Tuttle: When You're Ready (2019, Compass): [bc]: B+(**)
- Dee White: Southern Gentleman (2018, Easy Eye Sound/Warner Music Nashville): [r]: B+(**)
- Young Thug: So Much Fun (2019, 300/Atlantic/YSL): [r]: B+(***)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- The Vaughn Nark Quintet: Back in the Day (1982-83 , Summit): [cd]: B
- Bobby Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe (1967, Capitol): [r]: B
- Bobby Gentry: The Delta Sweete (1968, Capitol): [r]: C+
- Weldon Henson: One Heart's Gone (2011, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
- Weldon Henson: Weldon Henson's Honky Tonk Frontier (2015, Hillbilly Renegade): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Franco Ambrosetti Quintet: Long Waves (Unit)
- AP6C [Alberto Pinton Sestetto Contemporaneo]: Layers (Clear Now)
- Terrence Brewer & Pamela Rose: Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Strong Brew Music)
- Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Efflorescence: Volume 1 (Leo, 4CD)
- Noah Preminger Group: Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (self-released): October 4
Sunday, September 08, 2019
Hurricane Dorian, which last weekend was still wreaking
unimaginable damage in the Bahamas while trudging slowly toward the
Florida coast (or, for one poor soul with a rigidly linear flat-Earth
imagination, Alabama), and a week later still exists, albeit downgraded
to to post-tropical cyclone status, as it threads the strait between
Newfoundland and Labrador, expected some time Monday to pass off the
south coast of Greenland. The eye never crossed land on the east coast
of the US, but came close enough to produce hurricane-force winds,
storm surges, and scattered tornadoes from Florida to North Carolina.
When it finally made landfall in Nova Scotia, it was still producing
Category 2 winds, and Category 1 as far north as Newfoundland. It is
officially tied with a 1935 "Labor Day" hurricane as the strongest
ever recorded in the Atlantic.
Since Dorian formed in the tropical Atlantic on
August 23, three more named storms have come and gone: Erin, which
formed over the Bahamas ahead of Dorian, proceeded northeast to Florida
then out into the Atlantic, eventually producing heavy rains in Nova
Scotia and New Brunswick; Fernand, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico
and landed in Mexico; and Gabrielle, which formed in the mid-Atlantic
and is now headed toward Ireland and Scotland. The Atlantic hurricane
season continues to November 30, with Humberto the next name.
The Atlantic put a paywall on their website this week, limiting
readers to 5 "free" articles per month, so I probably won't bother
with them any more. They've moved to the right over the past year
(although not especially toward Trump -- David Frum and Conor
Friedersdorf are regulars), which cuts down on their utility. My
wife subscribes to a bunch of things, and I take advantage of that,
but haven't added to her list myself. Back when we bought a lot of
magazines, I recall liking
Harper's more than Atlantic (at
least when Lewis Lapham was editor), but I haven't read them in ages.
Looks like they offer a better subscription deal than Atlantic.
My own website remains free in every sense of the word (including
free of advertising and pitches for money), so I feel entitled to my
high horse. Of course, I realize the need publications have to raise
money to continue operations, and I understand that it's generally
good for writers to get paid, especially for serious work. But I
also recognize that few people have the wherewithal (much less the
interest) to read everything of likely interest. In this world,
paywalls help balkanize public discourse, helping to herd us into
isolated, self-selected hives. This isn't a good system. Nor is
advertising a good answer. Nor do we have the political will to
support a development system that would make public goods (like,
but not limited to, news) universally accessible. But that's the
sort of solution we should be thinking about.
Some scattered links this week:
The Trump administration's sustained attack on the rights of immigrant
Dorian one of the strongest, longest-lasting hurricanes on record in
the Atlantic. Related: Bob Berwyn:
Why are hurricanes like Dorian stalling, and is global warming involved?
The secret files of the master of modern Republican gerrymandering:
Thomas Hofeller, who died in August 2018. Daley wrote Ratf**ked: The
True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy
The Electoral College was terrible from the start: "It's doubtful
even Alexander Hamilton believed what he was selling in "Federalist
The lost promise of Reconstruction: "Can we reanimate the dream of
freedom That Congress tried to enact in the wake of the Civil War?"
Foner has written much about the Civil War and Reconstruction over the
years. He has a new book: The Second Founding: How the Civil War
and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution.
What if we stopped pretending: "The climate apocalypse is coming.
To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can't prevent it." I've
been thinking along these lines for a long time now (despite being
on the slow side in picking up on global warming). As an engineer,
I've always understood that it's a lot cheaper to prevent problems
than to have to fix them later, but I've also seen so much breakage
that I've had to put even more thought into repair, not least in
planning for future repairs. So while I've been reading about how
important it is to cut back greenhouse gas emissions, it's long
been clear to me that we need a parallel effort to cope with the
disasters we can't manage to prevent. One thing I had to give
Clinton credit for was elevating FEMA to cabinet level and making
sure it was well-managed and effective -- gains Bush's cronyism
reversed, most visibly with Katrina, a combination of ineptness
and corruption that Trump has only added to. There is much to be
said for competent, responsive government, even if it's not
competent enough to prevent problems from arising in the first
All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was
winnable. Once you accept that we've lost it, other kinds of action
take on greater meaning. Preparing for fires and floods and refugees
is a directly pertinent example. But the impending catastrophe
heightens the urgency of almost any world-improving action. In
times of increasing chaos, people seek protection in tribalism
and armed force, rather than in the rule of law, and our best
defense against this kind of dystopia is to maintain functioning
democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities.
In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society
can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair
elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality
is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media
is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating
for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their
enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the
country of assault weapons -- these are all meaningful climate actions.
To survive rising temperatures, every system, whether of the natural
world or of the human world, will need to be as strong and healthy as
we can make it.
Other links at the bottom of the article: a 2015 piece by Franzen:
Climate change vs. conservation (original title: "Carbon Capture");
also Rachel Riederer:
The other kind of climate denialism. In December, 2018, she also wrote:
The not-so-uplifting year in the animal kingdom.
Why Steve King's supporters are staying loyal: "The Iowa Republican's
racist comments have made him a pariah among Democrats and Republicans
alike. Buth is voters may be more devoted to him than ever."
Julie Hirschfeld Davis/Michael D Shear:
Trump Administration considers a drastic cut in refugees allowed to
A summer of unprecedented brutality in Moscow. I don't doubt that
the repression has been severe, but "unprecedented"?
Trump campaign manager sees President's family as political 'dynasty'.
Alaska's sea ice completely melted for first time in recorded history.
The week in Brexit drama, explained. Related: Mark Landler:
Boris Johnson finds his party loyalists aren't as loyal as Trump's.
Eric Lipton/Annie Karni:
Checking in at Trump Hotels, for kinship (and maybe some sway): "To
ethics lawyers, the most extraordinary aspect of the daily merging of
President Trump's official duties and his commercial interests is that
it has now become almost routine."
Michael Mann/Andrew E Dessler:
Global heating made Hurricane Dorian bigger, wetter -- and more deadly.
"Unions for all": the new plan to save the American labor movement.
Sticks and stones break bones, but words hurt McConnell's feelings.
Follow-up to Milbank's
Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset. I don't doubt that he's someone's
asset, but I doubt you'd have to look as far as Moscow. More on
Pompeo says US 'delivered' on mission in Afghanistan. As the tweet
that directed me to this exclaimed: "Unbelievably good news! We won!
Who knew?" For more on Pompeo, see: Richard Silverstein:
Pompeo: Israel's errand boy.
Charles P Pierce:
William Rivers Pitt:
Donald Trump is a category 5 liar.
Almost everything bad that Trump did this summer. Subhed says "Here's
what you missed," as opposed to what she missed -- that "almost" covers a
lot of ground. Related: Philip Rucker/Ashley Parker:
Trump's lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence
A beginner's guide to the debate over nuclear power and climate change.
When is America going to end its shadow war on Somalia?
The problem of medical det, and the wonky fight behind Bernie Sanders's
plan to eliminate it, explained.
Lawmakers must empower unions to combat growing inequality in US.
The incredibly absurd Trump/CNN SharpieGate feud, explained. This
may be the ultimate preaching-to-the-choir story, a fairly minor gaffe
which developed legs only because Trump tripled down, reinforcing the
easiest of all Trump critiques: that he's a moron. Other Sharpiegate
Trump's plan to host the G-7 revives the issue of emoluments.
The Supreme Court has become just another arm of the GOP.
The White Power movement from Reagan to Trump: Interview with Kathleen
Belew, who "explains the links among 'lone wolf' white supremacist attacks
like those in Charleston, Christchurch, and El Paso."
Robert Mugabe died too late: "Mugabe died yesterday in Singapore
at the age of 95, far from the country he first liberated from
white-minority rule, then laid waste to over a 37-year rule that
began brutally and ended in pathetic squalor." Related: Steven Gruzd:
Robert Mugabe's journey from freedom fighter to oppressor.
Elizabeth Warren blasts the plastic straw debate as a fossil fuel industry
Tuesday, September 03, 2019
When I published my last
back on June 1, I speculated that I would have another one "ready in a
few weeks." I used to average 4-5 of these per year, and at one point
collected enough material for 4 within a couple of weeks. But I only
one in 2018,
so I had quite a bit of catching up to do. My first effort in 2019 came
had a lot of leftovers then, but didn't get around to publishing them
until June, and forgot to file them in my
archive, so I got confused
last night, and started to edit June's post as new.
Other recent books also noted without comment:
Gretchen Bakke: The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans
and Our Energy Future (paperback, 2017, Bloomsbury USA).
David W Blight: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
(2018, Simon & Schuster).
Ian Bremmer: Us vs Them: The Failure of Globalism
Steve Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New
History of a Lost World (2018, William Morrow).
Steve Deace: Truth Bombs: Confronting the Lies Conservatives
Believe (to Our Own Demise) (2019, Post Hill Press).
John Duffy/Ray Nowosielski: The Watchdogs Didn't Bark: The
CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror (2018, Hot Books).
Ryan D Enos: The Space Between Us: Social Geography and
Politics (2017; paperback, 2019, Cambridge University Press).
Brooke Gladstone: The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone
on the Media (2011; paperback, 2012, WW Norton).
Michael Hudson: . . . And Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending,
Foreclosure and Redemption From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee
Year (paperback, 2018, Islet).
Chris Hughes: Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We
Earn (2018, St Martin's Press).
Michael Ignatieff: The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a
Divided World (2017; paperback, 2019, Harvard University
Alan Jacobs: How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at
Odds (2017, Currency).
Robert Jervis/Francis J Gavin/Joshua Rovner/Diane Labrosse, eds:
Chaos in the Liberal Order: The Trump Presidency and International
Politics in the Twenty-First Century (paperback, 2018, Columbia
Eric Kaufmann: White Shift: Populism, Immigration, and the
Future of White Majorities (2019, Henry N Abrams).
James Mahaffey: Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten
N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder: A Journey Into the Wild World of Nuclear
Science (2017, Pegasus Books).
Samuel Moyn: Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World
(2018, Belknap Press).
Jennifer Palmieri: Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to
the Women Who Will Run the World (2018, Grand Central).
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen: The Ideas That Made America: A
Brief History (2019, Oxford University Press).
Ruth Reichl: Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir (2019,
David Selbourne: The Free Society in Crisis: A History of Our
Times (2019, Prometheus Books).
Jeanne Theoharis: A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The
Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History (2018; paperback, 2019,
Monday, September 02, 2019
Expanded blog post,
Music: current count 32020  rated (+36), 227  unrated (-9).
Rated count topped 32,000 this week. I'd count that as a milestone,
if not exactly news, as the accumulation has been as steady as time
since I posted my first rated count of 8,080 in January 2003. That
was about the time I started writing
Recycled Goods plus the occasional
Village Voice review, leading up to
Jazz Consumer Guide, and a bit of
Seattle Weekly, and
F5. Those outlets opened up a stream
of promo copies that continues (somewhat abated, often just a trickle)
to this day. But as the mail thinned out, I resorted increasingly to
streaming to make up the difference and expand my horizons. Since
2003, I've averaged a bit less than 30 per week (28.75), a bit less
than 1,500 per year (1495). If I made a chart of that, I imagine it
would show an upward slant from 2003-11 (when Jazz CG ended, then a
plateau, tailing off a bit the last couple years).
Before 2003, that 8,080 came from close to 30 years of record
buying (with a few promos in the late-1970s). That averages out
to about 5 records per week, 270 per year, but a graph wouldn't
be flat: you'd find an initial bulge peaking around 1977-78, a
long trough, and a marked increase from 1995 on. I listened to
music in my teens, but never bought much until I got my first
steady job around 1973. My
early music writings start in 1974,
including a few reviews for the Village Voice in 1975-79. I gave
them up around 1980, when I landed an engineering job and moved
to New Jersey. I cut way back on my record buying there, and it's
possible that some years I bought less than 100, maybe as few as
50. I moved to Boston in 1985, and found myself spending more time
in record stores. I started buying CDs relatively late, and my
pace picked up around 1995 when I got into a big jazz/roots kick.
That continued when I returned to Kansas in 1999, as I built up
the level of expertise that allowed me to write Recycled Goods and
Jazz Consumer Guide.
But what really got me back into writing, aside from losing my
software engineering job and finding few suitable opportunities, was
encouragement from Michael Tatum, Bob Christgau, and (decisively)
Laura Tillem. Still, I never planned on making music my central (let
alone exclusive) writing focus, and I've sometimes wondered whether
it hasn't just been a zero-sum game. I could have spent the last 20
years writing free software (as I had started in the 1990s with
Ftwalk. I put a fair
amount of effort into an
open source business plan for home
automation, and could have returned to that, or developed any
number of tangential ideas. I also had a scheme for writer-oriented
websites, of which
Robert Christgau's was
intended as a prototype. (One more I built was for
Carol Cooper.) Several things
distracted me from those paths (although I still maintain those two
The other path I considered was writing political philosophy, which
had been my main interest before getting sidetracked into music critique
in the mid-1970s. I had soured on politics by 1975, and as I turned away
from music around 1980 I wound up reading mostly science (making up for
turning away from my early interest), engineering, and business. Laura
reminded me that I still knew quite a bit about politics and history,
and I toyed with the idea of writing a political book in the late 1990s.
September 11, 2001 got me to reading history, politics, and economics
again. (You can peruse my reading list -- the data file for my "Recent
Reading" blog widget, newly formatted --
here.) I wound up writing
several tons of political commentary -- not quite what I envisioned,
but scattered with a fair number of serious ideas (some much more
distinctive than the grunt work I've cranked out on music).
Seems like I've always been a notoriously slow reader and a poky,
easily distracted writer, so for a good while I just took some comfort
in getting any writing done at all. The
on-line notebook has about 6.5 million
words since 2000, and I've compiled much of that into nine ODT files
averaging 1500 pages each (4 on music, 4 on politics, 1 personal).
I can't claim they're very good, but when I dip into them I often
find things worth remembering and even repeating. Still, these days
I'm more likely to think of them as opportunity costs: if only I
had focused on one thing or the other, maybe I'd have something much
better to show for all the effort. Rating (and more/less reviewing)
32,000 records has been a pretty ridiculous thing to do -- as proven
by the fact that no one else has been so foolish to do something that
required nothing more than a lot of disposable hours. The only thing
that would have been a bigger waste of time was not bothering to take
As I wrote the above, I listened to three more albums, including
a rather nice one by Florian Hoefner that is certain to remain below
damn near everyone's interest threshold. I have little more to add
on the records listed below. One thing is that there's only one
non-jazz album among the new releases (but three in the recent
compilations). Partly, I played quite a few new albums from the
promo queue. I also added the 4.5/5.0 star reviewed records from
The Free Jazz Collective
2019 metacritic file,
and that pointed me to more new jazz (including several 2018 releases
I had missed). But partly it was just one of those weeks when I felt
much more certain about the jazz I heard than the non-jazz. The
non-jazz exceptions this week came from
Phil Overeem's latest list update (ok, Two Niles was on his
2018 list, but I found it on the Bandcamp page for Star Band De Dakar).
I listened to two other non-jazz records from this list, but couldn't
make up my mind and held them back: Lana Del Rey's Norman Fucking
Rockwell (number 5) and Raphael Saadiq's Jimmy Lee (18).
I'm attracted to and resistant to both, which means they'll probably
wind up high B+, but I'm not certain enough to say. Thanks to working
on the metacritic file, I'm probably more aware of new non-jazz right
now than any time this year, but less sure of my ears. On the other
hand, this is definitely a good year for jazz.
New records reviewed this week:
- Sophie Agnel/John Edwards/Steve Noble: Aqisseq (2016 , ONJazz): [r]: B+(**)
- The Kenyatta Beasley Septet: The Frank Foster Songbook (2019, Art Vs Transit, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
- Ray Blue: Work (2019, Jazzheads): [cd]: B+(**)
- Cat in a Bag: Cat in a Bag (2019, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
- Corey Christiansen: La Proxima (2019, Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
- Peter Eldridge/Kenny Werner: Somewhere (2019, Rosebud Music): [cd]: C-
- Haruna Fukazawa: Departure (2019, Summit): [cd]: B+(*)
- Olli Hirvonen: Displace (2019, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(**)
- I Jahbar and Friends: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash (2019, Bokeh Versions): [bc]: B-
- Michael Gregory Jackson Clarity Quartet: Whenufindituwillknow (2019, Golden): [bc]: B+(**)
- Roberto Magris Sextet: Sun Stone (2019, JMood): [cd]: B+(***)
- Todd Marcus: Trio+ (2019, Stricker Street): [cd]: B+(**)
- Joe McPhee/John Edwards/Klaus Kugel: Journey to Parazzar (2017 , Not Two): [r]: B+(***)
- Dave Miller Trio: Just Imagine (2019, Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
- Nérija: Blume (2019, Domino): [r]: B+(*)
- Bill O'Connell and the Afro Caribbean Ensemble: Wind Off the Hudson (2019, Savant): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Ogún Meji Duo: Spirits of the Egungun (2019, CFG Multimedia): [r]: A-
- Mike Pachelli: High Standards (2019, Fullblast): [cd]: B+(*)
- Jason Palmer: Rhyme and Reason (2018 , Giant Step Arts): [r]: B+(***)
- Jeff Parker/Jeb Bishop/Pandelis Karayorgis/Nate McBride/Devin Gray: The Diagonal Filter (2018, Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
- Pearring Sound: Nothing but Time (2018 , self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
- David Sanchez: Carib (2018 , Ropeadope): [r]: B+(***)
- Dana Saul: Ceiling (2018 , Endectomorph): [cd]: A-
- Rob Scheps: Comencio (2019, SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
- Harvey Sorgen/Joe Fonda/Marilyn Crispell: Dreamstruck (2018, Not Two): [r]: A-
- Lyn Stanley: London With a Twist: Live at Bernie's (2019, A.T. Music): [cd]: B+(**)
- The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet: Sweet Oranges (2017 -2018], Not Two): [r]: B+(*)
- Tucker Brothers: Two Parts (2019, self-released): [cd]: B
- Ken Vandermark/Klaus Kugel/Mark Tokar: No-Exit Corner (2016 , Not Two): [r]: B+(***)
- Luis Vicente/Vasco Trilla: A Brighter Side of Darkness (2018 , Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
- John Yao's Triceratops: How We Do (2018 , See Tao): [cd], B+(**)
- Jason Yeager: New Songs of Resistance (2018 , Outside In Music): [cd]: B+(*)
- Miguel Zenón: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (2019, Miel Music): [cd]: A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
- Prince: Originals (1981-91 , Rhino/Warner Bros.): [r]: B-
- Sounds of Liberation: Unreleased (Columbia University 1973) (1973 , Dogtown): [r]: B+(*)
- Star Band De Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana De Senegal (1960s-70s , Ostinato): [r]: B+(***)
- Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan (Ostinato): [bc]: A-
- Louis Moholo-Moholo: Duets With Marilyn Crispell: Sibanye (We Are One) (2007 , Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Keiji Haino/Merzbow/Balasz Pandi: Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer (RareNoise): advance, September 27
- Led Bib: It's Morning (RareNoise): advance, September 27
- Colin Stranahan/Glenn Zaleski/Rick Rosato: Live at Jazz Standard (Capri): September 20
Sunday, September 01, 2019
The lead story for most of next week will be
Hurricane Dorian, which as I write this (see
here) is a Category 5 Hurricane moving slowly through the
Bahamas toward the coast of Florida. It is expected to turn north and
follow the coast (possibly without the eye making landfall) up to North
Carolina, where it will most likely head back into the Atlantic. The
current tracking forecast puts it off the coast of Palm Beach around
2PM Tuesday, Jacksonville 2PM Wednesday, close to the SC/NC border 2PM
Thursday, and straight east of the NC/Va border 2PM Friday. Presumably
the storm will lose intensity as it drifts north, but not as quickly
as it would if it landed. Rain forecasts are relatively mild, but the
coast will see storm surges and a lot of wind.
Dorian was still a tropical storm when it passed over the Windward
Islands last Monday (55 mph winds in Barbados, 4.1 inches of rain in
Martinique). It wasn't much stronger when it crossed Puerto Rico, but
was predicted to intensify to Category 3 or 4 as it headed through
the Bahamas to Florida. It did more than that, reaching sustained
winds of 185 mph and gusts to 225 mph. The
2019 Atlantic hurricane season has been relatively mild so far,
even compared to the forecasts (12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, 2 major).
With the season about half over, there have been 5 named storms (TS
Erin was named after Dorian, but has already dissipated), 2 hurricanes,
1 major (Dorian). The season continues through the end of November,
so we're not much below expectations.
Some scattered links this week:
Anya van Wagtendonk: This week in mass shootings:
If you'd like to keep score, see Neil Vigdor:
53 people died in mass shootings in August alone in the US.
The rich can't get richer forever, can they?: "Inequality comes in
waves. The question is when this one will break." Reviews several books,
including Binyamin Applebaum's The Economist's Hour: False Prophets,
Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society (on Milton Friedman and
his "Chicago school" of free market fundamentalists) and Branko Milanovic's
Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World.
Do conservatives believe there are more bad people in America than
elsewhere? Well, sure they do. For starters, they believe there
are more conservatives in America than elsewhere.
The conservative pundit problem in the Age of Trump. Well, part
of the problem, as he limits himself to conservative pundits cultivated
to dialogue with centrist readers of the New York Times and Washington
Post (David Brooks, George Will, Bret Stephens), most of which recognize
that their brand as sane voices would be jeopardized by following Trump
into the fever swamps of the alt-right. That skips over other pundits
who've had no qualms about embracing Trump wholeheartedly (e.g., the
ones syndicated in my hometown paper: Marc Thiessen and Cal Thomas).
Here are 14 reasons I'll vote for any Democrat over Trump: He starts
off by chastising Michael Bloomberg (whom "I have the utmost respect for")
for stopping short if the Democratic nominee is Sanders or Warren, then
goes on to list his 14 issues. A couple items here I actually lean toward
Trump on, but nothing I would vote for him for. Boot and Bloomberg remain
narrow ideologues, their differences reflect that the Democratic Left is
more of a threat to oligarchs (like Bloomberg) than to neoconservatives
(like Boot). But also that Boot still thinks that the Republican Party
can be recover from Trump's heresies, corruption and bullshit, and must
to keep the empire from collapsing.
Quoctrung Bui/Karl Russell:
How much will the trade war cost you by the end of the year?
"About $460 over a year for the average family."
The problem with primarying Trump. I would have guess it has something
to do with money. Sixteen Republicans ran for president in 2016, because
that many billionaires felt they had a chance backing whoever best fit
their pocket. Regardless of how shaky Trump might look in the general
election, running against him is a waste of money: he's consolidated his
base within the Republican Party, and his brand and the Party's are now
effectively synonymous. The article reads more like the problem is that
the challengers are all idiots and cranks, which is the only sort you'd
figure to bet against the smart money.
Trump doesn't think he's 'ever even heard of a Category 5' hurricane.
Four such storms hit the US since he took office. "Trump has
previously indicated several other times that Category 5 hurricanes
are unprecedented weather events that either he or others had never
heard of or witnessed."
Gillibrand campaign insiders felt Franken resignation foiled her bid:
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand gave up on her presidential campaign
after failing to qualify for the September debates. This is one of the
few reports I've seen that tries to assign blame, probably because they
interviewed "Hillary Clinton's former communications director" --
obviously someone who knows a thing or two about deflecting blame
elsewhere. Gillibrand was the first Senator to call for Franken's
resignation, and I doubt she did so without considering how doing so
would reflect on campaign. I thought that was unfair and unwise, but
I wouldn't reject her for that. She's moved smartly to the left, and
I would have easily picked her over Harris and Klobuchar (or Franken,
even before the taint). But she's been a less effective advocate for
progressive issues than Sanders and Warren, and her special focus on
"women's issues" isn't very distinct. For more:
David Koch's most significant legacy is the election of Donald Trump.
Peter S Goodman:
Trump can battle China or expand the economy. He can't do both.
A top financier of Trump and McConnell is a driving force behind
Amazon deforestation: Stephen Schwarzman, of Blackstone, owner
"in large part" of Hidrovias do Brasil.
Jazz is a music of perseverance against racism and capitalism.
Horne has a book: Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy
of Music. Related (interview with Horne): Anton Woronczuk:
White supremacy tried to kill jazz. The music triumphed.
John Hudson/Josh Dawsey:
Bolton sidelined from Afghanistan policy as his standing with Trump
Bret Stephens, Donald Trump and the epidemic of male fragility.
Yes, Trump does terrible things constantly. Does that mean we shouldn't
cover Biden's gaffes? Refers to Peter Hamby's "rant":
"Are we really going to have a gaffe-fest over Joe Biden?": How clickbait
and outrage porn are hurting readers -- and elevating Trump. Well,
it's not as if Trump's gaffes have been underreported. One problem is
that his gaffes don't seem to have much downside for Trump. Reporting
them makes it look like he's being picked on by liberal media elites,
endearing him to his base. On the other hand, Biden's gaffes undermine
his central message, which is that he intends to restore competent and
responsible leadership to the presidency. So, yeah, reporting on them
hurts him, and is probably unfair. On the other hand, few in the media
are up to reporting on substantive issues. Gaffes are more their speed,
which winds up selecting for candidates who make lots of them (actually,
good for Biden) and who can slough them off (better for Trump).
If the Democrats take the Senate, they plan to fix Obamacare, not pass
Medicare for All. Sure. Some Democrats will balk at Medicare for All,
especially in the expansive formulation that Bernie Sanders has proposed,
but everyone agrees that the ACA framework can be tuned to work better,
so that's where the initial focus will (and should) be. On the other hand,
Democrats who want Medicare for All are likely to support better fixes
to ACA, because they understand that single-payer is the preferred longer
term solution, and because they're not the sort of people who will break
an inadequate system in hopes of replacing it with a better one. Would-be
saboteurs mostly belong to the other Party.
Boris Johnson just suspended Parliament over Brexit. Here's what's going
on. More on Brexit:
The Trumpiest week ever: "Donald Trump's re-election strategy couldn't
be clearer: chaos covering up cruelty."
Trial of high-powered lawyer Gregory Craig exposes seamy side of
The next recession will destroy millennials: "Millennials are already
in debt and without savings. After the next downturn, they will be in even
bigger trouble." Related (Dec. 6, 2018): Derek Thompson:
Millennials didn't kill the economy. The economy killed millennials.
"The American system has thrown them into debt, depressed their wages,
kept them from buying homes -- and then blamed them for everything."
Trump wants to cut taxes for rich people yet again: "Indexing capital
gains to inflation, as Trump is considering, would overwhelmingly benefit
the top 1 percent."
The inspector general report on James Comey's memos, explained.
Related: Josh Marshall:
Of course Comey was right to share the memos. Marshall, with his
instinct for big stories, also weighed in on a previously unknown White
House staffer getting fired:
Getting fired ain't the story. Not clear whether "Ms. Westerhout" has
a first name.
Many businesses oppose Trump's deregulatory agenda. Here's why.
The anatomy of the coming recession: posits three possible "negative
supply shocks that could trigger a global recession" -- two involving
Trump and China, the third oil. Roubini was pretty sharp on the coming
of the 2008 recession. Related: Robert J Shiller:
The Trump narrative and the next recession.
The fake feud between Trump and Fox. More on the "feud":
To rescue democracy, we must revive the reforms of the Progressive Era.
John Hickenlooper is the new Joe Lieberman: "What Lieberman was to
antiwar Democrats, Colorado's Hickenlooper is to environmentalists."
Related: Aida Chavez/Akela Lacy:
Senate Democrats' campaign arm is pressuring consultants not to work
with leading progressive candidate in Colorado. Chavez previously
National Democrats endorse John Hickenlooper, a proponent of fracking,
in competitive Colorado primary.
Trump will greenlight West Bank annexation to force Israeli pols to keep
Netanyahu as PM, observers say. Other pieces on Israel and the war
flare-ups that seem to be part of Netanyahu's reelection campaign:
Political commentary can be both caustic and incisive. Molly Ivins showed
America how. Interview with Janice Engel, director of the documentary
Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.
It's time to talk about James Mattis's involvement with the Theranos
scandal: "He's selling a book, not saving the country from Trump."
I've seen several articles on Mattis this week, mostly about him being
coy about what he will and will not say about his differences with
Trump, when and if he will say anything, but this is the one piece
that reflects directly on his character:
But Mattis isn't out babysitting Trump anymore. He's trying to sell books.
And while his thoughts and reflections on his time in the Trump cabinet
are certainly somewhat interesting at this point we hardly need another
person to tell us that the president is erratic, uninformed, impulsive
and all the rest. This stuff isn't highly guarded state secrets, it's
out in public on Twitter for everyone to see. Rather than dwelling on
this stuff that's out there and obvious, it would be nice for journalists
granted access to the retired general to ask some questions about Theranos.
Fundamentally, Trump's rise to power is part of a broader epidemic of
elite impunity in the United States. And Mattis's ability to dabble in
questionable activity, cash a few checks, and then skate away with his
reputation intact is very much part of the problem.
Donald Trump's escalating war of words with Fed Chair Jay Powell,
The most dangerous idea in central banking, explained. Someone named
William Dudley has suggested that the Fed sandbag the economy to hurt
Donald Trump's reelection prospects -- or, to put a finer point on it,
that the Fed shouldn't attempt to stimulate the economy when Trump's
trade wars drag it down. Article points out that some Fed chairs have
used their power over the economy to dictate political concessions --
e.g., Alan Greenspan vs. Bill Clinton. I'd add Ben Bernanke vs. Barack
Obama, but in that case Republicans were livid that the Fed was doing
anything at all to salvage the economy. According to law, the Fed is
responsible for balancing competing demands for full employment and
low inflation, but in practice the Fed has always kowtowed to the
banking interests it is supposed to regulate.
The past 3 wild days in Trump's trade war with China, explained.
Dropped this item after finding myself going down a rathole:
What should progressives be willing to sacrifice on the altar of civility?Eve Fairbanks:
The 'reasonable rebels', putting not undeserved emphasis on the links
between conservatives who defended slavery 150 years ago and conservatives
today. The point seems to be that treating others with civility implies
tacit deference and compromise. I don't see why that should be the case.
Within my fairly long life I've hardly ever felt the need to resort to
verbal (much less physical) violence when confronted with someone I've
disagreed with profoundly. I've long felt it important to try to respect
others -- although some people do manage to make that difficult, usually
when they show no respect to you.