I'm back online (sorta) in the wee hours betwixt sun and sleep here in Malaga.
I'm not big on New Year's resolutions ... more of the 'no time like the present' kind of person. The last time I participated in this generally ill-fated ritual was when I was a teenager, and back then it was probably something like "be less dorky". And we can see how that turned out!
I have, however, recently joined a flickr group in which I have sworn a blood oath to take at least one photo per day in 2011. You may have noticed a few images popping up on the front page which represent my first efforts. I hope to improve throughout the year, so all you professional and amateur photographers should be sure to pass along all those helpful tidbits!
No more posts this year for me which, if you follow this blog, should feel pretty much the same as usual! Instead, I’ll poach Tom Tomorrow’s roundup of the crazy, crazy year that was. Happy New Year everyone!!
It is said that given a sufficient timeline, even a blindfolded monkey could eventually crank out the complete works of William Shakespeare. So while I find the mainstream media's latest obsession with TSA overreach nothing more than crass opportunism in exploiting a momentary twitter peak, I have been enjoying the catharsis of finally seeing air- and ink-time devoted to exposing this dark stain on our national identity.
In the wake of 9-11, we not only ceded airport authority to agents lacking any substantial training in either law-enforcement or civil liberties, but did so in such a manner as to effectively exempt then from oversight under the constitution-busting guise of 'national security.' Anyone surprised by abuses, or the banality of evil "just following orders" vein of defense, should seriously consider a career in public relations. Yet among the various accounts of those urine-stained, lead-vulvad and child molested victims of this behemoth, scant attention has been paid to the more telling question of who remains exempt from these invasions.
Actually, this is something I wrote about, to no measurable reception, in a column over five years ago. Little has changed since then. With all of the recent talk about airport security, this ought to be a bombshell of a story. Every media outfit in the country should be covering it. It undermines almost everything TSA has told us from the beginning about the "need" to screen pilots and flight attendants, and if there is a more ringing "let me get this straight ..." scenario anywhere in the realm of airport security, I’d like to hear it.
Since the TSA is clearly aware of the loophole, it is difficult to see this as anything other than the same selective myopia that lead to a crackdown on airport security while virtually ignoring the far more pervasive threat to our nation's maritime ports. In that case it was the lobbying efforts of Walmart in using its economic influence to subvert efforts towards tighter port security insofar as “security requirements should not become a barrier to trade.” Yet given the wasteful spending lavished upon aviation security, it is difficult to reconcile our unwillingness to subject multinationals to the same treatment demanded by the TSA.
Chomsky once noted that a democracy is a state whose central institutions are under popular control, whereas under capitalism, those institutions are under autocratic control. When Bob's Catering Conglomerate can move freely about while I have to choose between a radiation bath or public hand-job, I have to ask which one we really are?
It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling to find my voice these last few years. Those of you who have been following this blog since 2002 probably recall the days when I was a great deal more hostile than I am today. I wish I could say that I’ve tempered this because of some transcendent cognitive shift or, even better, my fellow herd-mates actually doing less to piss me off. It is true that my Ph.D., publications and other projects have given me a more proactive outlet for these emotions, but only among (let’s face it) a very, very small segment of the population both equipped and amenable to engaging on this this level. In other words, eggheads.
No, if I have been more civil on this blog of late it is because I have been self-censoring. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing - the motivation for thinking before I blog still rings true. I want to see some rather profound changes in the world I live, and that starts with me. Poking fun and otherwise berating people for their beliefs, no matter how willfully ignorant I feel they may be, will not lead to change. In fact, the opposite is probably more true – calling someone out on their idiocy is just going to make them a louder, more defensive idiot. So I am trying (with at best a modicum of success) to be the change I wish to see.
That said, I remain a work in progress and have chosen to remain fairly mum throughout the last election season. Yet following on Monday’s post about civility in the media, I do recognize that while my censorship may not add to the rampant taint among armchair pundits, it certainly does nothing to help either. I want to be certain that I am not using civility as an excuse for cowardice; that friend, family, peace-activist or hater, if you’re being an asshat, I hope to have the courage to tell you so. And I hope for the insight to tell you in such a way as to heal, not hurt. I still don’t know if these aims can coexist.
Would, therefore, that I were a humorist instead of a cynic, I might be able to publish something constructive instead of telling you outright that if you think Obama is a socialist I strongly believe that you are either willfully ignorant of what this means, a weak-minded sheep, or an unabashed racist and I defy you to provide a smidge of evidence to the veracity of this nonsense. But if you think he is on your side, that Obama spends his days trying to fight for the middle class, then you’re just as deluded.
I lobbied for Obama. I did it because I believed (and remain convinced) that he is infintiely more qualified for the job than McCain/Palin would have been and have neither regretted my efforts nor my vote. But this president, like any other in my lifetime, is beholden to the same neoliberal machine as the Republicans you probably voted for (even if fooling yourself into believing that a ‘Tea Party’ candidate is not a Republican). You don’t get elected to high-level office in this country without espousing the values of top-down economics, regardless of party. The fact that you keep voting against your own economic interests is an indication of how strongly our global hegemons have convinced you to identify with their value system. And I believe that this identification lies at the root of much suffering in the world.
I love you all, but will continue to shout - in the nicest possible way - that I think you’re being a tool until either the machine breaks down, we achieve class consciousness, or both.
Even though I consider music to be an essential tier of Maslow’s pyramid, I seldom (if ever) blog about it. But the remix artist Girl Talk just released his latest album under a creative commons license and all I can say is yiggity-yowza! Seriously, even if remix isn’t your thing, you owe it to yourself (and let’s face it, you owe it to your mother) to give this one a go. You can download All Day from illegal-art.
Fallacious yet widespread and documented beliefs courtesy of Wikipedia.
According to urban myth, the daddy longlegs spider (Pholcus phalangioides) is the most venomous spider in the world, but the shape of their mandibles leaves them unable to bite humans, rendering them harmless to our species. In reality, they can indeed pierce human skin, though the tiny amount of venom they carry causes only a mild burning sensation for a few seconds. In addition, there is also confusion regarding the use of the name daddy longlegs, because harvestmen (order Opiliones, which are not spiders) and crane flies (which are insects) are also known as daddy longlegs, and share (also incorrectly) the myth of being venomous.
Books by Jay
Conflict and Conciliation: Faith and Politics in an Age of Global Dissonance
Despite the peaceful foundations of global monotheistic religions, the broad diversity of interpretations can lead to a sharp paradox regarding the use of force. Inevitably, we must ask ourselves: How can those who ascribe to peaceful beliefs suspend their own moral foundation to beat the drums of war? ... read more
Hover or click for reviews
A self-indulgent blog for people just like me - PhD, author, photographer, entrepreneur, husband, father, music-lover, and uber-geek. More about Jay