Friday, January 30, 2009

Bruce Sterling: 2009 Will Be a Year of Panic
From the fevered mind of Bruce Sterling and his alter-ego, Bruno Argento, a consideration of things ahead.

"As 2009 opens, our financial institutions are deep in massive, irrational panic. That's bad, but it gets worse: Many other respected institutions have rational underpinnings at least as frail as derivatives or bundled real-estate loans. Like finance, these institutions are social constructions. They are games of confidence, underpinned by people's solemn willingness to believe, to conform, to contribute. So why not panic over them, too?
Let's consider seven other massive reservoirs of potential popular dread. Any one of these could erupt, shattering the fragile social compact we maintain with one another in order to believe things contrary to fact.
1. The climate. People still behave as if it's okay. Every scientist in the world who isn't the late Michael Crichton knows that it's not. The climate is in terrible shape; something's gone wrong with the sky. The bone-chilling implications haven't soaked into the populace, even though Al Gore put together a PowerPoint about it that won him a Nobel. Al was soft-peddling the problem.
It's become an item of fundamentalist faith to maintain that the climate crisis is a weird leftist hoax. Yet, since the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, an honest fear of the consequences will prove hard to repress. Since the fear has been methodically obscured, its emergence from the mists of superstition will be all the more powerful. Unlike mere shibboleths of finance, this is a situation that's objectively terrifying and likely to remain so indefinitely."

The rest of this is pretty good, too, and sums up a lot of what I've been thinking about from reading economic blogs like Calculated Risk, The Big Picture and Ian Walsh's work over at Firedoglake blog.
I'm starting to think about buckling up for the ride, but with a four point harness like a stunt flier.
I also feel sorry for anybody who bought into the idea that they'd have any investments to retire on.
Looks like the grasshopper might come out about even with the turtle by the time this shakes out. And we'll be buying a lot less crap we didn't need in the first place.
The Big Picture:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quote of the Day: Steven Weinberg on Good and Evil

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg
If there's a bigger bunch of thieves out there in the world than the godbags, I can't figure out who. Since the first shaman conned a tribe into buying into the angry gods idea and suckered power and money out of folks all the way up through the Catholic Church's Papal power madness of the dark ages through Rick Warren's slimy book sales and church tithes, it's been about money and power.
I find the Abrahamic godbags the worst of all, from Islam to Mormonism, they're all about keeping women under control and getting the menfolk to be scared enough to kill for their mean manly gods.
And Steven Weinberg's right about good people doing evil things in the name of god, brainwashed into doing things by propaganda and the need to feel righteous.
Even Spidey's been hijacked by the godbags to push fairy tales, it seems.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MF7 Gig this weekend

A young girl is given a pile of manure for her birthday
by her cruel parents.
She's over joyed, and starts digging in it.
When asked why, she says, if there's this much shit,
there's got to be a pony here somewhere.
Here's the pony making my month better, on the last day of it, we're playing a gig this Saturday night at The Alchemy bar.
And it's free, and starts and nine pm, and goes all night.
You'll have time to catch the motor primitives at Mickey's and still see us, as we stumble through our third set, if that was already in the works.
The gig's free, and starts around ten pm. Usually a little before.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What was wrong with Cafe Zoma

Aside from the backyard on the bike trail, Cafe Zoma sucked. Not serious suck, like a chest wound from a hollow point .45 slug or having to go to one of the snotty coffee shops down on the square where the barristas are all bored shallow young creeps, but it sucked.

Here's my take on why:

The layout was terrible. You walk in the front door, and you're shoved right into a cattle chute. The coffee bar and the kitchen space behind it cut the store in half, with tall walls making an open space into a cluttered broken up mess. There was no center to it, no feeling like it was more than a walk through joint.

The coffee was average at best. Not nearly as good as what can be had at EVP on East Washington, and not even as good as the coffee at Mickey's brunch on weekends.

The folks running the coffee bar were too isolated from the rest of the joint. A good shop has barristas that not only like their job, but who also make a coffee shop feel like it's an inviting and welcome place.

I never had a bad interaction with someone working there, but never one where I felt like anybody really cared much about it either. I can get as good a coffee at McDonald's these days and it didn't feel much different, vibe wise.

The furniture sucked. A mish mash of uncomfortable tables, with no sense to how they were arranged, the really never gave the impression that you could find a regular spot.

Part of the reason a lot of people go to coffee shops alone is to sit and listen to other people while pretending to surf the web or read. EVP is perfect for that, and so is the Mermaid.

I know this because people often jump into conversations I've having in either place, and there's a funny dance where folks often orbit around our table full of loudmouth folks before they decide to jump into our circle of hypercaffinated world problem chewers. I never felt like there was any of that vibe in Zoma.

But they did have a good bathroom. And really clean. And it was an ok place to have a live music show, I played a few there. I'll miss stopping there off the bike trail on a hot day and getting something iced. But it had little pull for me besides that.

Lots of local coffee hounds are lamenting the fact that it's closing and trying to figure out how to save it. But until some serious rethinking of the space and attention are given to the overall scheme of things, I don't see how it can survive. Not in a town filled with good coffee houses.

You want the best coffee on the east side, with good barrisats and some seriously thought out space designed to be both cozy and filled with a sense of community, go to EVP. And Rae, Greg or Peter and the rest of the crew will make you a few shots that are perfect, and you'll feel like they actually care.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cold Air, Cold Beer

Bell's Hopslam beer is without a shred, a micron, a jot, dash or smidgeon of doubt my new favorite mind altering chemical.
Thick, slightly sweet, packed with high alpha acid hops like Cascades that work like a valium, and what must be a barley wine level of ethanol, it's both dangerous and sublime. Worthy of the five dollar a glass price tag.

And I have to say that my new favorite bar is Dexters Pub on North and Johnson.
Good pub chips, fairly good pizza and walking distance from home, and it's not crowded or loud like The Harmony, and the bartenders are less grumpy.
I hate when Allison yells at people and acts like a hard ass about folks who aren't drunk.
I still think Mickey's has the best burger in a bar in this town, though. And brunch on the weekends.

Last night's ragged and bliss filled practice with Mikey and Fry, today's long walk in the cold winter air, followed by a fine pair of beers with Kori has taken the edge off this strange and sorta ugly week.
That cold front blew a little clarity in, too. Upon further reflection, cutting the baby in half doesn't seem so hard. Metaphorically speaking, that is. Not that I know what to do with two halves of a baby, I tend not to eat my own kind, and there's all that unpleasant paperwork if somebody finds out...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This winter sucks. And I'm starting to think about what I want on a purely selfish personal level, because I am one truck repair from getting in my truck and leaving it all behind until my credit card maxes out. Maybe take a long a pile of guitars to use as firewood along the way.

I want somebody to make me supper for a change. Somebody besides me or Kori to cook.

I want somebody to say, "damn, that was a fine time playing those songs tonight" or "hey, let's finish up that cd and play a few gigs"

I want the folks who say they're going to help me with a project help me with a project after they've used up my time and energy on theirs. I want them to clean up after themselves when they use my shop.

I want people to tell me what they're thinking. Not to evade it, or not even give me an answer when I'm doing something with them that I feel passionate about. If I ask you if you want to do a group project, fucking tell me. Don't just say "I show up, don't I? Lame, pal. Showing up is how you get through High School.

I want my pals who ask my fucking opinion on something to actually listen to it and stop using me as a sounding board for their own insecurity, or to stop asking me if they're not interested. I am not interested in telling you what to text people, or if your ass looks funny in those pants. You're not going to pay attention to what I say anyway. I really don't care as long as you're happy, and nothing I say will make a difference.

I want a few of my pals to stop their internal monologs long enough to hear my point of view. To not retreat into emotional breakdown because my worldview doesn't support theirs. To start considering thinking with more than their emotions.

I want people I used to be in a band with to stop whining to me about the band I'm not in anymore, and talking about what new projects they're going to do with other people. It's already been made very clear that I'm not worthy to play with you anymore, so why fucking dump on me about your next plan?

I want my tribe to start giving me back a few things, so it feels like a tribe again instead of me being the person who makes lunch and a handy mother confessor and fix it person.
I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Same As It Ever Was

In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do.

Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well.

But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves.

In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don't have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty.

That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all.

Denis Diderot, Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (written in 1774 for Catherine the Great), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pacing the Cage

Pacing the Cage
Bruce Cockburn, 1997
Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint
I cannot make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I've proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It's as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age

Sooner or later you'll wind up
Pacing the cage
Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend

Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage
Some days I miss cleaning toilets in Seattle back in 1993.
Tonight I do, anyway.
Nobody knew me, everything was new again, and I had nowhere to go but up from the bottom I hit before I moved, and I didn't have to be den mother to a bunch of folks who took but didn't give when I needed it.
It's a new day, new president and there's supposed to be hope in the air.
I'm not feeling it. Maybe that's what tomorrow is for.

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson