Category Archives: update

The Real Work Begins

Today’s news includes the introduction of a bill to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. To some it sounds like a great idea, to many more it sounds insane. We know, without doubt, what happens in the absence of a regulatory structure. When environmental protections are removed the profits are taken by corporations and the costs payed by the public in the form of adverse health effects and lowered standards of living. There is absolutely zero evidence that corporations will invest in pollution controls in the absence of regulations and an enforcement mechanism. Sure, the outright elimination of the EPA is overly simplistic and considered a longshot, but the Trump administration and the 115th Congress have shown that they will enact rule changes and sidestep protocols to get their way. So who knows.

It is right in line with today’s statement from Steve Bannon where he touted the importance of Trump’s moves to begin a “deconstruction of the administrative state”, which he pointed out was being achieved through the appointment of individuals from the private sector to key Cabinet positions where they can move to eliminate federal regulations.

I want to rant about how I have been in the environmental protection game for 30 years, and how we have made so much progress toward supporting businesses and away from the old cops v. robbers mentality. We as a nation have spent the past 60 years recovering from unchecked polluters. To unlearn that lesson and take the progress in our public health conditions for granted is a grave mistake.

But I have to point out something more fundamental: This is the same old GOP game where the banks, billionaires, corporations, and political insiders get paid in full and up front. The public is, as always, waiting for something to trickle down. And we know that they used the word “trickle” for a reason. It is important to set expectations as low as possible.

The hypocrisy of the Trump cabal is hidden behind their outrageous acts, their racism and thinly veiled white supremacy, their careless approach to international affairs, and dot dot dot. What I opined about in the days immediately after the election has been exactly the case: generals in all intel, security and civilian military posts; Goldman-Sachs running the financials; Billionaire donors, corporate raiders, and incompetents running the agencies.

Meanwhile the Trumps and their friends will never live in proximity to a water supply polluted by coal waste, or live downwind of a coal plant, or miss a National park turned into a stripmine, or get sick from pipeline spill fumes, or be the victim of a cancer-cluster. Their retirement savings won’t vanish like a fart in the wind when an unregulated bank fails and there is no federal insurance backing it. Their health care is a fraction of a percent of their income, not 35% or more. Their homes are not in danger of repossession when the next mortgage crisis inevitably happens. And the list goes on.

Deeper, the hypocrisy and cynicism is even worse. The talk about the fallacy of global warming is chapter and verse to them. Meanwhile their massive real-estate investments are secured by even more massive reinsurance companies that backstop insurance on expensive waterfront properties like Trump’s beloved Mar Y Lago. Reinsurance companies pioneered climate modeling because it helps them assess risk and more accurately value the assets they were insuring. That applies to coastal properties as well as less obvious locations like Manhattan and San Francisco. They will make sure that the private sector continues to make good use of climate models for covering their asses while the public policy the other 99.9% depends on is prevented from using it on an “idealogical basis”.

Inside every one of Trump’s military, security, and agency picks there is a common thread of private investors getting paid up front. Private prisons working with ICE/CBP, Private education companies under DeVos in the Department of Education, Trump’s own corporation (a massive customer of public housing grants) under Carson at HUD, Law firms lining up to support Pruitt’s dismantling of the EPA, and the list goes on.

As a citizen we are under a type of assault that we have not seen, ever, in world history. Our government is using information bombardment to make sure that nobody can focus adequately on one issue while in a whirlwind. The confusion is being compounded by the Trump administration’s constant attacks on the press, the public’s eyes and ears. This info carpet-bombing is having it’s share of success. Everything from the elimination of PBS to the rising spectre of a nuclear first strike, when a rudderless commander in chief needs an easy solution to a complex problem, are real concerns and all equally possible. Meanwhile we watch as a time-share hustling mobster disassembles the greatest democracy on earth.

The list will continue to go on. It is up to the citizenry of this country to call a spade a spade and demand accountability from our representatives, focus on the issues we know best, and do what we can to make a real difference.

 

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A Pause, of Sorts

Put in some time over the past day or so listening to an interview of Ta-Nehisi Coates by Ezra Klein of VOX and it was too much to absorb in one go. But before I go back for a second run-through I encourage anyone stumbling over this post to give it a listen. To me it is a frank and honest exchange about how even supporters and admirers of Barack Obama can have serious reservations about him. And that is OK. There are many deeper elements to the discussion. Very essential if you have been looking for something other than name-calling and fear baiting. I also found some of the best ideas “in the spaces” around the discussion. The connections I was making outside of their dialogue were very deep and very personal. Who can ask for more than that.

This blog is very much a stream of consciousness outlet for me. I am often doing more opinioneering than real research, and rarely does it approach any kind of long-form result. I found myself reflecting on that during the piece, and maybe the second listen will cement some of those reflections, or maybe obliterate them.

 

Get Smart (FAST, please)

This week brought us something superficially hilarious, but also very instructive and somewhat terrifying.

Trump Adviser Questions Climate Change, Cites ‘5,500 Year History’ of Earth

While it is easy to do a spit-take when you have a presidential advisor and senior transition team member who gauges the age of our planet at 5,500 years, don’t laugh.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo has this exchange:

SCARAMUCCI: Chris, there was an overwhelming science that the Earth was flat. And there was an overwhelming science that —

CUOMO: It’s called ignorance. You learn over time.

SCARAMUCCI:  We were the center of the world. A hundred percent, you know, we get a lot of things wrong in the scientific community. You and I both know that. I’m not suggesting that we’re not affecting the change. I honestly don’t know, I’m not a scientist. If you’re asking me for my opinion, it’s probably a blend of people

NO. The neither the concept of a flat earth or geocentrism was scientific consensus in this context. It was the view of the Church, and via the church, the State. As a religious devotee (5,500 years is like Alpha-science-denial territory) of his degree he knows this. Cuomo can’t seem to summon up a middle-school history lesson to refute him. This isn’t a small detail. This is brutal, and Cuomo should be held accountable. The climate deniers are the flat-earthers. They are the ones looking to squelch scientific consensus in an effort to preserve their ancient world view. The petrostate olicarchy will take whatever allies they can find, and they have found them in religious zealots who seek a parasitic relationship with the State.

Scientists who espoused heliocentrism were silenced because their data showed a reality that presented a challenge to the moneyed elites. If the Church and the King were wrong about geocentricism it was a large crack in the Church’s facade, and power. Copernicus and Galileo are the best known examples, but we know implicitly that many many more were bullied into not following their research, or beginning it, out of fear of reprisals from the State and the Church. If we can’t hold up to a mirror to anti-factual propaganda at the most elementary level, we are well and truly deserving of the fucking we are about to get.

This same test was failed earlier in the week, when Chief Presidential Apologist and Obfuscator Kellyanne Conway threw out, casually, regarding the CIA/DNI “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” Again, NO. She must have it confused with THE WHITE HOUSE, FFS. The WMD question was used as a pretext for the post-9/11 invasion of Iraq.  The propaganda regarding WMD in Iraq was primarily a partisan agenda driven by George W. Bush, Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney, and Chevron Oil darling Condoleezza Rice who decided that the intel community would be ignored. It was widely known that no evidence of WMD was found, and the US famously recalled the weapons inspectors before they could finish their inspections and verify the lack of WMD. As an aside, the 9/11 attacks also resulted in the Patriot Act and the largest expansion of government since the depression, The Department of Homeland Security. [p.s. Dick Cheney is out of his undisclosed location and now being touted as a close advisor to Trump. #jussayin]

It feels like this current round of gaslighting is worse because the Trump team is riding on the Obama administration’s coattails. We have not been aggressively challenging Obama’s statements because they have either been highly factual, or backed by respected scientists and experts. We have to snap out of it because we are being lied to with easily debunked bunk. The more accustomed we get to this level of gaslighting, the harder it will be once the Trump team is installed and exerting more direct control over the propaganda process.

We are seeing the same approach taken to Trump’s refusal to avail himself of the President’s Daily Brief, which he characterizes as needlessly repetitive. It isn’t. He’s just lazy and looking to ensure plausible deniability. No president-elect blows off a key component of the job. GWB didn’t grasp its nature and he slept through clear warnings before 9/11. He also may have had oil-brat sympathies for the Bin Laden clan and taken a pass on the warnings out of hand. Trump is setting himself for something much worse because he is sleeping on nuclear arsenals and nations with intentions and capabilities far beyond those of ISIS.

 

 

No, I have not been captured by pirates…

It came to my attention that not only have  not posted for a while, but I left off with a series of rum-related posts. It would not be a stretch to imagine me adrift on a raft with a case of Pyrat and some scavenged limes. But no, I have been busy with a host of issues artistic, familial, and careerist. Generally, just busy!

Artistic: Fuchsprellen is on a bit of a hiatus from live performance, but I am still working on a piece for the upcoming Cordelia Records comp. That work is taking place under the Fuchsprellen banner, so there is some life in the organization. The live performance front will come around sooner or later. As it stands I don’t know that I have the time or the focus for it, but we do always find the resolve. Want some noise at your place? Drop me a line. We can oblige.

Family: The usual commitments of house, home, spouse, and dog. Mr Wylee is hanging in there at 13 years old. For a sheepdog that is the far right end of the curve, but his “mind over matter” style means that he is still rallying day to day. The holiday season was a grind, but mainly due to the late and mild winter, and then the crazy and unpredictable spring.

Bidnezz: Approaching one year of working in he realm of waste management and solid waste policy. It has been an eye-opener of a year. The specifics are new, but the underlying concepts and themes that I have been leaning on for 30 years still serve well. Occasionally I get brain-lock as the challenge of the new material can make me forget things I actually know. As in art, so in life.

As always, I’ll have more photos to share on Flickr, more music to share on Bandcamp (or maybe Soundcloud, but that is looking less likely), and more rambling here on the mothership. Ciao.

P

Corby 2015 – The Rundown Cometh

Just a quick warning that I will have a few observations from my recent trip to the Festival Moo Ah in Corby, England. Yep. Another Zappa-themed festival in a European location with its fair share of beer and elsewhere. Uncle Ian is a Corby resident so I will be kind: I like Corby, but at one point I was sure that it was not reciprocal. I wish I could have seen more than the view from the taxi or on my escape from The George… My feeling about England, and this was my first trip, was that it is lovely when you have lovely company. Conversely, when things go sour they do so in a big way.

First the summary version! I expect to have a few more on music, food, and a solar eclipse. My trip was based out of the Manchester area, so I will start there:

A great party was had in the Manchester area, and it was great fun to see my Zappateer/Mancateer friends in their natural surroundings. 🙂

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A great road trip was taken to Corby! 🙂

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I had to choose a room at the Inn, and I did not choose wisely 😦

evelien_george-1photo by evelein langereis

The first night full of good friends and good music. 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmike fox and helen tate

I returned to a hotel room that was a miasma of chip-fat (fryer grease) 😦

Booked a new room at 5:00am over a prehistoric GPRS connection 😦

New hotel was 2 miles away and gave us a 7:00am check-in  🙂

I still had not really slept in three days and my diet had been poor, at best 😦

Was able to attend a commitment ceremony for friends Steve and Susan 🙂

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Was starving and ate a double burger at the UK equivalent of Applebees 😦

Reception for Susan and Steve

Second night of music was great, but I was in rough shape 🙂 😦

Actually slept some on Saturday night, took it easy with breakfast, but… damage done 🙂 😦

Ignored GERD-symptoms and had an epic drink-up with curry on Sunday night 🙂

curry cheers!

Crazy Train grinds to a serene halt on Monday morning and much lounging around ensues 🙂

Fantastic family dinner with my hosts! Hard to beat that 🙂

Out the door at 6am on Tuesday to return home 🙂 Guiness and an egg sandwich at 6:30am in Manchester airport 🙂

obshire_2015

All told, a really fun time at a really fun festival. I need to thank everyone including Ob, Mrs. Ob, the Oblings, Danny, Steffen, Bengt, the residents of Mancunia, Uncle Ian, Andy, Canadian John from London, YoungPumpkin, Ged, Eric, the Dutchies, the Vikings, Rupert and Kevin, some mad bloke named Rick, and a seemingly endless string of amazing people who I now count among my friends.

Back, and badder than ever…

Badder in relative, but that’s all we got. The word for the past 6 months is “incremental”. It has incrementally warmed here in the northeast of the U.S. We had a historic stretch of bitter cold, dry cold, occasional winter precip, and it just. would. not. end. I know that last Memorial Day (informal harbinger of summer) it was 52F and spitting rain. This year it was marginally warmer, but still cold and a little wet. That’s it for my weather recap. Weather. Better than having no weather at all.

My exploits with my band fuchsprellen have been likewise, incremental. We had a pair of shows in early May. The first was at Best Video in Hamden, CT, a reprise of the quartet from the previous gigs: Me on Animoog synth; Peter Riccio on drums; Richard Brown on sax and guitar; Steve Chillemi on soprano sax and percussion. That is a really fun lineup. Everyone gets the basic concept and can play with power while listening to the ensemble and still controlling their volume. I’ll have a link to the audio soon, but suffice it to say it was a good time. My memory is of looking up after 15 minutes and we had not lost any of our audience. Great feeling.

The second gig was the result of a comic string of communication problems. The Outer Space in Hamden, CT was the venue, and the Sunday early slot is the Sunday Jazz slot, booked by Nick DeMaria (trumpeter and all around jazzy impresario). Nick asked me if fuchsprellen could play the Sunday set. I said yes and then had the bright idea to ask Jeff Cedrone to play keys with us. His response: I can’t, I’m playing at the Outer Space with Light Upon Blight! Which is both coincidental and not coincidental since Nick Never said it was all fuchsprellen. The upside is that Peter Riccio plays drums in both bands. In the meanwhile both Steve and Richard begged off the gig. What we ended up with was back to back trio sets with the same lineup, but different concepts and execution. I love this kind of thing and we made the most of it. As with the BV gig, audio links will be forthcoming.

The core of these shows was a very/totally improvised concept and a totally open sonic palette. All three sets had a tendency to get heavy, but they also had a lot of dynamic range and harmonic variety. Tonal, composed, and form-heavy music is everywhere. I love much of it. But I could not be happier than when making something else. Fuchsprellen is decidedly “something else”.

Long Time, No Blog…

I have been very busy doing things, hence I have not been blogulating or otherwise documenting things. Since this is site is relatively solipsistic, I don”t think it has caused a problem with the public at large…

First, a follow-up on the ACA bruhaha that has been percolating since my last post in October: Anti-ACA folks in government, industry, major media, etc… have one thing in common. They all have or seem to have no worries about the availability or cost of their own healthcare. I’m sure it isn’t 100% but I am also sure that Rush Limbaugh is not paying $1300/mo for shit coverage, or getting denied coverage for his many pre-existing conditions. On the far far far far right (I hope) are the people who think that ACA is “government-run healthcare”, is “worse than hitler, stalin and pol pot”, or is somehow making things “worse”. No. Just like Medicare and Medicad solved actual problems for the poor and old, this solves problems for everyone else. I feel like any further attempt at rationality is futile here, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Item 2: The simplest explanation for the rapid climate change the planet is currently experiencing is proving to be more likely each day. Take all that carbon that the geologic cycle had the good sense to “sequester” under the ground, pump it back into the atmosphere at a supernatural rate, and bingo: climate change. Unfortunately for us humans, the climate may very well be changing back to pre-human conditions. Bad news, meatbags.

Item the Third: Dear Hartford, Connecticut. City Hall will never make your city better. You have to do that yourself. Once you start doing that, City Hall can give you a push. Look around at cities that are fighting their way back an winning. They have active communities, taking pride in them, and working to solve problems. While that happens in Hartford, I think the residents have to give up on any tangible help from their city government. It is a snake pit, and is in no danger of getting any less snakier any time soon.

More hot blog action to come. Maybe something not filled with so much snark, but filled with a little more subtlety.