Why People Do Horrible Things For Belief

Why People Do Horrible Things For Belief

Over at Salon is an article that starts out with Scientology and Going Clear, the book and documentary about it, but then deals in the much broader realm of belief.  It deals with everything from the Rwandan genocide to the Mob and how people, once caught up in a group, use belief to justify the things that they have done.  At a certain point belief in something is more painful than coming to terms with the reality of a situation.  An interesting read.

The Best Paul Westerberg Songs You Have Never Heard

The Best Paul Westerberg Songs You Have Never Heard

If you are a Westerberg or Replacements fan the above article is worth the read.  If you don’t know of either, Westerberg is one of the best rock n roll songwriters America has produced.  I’ve always been a really big fan of his.  The above article covers the solo stuff he put out since 2008.  It begins with the music collage 49:00 and goes on from there.

All of the material they mention is worth checking out.  49:00 is especially interesting.  One song bleeds into the next.  Certain songs even play at the same time.  In lesser hands this could be a disaster, but it is extremely listenable and inspiring.  It really is a sound collage.  Not only are almost all the pieces great in their own right, but the WAY they interact with each other provides a whole other level of meaning.  At one point there is a song about Westerberg’s dad dying.  Another song keeps trying to break into that one, resembling someone’s mental state under duress, like they are trying to block something out, but can’t completely.  The whole record seems to tell the story of his life, though it is impressionistic and interpretive as well. (Though you might have to be a fan to put that interpretation together. The song Something in My Life is Missing features a bit about each of The Replacements, but not by name.)  Westerberg’s love of Faces inspired rock n roll, knack for AM pop radio hooks, beautiful melodic sensibilities, and post-punk roots all come and go at different times.  I’ve long thought it to be a work of genius, but the fact that he put several snippets of covers, that he performs, got it taken down shortly after it was released.  I don’t believe you can still buy it, but you can listen up above on YouTube.

Michael McKean and the American Escape Hatch

Michael McKean: Better Call Saul is About the American Escape Hatch

Here is an interesting interview with Michael McKean about his latest project, Better Call Saul.  As a huge Breaking Bad fan I admit that I am still on the fence about Better Call Saul.  I am still waiting to find a way to connect with it.  There are definitely moments of brilliance as it examines the American legal system and asks bigger questions about the American dream.  However, I find the show to be a bit slow to find its rhythm.  I am a few episodes behind at this point.  I don’t really want to judge it until I have seen all of the first season.  I think creator Vince Gilligan, who also created Breaking Bad, has earned that from TV viewers after creating one of the best TV shows of all time.  Here is a snippet from the interview:

Everything that happens to you in your life can sometimes find the way to make all the difference down the line. But when you’ve got a confluence of stuff here, Jimmy getting involved in these bigger cases, these bigger money cases, getting a whiff of the money anyway — if you’re going to be cheated of the attention and prestige you feel you should have, if you feel cheated of that, you’ll find a way to settle for the money. That’s the American way. If everything else goes off in your face, if your family can’t stand the sight of you, if you can’t hold a job, if you can’t stay away from drugs and booze, well, at least you can make a lot of money and have all this f-you money stacked up. It really is the American escape hatch instead of the American dream.

Netanyahu Speaks to Congress

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Salon On Netanyahu Speech

Above is Salon’s take on Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today.  Although I tend to agree with them, my point today isn’t really to focus on this one write up.  At the end of the day it is one write up and you should be reading a bunch of them, mixing and matching, and trying to come to your own conclusion.  However, this is an event that you should be reading about.  A foreign head of state is trying to sway US policy.  This is highly unprecedented in the fact that this head of state actually spoke directly to our congress to try and change our policy.

I have long viewed Netanyahu as a thug and a bully whose intentions do not run in accord with the best intentions of our country.  Nor do I think that his intentions have long term Middle East peace at the heart of them.  I think he is someone that is about self-serving political and military power above all else.

But don’t take my word for it.  Read, read, and read some more.

Jimmy Kimmel Won't Back Down About Vaccines

Jimmy Kimmel Won’t Back Down About Vaccines

The above article at Salon is about how Jimmy Kimmel as been taking on the anti-vaxxers.  This is a subject that’s so stupid that only a comedian could really do it justice.  The link is worth going to just to see the video.  At the end of it there is a PSA featuring Doctor’s telling people to get vaccinated that is pretty hilarious:  “Remember that time you got polio?” another doctor asks. “No, you don’t, because your parents got you f—king vaccinated.”

The Fear of Education

The Right’s Fear of Education

The above article is by a former military man and right winger on why there is a dislike of education by some on the right.  (Most recently put in the news by Scott Walker and his people in Wisconsin.)  I don’t think that all on the right dislike education.  However, there does seem to be a strain of modern conservatism that is doing its best to strip it of anything but the ability to provide people with the skills to be a worker bee.  I think this writer has a plausible theory at least.  Discuss…

How Black People and Art Became Devalued

How Black People and Art Became Devalued

In my last blog I mentioned that culture, in general, seemed in decline.  I asked why.  The above article is from Salon and focuses on the same idea, but from a black perspective.  The writer, Brittney Cooper, starts with Prince’s quote at the Grammys:

“Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.”

And then goes on to talk about the connection between a culture that devalues human lives and arts, hitting upon this core theme:

But under conditions of neoliberalism, which favor the unregulated, unchecked reach of huge multinational corporations into every area of our lives, art and music and the people who produce them all become merely marketable commodities.

Koch Brothers Destroy Healthcare

Kochs Kill Medicaid Expansion

The above article is from Salon and it is about how the Koch Brothers helped to kill Medicaid expansion in Tennessee and other states, essentially denying healthcare to many.  If you look at the numbers in Utah between what passing the Medicare extension would have done, vs. what was done, it is mind boggling.  Medicare expansion would have insured 146,000 people at the cost of $236 million dollars.  The plan the Republicans are backing costs $203 million dollars and only covers 16,000 people!  Something isn’t adding up?  Read the article to see the conclusion.

However, it is clear that the Koch Brothers are enemies of our democracy.  From healthcare to the environment to education, the Koch Brothers ideology is destroying real lives.  In turn I can’t help but see what they do as real crimes that deserve real punishment.

10 Things America Does Worse Than Europe

10 Things America Does Worse Than Europe

I have been lucky enough to have traveled to Europe many times.  I felt in reading this article, based on what I have seen, that there is a lot of truth to it.  I have also been a lot of places where suggesting that America doesn’t do everything the best will drive people crazy.  That seems batshit insane to me.  It is like if you were on a really good football team and you saw another winning team in a different division.  Wouldn’t you try to watch them to see how they were winning, so that you could be even better?

The fact is that other parts of the world do some things better than we do.  Instead of being afraid of it we should try to learn from it and make our country better.  Being a self-declared champion is meaningless and delusional.

Hat tip to my friend Liza.