Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday cat blogging

Gray on the dining room table. He likes this table because he can see out the front windows, and because it often has stuff on it that he can push onto the floor. Here it is unusually free of such objects, and perhaps he disapproves. But it is hard to read a cat's expressions.

Gray the cat

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Anti-war march in Austin, St. Patrick's Day

One of the first posts on this blog, 2 years ago, was a brief account of a peace march on the final Saturday of South by Southwest in Austin in 2005. SxSW as it is called, has become a big deal here, with crowds downtown all week long, musician hopefuls from all over performing at amazing hours (sometimes before noon), and music industry people, and talent scouts and hucksters and critics and writers and an amazing array of people who get their way payed to come here, and when they get here dress like they imagine Austin hippie-musicians do. It's a nice event, but those of us who live and work in Austin generally can't afford to go to many of the performances. There is also a SxSW film festival, as well as music, btw, but the films are earlier in the week. But I digress.

Sadly, the 2005 march did not bring the war to an end, nor has any march since then done so. But we can't give up on this, so today we had another anti-war march. This one was more in the spirit of SxSW than the 2005 event, because we had our own music. Word seemed to have gotten out that any musician was welcome and any musical instrument should be brought. And a lot of people who could actually play came to the march, plus, to make it democratic, so did a lot of people who brought pie pans to bang on with spoons.

But it doesn't matter, in a parade, because when the tubas and trumpets and trombones at the front were playing When the Saints Go Marching In (they did, actually, most of the way, real loud), the various knots of instruments along the length of the march would play something else because you can't hear what's at the front anyway if you are fifty yards behind.

So we paraded through the streets of Austin behind a brass band, mostly a tuba ensemble, but with any conceivable instrument being played somewhere in the throng, from pennywhistles to ukuleles to saxaphones to fiddles.

It's almost enough to restore your faith in America, several thousand people marching down Congress Avenue in opposition to the Iraq War, with a loud brass band and police motorcycles leading the way and the cops in general being nice even when people wandered out of the designated lanes (we were supposed to only use half of Congress Avenue, though we were allowed all of Sixth Street, which is already blocked off to car traffic anyway because of SxSW.) The crowds on Sixth Street, just as in 2005, were mostly bewildered, but strongly supportive. Many joined the march, since the parade had better music than some of the indoor venues, no doubt.

The parade ended, as before, on the steps of city hall, with more music.

More photos are on my Flickr page, which is where you will go when you click on the photos below.

Dancing in the parade
Anti-War March in Austin, St. Patrick's Day, 2007

Here we are on Sixth Street, the heart of Austin's music district
Anti-War March in Austin, St. Patrick's Day, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday cat blogging

Gray looking out the kitchen window early in the morning. There's nothing out there.
Gray, the cat-2

Gray attempting to psychokinetically fill his food bowl by gazing powerfully at the servant
Gray, the cat--1

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Joe Klein

Having taken a brief vacation from public affairs, I was unaware until today that a Time magazine columnist named Joe Klein had caused a stir in left-Blogistan by accusing us of being, well, left-wing extremists. Or rather, we "might be" left wing extremists if....[see long list below.]
(Now just how the fuck--to validate the last item on Klein's list--can a guy get what I presume is a nice meal ticket and a regular gig writing for a magazine found in every dentist's office, plus second-tier Sunday afternoon pundit status, with stuff like the following, which is absolutely no different in quality or thoughtfulness from riffs on "you might be a redneck if your porch caves in and kill four of your dogs, etc."?)

A left-wing extremist exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes:
--believes the United States is a fundamentally negative force in the world.
Hmm. A majority of people in 20 of 26 countries polled by the BBC recently believe that very thing. This makes most Canadians (among many other nationalities) left wing extremists, eh, Joe. In fairness, Israel, Iran, and sometimes North Korea, are widely thought to at least occasionally surpass us in the negative force in the world department. However our current standing is at an all-time low world-wide, according to the pollsters, and a majority of people in the world outside of Poland and a few countries in Africa join me in being left wing extremists, it seems.

--believes that American imperialism is the primary cause of Islamic radicalism.
I guess I could believe that if I belonged to the Trotskyist faction of the SDS. Does Joe Klein think we are living in 1968? When was the last time you heard "American Imperialism" used by anyone but a stand-up comedian?

--believes that the decision to go to war in Iraq was not an individual case of monumental stupidity, but a consequence of America’s fundamental imperialistic nature.
See the previous. I have to say, though, that Joe is trying to slip a false dichotomy past the folks in the dentist's office--it's perfectly possible for a left wing extremist, at least in my case, to believe the decision to go to war in Iraq was neither of the above. How about you, gentle reader?

--tends to blame America for the failures of others—i.e. the failure of our NATO allies to fulfill their responsibilities in Afghanistan.
Um, what? I'm not following this one.

--doesn’t believe that capitalism, carefully regulated and progressively taxed, is the best liberal idea in human history.
Oh, Joe, Joe, how can I answer that when my porch just caved in and killed my dawgs? Jesus H Christ. How can stupid stuff like this even get printed? Should I try to take this question seriously? Should anyone? Suffice it to say that most of us LWEs can, indeed, think of better liberal ideas than capitalism, even capitalism barricaded by Joe's tendentious and somewhat cargo-cultish qualifiers.

--believes American society is fundamentally unfair (as opposed to having unfair aspects that need improvement).
I guess we LWEs are in the glass half empty camp. Sorry, Joe.

--believes that eternal problems like crime and poverty are the primarily the fault of society.
" Eternal problems," huh? Joe likes to telegraph the answers, doesn't he? Now Jesus did say a long time ago, and a little more eloquently than Joe Klein, that the poor are always with us, but I don't think He woulda said that Lazarus should have acknowledged that his situation was neither society's nor Dives' responsibility and gotten himself up from Dives' door and gotten his sorry ass off welfare.

--believes that America isn’t really a democracy.
I also believe that a hot-air balloon isn't an airplane. Who did win the 2000 election, anyway, Joe?

--believes that corporations are fundamentally evil.
There are many corporations. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is probably not fundamentally evil. Walmart is perhaps more towards the powers-of-darkness end of the spectrum. Halliburton is, if not in league with the Devil, clearly in league with His servants in the White House.

--believes in a corporate conspiracy that controls the world.

--is intolerant of good ideas when they come from conservative sources.
I think Joe needs to name one, so we can decide.

--dismissively mocks people of faith, especially those who are opposed to abortion and gay marriage.
Allow me a digression here. Where did the term "people of faith" come from? Whatever happened to "Christians" or "Jews" or "Baptists" or "Seventh Day Adventists" or "members of a polygamous splinter faction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints"? My point being that many "people of faith" do not have opinions on abortion or gay marriage that anyone would want to mock. Some, however, do. To try to gather all the people of faith behind a criticism-proof protective shield constructed as an analogue to "people of color" is to obscure some important distinctions that we LWEs continue to make, living as we do, in the ruined remnants of a reality based world.

--regularly uses harsh, vulgar, intolerant language to attack moderates or conservatives. Well, what can I say? Though I don't want to be vulgar about it, I do feel a little put out that I have wasted a half hour of my time unburdening myself of the certain exasperation I feel when I run into stuff like Mr. Klein's shameless rhetorical defecation on captive readers who already have enough trouble, like a root canal and how to pay for it.