Three Songs for Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day here are three songs that deal with those who went to war, both those that came back and those that didn’t.  All three of these songs feature great writing, with lived in characters that are fully formed.  There is no mindless flag waving going on here.  They all treat veterans like people, not like political imagery.  In the first two there are even some short injections of dark humor.

Johnny Cash – Drive On

Marah – Round Eye Blues

Bruce Springsteen – The Wall

On a personal note I feel mixed emotions on Memorial Day as I scan the headlines.  In our country we are always told to “support the troops”.  But usually after the fact, after we have sent them out to be broken, after we have sent some to the final place they will see.  Nothing to me says support the troops more than not sending them into war in the first place unless absolutely necessary.  On Memorial Day you often read in the news about people getting easily offended over some kind of symbol they find disrespectful or something someone said. But where were these people when we allowed our leaders to send our young men and women to places they should have never been?  Many of them were waving flags blindly.  There are real lives that are damaged, families broken up.  I’m for all kinds of healthcare, etc., when our troops come home.  However, the best way to support the troops is through peace.

Return of the Monster Squad

Republican-Presidential-Contenders

Jesus Christ!  I haven’t seen this many freaks and mutants in one place since The Monster Squad!  Do you really want one of these men to be the next president?  Is this the best the GOP can do?  This is the flab of the American Empire.  When you have to pretend that you don’t believe in evolution, that climate change isn’t happening, and that the free market lifts all boats, this is the kind of crew you end up running with.  These guys look like they should be salesmen down at CarMax, not the leaders of the free world.  Swirl unfettered free markets and backwards religious ideas in a jar and this is what leaks out.  America, so much to answer for…

The-Monster-Squad-2

Gay Marriage Approved In Ireland

Ireland has just voted in favor of gay marriage.  This is a victory for sanity, dignity, and love.  Ireland, a country that was oppressed by the Church for many years, is now officially more progressive than parts of our country on this issue.  Although I know we will get there eventually, it is shameful that so many people here in the USA are still firmly rooted in the ideas of the past.  All sane people know that those who were against Civil Rights in the 60’s will look eternally foolish when remembered in history books.  So will those that oppose gay marriage now.  However, today is a day to celebrate.  Today brings the world one step closer to justice and equality.

George Carlin On Education

In accordance with the last post about standardized testing, here is George Carlin on education:

Then people wonder why 17 other countries graduate more scientist than we do. Education – politicians use that word, they use it on you. Politicians have traditionally hidden behind 3 things: the flag, the bible, and children – no child left behind, no child left behind.

Oh, really it wasn’t to long you were talking about giving children a head start. Head start – left behind, someone’s losing fucking ground here, but there’s a reason. There’s a reason for this. There’s a reason education sucks, and it’s the same reason it’ll never ever be fixed – it’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you got, because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now. The wealthy big business interests that controls things, and makes all the important decisions.

John Oliver On Standardized Testing

The always brilliant John Oliver on Standardized Testing in America.  Any teacher that I have ever talked to, and I know a lot, my Mom having been a teacher for her whole career, talks about what a waste of time this testing is.  It eats away at things that could be more beneficial to students, while giving a skewered look as to what is really going on in our schools.  There is huge difference between intelligence, learning, and just memorizing.

Texas Stops Cities and Towns From Banning Fracking

Major spoiler warning for the movie There Will Be Blood

Texas Stops Cities and Towns From Banning Fracking

When I think of Corporate Conservatism I often think of the last scene of the movie There Will Be Blood.  In the scene an oil baron, played by Daniel Day Lewis, beats a preacher to death after he no longer has need of him.  Money will use anything it can to get power.  Once it has what it needs it will consume and destroy what no longer serves its purpose.

It should come as no surprise that those that for long have called for less government, for state’s rights, are now actually overturning local governmental decisions.  In a sense they are enforcing environmental regulations, but against the environment.  Years of conservative philosophy are being pissed on to serve the energy industry.  This is fun stuff, as conservative philosophy was already extremely in debt to the energy industry.  Now all guise of sanity is thrown out the window.  But this is their truest intentions laid bare.  Although this behavior by Texas is stupid, arrogant, and morally reprehensible, I think this is misstep by those that seek to destroy the environment over greed.  They can’t claim that these actions serve any principles other than the enrichment of a corrupt few.

How Apocalypto Relates to the News

When I watch the news I often think of the movie Apocalypto.   This is a Mel Gibson directed movie that deals with the Mayans.  The movie is an insane spectacle filled with ideas and blood.  The characters speak in ancient Mayan dialogue, but the movie is brilliant because it manages to tell the story in ways that are mostly visual.  It is an extremely intelligent piece of entertainment, an action movie with ideas.  It is barbarous, batshit insane, kinetic entertainment.  

Now why do I think of this movie when I see the news?  This is not due to the themes of the movie.  The Mayan empire is depicted as a civilization on the verge of collapse due to environmental calamity and human exploitation.  It came out during the Bush years and the Iraq War.  Gibson even commented that the Mayan rulers were very similar to Bush in his boys.  Sure, the invading Europeans put the nail in the coffin of the Mayans, but the Europeans are aided by the Mayan leaders’ tyrannical rule.  That is not to say that is true in history, but Gibson is trying to draw a parallel through art.  He is saying if we don’t quit oppressing people, if we don’t protect the environment, history shows that we and our way of life is in trouble.

However, none of that crosses my mind when I watch the news.  The greatest emotional quality of Apocalypto is insanity.  When I watch the news and they focus on the trivial and ignore the important, I feel emotionally like I do when I watch Apocalypto.   When I see war and oppression trumpeted as normal, when I see global warming treated as not real, when I see celebrity eclipse the common good, I feel the same as when I watch Apocalypto.  

There is intellectual truth and emotional truth in art.  Even if you argue that the movie doesn’t have the former, it has the latter in spades.  It feels like what happens when the world turns upside down.  It’s why the movie makes me happy, even though it is largely an action movie and a quite dark one at that.  Someone connected to an emotion that is all too common in the modern world.  It’s always uplifting to know someone feels like you do.  If there are others, you might just stand a chance.