Category Archives: update

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.

Great Expectations, etc…

In an ideal world I would move forward with music projects and finding ways time to spend quality time with my family and friends. That’s about the scope of what i fit under “ideal”. Nothing fancy. No private submarines, Tibetan mountain retreats, million dollar hyper-cars…

But I also read my share of news, and keep up on some politics and current events. It gets tedious because I am dedicated to improving systems and building better mousetraps. When I see the statistics on the US healthcare system, I cringe. Really, anyone with a soul should cringe, even if they have excellent insurance and a high level of confidence that their personal situation delivers positive outcomes. We have the highest costs and in return we get outcomes that are the laughingstock of the developed world. Industrial nations can and should do better, and most do.

We have two major throttles to healthcare access in the US: The insurance industry, and the Pharmaceutical/Devices industry. the actual doctors/hospitals situation is merely a functional layer. We have good doctors and good hospitals. in fact. we have some of the best in the world. So that is not the problem. Do they profiteer? Sure. But it is chump change compared to the profiteering by the insurance and pharma industries. My opinion is that the foundational resistance to making healthcare more afforadable in the US comes from the insurance and pharma lobbies. They like the system just like it is. Insurance companies like small pools of insured individuals, just like a casino likes good odds (legalized odds-rigging). Pharmaceutical and med device companies like to make sure that they hold patents as long as possible and reap huge paybacks for as long as possible. The only possible obstacle would be government mandates to cover large pools of people and provide them with affordable care. That would put a dent in their very comfortable bottom lines.

As a result we see a small group of members of the US House of Representatives convincing the Speaker of the House to refuse to bring a vote to the floor on a seemingly unrelated issue: Spending and Spending cap. The bulk of the spending has absolutely nothing to do with health care. But what it does is shut down a big chunk of the government, creating a lever to gain traction they otherwise failed to muster when the Affordable Care Act was voted on in both houses of Congress, passed by both houses of Congress, and then found constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. The members of the house who are driving this bus had the opportunity to vote, did so, and failed. This current ploy of causing a government shutdown was certainly choreographed at that time. Otherwise we would have seen the usual riders, alternative language, markup… you know… the process as we know it. But just like the non-existant republican jobs plan, manufacturing plan, foreign policy plan, international trade plan (this list really does go on for ever), there was never a republican health care plan. Well, except for the part where the ACA is based on the health care system introduced in Massachusetts by Mittens Romney (back when he was Governor of Taxachusetts, before he was nominated by the RNC to run for President in 2012). But Mittens is a horrible republican! Really! Horrible! Just ask the people who held up Romney signs at the 2012 RNC Convention.

The skinny is that there are a lot of moving pieces here: political posturing; table setting for the 2014 and 2016 election cycles; a rallying cry to enhance the flagging reputations of the hard-right of the republican party… but the real driver might just be the republican version of “American Idol” where the winner gets a big chunk of campaign finance from the insurance and pharma industries. The kind of backing that differentiates winners from losers in the next two elections. That is the kind of thing that we see tons of in American politics. Don’t buy the headline, and certainly don’t buy the lead stories from partisan news sources. Go long on corporate influence. You will never regret it.