Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nicholas Kristof neo-liberal hack or fascist apologist?

In going through some old articles, I found one from the New York Times from December 15, 2004. The timing of this isn't so much important as the concept is. In the opinion piece written by Nicholas Kristof . Kristof seems to be a Clintoniod neo-liberal. That is he's pro-human rights in the most obvious places Darfur, China, the Turkish denial of Armenian genocide, etc. Although he's come out in favor of sweatshops. The sweatshops are apparently why South Korea and Taiwan who accepted sweatshops as the price of development- are countries with low rates of infant mortality and high levels of education, while India- which generally has resisted sweatshops - suffers from a high rate of infant mortality (3.1 million Indian children under the age of 5 die every year, mostly from diseases of poverty.) Why not give them a livable wages and make them work a little less. That chunky guy in Amarillo can wait another few months before he gets his size XXXXL Dallas Cowboys jersey, can't he? Oh, that's right it would "destroy competition".

Anyway, the op-ed piece is called "Bullying by Russia haunting neighbors". After listing a litany of spot-on critiques of Vladimir Putin's "poisonous politics" tactics he says:

"In effect, Putin has steered Russian from a dictatorship of the left to a dictatorship of the right (Chinese leaders have done much of te same thing). Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet, (former North Korean dictator) Park Chung Hee and Putin all emerged in socieites suffering from economic and political chaos. All consolidated power in part because they established power order and made the trains - or planes - run on time. That's why Putin stull has 70 percent approval ratings in Russian: He has done well economically, presiding over growth rates of 5 to 10 percent...Russians say, by a margin of 70 to 21 that a strong leader can solve their problems better than a democratic form of government."

The Chinese are ruled by a reactionary hypercaptialist government with a few faux-state socialist flourishes just to make to make everyone feel "safe". I'm not sure which "wing" they belong to but regardless it's a corrupt government with a shitload of money. The "strong leader" idea seems to be part true and part conventional wisdom when it comes to Russia. The next part of Kristof's piece is the WTF part:

"Still, a fascist Russia is much better thing than a Communist Russia. Communism was a failed economic system while Franco's Spain, Pinochet's Chile and the other generated solid economic growth, a middle class and international contacts - ultimately laying the groundwork for democracy. Eventually we'll see pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow like those in Kiev." (Referring to Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" of 2004).

So, what kind of country does Russia have if their only choices are Communism or Fascism? This is what they were dealing with in WWII. I don't think anyone with a real strive toward real freedom would want to be that limited. On the other hand there are people that still miss Stalin. According to the London Times:

"A recent poll by the All Russian Public Opinion Research Centre found that 50 per cent of respondents thought Stalin’s role in history was positive".

Oddly enough there are pro-democracy demonstrations in Russia. or at least a variety of groups who want to express their democratic rights to free expression. Then again these demos are usually led by the batshit crazy National Bolsheviks aka: The Worst Extremes of the left and right. Not exactly a "great day for democracy" when these lunatics are representing it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The news as written by death metal bands

Weird Headlines

Same day, same paper, and even on the same page.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Professing Metal to The Masses (or 5 dudes from Stanford)


Wagner Lamounier ex-guitarist/vocalist of Sepultura & Sarcófago during the 1980s. Currently a professor of economic science at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

A few weeks ago I did a radio special on KZSU which was a sort of "audio history lesson" on Heavy Metal. I was really suprised at a few things. Namely, the guys were really into virtually every song I played from Crazy World Of Arthur Brown in 1968 to Metal Church in 1984. A few things I've noticed in doing these sort of "History" specials:

- Cut things off at 1984. It grows exponentially insane at this point. 1984-86 the initial impact of Thrash, Speed, Black and Death Metal begin though all used interchangeably.
- Big, bloated bands like AC/DC, KISS, Led Zeppelin don't need to even need to be mentioned much less played.
- Blue Oyster Cult isn't Heavy Metal and only occasionally Hard Rock. The 1970's definition of Heavy Metal hasn't held up since 1979. I mean Foreigner, Journey and Bad Co. aren't Metal what so ever. (Not unlike people thinking AC/DC or Elvis Costello were "punk" around the same time). They have a few moments here & there but up against Black Sabbath, Judas Priest or Thin Lizzy fuggit about it!

Some interesting things my students brought up:

Q: Would people have called UFO "Metal" in 1979? A: Hard to say, the term was around then but it was a bit hazy. See above on the 70's definition of Heavy Metal. Yet there was a burgeoning (albeit virtually unknown in the U.S.) New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the UK. The music media in the U.S. was all about disco or anti-disco rockers like Ted Nugent.

Q: Thin Lizzy's singer was a black guy? A: Yes. Black & Irish in fact.

- Sabbath/Priest/Maiden = Son, Father & Holy Ghost (not sure on the order tho')
- They loooove to headbang in the Outer A studio to 'Priest, Motorhead & the like.
- Two of my students said despite the dark themes it's very jubilant and melodic (or at least the '68-'84 era).
- Where does double bass drumming come in? I answered that it was from Motorhead (and forgot to mention things like the faster or complex 'Priest/'Maiden songs ex: "Rapid Fire" and "Rime of the Ancient Mariner") and hardcore punk like Discharge which had an impact on Metallica, Anthrax and Bathory.
- Another student wanted to heard Metal Church and was gave me a dead on description of David Wayne's "screaming banshee" vocals.
- Motorhead's "Overkill" has 3 false endings if not more on the "No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith" version.

See "the kids" aren't just into that sideways haircut, faux-indie bullshit. There IS hope for the kids...at least these 5.


"Wagner" in his "Satanic Lust" days.