April 2024 Notebook
Index
Latest

2024
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2023
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2022
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2021
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2020
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2019
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2018
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2017
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2016
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2015
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2014
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2013
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2012
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2011
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2010
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2009
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2008
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2007
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2006
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2005
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2004
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2003
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2002
  Dec
  Nov
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb
  Jan
2001
  Dec
  Oct
  Sep
  Aug
  Jul
  Jun
  May
  Apr
  Mar
  Feb

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Thinking About the Unthinkable

The Herman Kahn title popped to mind as soon as I started thinking about writing something on George Marshall's book, Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change. The two cases aren't really the same, but both focus on psychological obstacles -- both cognitive and moral -- that hamper our ability to rationally consider their subjects.

In 1962, Kahn wrote: "In our times, thermonuclear war may seem unthinkable, immoral, insane, hideous, or highly unlikely, but it is not impossible." One always suspected -- I've been aware of the book nearly that long, but never felt a personal need to read it -- that he wrote the book to trash the taboo and make it easier to use the weapons. He certainly helped to mainstream deterrence theory, which may have worked to limit use of nuclear weapons but otherwise seems more likely to provoke than to prevent war. But if I had read the book -- and I've read a fair amount on the subject, including all four Richard Rhodes books, a fair amount of military strategizing, and critics like Jonathan Schell -- I imagine that the details would only confirm my opposition.

Thinking about climate change may suffer from similar cognitive confusions, but several aspects are very different. Although nuclear weapons had the potential of affecting every person on Earth, very few people ever had to think about their construction, testing, or use, so few people ever had reason to think about them -- Kahn's book was addressed to just that technocratic and political elite, while more popular books, like Schell's The Fate of the Earth, were also ultimately aimed at that same tiny elite -- which in any case was never all that predisposed to using them.

One of the first things that happened after WWII was refashioning the old War Department as the new Department of Defense. Ultimately, its expansion made the US more belligerent, leading to near constant engagements all around the world, but planners like Kahn were never able to find necessary uses for nuclear weapons in the low-grade conflicts the military got mired in. Sensible people would have negotiated them out of existence, but as long as they were never used, there was little penalty just for wasting money on them.

The elements of climate change, on the other hand, have been in use every day, in every part of every country, for over a century, the rate steadily increasing over time. In theory, political forces could threaten to curtail them, but stopping them would take an extraordinary amount of effort, and would incur lots of wrath, whereas not using nuclear weapons takes no effort at all, and will never elicit the slightest complaint. I'm tempted to call this the default state difference. Both problems can result in disaster, but with one (nuclear war) all you have to do is not decide to do it, but with the other (climate change) you have to stop an ongoing process that is all but inevitable.

That's part of what Marshall means when he calls climate change a "wicked problem." There are other parts that are even more "wicked." Another is that the problem has to be controlled at the level of individual acts[1], but those acts are insignificant until massive numbers of them aggregate into something qualitatively different. I'm tempted to call this problem "alchemy" (the transmutation of an element into a different one), in part because the very word demonstrates how hard it is for us to believe. (The one version of this problem that we do have experience with has given its name to the branch of mathematics that deals with discontinuous functions: catastrophe theory. Most of us have experienced examples of this, like overloading a beam, or drinking too much.)

Then there are dislocations of place and time. In order for us to recognize causality, we usually require immediate feedback. But when the effect happens later, elsewhere, to someone else, it's hard to see one's own responsibility -- all the more so given that in America we put so much emphasis on individuals as the only ones responsible for their actions (although curiously enough, we often exempt or excuse corporations).

Marshall mentions these factors, but also dozens of others. His book is a veritable encyclopedia of reasons people find for paying little if any heed to the well-founded warnings of scientists. About a third of the way through, I got tired of the tedium and trite examples. After another third, I was ready to shelve my own most considered concerns. I did manage to persevere to the end, where I was rewarded with his brief summary of recommendations, and an even briefer reminder on what a disaster a particular climate change scenario (+4°C) will most likely bring (more than the +2°C scenario which we're roughly at now, but less than the +6°C that is spelled out in Mark Lynas: Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (2008, a book I bought back around then but only ever managed to thumb through).

But while Marshall's book is fresh on my mind, I thought I might take an assessment of what I know (or think I know) about climate change, including the various books I've read or, in a few cases like Lynas, bought and glanced through, or in some cases read bits of online. There are hundreds more noted in my Book Roundup archive. First, a list of books I've read on the subject, more or less in chronological order:

[punted here]

Notes:

  1. Sure, one can imagine a geoengineering scenario where the carbon dioxide generated by those acts could be sucked out of the air, thus neutralizing them, but no such scheme is currently practical, or likely to be for quite some time (if ever).

Monday, April 29, 2024

Music Week

April archive (finished).

Music: Current count 42200 [42126] rated (+74), 31 [30] unrated (+1).

Two weeks of listening here, although it seems like much longer, so much so that I can barely remember hearing the earliest entries, let alone why. I mean, where did all those Walter Davis albums come from? Probably Clifford Ocheltree, but didn't that start with Billy Boy Arnold? I think Ride came from a list of Pitchfork reviews -- that's certainly where I noticed Austin Peralta. Little things like that set me off on various tangents.

One thing that helped is that I finally sorted my demo queue by release date (as opposed to order received, with variations), so I could be reasonable sure I could just grab something and not worry about it not being released for 2-3 months. Still, new records came in almost as fast as old ones got played, so the unrated count barely moved. And it should be noted that several top-rated albums this week only got reviewed because I was sent CDs -- most obviously: Broder, Core, Four + Six, Schwartz, Shner.

Still, I've largely lost track of new releases that don't find me. And I'm nearly helpless when it comes to downloads (although I did manage to dig out a batch of Ivo Perelmans -- no idea whether I managed to catch up, but another one came in the mail today, so definitely not). I may have to break my 2024 resolution not to do tedious projects like the EOY list (which in some earlier iterations also tracked review grades or in some cases mere mentions). I've already let my tracking list spread out, but I haven't maintained it regularly enough for it to be very useful.

Last week's Music Week was the victim of an executive decision to first finish a Book Roundup post that I started several weeks earlier, but kept researching ever deeper on. Even so I didn't manage to notice a single one of the books Michael Tatum reviewed in his first Books Read (And Not Read) column. (Note to self: check out that New York Times list he cites. The fiction half is beyond my ken, but I have previously noted seven of the non-fiction fifty, with one more in the draft file.)

After Book Roundup, I had to finish a Speaking of Which, also started but held up. It's fair to say that we're living in what the Chinese would call "interesting times" -- so much so that nearly everywhere I turned I ran into pieces that seemed like noting (317 by the time I posted Sunday evening) and commenting on (15302 words). And even while I'm trying to knock this out by end-of-Monday, every break I take results in me adding more notes to Speaking of Which. (Look for red stripes on right border.)


I appear to have recovered from my big tech problem of the last few weeks: I haven't been able to send email, with all efforts producing a "AUP#CXSNDR" error, which is some kind of dirty look the system gives you without ever explaining why. I contacted Cox to find out why, and, well, I didn't. I did learn a bunch about their customer service department, exploring endless variations of five or six basic scripts for not helping you while eventually steering the conversation around to "it must be your fault" and "why don't you bug someone else about it?"

First, there's "Oliver," their chatbot, occasionally relieved by "live people," who seem to be playing a Turing game to see if you can discern whether their stupidity is artificial or organic. Then there's their phone service, which starts with a gauntlet of menu options and numbers you have to peck in, before you arrive at a "level one" person, who acknowledges your problem, thanks you profusely for being such a good customer, and ultimately passes you off to a "level two" person, who presumably will actually help you.

Mostly what "level two" people do is fill out tickets that get passed to supposedly more technical people who are firewalled from customer contact, presumably because their time is so precious, or because your time is deemed without value or utility. You are then advised that it takes them 72 hours to get to the ticket, and even then never on a weekend or after business hours. Eventually, they write one line in the ticket and close it, and someone (probably a "level two") calls you once and leaves you a garbled message in your voice mail. (Never once did we actually catch a callback.) When you call them back for more information, the number they leave is the original gauntlet number, and all they can wind up doing is reading you the one-liner, which they don't understand either, and open another ticket, where you have to repeat all the information again.

This took over two weeks, with frustration levels rising, especially when they got sidetracked on clearly irrelevant asides. (I could do four more paragraphs on them, but the details hardly matter. In the end, I recalled one garbled message, and gave it enough thought to devise a test. It was "your email is working, but there is a security problem with tomhull.com." The obvious, and still unaswered, question is what is that security problem? But the right question was what does my email have to do with "tomhull.com"?

The answer to that seems to be that I had included a link to my website in my email signature, which evidently they scanned and did something wholly improper with. The reason they might do something like that is because normally all of their customers look like Cox, but some of them may be bad actors, so Cox would like to give their customers other identities they can then discriminate against. So, once Cox decided to treat my email like it came from tomhull.com, they then consulted their various email blacklists, saw tomhull.com on one, and rejected it (with no explanation or evident recourse). As far as I know, there was no good reason for them to do so, but I'll probably never find out, because the people who decide these things are insulated from feedback, much like Cox is.

I tested this hypothesis by removing my signature line, and hitting send. It hung, I canceled, and hit send again, and then it worked. Losing the signature line is a small price to pay compared to dealing with what Scott Adams caricatured as "the preventers of information services." Now I have a month's backlog of email to go through and reply to as still seems relevant. If you were expecting to hear from me but didn't, try again.


Last Monday in April, so the monthly archive (link above) is done, but not yet indexed. I also still need to index the Book Roundup, among lots of unfinished business. Stil have house projects, and much more tidying up. Book writing is on hold, and I'm beginning to wonder if that will ever change. I've had to do little bits of programming lately, which remain fun although a bit nerve-racking. Weather is nice here, for a short while until the heat comes.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Nicki Adams/Michael Eaton: The Transcendental (2023 [2024], SteepleChase LookOut): [sp]: B+(**)
  • John Basile: Heatin' Up (2024, StringTime Jazz): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Owen Broder: Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. Two (2021 [2024], Outside In Music): [cd]: A-
  • Paul Brusger: A Soul Contract (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Caporaso Ensemble: Encounter (2023 [2024], Psychosomatic): [cd]: B+(*) [04-26]
  • The Castellows: A Little Goes a Long Way (2024, Warner Music Nashville, EP): [sp]: B+(**)
  • The Core: Roots (2022 [2024], Moserobie): [cd]: A-
  • Arnaud Dolmen/Leonardo Montana; LéNo (2023 [2024], Quai Son): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Dave Douglas: Gifts (2023 [2024], Greenleaf Music): [cd]: A-
  • Four + Six: Four + Six (2024, Jazz Hang): [cd]: A-
  • Eric Frazier: That Place Featuring "Return of the Panther Woman" (2024, EFP Productions): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Kenny Garrett & Svoy: Who Killed AI? (2024, Mack Avenue): [sp]: B+(**)
  • María Grand With Marta Sánchez: Anohin (2024, Biophilia): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Frank Gratkowski/Ensemble Modern: Mature Hybrid Talking (2022 [2024], Maria de Alvear World Edition): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Noah Haidu: Standards II (2023 [2024], Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Alexander Hawkins/Sofia Jernberg: Musho (2023 [2024], Intakt): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Ill Considered: Precipice (2024, New Soil): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Matt Lavelle/Claire Daly/Chris Forbes: Harmolodic Duke (2023, Unseen Rain): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Matt Lavelle: In Swing We Trust (2022, Unseen Rain): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Matt Lavelle: The House Keeper (2022 [2023], Unseen Rain): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Matt Lavelle & the 12 Houses: The Crop Circles Suite Part One (2022 [2024], Mahakala Music): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Andy Laverne: Spot On (2023 [2024], SteepleChase): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Shawn Maxwell: J Town Suite (2023 [2024], Cora Street) [05-01]
  • Ron McClure: Just Sayin' (2024, SteepleChase): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Ava Mendoza/Dave Sewelson: Of It but Not Is It (2021-22 [2024], Mahakala Music): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Cornelia Nilsson: Where Do You Go? (2022-23 [2024], Stunt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • The Michael O'Neill Sextet: Synergy: With Tony Lindsay (2021 [2024], Jazzmo): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Chuck Owen & Resurgence: Magic Light (2019-23 [2024], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Charlie Parr: Little Sun (2024, Smithsonian Folkways): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Ivo Perelman Quartet: Water Music (2022 [2024], RogueArt): [cdr]: A-
  • Ivo Perelman/Chad Fowler/Reggie Workman/Andrew Cyrille: Embracing the Unknown (2024, Mahakala Music): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Ivo Perelman/Barry Guy/Ramon Lopez: Interaction (2017 [2024], Ibeji Music): [dl]: A-
  • Ivo Perelman/Mark Helias/Tom Rainey: Truth Seeker (2022 [2024], Fundacja Sluchaj): [dl]: A-
  • Ivo Perelman/Tom Rainey: Duologues 1: Turning Point (2024, Ibeji Music): [dl]: B+(***)
  • Rich Perry: Progression (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): [sp]: B+(**)
  • PNY Quintet: Over the Wall (2022 [2024], RogueArt): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Dave Rempis/Pandelis Karayorgis/Jakob Heinemann/Bill Harris: Truss (2023 [2024], Aerophonic/Drift): [cd]: A- [04-23]
  • Ride: Interplay (2024, Wichita): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Angelica Sanchez/Chad Taylor: A Moster Is Just an Animal You Haven't Met Yet (2023 [2024], Intakt): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Marta Sanchez Trio: Perpetual Void (2023 [2024], Intakt): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Radam Schwartz: Saxophone Quartet Music (2023 [2024], Arabesque): [cd]: A- [05-01]
  • Shabaka: Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace (2022 [2024], Impulse!): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Idit Shner & Mhondoro: Ngatibatanei [Let Us Unite!] (2023 [2024], OA2): [cd]: A-
  • Sarah Shook & the Disarmers: Revelations (2024, Abeyance): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Skee Mask: ISS010 (2024, Ilian Tape): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Geoff Stradling & the StradBand: Nimble Digits (2023 [2024], Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Jordan VanHemert: Deep in the Soil (2023 [2024], Origin): [cd]: B+(**) [04-26]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon: In Perfect Harmony: The Lost Album (1972 [2024], Jazz Detective): [cd]: B+(**)
  • John Coltrane Quartet + Stan Getz + Oscar Peterson: Live/Dusseldorf March 28th, 1960 (1960 [2024], Lantower): [r]: B+(*)
  • Franco & O.K. Jazz: Franco Luambo Makiadi Presents Les Editions Populaires (1968-1970) (1968-70 [2024], Planet Ilunga): [bc]: A-
  • Gush: Afro Blue (1998 [2024], Trost): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Yusef Lateef: Atlantis Lullaby: The Concert From Avignon (1972 [2024], Elemental Music, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Merengue Típico, Nueva Generación! (1960s-70s [2024], Bongo Joe): [sp]: A-
  • Austin Peralta: Endless Planets [Deluxe Edition] (2011 [2024], Brainfeeder): [sp]: A-
  • Rail Band: Buffet Hotel De La Gare, Bamako (1973 [2024], Mississippi): [r]: A-
  • Sonic Youth: Walls Have Ears (1985 [2024], Goofin'): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Sun Ra: At the Showcase: Live in Chicago 1976-1977 (1976-77 [2024], Jazz Detective, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Art Tatum: Jewels in the Treasure Box: The 1953 Chicago Blue Note Jazz Club Recordings (1953 [2024], Resonance, 3CD): [cd]: A-
  • Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy: The Mighty Warriors: Live in Antwerp (1995 [2024], Elemental Music, 2CD): [cd]: A-

Old music:

  • Billy Boy Arnold/Jimmy McCracklin/Charlie Musselwhite/Christian Rannenberg With Keith Dunn/Henry Townsend with Ben Corritore: The Walter Davis Project (2013, Electro-Fi): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Walter Davis: Volume 1: 2 August 1933 to 28 July 1935 (1933-35 [1994], Document): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Walter Davis: Volume 2: 28 July 1935 to 5 May 1937 (1935-37 [1994], Document): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Walter Davis: Volume 3: 5 May 1937 to 17 June 1938 (1937-38 [1994], Document): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Walter Davis: Volume 4: 17 June 1938 to 21 July 1939 (1938-39 [1994], Document): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Walter Davis: Volume 5: 21 July 1939 to 12 July 1940 (1938-39 [1994], Document): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Walter Davis: Volume 6: 12 July 1940 to 12 February 1946 (1940-46 [1994], Document): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Walter Davis: Volume 7: 12 February 1946 to 27 July 1952 (1946-52 [1994], Document): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Walter Davis Trio: Illumination (1977, Denon Jazz): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Walter Davis Jr. Trio: Scorpio Rising (1989, SteepleChase): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerard: Who's That Knocking? (1965 [2022], Smithsonian/Folkways): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerard: Won't You Come and Sing for Me (1973 [2022], Smithsonian/Folkways): [sp]: A-
  • Radam Schwartz: Two Sides of the Organ Combo (2017 [2018], Arabesque): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Sonic Youth: Confusion Is Sex (1983, Neutral): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Sonic Youth: Kill Yr Idols (1983, Zensor, EP): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Sonic Youth: Bad Moon Rising (1985 [1986], Blast First): [sp]: B
  • Sonic Youth: Anagrama/Improvisation Adjoutée/Tremens/Mieux: De Corrosion (1997, SYR, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonic Youth: Slaapkamers Met Slagroom/Stil/Herinneringen (1997, SYR, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonic Youth: Live in Los Angeles 1998 (1998 [2019], Sonic Youth Archive): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Sonic Youth: The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities (1994-2003 [2006], DGC): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Karrin Allyson: A Kiss for Brazil (Origin) [05-17]
  • John Ambrosini: Songs for You (self-released) [06-01]
  • Roxana Amed: Becoming Human (Sony Music Latin) [05-02]
  • Isrea Butler: Congo Lament (Vegas) [06-01]
  • Caporaso Ensemble: Encounter (Psychosomatic) [04-15]
  • Carl Clements: A Different Light (Greydisc) [05-23]
  • Coco Chatru Quartet: Future (Trygger Music) [lp] [03-28]
  • Devouring the Guilt: Not to Want to Say (Kettle Hole) [06-08]
  • John Escreet: The Epicenter of Your Dreams (Blue Room Music) [06-07]
  • Ethel & Layale Chaker: Vigil (In a Circle) [05-17]
  • Layale Chaker & Sarafand: Radio Afloat (In a Circle) [05-17]
  • Galactic Tide Featuring Andy Timmons: The Haas Company Vol. 1 (Psychiatric) [06-01]
  • Phillip Golub: Abiding Memory (Endectomorph Music) [06-21]
  • Jake Hertzog: Longing to Meet You (self-released) [06-01]
  • The Bruce Lofgren Group: Earthly and Cosmic Tales (Night Bird) [06-01]
  • Bruno Råberg Tentet: Evolver (Orbis Music) [06-01]
  • Jason Robinson: Ancestral Numbers (Playscape) [05-14]
  • Marta Sanchez Trio: Perpetual Void (Intakt) [04-19]
  • Radam Schwartz: Saxophone Quartet Music (Arabesque) [05-01]
  • Luke Stewart Silt Trio: Unknown Rivers (Pi) [05-03]
  • Natsuki Tamura/Jim Black: NatJim (Libra) [05-17]
  • Amber Weekes: A Lady With a Song: Amber Weekes Celebrates Nancy Wilson (Amber Inn) [06-01]
  • Randy Weinstein: Harmonimonk (Random Chance) [05-15]
  • Christopher Zuar Orchestra: Exuberance (self-released) [05-11]

 

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

I started working on this around Wednesday, April 17, anticipating another long and arduous week. But I thought I'd be able to get in a Book Roundup before posting, so I numbered my draft files accordingly. When that didn't happen (which was like the second or third week in a row), I decided to hold back Speaking of Which and Music Week until I posted the Book Roundup. That turned out to be Thursday, April 25. This draft has picked up a few new pieces along the way, but I'm only getting back to it in earnest on April 26.

I thought then I might try to wrap it up in a day, but was soon overwhelmed by all the new material I had missed. So now it's slipped to Sunday, making this a two-week compilation, but at least putting me back on the usual schedule. Another thought I had on resuming was that I should write an introduction to summarize my main points. Probably too late to do anything like that this week, but over the last couple days, I've expanded on many of these pieces where the articles seemed to call for it. So I'll leave it to you to fish out the essential summaries.

I decided to push this out Sunday evening, even though I didn't quite manage to hit all the sources I wanted. Perhaps I'll catch some misses on Monday, while I'm working on the also delayed Music Week. They'll be flagged, as usual, like this paragraph. (Note that my initial counts are about double typical weeks, which makes this easily the longest Speaking of Which ever. So while I've been slow posting, I haven't been slacking off.)


A few noted tweets:

  • Tanisha Long: Nothing radicalizes a generation of debt burdened young people like sending 26 billion dollars to fund a genocidal terror state.
    [To which, The Debt Collective added]: Telling generations of young people that there isn't enough money for free college or free healthcare and then spending billions to commit the gravest assault on Gaza really does elicit a very particular type of rage.

  • Robert Wright: [Reacting to headline: Democrats Upbeat After Sudden Wins on Ukraine and Auto Worker] This is naive. The only way the Ukraine funding becomes a political asset for Biden is if there's a peace deal before November. Otherwise Trump has him right where he wants him: spending tax dollars on an endless war.

  • Tony Karon: [Commenting on a Jewish Voice for Peace tweet] Shkoyach! It's actually anti-Semitic to conflate Jews with Israel - all my adult life I've been an anti-Zionist Jew, because I want no part of an apartheid state whose existence is based on sustained racist violence on the people it displaced and subordinated.

    Some who've been raised to put a blue-and-white calf above Jewish values now dread Israel being recognized as a genocidal apartheid state. They're not unsafe, they're uncomfortable. But 10000s of Jews stand up for Palestinian freedom - because it's the Jewish thing to do.

    [Tweet links to their statement: We're fighting to stop a genocide. Slanders against our movements are a distraction.]

  • Nathan J Robinson: Joe Biden might want to read about what happened to one of his Democratic predecessors who also presided over a war unpopular with young people and had a party convention scheduled in Chicago.

  • Max Blumenthal: Genocide friendly gentile gov Greg Abbott swore allegiance to a foreign apartheid state
    UT students are under occupation
    [photo of Abbott in wheelchair with kippah prostrating himself to the temple wall is emblematic of America's political class; I still have to ask, why does this play so well to basically antisemitic Christian nationalists?]

  • Greg Sargent: Agree with this from @lionel_trolling: Trump's trial "cuts him down to size" and reveals him as "a common, banal criminal."
    FWIW, we did a pod episode with polling on how the trial makes Trump look "grubby" and "small" and why this wrecks his aura.

    In the criminal trial in Manhattan and the Supreme Court oral arguments, the two different sides of Donald Trump are fully on display. On the one hand, in Alvin Bragg's criminal trial, we have Trump-in-himself: he's a petty conman, a quasi-gangster, who lives in a world of pornstars and pay offs to tabloids. There he's an old man who is falling asleep in court. And maybe not because he's aging either: the Trump trial is actually kind of boring; it's quotidian sleaze that can't break through the news about Gaza and the student protests. People have criticized Bragg's decision to prosecute Trump, but it occurred to me that maybe there's a quiet brilliance in the move; it cuts Trump down to size and shows him to the world to be just what he is: a common, banal criminal. It even made me wonder at the wisdom of my insistence on Trump's fascistic qualilties. Does not that just add to his myth? Perhaps he is just kind of a nothing.

    There is no reason to think Trump's trial helps him outside his MAGA base.
    "He is not the alpha. He is falling asleep. HE is subjected to censure," says @anatosaurus. He looks "small" and his conempt for the law . . .

  • Ryan Grim: [commenting on an Ari Fleischer counterfactual that "If Students for Trump launched encampments at colleges . . . every student would be immediately arrested, discipline and the camps torn down"] If cops started beating up and arresting a bunch of college Trump supporters the left would probably chuckle at the irony but oppose the abuse and defend their basic rights. I certainly would do both, and that's ok.

Greg Magarian reports from Washington University, St. Louis:

If you've been wondering about the content of pro-Palestinian campus protests, I just got back from one. Things I did NOT hear or see: (1) Even the barest aspersion cast on Jewish people or any Jewish person. The only appearance of the word "Jew" or any variation thereon was as a self-identifier (e.g., "Jews Against Genocide"). (2) Even the barest deviation from peacefulness and good order. If you haven't been to a public protest, I can tell you that protest organizers know their work well. They're way too disciplined to indulge "rioting." (3) Anything that a reasonable person could construe as a call for violence against Israeli civilians. Resistance to occupation, Palestinian self-determination, anti-Zionism? Sure. Every human being has the right to speak up and out for their own aspirations. This movement is about equal Palestinian humanity -- no more, no less.

Magarian also posted this video and comment:

This is what my university did today. It was a peaceful protest. The university administration decided to respond with violence. Wash U's support for Israel has gotten much easier to understand: institutions that believe might makes right, that have no problem stomping on anyone who gets in their way, have to stick together.

Also see this post on St. Louis by Tinus Ritmeester (not sure how I got into the "with others" list, but thanks), which also includes a longer report from Megan-Ellyia Green.

Also, note this protest sign: "Over 200 zip-tied Palestinians found executed in a hospital & you are upset at our protest???"

A Howard Zinn quote is making the rounds again: "They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war."


Initial count: 317 links, 15,302 words. Updated count [05-01]: 328 links, 16,177 words.


Top story threads:

Israel:

Israel vs. Iran:

Israel vs. world opinion: First, let's break out stories on the rising tide of anti-genocide protests on American university campuses:

  • Spencer Ackerman: [04-25] Now the students are "terrorists": "Politicians and administrators are playing the 9/11 Era hits against students protesting a genocide -- and want to badly to kill them."

  • Michael Arria:

  • Narek Boyajian/Jadelyn Zhang: [04-25] We are occupying Emory University to demand immediate divestment from Israel and Cop City.

  • Nandika Chatterjee: [04-16] Republican Senator Tom Cotton urges followers to attack pro-Palestine protesters who block traffic.

  • Fabiola Cineas: [04-18] Why USC canceled its pro-Palestinian valedictorian: "As the school year winds down, colleges are still grappling with student speech."

  • Julian Epp: [04-16] Campus protests for Gaza are proliferating -- and so is the repression.

  • Henry Giroux: [04-26] Poisoning the American mind: Student protests in the age of the new McCarthyism.

  • Luke Goldstein: [04-26] Pro-Israel groups pushed for warrantless spying on protesters.

  • Chris Hedges: [04-25] Revolt in the universities: Also note: [04-25] Princeton U. police stop Chris Hedges' speech on Gaza.

  • Caitlin Johnstone: [04-26] Will quashing university protests and banning TikTok make kids love Israel?

  • Sarah Jones:

  • Ed Kilgore: [04-26] The GOP is making campus protests a 2024 law-and-order issue: At last they've finally found a law that they want to enforce. And they sure aren't afraid of looking like authoritarian thugs in doing so. That's the rep they want to own.

  • Branko Marcetic: [04-24] Why they're calling student protesters antisemites: "They want us talking about anything other than the genocide in Gaza."

  • James North: [04-20] The media is advancing a false narrative of 'rising antisemitism' on campus by ignoring Jewish protesters.

  • Nushrat Nur: [04-20] Long live the student resistance: "University administrators fail to understand that student activists have glimpsed a remarkable future in which Palestinian liberation is possible. The Gaza Solidarity Encampment at Columbia University is an inspiration to stay the course." Or maybe they do understand, and just don't want to see it happen?

  • Andrew O'Hehir: [04-28] Columbia crisis: Another massive failure of liberalism: "Columbia's president capitulated to the right-wing witch hunt -- and only made things worse."

    I intend to work my way back around to the instructive case of Columbia president Minouche Shafik, who apparently believed she could galaxy-brain her way around the protest crisis -- and avoid the fate of ousted Harvard president Claudine Gay, among others -- by capitulating in advance to the House Republicans' witch-trial caucus, taking a hard line against alleged or actual antisemitism, and finally calling the cops on her own students. Spoiler alert: None of that was a good idea, and she probably didn't save her job anyway.

    When he returns to Shafik, he nominates her "if you wanted to choose one individual as the face of 'neoliberalism' for an encyclopedia netry." But more important is this:

    First of all, it's more accurate to say that the media-consuming public is riveted by the contentious political drama surrounding those scenes of campus discord than by the protests themselves, which are a striking sign of the times but hardly a brand new phenomenon. . . . It's also worth noting that America's extraordinary narcissism -- another quality shared across the political spectrum -- creates a global distortion effect whereby the deaths of at least 34,000 people in a conflict on the other side of the world are transformed into a domestic political and cultural crisis. Nobody actually dies in this domestic crisis, but everyone feels injured: Public discourse is boiled down to idiotic clichés and identity politics is reduced to its dumbest possible self-caricature.

    I hate the both-sides-ism here: I don't doubt the shared narcissism and symbol-mongering, but "on the other side of the world" a nation with a long history of racial/ethnic discrimination and repression has advanced to the systematic destruction of a large segment of its people -- the applicable legal term here is "genocide" on a level with few historical analogues. So the dividing line -- opposing the practice of genocide, or supporting it mostly by trying to obscure the issue -- is very real and very serious, even if none of the American protesters are living in terror of their own homes, food sources, and hospitals being bombed. Moreover, while Israel/Gaza may be literally as distant as Congo, Myanmar, or Ukraine, it is a lot closer emotionally, especially for American Jews, who are most sharply divided, but also for any American who believes in equal rights, in freedom and justice for all -- people who would normally support the Democratic Party, but now find themselves torn and ashamed by a President who seems aligned and complicit with the forces committing genocide.

  • Katherine Rosman: [04-26] Student protest leader at Columbia: 'Zionists don't deserve to live': "After video surfaced on social media, the student said on Friday that his comments were wrong." I dropped the name, because after the retraction, why should he have to live in Google fame forever just for a casual remark? But the New York Times considers this news, because it fits their mission as purveyors of Israeli lines, especially larded with further comments like "it's one of the more blatant examples of antisemitism and, just, rhetoric that is inconsistent with the values that we have at Columbia" and "there's a danger for all students to have somebody using that type of rhetoric on campus." Doesn't that just echo the official rationale for having all those students arrested?

    Personally, I would never think such a thing, much less say it, nor would most of the people offended enough by genocide to show up at a protest, but really who are we to make a major issue out of such sentiments? There's a Todd Snider lyric that captured a very common, if not quite ubiquitous, credo, which is "in America, we like our bad guys dead."

    If some guy goes berserk and starts shooting up a school or church, then is shot himself, we rarely count him among the victims. We have presidents who go order the assassination of prominent political figures, then go on TV and brag about their feats, expecting a bump in the polls. As for Israelis, they're clearly even more bloodthirsty than we are. But we should all drop whatever we're doing and condemn some guy who fails to empathize with people who are furthering genocide?

    We're fortunate so far that few people who oppose what Israel has been doing view its architects and enablers and fair-weather friends with anything remotely resembling the fear, loathing, and malice Israel has mustered. That's especially true in America, where so few of us are directly impacted, leaving us free to moralize as we may. But human nature suggests such luck won't hold. The longer this war, which is purely a matter of Netanyahu's choice, goes on, the more desperate become, the more despicable Israelis will appear, the more the violence they've unleashed, the more hatred will wash back on them. And when it does, sure, decry and lament those who fight back and their victims, but never forget who started this, who sustained it, and who could have stopped it at any point and started to make amends. (And surely I don't need to add that the bomb started ticking long before Oct. 7.)

  • James Schamus: [04-23] A note to fellow Columbia faculty on the current panic: "The current 'antisemitism panic' at Columbia University is manufactured hysteria weaponized to quell legitimate political speech on campus and give cover to the larger project of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and, now, of course, Gaza."

  • Bill Scher: [04-25] The divestment encampments don't make any sense: "The demand that universities unload any investments having to do with Israel is half-baked and bound to fail." Really? Granted, the investment money at stake isn't enough to cause Israel to flinch, but the very idea that anyone -- much less elite institutions in Israel's most loyal ally -- would choose to dissociate itself from Israel on moral grounds is likely to sow doubt elsewhere. Otherwise, why would Israelis go into such a tizzy any time they hear "BDS"? But more importantly, divestment is a direct tie between the university and Israel, and one that can be discretely severed by university administrators who discover that doing so is in their best interest. Divestment gives protesters a tangible demand, and it is one that universities can easily afford, so it offers a chance for a win. Moreover, the dynamic is pretty easy to understand, because we've done this sort of thing before. The odds of success here are much better than anything you might get from trying to lobby your representative, or for boycotting a store that sells Israeli hummus. Also, this shows that students are still organizable (and on long-term, relatively altruistic grounds), probably more so than any other segment of society, despite generally successful efforts to reduce higher education to crass carreerism. Despite the dumb pitch, the article's back story on South Africa gives me hope. Sure, this generation of Israeli leaders is more Botha than De Klerk, but so was De Klerk until he realized that a better path was possible. That's going to be harder with Israel, mostly because they still think that what they're doing is working. The protests show otherwise, and the more successful they are, the better for everyone.

    [PS: Per this tweet, the philosophy department chair at Emory University says, "Students are the conscience of our culture."]

  • Matt Stieb/Chas Danner: [04-28] University protests: the latest at colleges beyond Columbia.

More on the Israel's propaganda front, struggling as ever to mute and suppress the world's horror at the genocide in Gaza and to Israel's escalation elsewhere from apartheid to state/vigilante terror.

  • Michael Arria:

  • Zack Beauchamp: [04-16] Tucker Carlson went after Israel -- and his fellow conservatives are furious: "Carlson mainstreamed antisemitism for a long time, and conservatives seemed not to care. Then he set his sights on Israel." When it comes to dunking on Carlson, I don't much care who does it:

    • Daniel Beaumont: [04-26] The Big Bang: Israel's path to self-destruction.

    • M Reza Benham: [04-26] Manipulation politics: Israeli gaslighting in the United States: "A country does not become cruel overnight. It takes intent, years of practice and strategies to effectively hide the cruelty." Dozens of examples follow, especially on Israel's master of American politicians. "Israeli gaslighting has reached into and exerted influence in almost every segment of American society. Consequently, Israel has grown into an entity unbound by borders, exempt from international law and able to commit genocide with impunity." Also note: "And while Israel continues its intense bombing in Gaza, Biden signed legislation on 24 April allocating another $26.4 billion for Tel Aviv to continue its atrocities."

    • Ronen Bregman/Patrick Kingsley: [04-28] Israeli officials believe ICC is preparing arrest warrants over war: "The Israeli and foreign officials also believe the court is weighing arrest warrants for leaders from Hamas." That would be consistent with past efforts to charge both sides with war crimes, but it opens up an interesting possibility, which would be for Hamas leaders to surrender to the ICC for trial, which would presumably protect them from Israeli assassination, and would largely satisfy Israel's demands that Hamas's leadership in Gaza be dismantled. It would also give them a chance to defend themselves in public court, where they could make lots of interesting cases. It would show respect for international law, even if it demands sacrifice. And it would put Israel on the spot to do the same. I'd like to see that.

    • Jonathan Chait: [04-17] Conservatives suddenly realize Tucker Carlson is a lying Russian dupe: "What changed?" I don't quite buy the idea that Carlson is a "Russian dupe" but he has so little redeeming social value that I don't care what you call him. Still, you have to wonder, when Israel starts losing the antisemites, what will they have left?

  • Jonathan Cook: [04-26] How an 'antisemitism hoax' drowned out the discovery of mass graves in Gaza.

  • Dave DeCamp:

  • Connor Echols: [04-24] Israel violating US and international law, ex officials say: "An independent task force has given a detailed report of alleged Israeli war crimes to the Biden administration."

  • Thomas L Friedman:

    • [04-26] Israel has a choice to make: Rafah or Riyadh: I suspect that most Israelis regard Friedman as nothing more than a "useful idiot," which is to say he's useful when he says what he's supposed to -- as when he repeated their "six front" theory in an attempt to entice Biden into launching a war of distraction with Iran -- and an idiot when he tries to think for himself and to offer them advice. [Cue famous Moshe Dayan quote.] This is an example of the latter, though you can hardly blame Friedman, since this is based on things he was told to think. Some day the relevant secrets will be revealed, and we'll all have a good laugh over how Trump and Biden got played over the Abraham Accords -- or how Kushner played everyone, since he wound up with billions of Saudi money for a deal that never had to happen. Israel never cared the least bit for any of them, but went along with Qatar and Morocco because they were totally harmless deals that cost them nothing and helped manipulate the Americans (much like their phony war with Iran, which the deals propose to turn into some grand alliance).

      The Saudis couldn't quite stoop that low because they still have some self-respect -- they are, after all, the trustees of Mecca and Medina -- but strung Kushner along with cash, and more generally the Americans with potentially lucrative arms deals. But if Friedman's choice is real, Israel would much rather demolish the last Palestinian city in Gaza, rendering it uninhabitable for whoever manages not to be killed in the process, than have a chance to play footsie with the decadent but despised Saudis. But they may also suspect it isn't really real, because it's always been so easy to manipulate the Americans and their Arab friends, who've always proved eager to accommodate whatever Israel wants.

    • [04-16] How to be pro-Palestinian, pro-Israeli and pro-Iranian. While the title suggests that Friedman might be capable of thinking creatively, searching out some kind of mutually beneficial win-win-win solution, pinch yourself. By "pro-Iranian" he means anti-Ayatollah, which is to say he's no more prepared to deal with the real Iran than Netanyahu and Biden are. And by "pro-Palestinian" he means totally domesticated under a fully compliant Palestinian Authority, as separate-and-unequal as any imaginary reservation. Sure, by "pro-Israeli" he probably means free of Netanyahu, but he'd be less of a stickler on that point.

  • Binoy Kampmark: [04-28] Israel's anti-UNRWA campaign falls flat.

  • Naomi Klein: [04-24] We need an exodus from Zionism: "This Passover, we don't need or want the false idol of Zionism. We want freedom from the project that commits genocide in our name." Klein spoke at a Passover seder in Brooklyn:

  • Alan J Kuperman: [04-16] Civilian deaths in Gaza rival those of Darfur -- which the US called a 'genocide'.

  • Judith Levine: [04-25] Why we need to stop using 'pro-Palestine' and 'pro-Israel': "The safety and security of Palestinians and Jews are interdependent, so we should use language carefully." Good luck with that. I know I try to be precise and respectful in my terminology, but it's always a struggle: we are necessarily talking about groups of people, despite every grouping, whether self- or other-identified, having exceptions and individual variations that undermine every attempt to generalize. At some point, you have to concede the impossibility of the task, and admit not just that the terms are imprecise but that we shouldn't put so much weight on them.

    I've considered writing an article on this: "Why I've never called myself 'pro-Palestinian,' but I don't care if you do." Part of what I feel here is that Palestinian nationalist groups, even ones nominally on the left, have a sorry history of ambition and exclusion which I've never approved of in principle, and have found to be counterproductive politically. But mostly, I don't trust any nationalism, even one that would presume to include me among the elect. (Although I've found that people who would divide us into nations will continue to subdivide so that only their own clique comes out on top, which somehow never saw me as fit for their supremacy.)

    On the other hand, I've never doubted that Palestinians should enjoy the same human rights as everyone else, provided they accord the same rights to others. But most people who describe themselves as pro-Palestinian believe exactly that. Their self-label is meant to convey solidarity with people they rightly see as oppressed, people they hope to advance not to dominance but to equal rights. I don't think that this is the clearest way of expressing their support, but who am I to object to such tactical quibbles? I felt much the same way when Stokely Carmichael started talking about Black Power. Sure, like all power, that could be abused, but for now the deficit was so great one had little to worry about. And the trust expressed would only help to build the solidarity the movement needed.

    By the way, see the Robert Wright article below for a story along these lines, where Norman Finkelstein suggests that when saying "From the river to the sea," it would be clearer and safer to say "Palestinians" will be free" instead of "Palestine." That makes sense to me, but as Wright noted, he was immediately followed by another speaker, who repeated the standard line and got bigger applause. I could see giving up after that, but isn't that the worst of all scenarios?

  • Sania Mahyou: [04-26] Inside the first French university encampment for Palestine at Sciences Po Paris.

  • Stefan Moore: [04-23] Israel's architect of ethnic cleansing: "The spectre of Yosef Weitz lives on." Now there's a name I know, but haven't heard of in a while. Weitz was head of the Land Settlement Department for the Jewish National Fund, which was the Zionist entity charged with buying up parcels of Palestinian land as Jewish immigrants sought to take over the country. In 1937, after the Peel Commission recommended that Palestine be partitioned with forced transfer, Weitz became head of the Jewish Agency's Population Transfer Committee, so he was the original bureaucratic planner of what became the Nakba.

  • Colleen Murrell: [04-26] How the Israeli government manages to censor the journalists covering the war on Gaza.

  • James North: [04-15] A secret internal 'NYTimes' memo reveals the paper's anti-Palestinian bias is even worse than we thought. North has been documenting reporting bias and outright propaganda in the NY Times long enough he can't possibly be as surprised, let alone shocked, as says. NY Times, regardless of pretensions to high-minded objectivity, has always been a party-line organ. Still, it's nice to be able to see explicit directions and reasoning on terminology, rather than just having to sniff out the distortions. For more on this, see the original leak story, and more:

  • Kareena Pannu: [04-17] How the UK media devalues Palestinian lives: "The UK media's coverage of the killing of World Central Kitchen workers shows how much Palestinian life is devalued."

  • Vijay Prashad: [04-24] Elites afraid to talk about Palestine: "The Western political class has used all tools at its disposal to support Israel's genocide while criminalizing solidarity."

  • Fadi Quran/Fathi Nimer/Tariq Kenney-Shawa/Yawa Hawari: [04-17] Palestinian perspectives on escalating Iran-Israel relations. Many interesting points here; e.g., from Kenney-Shawa:

    Iran's highly-choreographed attack achieved exactly what it intended, gaining valuable intel on Israeli, American, and regional air defense capabilities, costing Israel and its US benefactors over $1 billion in a single night, proving Israel's dependency on the US, and further eroding Israel's image of military invincibility. In doing so, Iran also sent a clear message that its drones and missiles could cause significantly more damage if launched without warning, while still preserving a window for de-escalation.

    Also, from Hawari:

    For Netanyahu, picking a fight with Iran was the only thing that could save him from near-certain political demise. As the Gaza genocide rages on, the Israeli military remains unable to secure its stated objective: the eradication of Hamas and the return of the hostages. This, in addition to the fact that he faces major corruption charges and overwhelming domestic opposition to his leadership, makes Netanyahu at his most dangerous.

    The Israeli prime minister has, for years, built his political career on arousing fear of Iran and its nuclear capabilities among the Israeli public. Internationally, the Israeli regime has long positioned itself as a Western bulwark against Iran and tied its security to that of Western civilization itself. Netanyahu has also exploited Palestine-Iran relations to justify Israel's continued oppression of the Palestinian people as a whole. This is a narrative that has particularly taken hold during since the start of the current genocide.

    This was published by Al-Shabaka, which bills itself as "the Palestinian Policy Network." Some other recent posts:

  • Balakrishnan Rajagopal: [01-29] Domicide: The mass destruction of homes should be a crime against humanity.

  • Jodi Rudoren: [04-05] Why an immediate ceasefire is a moral imperative -- and the best thing for Israel. Editor-in-chief of Forward, she's made some progress since her October 9, 2023 column, where she wrote: "The coming days and weeks will be awful. Israel has no good options." I don't mean to rub it in, but there was one good option back then. Give her credit for finding it eventually. Too many others are still pretending they can't do otherwise.

  • Robert Tait: [04-27] Sanders hits back at Netanyahu: 'It is not antisemitic to hold you accountable'. His own piece:

  • Philip Weiss:

  • Robert Wright: [04-26] This feels like Vietnam: I mentioned this piece under Levine above, for its discussion of language. The analogy to the Vietnam War protests has been noted elsewhere but is still has a long ways to go:

    The last two weeks have been more reminiscent of the Vietnam War era than any two weeks since . . . the Vietnam War era. After the mass arrest of students at Columbia University failed to squelch their anti-war protest encampment, the attendant publicity helped inspire protests, and encampments, at campuses across the country.

    We're nowhere near peak Vietnam. As someone old enough to dimly remember the protests of the late 1960s (if not old enough to have participated in them), I can assure you that college students are capable of getting way more unruly than college students have gotten lately.

    I can't do this subject justice here, so will limit myself to two points. One is that thanks to the AIPAC-dominated political culture in Washington, both parties are totally aligned with Israel, although few in either party did so from core beliefs. This matters little on the Republican side (where core beliefs tend to be racist, violent, and repressive), but leave Democrats more open to doubt and persuasion. Lacking any better political base, that's what demonstrations are good for, and why there's hope they may be effective. It's also worth noting that Occupy Wall Street, which was pretty explicitly anti-Obama but not in any way that could benefit the Republicans, had at least two major successes: one was popularizing the "1%" line to highlight inequality; the other was in making student debt relief a tangible political issue -- one that Biden has finally embraced.

    The other point is that it will be important both to the protesters and to the Democrats to keep the demonstrations focused and not allow the sort of descent into chaos that Republicans exploited with Vietnam. (And which, as we've already seen with Abbott in Texas, and with the recent anti-BLM police riots, they are super-psyched to exacerbate now.) I'm reminded here of Ben-Gurion's famous "we will fight the White Paper as if there is no war, and fight the war as if there is no White Paper." His tact allowed him to win both fights, which is to say he fared much better than Johnson and Daley did in 1968.

    Needless to say, there will be more pieces like this coming our way:

  • Dave Zirin: [04-26] How the US media failed to tell the story of the occupation of Palestine: Interview with Sut Jhally.

PS: For some reason I no longer recall, I happened to have had a tab open to a piece from Spiked, so I took a look at their home page. It seems to be a right-wing UK site -- Wikipedia traces its roots to "Living Marxism," but also also notes support from Charles Koch -- but whatever it's clearly in the bag for Israel now, with articles on: "Iran, not Israel, is escalating this war"; "Is it now a crime to be a Jew in London?"; "Hamas apologism has taken Australia by storm"; "The Islamo-left must be confronted"; as well as a lot of articles about "gender ideology" and "woke capitalism" and one on "Why humanity is good for the natural world." Right-wingers seem to be inexorably drawn to Israel.

America's increasingly desperate and pathetic empire:

Election notes:

Trump, and other Republicans: Trump's New York porn-star hush-money trial has started, so let's go there first:

More Republicans in the news (including more Trumps):

Biden and/or the Democrats:

  • Charles M Blow: [04-17] The Kamala Harris moment has arrived.

  • Gerard Edic: [04-23] Why is the Biden administration completing so many regulations? "The answer is the Congressional Review Act, which Republicans in a second Tumpp presidency could use to further attack the administrative state. Finalizing rules early protects them from this fate."

  • Jordan Haedtler/Kenny Stancil: [04-16] Democrats must start to distinguish themselves on insurance policy: "Amid a crisis for homeowners, Democrats have done little while Republicans pursue an agenda of bailouts and deregulation." I think, and not just due to climate change, insurance will become the number one political issue in America, as private industry is no longer able to charge enough to cover the necessary payouts (and still make the profits they expect).

  • Ed Kilgore: [03-18] This year's Democratic Convention won't be a replay of 1968: Didn't I say as much last week?

  • Paul Krugman:

    • [04-09] Stumbling into Goldilocks.

    • [04-23] Ukraine aid in the light of history: Compares the current vote to Lend-Lease in 1941, which most Republicans opposed before Pearl Harbor rallied them to war. Doesn't allow that they might have had good reasons for doing so, and accepts uncritically that Lend-Lease proved to be the right thing to do in 1941, implying that reasons then and there are still valid here and now. That case is pretty weak on almost every account, not that history between such unlike cases offers much guidance anyway.

    • [04-25] Can Biden revive the fortunes of American workers?: "He's the most pro-labor president since Harry Truman." I had to laugh at that one. Truman was very anti-union after the war ended in 1945, and his threats against strikers probably contributed to the debacle of 1946, which gave Republicans a majority in Congress, which (with racist southern Democrats) they used to pass Taft-Hartley over his veto. He recovered a bit after that, but no subsequent Democat made any serious efforts -- even when Johnson seemed to have a favorable Congress -- to reverse the damage. I'm not sure Krugman is technically wrong, but he's talking about slim margins at both ends.

  • Harold Meyerson: [04-15] Biden's Gaza policy could create a replay of Chicago '68: If Israel is still committing genocide in Gaza, Biden will certainly face (and deserve) protests, but will Chicago police riot again? -- that was, after all, the real story in 1968, and much of the blame there goes directly to Mayor Richard Daley.

  • Ahmed Moor: [04-17] As a Palestinian American, I can't vote for Joe Biden any more. And I am not alone: "The president's moral failure in Gaza has taken on historic proportions, like Lyndon Johnson's in Vietnam before him." I understand the sentiment, and I think Biden's team should take the threat of defections like this one -- and it's not just Palestinians who are thinking like that -- and get their act together. But come November, no one's just pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli or any other single thing. Politics is complicated, and ideal choices are hard to come by.

  • Timothy Noah: Yes, Joe Biden can win the working-class vote.

  • David Smith: [04-28] 'Stormy weather': Biden skewers Trump at White House correspondents' dinner: One of the few favorable things I had to say about Trump's presidency is that he sidelined this annual charade of chumminess. And it's not like the White House press has been doing Biden many favors over the last three years. But I guess the material writers came up with this year was too good to miss?

Legal matters and other crimes:

Climate and environment:

Economic matters:

Russia/Ukraine War:

Around the world:

Taylor Swift: New album dropped, presumably a major event. I've been too busy to focus on it, but will get to it sooner or later.


Other stories:

Daniel Brown: [04-19] Oldest MLB player turns 100: Roomed with Yogi Berra, stymied Ted Williams: I clicked on this because I had to see who, after having noted the deaths of Carl Erskine (97) and Whitey Herzog (93) earlier in the week. And the answer is . . . Art Schallock! Not a name I recall, and I thought I knew them all (especially all the 1951-55 Yankees, although 1957 was the first year that actually stuck in my memory) Previous oldest MLB player was George Elder, and second oldest now is Bill Greason -- neither of them rings a bell either, but the next one sure does: Bobby Shantz!

Robert Christgau: [04-17] Xgau Sez: April, 2024: Perhaps because I'm disappointed I get so few questions my way, I thought I'd add a couple personal notes to his answers:

  1. I haven't actually read more Marx than Bob admits to here (at least not much more, and virtually nothing since I shifted focus circa 1975), so like him I'd refer inquisitive readers to the now quite long and deep tradition -- although at this point I'm not exactly sure where I'd start. (I started with historians like Eugene Genovese, art critics like John Berger, and economists like Paul Sweezy, followed by a lot of Frankfurt School, especially Walter Benjamin.) But his recommendation of Marshall Berman's Adventures in Marxism has me intrigued, so I think I'll order a copy. I have, but have never read, Berman's All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, which came out after I lost interest (long story, that), but has always struck me as the probably closest analogue to the book I sometimes imagined writing on Marx (had my career gone that direction: working title was Secret Agents, after a Benjamin quip about Baudellaire). But I did read, and much admired, Berman's first book, The Politics of Authenticity: Radical Individualism and the Emergence of Modern Society, which gets us at least half way there. (By the way, while I largely blanked out on Marxism after 1975, I broke the ice recently with China Miéville's A Spectre Haunting, which was like meeting up with an old friend.)

  2. Bob didn't search very hard for an answer to the question about "immediate astonishment" -- he checked off several 2023 records, then remembered two formative experiences from from sixty years earlier -- but had he consulted me, I could have reminded him of one: I was present when he opened and immediately played Marquee Moon, and I was even more impressed by the intensity of his reaction than I was by the music I was hearing. Although I had read much in the Voice about Television, I had never heard anything by them, so for me it took time to adjust.

    For me, the most obvious answer was another record I first heard in Bob's apartment: Ornette Coleman's Dancing in Your Head, which was an even more obviously perfect title than The Shape of Jazz to Come. As for real early records, which for me started around 1963, everything I bought was already baited with singles I already loved, but the first album side I really got into was on my fourth purchase, Having a Rave-Up With the Yardbirds -- the hits were on the first side, but I came to like the raves on the second side even more (above all the cover of "Respectable"). But I couldn't tell you if that was "instantaneous." I did buy Sgt. Pepper when it came out, with much hype but no presold singles, and I quickly came to love it as much as anyone else did.

  3. We didn't go to the 1994 Rhode Island festival, but Bob and Carola stayed with us in Boston before and after, so we were among the first to hear their unmediated reaction before it was sanitized for print. I've heard the Richie Havens dis so many times, both from Bob and from Laura Tillem, that I wondered whether they had shared the same traumatic concert experience, but she says not.

Tom Engelhardt: [04-21] A story of the decline and fall of it all. The editor-first, writer-as-the-occasion-arises, who has done more than anyone else over the last twenty years to help us realize that the American Empire is failing and floundering and never was all that useful let alone virtuous in the first place, has entered his 80s, feeling his own powers also dwindling, and growing more morose, as so many of us do. I'm tempted to quote large swathes of this article, but instead, let me do some editing (almost all his own words, but streamlined):

If Osama Bin Laden were still alive today, I suspect he would be pleased. He managed to outmaneuver and outplay what was then the greatest power on Planet Earth, drawing it into an endless war against "terrorism" and, in the process, turning it into an increasingly terrorized country, whose inhabitants are now at each other's throats.

As was true of the Soviet Union until almost the moment it collapsed in a heap, the U.S. still appears to be an imperial power of the first order. It has perhaps 750 military bases scattered around the globe and continues to act like a power of one on a planet that itself seems distinctly in crisis: a planet that itself looks as if it might be going to hell, amid record heat, fires, storms, and the like, while its leaders preoccupy themselves with organizing alliances and arming them for Armageddon.

It's strange to think about just how distant the America I grew up in -- the one that emerged from World War II as the global powerhouse -- now seems. Yet today, the greatest country on Earth (or so its leaders still like to believe), the one that continues to pour taxpayer dollars into a military funded like no other, or even combination of others, the one that has been unable to win any war of significance since 1945, seems to be coming apart at the seams, heading for a decline and fall almost beyond imagining.

I'm reminded here that Tom Carson, reviewing 1945 from the cusp of 2000, declared that the worst thing that ever happened to America was winning World War II. He might well have added that the second worst thing was the collapse of the Soviet Union: the essential ally in winning WWII, the opponent that allowed the Cold War to remain stable, and the void the US has spent thirty-plus years trying to fill in, and ultimately resurrect, with fantasies of imperial glory. I'd add that the third worst thing is the genocide in Gaza, where the Holocaust has returned in the form of America's spoiled, even more brattish and brutish Mini-Me.

Like Engelhardt, I've been fortunate to have lived my whole life in, and mostly conscious of, this arc. I'm a bit younger: I was born the week China entered the Korean War, ending the American advance and hopes of swift victory, so it was perhaps a bit easier for me to see that the remainder was all downhill. I was struck early on by the arrogance of power -- a familiar phrase even before William Fullbright used it as a book title -- and even earlier by the hypocrisy of the powerful. One of the first maxims I learned was "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I was an introspective child, cursed with the ability to see deep into myself, and to approximate what others see, even over vast time and space. I was schizophrenic. I embraced radicalism, searching for roots, and found reason, a way of constructing frameworks for understanding. As a method, it was so incisive, so clear, so aware, that I had to put it aside for decades just to try to live a life, but it never left me, nor I it, as two decades of notebooks (most reorganized here) should attest.

Céline Gounder/Craig Spencer: [04-16] The decline in American life expectancy harms more than our health. Related:

  • Michael Hiltzik: [2023-04-05] America's decline in life expectancy speaks volumes about our problems. I may have cited this article before. The county map looks familiar. On a state level, lower average age of death lines up pretty close to Republican votes, although within those states, powerless Democratic enclaves (e.g., in Mississippi and South Dakota) are hit worst of all.

Constance Grady: [04-11] Why we never stopped talking about OJ Simpson.

John Herrman: [04-19] How product recommendations broke Google: "And ate the internet in the process." A long time ago, I put a fair amount of thought into what sort of aggregate information modeling might be possible with everyone having internet connections. Needless to say, nothing much that I anticipated actually happened, since business corruption crept into every facet of the process, making it impossible to ever trust anyone. It may look like the internet made us shallow and venal and paranoid, but that's mostly because those were the motivations of the people who rushed to take it over.

Jonathan Kandell: [04-19] Daniel C Dennett, widely read and fiercely debated philosopher, dies at 82: "Espousing his ideas in best sellers, he insisted that religion was an illusion, free will was a fantasy and evolution could only be explained by natural selection."

Whizy Kim: [04-17] Boeing's problems were as bad as you thought: "Experts and whistleblowers testified before Congress today. The upshot? "It was all about money."

Eric Levitz: I originally had these scattered about, but the sheer number and range suggested grouping them here.

  • [04-12] What the evidence really says about social media's impact on teens' mental health: "Did smartphones actually 'destroy' a generation?" Reviews Jonathan Haidt's book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness. Hard to say without not just having read the book but doing some extra evidence. Haidt seems like a guy who tries to look reasonable so he can sneak a conservative viewpoint in without it being dismissed out of hand. Levitz seems like a smart guy who's a bit too eager to split disputes down the middle. I suspect there are other factors at work that don't fit anyone's agenda.

  • [04-13] Don't sneer at white rural voters -- or delude yourself about their politics: "What the debate over "white rural rage" misses." Refers to the Tom Schaller/Paul Waldman book, White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy, which has been much reviewed, including a piece cited here by Tyler Austin Harper: An utterly misleading book about rural America. Levitz makes good points, nicely summed up by subheds:

    1. Rural white people are more supportive of right-wing authoritarianism than are urban or suburban ones
    2. Millions of rural white Americans support the Democratic Party
    3. Rural white Republicans are not New Deal Democrats who got confused
    4. The economic challenges facing many rural areas are inherently difficult to solve.
    5. Most people inherit the politics of their families and communities

    Further reading here:

  • [04-19] Tell the truth about Biden's economy: "Exaggering the harms of inflation doesn't help working people."

  • [04-23] The "feminist" case against having sex for fun: "American conservatives are cozying up to British feminists who argue that the sexual revolution has hurt women."

  • [04-24] Trump's team keeps promising to increase inflation: "Voters trust Trump to lower prices, even as his advisers put forward plans for increasing Americans' cost of living." Four steps:

    1. Reduce the value of the US dollar
    2. Apply a 10 percent tariff on all foreign imports
    3. Enact massive, deficit-financed tax cuts
    4. Shrink the American labor force

Rick Perlstein:

  • [04-17] The implausible Mr Buckley: "A new PBS documentary whitewashes the conservative founder of National Review." Hard to imagine them rendering him even more white. Also on Buckley:

  • [04-24] My dinner with Andreessen: "Billionaires I have known." First of a promised three-part series, "because you really need to know how deeply twisted some of these plutocrats who run our society truly are." Then after sharing the story of their meeting, he concludes: "There is something very, very wrong with us, that our society affords so much pwoer to people like this."

Jeffrey St Clair: [04-19] Roaming Charges: How to kill a wolf in society.

Michael Tatum: Books read (and not read): First post on the author's new blog, "Michael on Everything." Nice supplement to my own last week Book Roundup, especially as he catches books I missed, and writes about them with much more care.

Astra Taylor/Leah Hunt-Hendrix: [03-12] What is solidarity and how does it work?: Introduction to the authors' book, Solidarity: The Past, Present, and Future of a World-Changing Idea. Related:

Li Yuan:

  • [04-08] What Chinese outrage over '3 Body Problem' says about China: "Instead of demonstrating pride, social media is condemning it." The review also inadvertently says much about America, like how we insist on cartoonishly simple framing of Chinese history, and how we insert more westerners into a Chinese story to make it more "relatable" and still expect them to be thankful for their leftovers. I'm critical enough of America's own chauvinists and sanitizers of history that I disapprove of the same things in other countries -- e.g., the Turkish taboo against so much as mentioning the Armenian genocide -- and I don't doubt that there is some of this same spirit in much of the Chinese reaction. But that hardly give us the right to dictate how they should view their own history, especially as we have so little sense of it.

  • [02-29] China has thousands of Navalnys, hidden from the public. Of this I have no doubt. Every political system, no matter how coercive, breeds its own dissent. Countries that tolerate and even encourage dissent are often better off, and tend to look down their noses at those who don't, but all countries adjust as they see fit. Unfortunately, many think they can solve their problems through repression, and we have no shortage of people who think like that in America.

Li Zhou: [04-18] Jontay Porter's lifetime NBA ban highlights the risks of sports gambling. Also, evidently, the lure. Jeffrey St Clair says: "People who watch NBA or NHL games are hit with as many as three gambling ads per minute."

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Book Roundup

Post date tentative was April 16 (expected to be delayed, which it certainly was).

Blog link.

Next draft.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Daily Log

I've been unable to send email via Cox for more than a week. All email send operations produce the following error message:

Sending of the message failed.
An error occurred while sending mail. The mail server responded: message rejected. Refer to Error Codes section at https://www.cox.com/residential/support/email-error-codes.html for more information. AUP#CXSNDR. Please check the message and try again.

I need some way to embed hidden info. Does this work?

Monday, April 15, 2024

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 22 albums, 3 A-list

Music: Current count 42126 [42104] rated (+22), 30 [37] unrated (-7).

We have some friends my late sister virtually adopted -- we consider them virtual family -- who live on a farm in the Arkansas Ozarks, and they made a big push to get all of their closest family and friends to congregate there for the eclipse. We didn't give it much consideration, but my brother and his son and their families drove there from Washington and back, stopping here in Wichita both ways. (My brother's daughter and her family also made the trip, but flew in and out of Tulsa, bypassing us.) The rapid-fire visits took up a big chunk of my time the last two weeks. We did more cooking on the first leg, but on return I schemed to get help on a bunch of housework tasks. Both activities cut my normal output way back, as is evident here.

They finally left on Saturday afternoon. After that, I cobbled together a bit of Speaking of Which, which I posted late last night. I should go back and do some reviewing and editing and such, but I started feeling ill that night, and that's carried over today, so even this bit of shovelware has become a chore. Probably nothing serious, but at my age, one does fret a lot more than in the past.

But also I've lost a good ten hours since Thursday trying to get Cox to solve an AUP#XSNDR error in SMTP that totally keeps me from sending email. As best I can figure this out -- which, by the way, is probably better than anyone at Cox has yet managed -- is that when I send a piece of email (using Thunderbird connecting to smtp.cox.net), the SPF or DKIM list of legit IP sender addresses doesn't include the one Cox my one (assigned to me via DHCP, or substituted in transit?), and some forwarding server notices the discrepancy and kicks it back (which takes about 20 seconds, so there may be multiple stops for multiple lists before it fails).

I only have a couple things to say about the records below. The brief dive into Ken Colyer came about because someone sent me a typo correction to a Penguin Jazz Guide file I put together ages ago. When I was glancing through it I noticed a Colyer album I hadn't heard, so tried to track it down. I've always liked trad jazz, and that shared fondness was one of the things that I loved about Penguin Guide.

The Rail Band album is pictured but not reviewed below. Read about it next week. It comes from Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide: April 2024. I've reviewed most of those albums already, including an A grade for Heems/Lapgan; A- for Cucumbers, Dan Ex Machina, and Kim Gordon; similar HMs for Four Tet and Messthetics/James Brandon Lewis; and lesser grades for Buck 65, Adrianne Lenker, Vampire Weekend, and Waxahatchee. I've played Buck 65 four more times since the CG came out, and I always react the same: sounds really great for 10-15 minutes, then my mind wanders until it returns with a "what the fuck?" ending. Still a B+(***). The other three are probable EOY list frontrunners that I can't sustain any serious interest in (despite having noted multiple A-list albums from each). Still, I'm rather impressed that Bob can still put on his "rock critic establishment" robes and lobby for critical consensus like he advocated for fifty years ago.

Hope I'll be able to knock out a Book Roundup this week. Still, feeling pretty lousy at the moment, pushing this out with no Speaking of Which updates.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Cyrille Aimée: À Fleur De Peau (2018-23 [2024], Whirlwind): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Florian Arbenz: Conversation #10 & #11: ON! (2023 [2024], Hammer): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Cïtric Dümmies: Zen and the Arcade of Beating Your Ass (2023, Feel It): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Hilary Gardner: On the Trial With the Lonesome Pines (2024, Anzic): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Arve Henriksen/Harmen Fraanje: Touch of Time (2023 [2024], ECM): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Jazz Ensemble of Memphis: Playing in the Yard (2023 [2024], Memphis International): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Benji Kaplan: Untold Stories (2023 [2024], self-released): [cd]: B+(*) [05-01]
  • Amirtha Kidambi's Elder Ones: New Monuments (2024, We Jazz): [sp]: B+(**)
  • João Madeira/Margarida Mestre: Voz Debaixo (2022 [2024], 4DaRecord): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Old 97's: American Primitive (2024, ATO): [sp]: B+(*)*
  • Jonah Parzen-Johnson: You're Never Really Alone (2024, We Jazz): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Ernesto Rodrigues/Bruno Parinha/João Madeira: Into the Wood (2023 [2024], Creative Sources): [cd]: A-
  • Dave Schumacher & Cubeye: Smoke in the Sky (2023 [2024], Cellar): [cd]: B+(***) [04-19]
  • Shakira: Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran (2024, Sony Latin): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Curtis Taylor: Taylor Made (2024, Curtis Taylor Music): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Vampire Weekend: Only God Was Above Us (2024, Columbia): [sp]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Sonny Rollins: Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings (1959 [2024], Resonance, 3CD): [cd]: A- [04-20]

Old music:

  • Ken Colyer's Jazzmen: Club Session With Colyer (1956 [2000], Lake): [r]: A-
  • Ken Colyer's Jazzmen: Up Jumped the Devil (1957-58 [2001], G.H.B.): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ken Colyer and His Jazzband: Colyer's Pleasure (1963, Society): [r]: B+(***)
  • Joan Díaz Trio: We Sing Bill Evans (2008, Fresh Sound New Talent): [sp]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Sam V.H. Reese, ed.: The Notebooks of Sonny Rollins (New York Review Books): paperback book.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

My company left Saturday afternoon, so I didn't really get started on this until then. Sunday I started feeling sick, and ran out of energy. No idea whether Monday will be better or worse, so I figured I might as well post this while I can. Maybe I'll circle back later. Big news stories are pretty much the same as they've been of late, so you pretty much know where I stand on them.

Not a lot of music this week, but if I'm up to it, I'll try to post what I have sometime Monday. Another pending problem is that I'm unable to send email, and Cox doesn't seem to have anyone competent to work on the problem until Monday.


Notable tweets:

  • Yousef Munayyer [04-03]: Joe Biden knows backing Israel's genocide in Gaza could cost him the election he says American democracy depends on.
    Joe Biden doesn't care.
    Imagine hating Palestinians so much as a US president that you'd throw away American democracy for it.

  • Steve Hoffman [04-10]: [meme]: Christians warn us about the anti-Christ for 2,000 years, and when he finally shows up, they buy a bible from him.

  • Rick Perlstein [04-10]: I mean, protecting criminal presidents from accountability actually is perfectly on-brand for an organization devoted to the legacy of Gerald Ford. [link: Famed photographer quits Ford over Liz Cheney snub]


Initial count: 188 links, 6,611 words.


Top story threads:

Israel:

Israel vs. Iran:

Israel vs. world opinion:

America's increasingly desperate and pathetic empire:

Election notes:

Robert F Kennedy Jr: And suddenly we have a cluster of stories on the third-party candidate:

Trump, and other Republicans: But first, let's open up some space to talk about abortion politics:

We can also group several stories on Trump's court date on Monday in New York:

That hardly exhausts their capacity for senseless cruelty, starting with their Fearless Führer:

Biden and/or the Democrats:

  • Jonathan Chait:

  • David Dayen: [04-10] TSMC chips deal promotes the logic of Biden's industrial policy.

  • John Nichols: [04-05] More than half a million Democratic voters have told Biden: Save Gaza! "The campaign to use 'uncommitted' primary votes to send a message to Biden has won two dozen delegates, and it keeps growing." I'm sorry, but these are not impressive numbers. And it is telling that you don't actually have a candidate -- one more credible than the underappreciated Marianne Williamson, that is -- leading the challenge (as Eugene McCarthy did in 1968). The obvious difference is that Americans were more directly impacted by war in Vietnam than they are now in Gaza: even though many of us are immensely alarmed by Israel's genocide, its impact on our everyday life is very marginal. Also, Biden is widely seen by Democrats (if rarely by anyone else) as the safe option to defend against Trump, who most Democrats do regard as a clear and present danger. The main reason there is that the all-important donor class seems to be satisfied with Biden, but would surely throw a fit (as Bloomberg did in 2020) if anyone like Sanders or Warren made a serious run for the nomination. Also, perhaps, that back in 1968, few people really understood how bad throwing the election to a Republican would turn out to be.

  • Evan Osnos: [04-06] Joe Biden and US policy toward Israel.

  • Matt Stieb: [04-11] Biden's leverage campaign against Bibi isn't producing dramatic results.

Legal matters and other crimes:

Climate and environment:

Economic matters:

Ukraine War:

  • Connor Echols: [04-12] Diplomacy Watch: Ukraine risks losing the war -- and the peace: "It's now unclear if the US Congress will ever manage to send more aid to Kyiv."

  • Dave DeCamp:

  • John Mueller: [04-09] Ukraine war ceasefire may require accepting a partition: "Kyiv wound likely see significant economic and political benefits -- and move closer to the West -- from a cessation of hostilities." This has become obvious a year ago, but after Ukraine recovered territory along the northeast and southwest fronts in late 2022, they held out big hopes for their much-hyped "spring offensive" of 2023. Nine months later, the "gains" were slightly negative. Since then, most of the action has been away from the unmovable front: notably drone attacks on Russian oil refineries and on Ukrainian power plants. Which is to say, punitive terror attacks, reminders of the ongoing cost of war that have no bearing on its conclusion. Before the war, there were two basic options: one was the Minsk agreements, which would have unified Ukraine but given Russian minority rights that could have kept western Ukraine from moving toward economic integration with Europe; the other was to allow secession following fair referendums, which would almost certainly have validated the secessionists in Crimea and Donbas (but probably not elsewhere). In a divided Ukraine, the west could more easily align with Europe, while the east could keep its Russian ties. Either of these would have been much preferable to the war that maximalists on both sides insisted on.

  • John Quiggin: [04-03] Navies are obsolete, but no one will admit it: Examples here start with Russia's Black Sea Fleet, which seems to have provided little beyond Ukrainian drone target practice, and the US Navy in the Red Sea, which hasn't been able to thwart Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping (Suez Canal traffic is down 70%).

Around the world:

Boeing:

OJ Simpson: Famous football player, broadcaster, convicted criminal (but famously acquitted on murder charges), dead at 76. I'm not inclined to care about any of this, but he did elicit another round of articles:


Other stories:

William J Astore: [04-11] There is only one spaceship earth: "Freeing the world from the deadly shadow of genocide and ecocide."

Charlotte Barnett: [04-10] Declutter, haul, restock, repeat: "The content creators making a living by cleaning one purs tower, acrylic plastic box, and egg organizer at a time."

Emmeline Clein: [04-12] How capitalism disordered our eating: "From Weight Watchers to Ozempic, big business profits off eating disorders and their treatments."

Russell Arben Fox: [04-10] Thinking about Wendell Berry's leftist lament (and more). The Berry book is The Need to Be Whole: Patriotism and the History of Prejudice. Also segues into a discussion of Ian Angus: The War Against the Commons: Dispossession and Resistance in the Making of Capitalism. The destruction of the commons is a major theme in Astra Taylor's The Age of Insecurity: Coming Together as Things Fall Apart, including a critique of the famous "tragedy of the commons" theory that I was unaware of but long needed. Scrolling down in Fox's blog, I see a couple pieces I had read in the Wichita Eagle. (He teaches here in Wichita, and I believe we have mutual friends, but as far as I know he's not aware of me.)

Robert Kuttner: [04-09] The political economy of exile: Searching for safe havens from Trumpism, or escaping from "shithole countries" if you're rich enough.

Michael Ledger-Lomas: [04-14] The outsize influence of small wars: Review of Laurie Benton's book, They Called It Peace: Worlds of Imperial Violence. These "small wars" were mostly directed by European powers against their would-be colonies, most fought with a huge technological edge which complemented their legal scheming, distinguishing them from the large wars Europeans fought against each other. That's pretty much the same definition Max Boot used in his book, The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power.

Walter G Moss: [04-14] 2024 US anxieties and Hitler 1933: "Here is a friendly reminder that all it would take for Trump to be elected is a series of mistakes by the electorate -- many of them not especially earthshaking." I figured this was a bit far-fetched to include in the section on Trump, the Republicans, and their more mundane crime interests, but Hitler-Trump comparisons are a parlor game of some interest for those who know more than a little about both. Speaking of parlor games for history buffs, Moss previously wrote:

Yasmin Nair: [03-27] What really happened at Current Affairs? This looks to be way too long, pained, deep, and trivial to actually read, but maybe some day. And having thrown a tantrum or two of my own way back in the days when I slaved for someone else's parochially leftist journal, it may even hit close to home. From my vantage point, Nathan J Robinson is a smart, sensible, and prodigious critic, and Current Affairs is one of my more reliably insightful sources as I go about my weekly chores. That such qualities can go hand-in-hand with less admirable traits is, well, not something I feel secure enough to cast stones over.

John Quiggin: [03-29] Daniel Kahneman has died.

Ingrid Robeyns: [04-13] Limitarianism update: Author of the recent book, Limitarianism: The Case Against Extreme Wealth, with links to reviews, interviews, etc. Comments suggest that the concept is better than the title.

Luke Savage: [04-13] The rich: On top of the world and very anxious about it: "The small handful of ultrawealthy winners are firmly ensconced in their positions of privilege in power. Yet so many of them seem haunted by the possibility that maybe they don't deserve it."

Robert Wright: [04-12] Marc Andreessen's mindless techno-optimism.

Li Zhou: [04-10] The Vatican's new statement on trans rights undercuts its attempts at inclusion.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 25 albums, 7 A-list

Music: Current count 42104 [42079] rated (+25), 37 [39] unrated (-2).

Last week was severely disrupted, with several days not spent anywhere near the computer -- mostly Washington family passing through town on their way to Arkansas for the eclipse -- so I figured there was no point playing new music I'd need to take notes on. So what little I have below was mostly picked up after they cleared out Saturday, leaving me to cobble together what turned out to be an exceptionally long Speaking of Which (217 links, 12552 words). Several links to music pieces there, including a bunch on Beyoncé.

We did two manage two family major dinners during the week. The first (plate pictured here) featured three Ottolenghi recipes (roast chicken with fennel, mandarins, and ouzo; sweet potatoes with scallions and dates; and a pearl barley salad) plus old standby recipes for caponata (Sicilian eggplant and zucchini), horiatiki (Greek chopped salad), and mast va khiar (Iranian yogurt with cucumbers, scallions, sultanas, walnuts, and mint), with pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.

Leftovers went into a second dinner which my nephew Mike took charge of, adding kofta/chicken/swordfish kebabs, pitas, hummus, asparagus, quick pickles, eggplant slices topped with spiced yogurt, a spinach salad with dates and almonds, and a mixed bean salad. Another friend made a carrot cake and white-chocolate cookies. Much more chaos than I can handle on my own anymore, but I can take some credit for having the kitchen and pantry organized.

The eclipse was rated at 88% here, so we got the idea, but it wasn't much compared to what we saw on TV. The dimming was less than we often get from passing cumulonimbus clouds.

I only heard about the passing of Clarence "Frogman" Henry after my cutoff, but decided I might as well squeeze his compilation in here. Albert "Tootie" Heath also died last week, and my exploration of his first albums also got promoted.

As noted, I finished Tricia Romano's brilliantly titled book on the Village Voice, The Freaks Came Out to Write. My own involvement with the Voice dates back to 1968-69, when as a high school dropout in Wichita, KS, still in my teens, I started subscribing, not so much for the politics -- for that I had I.F. Stone's Weekly, The Minority of One, and Ramparts -- as for the bohemian culture. I followed them for most of my life, which in the late 1970s included a few years living in New York, and thanks to Bob Christgau, they even published me, both in the 1970s and much later (most notably Jazz Consumer Guide. So, while I was never mentioned in the book, there was a strong sense that it tracked much of my life: lots of stories I knew, at least partly (often indirectly), some I didn't, and a few more I could have added to.

Moving on, I finally got around to Cory Doctorow's The Internet Con, which I had identified as "in my queue, waiting for my limited attention" back in my latest Book Roundup, dated Sept. 23, 2023 -- and way overdue for a sequel. I see now that I failed to index that post, so more drudge work to do.

The other still-pending book from that list is Franklin Foer's The Last Politician, which the death of the political book project has made unnecessary, especially on top of my mounting disappointment with "Genocide Joe." At least when we talk about "lesser evils" in 2024, there won't be any serious debate over the evil term.

Next week will also be disrupted, as our guests head home from Arkansas, hopefully passing through here again. Hopefully they will be a bit less rushed heading back. Where that leaves my weekly posts I neither know nor much care. They merely mark time while I age rather gracelessly.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Neal Alger: Old Souls (2023 [2024], Calligram): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Thomas Anderson: Hello, I'm From the Future (2024, Out There): [sp]: A-
  • Sam Anning: Earthen (2024, Earshift Music): [cd]: B+(***) [04-05]
  • Alex Beltran: Rift (2022 [2024], Calligram): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Beyoncé: Cowboy Carter (2024, Parkwood/Columbia): [sp]: B+((**)
  • Martin Budde: Back Burner (2023 [2024], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Mackenzie Carpenter: Mackenzie Carpenter (2023, Valory Music, EP): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Chromeo: Adult Contemporary (2024, BMG): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Hannah Frances: Keeper of the Shepherd (2024, Ruination): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Gossip: Real Power (2024, Columbia): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Helado Negro: Phasor (2024, 4AD): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Last Word Quintet: Falling to Earth (2021-22 [2024], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Molly Lewis: On the Lips (2024, Jagjaguwar): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Ms. Boogie: The Breakdown (2024, self-released): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Sam Outlaw: Terra Cotta (2024, Black Hills): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Jim Rotondi: Finesse (2021 [2024], Cellar Music): [sp]: B
  • Claudio Scolari Project: Intermission (2022 [2024], Principal): [cd]: A-
  • Tyla: Tyla (2024, Epic): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Bob Vylan: Humble as the Sun (2024, Ghost Theatre): [sp]: A-
  • Dan Weiss: Even Odds (2023 [2024], Cygnus): [cd]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Burnt Sugar/The Arkestkra Chamber: The Reconstru-Ducted Repatriation Road-Rage ReMiXeS (2020-21 [2024], Avantgroidd): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Pete Jolly: Seasons (1970 [2024], Future Days): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Mixmaster Morris/Jonah Sharp/Haruomi Hosono: Quiet Logic (1998 [2024], WRWTFWW): [bc]: A-

Old music:

  • Kuumba-Toudie Heath: Kawaida (1970, O'Be): [yt]: A-
  • Albert Heath: Kwanza (The First) (1973 [2015], Elemental Music): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Clarence "Frogman" Henry: Ain't Got No Home: The Best of Clarence "Frogman" Henry (1956-64 [1994], MCA): [sp]: A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Noah Haidu: Standards II (Sunnyside) [04-12]
  • Chuck Owen & Resurgence: Magic Light (Origin) [04-26]
  • Idit Shner & Mhondoro: Ngatibatanei [Let Us Unite!] (OA2) [04-26]
  • Geoff Stradling & the StradBand: Nimble Digits (Origin) [04-26]
  • Jordan Vanhemert: Deep in the Soil (Origin) [04-26]

Monday, April 08, 2024

Speaking of Which

Blog link.

I don't have much time to work with this week. Writing this on Friday, I expect that the links below will be spotty. I also doubt that I'll have many records in the next Music Week, although that can run if I have any at all.

My company left Saturday morning, headed to Arkansas for a better view of the eclipse on Monday, so I finally got a bit of time to work on this. I collected a few links to get going, then spent most of Sunday writing my "one point here" introduction, and adding a few more links. I got a little over half way through my usual source tabs before I had to call it a day. On Monday, I tried to pick up where I had left off -- not going back to the tabs I had hit on Sunday, but picking up the occasional Monday post as I went along. Wound up with a pretty full post, dated Monday. I marked this paragraph as an add, because it's a revision to my original intro.

This should go up before I go to bed Monday night. Music Week will follow later Tuesday. Very little in it from before Saturday, but I've found a few interesting records while working on this.


But I do want to make one point here, which is something I've been thinking about for a while now.

I've come to conclude that many of us made a fundamental error in the immediate aftermath of October 7 in blaming Hamas (or more generally, Palestinians) for the outbreak of violence. Even those of us who immediately feared that Israel would strike back with a massive escalation somehow felt like we had to credit Hamas with agency and moral responsibility -- if not for the retaliation, at least for their own acts. But what choice did they have? What else could they have done?

But there is an alternate view, which is that violent resistance is an inevitable consequence of systematic marginalization, where nonviolent remedies are excluded, and order is violently enforced. How can we expect anyone to suffer oppression without fighting back? So why don't we recognize blowback as intrinsic to the context, and therefore effectively the responsibility of the oppressor? I don't doubt that Israelis were terrified on October 7. They were, after all, looking at a mirror of their own violence.

It's pretty obvious why Israel's leaders wanted to genocide. The Zionist movement was born in a world that was racist, nationalist, and imperialist -- traits that Zionists embraced, hoping to forge them into a defensive shield, which worked just as well as a cudgel to impose their will on others. What distinguishes them from Nazis is that they're less driven to enslave or exterminate enemy races, but that mostly means they see no use for others. In theory, they'd be satisfied just to drive the others out -- as they did with the Nakba -- but in practice their horizons expand as the settlements grow.

The question isn't: why genocide? That's been baked in from the beginning. The question is why they didn't do it before, and why they think they can get away with it now. The "why not" is bound to be speculative, and I don't want to delve very deep here, but I can imagine trying to sort it out on two axes, one for the people, the other for the cutting-edge political leaders. For the people, the scale runs from respect for one's humanity, and dehumanizing others. Most Israelis used to take pride in their high morality, but war and militarism broke that down (with ultra-orthodoxy and capitalism also taking a toll). As for the leaders, the scale is based on power: the desire to push the envelope of possibility, balanced off by the need to maintain good will with allies.

Ben Gurion was a master at both: a guy who took as much as he could (even overreaching in 1956 and having to retreat), and was always plotting ahead to take even more (as his followers did in 1967, meeting less resistance from Johnson). Begin pushed even further, although he too had to retreat from Lebanon under Carter before he found a more compliant Reagan. Netanyahu is another one who constantly tested the limits of American allowance, only to find that Trump and Biden were pushovers, offering no resistance at all. Genocide only became possible as Palestinians came to be viewed by most Israelis as subhuman, while Netanyahu found his power to be unlimited by American sensitivity.

So, while Israel has always been at risk of turning genocidal, what's really changed is America, turning from the "good neighbor" FDR promised to Eisenhower's "leader of the free world" to Reagan's capitalist scam artists to Bush's "global war on terror" to the Trump-Biden cha-cha. I chalk this up to several things. The drift to the right made Americans meaner and politicians more cynical and corrupt. The neocons came to dominate foreign policy, with their cult for power that could be rapidly and arbitrarily deployed anywhere -- as Israel did in their small region, Bush would around the globe. The counter-intifada in Israel and the US wars on terror drove both countries further into the grip of dehumanizing militarism, opening up an opportunity for Netanyahu to forge a right-wing alliance with America, while AIPAC held Democrats like Obama and Biden in check. Trump automatically rubber-stamped anything Netanyahu wanted, and Biden had no will power to do anything but.

By the time October 7 came around, Americans couldn't so much as articulate a national interest in peace and social justice. But there was also one specific thing that kept Americans from seeing genocide as such: we had totally bought into the idea that Hamas, as exemplary terrorists, were intrinsically evil, could never be negotiated with, and therefore all you could do to stop them is to kill as many as you can. It wasn't a novel idea. America has a sordid history of assassination plots until the mid-1970s, when the Church Committee exposed that history and forced reforms. But Israel's own assassination programs expanded continuously from the 1980s on, and American neocons envied Israel's prowess. Under Bush, "high value targets" became currency, and Obama not only followed suit, he upped the game -- most notably bagging Osama Bin Laden.

There's a Todd Snider line: "In America, we like our bad guys dead." That's an understatement. Dead has become the only way we can imagine their stories ending. We long ago gave up on the notion that enemies can be rehabilitated. In large part, this reflects a loss of faith in justice, replaced by sheer power, the belief that we are right because we have the might to force them to tow the line. That was the attitude that Europe took to the South in the 19th century. That was the attitude Germany and Japan made World War with.

That attitude was discredited -- Germany and Japan were allowed to recover as free and peaceful nations; Africa and Asia decolonized; the capitalist world integrated, first with a stable divide from the communists, then by further engagement. There were problems. The US was magnanimous to defeated Germany and Japan, but in turning against the Soviet Union, and in assuming security responsibility for the former European colonies, and in maintaining capitalist hegemony over them, Americans lost their faith in democracy and justice, and embraced power for its own sake. And when that failed, they turned vindictive toward Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and elsewhere.

The Israelis were adept students of power. They learned directly from the British colonial system, with its divide-and-conquer politics, and its use of collective punishment. They worked with the British to defeat the Palestinian revolt of 1937-39, and against the British in 1947-48. They drew lessons from the Nazis. They learned to play games with the world powers, especially with the US. Trita Parsi's book, Treacherous Alliance, is a case study of how they played Iran off for leverage elsewhere, especially with the US. The neocons, with their Israel envy, were especially easy to play.

So when October 7 happened, all the necessary prejudices and reflexive operators were aligned. Hamas were the perfect villains: they had their roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, which qualified them as Islamists, close enough to the Salafis and Deobandis who Americans had branded as terrorists even before 9/11; they had become rivals with the secular PLO within the Occupied Territories, especially after Israel facilitated Arafat's return under the Oslo Accords -- a rivalry which led them to become more militant against Israel, which Israel intensified by assassinating their leaders; when they finally did decide to run for elections, they won but the results were disallowed, leading to them seizing power in Gaza, which Israel then blockaded, "put on a diet," and "mowed the grass" in a series of punishing sieges and incursions; along the way, Hamas managed to get a small amount of aid from Iran, so found themselves branded as an Iranian proxy, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen -- Israel knew that any hint of Iranian influence would drive the Americans crazy.

Not only was Hamas the perfect enemy, Israel and the United States had come to believe that terrorists were irrational and fanatical, that they could never be negotiated with, and that the only way to deal with them was by systematically killing off their cadres and especially their leaders until they were reduced to utter insignificance. The phrase Israelis used was that their goal was to make Palestinians realize that they were "an utterly defeated people." When I first heard that phrase, a picture came to mind, of the last days of the American Indian campaigns, when the last Sioux and Apache surrendered to be kept as helpless dependents on wasteland reservations.

On its founding, Israel kept a British legal system that was designed to subjugate native populations, to surveil them, and to arbitrarily arrest and punish anyone they suspected of disloyalty. They discriminated legally against natives, limiting their economic prospects, curtailing their freedom, and punishing them harshly, including collective punishments -- a system which instilled fear of each against the other, where every disobedient act became an excuse for harsher and more sweeping mistreatment.

After Hamas took control of Gaza, those punishments were often delivered by aircraft, wielding 2,000-pound bombs that could flatten whole buildings. Hamas responded with small, imprecise rockets, of no military significance but symbolic of defiance, a way of saying we can still reach beyond your walls. Israel always responded with more shelling and bombing, a dynamic that repeatedly escalated until the horror started to turn world opinion against Israel. Having made their point, Israel could then ease off, until the next opportunity or provocation sent them on the warpath again.

The October 7 "attack" -- at the time, I characterized it, quite accurately I still think, as a jail break followed by a brief crime spree. In short order, Israel killed most of the "attackers," and resealed the border. The scale, in terms of the numbers of Israelis killed or captured was much larger than anything Palestinians had previously managed, and the speed was even more striking, but the overall effect was mostly symbolic, and the threat of more violence coming from Gaza dissipated almost immediately. Israel had no real need to counterattack. They could have easily negotiated a prisoner swap -- Israel had many times more Palestinians in jail than Hamas took as hostages, and had almost unlimited power to add to their numbers. But Israel's leaders didn't want peace. They wanted to reduce Palestinians to "an utterly defeated people." And since there was no way to do that other than to kill most of them and drive the rest into exile -- basically a rerun of the Nakba, only more intense, because having learned that lesson, Palestinians would cling even more tenaciously to their homeland.

That's why the immediate reaction of Israel's leaders was to declare their intent to commit genocide. The problem with that idea was that since the Holocaust, any degree of genocide had become universally abhorrent. To proceed, Israel had to keep the war going, and to keep it going, they had to keep their ideal enemy alive, long enough to do major devastation, making Gaza unlivable for anywhere near the 2.3 million people who managed to live through decades of hardships there, with starvation playing a major role in decimating the population.

In order to commit genocide, Israel had to supplement its killing machinery with a major propaganda offensive, because they remembered that what finally stopped their major wars of 1948-49, 1956, 1967, and 1973, and their periodic assaults on Lebanon and Gaza, was public opinion, especially in America. But Netanyahu knew how to push America's buttons. He declared that the only thing Israel could do to protect itself -- the one thing Israel had to do in order to keep this mini-Holocaust from ever happening again -- was to literally kill everyone in Hamas.

And Americans fell for that line, completely. They believed that Hamas were intractably evil terrorists, and they knew that terrorists cannot be appeased or even negotiated with. And they trusted that Israelis knew what they were doing and how best to do it, so all they really had to do was to provide support and diplomatic cover, giving Israel the time and tools to do the job as best they saw fit. And sure, there would be some collateral damage, because Hamas uses civilians as human shields -- it never really occurring to Americans that those super-smart, super-moral Israelis can't actually tell the difference between Hamas and civilians even if they wanted to, which most certainly they do not. And if anything does look bad, Israel can always come up with a cover story good enough for Americans to believe. After all, Americans have a lot of practice believing their own atrocity cover up stories.

The hostage situation turned out to be really useful for keeping the spectre of Hamas alive. There is no real way for Americans to evaluate how much armed defense Hamas is still capable of in Gaza -- their capability to attack beyond the walls was depleted instantly as they shot their wad on October 7 -- so the only reliable "proof of existence" of Hamas is when their allies show up for meetings in Qatar and Cairo. And there's no chance of agreement, as the only terms Israel is offering is give up all the hostages, surrender, and die. But by showing up, they affirm that Hamas still exists, and by refusing to surrender, they remind the Americans that the only way this can end is by killing them all.

And while that charade is going on, Israel continues to kill indiscriminately, to destroy everything, to starve, to render Gaza unlivable. And they will continue to do so, until enough of us recognize their real plan is genocide, and we shame them into stopping. We are making progress in that direction, as we can see as Biden starts to waver in his less and less enthusiastic support, but we still have a long ways to go.

The key to making more progress will be to break down several of the myths Israel has spun. In particular, we have to abandon the belief that we can solve all our problems by killing everyone who disagrees with us. Second, we need to understand that killing or otherwise harming people only causes further resentment and resistance. People drunk on power tend to ignore this, but it's really not a difficult or novel idea: as Rabbi Hillel put it, "That which is hateful unto you, do not do to your neighbor."

Moreover, we need to understand that negotiated agreement between responsible parties is much preferable to the diktat of a single party, no matter how powerful that party is. It's not clear to me that Israel needs to negotiate an agreement with Hamas, because it's not clear to me that Hamas is the real and trusted agent of the people of Palestine or Gaza, but some group needs to emerge as the responsible party, and the more solid their footing, the better partner they can be.

Israel, like the British before them, has always insisted on picking its favored Palestinian representatives, while making them look foolish, corrupt, and/or ineffective. Arafat may only have been the latter, but by not allowing him to accomplish anything, Israel opened up the void that Hamas tried to fill. But Hamas has only had the power it was able to seize by force, and even then was severely limited by what Israel would allow, in a perverse symbiotic relationship that we could spend a lot of time on -- Israel has often found Hamas to be very useful, so their current view that Hamas has to be exterminated seems more like a line to be fed to the Americans, who tend to take good vs. evil ever so literally.


Initial count: 217 links, 12,552 words.


Top story threads:

Israel:

Israel vs. world opinion:

America's increasingly desperate and pathetic empire:

Election notes: There were presidential primaries on April 2, all won as expected by Biden and Trump: Connecticut: Trump 77.9%, Biden 84.9%; New York: Trump 82.1%, Biden 91.5%; Rhode Island: Trump 84.5%, Biden 82.6%; Wisconsin: Trump 79.2%, Biden 88.6%; also Delaware has no vote totals, but gave all delegates to Trump and Biden. The next primary will be in Pennsylvania on April 23.

Trump, and other Republicans:

I've been reading Tricia Romano's oral history of The Village Voice, The Freaks Came Out to Write, and ran into a section on Wayne Barrett, who started reporting on Trump in the 1970s, and published the first serious book on Trump in 1992. The discussion there is worth quoting at some length (pp. 522-524):

TOM ROBBINS: Wayne appreciated the fact that Trump could be a serious player, given his willingness to play the race card, which was clear from his debut speech that he was gonna go after illegal immigrants and Mexicans. As long as you're going to outwardly play the race card in the Republican primary, you can actually command a lot. And Wayne understood that. He was surprised as the rest of us the way that Trump just mowed down the rest of the opposition and that nobody could stand up to him.

WILLIAM BASTONE: He knew that Trump was appealing to something that was going to have traction with people and that wasn't just a passing thing. I said, "Wayne, don't you think people see through this and they understand that he's really just a con man and a huckster and a racist?" The stuff goes back, at that point, almost thirty years with his father and avoiding renting apartments to Black families in Brooklyn.

And he was like, "No, that's gonna be a plus for him, for the people that he's going to end up attracting." I was like, "You're crazy, Wayne. You're crazy."

There was talk that he may have used racially charged or racist remarks when he was doing The Apprentice. And I said, "So Wayne, if it ever came out that Trump used those words or used the N-word?" And Wayne said, "That would be good for him." He was totally right. And then nine months later, he's talking about shooting people on Fifth Avenue. Trump understood that "there's really nothing I can do [wrong] because these people hate the people I hate, and we're all gonna be together."

TOM ROBBINS: When I was at the Observer, I had a column in there called Wise Guys. And at that point, Trump was talking about running for president. This was 1987, that was thirty years before he actually ran, almost. He was focused on this from the very beginning. And none of us took him seriously. . . .

As someone who worked with the tabloid press for a long time, the people who invented Trump were all those tabloid gossip reporters who dined out from all of his items over the years and who reported them right up until the time he ran for president. This is one of the great unrecognized crimes of the press. We in the tabloid press created Trump; it wasn't Wayne. Wayne was going after him.

JONATHAN Z. LARSEN: This is the media's Frankenstein's monster. Trump would call, using a fake name, saying, "I'm the PR guy for Donald Trump. I really shouldn't be telling you this, but he's about to get divorced, and he's got three women he's looking at. There's Marla Maples. There's so-and-so." Very often the people that he was speaking to recognized his voice. They loved it. It was free copy.

Barrett really did have some incredibly good information on Trump, how he built Trump Tower. The head of the concrete union was mobbed up. There was this crazy woman who bought the apartment just underneath Donald Trump's because she was sleeping with the concrete guy, and she wanted to install a pool. It's astonishing, the stuff he got. It's a national treasure now that we have Wayne Barrett's reporting. As soon as Trump became president, everybody was picking through all of Wayne's files.

The ellipsis covers a section on Barrett's Trump book, and stopped before a section on Barrett's horror watching the 2016 returns. By then Barrett was terminably ill, and he died just before Trump's inauguration. I remember reading about Trump in the Voice back in the 1970s, so I was aware of him as a major scumbag, but I took no special interest in him otherwise. Anything I did notice simply added to my initial impression.

Biden and/or the Democrats:

  • Aaron Blake: [04-05] Gaza increasingly threatens Democrats' Trump-era unity.

  • Ben Burgis: [04-04] Democratic voters are furious about US support of Israel.

  • Rachel M Cohen: [04-01] You can't afford to buy a house. Biden knows that.

  • Page S Gardner/Stanley B Greenberg: [03-15] They don't want Trump OR Biden. Here's how they still can elect Biden. "Our new survey of these voters shows the president can still win their support."

  • Robert Kuttner: [04-04] Liberals need to be radicals: "The agenda for Biden's next term must go deeper to restore the American dream." The substance here is fine, but why resort to clichés? The "American dream" was never more than a dream. One can argue that we should dream again, and work to realize those dreams for everyone. Back in the 1960s, the first real political book I bought was an anthology called The New Radicals, edited by Paul Jacobs and Saul Landau, and I immediately saw the appeal of the word "radical" for those who seek deep roots of social problems, but nowadays the word is mostly used as a synonym for "extremist." But perhaps more importantly, I've cooled on the desirability for deep solutions (revolutions) and come to appreciate more superficial reforms. I would refashioned the title to say that "liberals need to be leftists," because the liberal dream of freedom can only be universalized through solidarity with others, and is of little value if limited to self-isolating individuals.

  • Tim Miller: [04-05] Joe Biden is not a "genocidal maniac": "And it's not just wrong but reckless and irresponsible to say he is." I agree with the title, but I disagree with the subhed. Genocide wasn't his idea, nor is it something he craves maniacally. But he is complicit in genocide, and not just passively so. He has said things that have encouraged Israel, and he has done things that have materially supported genocide. He has shielded them in the UN, with "allies," and in the media. I've thought a lot about morality lately, and I've come to think that it (and therefore immorality) can only be considered among people who have the freedom to decide on their own what to say and do. Many people are severely limited in their autonomy, but as president of the United States, Biden does have a lot of leeway, and should be judged accordingly.

    I realize that one might argue that morality is subordinate to politics -- that sometimes actual political considerations convince one to do things that normally regard as immoral (like going to war against Nazi Germany, or nuking Hiroshima) -- but the fundamentals remain the same: is the politician free to choose? One might argue that Biden's initial blind support for Israel was purely reflexive -- lessons he had learned over fifty years in AIPAC-dominated Washington, a reflex shared by nearly every other politician so conditioned -- but even so, as president Biden had access to information and a lot of leeway to act, and therefore should be held responsible for his political, as well as moral, decisions.

    Miller goes on to upbraid people for saying "Genocide Joe." He makes fair points, but hey, given the conditions, that's going to happen. Most of us have very little power to influence someone like Biden -- compared to big-time donors, colleagues, and pundits, all of whom are still pretty limited -- so trying to shame him with a colorful nickname is one of the few things one can try. In a similar vein, we used to taunt: "Hey, hey, LBJ; how many kids did you kill today?" And sure, LBJ was more directly responsible for the slaughter in Vietnam than Biden is in Gaza, but both earned the blame. Biden, at least, still has a chance to change course. If he fails, he, and he alone, sealed his fate.

  • Elena Schneider/Jeff Coltin: [03-29] Pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted Biden's glitzy New York fundraiser: "The event padded Biden's cash advantage, but laid bare one of his biggest weaknesses." The Biden campaign's response seems to be to try to exclude potential protesters:

    • Lisa Lerer/Reid J Epstein/Katie Glueck: [04-07] How Gaza protesters are challenging Democratic leaders: "From President Biden to the mayors of small cities, Democrats have been trailed by demonstrators who are complicating the party's ability to campaign in an election year." By the way, better term here than in the Politico piece: you don't have to be "pro-Palestinian" to be appalled by genocide. You can even be consciously pro-Israel, someone who cares so much for Israel that your most fervent desire is to spare them the shame of the path Netanyahu et al. have set out on.

  • Washington Monthly: [04-07] Trump vs. Biden: Who got more done? The print edition has a series of "accomplishment index" articles comparing the records of the two presidents. You can probably guess the results, especially if you don't count corruption and vandalism, the main drivers of the Trump administration, as accomplishments:

Legal matters and other crimes:

Climate and environment:

Economic matters:

Ukraine War:

Around the world:

The bridge:

Beyoncé: Cowboy Carter: I played the album (twice), and will present my thoughts in the next Music Week. I figured I was pretty much done with it before I started collecting these, but thought it might be interesting to note them:


Other stories:

Hannah Goldfield: [04-08] In the kitchen with the grand dame of Jewish cooking: Gnoshing with Joan Nathan.

Luke Goldstein: [04-02] The in-flight magazine for corporate jets: "The Economist has channeled the concerns of elites for decades. It sees the Biden administration as a threat."

Stephen Holmes: [04-04] Radical mismatch: A review of Samuel Moyn: Liberalism Against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times.

David Cay Johnston: [04-05] Antitax nation: Review of Michael J Graetz: The Power to Destroy: How the Antitax Movement Hijacked America, explaining "how clever marketing duped America into shoveling more tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations."

Sarah Jones:

Natalie Korach/Ross A Lincoln: [04-05] Meta blocks Kansas Reflector and MSNBC columnist over op-ed criticizing Facebook: "The company says Friday afternoon that the blocks, which falsely labeled the links as spam, were due to 'a security error.'" A Wichita columnist also wrote on this:

Orlando Mayorquin/Amanda Holpuch: [04-07] Southwest plane makes emergency landing after Boeing engine cover falls off. And just when I thought I'd get through a week with no Boeing stories. Then I noticed I had two more waiting:

Rick Perlstein: [04-03] Joe Lieberman not only backed Bush's war; he also helped make Bush president: "A remembrance of this most feckless of Democrats."

Nathan J Robinson: And other recent pieces from his zine, Current Affairs:

Jeffrey St Clair: [04-04] The day John Sinclair died: "The poet, musician, writer, pot liberator, raconteur, Tigers fan, jazzbo, political radical, producer of MC5, founder of the White Panthers and occasional CounterPunch, John Sinclair died this week at 82."

Michael Stavola: [04-03] Wichitan involved in deadly swatting arrested after reportedly doing donuts in Old Town: This story, where Wichita Police murdered Andrew Finch, keeps getting sicker. The trigger man not only got off, he's since been promoted, even after the city agreed to pay $5 million to the victim's family, while they managed to pin blame on three other pranksters. There's plenty of blame to go around. Not even mentioned here is the gun lobby and their Republican stooges who did so much to create an atmosphere where dozens of trigger-happy cops are dispatched to deal with an anonymous complaint, totally convinced that everyone they encounter is at likely to be armed and shoot as they are.

Carl Wilson: [03-25] Sweeping up kernels from Pop Con 2024. Includes links to key presentations by Robert Christgau, Michaelangelo Matos, Glenn McDonald, De Angela L Duff, Alfred Soto, and Ned Raggett.


I scribbled this down from a Nathan J Robinson tweet: "very interesting discussion of how, during World War I, attrocities attributed to German soldiers were used to whip people into a frenzy and create an image of a monstrous, inhuman enemy -- atrocities that later turned out to be dubious/exaggerated, well after the fighting stopped." That was followed by a scan from an unidentified book:

. . . stated that the Germans had systematically murdered, outraged, and violated innocent men, women, and children in Belgium. "Murder, lust, and pillage," the report said, "prevailed over many parts of Belgium on a scale unparalleled in any war between civilised nations during the last three centuries." The report gave titillating details of how German officers and men had publicly raped twenty Belgian girls in the market place at Liège, how eight German soldiers had bayoneted a two-year-old child, and how another had sliced off a peasant girl's breasts in Malilnes. Bryce's signature added considerable weight to the report, and it was not until after the war that several unsatisfactory aspects of the Bryce committee's activities emerged. The committee had not personally interviewed a single witness. The report was based on 1,200 depositions, mostly from Belgian refugees, taken by twenty-two barristers in Britain. None of the witnesses were placed on oath, their names were omitted (to prevent reprisals against their relatives), and hearsay evidence was accepted at full value. Most disturbing of all was the fact that, although the depositions should have been filed at the Home Office, they had mysteriously disappeared, and no trace of them has been found to this day. Finally, a Belgian commission of enquiry in 1922, when passions had cooled, failed markedly to corroborate a single major allegation in the Bryce report. By then, of course, the report had served its purpose. Its success in arousing hatred and condemnation of Germany makes it one of the most successful propaganda pieces of the war.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Daily Log

My brother and his wife came to visit yesterday. They wanted to go out to eat the famous fried chicken at Stroud's, so we did that. I've never been there without thinking that I could do a better job, a riff that actually started with my mother thinking just that, which she definitely could and did, hundreds of times.

I offered to cook one day, and Steve said that one thing he wanted to do on this trip was have a "good family dinner." So I proposed to cook for Thursday evening. I figured we'd also invite Ram and Jerry over -- our nephew, and Jerry's about as close to family as a friend can get. As I was waking up, I thought through a number of possible menus. What I came up with was:

  • Roasted chicken with fennel and clementines: An Ottolenghi recipe, marinated in ouzo, best with chicken thighs.
  • Roasted sweet potatoes & dates: Another Ottolenghi, original called for figs but mejdol dates are better, with scallions and balsamic glaze.
  • Caponata: Eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, with an extra bit of sweet and sour, from Jenkins, a variation on ratatouille. I picked this over several Ottolenghi recipes, because it's easier both to shop for and to cook, and exceptionally good.
  • Horiatiki salad: My standard Greek chopped salad. I considered an Ottolenghi spinach salad, and shopped for it, so it's still an option.
  • Parsley & barley salad: Another Ottolenghi. I figured I had the barley, so would be an easy side.
  • Mast va khiar: Iranian cucumber-yogurt-mint salad, with scallions, sultanas, and black walnuts. Last minute addition, one I often make, which goes with everything.
  • Pineapple upside-down cake: Jerry's favorite, a belated birthday cake, with vanilla ice cream on the side.

I figure I can make a substantial start on this tonight, then finish it up rather easily tomorrow. First went shopping this afternoon. Took two Dillons, as the first one didn't have chicken thighs with skin on, and the second didn't have any out, but found some in the back. Main substitute was mandarins for clementines. I also wound up buying eggplant in both stores, as it looked much better in the second. Not sure what I'll do with the surplus.

Minimum plan for cooking tonight: marinate the chicken; bake the cake; make cucumber-yogurt. I may also go ahead and roast the sweet potatoes, although they're pretty easy day-of. Barley salad would also be an easy project tonight. For that matter, I could do the caponata (except for the vinegar, which goes in just before serving).

Tomorrow, the chicken will be timed to be served straight from the oven, so there's very little to it, and the timing is straightforward. The caponata takes a few hours to cook down, but little attention. The sweet potatoes is just presentation after the wedges are roasted. The salad is just chopped, then dressed with a little olive oil.

I should make a pitcher of iced tea, since that's my brother's preferred beverage. I have a bake-it-yourself baguette, so if I get bored, I might consider some kind of canapés. Still hard to see that I need much more.

Mike & family are coming on Friday, but will probably be late -- they're driving from Washington. There should be leftovers, plus various things that can be improvised as needed. Plan is for him to cook dinner on Saturday, inviting a few of his friends over. We haven't discussed menu yet, but any excess shopping can be folded into that meal.

Post-dinner update [03-05]: Got the minimum, plus the barley salad, done Wednesday night. I should probably cut the cake time down a bit, as it came out a bit dry. It's designed for a 9-inch cake pan, but I use a 10-inch stainless steel skillet (two metal handles instead of the long wooden one).

Started Thursday by roasting the sweet potatoes. Caponata recipe was more complicated than I remembered. Called for roasted red bell peppers, which the 475F for the sweet potatoes was perfect for. Cut the eggplant and soaked it in brine. Then the veggies had to be cooked separately, added to the roasted peppers: onion/garlic, eggplant, zucchini, then the tomatoes (I used a large can of peeled, adding a small can of fire-roasted crushed). When I had the tomatoes reduced to a thick sauce, I added the sugar/vinegar, the cooked veggies, some spices, capers, and eventually some chopped green olives. I kept the heat on low until I served it.

I finished up the sweet potatoes, adding sliced dates and sauteeing the scallions. I usually have store-bought balsamic glaze, but didn't have enough, so had to make a batch from scratch. Chicken went into the gas oven about 5:15. Looked pretty good at 6:00, but I flipped the broiler on for good measure. I moved the pieces to a baking dish, then scraped the drippings (after pouring off some fat) into a saucepan with the leftover marinade, reduced it, and poured the sauce over the chicken. Truly spectacular dish.

Seven people: Steve, Josi, Ram, Jerry, Beth, Laura and me. Jerry and Beth made a "fashionably late" entrance, by which time we were all pretty sated. Gave us a breather before dessert. Kitchen was a mess, but cleaned up fairly quickly. Lots of leftover caponata, mast va khiar, and barley salad. Only one piece of chicken left (of 10 thighs, about 5.25 lbs), and a few slivers of sweet potato.

I didn't get to bed until close to 4. Didn't sleep well, waking up at 7, then finally got up around 9. I should use the time to write on Israel/Gaza, since I won't have much free time until Sunday (if then). Heard from Mike that they have a tire problem, which left them in Rock Springs. So if they make it tonight, it will be a long drive, arriving late. He's still planning on cooking dinner for his friends Saturday.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Music Week

Expanded blog post, April archive (in progress).

Tweet: Music Week: 40 albums, 7 A-list

Music: Current count 42079 [42039] rated (+40), 39 [31] unrated (+8).


New records reviewed this week:

  • 1010benja: Ten Total (2024, Three Six Zero): [sp]: A-
  • Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Les Jardins Mystiques Vol. 1 (2023, Brainfeeder, 3CD): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Jim Baker/Steve Hunt/Jakob Heinemann: Horizon Scanners (2022 [2024], Clean Feed): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Peter Brötzmann/Paal Nilssen-Love: Chicken Shit Bingo (2015 [2024], Trost): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Christie Dashiell: Journey in Black (2023, self-released): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Empress Of: For Your Consideration (2024, Major Arcana/Giant): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Julieta Eugenio: Stay (2023 [2024], Cristalyn): [cd]: A-
  • Four Tet: Three (2024, Text): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Kim Gordon: The Collective (2024, Matador): [sp]: A-
  • Guillermo Gregorio: Two Trios (2018-20 [2023], ESP-Disk): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Guillermo Gregorio/Damon Smith/Jerome Bryerton: The Cold Arrow (2022 [2023], Balance Point Acoustics): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Mercer Hassy Orchestra: Duke's Place (2022-23 [2024], Mercer Hassy): [cd]: A- [04-15)
  • Jlin: Akoma (2024, Planet Mu): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Julien Knowles: As Many, as One (2023 [2024], Biophilia): [cd]: B+(*) [04-26]
  • Anysia Kym: Truest (2024, 10k, EP): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Ellie Lee: Escape (2024, self-released): [cd]: B+(***) [05-24]
  • Adrianne Lenker: Bright Future (2024, 4AD): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Kali Malone: All Life Long (2024, Ideologic Organ): [sp]: B+(*)
  • The Messthetics/James Brandon Lewis: The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis (2024, Impulse!): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Travis Reuter: Quintet Music (2022 [2024], self-released): [cd]: B+(***) [04-19]
  • Schoolboy Q: Blue Lips (2024, Interscope): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Altin Sencalar: Discover the Present (2024, Posi-Tone): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: New Concepts in Piano Trio Jazz (2023 [2024], ESP-Disk): [cd]: A- [04-05]
  • Jacob Shulman: High Firmament (2024, Endectomorph Music): [cdr]: B
  • Jacob Shulman: Ferment Below (2024, Endectomorph Music): [cdr]: B
  • Ronny Smith: Struttin' (2024, Pacific Coast Jazz): [cd]: B+(*) [04-19]
  • Mary Timony: Untame the Tiger (2024, Merge): [sp]: B
  • Erik Truffaz: Clap! (2023, Blue Note): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Julia Vari Feat. Negroni's Trio: Somos (2024, Alternative Representa): [cd]: A-
  • Fay Victor: Herbie Nichols SUNG: Life Is Funny That Way (2023 [2024], Tao Forms, 2CD): [cd]: A [04-05]
  • Waxahatchee: Tigers Blood (2024, Anti-): [sp]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Sven-Åke Johansson und Alexander von Schlippenbach: Über Ursache und Wirkung der Meinungsverschiedenheiten Beim Turmbau zu Babel (1994 [2024], Trost): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Microstoria: Init Ding + _Snd (1995-96 [2024], Thrill Jockey, 2CD): [sp]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Guillermo Gregorio: Faktura (1999-2000 [2002], Hat Now): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Pauline Anna Strom: Trans-Millenia Consort (1982, Ether Ship): [sp]: B+(***)
  • Pauline Anna Storm: Plot Zero (1982-83 [1983], Trans-Millenia Consort): [sp]: A-
  • Pauline Anna Storm: Spectre (1982-83 [1984], Trans-Millenia Consrt): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Pauline Anna Storm: Echoes, Spaces, Lines (1982-83 [2023], RVNG Intl): [sp/bc]: B+(***)
  • Julia Vari: Adoro (2015, Alternativa Representa): [sp]: B+(**)
  • Julia Vari: Lumea: Canciones del Mundo en Jazz (2013, Alternativa Representa): [sp]: B+(*)
  • Julia Vari: Bygone Nights (2018, Alternative Representa, EP): [sp]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon: In Perfect Harmony: The Lost Album (1972, Jazz Detective) [04-20]
  • John Basile: Heatin' Up (StringTime Jazz) [04-01]
  • Nicola Caminiti: Vivid Tales of a Blurry Self-Portrait (self-released) [05-10]
  • The Core: Roots (Moserobie) [04-12]
  • Arnaud Dolmen/Leonardo Montana; LéNo (Quai Son) [03-29]
  • Dave Douglas: Gifts (Greenleaf Music) [04-12]
  • Yelena Eckemoff: Romance of the Moon (L&H PRoduction) [05-10]
  • Eric Frazier: That Place (EFP Productions) [03-29]
  • Jazz at the Ballroom: Flying High: Big Band Canaries Who Soared (Jazz at the Ballroom) [05-03]
  • Maria João & Carlos Bica Quartet: Close to You (JACC)
  • Yusef Lateef: Atlantis Lullaby: The Concert From Avignon (1972, Elemental Music, 2CD) [04-26]
  • Shawn Maxwell: J Town Suite (Cora Street) [05-01]
  • Modney: Ascending Primes (Pyroclastic) [05-18]
  • Mike Monford: The Cloth I'm Cut From (self-released) [05-04]
  • Mute: After You've Gone (Endectomorph Music) * [05-13]
  • The Michael O'Neill Sextet: Synergy: With Tony Lindsay (Jazzmo) [04-19]
  • Sun Ra: At the Showcase: Live in Chicago 1976-1977 (Jazz Detective, 2CD) [04-20]
  • Art Tatum: Jewels in the Treasure Box: The 1953 Chicago Blue Note Jazz Club Recordings (Resonance, 3CD) [04-20]
  • Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy: The Mighty Warriors (1995, Elemental Music, 2CD): [04-20]

 


Mar 2024