Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Next for the Movement in Wisconsin?

An article I wrote for Justice, newspaper of Socialist Alternative.

Many workers thought they could breathe a sigh of relief when the bill was placed in legal limbo. However, the Republicans declared that, if the legal situation isn’t resolved by the end of June, they will simply re-pass the bill and circumvent the legal challenge.

They have also introduced a whole slew of right-wing legislation and draconian budget cuts that will impact the lives of every Wisconsinite. This ranges from a voter ID bill, to an Arizona-style anti-immigration law, to an all-out assault on public services. This raises the need to rebuild the mass movement to defeat the whole Walker agenda.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tyler, the Creator vs. Lars Von Trier: Offensiveness Smackdown

First things first. You know racism, sexism, homophobia and all that? Yeah, well, those things all suck. They're just bad, no ifs, ands or buts. And when I say "bad", I mean the bad kind of bad, not the good kind. And when I said "bad" that time, I mean the same thing.

However, this does not necessarily mean that saying racist, sexist and homophobic things is inherently bad. For instance, there's this song called "Springtime for Hitler", which is incredibly anti-Semitic, but is, nonetheless hilarious. This is not to say, as post-modernists do, that art must be judged purely on its artistic value and not it's political value. If a work of art talks about racial issues, than it's a political work of art, and the politics must also be judged. But, things do get a bit more complicated.

You have ironic racists and you have people who use irony as a cover for genuine racism. You have crazy harmless people and you have crazy dangerous people. You have art that is meant to shock, and you have art that is meant to convert. And you have those Andy Kaufman types who are to obtuse that you can't quite tell what they're trying to do. And in those instances, you have controversies.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Walkerville, Illinois

With all the shenanigans going on here in Wisconsin, it's easy to overlook the bigger picture. Nationwide, there is an assault on working people. Ohio and Indiana have launched similar attacks on public sector unions. In New Hampshire, they're pushing forward an all out "right to work (for less)" law that would effectively abolish all unions, not just the public sector ones. In Michigan, they've established a "financial martial law" bill that would allow the Governor to unilaterally dissolve any local government he deemed to be spending too much on public services.

And then there's Illinois.

Recently, the Illinois State Senate unanimously passed SB 7, an assault on the teachers union. This bill makes it nearly impossible for teachers to strike (you know, for the children), forces teachers to work extra hours with no extra pay (you know, for the children), makes it easier to lay off teachers (you know, for the children), and makes teacher's pay based on their centering their entire curriculum around standardized tests (you know, for the children).

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Still Exist

You may have noticed I haven't updated my blog in a while. No, I haven't given up blogging to pursue a hip-hop career. I've just been a bit preoccupied for the past few weeks. "Preoccupied with what?" you ask? Well, this:

Things have since quieted down a bit, which is incredibly terrible for the public sector workers of Wisconsin, but good for readers of this blog, because it means I can resume posting things.

I could fill an entire book describing what I've been doing during that intervening time. If I did, it would probably be called Homage to Madisonia. Eventually, I would like to share some of these experiences in detail on my blog, but it will take a bit of time to write them up (a lot of stuff happened in the past few weeks), so my next batch of blog posts will be about other stuff, including the promised Sci-Fa-Lit contribution about Galileo.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sci-Fa-Lit: Introduction

I'm starting a new feature on my blog called "Sci-Fa-Lit" (short for "Science Fact Literature"). Each entry will take a closer look at some book or essay about science (fact, not fiction). It could be about the history of science, the philosophy of science, the politics of science, or the current events of science. Or maybe just a textbook.

Like most of my other blog features, it will be somewhat sporadic. I'll try to update it once a month, but if I'm reviewing a long book, it might take longer. To help you out, I will announce the next two entries at the end of each entry (including this one). I'll also provide a link to either an online version of the text or the book's Amazon page. That way you'll have time to read along.

And, in case you're wondering, the term "Sci-Fa" originates in the 3rd Rock From the Sun episode "Hotel Dick", with special guest George Takei.

The relevant scene occurs at the 5:25 mark.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Buffy Season 8 Concludes

Last month, the eighth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer reached its stunning conclusion, nearly four years after it began and six and a half hears after the shows series finale. Such is the power of comic books.

The result was a massive 40-issue season bringing in, not only Joss Whedon, but other Buffy writers as well as comic book writers like Brian K. Vaughan into the mix. It included virtually every living character from the show and a few dead ones (I won't spoil them). And also Fray.

I will admit that when I first heard that Joss Whedon was planning on releasing an epic comic book eighth season of Buffy my first reaction was "Why" followed by "aren't you doing Buffy Season 8 and not Angel Season 6?" But, after a rough start, Buffy Season 8 won me over.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Truly Outstanding Albums: John Henry, by They Might Be Giants

In 1965, Bob Dylan introduced electric guitars to the Newport Folk Festival for the first time, and the face of music was irrevocably altered. Never before had anyone thought of using electric guitars in folk music (provided you ignore the Byrds as well as Dylan's own "Bringing it All Back Home" album released earlier that year). And never before had an artist received such unjustified hate for introducing new instruments. And it would never happen again . . . until 1994, when They Might Be Giants released "John Henry".

In the years since the Newport controversy, things have settled a little. Pete Seeger claims he only called for the amps to be shut off, because they were set up poorly and that the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding. But the hatred reserved for "John Henry" continues to this day. Pitchfork Media even declared "John Henry" to be "one of the least interesting albums ever released".

While Dylan was crucified for using electric guitars instead of acoustic guitars, They Might Be Giants were crucified for using drums instead of a drum machine.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Check Out This Interview: Inside the Georgia Prison Strike

You may be familiar with the prisoners' strike that occurred in Georgia in December. Or you may not. Despite being a major week-long non-violent strike of prisoners across six prisons, the event got very little media coverage. What coverage there was tended to be horror stories about (gasp) criminals with cell-phones. The prison officials even classified the carefully organized, non-violent protest as a riot.

But one of those prisoners used his contraband cell-phone to give an interview to Ty Moore of Socialist Alternative. I highly recommend giving it a listen. It gives a great inside view of the conditions in the prison, as well as the steps taken in the strike and the reprisals against the strikers.

You can listen to it here. It's 50 minutes long.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Claiming King

To day marks the twenty-fifth anniversary Martin Luther King Day becoming a national holiday. More importantly, it's the first time the holiday has been celebrated since Glenn Beck established himself as following in King's footsteps with his "Rally to Restore Honor". This really makes you think about all of the different people of all stripes who claim King as their own. Consider this:

Glenn Beck the paranoid anti-socialist nut-job is claiming to follow in the footsteps of the guy who said "There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism"!

For people who admit Glenn Beck's full of shit there's this bit of outrageousness. Martin Luther King the anti-Vietnam War activist who was hounded by the FBI, is compared by some, to Barack Obama, who instituted a military surge in Afghanistan and had the FBI raid anti-war activists homes in Minneapolis and Chicago!