Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The Last Rapbashing Article you will ever need 

Ever feel like having every singlecliched criticism of current rap in one long, long article? I got a link for you. This article's got more dull conventional wisdom than Time magazine. There's a great punchline at the end, too.

What's old is not new again 

In a review of a book about 1968, the reviewer argues that 1968 has made a comeback:
It's hard to open a newspaper without seeing a photo of John Kerry in Vietnam (he arrived there Nov. 17, 1968). The recent release of George W. Bush's medical records revealed that the future president had a hemorrhoid in 1968 (no wonder he hated the '60s). Even the Beatles are back: The 1968 White Album has been mixed with Jay-Z's Black Album (2003) to produce Danger Mouse's completely illegal Grey Album, and on Feb. 24, "Grey Tuesday," there was a remarkable Internet protest against attempts to suppress it. There's something happening here (what it is ain't exactly clear).
Because nothing defines the current zeitgeist like Dubya's hemorrhoids. I think you could use this standard to argue that every year in history is currently making a comeback.

Monday, March 08, 2004

So gay, gay constitutional amendments wanna fuck with me 

Also in the blog VaYikrah, Evan criticized my post about the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment (though he liked my slogan!). He argues:
The problem is that courts in the US do not decide the definition of marriage on judgements (or scientific fact) of behaviour v. biology. The much more likely criteria are freedom of expression, privacy concerning personal family relationships and, in the case of polygamy, freedom of religion. I wholeheartedly support gay marriage. However it is foolhardy to argue that there is no link between the issue of gay marriage and polygamist marriage.
Fair enough; my post was meant as a common sense talking point against the slippery slope argument, rather than as a legal case. However, I would like to make a quick point about US constitutional law, though it is a subject I know nothing about (and this differs from the rest of your posts, how exactly? ed. Shut up!). I would think that if the court can prove that gays is blacks, gay marriage could get by on some sort of equal protection argument, the type that allows interracial marriages. And I don't really care if polygamists get married, though I do think it is unlikely. But the point remains that there is no Polygamist Gene.
Evan goes on to worry about the homophobic backlash the gay marriages will create, and worries that it was pushed on the legislatures too soon. I worry about this too. This issue is so new that I can understand why older people dn't want laws passed about it. There were basically no openly gay people when my father was born. Yet when I see loving couples getting married, it's hard to begrudge them their happiness. Luckily I live in Soviet Canuckistan where everyone loves each other, so gay marriage could pass without armed revolt. But American courts should have waited for the bigots to die before legalizing gay marriage.

They be ridin my jock so close they catch crabs 

My man Jedd recently moved to Australia, and he wrote me today asking (nay, begging) for more posts. What I'm trying to say is, I actually do have readers! I'll fulfill his wish in a proplerly blog-whorish fashion, by linking to his great post about betting on crabs in Australian bars. The prize, unsurprisingly, is free grog.

The Problem With Hillel 

The Jewish advocacy club of my school has decided to attempt to lure Muslim UBC students away from their religion by sponsoring a talk by Irsahd Manji, who wrote abook called The Problem With Islam. Hopefully, this talk is the first in a series; next they'll bring in the writers of What's So Good About Buddhism, Anyways? and The A-to-Z guide of Zoroastrianism's Flaws. From what I gather of Manji's message, she attacks Islam as being anti-feminist, and critiques the human rights records of the Muslim regimes. She also favorably compares Israel's record on the treatment of women to the other Middle Eastern regimes. Fair enough; Israel does generally treat its female citizens better than the Arab countries do. The only exception is if the females happen to be Arab and born on the Eastern side of the Green Line, in which case Israel treats them like shit.
While I don't really care if Manji speaks, it is incredibly tacky for a Jewish student group to sponsor a talk bashing another religion. The Jewish Student group is just going around yelling "Our God's dick is bigger than your God's dick". If a Muslim Students' group brought in a speaker who wrote a book named The Problem With Judaism, Hillel would probably jail him for hate speech.
What makes this thing just stupid is that UBC has no real pro-Palestinian movement. Hillel is just being needlessly confrontational.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Constitutional Amendments Are Gay 

I really hope that becomes a slogan. I just wanted to comment on the slippery slope argument that goes "if they allow gays to marry, why don't they allow three or four people who love each other a lot to marry?" This argument is stupid, since people aren't born polygamous. Polygamy is a behavior, while homosexuality is a biological condition. Not giving people who happen to have been born gay equal rights is like not giving people who happen to have been born black equal rights.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Straight Outta Virginia 

Sasha Frere-Jones writes a long article about the fact that three producers from Virginia Beach produced every pop song of the last five years. It's a pretty authoritative account of Timbaland and the Neptunes' rise to world domination. Frere-Jones notes how many Grammy noms they got, saying "Tonight's Grammy Awards ceremony will, among other things, christen Virginia Beach as the birthplace of a certain sound, something like Detroit's claim to 60's pop-soul or Seattle's to 90's grunge." Though Timbaland and Missy were unfortunately robbed at the Grammies. He also recounts an anecdote about musical cross-pollination before the Neptunes blew up: ''It was 1999, and Missy and Tim were working on Missy's 'Da Real World.' Chad and Pharrell were working on Kelis, and they were doing 'Caught Out There.' ''
They especially liked the song's chorus, Coleman said. ''Tim and Missy could hear Kelis screaming, 'I hate you so much right now!' They had their ears right up to the door. They loved that song. Tim was like, 'That's crazy.' Then they went right back to work.''

Around page 6, he gets Timbaland and Pharell to fight, and their disses of each other are fairly entertaining. But not as entertaining as Timbaland's taste in music: asked him what he likes.

'' 'O Brother Where Art Thou?' he quickly answered. ''I was at the Trump in New York, and my assistant Mike was cutting my hair. I was watching 'O Brother.' I was laughing my butt off. And the song came on -- 'I am a man of constant sorrow . . . ' -- and I was like, 'This song is hot.' Next thing you know, I bought the CD and I would bump it in my car just the way it was. People would look at me like, This dude gotta be crazy. No, I wasn't, because this record gonna sell about 10 million. And what happened? It sold 10 million!'' (It sold 6.6 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.)
''The best music right now is country music,'' he went on. ''The old country music, the old bluegrass stuff -- the lyrics in that stuff are incredible. And the damn melodies? Think about Bonnie Raitt. She's country, right? She made the illest song ever, 'I Can't Make You Love Me.' '' He sang me a line: ''Turn down the lights, turn down the bed/Turn down these voices inside my head.''
Timbaland also thinks Pat Benatar's ''Love Is a Battlefield'' is the ''illest song ever,'' and he adores old hits by Men at Work and the Human League. ''Eighties music is music to me,'' he said. ''Those are records that make you feel good, you know? I'm tired of stuff now, even stuff that I do. Coldplay and Radiohead are the illest groups to me. That's music. Norah Jones is music. I love real music that I can play and never get tired of. The stuff I don't get tired of is the stuff that's musical.''

Between this and Jay-Z showing love to Coldplay, I think hip-hop is dead. Long live hip-hop. Bubba Sparxxx's Timbaland produced album actually sounds like the O Brother soundtrack mixed with hip-hop, and the Deliverance video is a bizarre take-off on the film. Who had the brilliant idea to make a rap video based on a three-year old arthouse film, anyways?You'd think a song named Deliverance would have a video based on the more popular movie Deliverance, and how many people like Bubba Sparxxx and the Coen Brothers anyways (outside of me and Timbaland, that is)? Timbaland plays the pseudo-Robert Johnson guy in the video, and while he is a genius, he really really cannot play guitar. Anyways, read the whole thing.

Friday, February 06, 2004

The Syphilis Wall 

I came out of my hiatus to note a great Tom Maguire post and New York article about Dan Shufetan's rational case from the Israeli POV for fucking over the settlers. Because the settlements are impossible to defend, and because Israel is losing the demographic race, giving the West Bank back makes a lot of sense for Israeli security. Just because Yasser Arafat wants Israel to do something doesn't necessarily mean it's not in Israel's best interests to do it. I've made the disengagement argument to Israeli partisans, with a surprising amount of success. Assuming the PA won't negotiate, putting up a wall, giving the Palestinians a state, and letting the settlers live under PA rule if they insist on staying is really the only sane solution. I should note that Schufetan makes some moronic statements in the "Arabs/Palestinians all want X" format, which I don't condone. Even so, his ideas are a breath of rationality and common sense in an area where far too many on both sides talk absolute bullshit. And since this is Echoland, I should quote Shufetan's vaguely offensive joke/analogy about the argument:
“Someone asked me how it will be possible to remove the settlements,” he says. “So I told him the story of a man who went to the doctor with a very serious venereal disease. And the doctor told him the whole instrument would have to be removed.”
Unwilling to accept this fate, Schueftan says, the man was determined to look in every corner of the world until he found a doctor who would give him a different opinion. Finally, he found a doctor in Asia who told him he didn’t need to cut off his penis. “Just leave it alone,” the doctor said. “It will fall off by itself.”
“This is what will happen to the settlements,” says Schueftan. “They will fall off by themselves. Once the fence is built, everything on the other side is doomed.”

The settlers are the syphilis-ridden penis of Israel. I love it!

My Prediction: Starland Vocal Band 

Seattle Weekly music section gets drunk and discusses the Grammies:
Bonazelli: R. Kelly has to win something, right?
Cassidy: Why does he have to?
Matos: He pretty much owned radio this year. If it wasn’t 50 Cent or Jay-Z, it was R. Kelly. And the thing is, it’s a great record. It’s easily the best album of that list. But he isn’t gonna win. He’s an accused child molester.
Bonazelli: Did you hear about Mystikal getting arrested?
Cassidy: For child molestation?
Matos: No, he didn’t molest children, he just sexually assaulted his hairdresser and videotaped it, because he’s really smart, and a really smart person does things like that.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Sweet Smell of Success 

SPAN, the totally genius left-wing slate running for UBC student council, just swept the fucking board. I'm pretty ferklempt about the whole thing, since my crew was running. But it's a beautiful thing. Now we shall see them divide into SPAN classic and SPAN lite, as the decision whether or not to sell out is the inevitable crux all left-wing parties face.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

But seriously 

We invaded Iraq in order to subdue the Libyan menace?

State of the Union Drinking Game 

Drink continously as George Bush speaks. Fall into stupor. Wake up in 2008, when George Bush is no longer president.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

We have always been at war with Oceania 

I happned to come across the homepage of my high school the other day. There's a picture of my graduating class on there, though you'll notice a blacked out silhouette kneeling in the front. That silhouette is me. Why has my school written me out of its history books? They must have found about this blog. No school would take credit for giving birth to this monstrosity.
On the other hand, there are some sexy pictures of my roommate in the photo gallery.

Back by popular demand 

And ready to whine about the long slow decline of the National Post. Get this: some guy named Gerry Nichols believes that CBC asked its satirical (and sadly unfunny) news show This Hour Has 22 Minutes to make Mary Walsh (also unfunny) charge Harper and kiss him, in order to undermine his bid for PM. They did this since they know Paul Martin will continue high funding for the CBC, while Harper will destroy their network. After all, the show didn't send a hitman to knee Paul Martin in the groin when he became PM (or somesuch).
Some points:
1) Steven Harper will never ever be PM of this country. So it really doesn't matter how badly people treat him. He had no chance before he announced his run.
2) The show in question, being an alleged comedy show, does not actually represent the opinion of CBC. It is under no obligation to avoid political bias.
3) Paul Martin isn't funny (a trait he shares with a certain show). Dying is easy, comedy is hard, and Paul Martin-based comedy is damn near impossible.
4) Somewhere in that badly written, horribly argued column, Nichols should have mentioned Doris Day. During the last Federal Election, the show responded to Stockwell Day's plan for citizen referendums by starting a petition to change Stockwell's first name to Doris. They got more than enough signatures to put the question to a public referendum. This stunt did undermine the Day campaign (which was doing a fine job of undermining itself at the time) and exposed Day to ridicule, though it did nicely expose an inherent problem with citizen referendums; namely, that people are silly.

I also read a high-on-rhetoric, short-on-facts column by Peter Foster (not online, sorry) about why Paul Martin's seemingly positive meeting with Bush actually proved that Martin was working for Stalin. Apparently Paul Martin presented Canada's approach to the economy as generally beneficial, and recommended it to other countries. This controversial move somehow knotted Foster's panties.
One line in particular caught my eye: Mr. Martin also managed to embarrass, if not downright insult, the US president by switching into French during a joint press conference. Yeah, why should French speaking Canadians get any answers from their PM? Maybe if they stopped making cheese and starting learning English...Really, I understand Bush isn't too bright. But being threatened by people that speak another language is just insecure. Besides, as president, he must be exposed to the language of international diplomacy sometimes. Maybe if Bush ever tried international diplomacy, he wouldn't be so embarrassed.
Just because Bush and France disagree on some major issues does not mean that the French language should be banned in Bush's presence. I feel that I shouldn't have to be explaining this to anyone. Guess Paul Martin should have spoken Freedom. Everyone loves Freedom.

I do remember a time when the Post wasn't mind-bendingly retarded. Maybe they should get Conrad Black back. Or not. In a couple of weeks, the National Post will make its online content inaccessible to non-suscribers. I previously thought there was a financial reason for this decision, but I now realize the Post is trying to protect its moronic columns from the wrath of bloggers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Why I Rock 

I got a royal flush during last night's Texas Hold'em game. I still somehow lost that tournament, but I really do rock.

Queen James? 

So this just might lead to Carole James as Premier and (why not?) Bernard Lord as PM. Recent polls have shown the Liberals hanging on to a precarious lead because of a split BC left: The poll, taken a week after James' win last month, indicates the NDP is up six points to 37-per-cent support among decided voters. That's the highest level of support for the NDP in more than seven years. The Liberals have slipped 4 points to 41 per cent. And 60 per cent of survey respondents disapprove of Premier Gordon Campbell's performance.
Another 14% plan to vote Green, meaning over half of the province is pretty far left before Crackgate. It's no wonder; this administration has been terrible for an already weak BC economy. David Schreck's vital review of Gordo's 2003 (obviously published too soon) explains:
For starters, despite promises to revitalize the B.C.economy, B.C.'s real per capita economic growth is dead last, and the number of unemployed is at record highs. The economic miracle that was supposed to be part of the "New Era" is nowhere in sight. Campbell speaks of over 100,000 jobs being created but the hard fact is that since the 2001 election employment has increased by 78.1 thousand (on a seasonally adjusted basis), or an average of just less than 1.6 percent per year compared to an average of 2.1 percent per year over the previous 10 years.
Also, the BC deficit is at a record high, there were many closings of hospitals and schools, big increases in user fees, and an extended raping of BC's large (and powerful!) unions took place. Gordo had something to piss off everyone last year. People who disapprove of drunk-driving probably aren't going to vote for him. Now, the sizable 'anti-cocaine dealing' interest group may be turned off as well. Michael Smyth recognizes:
Make no mistake: Dave Basi was one of the most important, well-connected and ambitious staffers in the legislature. The raid on his office and seizure of his personal files is a devastating blow to the Campbell government (not to mention the federal Liberal Party, where he was also an important power player in B.C.)
One thing Gordo can hope for is that Green voters are actually impressed by people that deal weed, and therefore vote Liberal. But it seems improbable.
He is lucky to have another powerful BC force on board. I'll talk more about them after I get some much needed sleep.

Updates: OK, no Lord for PM. He's not running. Just when the Neo-Conservative Party looked like it had a chance in hell...
Another problem this scandal creates for the BC libs (it's actually pretty unlikely it will become a problem for the feds) is that it destroys the Liberals clean-cut image. The NDP were sleazy because they hung around with Greek mobsters and people who stole from charities. No matter how bad the Liberal's performance was, they had the NDP beat on character issues. Only in BC would a guy who had fifteen drinks before attempting to drive home, then caught and forced to spend a night in a Hawaiian jail can be said to be relatively good on character issues, but that's what happens when he's the fifth consecutive premier to face criminal charges in office. Besides, driving drunk is just a bad personal decision. Hiring top aides with ties to organized crime and coke dealing demonstrates some true corruption problems. If the Liberals are both as corrupt and incompetent as the NDP were, they just might meet the same fate the NDP did.

Never Get High On Your Own Supply 

Wowie. So, I was just playing poker for 11 hours straight, winning the epic final tournament. My emotions are completely drained. My friends probably hate me. And I come home to this. Members of my government hire coke dealers:
The RCMP raided two ministerial offices in the B.C. Legislature as a result of information gathered during a 20-month investigation into massive drug deals involving an exchange of B.C. marijuana for U.S. cocaine, police say.
You would think the information that the now fired aides are involved in buying cocaine would be noted in a very similar CanWest story (It's the Globe's lead). Hey, you'd think the word 'Cocaine' would be mentioned in the Asper version. You'd be wrong on both counts. That story has some pretty charming details, I must admit. The solicitor-general put a positive spin on the situation: Coleman said he didn't think the raid would damage his consistent message about getting tough on crime.
"I think the opposite," he said. "It clearly tells the people of this province that we will not allow any area of our government or our province to be compromised by organized crime."

Notwithstanding the offices of the goddamn legislature, of course. You can hire drug-dealing mobsters as top aides, then fire them once the police have a warrant investigating them, and still claim you are being tough on crime?
One of the two aides is a brother-in-law of a cop recently suspended for corruption: Victoria police chief Paul Battershill confirmed the drug investigation is connected to the suspension with pay on Dec. 15 of Victoria police Constable Ravinder Dosanjh.
Battershill said there is an "indirect relationship" between the suspended officer and either Virk or Basi. The drug probe is targeting a suspected influential Victoria trafficker related to Dosanjh. The alleged trafficker is also a relative of a Vancouver resident who has worked on provincial and federal Liberal campaigns and was involved in Martin's B.C. campaign.

The deputy premier's husband's office was also searched. The two targeted aides also worked for Paul Martin's BC campaigns. Liberal MPs have some very nice things to say about Bob Virk: Bob is a great asset not just to the B.C. Liberal caucus but to the community of Victoria."
The end of this article is classic:
In June 1993, Liberal Jeremy Dalton thanked Basi and another man for working as interns with the Liberal caucus. "The [NDP] cabinet will be happy to know that all the embarrassing questions that have been thrown at them over the months have been provided by those two gentlemen, and I can assure you, Honourable Speaker, there will be more today," Dalton said.
Oh, there will be questions. Count on it.

Hell's Lexicographers 

I always thought the name of my blog was invented by James Joyce in Finnegan's Wake (via the epigraph of David Lodge's excellent Small World), and its old subtitle reflected that. I was surprised to find out that it was first used (based on google searches) by Ambrose Bierce:

Bierce's journalism was a scandal in its time, just as it would be a scandal in ours. "This is Echoland, home of the ditto maniac," he wrote--100 years before the advent of Rush Limbaugh. In avoiding what his audience wanted to hear echoed, Bierce devoted himself to roasting in print the fools, hypocrites and monied pigs of his age.
There have been rumblings of late that the press ought to be more polite, that it has overstepped its bounds since Watergate. Do daily newspapers really need to get duller? Bierce's specter is a reminder of the other side of journalism--a tradition of public-minded mean-spiritedness that is as dangerous as it is endangered.

Ambrose Bierce is an old favorite of mine, as he wrote the great Devil's Dictionary (completely accessible through this wonderful site), history's most caustic reference work. Some apropos samplers:
CALLOUS, adj. Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils afflicting another.
CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Search the site. Read it. love it.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Gordon Campbell is Selling Crack! 

I sometimes wish BC had its own Drudge, that would pass around shocking unsubstantiated rumors. If we did, we may have found out about this scandal sooner. BC Liberal aides are being investigated by the RCMP for some shadowy crime relating to selling drugs, organized crime, and police corruption. The aides have been suspended from the government. While the details of this story are murky at this point, I should quickly make three points:
a) Arrest the Premier! (Oh wait, they already did.) It would in no way surprise me if Gordon Campbell actually is selling crack.
b) Gordo is in Hawaii at the moment, marking the second year in a row of responding to scandals from Hawaii. If it's so hard for BC Liberals to avoid engaging in criminal activity, the least he could go to vacation somewhere else. It's bad luck for him.
c) The preliminary Liberal spin is that the Ministers knew nothing about criminal activities being conducted by their aides. If your observational powers don't tell you when your own aides are involved in a drug ring, perhaps governing the province is similarly beyond your ability. Resign immediately, please.

The Real Real Slim Shady, or Sexism Sells 

Vancouver gay activists are mad about teenage gaybashers getting a light sentence for killing Aaron Webster:
"We want those charges raised to second-degree murder," he said. "I think we have to directly approach the attorney-general's department, have them sit down and read this ruling, and then tell us why there are two forms of justice, one for gay men and one for the rest of the world."

I agree it's a ridiculously light sentence. But I think the problem is with the manslaughter laws, not latent attorney-general homophobia. If the gaybashers were claiming that they were just trying to beat him up without actually intending to kill him, they can claim is it was only manslaughter (the "when we were beating his head with baseball bats, we had no idea his skull would cave in!" defense). The media is not allowed to print the name of the sentenced teenager, but the TV media decided to videotape him leaving the court. Beofre he covered up his face, I caught a glimpse of the moronic fuck. And I was creeped out by how much he looked like Eminem. He was dressed in the blue jeans, the white t-shirt, and had the bleached blonde hairdo. He looked like someone going to a Halloween party dressed like Eminem, or like the Eminem imitators in numerous Eminem videos. I've always been a kneejerk defender of all artists' right to say whatever they want to. And yet seeing a dumb kid who went out searching for a gay man to beat dressed as a famously homophobic rapper makes me think. Of course, the kid is culpable, not the rapper. You can't blame Paul McCartney for inspiring Manson to kill with Blackbird. I definitely don't agree with Bill O'Reilly or the Maoists a few posts down. But the argument for censorship of art is that some art will have a bad effect on society. Is the joy millions get from Eminem's music (if that's the right emotion; I suspect not) worth the life of Aaron Webster? I guess I think it actually is, on utilitarian grounds. Yet I doubt I could justify that feeling to Webster's family. I have retreated to a stance of vague white liberal confusion, as always.

Speaking of, Evelyn MacDonell (via Ulmann) raises some interesting questions about hip-hop sexism without really answering any of them. She notes how numb we've become to hip-hop sexism. I've noticed this as well; I was surprised that no-one made a fuss over the incredibly offensive Obie Trice video where he slaps a fat woman (maybe if Martha Burk wasn't so busy not playing golf, whe could return to the important battles. Like Obie Trice videos!) McDonnell honestly explores her reaction to sexist hip-hop. However, I'd like to quibble with this paragraph:
Hip-hop is not inherently sexist. In fact, some of its brightest stars -- Outkast, Missy Elliott, Atmosphere, Mos Def -- infuse their music with love of women. Nor are rappers more likely to objectify and demean women than rockers, teen-pop stars, or Frank Sinatra.
Good point about the Chairman et al (two words: Mick Jagger). Yet judging from her examples, hip-hop actually is inherently sexist. I mean, Outkast has a song titled "We Luv Deez Hoes". And which Atmosphere line is she referring to? This one?
The first time I met the devil was at a motel 6
She left hell to spend her weekends on earth just for kicks
Sexy little bitch, shorter then expected

Or this one?
If only they knew how real this life really gets
They would stop acting like a silly bitch
They would respect the cock whether or not they believed in it

Is there really that much of a significant difference between "Fuck You Lucy" and Eminem's "Kim" which McDonnell decries? And this may have escaped McDonnell, but Missy Elliot (incidentally, her new video has a wonderful visual retort to Obie Trice, I think) happens to be a woman. So we're left with (the Mighty) Mos Def as the only good man in hip-hop. Great.

My other problem with her essay is that it uses the copout device of ending with a string of rhetorical questions. I.e:
What does it mean when Kelis, a woman who became famous for her uncontrollable colored afros and burning-bed anthems, poses like a typical Herb Alpert sexpot on her second album?
Y'know, I hear there's a positive correlation between sex and sales.

I agree that hip-hop misogyny is generally problematic. Yet I think one of the reasons I love hip-hop is its offensiveness, and my often woozy response to it. It's interesting and challenging to hear people expressing their feelings towards the opposite sex, even the extremely negative and unPC ones. Besides, if there was no sexism in hip-hop, we'd have to listen to Northern State all day. Noone wants that.

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