Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

  • Music:

Abayment of Drums

I'm sometime amused at the subtlety needed to make a good music video - I know that others may differ here, but I personally have little interest in seeing the artist play the instrument or strut around a music stage (likewise in person, but concerts are fun because the acoustics are sometimes better, the music isn't as engineered by a sound studio, the musicians sometimes interact with the audience (or "read the crowd" to choose what to play or how to play it), and being around other people who like a given band can sometimes be interesting, whether it be TMBG, some nice flamenco music, or classical stuff) - music videos act instead as a venue for a low-intellect performance art or skit. One of the groups I liked whose videos were particularly novel was the Danish pop band Aqua - they took the skit idea pretty seriously, some relating to the song title, some not (likewise with Toy-Box). The German band "And One"'s videos use video more to manipulate the viewer/listener directly - they don't tell a story so much as use emotionally evocative imagery in sequence (the video for "So klingt Liebe" is something I'm still scratching my head over). It seems that a lot of user-created content on Youtube is made by people who have different aesthetics - they tend towards video that's very-literal -- almost mechanical in its construction. Thinking about the bands whose videos show them playing the instruments, I wonder if that's usually in there because the bands insist, because it's good branding on some level, or if some people like that. At least from my perspective, if it's there it should be minimal. Maybe part of it is that they identify as musicians (at least, as tied to their music) more than as artists, and so, music being "their thing", them playing their instruments seems obligatory for the videos...?

Amusing how the hot topics in an election tend to be forgotten (the content of the list, not necessarily the issues themselves) from election to election. Apart from the invasion of Iraq and the possible invasion of Iran and universal healthcare, illegal immigration and related topics seem to be part of this coming election's list. One point of debate is service by the DMV to this group - the governor of NY state recently floated plans to offer three tiers of driver's licenses, one of which would be targeted specifically at illegal immigrants. In this article on the matter, consultant Hank Sheinkopf notes that "You take a hit in some portion of the electorate for being against this, you take a bigger hit being for it. If you try to explain it, you get into more trouble".. true about so much in politics, either on the stage or among friends. My thoughts:

  • I think it's a bad idea because it delegitimises rule of law - if our legal system continues to require application for immigration and further application for employment, permitting access to nonessential state services (e.g. things outside of hospitals) to people who would/should by that legal system be deported, if caught, is inconsistent.
  • The role of the state (political science term here, not subdivision of the US) should be:
    1. First, to serve the very basic welfare of people in its borders (that is, the necessities, e.g. security from assault, provide essential medicine, provide consistent jurisprudence)
    2. Second, to advance the general welfare of its citizens
    3. Third, to advance the general welfare of humanity
    4. As societies/states are ways of subdividing humanity and provide room for somewhat separate social experiments, giving states the ability to manage their borders and immigration makes sense - if, for example, one society encourages low birth rates and population controls, it would not make sense for it to have an open-door policy with neighbours with a cultural tendency towards higher birth rates, similarly a state with high labour or economic standards should typically not want unconditional open trade with neighbours with lower standards on these issues - open borders can in some cases threaten cultural/economic achievements.
  • Planning for highly flexible numbers of people, in state services and other areas, can be very difficult
  • Counterargument to claims of racism: if it tends to impact people of one race more than others and if that is by the claimant's definition definitionally racist, it is only accidentally so - it is by intent just citizen-ist, which most states are (and probably should be)
  • Another issue is that by potentially broadening a class of people living in the US (resident aliens without citizenship subject to deportation), we move closer to having an Arab-esque legal system with a permanent underclass with few/no labour rights (in their case, largely Indians). Presently, the "born in the United States = citizenship" avoids that, but has the "Anchor Baby" problem. Perhaps a less abusable solution would be to amend that to requiring one of the parents to be of at least permanent resident status?
    • This subissue is particularly tricky to get "right" - a number of states have very different ideas about who should be a citizen/how difficult it is for citizenship to be attained, from Switzerland (very stringent/difficult), the United States (difficult apart from some often-abused means), Europe (sometimes lightly racist), Israel and China (very racist), and the Middle East (effectively closed-door). Most countries have some mix of citizens, resident aliens (legal) and illegal aliens - the issue in the United States is probably partly due to income differences between Mexico and the United States and partly due to domestic political tension over how many and which people to accept as resident aliens.

    Smattering of news:

    • Louisiana has elected the first Indian-American (not Amerindian) governor of a state of the United States, Bobby Jindal. Unfortunately, he's a Christian Fundamentalist Republican.
    • The Archbishop of Canterbury has been in the news recently, aiming to preserve Anglican privilege in the British Government and criticizing Dawkins and the idea of memes. On the latter matter, I think Williams is missing the point - the point of understanding religion as a memetic vehicle is not to produce a perspective that resonates emotionally with the faithful, but rather to understand it as a science. There are many parts of science where we learn things that can go against our emotional or intuitive understandings of things - memes as a concept are not exclusive with accepting the truth of whatever is being carried by the memes - we might view science, math, religion, and many other things as being broad memetic vehicles while still asceibing to them whatever notions of truthfulness (or usefulness, or whatever) we ascribe each of them. I could imagine memetics as undercutting some arguments made for/about religion though, as at least from my perspective, it, combined with game theory, statistics over inherently noisy processes, and a reasonable understanding of our psychology, entirely explains religion in a way that suggests it to be interesting-but-wrong, but that's a complex judgement that people can (and do) disagree over.
    • I don't recall if I've mentioned it - Bhutto returned to Pakistan as part of negotiations with Musharraf in a power-sharing deal. I consider this highly unfortunate - Musharraf seems highly competent and principled and the evidence pointing to Bhutto being very corrupt and a politician in the strongest sense of the word seems pretty strong. I imagine the amnesty for her earlier corruption charges was part of a larger power struggle between Musharraf, the judiciary, and possibly western groups eager for a return to more democratic times (although I am not certain).
    • Also in Pakistan, the Red Mosque phonomenon redux..
    • The Kurdish issue is a looming disaster - with the current weakness of Iraq's central government, the PKK (Kurdish Military/Government) has been involved in raids both in Iraq and Turkey, bringing Turkey to the point of threatening invasion of Iraq to eradicate the threat (lightly analogous to Israel's ill-fated attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon?). Watching national leaders scramble to try to find ways to salvage the situation is interesting - Iraq is asking Iran for assistance, The US has sent Condoleezza Rice to the area, and meanwhile Turkey's Parliament has authorised the use of the military in the near term to "resolve" the threat. In the end, the only thing I'm willing to bet on is that the Kurds will be stomped upon by someone - their national ambitions are a threat to regional stability, and it is unlikely that Turkey, Iraq, Iran, or any of the other nations that have land in what they would make into Kurdistan will accept anything less. It's interesting to see how many nations have temporarily allied with them and made promises of support that later dissolved when the political expediency passed..
    • I am pleased to see that one of the Kaczynski twins was ousted from the Polish parliament - replacing the Conservative Catholic party with a more centrist party. Hopefully the other Kaczynski will be shown the door at the next presidential election.
    • The West Lothian question (concern over the ability of Scottish MPs to vote on domestic English matters while English MPs cannot vote on domestic Scottish matters due to Scotland having a seperate devolved parliament) is in the spotlight again in British politics. My initial thought is that it would be best for their system to, as the Tories suggest, have such a ban. There are some difficulties with that that I only recently have read about - one of them being the matter of judgeing what is a domestic English matter (and requiring strict segmentation between bills affecting all of GB and those specific to England). This is theoretically easy, and widespread care to de-bundle bills would probably be a healthy thing in most democracies, although forcing it to happen may be tricky and whatever mechanisms are used to achieve it may be abused. A larger difficulty is how to manage when the PM of the UK represents a Scottish constituency, as is presently the case (Gordon Brown represents an area of East-Central Scotland). The alternative of a separate, similarly devolved English Parliament is interesting, although there is the "risk" (if we choose to see it as that) that this will threaten the Union.
    • Abdullah al-Saud recently visited the United States, meeting some protest over human rights in Saudi Arabia. While these protests are worthwhile and the cause of western-style rights in SA are worth championing (for those of us who see secular liberalism with a mild dose of multiculturalism as a good model, anyhow), it's important to remember that Abdullah is not in a position to push his society too far or too fast, and that the regime is already considerably more liberal than the people would have it be.
    • The UN general assembly voted to urge the US to lift its embargo on Cuba (more on that below)
    • Interesting to read about a Baptist splinter group that was sued for protesting at a funeral. Should the societal interest for the emotional well-being of the grieving be privileged over the societal interest for autonomy in speech? Personally, I think not. (Incidentally, I think this is a better way to phrase the issues at stake than talking about "rights")
    • A bit more on political doctoring of science.. In particular, the White House Press Secretary (Dana Perino) said something that nearly made my head explode - that there are public health benefits to climate change for people who die from cold.
    • Arrests at Serbian Neo-Nazi Rally - Interesting and troubling that such groups exist there in reasonable numbers, but we have groups like the Klan here. When it comes to groups like those (or pro-theocracy groups), if there were some way to manage it without the mechanism being abused, I don't think I would mind seeing Neo-Nazi, Klan, or theocratic groups being made illegal here.

    Al Jazeera has a neat article on Iranian women playing rugby. Also, it's nice to read about cases where the Kitty Genovese case was not repeated.

    Finished reading the book on reform in communist societies, quick thoughts ("quick", haha):

    • Most interesting location coverage:
      • Yugoslavia - Tito was a fascinating leader, things seemed to be going well for most of his reign. The whole thing had a kind of feeling of "impending doom" though, given that not long after the book was published, the war and genocide started
      • Vietnam - I didn't know enough about Vietnamese politics. I still don't, but they were also relatively independent of Moscow, despite strong financial ties/investment
      • USSR - Obviously. The politics involved were quite interesting, as various attempts of social engineering had various levels of success.
      • Cuba - It's easy to find news on Castro if one looks, but not so easy to read about the Communist Party of Cuba. There was good coverage here. It was interesting to read how glasnost and reform, which swept through most of the other communist countries, didn't take root in Cuba.
    The coverage of China wasn't as good as I would have liked - it didn't cover areas of social change in the detail that the other regions were (although in my conversation with Mac, some of this was made up for - he painted a picture of China that had fallen back into an essentially feudal-warlord system). This is disappointing - that Deng Xiaopeng was just the first herald of dying dreams...

    Amused that at the end of the book/collection, they admit that because of the rate of change, they knew that the book may be outdated rapidly.

    Tags: philosophy, politics

    • Typing in Colours

      (Cross-posted to G+, but it's more of a definitive statement of views so it goes here too) A recent instance of 「Wasted Talent」: here I'm not…

    • Loyalty

      This is meant to address three ideas: Don't blame the victim If you care for me, you'd support me unconditionally Safe zonesAnd to be a topic in…

    • What Do We Owe Each Other?

      One of the central questions in political philosophy, or perhaps one of the most intuitive initial framings, is "what do we owe each other?". I…

    • Post a new comment


      Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

      default userpic

      Your reply will be screened

      Your IP address will be recorded