Sunday, October 6, 2013

Song for Today

The doll who said no

She is a doll who says "no, no, no no"
All day long, she says "no no no no no"
She is, she is so cute
That I dream of her all night
She is a doll who says "no, no, no no"
All day long, she says "no no no no no"
No one has every taught her
That one can say "oui"
Without even hearing, she says "no no no no"
Without looking at me she says "no no no no"
However I would give my life
for her to say "yes"
However I would give my live
That she would say "yes"
But she is a doll, who says "no no no no"
All the day long she says "no no no no"
No one has taught her
That it's possible to say "yes"
Oh no no no non no
no no no
She says no....
Are we dealing with another "Blurred Lines" here. I tend to think not. First, because Michel Polnereff is talented. Second because this far more clever a presentation of the confusing battle of affections. It is more about self doubt than imposing your will on someone. 

I believe Jimmy Page played guitar on this.

Republican Love the National Park Service.....Now

While I am always excited to see what the new image angle will be every time the Republicans roll out a fake crisis I can seldom predict it. And look what it is this week—The National Park Service.

Clearly our National Parks are the (new) most important places in America.

Fox News is Worried

House Republicans are Distraught

House Republicans are REALLY Distraught

Rep. Neugebauer is so distraught he is forced into being a dick

Breitbart is upset because the ocean closed down

Every conservative with access to the internet is citing this Wesley Pruden piece (Because editorials by notorious cranks are the same thing as reportage-But now it has entered the right wing pinball machine which will bounce it around as the truth until it slips through the flippers only to be shot back again later.)

And so on. Those are just a few of the links I got by running a Google search that read: "Republicans National Parks" and limited it to one week. Let's see what happened when I try everything from one week ago until 2008.

Rep. Cliff Steans want to sell off National Parks

Rep Jason Chaffetz proposed a bill to sell off public lands

Republicans -and the Washington Times-were indignant that President Obama would try to keep National Parks open

Republicans were astonished that the President would designate new national parks

House Republicans couldn't believe that the National Park Service Chief John Jarvis would highlight the fact that parks would have to be closed due to the sequester

In a double whammy Senate Republicans thwarted a bill to put veterans to work in National Parks

In 2011 House Republicans proposed cutting $51 million dollars from the NPS budget

Under the Ryan Budget many parks would have to shut down for parts of the year (But what if they have to put up signs saying they are closed??? Tyranny!)

Gov. Romney proposed privatizing parks ( was murky)

In 2011 Congress cut the NPS budget by $101 million. 

As someone whose field — historic preservation— is greatly reliant on the National Park Service I am grateful that conservatives are finally outraged that our parks are anything other than fully functional. I hope we have your support once this (fake) crisis is over. Although I am mindful of the Shirelles cautionary tale, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" I am more inclined to echo Phife Dawg's words of wisdom, "You didn't want me then, you hon don't want me now."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Worst. List. Ever.

Apparently blogging once a year is the new thing. That and working on your master's thesis is not conducive to blogging, especially when you are married with a 10 month old.  Poor, poor me.

To the issue at hand.  Recently, as part of a larger conversation about the Right Wing media's latest panty wadding exercise over President Obama playing golf, I was forwarded the Western Center For Journalism's "The Top 50 Liberal Media Bias Examples."   I am not just slinging false magnanimity when I say that I really want to see the other side of an argument, to subject my ideology to rigorous testing.  I think that is an important thing for anyone to do.  I rather like following the conservative press and I find that most people I know on the Left  have some interest in what is being discussed in other circles.  This list, however, is so exceptionally ridiculous and so ill-conceived that I am astonished that anyone saw fit to press the 'publish' button on it.  I know that is naive.  It is almost like they have stopped even trying.

One of my main problems with the Right is that, lately, they only exist in a bubble, which if any contrary information enters, it can't be processed so every effort is made to exclude it.  This list can only exist inside of that bubble.  It can't stand up to even the slightest evaluation.  At its best it is petty  slander.  At its worst it is abhorrent fantasy.  This sounds like an apology before the fact, but I regret that I am locked in a studio working on thesis right now so my overview of this list will be only cursory.  I wish I could go further into it but I don't have the time.  I think I will go through five points a post.  Maybe my time constraints will serve to show how easily someone could have checked their facts  before committing to these falsehoods.  Maybe they just didn't care, as long as the misinformation got out there.

The important thing to understand about how this list functions is that it never establishes what the media is or demonstrates the , presumed, fact that has a liberal bias.  It assumes that the media is whatever is useful for the particular point in question and that the bias is understood.  This type of thinking also relies on using the term 'liberal' in a very plastic way.  Anyone who is a Democrat is a liberal.  Anyone who is further to the left  than the Democratic Party is also a liberal.  Any socialist or communist can be a liberal.  In fact, anyone who is not a part of contemporary movement conservatism can be a liberal if that is what is called for.  The list is so egregious in this aspect of assigning identity at will that it could make an argument that Korean's are Italian because pizza is a well known Italian food and there are pizza restaurants in Korea.  It is that intellectually meticulous.

On to the list:

1. "Better Red Than Informed"  

Here it is insisted that the liberal media refused to report on the atrocities of the Stalin regime.  The proof?  Walter Duranty, a British-American journalist who covered the Soviet Union for the New York Times in the 1930s .  Was Walter Duranty a liberal?  Did his controversial famine denial serve any liberal cause?  There is scholarship on whether he was a bad reporter or not.  I certainly have never heard him being praised by the Left, but hey, New York Times and Stalin in one sentence.  That should be good enough.  Also, can a claim like this be made with out pointing out that this reporting was done in the 1930s and that Stalin would go on to be our ally in the 1940s?  Would that then make the entirety of the Allied Nations 'liberal.'  When Churchill and Roosevelt met with Stalin in Tehran in 1943 were they then 'Reds'?  That would require the writer of this article to think about something a little complicated, so the discussion doesn't happen.  I am sure that there were conflicting reports on Stalin's reign in the early years.  I am sure some liberal journalists did not cover themselves in glory on this account.  I am sure that many conservative and neutral journalists as well had trouble reading what would become of Stalin.  The author alludes to other instances of the 'liberal media' covering for the Soviets, but doesn't bother to tell us about them, so we will just assume that it is a general feeling that he has about the subject.

2.  "Castro's Cheerleaders"

The author, Warner Todd Huston, for those that are interested, assures us here that the 'liberal media establishment' support the Castro regime in Cuba.  Having recently returned from Cuba I was interested to see  if this section would discuss the heady early years of a populist revolution giving way to a repressive dictatorship and what that did to the spirit of the people of Cuba and whether or not Western journalists were able to negotiate this critical change and understand the disappointment of many participants in the revolution.  Sadly, no.  There is a link to a Media Watch article which tells us such startling things as the fact that Peter Jennings said in a broadcast from Cuba in 1989
 "Medical care was once for the privileged few. Today it is available to every Cuban and it is free. Some of Cuba’s health care is world class. In heart disease, for example, in brain surgery. Health and education are the revolution’s great success stories."
 And that Jennings relayed the words of a Cuban woman, "For me, he [Castro] is God. I love him very much." 
 The rest of the media atrocities cited continue very much in this vein.  It never does much to explain what it finds wrong with the quotes.  I guess we are supposed to assume that health care in Cuba being decent is completely absurd and that some people in Cuba love Fidel Castro is only propaganda.  It would seem that there is very little meat on the bones here.  Maybe Mr. Huston is used to this style of writing and assumes that appealing to a kind of general feeling amongst his readers is just as good as making any kind of argument and providing even the scantest of evidence.  
I went to Cuba.  I rather enjoyed it.  I loved the people there and think that the government is quite good at doing certain things and terrible at others.  I think the country is complicated and that all people deserve human rights and the ability to decide their own leaders.  Did I just cheerlead for Castro?  No, I think he is a terrible human being.  That doesn't mean that there aren't positive things in Cuba.

3. "The Vietnam War"

Finally a simple, little topic that doesn't require much discussion.  Or at least that is how Mr. Huston treats it.  He gives us an extended quote from "Discover the Networks: A Guide to the Political Left."  Which contends that the liberal media was, "spreading the idea that the U.S. was not only losing the war, but was also routinely committing the most barbaric atrocities against the Vietnamese population."
So, and here is where some of those tricky mental gymnastics come in,  if a war started by President Kennedy, who was a Democrat and escalated by his successor President Johnson, also a Democrat is reported on in a way that makes it sound as if it is not being won, that makes the media liberal.  Do you understand yet?  I am guessing that the assumption being made here, amongst many, is that war, in and of itself belongs to the Right, certainly winning at a war belongs to the Right, so if someone on the Left starts a war and someone else on the Left continues that war, then being critical of that war makes one a leftist.  See?
As to 'barbaric atrocities' , I suppose one is to pretend that Hugh Thompson jr. never received the Distinguished Flying Cross for intervening in the massacre at My Lai.  Maybe we can pretend that no atrocities were ever committed and we can close our eyes and sleep better at night and pretend that everything bad that happened in that war was at the behest of Ho Chi Minh and not William L Calley.  It would be easier if things weren't so complicated in a war were young kids are asked to go fight for their lives in near impossible circumstances.  In any case, to report on something awful happening makes one liberal.  Understand?

4.  "DDT Ban"

To quote Huston, "The biggest example of the media coming to the aid of environmentalism is, of course, is the worldwide ban of DDT."  I'll give you a few moments to see if you can figure out where the flaw in this sentence is.   Got it?  There is no 'worldwide ban of DDT.'  In fact, public health uses are exempt from the Stockholm Treaty of 2004 .  So if the initial premise of the argument isn't true, and it took me less then five minutes to find out that is isn't, does the rest even matter? It is apparent, if you consult page 257 of Silent Spring that Ms. Carson herself didn't even support a ban on all pesticides, she supported it where it made sense.  There are many who feel that her advice to use pesticides as sparingly as possible helped their effectiveness in slowing mosquitoes ability to adapt.  There is a lot of interesting facets of the DDT issue to discuss, I have read several conservative and libertarian critiques which bring up relevant arguments, Mr. Huston apparently did not have the intellectual curiosity to dig into them however.

5. "Edward Kennedy"

This is always a strange one for me because I think that Ted Kennedy is far more important to conservatives in America than to liberals.  Make no mistake I think he was correct on most policies and spoke well about them, but I don't care about Ted Kennedy.  He was in a position of power because he came from a family of power.  He was complicit in the death of a young woman and didn't conduct himself appropriately in the aftermath of an accident that he was responsible for. How all of this has anything to do with a liberal media, I am not certain.  I guess the theory is that if the media were fair, he would have been hounded out of his job.  But Senator Kennedy was reelected multiple times while the story of his accident was well known.  We hardly see as much handwringing about Laura Bush's unfortunate role in the death of a classmate, but then again she was not an elected official and didn't report the accident late.  Nor do we have much of an uproar about  the staffer for Joe Scarborough's who died in his office.
I would reason that another argument could be made that our media is so invested in power and class that it gives the wealthy and connected passes on pretty much anything.  But that doesn't follow the story line here.  As someone on the Left, I really care little about Ted Kennedy's political career outside of the policies he advanced,  and another liberal senator could have advocated for the same causes so he is not really necessary to me.

Well, there are the first five.  I took a brief break from working on my thesis this afternoon to crank this out and it might be a bit incomplete, but I still feel I put more energy into it than Warner Todd Huston who seems to care very little for making actual inquiries and more for parading about thumbing his nose at whomever happens to look in his direction with anything less than the patronizing approval of a lazy, doting parent.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Cost

You might have noticed that I was out for a bit. I wonder if something happened over here? I don't remember. In any case, here is an interesting piece about how much it costs to provide air-conditioning in Afghanistan. Reading this, a lot of things seem absurd to me. I feel bad telling a poor soldier serving in Afghanistan to just deal with the heat, but..... I tell hundreds of teenagers to deal with unheated, unair-conditioned schools every day. It isn't Afghanistan though.

One thing that always strikes me about going back to America is the absurd use of air-conditioning. It might just be my mother's house. It probably has a lot to do with the way we build our houses. But it all seems like a bit much to me. My house now in Kyoto, which is notoriously hot in the summer, has two air-conditioners which I never use. Their filters are still sitting out from when I cleaned them. I use a fan and carry a towel around with me. That is about it. When you think about all of the things our world has to go through for power, air-conditioning and dryers and the like start to seem a bit frivolous. Especially when we are cutting the social safety net to threads at home so people can have air-conditioning somewhere where most of the country doesn't think we still need to be.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kyoto: Fortress of Solitude

Most people who live in Kyoto realize that any tsunami big enough to tackle our city would be big enough to destroy the rest of the earth so there is really no point in fretting over it. However, a lot of our family members and friends don't live here and have been expressing a reasonable amount of concern over the issue. I am making this so that you can pass it on to them.

When the location for the new capital was being scouted in the 700s, court geomancers remarked that the city was well protected in the northwest by Atagosan and in the northeast by Hieizan two mountains that tower over the city today. The mountains are part of several groups of mountains, Higashiyama, Nishiyama and Kitayama, that surround the city on three side creating the Yamashiro Basin which is listed by Wikipedia as having an average elevation of around 1,000 meters. But that is a bit misleading. A good portion of the city itself is at an average elevation of around 86 meters forming a basin known as a 'bonchi.'

Here is a very good map with certain points marked by elevation. My apartment is directly across the street from number 1 on this map.

Two major rivers run through the city and feed into the Yodo River which flows on to Osaka and into Osaka Bay which opens onto the Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

It is roughly 30 miles between Osaka and Kyoto.
Just to speculate, A tsunami would have to come into Osaka Bay, over the city of Osaka-a substantial metropolis-up the Yodo River for 30 miles climbing close to 100 meters in elevation to damage Kyoto. I don't want to tempt fate, but that is highly unlikely. Or, a Tsunami could begin in the Sea of Japan, scale a mountain range and attack from the north. Also highly unlikely.

If you are unfamiliar with the area, please note that the large body of water you sea directly to the east of Kyoto (although not on these maps) is Biwako, the largest lake in Japan. It is not connected to the sea.

Now, all of this is not to say that there is no worry of earthquakes in Kyoto. There are fault lines in the city. But that applies to anywhere in Japan. We also have a lot of green space, a large aquifer, no high rise buildings (not that high rises are dangerous and smaller ones are safe necessarily) and many broad streets.

One further note for those not familiar with Japanese geography.

We live in Kansai. Or, the area on this map labled 'Kinki.' You can stop laughing now. You should see the shirts that say "All Kinki Girl's Softball Tournament." The earthquake happened in Tohoku. Tokyo is in Kanto. We are over 500km away from the damage. Which is the hardest part really.

Thank you for your concern and I hope this makes you feel better.

(if there are any mistakes in my data, please let me know. there were lots of conflicting average elevations)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update: Limbaugh Still Stupid

Here Rush Limbaugh makes fun of Japanese refugees for recycling in their shelter. His caller thinks it is pretty funny. That conversation doesn't hurt my feelings or anything, it just shows the divide in the world views going on. Not between Japan and America but between the ignorant people who participate in this dialogue. It took me a second to think about why it would seem odd for people in a shelter to divide their garbage. Everyone does it every day in Japan. I imagine it makes life a lot more livable in the shelter. It would make sense to get quickly decaying things like fish bones and orange peels out of an enclosed place packed with people and to take bulkier but non-rotting items like cans and containers out later. But I forgot what I always forget about Rush world, it is for exceptionally lazy people. Where putting one thing in one box and another in the box next to it is oppressive labor.

To understand their further joke about it being ironic that a country making electric cars would have thousands of people killed in a natural disaster- wait I will give you a second to stop laughing at how funny that is- would require slithering into a world view almost too low to penetrate. I would wager that most people that are environmentalists, don't believe in a deity that meets out ironic punishment by angry destruction. I have never met anyone, besides the most borderline kook, who even uses the word Gaia seriously. Whatever. All they have done, as usual, is place their view over a supposed liberal one and then comment on how it seems odd. Yes it does, because we don't think like that. In Sendai there is a large porpoise killing operation and shark fin fishery. I strongly oppose those things but I don't feel any sense of relief that the people involved in it are suffering. That isn't fair. I haven't seen any commentary from the radical left- to the extent that that exists- saying that anyone feels that it is, and I am on their mailing lists.

Until I am re-exposed to him, I often forget who truly stupid and gutless, metaphorically, that Limbaugh is. What an undeserving person of a public voice. What a loser dressed up like he won.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake Proof Housing-For Poor People

Since most of the world is poor people, this National Geographic piece is filled with useful information. This is actually what I majored in in college and would still like to be doing. Anyway. I think this is how we should be thinking about architecture and urban planning going forwards, as we all get Third Worlded.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It Wasn't Not Capitalism!

Thank you David Cay Johnston for pointing out what anyone with a cursory interest in economics- which we all should have as we are pulled around by it- should understand; that once you pay public workers, be that in benefits or wages, the money is theirs, not still yours.

Is it that hard to understand? If you go to a Yankees game once, you can not forever claim that A-Rod is taking Madonna on dates with your money. Bill Gates isn't giving out vaccinations with your money. You paid for a service they supplied, which they negotiated a contract to work for, it is their money. Is that difficult?

To not understand this simple point is either willful ignorance or a deep misunderstanding of the economic system which you claim to be so strongly allied with.

If you skip the whole article, I will point out what shouldn't need pointing out; health benefits and vacation days are not presents from your boss, they are compensation. Workers negotiate a mixture of salary and benefits and that becomes the conditions that they work under. To pretend that it is the bosses magnanimity that grants vacation and benefits is insulting. But, what really is new there. The new, angry conservative makes their bones in the insulting. They wallow in it like a dog on a rotting corpse and then prance around talking about how good they smell.

If we are to believe that corporate CEO's wages must be kept high to insure interest in the position from qualified people, are we supposed to think that the government wants to discourage qualified teachers and public workers? Almost assuredly, they do. Or just want to roll the dice on getting them on the cheap, which is the situation I am in.

Yet again, there is no internal logic in the conservative position.


attempting to silence the voices in my head.