Thursday, January 15, 2009

Consolers of The Lonely

I'm absolutely nuts over The Raconteurs. I had their first album and it was aight. But they really nailed it on this one. There's beautiful mix of crazy guitar work with a slight country twang.

Book Review

Hocus Pocus

There seems to be one consistent theme running through this book. That theme is the criticism of capitalism. Breaking it down further, it could simply be a statement on evolutionary theory and how there is a relentless winnowing of all that is good in place of all that is efficient. You'll notice that this description of evolution serves as a decent description of capitalism. Not having the book in front of me, there are three examples I can remember to support this.

1. Vietnam. This one is hard to quantify without actual quotes but since no one reads this blog I'll try. The Preacher repeatedly refers to the corporations of I G Farben and Du Pont, makers of napalm and other war materials. He implies that warfare is bound by the same rules of business, the most efficient side usually wins. Efficiency in this context means which side can side the other side with the least expenditure of blood/treasure on their end. He also makes several statements on how the young soldiers under his command are simply there as cannon fodder. The weak (or maybe just unlucky in this case) are removed in a relentless and remorseless winnowing process. The implication - the efficiency of war leads to one endpoint and that is the annihilation of everyone.
2. Tralfamadore and bacterial spores. Apparently the entire point of human existence is to create a bacterial spore strong enough to float through the universe and make contact with other lifeforms. We create viruses and cures for those viruses that only mutate them and make them stronger. Those viruses that are too weak die out, those that aren't become stronger. A relentless selective process - he doesn't say so explicitly but the implications are clear - eventually we'll create something that we won't be able to contain and will most likely consume us.
3. The Japanese takeover of most American industries. Vonnegut takes some liberties with part of the novel, describing Japanese takeovers of American prisons and a couple other examples that I can't remember right now. The point being, that our pursuit of efficiency (in itself a pursuit of profit) has led us to this point. To make the point even more explicit, he ties the prison to Vietnam through the Japanese warden. The Warden considers his job as analogous to a tour of duty in Vietnam. To them, America is a quagmire. The endpoint? America as we know it no longer exists.

So, the theme here? There's not much hope for us as a species. This novel is pretty bleak in that regard. The method of our destruction? Our own quest for efficiency, our own curiosity, and the systems we've set up to enable them.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More from Ft. Madison, this one from my grandma's backyard. This has some lomo postprocessing via photoshop elements. I'm hoping to get a holga in the near future, right now using the lomo action just feels like cheating.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just a quick comment on this post by Josh Marshall. It does seem as if Obama is ceding the initiative to Congress now, you can't really deny that fact. But as Josh himself alludes to in the post, there isn't an actual Obama presidency yet and hence no actual pulpit to bully from. For all the talk about Bush being a non-entity the simple fact of the matter is that he is still the democratically elected leader of this country for another 12 days.

Like Josh mentions, there's very little real power that Obama has right now. So, when does Obama get some real Power to play with? January 20 - to be more specific, the second he finishes his inaugural address. And here's where I think the ballgame is. If there has ever been a need to truly unleash the rhetorical big guns, this is it. Because of Obama's vulnerability (exposed by both Clinton and McCain during the campaigns) to the "all style no substance" charge, his oratory was largely put on the shelf. Jan. 20 is going to be the day that we see the full force of that oratory put on display. There is absolutely no reason on earth why Obama shouldn't unleash an inaugural address for the ages, a stirring call to arms that moves and inspires, sweeping all and sundry before it like an electoral tidal wave. Having done so, he'll find himself with an instant mandate for the stimulus package. All of this pre-inaugural posturing will be washed away and we will no longer be talking about mid-February. The stampede will be on to get behind Obama and his agenda.

Another one from downtown Ft. Madison.


I was walking around downtown Fort Madison and came across this old jewelry store. The image was post processed with Poladroid to give it that old time flavor.