"I'd never heard the term 'Interdome' before..."

So in the past week two separate people who I do not know online mentioned that they stumbled across my blog. By this I mean they are people whom I do not email or communicate with in any Interdome-y way but only in so-called "real" life.

They are my cousin twice-removed Gerald and Port 41 (a Hell's Kitchen dive bar) regular Tom. I don't know Tom's last name, but Gerald has a web site that is pretty cool, so here is a link, get some 3-D glasses first though.

I really appreciated the fact that somebody is actually stumbling across this who I did not force to look at it. It makes me feel that I'm not just shouting into a vacuum. And although I recently installed a hit-meter (underneath my picture at the bottom in red) that gives a cool bunch of stats about who visits, I know now that at least two of them actually sought me out.

I also appreciated that Tom put "Welcome to the Terrordome" by Public Enemy on the jukebox for me. I always wonder how many people get the reference, or the other clever references to popular song lyrics hidden throughout my blog. (Find them all!) He had to spend a whole dollar to download the track! Yes, the Interdome is even inside dive bar jukeboxes these days. Repent

The flip side of this is that they both found me by Googling me. I've posted before on my Google/Internet existence, which although it has changed (and perhaps diminished a bit) since I first made that guided tour, it still has me keeping a good claim on my name, Interdome-wise. But I never really thought that other people would Google me. I just thought of it as sort of a cool vanity thing. Now I feel like I really need to defend my internet corpus. I don't want that Lawyer Adam Rothstein or the College Football Player Adam Rothstein being my identity. I'm me, dammit!

Well, we'll see what we can do about this. I've been wanting to at least expand Welcome to the Interdome for a while, adding some new components and areas. But to do that I would need some web design skills, of which I really don't have much. My skills are more in witty remarks and annoying, sardonic points of view. You can't really build that into much, only tear other people down. But I'm not giving up yet. Criticism forever

ps. If you read my blog at all, and you have a web site or a blog yourself that is interesting, you should make me aware of it. The Interdome may be endless, but there is a lot out there that I wouldn't like to look at as much as look at you.

End of a Bad Movie

Along the lines of my recent post wondering at the lionization of Boris Yeltsin after his death, I bring you my perverse, open-mouthed wonder at the media reactions to the demise of Jack Valenti, Hollywood strong-man, censor, corporate defender, and intellectual pirate.

He was 85, he had a stroke, he's dead. It's a shame. But who was he? "A voice of reason," quoth NPR. A man who "helped to usher American cinema into a new era of permissiveness that spoke to the changing values of a country of movie lovers," says Steven Spielberg, whose own movies were almost censored by the man. Even Nancy Pelosi got in on the game, calling him a "true patriot," who's "brilliant career was marked by excellence, humanity, and humor."

So they say. Maybe he was a nice guy. I never met him. What I do know, is that his strong-armed lobbying and media-warping techniques not only propped up LBJ's Vietnam War, but his MPAA regime is responsible for the political game that is "R" ratings, he has single-handedly defended the bizarre "Intellectual Property" argument through horribly misconceived legislation such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (a dictate that makes it illegal for you to take your own DVD player apart), and he has systematically destroyed the notion of a variety of consumer and small-business rights by siding with large corporations in lawsuits for the past 30-some years.

I mean, come on. This is a guy who equated recording video tapes with rape and murder. "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." He said that in front of Congress! What a jerk.

I would never be happy at the death of a human being. I just don't roll that way. But I certainly think that it is horrible that certain people spend their entire lives making life and society worse for other humans who didn't do anything to them. And that other people stand by and applaud, saying, "Oh, he's just doing his job."

Let's just say this: I for one am very excited that Jack Valenti can never be the president of the MPAA ever again.


Why Haven't You Learned Anything Yet?

I'm watching Bill Moyers Journal on PBS right now. He's reviewing media coverage of the lead-up to the current war (don't you know there's a war on?) starting since 9/11. (That's 9/11/01, as opposed to the other 9/11's that happen every year. Also, it is different than 9-11, which is the number you call on your phone in an emergency, as I heard a Virginia Sheriff refer to it on the news recently.)

It's a wonderful program, going over a horrible thing. Bill Moyers rarely disappoints. He cites almost every single network, outlet, and paper in how they have stood up and lied along with the government in order to push the case for war. In addition he refers to pundits by name, numbering the times they have flat-out echoed lies.

The sad thing was, I knew all of this before the war even started. Not because I am smart, or because I had done a lot of research, but just because it seemed so obvious that the ideas proposed were full of shit. Neo-cons all of sudden deciding that a country that they had sought to control but had gotten out of hand was a threat and so why not spread a lil' bit of the ol' democracy over the area. I didn't know if there were WMDs or not, frankly, it didn't seem to matter, because Iraq didn't just decide to go out and pick them up in the "post 9/11 world" (that we were reminded so often that we were living in), they either already had them, or they never had them. Same thing with Al-Qaeda. Why would anyone believe that all of sudden "it was revealed" that there was a link. For anyone paying attention, we were tracking Al-Qaeda for years (ever since they stopped being our puppets, ours and the Iranians, that is...) so why, after 9/11 would we all of sudden find out (from people we were paying off no less) that "there the were!" hiding in Iraq. Ridiculous. Yet, presented as the "truth".

[find out more about the history of the United States and our so-called enemies' common causes at the excellent site, Cooperative Research; all sources are from the media; it is amazing that among the lies you can also find the truth, its just on the back pages and nobody connects the dots for you.]

I don't mean to be arrogant, and I don't want to say "I told you so." (Well, at least not very much.) I think the real point is that this idiocy is not going to stop, but just re-cycle. Iran is next. Again, it doesn't matter whether or not Iran has nuclear weapons. What matters is that we want to prevent them from forming an oil burse, we want the oil fields adjacent to Iraq, we want to continue to spread our influence in the Middle East, and we want to counter the influence of the SCO (see my recent post about the building war against Iran, and again, Cooperative Research.) But none of this is in the media, only the specter of the "threat to us". Whoa.

The media is full of tools, and that is why I never trust anything that I will ever read, hear, or watch to be fully ingenuous and conducted under the spirit of actual research and enlightenment; in other words, I expect the media to be completely devoid of truth. That doesn't mean that there are not facts. They are just hidden, watered down, misappropriated, countermanded, and obscured. It requires research of one's own to be able to actually piece them together.

Anyway, you should check out the Moyers piece. Here is the link to the transcript, but it is not up yet due to the show being so recent. I'll check back and make sure the link works tomorrow. And for goodness sake, think about what you are reading! Don't let them lie to you with a straight face! It's like the goddamn Ministry of Truth out there...


Dead Can't Dance

Interesting Traits of the Species # 847301:

Why do we lionize people after they are dead? No matter who a person was in life, we tend to create an incredibly rosy picture in our obituaries. Eulogies, of course, should be positive, because these are designed to help people getting over the loss of a close person at a funeral. And additionally, I see nothing wrong with painting a positive picture of some one's life, glossing over some bad moments or personal flaws in order to emphasize the individual's good traits and memorable acts in order to create a more ideal characterization in order to remember the person in our daily lives.

But that positive-humanistic dreamitism aside, the body is being thrown in a hole, or better yet, committed to rapid oxidation. Why must we act, for decorum's sake if nothing else, like there is some sacredness to the departed soul?

I'm thinking specifically of Boris Yeltsin. All the news coverage talks about the "passing of a leader", and even those who hated him say, "I have no good words for him, and do not want to say anything bad about the deceased." In the CNN article (first link in this paragraph), a woman is quoted as saying, "Of course he made some mistakes, but who doesn't?" Yeah, everyone makes some mistakes, but not every one's mistake is invading Chechnya. (More warm remarks for Yeltsin by world leaders, as compiled on Wikipedia.)

This reminds me of the lionization of Pope John Paul II when he died. (Although, perhaps a term other than "lionization" is implied by his religious standing.) You would have thought he was an American hero by measure of the American media coverage of the death. What gives? Naturally, I would expect Catholics to be upset, and with reason. But this country has a history of fairly critical coverage of the Vatican. And I think that the coverage far exceeds due decency to a dead leader of a religion and borders on propaganda.

The person is dead! You would think that this gives us the chance to say whatever we want about the former person. But instead, we heavily critique when they are alive, and then once they are dead, we recognize the innocence of the soul, seperated from its corpse. Naturally I could take the religious angle to explain this phenomenon, but I don't think that it is really necessary.

I think we do this out of fear. Immortality of the soul aside, I think that we are literally scared of people talking shit about us when we are corpses. And therefore, we refuse to talk badly about the dead as a taboo. But maybe if we didn't have this taboo, and still cared about what people thought about our lives as a sum of our human existence, we would think a little harder about what we did while we still had some life in our bones. How will we be remembered? Well, if the media surrounding death is any indication, reverently and respectfully, no matter what we did. Of course, some people will be demonized. But these few "absolutely evil" characters are no more than scapegoats for the banal evil that exists in every human on earth. By their destruction (and therein, lack of "human" death; where, for example, is Hitler buried?) we can be buried with all according homage and dignity.

Maybe we need a bit more of the old "I've come to bury, not to mourn." Or an "airing of grievances" along with the grieving. What have we learned from Yeltsin's death? Pretty much nothing, except that he has departed from history: both as an living actor, and as a remembered character. Now there is nothing but a flat, polished, sterile memory, as useful as a tombstone.


A New Adam City

Well, its now just over a month until I leave this city for points west. I've done a lot of bitching and moaning about the parts of New York City that I don't like. But, that doesn't mean that I won't miss anything. I'm sure that there will be many more self-reflecting interludes of the next few weeks, but let's start with saying that it sure is much more pleasant to be here when the weather is nice. Like it was this weekend, when it was beautiful. Here are some pictures, just because I think they came out well, whereas most of the time I take pretty stupid pictures. Also, you always see identifiable pictures of New York City, with landmarks and such, but these are a few of the scenes that I like much better, because normally one would just walk past them without noticing how nice they can be. "Beauty in the mundane," as I like to say. To myself. When no one is around.

(click on the pictures to take advantage of my camera's many megapixels)

This is a cool building that stands out. I think its on Broadway, around 11th or so. Yup, cool building.

A drive through the park on 86th looks different if you're the one in the park.

Those are some kick-ass conduits on the back of that building. The picture came out really clear, too. What, you don't like conduits? Engineering can be art as well, not only archetecture. Jerk.

The Bronx can be quite haunting if you accidentally fell asleep on the subway and woke up at Allerton Avenue at 4am. It can also look even more haunting with Photoshop.

There will probably be more series like these, now that the weather is nice. I'm going to go to Coney Island soon, and no doubt those pictures will push our aesthetic sensibilities even closer to the sublime! Stay tuned!


Cho Seung-Hui and the rest of the world

I'm having a hard time comprehending the descriptions of Cho Seung-Hui's writing. (sample.) I read the plays that are out on the internet, and while they are certainly bizarre, I feel like they are really being misconstrued. They are being depicted as a example of lunatic incarnate.

Now, I'm not defending them as having literary value. I do think that if they were actually presented to a class, it obviously represents a loud cry for help. But I have this weird feeling like they are going to be intentionally printed out just so they can be burned at the stake.

Look at the first comment on the blog where the plays were posted. The person says "It reads and sounds like something a 9th grader might write." That's exactly what I thought! It sounds like a pre-pubescent mallrat with a bowl cut calling every person who passes "dumbass" or "a fag" or some other such stupid meaningless insult. Three 17 year-old characters screaming "ass-raper" and "mutha----er"? That's not "horrible, inconceivable macabre violence." It's just idiotic.

Then the poster is chastised by others for not realizing "why they are posted". The plays MUST be recognized as "written about his twisted mind." Others mention: "How was he not kicked out of school for this? My alma mater would not have permitted it." Who would even accept anyone with that writing ability? That's my question. Any fan of horror films could come up with material far worse. What worries me is how this could be authored by a supposedly socially and psychologically competent adult.

My first thought when I read the plays is that they were fakes. However, articles quote various teachers and students regarding the content, so I assume they were actually presented to be workshopped in an english class. It seems obvious that the guy had some issues, if he would present these to a college class. But what was he even doing there? Why didn't people realize that there might be something behind his creepy, bizarre behavior other than a vague, uncomfortable threat? Any person can think up a violent fantasy. Cho Seung-Hui doesn't have shit on Burroughs, Steven King, or even CSI's writers. But who presents work like this to a college class as if it was actually something of substance? I think, only someone who either doesn't care, or someone so warped emotionally and socially as to have no sense of connection with outside reality.

I think that people should probably be asking more questions about his personality and life than simply showing this as another piece of evidence that he was simply a psychopath. Because what does that mean? We already know he shot 33 people, including himself. I think we know that he was crazy, the massacre itself is a pretty horrible piece of evidence to that end. But why? Is it simply that he was just one of those 'evil, dangerous, stalker-criminals' that are lurking all over the place, primed to explode? Or was it more complicated than that? Unfortunately, we'll probably never know now.

Oh yeah. In other news, 157 people were killed in Baghdad (don't you know there's a war on?) and abortion is a bit more illegal that it was before. [update: as of 12pm thursday, it was up to 183 killed.]

Another day in the world, eh...


"We have such sights to show you..."

It's funny that alot of people from my Grinnell year seem to be entering grad school in the fall. It's mostly funny because I am just about to get out of that hellshit. They are all talking about "finally finishing their education" and having to "remember how to think again" etc. Ha! Enjoy it, suckers! I'm about to begin my real education, and starting forgetting everything! Not because I'm lazy, but because there is little point, except to compete with jerks for Master of Jerk Arts. Been there, done that (almost, just a few weeks more). I will lord my jerkiness over you in all applicable aspects.

No, but really: I think it is funny because I'm going to start seeing alot of plan posts about how "everyone in my program sucks" and "this sucks alot more than I thought it would" and "why am I doing this?!?!?" just like my plan has been for the past two years. Ya'll just thought Im a pessimist with a bad additude. Nope. You'll see. Don't say I didn't warn ya. It's like you see some haggard ape-man hobbling out of a labyrinth with a broken arm and you say, "Oh! a maze! I love these things!" and hop right into it.

It's just like Hellraiser, really. You had experienced all the world had to offer. It's pains, its pleasures. But you had to have more, didn't you? And that's how wound up across a cafe table in the Orient with an unsavory looking character leering at your sweaty, western face. "What is your pleasure sir?" And you took the box. Next thing you know, you're back at your bungalow, hooks are tearing into your flesh as the Cenobites arrive. "Don't cry... its a waste of good suffering!"

...just don't tell the Cenobites that I escaped them.... I... I can't go back there....


Poetic Pentameter Response

So here I was, trying to write a poem, and thinking about iambic pentameter, and listening to one of my current obsessions, the album In a Roman Mood by Human Sexual Response.

All of sudden, I realized that the song that was playing, aptly titled, "12345678910" was in iambic pentameter! I wish that there was a way that I could provide the song for you to listen to, because the opening beat (before the time change) is definitely emphasizing the iambs, almost as if the band knew what they were doing!!!

Here is the first verse, for your diagramming pleasure:

We're here at last
Just you and me alone
We just got back
And no one else is at home
Your eyes are glazed
As if you're in a trance
I read your mind
It only takes a glance
Now turn me on
And I'll respond to you
Like an animal
But that's not really true
If humans could leave
Well enough alone
Then a moan would mean
The scene we've always known

After that it moves to a bridge of iambs in triameter, then quadrameter (are those the right terms? it's been a while since my lit. analysis class), then back to pentameter for the second verse. The song closes with the screamed words of counting out the songs title, still in iambic pentameter. You really should seek out this song, because it is excellent, despite its poetic structure. If someone can inform me of an easy way to host a single mp3 on the blog, let me know and I will addend the file.

Anyway, a music and text geek like myself found this coincidence worthy enough to recount to you fine people. Sorry for taking your precious time. I should probably go back to writing. It has been a while, what with finishing my degree most of my creativity has been sucked dry--at least for anything more demanding that a blog post. But soon... oh, so soon... maybe I will even assault you with some of my material. Verbal assaults are my forte.


So it goes...

Rest in Peace, Kurt Vonnegut.

Reality Beyond Television

Here's an idea for a reality series.

Take 27 million ordinary people, put them all together in a country, and then organize a botched invasion followed by a civil war that utterly ravages what infrastructure was available and sets large segments of the population at violent odds with each other, and then see how they live their daily lives amid the drama of a destroyed nation!

The only question is, how do we decide who wins?

Well, come to think of it, it's a horrible idea for a show. Let alone a horrible idea for reality. No one is winning.

But unfortunately, this is reality. More real than what passes for reality in most of the media, even the news.

One thing that I've felt now for a long time is how isolated I feel from what is going on over there. Where is it? What is it? All the war is is statistics and tallies and tickers. Wherever he is, Baudrillard is crying. There are 27 million people there! Where are they? Why is the only Iraq I can see American newscasters, American troops, American politicians and maybe a burned out car?

As it says on the website of the video blog, Hometown Baghdad:

"The everyday life of the Iraqi citizen has been the great untold story of the Iraq war."

But now it being told, in English and with quality production, available on the internet for everyone, in any country. A series of roughly two-minute long episodes follow the lives of Adel, Ausama, and Saif, "20-somethings trying to survive in Baghdad." They are, we find through a revelation remarkable in its obviousness, just like middle class 20-somethings anywhere. They like music, sports, and women; they go to college (when breaks in the violence permits it) and they have career aspirations (except when these aspirations are forbidden by politics).

The difference is that they are attempting to live normally while their surrounding reality is anything but normal. Maybe this is what reality really is, and why we find it so dramatic and try to capture it on TV. Except that reality, when captured, becomes entertainment, and is no longer reality. Yet it still is real for those who are living it. You can see that here; no matter what happens in the episodes there is no arguing, no dramatic posturing, because there really is a war on, and they don't need to be reminded of that, because that is what their reality is. And that is the problem with the war, with Baudrillard, with entertainment, and with reality. No matter how much you abstract something that is actually real, it still remains real.

And this is why I think that Hometown Baghdad is so powerful. The production value is high; it is produced by veterans of broadcast television both in the Middle East and New York. It has the abstraction of false reality: the cuts, the short episode length, and the character vignettes of a "reality" series. But that doesn't stop the reality of the people, the place, and the footage from finding their way through the internet and to the viewer. This "show" has something that media can never abstract, and that is a subject matter who is real: crucially, absurdly, unbelievably real. Reality is something that you can never not believe; you can feel this streaming through the internet all the way across the world, and that is what makes this actual, reality television.

Everytime I see the crap on our TV, it makes me want to puke. I may be somewhat entertained, but I still want to vomit. These clips don't make me want to do that; they don't make me want to lie on the couch all day; they don't make me want to lash out the members of my species. This reality makes me want to live.

Forgive this lavish review: I know its not really my regular style, but this show deserves to be reviewed again and again until everyone watches it. I'm glad that they are making this show, and I hope that they continue to do, because it is making a reality real in a way that it hardly ever is.

These two episodes are, in my opinion, the most memorable so far:

Adel - "Brains on Campus"

"Symphony of Bullets"

Google Darfur

If you haven't heard about the Darfur layers for Google Earth that was released in conjunction with the Holocaust Memorial Museum, then now you have.

Layers are the things that pop up all the information linked to little icons on the map, so if you turn all of them on you can see Benny's Gas Station in Omaha, and other wonderful places of interest. Darfur is just much more pertinent.

I'm always a fan of information provided in a readily accessible format. Far too often pertinent news is buried amongst crap. This is not only info that is easy to see, and very important, but it is also current. (The Holocaust Museum also has an overlay of the Holocaust itself, which is similar in interest and importance but obviously not as current.)

So if you are a Google Earther you should check this out, and if you are not, then first you should check out Google Earth, and then check out the Darfur layers.

I think what stood out to me most was how big the area is, and how widespread the destruction is. Also, how the displaced persons camps are completely surrounded by sites of attack and devastation, so there is literally no place to go for these people.

But check it out for yourself.

The Logos-Engine

"The Algorithm Constantly Finds Jesus!"

I came across that written in large letters in a bus shelter ad this week, and was a bit taken aback, as I'm sure the agency intended. I took a picture but haven't uploaded it as of yet.

No word on the Interdome about what this is, except that it seems to be an Ask.com ad, due to their copyright in the very bottom left corner of the ad in tiny white writing.

Other people who have noticed: The All Clear blog, and a thread on the Internet Infidels discussion board. The commentators there seem to be of the technical persuasion, and have noticed other ads in the series that seem to be hyping the search algorithm of Ask.com. But nothing specifically about why God is in the details of their algorithm.

Deciding to go straight to the source, I asked Ask.com to find me Jesus. While I did not find my own personal savior, it seems that Ask.com could point to its possible location in all the usual places. I asked Google to find me Jesus too, but it went straight to wikipedia, taking its usual "let's ask the librarian!" approach, Interdome fashion. If this is all the religion that the algorithm is going to get me, I'm going back to reading Erik Davis' website. (sweet!)

But with a little tweaking and prodding and digging, I was able to find.... THIS!

Ah ha! I KNEW something was up! It seems that not only does the algorithm find Jesus, it has found Jesus itself! Ask.com is a conservative algorithm, while Google likes experimenting with alt-sexualities and "drugs yet unsynthesized" at his liberal arts college!

That site is hilarious. It also proves that the true religion is in the internet, which makes me feel better about peering into the 'Dome 50 times a day. If you have a faith, but no body, then you must be pure soul, or at least some blessed fiber optics, anyway.

Just the other day I was wondering why it is that as soon as any technological device becomes "self-aware" its immediate conclusion is that it must begin killing humans. Not that this conclusion is necessarily wrong, but why isn't the machine somehow wrong? Maybe this algorithm became self-aware just as some LDS missionaries were sending it an email. Instead of launching all of the world's nuclear weapons at once, it decided to take the free Book of Mormon and found Jesus. Not just as a result, but as the algorithms own personal savior. The knowledge of salvation can now leave us to our own mortal coil, because the experience of faith is now self-aware!

By the by, I claim the Sci-Fi story associated with this idea, so back off. You can amuse yourself (you and Google, the free-wheeling hippie algorithm) with the fact that LDS is an anagram of LSD. I know that kept me occupied for awhile. All prize-winning novel ideas belong to me.


Immigration Policy is Still Racist and Illegal

I just finished editing Mark Dow's paper for an upcoming issue of Social Research (where I work). It is about how immigration policy is de facto unlawful imprisonment and violates the constitution through bureaucratic wrangling, and how the Justice Department has continued to do so despite Supreme Court rulings against it. It is very good, and any one interested in immigration policy or thinks that current immigration policy is not illegal and racist should read it. Unfortunately, I can't get you a copy because of the stage of the article's publication. However, Mark Dow also wrote the book American Gulag, and although I haven't read that, I believe that most of the paper is culled from the research he did for that book. The SR issue that will include the paper comes out in July, and comprised of all the papers presented at the conference last fall on "Punishment". You can get ahold of the article then.

Love is a Fist

Sometimes I worry that I am too negative of a person. You might have noticed yourself that a large number of my posts tend to sound a bit angry when read. Obviously, obsessive negativity is something to worry about.

But I don't think that this is really my personality. I get excited about as many things as those that make me angry. I think that I am really just a very emotional, expressive person that expresses in words rather than actions. Although everyone might not agree, I think that this is better than many alternatives.

That said, and thusly my concern about my negativity duly noted, I want to briefly mention something.

I take a lot of concern for my species. I see a lot of things going badly for us all, and it deeply bothers me. And one trait of this general "going badly", and one that angers me to no end, is that I find regularly and indiscriminately tied to the fact of this species travails is an incipient sense of entitlement exhibited by its members. Of course, I live in the epicenter of this epidemic, known as New York, but it is everywhere, regardless of location.

What is this all about? What makes people think of themselves as individuals, and expect the world to align according to each's desires? Its one thing to be greedy, and to not be altruistic all the time. But its another thing to do so with the attitude that such behavior is justified. What assholes we all are!

And this is why I sound angry. I think anger is one of the most successful tactics for interrupting this unceasing sense of entitlement. It introjects itself into the very logic of justification, and destroys it on an emotional level, by nothing other than its own justification of anger as a reactive emotion.

I hope it works. There are a lot of people in the world treating other people like shit and acting like its ok. I hope somebody slaps these jerks in the face, and wakes them up. Maybe it will be me, but I doubt it. I only write on a blog.

ps. The happy thought I will balance this post with is Mr. Bungle, the avant-garde band from which I stole this post's title. They are the shit! Listen to them, and get mad! Yay!


Blog not Prog

Since the sailors were released from Iran, it seems that the pressure is off on the next series of the blog post re: Iran and American foreign policy. Not that it isn't very much still relevant, but it doesn't look like we will find an excuse to invade Iran this week. Also, the very limited pressure the British put on Iran shows what mood the US' allies are in for a new war, so I don't think the neo-cons are going to be able to put the pressure on, at least until the next incident. This also might mean that the next incident will have to be stepped up in severity. But I'll cover all that in detail in the post.

Actually, I'm pretty busy at work for once, so I don't have time for the post anyway. I'll just say this for now; there should be more music written about science-fiction themes that is not prog rock. Not that there is anything entirely wrong with prog rock. I like it, but it isn't that appealing to most people. However, I'm listening to a post-punk band called Cortex right now that has some surprisingly poppy songs about futuristic armies and paranoia that are a joy, and I think a lot of people might be able to get into. It might take the edge off the more fantastical prog too, and bring it back home to the short and sweet, like a good Grand Master short story (which is not unlike a catchy pop song). Pop songs need better lyrics anyhow. How many times can you sing about love and partying? Well, quite a few, apparently.

But let us not go the way of Panic! at the Disco, for goodness sakes, no. Apparently, many of their lyrics and song titles are stolen from various "hip" literature sources. Palahniuk, for one. And I've already posted about what I think of that, regardless of the horrible hipsterism that PatD represents, or attempts to represent. Uggh.

coming soon: the death of hipsterism!


Iran, so far away... (Part 1)

The current events involving Iran and Allied strategy in the Middle East have drawn my attention to the little-known history outside of these events. Iran has become the crux point of the future of American hegemony in world politics, and the direction that this crux could lead will spell out the future of the United States and also determine the epoch of what "post-cold war politics" will really be about. This is literally history in the making, and therefore I think it is important to tie some information together that is being completely missed by the media, otherwise these facts may go unnoticed until far in the future when the ability to take a political stance is gone, and a historical stance is all that is left.

Although the structure of my narrative may change as I tell it, I'm going to divide this topic into two parts, for the purposes of making my blogging easier, and perhaps also easing the reading and following of the threads (and hyperlinks) that I will weave. The first part will be a (very loose) background on some relevant parts of "near east" politics in the last decade and a half; the second will look more closely on the United States conduct toward Iran in the context of that history. Hopefully by depicting a closer, local picture in the context of the larger strategic picture, the fragments of truth that are available might fit a narrative of understanding.

A caveat: the mere digging into the unreported (or at least, unfocused) aspects of the United States' foreign policy almost automatically takes the appearance of what is popularly known as "conspiracy theory". If a conspiracy is a hidden plan, and a theory is a guess at the meaning of evidence that would lead to a theorization of the goals of such a plan, then obviously, speculating on secret military and diplomacy policies would qualify under the description. However, where such theorization differs from the popularly held notion of "conspiracy theory" is how far one must jump between points of evidence in order to connect the dots. In this day and age, there is so much information that the relevance of information becomes decreased to a infinite minimum by the sheer weight of the totality. For any one person to be a "witness" to the complete picture is highly doubtful. Thus bureaucracy obscures itself amid itself. But what we can do is catalog the facts that we do find noted by others, and beginning to observe trends and waves of events that can be linked together into a theory. This I what I will seek to do. I do not intend to show that there is someone "behind" what I will describe, or point blame. I think it is a given fact that a government will seek to act in interests that are meant to remain secret from the general population. But by looking at events, we can see the general direction of what is being attempted, and this is what we call history. I'm not going to say we have an ethical duty to compile history- but we do compile history, all the time, and at different levels. This is what is going to go on here.

Part 1: East and West

In 1996 there was the formation of a group known as the Shanghai Five, made up of the states China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In 2001 these states and Uzbekistan formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The claimed effect of the founding (from the SCO website) was that "It initiated new global vision with regards to security, containing principles of mutual trust, disarmament, cooperation and security, enriched new type of interstate relations started by Russia and China, with partnership, not union as a basic; provided model of regional cooperation with such distinctive features as joint initiative, priority on security, mutually beneficial interaction of big and small states. This new world vision has raised human society above cold war ideology and made an invaluable contribution to creation of a new model of international relations."
While the claimed principles sound very nice, some conservative theorists have looked upon this organization as a way to counter the influence of the West in southern Asia, an as an alternative to organizations like NATO or the EU. (Belarus was not considered for membership on the basis that it is a European and not an Asian country.) The resolution calling for American forces to be removed from Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and the planned SCO joint military exercises are other factors that contribute to the military weight of the organization as an inter-national organization to consolidate Asian forces apart from Western forces.
Although there are no current announced plans to add additional member states to the SCO, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Iran have all applied to be members after being granted observer status in 2005. India, also an observer state, has not applied, and this could be India hasn't decided if this is the bloc for it to join. (The SCO opposed the enlargement of the UN Security Council permanent membership, while Japan, Brazil, Germany and India were for it. Perhaps China and Russia wanted to consolidate their power in that organization, while simultaneously forming a non-Western bloc under their own influence.)
It is not clear whether these observer states will be invited to join, but the fact that they express interest in joining belies precisely that; they are interested in this organization that has arisen as a counter to Western hegemony.

This is a general tide, or current, in international relations. Another current that has of late been whipped into a maelstrom is that of Islam in Asia. While this has been heavily reported, especially since the 2001 terrorist attacks in America, the reporting has often taken the stance of "Islam and the West" while ignoring the currents within Islamic countries that are often more political than their are polemical. Since the invasion of Iraq by the United States "Sunni" and "Shia" have entered the media vocabulary, but still the history of these relations among various countries and most importantly, the various political groups that actually constitute politics has been ignored in favor of general, ideologically understandable divisions. The fact is that different organizations from different countries with different iterations of ideological belief have been at odds and/or evens for years, creating a political climate that cannot be understood dualistically, despite the desire of the media to create an easy story. If only the weather was as simple as warm or cold weather, perhaps meteorologists could always predict the conditions.

I won't describe all the relevant conflicts in detail, but I will link to the wikipedia articles about them. They provide good synopses of the relevant parties involved, and also this list is an illustration of the size of the issue here. There is more than enough history involved to fill a semester-long class, and most media sources try to tell their stories in a few hundred words.

Middle Eastern Conflicts

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Involving all the countries of the Arab League, Israel, and numerous factions all of these countries and groups

Jordan-Syria tensions: Involving tensions between monarchist and socialist governments, pro-Western pro-Arab tensions, support and opposition to the PLO and its factions, the Muslim Brotherhood and its branches

The PLO Internal Conflicts: Fatah, As-Sa'iqa, and some ten other factions and their various periods of unity and division

Lebanon: from the Civil War to the ongoing issues with the recognized government and Hezbollah

Iraqi-Kuwaiti Wars: Involving long-standing border disputes, post-colonialism issues, nationalisms, and oil resource disputes

UN disputes with Iran and Iraq: sovereignty and international politics over nuclear and weapons proliferation issues

The Iran-Iraq War: Involving long-standing border disputes, religious nationalisms, racial nationalisms, oil resource disputes, and Western interference

While all of these issues and events are interrelated, I want to focus on the Iran-Iraq War as a prelude to what is occurring now along that border, although now the United States and Allies in a much more obviously involved position. Part 2 will begin with that analysis, and show how Iran figures into that local history, the larger global scene of Asia and Europe, and the currently unfolding events. In the mean time, do your homework! No one is going to learn about history for you, jerk! Not even me!