Walk Away Renee

Southside Johnny & Asbury Jukes

Image by Cifo aka Big Cif via Flickr

This is my favorite song/ version of this song. I’m trying to find the original but this is video is great. I love, love, love it. It was this song that got me interested in Southside Johnny and the Jukes in the first place.



Minority Murders Are Not ‘Brazen’

I watch a lot of tv news, mostly cable. I have been noticing lately (why didn’t I before? – well, I have other, even many, times but never blogged about it) that the producers like certain types of stories, and repeat them on the half-hour as if they are both newsworthy and noteworthy. They actually do this with many stories that have no real value except that the producers like the controversy or titillating aspect or celebrity flavor. But the kind of story I’m thinking of, and that makes me so disgusted with tv news, and society (for letting this happen) is the sensational murder. And what do all sensational murder stories have in common? The victims are ALWAYS white and usually female, and if female, often blonde, and if blond, the more sensational it is considered.

Today I realized the three current sensational murder stories being covered ad nauseum are:

Russell Sneiderman, a Georgia man who was the victim of a (as reported by MSNBC.com), “brazen daytime murder … outside his son’s preschool [that] has police in an Atlanta suburb scratching their heads”. Not female or blond, but white and also upscale.

Natalee Halloway: young, white and blond who went missing in Aruba five and a half years ago and whose (likely) murderer has long since been arrested for a different murder to which he has confessed and is no longer a danger to the public. Remember how much air time THAT story got? And it’s still considered worthy of a spot in the news-not-really loop because a jaw bone has been found somewhere in Aruba.

Chandra Levy. This one I give them a pass on, back when it was a current story I thought it was a valid story to cover extensively. Although they hyped it ridiculously more than anyone could justify (can you say Anna Nicole?) it did have a politician involved, and sexcapades and the possibility same said politician committed the murder. This murder too has been resolved and the danger to society removed. To cover it now is so far out of the realm of news or interest I can’t understand the reason for covering it. Except it was a young white woman. Not blond though.

The thing is, how many fathers are murdered outside or near their child’s school in America on a (probably, possibly?) daily basis. How many fathers anywhere in their neighborhoods? Or anywhere at all? Same with young women, blond or not? Near a school or not? How many? I’d say it happens often enough to not be newsworthy, and certainly not when the story is years old and concerns a resolved murder.

It’s not just murder victims either. Consider the circus surrounding the Runaway Bride, Jenifer Wilbanks, who went missing just days before her mega-wedding. Do ya think any non-white woman has ever run off with another man right before her wedding? And was reported missing? Here’s a photo. Have a look. Does she look white to you? Do you remember the 24/7 cable news coverage? Or how about the long-running saga about a blondschoolgirl accused and then convicted of murdering her room-mate? All the way over in Italy no less, even though Americans are notoriously uninterested in other countries, usually. She’s white too.


That story is still getting as much attention (because she had another court appearance, earth-shattering I know) as that other ‘BREAKING NEWS’ story concerning some British people announcing their engagement, who are (of course) also white. Are there no other royalty who would be deserving of our attention? Well let’s think of some other countries that have royalty.

  • There is Monaco, where they have Prince Albert and they have gambling. The gambling and romantic image of the island alone would make any story out of there (cable) news worthy and yes, when their royalty does something it is considered newsworthy. Prince Ranier and Princess Grace got as much attention as the Kennedy’s, or nearly so. They were white.
  • Another country would be Japan, where they have an emperor and empress.  They do get some press I think. It seems to me there was an engagement in the family that was reported on for a bit but a brief google search did not find it so it wasn’t too big of a story I presume, or I am mistaken about this. Japanese are not white.
  • What about Saudi Arabia, they have a King, I have no clue if there is a queen. Any successor will be a prince though. I can’t remember the last time I heard anything of their royalty. Can you? When you do hear about them, it is in a political context only. They also are not white.

These are the only royalty I remember hearing about on tv news. I know this is not proof of any kind of bias (intentional or not) but it sure raises lots of questions in my mind. Our interest in monarchies seems to extend to Britain (white) and on a lower-level (maybe because they’ve become boring, Monaco (also white)). If I am wrong about this, I hope someone will point out the other countries’ royalty that we (more correctly, cable news) pays attention to. The same goes for what kind of story, or more to the point what kind of actor/ character, becomes part of a  ‘sensational’ story. I wish some reporter would ask those questions of news producers all over the dial and then report back to us. What could be some counter-arguments here?

Um, the audience is largely white, who are more interested in stories about white people and news channels are just trying to serve their audience. Hmph. Does anyone really think networks would ignore whole groups of viewers? If you agree they wouldn’t, then for this argument to be valid, they’d have to be reporting minority murders in the same percentage as minorities are found in their audience because surely that number is not zero. Or even any minority murder at all. Is every single murder of a person who is considered to be a member of a minority group not sensational, ever? Do their murders never stem from jealousy or greed or sex like the sensational ones involving white victims? Are they qualitatively different enough to call for a totally different treatment?

There is a bias but it is just that the people who decide what is news are unaware of their bias? Possibly…but can every television channel and newspaper happened to have hired IN EVERY CASE, producers with an unrecognized bias in favor of people who look like them/ are white?

Minorities being murdered is so common place it’s not noteworthy. This would be a ridiculous argument to make because it implies one type of person’s life is more valuable than another’s so some murders are not notable but we all know that Americans were “all created equal”. Hah! Anyway. Say the rate of black murder victims is five times that of whites murdered. We have to ask the same question as above, why aren’t they being reported at the same rates as they occur? Or even inversely? One murder of a black woman every five white women?

The young white women murdered stories are extra-newsworthy because we don’t expect our off-spring to die first, especially daughters. Neither do minorities

The father who dropped his son off at school is newsworthy because it’s such an every day thing to do and it happened in broad daylight. How many fathers are murdered near their children’s school? Since most children attend the nearest school, most murdered men with children could probably claim the deed happened near their child’s school. Maybe it’s sensational because he was an accountant and attended Harvard?

As for the Brits, I guess one argument would be that people love/ are infatuated with royalty. See above, we don’t seem to be infatuated with dark skinned royalty. I can’t come up with another counter argument.

I also can’t explain why white murders justify massive coverage, versus all other murders, which don’t. Can you?

What Conservatism Is

T.S. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Of his many works, one is the poem “Four Quartets” in which he writes “about the still point of the turning world, were motion and stasis are together, the hub where the movement of time and the stillness of eternity are together”. Elsewhere he declared “Liberalism, Progress, and modern Civilization” self-evidently contemptible. He praised Baudelaire, a French poet and art critic “who, in an age of “programmes, platforms, scientific progress, humanitarianism, and revolutions,” of “cheerfulness, optimism, and hopefulness,” understood that “what really matters is Sin and Redemption” and perceived that “the possibility of damnation is so immense a relief in a world of electoral reform, plebiscites, sex reform, and dress reform … that damnation itself is an immediate form of salvation—of salvation from the ennui of modern life, because it gives some significance to living.”

from The American Conservative, The Critic As Radical http://bit.ly/hNCZNc we learn that:

At the root of this condemnation of modernity lay the conviction of Original Sin. Eliot believed that most people have very little intelligence or character. Without firm guidance from those who have more of both, the majority is bound to reason and behave badly. In “The Function of Criticism,” he derided those in whom democratic reformers place their hopes as a rabble who “ride ten in a compartment to a football match at Swansea, listening to the inner voice, which breathes the eternal message of vanity, fear, and lust.”

The obtuseness and unruliness of humanity in the mass meant that order, the prime requisite of social health, could only be secured by subordination to authority, both religious and political. “For the great mass of humanity … their capacity for thinking about the objects of their faith is small”—hence the need for an authoritative church rather than an illusory Inner Voice. Likewise, “in a healthily stratified society, public affairs would be a responsibility not equally borne”—hence the need for a hereditary governing class. Underlying these social hierarchies is a hierarchy of values. “Liberty is good, but more important is order, and the maintenance of order justifies any means.”

Order, long preserved, produces tradition—“all the actions, habits, and customs,” from the most significant to the most conventional, that “represent the blood kinship of ‘the same people living in the same place’.”

Well! Doesn’t this sound just like a conservative? “Maintenance of order justifies any means”. This might explain why we are steadily moving to a police state. “…hence the need for a hereditary governing class”. What they aim for is a true aristocracy, with people like Dick Cheney and George Bush acting as the ‘deciders’ over the ‘people who have very little intelligence or character’. This statement shows the disdain conservatives harbor for people, it explains also their detestation of democracy: (“ride ten in a compartment to a football match at Swansea, listening to the inner voice, which breathes the eternal message of vanity, fear, and lust.”

Philip E. Agre wrote What Is Conservatism And What Is Wrong With It? in 2004. There are many insights into the conservative ‘sensibility’ in it. You find yourself nodding your head and you realize that this or that point is dead on but you never thought it that way. It is very long but here’s a few things he points out. Go read it if you find it as compelling a read as I did.

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

…From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives.

…the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Modern-day liberals often theorize that conservatives use “social issues” as a way to mask economic objectives, but this is almost backward: the true goal of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social and psychological condition of inequality.

…People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years.

…Conservatism in every place and time is founded on deception. The deceptions of conservatism today are especially sophisticated, simply because culture today is sufficiently democratic that the myths of earlier times will no longer suffice.

…This is a central conservative argument: freedom is impossible unless the common people internalize aristocratic domination.

…Conservatism promotes (and so does liberalism, misguidedly) the idea that liberalism is about activist government where conservatism is not. This is absurd. It is unrelated to the history of conservative government. Conservatism promotes activist government that acts in the interests of the aristocracy. This has been true for thousands of years. What is distinctive about liberalism is not that it promotes activist government but that it promotes government that acts in the interests of the majority.

…Conservative arguments are often arbitrary in nature. Consider, for example, the controversy over Elian Gonzalez. Conservatism claims that the universe is ordered by absolutes. This would certainly make life easier if it was true. The difficulty is that the absolutes constantly conflict with one another. When the absolutes do not conflict, there is rarely any controversy. But when absolutes do conflict, conservatism is forced into sophistry. In the case of Elian Gonzalez, two absolutes conflicted: keeping families together and not making people return to tyrannies. In a democratic society, the decision would be made through rational debate. Conservatism, however, required picking one of the two absolutes arbitrarily (based perhaps on tactical politics in Florida) and simply accusing anyone who disagreed of flouting absolutes and thereby nihilistically denying the fundamental order of the universe. This happens every day. Arbitrariness replaces reason with authority. When arbitrariness becomes established in the culture, democracy decays and it becomes possible for aristocracies to dominate people’s minds. Another example of conservative twisting of the language of conscience is the argument, in the context of the attacks of 9/11 and the war in Iraq, that holding our side to things like the Geneva Convention implies an equivalence between ourselves and our enemies. This is a logical fallacy. The fallacy is something like: they kill so they are bad, but we are good so it is okay for us to kill. The argument that everything we do is okay so long as it is not as bad as the most extreme evil in the world is a rejection of nearly all of civilization. It is precisely the destruction of conscience.

…Or take the notion of “political correctness”. It is true that movements of conscience have piled demands onto people faster than the culture can absorb them. That is an unfortunate side-effect of social progress. Conservatism, however, twists language to make the inconvenience of conscience sound like a kind of oppression. The campaign against political correctness is thus a search-and-destroy campaign against all vestiges of conscience in society. The flamboyant nastiness of rhetors such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter represents the destruction of conscience as a type of liberation. They are like cultists, continually egging on their audiences to destroy their own minds by punching through one layer after another of their consciences.

…Some conservative rhetors have taken to literally demonizing the very notion of a democratic opposition. Rush Limbaugh has argued at length that Tom Daschle resembles Satan simply because he opposes George Bush’s policies. Ever since then, Limbaugh has regularly identified Daschle as “el diablo”. This is the emotional heart of conservatism: the notion that the conservative order is ordained by God and that anyone and anything that opposes the conservative order is infinitely evil.

There is a lot more there. I’d be interested if anyone thinks any of this is not an accurate description of what conservatism is. I wonder who else fits these characteristics? It seems we could call the Taliban an authoritarian hierarchy whose leaders believe they are more moral than their ‘subjects’. Any country with royalty as the governing body, Saudi Arabia for one. Hmm, who else? Iran’s religious leaders who are actually in control there, not the elected leaders.

Because conservatives think “damnation is an immediate form of salvation from the ennui of modern life, because it gives some significance to living”, it is clear that conservatives will never be happy because what kind of person thinks life is boring without the threat of damnation? Well, an unhappy one.

When The New Deal Is Left To Work, This Happens

This is a comment from Meagan McCaudle’s blog at The Atlantic.

…The Euro should logically be insanely stronger than the dollar and rising: American infrastructure and much of its domestic manufacturing base, is frankly, if you drive through America and REALLY LOOK with your eyes, a second-world joke compared to Germany. The reason for Germany still having a manufacturing base and booming exports generating wealth for their country is very simple, their political structure was the full implementation of Roosevelt’s New Deal as part of the post war late forties reconstruction plan… so that even though they now have a standing army of 200,000 and a reunification tax of 8% on top of a bunch of other taxes, they also have a 32.5 hour working week as standard practice and a very high standard of living for the majority. They make great products with great build quality and they don’t get drawn into neo-conservative military misadventures for short-term corporate profit.

Holograph Plays Sold-Out Concerts


Hatsune Miku: Japanese HOLOGRAPH Plays Sold Out Concerts; Science Fiction Comes To Life (VIDEO)


GSC's Hatsune Miku

Image by tataquax via Flickr



Holographic idol Hatsune Miku is the creation of the group Crypton Future Media, using software from Vocaloid, and the group has put the avatar on tour with a live band. The sight of thousands of screaming fans waving glow sticks while the the holograph “performs” on stage is straight out of a science fiction novel.

The avatar is huge and incredibly realistic. Check out “her” concert performance below. More videos can be found here.

from YouTube:

TV Viewing By Political Persuasion?

These shows were chosen as people’s favorite ones. Notice that not one show chosen by one group overlaps with shows chosen by the other group. Although we all watch a lot of them we don’t all feel the same about them. Hmmm. The whole story is at The Hollywood Reporter. Another thing I notice, Bill O’Reilly is not on the list.

The Reign of Right-Wing Primetime


from Marginal Revolution http://ow.ly/379Cm

Yuck markets in everything

There is a market in baby foreskins:

Because of this, they’re not tossed out with the rest of the medical waste after a birth. Instead, hospitals sell them to companies and institutions for a wide variety of uses. Companies will pay thousands of dollars for a single foreskin.

Some of the strangest purposes they’re put to:

  • Cosmetics: Foreskins are used to make high-end skin creams. The skin products contain fibroblasts grown on the foreskin and harvested from it. One foreskin can be used for decades to produce fancy face cream like the SkinMedica products hawked on Oprah.
  • Skin grafts: In addition to making products for skin, a baby’s foreskin can be turned into a skin graft for a burn victim. Because the cells are extremely flexible, they’re less likely to be rejected. Currently, this technology can be lifesaving in providing a real skin “band aid” to cover an open wound while a burn victim heals. Researchers at Harvard and Tufts are working on advanced skin replacements that use human foreskins.
  • Cosmetic testing: All those cruelty-free cosmetics you buy? Some of them are tested on foreskins. This yields better results, since they’re human skin. And it saves the lives of the rodents your shampoo would otherwise be tested on.

Does this make the hospital ever-so-slightly more interested in continuing the practice?