Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jumping The Shark Isn't Just For The Right Anymore

My E-Mail Tells Me That The Reality Community at Eschaton Is In a Snit Because the Obama Administration Has Nixed The Minting of the Trillion Dollar Coin.

Did they really.... really believe that ever happening was within the realm of the possible?

Someone should tally of how many times The Reality Community has been in a snit because a Democratic office holder has said they weren't going to do the impossible, the counterproductive, the self-damaging, the downright silly.

And yet they wonder why people who have been elected and hold office don't take them all that seriously

Did they really believe Barack Obama was going to make himself a laughing stock for something that wouldn't work?

A Genuine Tong Funeral by Carla Bley

I'm told there was some other record released in 1967 but this is the one from that year that's still new and still worth revisiting at least once a year.

It's so good you'll want to buy the CD.  It is one of the great masterpieces of American composition of that decade, worth hearing in the highest fidelity available.  Well worth a revival.   You hear this, you'll forget all about that other album.

Update:  In one of the most idealistic and generous artistic acts of recent years, you can find lead sheets for some of the pieces in A Genuine Tong Funeral and for many of Carla Bley, Steve Swallow and Karen Mantler's compositions at Watt Music Headquarters, in the Library.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Life for the hipster is breezy,
When everything's held to be cheesy,
Talent-less, so why strive, 
To do something alive?
Being cynical's kewl 'cause it's easy.

Hans Neusiedler Der Zeuner Tantz

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Uses of Seriousness: Moral Imperative Inspires Greatness

Reality is real, a wise Rabbi whose name I don't recall once said.  I've begun at least two other blog posts pointing that out.   Reality is what any good we do in life will come from, it is the setting in which whatever evil that has to be struggled against produces its pain and conflict.    I'm sure that wherever art comes from, wherever it arises from, it doesn't escape the same issues that other areas in life face.  In some cases the necessity of addressing the most profound evil has produced great art.  We know that from the art, itself, when it is literary or a representation of real life.   Even when there is no text and the medium, in itself, is abstract the title and testimony of the creator can tell us exactly where the art came from.

In the United States during my life, the struggle for civil rights and against American apartheid gave rise to some of the highest uses of art.

John Coltrane's "Alabama" came out of the pain and anger and the moral resolve caused by the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Burmingham Alabama, the murder of four little girls.   He used the rhythm of The Reverend King's address, as he read it in the paper,  composing one of the more profound compositions of the 1960s.   The composition and the ensemble rose to an inspiration that wasn't egocentric, that allowed the composition and the performance of it inhabit an entirely higher level of existence than even most jazz attains.   As the notes to this performance points out, Elvin Jones drum playing is essential in delivering the substance, turning the irreconcilable grief of the piece into resolve to change things, to improve reality, to demand justice.

From two years earlier Max Roach's great album, We Insist!  is another document attesting to the higher use of reality in music, in this case a lot of the meaning was delivered by the great Abbey Lincoln singing that meaning but the playing accompanying her also delivers profound commentary on both the melody and lyrics, illustrating and enlightening their meaning.

In both case the arc of the music if from the painful to the resolve that things will be better but only if we make it better.   You don't do that without an utterly serious treatment of the occasion and the material, taking up the time of the audience and the musicians for something more important than a pop concert does.  Which is why Jazz frequently rises to the level of the highest art as it it put to the highest use music can be. 

As the backlash to civil rights gained ground, as the left was taken out of the hands of idealists who had a solid grasp of what the goals were, the actual improvement of the lives of real people, poor people, people who had no money, spoke a disdained form of English, who had bad teeth all because they were intentionally kept from good wages and the education that was their right,  the idealistic use of music became unfashionable.   Cynical disdain for it, the praise of the stupid and ephemeral (embalmed and kept together far longer than its substance warranted) was matched by a bunch of stupid brats forcing themselves in front of the camera in order to get attention for themselves with violent, stupid antics.   The left stalled out, a condition we still face today.   Any popular music milieu in which John Lennon's sappy "Imagine" can stand as one of the few inspirational numbers that is allowed to stand unchallenged is one which has stopped serving any purpose.   There are songwriters and musicians who still do serious topics, they should insist on more from the music industry than they are allowed.   We've got a huge number of serious occasions that need to be expressed, that need the same kind of energy behind it that these two pieces had. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Speaking of Cake

It's Richard Nixon's 100th Birthday

Patty Cake vs. Goethe

Keith Moon Drum Solo


 Max Roach Drum Solo

A Response on a Different Blog Slightly Edited

Dawkins, in line with atheists going back to the dawn of written documentation, has denied that evil and good are anything except social conventions.  Coyne has said pretty much the same thing, both based in some of the more baseless assertions of psychology pretending to be evolutionary biology.

"In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”   Richard Dawkins A River Out of Eden

In that you've got the problem.  If that's true then the entire program of the real left, equality, inherent rights, a binding moral obligation for people to respect those rights indiscriminately and even when it is disadvantageous, the entire basis of the left is false.   It is entirely compatible with the worst dictatorships in history, it is, essentially, the entire economic ideology of Ronald Reagan,  Margaret Thatcher and the Bush Crime Family.  

The atheist alleged-left ends up, when taken to its logical conclusion,  supports the bases of the far right.   It is biologically determinist and negates the reality of moral obligations, equality, rights, etc.  The stupid analysis that put Marxism on the left is based in a few idealistic lines from the Communist Manifesto of 1848, something that Marx left behind as he attempted to make his theory more "scientific", and you can read "atheistic" in place of that,  because it is far more successfully atheistic than it is scientific.  His critique of capitalism is brilliant, his outline of a political future is a total and absolute disaster because he really, at bottom, didn't believe that those metaphysical bases, inherent rights, equality, the moral obligation to respect rights, were real.  The left has failed continually when atheists have asserted control over it.  It's time the real left stopped being duped by a few good lines spouted during the year of failed European revolutions.

Leftish Blog Rule #27


Really. If you don't believe it, go disagree with them at the "Freethought" blogs.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

An elderly pop music critic, 
His columns, all copies, eidetic,
When seeing alternative
Thoughts, new, not derivative
Became quite unhinged and splenetic. 

The Band: The Shape I'm In

Possibly The Most Incompetent Atheist Argument In History

If you've encountered many atheists online, you're likely to have read a claim that morality preceded religion and that it is independent of it.  Jerry Coyne is the first person I saw say that online but I've seen it asserted more and more since then.  When that happens on the atheist blogosphere you can be pretty  sure that some line of tripe is being pushed by someone.  Probably from CFI or the "Science" or "Freethought" blogs.  I'd guess someone at least of the alleged authority of Coyne or Orac or PZ is the prime mover of it.

In a recent online argument, I finally got around to demanding that the atheist making the claim back it up by naming the earliest documents containing a moral code and verifying their non-religious character.  Here's what he came up with:

Codes of conduct and morality without any reference to religion:
Code of Hamurabi, Ancient Roman civil law, Aristotle's works on ethics and politics, English Common Law, Confucianism of Imperial China

You probably noticed a few problems with this list as proof that morality came about before religion and independently of it.    Other than the Code of Hammurabi, none of those extend back nearly to the dawn of recorded civilization.  Every one of them are products of religious cultures and governments with either official or de facto state religions, at least three of them have monarchs either anointed by God or claim gods in their actual ancestry.   English common law recognizes "acts of God",  after all.   Every one of them incorporate religion, quite arguably, even that recent atheist hobby horse, Aristotle*.

Even Confucianism,  often listed as a "secular religion" fails in this argument.   The Analects of Confucius,  VII Chapter 22 says:

The Master said, `Heaven produced the virtue that is in me. Hwan T'ui what can he do to me?'

XX Chapter 3 says:

The Master said, `Without recognising the ordinances of Heaven, it is impossible to be a superior man.

So, the atheist's citation says that heaven not only produces virtue but it is impossible to be a superior man without recognizing the ordinances of heaven.   Clearly the atheist use of Confucius in this argument is based on suppression and distortion or, more likely total ignorance.  Its success could only depend on ignorance and being too lazy to look up what the document says.

The one  alleged support of the atheist position that is not disqualified on the basis of chronology, Hammurabi's code, also flops rather badly in the atheist argument, something which would be apparent if one of the atheists making that use of it had performed the most basic of scholarly tests, READING IT.    Here is how the document begins:

When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land, assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.

Even taking into account the nearly universal insistence by atheists that everything be a set up job in their favor, there is no way that texts that prove the opposite of their argument actually proves their argument.   Clearly Hammurabi says that his authority to set up his law code comes from a divine command.

Really, even given the appallingly low standards of atheist arguments, this has to count as one of the most incompetent of those I've ever seen.   Though, as I interact more with atheists online, it's clear you can be taken as an authority among them while demonstrating complete disdain for and ignorance of the most basic standards of scholarship.

* Contemporary atheists are generally ignorant of history and the necessity of having to read something before you really know what it says.   As a substitute for reading primary documents they depend, not on scholarly secondary documentation, but tertiary ideological junk and the even less reliable stuff that comes from TV.   I'm not interested in getting into a long argument over the man who introduced the concept of the "unmoved mover" so useful to medieval theology.  For my argument it's only necessary to note that Aristotle hardly represents the oldest documentary evidence of morality and, since it's doubtful he had access to those oldest sources,  his ideas on the origin of morality are entirely speculative.   I'm not a scholar of the history of Aristotelian philosophy but I'd be surprised if he wasn't made most use of by Jewish, Christian and Islamic moral theologians, who found support for their religious ideas in his writing.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

More Music In Less Than Seven Minutes Than On All of Sgt. Peppers

Gag Warning: It's Morbidly, Marginally, Mindlessly, Midge

Midge Decter is one of those people you occasionally are surprised to find is still alive, especially if you don't spend much of your time in the incestuous bubble that is the, soi disant, New York City intellectual scene.

Digby has this rather morbidly and marginally interesting look back at Midge's senile erotomaniac crush on Donald Rumsfeld.   It's by way of pointing out the total dishonesty of William Kristol reacting to Michael Moore saying the Bush Crime Family invaded Iraq for the oil.  The fact is that Kristol's intellectual madrina, Midge, said the same thing, in his presence, on tape.

Any city that could maintain Midge, her hubby, Kristol, and their associates as part of an intellectual scene for the past five decades is a city whose intellectual scene is maintained as a tony fraud based more in funding and PR  and fashion than in intellectual depth.  New York being a center of the status symbol media is largely responsible for its over-rated intellectual status.  The reaction to the defection of such important institutions as The Tonight Show to Hollywood  reveals a lot about that.  The vastly over-rated Woody Allen once got partial revenge by snarking about  Los Angeles' only intellectual attraction over the center of his personal universe was being able to turn right on a red light.   It was funny at the time but, really, given what, for decades, can pass as intellectual in The Greatest City On Earth In The History of The World, If Not The Universe, they all need to be taken down a few pegs.   I'll go with the guy from Flint Michigan over the New York intellectuals.  With the demotion of centralized media, it's time for those of us who don't live in and aren't interested in the latest trends in the self-appointed Capital of the Universe to get over it.   There's no need to tell them, they won't notice us out here, anyway.