A Terrible Blogger is Born!

August 30, 2009

Free to Choose?

Filed under: Economics,State — rmangum @ 9:30 pm
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med32Sheldon Richman has a good FEE piece on why Obama’s rhetoric about “competition” and “choice” and “options” in health care is just a lot of smoke up your ass. It’s important to note that this is not a debate over a new “socialist” reform of what is a currently “market” system. He writes,

what Obama proposes is more of what we already labor under: corporate-state bureaucratic decision-making. The status quo is not the free market. It is a system of government-business collusion that, among other things, welds workers to their employers. Obama’s scheme would simply be more of the same. The reason Big Pharma and Big Insurance favor the scheme is that everyone would be forced to buy their products or coverage for their products, with the taxpayers picking up most of the tab.

The statement that our system “welds workers to their employers” jumped out at me, since it is yet another sounding of the Procrustean Theme.

It’s also a good time to revisit an article about why big business loves big government, written from a non-libertarian perspective.

And over at EconTalk, David Brady had an interesting perspective on why we can’t have a European-style system and why any “reform” in America is bound to displease everybody. The countries that have nationalized health care mostly got into the game just after World War II, ironically when prices were low and competition was high compared to now. But their systems worked by excluding a great deal of options to consumers of health services and, in a Crisis and Leviathan sort of “ratchet effect”, people got used to that. They did not clamor for choice, unlike Americans, who felt- and need to feel- like they had lots of options even as our bastard half-cartelized medical economy saw prices going up and up. Hence Obama’s appeal to market virtues like competition, acting as if the government were just another firm on the market (and in the corporatist context, they sort of are).

And finally, Roderick T. Long on a previous health care “crisis” that was “solved” by the government.

P.S.- If you’ve happened to stumble upon this post and are annoyed or offended by its stubborn attempt to derail the humanitarian efforts of the White House to bring about Universal Coverage, they have made it easy for you to drop the dime on me and my little blog. From Whitehouse.gov:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Don’t you worry about ratting me out. A Terrible Blogger thinks that no publicity is bad publicity, and would love to have someone from the Washington power elite follow his ramblings and ravings. In the crowd I hang with, my status can only go up!

Good News, Bad News

Filed under: Music — rmangum @ 9:01 pm

I just learned that the same woman, Ellie Greenwich, wrote a whole bunch of my favorite pop songs of the early 1960’s, at the same time I learned that she just died. Greenwich wrote “Be My Baby” and “Leader of the Pack” and “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Then He Kissed Me” and “Doo Wah Diddy”. Seriously? Fuck the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This merits placement in the upper strata of the Paradiso!

A Song for Sunday #24

Filed under: A Song for Sunday,Music — rmangum @ 8:15 pm

tom11I’ve been wanting to play something from guitarist Tom Verlaine’s excellent 1992 album Warm and Cool for a while now, but I couldn’t decide which piece to showcase. I decided to pick two. But first, if you don’t know the band 1970’s band Television, where Verlaine shared guitar duties with Richard Lloyd, please go and immediately buy (or download a torrent or whatever) their 1977 debut album Marquee Moon. This is an instance where all the critics are right: it is a masterpiece. They were a part of the New York CBGB’s punk scene, but this is not a punk band. There’s a lot of rock history I could talk about here, but I want to get to the music, so go read the wikipedia article and get the album.

Warm and Cool is an album of guitar-centric instrumentals, some of which are fully formed songs, others just little sketches. Some are well-composed pieces, others clearly improvised. Overall the tone is noir-ish, jazzy, and atmospheric. It sounds somewhat like the soundtrack to a lost Jim Jarmusch movie about flying saucers set in the 1950’s. Here’s the opening track, the smoky Those Harbor Lights. And the other side of the coin, a Sonny Sharrock-like squall, Lore. Patti Smith famously said that “Tom plays guitar like a thousand bluebirds screaming.” Sounds about right for this track.

The Too-Much-Information Post

Filed under: Literature — rmangum @ 12:25 am

med38There is one way in which reading habits are like sex. Since it is basically a private activity, nobody is exactly sure if how much and how often they do it is normal. Too little looks like incompetence, and too much can seem like some kind of personality disorder. Also, a person who keeps a record of it looks a bit  perverted.

Take Art Garfunkel, for instance, who has kept track of every book he has read since 1968. Up to 2007, the list contains 1,023 books, which averages out to just over 26 books a year. Well, I happen to share this same compulsion to track and record. I have a similar list, though mine only began in 2005. There’s some heavy-duty stuff on the Garfunkel list, Plato and G.I. Gurdjieff and Reinhold Neibuhr and the like, but we’re just talking about quantity here, not quality. My average is just over forty books a year, so I’ve got him beat on that front, though measured over about one-tenth of the time period (and I stopped playing guitar around the time I started the list). My list also contains notes on each of the books, but I’ll spare you that.

Here’s my list:

2005

  1. Chronicles Vol. 1- Bob Dylan
  2. Unknown Legends of Rock and Roll- Richie Unteberger
  3. The Old, Weird America- Greil Marcus
  4. On the Road- Jack Kerouac
  5. American Splendor- Harvey Pekar
  6. Please Kill Me- Legs McNeil
  7. Candide- Voltaire
  8. The Art of Reading Poetry- Harold Bloom
  9. The Maltese Falcon- Dashiel Hammett
  10. Men and Cartoons- Jonathan Lethem
  11. Ficciones- Jorge-Luis Borges
  12. VALIS- Phillip K. Dick
  13. Heaven and Hell- Aldous Huxley
  14. A History of God- Karen Armstrong
  15. Staying Alive: Real Poems for Real Times- Neil Astley (editor)
  16. Inferno- Dante
  17. Watchmen- Alan Mooremaltesefalcon
  18. Danse Macabre- Stephen King
  19. From Hell- Alan Moore
  20. A Dame to Kill For- Frank Miller
  21. The Great Movies- Roger Ebert
  22. The Modern Library’s Writer’s Workshop- Stephen Koch
  23. Zen in the Art of Writing- Ray Bradbury
  24. Introducing Postmodernism- Richard Appegnanesi
  25. A Universal History of Iniquity- Jorge-Luis Borges
  26. The Great Short Works of Franz Kafka
  27. The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels
  28. The Dark Knight Returns- Frank Miller
  29. Batman: Year One- Frank Miller
  30. I am Legend- Richard Matheson
  31. Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir- Eddie Muller
  32. V for Vendetta- Alan Moore
  33. The Dark Knight Strikes Again- Frank Miller
  34. The Rock Snob’s Dictionary- David Kamp/Steven Daly
  35. I Hated, Hated, Hated this Movie- Roger Ebert
  36. Cash- Johnny Cash

2006

  1. Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertitti to Emily Dickenson- Camille Paglia
  2. Pimp- Iceberg Slim
  3. The Redneck Manifesto- Jim Goad
  4. You Can’t Win- Jack Black
  5. Omens of Millennium: the Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection- Harold Bloom
  6. Flim Flam: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions- James Randi
  7. A Voyage to Arcturus- David Lindsay
  8. Break, Blow, Burn- Camille Paglia
  9. Sex, Art, and American Culture- Camille Paglia
  10. Selected Non-Fictions- Jorge-Luis Borges
  11. Cult Fiction: A Reader’s Guide- Andrew Calcutt/Richard Shepherd
  12. The Devil’s Dictionary- Ambrose Bierce
  13. The Importance of Being Earnest- Oscar Wilde
  14. A Whore Just Like the Rest- Richard Meltzer
  15. Vamps and Tramps- Camille Paglia
  16. Beyond Good and Evil- Friedrich Nietzsche
  17. Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock and Roll Music- Greil Marcus
  18. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman Vol. 1- Alan Moore
  19. Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung Vol. 1- P. Craig Russell
  20. A Season in Hell/The Drunken Boat- Arthur Rimbaud
  21. Invisible Cities- Italo Calvino
  22. Tropic of Cancer- Henry Miller
  23. Finite and Infinite Games- James P. Carse
  24. Against Interpretation- Susan Sontag
  25. Life Against Death- Norman O. Brown
  26. Voltaire’s Bastard’s: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West- John Ralston Saul
  27. Love’s Body- Norman O. Brown
  28. The Outsider- Colin WilsonOpensociety
  29. Ranters and Crowd-Pleasers- Greil Marcus
  30. Fragments: the Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus
  31. Nietzsche and Postmodernism- Dave Robinson
  32. Introducing Wittgenstein- John Heaton
  33. Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction
  34. Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity- John Stossel
  35. Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll: The Birth of Rock in the Wild Years Before Elvis- Nick Tosches
  36. Beyond the Outsider- Colin Wilson
  37. The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol. 1: the Spell of Plato- Karl Popper
  38. Sin and Syntax- Constance Hale
  39. Tao Te Ching- Lao Tzu
  40. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy- Douglas J. Soccio
  41. Foucault in 90 Minutes- Paul Strathern
  42. The Great Philosophers: Popper- Frederic Raphael
  43. Experiments Against Reality: the Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age- Roger Kimball
  44. The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol. 2: Hegel, Marx, & the Aftermath- Karl Popper
  45. The Great Philosophers: Marx- Terry Eagleton
  46. Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction- Michael Inwood
  47. Conceptual Physics- Paul G. Hewitt
  48. The Pre-Platonic Philosophers- Friedrich Nietzsche
  49. The Black Dahlia- James Ellroy

2007

  1. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves- Lynn Truss
  2. Eat the Rich- P.J. O’Rourke
  3. The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality- Ludwig von Mises
  4. Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal- Ayn Rand
  5. The Future of an Illusion- Sigmund Freud
  6. For a New Liberty- Murray Rothbard
  7. Civilization and its Discontents- Sigmund Freud
  8. Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals Abuse of Science- Alan Sokal/Jean Bricmont
  9. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History- Thomas E. Woods
  10. Civilisation- Kenneth Clark
  11. The R. Crumb Handbook
  12. The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade- Peter Weiss
  13. The Ring of the Nibelung Vol. 2- P. Craig Russell
  14. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman Vol. 2- Alan Moore
  15. Axel’s Castle- Edmund Wilson
  16. Dreamer’s of Decadence- Phillipe Jullian
  17. The Waste Land and other Poems- T.S. Eliot
  18. Cult Rapture- Adam Parfrey
  19. Choice: the Best of Reason Magazine- Nick Gillespie (editor)
  20. What Has Government Done to Our Money- Murray Rothbard
  21. Capitalism for Beginners- Robert Lekachman
  22. Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets: Wallace Stevens
  23. Hegel: A Very Short Introduction- Peter Singer
  24. The Making of Modern Economics- Mark Skousen
  25. The Second Sin- Thomas Szasz
  26. Wallace Stevens: An Introduction to the Poetry- Susan B. Weston
  27. Kindly Inquisitors: the New Attacks on Free Thought- Jonathan Rauch
  28. The Ethics of Liberty- Murray Rothbard
  29. The Anti-Chomsky Reader- Peter Collier/David Horowitz (editors)
  30. Parliament of Whores- P.J. O’Rourke
  31. Economics in One Lesson- Henry Hazlitt
  32. Thus Spoke Zarathustra- Friedrich Nietzsche
  33. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?- Phillip K. Dick
  34. Confessions of a Crap Artist- Phillip K. DickDecline_of_the_West_1922
  35. End Zone- Don DeLillo
  36. Introducing the Enlightenment- Lloyd Spencer/Andrej Krauze
  37. Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies that Changed History- Joe Bob Briggs
  38. Batman: Broken City- Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso
  39. Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization- Paul A. Cantor
  40. Libra- Don DeLillo
  41. Batman Black and White
  42. Tom Strong Book 1- Alan Moore
  43. The Long Walk- Stephen King
  44. They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions- Paul F. Boller/John George
  45. The Vintage Mencken
  46. Futurism- Caroline Tisdall/Angelo Bozzolla
  47. The Wheel of Fire-G. Wilson Knight
  48. Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement- Brian Doherty
  49. The Truth about the Truth: De-Confusing and Re-Constructing the Postmodern World- Walter Truett Anderson (editor)
  50. The Roots of Romanticism- Isaiah Berlin
  51. Why Americans Hate Politics- E.J. Dionne, Jr.
  52. Eco-Scam: The False Prophets of Ecological Collapse- Ronald Bailey
  53. Moby Dick- Herman Melville
  54. A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation- Peter Singer
  55. Cat’s Cradle- Kurt Vonnegut
  56. Wise Blood- Flannery O’Connor
  57. The Decline of the West: An Abridged Edition- Oswald Spengler

2008

  1. The Postman Always Rings Twice- James M. Cain
  2. The Idea of Decline in Western History- Arthur Herman
  3. Divine Invasions: A Life of Phillip K. Dick- Lawrence Sutin
  4. Anarchism: A Beginners Guide- Ruth Kinna
  5. Four Quartets- T.S. Eliot
  6. In Praise of Commercial Culture- Tyler Cowen
  7. The American Religion: the Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation- Harold Bloom
  8. Something Wicked This Way Comes- Ray Bradbury
  9. Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School- Gene Callahan
  10. A Vindication of Natural Society- Edmund Burke
  11. Our Enemy, the State- Albert Jay Nock
  12. The Libertarian Reader: Classic and Contemporary Writings from Lao-Tzu to Milton Friedman- David Boaz (editor)
  13. America First! It’s History, Culture, and Politics- Bill Kauffman
  14. The 42nd Parallel- John Dos Passos
  15. Journey to the End of the Night- Louis-Ferdinand Celine
  16. FDR’s Folly- Jim Powell
  17. The Road to Serfdom- F.A. Hayek
  18. The New Libertarian Manifesto/Agorist Class Theory- Samuel Edward Konkin III
  19. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said- Phillip K. Dick
  20. Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government- Robert Higgs
  21. The Wit of Oscar Wilde
  22. Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead- Tom Stoppard
  23. The Cartoon History of the United States- Larry Gonick
  24. The 100 Best Poems of All Time- Leslie Pockell (editor)
  25. Essentials of Economics- Bradley R. SchillerCormacMcCarthy_BloodMeridian
  26. Amerika- Franz Kafka
  27. Common Sense- Thomas Paine
  28. The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and other Essays
  29. The Case Against the Fed- Murray Rothbard
  30. The Law- Frederic Bastiat
  31. Lonesome Dove- Larry McMurtry
  32. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd- Agatha Christie
  33. The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford- Ron Hansen
  34. The Road- Cormac McCarthy
  35. A Reader’s Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose- B.R. Myers
  36. Rage- Stephen King
  37. Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West- Cormac McCarthy
  38. Democracy: the God that Failed- Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  39. The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s Changed America- Roger Kimball
  40. Against Love: A Polemic- Laura Kipnis
  41. Art History: A View of the West Vol. 1- Marylin Stokstad
  42. Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
  43. Foucault- J.G. Merquior
  44. The Politics of Obedience: the Discourse of Voluntary Servitude- Étienne de la Boétie
  45. Literature Lost: Social Agendas and the Corruption of the Humanities- John M. Ellis
  46. Brave New World Revisited- Aldous Huxley

Certain interests recur in my reading: pop culture, philosophy, libertarian politics, Batman. Later I might put up a more interesting (and self-effacing) list containing books I tried and failed to read (less Phillip K. Dick and Stephen King, more Joyce and Thomas Pynchon).

August 29, 2009

Anarchaos!

Filed under: Anarchy,Literature,Philosophy — rmangum @ 10:54 pm
Tags: , , , ,

51im4tz656L._SS500_The biggest stumbling block to anarchy is a linguistic one. What causes the average person (and hell, let’s admit it, the above-average, the intellectual and cultural elite, just about 99.9 percent of all thinking humans on Earth) to view Anarchism as being in the same category as Satanism in terms of respectability is that the word is taken to be a synonym for chaos. Of course, the only thing one has to do to dispel this notion is to read almost any actual anarchist writer from Proudhon on, but still the conflation continues.

This thought came to me when I spotted this 1967 novel by Donald E. Westlake (under the psuedonym Curt Clark) in the Science Fiction section of my local used book store, Ken Sanders Rare Books.  One description from Amazon.com describes Anarchaos as a place “where the government is based on a philosophy that combines anarchy with corporate greed.” Hmm . . . uh . . . okay. How would the government combine the philosophy of anarchy with anything? I guess you might say this is a bit like the approach of the Libertarian Party, but not even in science fiction could you imagine them being in power. Of course, the idea that government is actually a kind of anarchy was introduced by Alfred G. Cuzán in a notorious paper in the 1979 Journal of Libertarian Studies, where he insisted that “we always live in anarchy, and the real question is what kind of anarchy we live under, market or non-market (political) anarchy.” And the late paleocon writer Samuel Francis coined the term “Anarcho-tyranny” for a government that is both negligent and out of control with power.

Of course it’s clear that the dystopia of Anarchaos is supposed to be of the market variety. Here’s a more lucid description:

Anarchaos is a planet, inhabited by humans, where anarchy is the only law; where each man protects himself as best he can; and where the weak are soon dead. Malone’s brother had died that way, and Malone has come to Anarchaos, carrying a small arsenal of weapons, to find the man who killed him, knowing that he is facing an entire planet of enemies.

In other words, it’s pulp Hobbes. If Anarcho-Communism usually brings to mind molotov cocktails being thrown in the street, then Anarcho-Capitalism brings to mind a world run by Goldman Sachs and Blackwater (never mind that their “customer” is the world’s most powerful government).  Anarchy will make no headway until it drives a permanent wedge between it and chaos. Proudhon’s phrase “Anarchy is order” should be more well known, and it should be clear that by “order” we mean not the conservative sense of compulsory adherence to traditional values and behaviors, but rather the reign of liberty, prosperity, and peace.

August 25, 2009

A Psychedelic intro to Finnegan’s Wake

Filed under: Drugs,Literature — rmangum @ 4:37 pm
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One of the lesser known but more interesting psychedelic gurus, Terence McKenna (more articulate and less a victim of his own celebrity than Tim Leary), talks about his favorite book, Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce, in “Surfing Finnegan’s Wake”. A hat tip for this goes to the Psychedelic Salon, where you can go to hear part two of this talk, which turns out to be more about Marshall McLuhan (a fascinating subject in his own right) than Joyce.

Here’s me reading from the Wake.

It occurs to me that all of the hallucinogen advocates that came out of the sixties (Leary, McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson) were tempermentally optimistic. What kind of experience would a Schopenhauer or an H.P. Lovecraft get from LSD and Mushrooms?

finnegan1

August 24, 2009

A Song for Sunday #23

Filed under: A Song for Sunday,Music — rmangum @ 6:06 am

It’s technically still Sunday, Mountain Time. Here’s my favorite Creedence Clearwater Revival song, Ramble Tamble.

August 22, 2009

3 Punk Songs in Need of a Lounge Makeover

Filed under: Music — rmangum @ 6:22 am
Tags:

Lust for Life by Iggy Pop

TV Party by Black Flag

Kick Out the Jams by the MC5

Other nominees?

August 21, 2009

A Terrible Blogger is back!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmangum @ 3:29 am
Tags: ,

artwork_images_112457_205754_raymond-pettibon

Well, my nearly month-long hiatus from blogging is officially over. I don’t know how all those folks out there on the interweb got along without me, but they can rest easy knowing I’m manning the keyboard once again. Let’s see, what’s happened in my absence? Well, there were Hiroshima and Nagasaki days (August 6th and 9th, respectively). Daniel Ellsberg wrote a moving piece about it recently, America Has Been Asleep at the Atomic Wheel for 64 Years. Fuck Truman! Speaking of warmongering Democratic presidents, Obama’s dumbass Afghan attacks continue. But nobody wants to talk about that, since it might fuck up Health Care or some such bullshit.

I also want to mention something disturbing I saw recently. I was on the way to pick up Jane at the courthouse, where she volunteers for Legal Aid, and I was passed by a bus with a huge advertisement along the side. An advertisement for the cops. There were a row of them decked out in full SWAT regalia. The tag line went: “We’ve Got Your Back”. More like, “We’ve Got (Guns at) Your Back”, I thought. Then there was a phone number, followed by a line which said something like, “Please report substance abuse”. Substance abuse! Don’t hesitate folks, drop the dime on anyone peacefully pursuing illicit pleasure. Crack their fucking skulls and abscond with their corpus. Who gives a shit for them anyway?

I told Jane I thought we were living in a fascist country. Not “heading toward”, but “living in”. That was earlier, and she had no idea what I was talking about. This is what I was talking about. Nobody believes it because nobody knows what a fascist America would look like. Contrary to anachronistic movies like V for Vendetta, it doesn’t look like the last time around. Ads like these blend into our environment, as if it said “Eat at Joe’s”.

Even the Gestapo, even the KGB, didn’t have fucking advertisements.

Well, this has been a more bitter post than I expected, so I’ll leave it at that. Don’t forget to head on over to the Nightwatchman for your literary fix. And yes, there will be a song for Sunday this week.

Peace.

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